Sunday, October 31, 2010

TNT Inspirational Dinner Welcome (by Niccu)

Another TNT athlete Nicholas Cu shot this video of the welcome we got coming into the inspirational dinner.

Nicholas also shot a great video of his actual marathon. I'll be sharing that later. :) Way to go Nick. So proud of you!!!!

Part 6: It Begins....early

2:30 am.

That's when I set my alarm. I had to be in the staging area on the first floor at 4am. So when Kris asked what time I set on the alarm, that's what I told him. He started discussing the merits of waking up at 3am instead of 2:30. My thinking was that I would much rather have too much time in the morning than find out I cut it too short and have to scramble. But I was also exhausted and didn't feel like debating for long. So we compromised and set the alarm for 2:45.

I got in bed and expected to toss and turn all night until my alarm went off. Oh well, most people run marathons sleep deprived. I've ridden many key bike rides that way too. No biggie. But to my surprise, the moment my head hit the pillow I was out and stayed out until my alarm went off at 2:45 am!

I had no trouble getting out of bed. The fear had kicked back in. The thought of showing up late and missing the pilgrimage to the start line with the rest of the team gave me great speed.

I had done a 'dry run' of my dressing routine the night before to be sure to not hit the start line missing anything important. I had pinned my bib to my singlet the night before to be sure I didn't forget it. That is racing commandment #5: THOU SHALT NOT FORGET THINE RACE BIB.

Though this is listed as commandment #5, it is the greatest in importance. Do not show up to race without your bib. You'll be able to start the race, but right before the finish line you will be pulled off the course.

It may seem mean to let a 'bandit' run the whole course and then pull them right before they finish. But think about it, if bandits were pulled at mile 2, they'd just jump back on the course at mile 3. So the logical place to pull them is just before the finish so they won't be jumping back on at a later point.

While they get the benefit of all the aid stations, they don't get across the finish line where they can grab up finisher medals and all the other finishers' swag. There's nothing worse than running for hours only to find when you cross the finish line everything has run out because too many bandits made it in before you. Not cool. So don't try to run without your bib and if you do, don't get cranky when you are pulled off the course at the last quarter mile.

I had my bib. I was ready. But before we left the room I shot this quick thank you video: 

My intention was to shoot another one after the marathon. But as it turned out, that wasn't going to happen.

I made it to the staging area on time and our group was the first to make it over to the start area a few blocks from the hotel. We had a lot of time to wait around which gave me time to reflect on racing commandment # 6: take as many potty breaks as you can before race start.

The porta potties were a couple blocks back. We passed them on the way to the start line. I knew I wanted to make it through the marathon without taking any potty stops. As it was, I was going to have a hard time keeping the pace I wanted without adding time for stops. I knew I should go. But I was too lazy to walk back the two blocks to the johns and back to the start.

Wait a minute I thought. If I am too lazy to walk four measly blocks, I am too lazy to run a marathon! Get your lazy butt over there. So I did. Let me give a reminder to all who read this; when using porta-potties, latch the door! I walked up to a john and the little sign said "Vacant". So I swung open the door and heard a scream! Then I screamed! A lady was already using it and apparently she didn't know how to work the latch. Trust me, I wasn't any more happy about it than she was. I chose another john and was sure to latch my door! Yikes!

I made it back to the start in plenty of time. By then the race M.C.s had arrived on site and were interviewing people in the crowd. Some were cancer survivors, some were legacy runners who had ran every NWM since it's beginning 7 years ago. And there was one pregnant lady. I was so proud! Look at how far we have come in just 25 years. Not only can women run any distance they want officially today, but women don't have to give it up to have a family. None of us on the course was worried she was going to jiggle her uterus loose or that the baby would fall out.

Even if it did, it'd be no big deal. The lady running behind her would just grab the baby up and say, "Oh honey, you dropped something."

New mommy taking the baby from the woman: "Oh thank you! Oh look! It's a boy!!!"

All the women nearby: "Yeah! Congratulations!!!"

And then we'd all run the new mommy and baby into the finish line together. :)

Needless to say the spirit at the start line was high!

My running partner Cindy and I were right in the front! I was watching the count down clock. I wanted to turn on my tracking devices at the last minute to ensure they wouldn't die out before the end of the race. I knew I was going to be on the course for many hours and I wanted the whole course tracked. I had chosen to use the pod sensor Nike app rather than the GPS Nike app because my main concern was the battery life of the phone. I wanted to be able to use my phone at the end of the race in case I couldn't find Kris. Besides Jeffrey turned off my push notifications the day before. So I should be fine.

My Garmin tracker takes a few seconds to find satellites. It ended up I turned it on a few seconds too late. When the start gun went off, Garmin hadn't secured the satellites yet. So you can see me in the marathon video (to be posted later) messing with my Garmin trying to start it up as soon as the satellites were located. Stupid. 

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Part 5: The Inspiration Dinner

We were told to show up early to the dinner because the line gets long. There are close to 5,000 TNT athletes alone, not to mention the coaches and other volunteers. So the dinner is held at a convention center nearby. We had to wait outside until they opened the doors. I found out quickly why they wouldn't let us wait in the lobby. They were building a gauntlet.

From the moment you stepped foot in the convention center, you were in a gauntlet of cheering people. You had to walk through two thick rows of people cheering, clapping, yelling, ringing bells, blowing horns. It was just CRAZY!!!!

The dinner was on the lower level but you couldn't take the escalator because it was lined with more cheering people. So as you crested the stairs you could see the lower level and there was a SEA of more cheering people! 

Those of you close to me know I am not shy! But the energy and just the number of people and the fact they were cheering for us just got to me. I ducked behind Kris and let him lead me down the stairs. Within a few seconds however, I heard Kris exclaim, "This is wrong!". Then he grabbed my wrist and pulled  me in front of him and made me go down the stairs first!

I was doing pretty good keeping the tears at bay until I spotted this one guy on the right bank of the escalators. He was particularly enthusiastic and was leaning as far as he could over the railing and screaming and pointing urgently at the sign his was holding. I read it and it said, "I am a survivor because of you". That just did me in. That's why we trained for 5 months. That's why we sacrificed our time and our families. It made a difference to that man. And there are more out there like him.

Sorry, I was shaking when I tried to capture this picture. 

I made it through the rest of the gauntlet and made it to the dinner table. We ate dinner and waited for the inspirational speeches to start. I knew one of my top three running heros had spoken at a TNT dinner in the past. I mused about how awesome it would be if he happened to be the speaker at this dinner. He wasn't. He was the M.C.!

John Bingham walked out on the stage!!!! I couldn't believe it! He is the man that convinced me I could run! In his books "No  Need for Speed" and "The Courage to Start" he taught me you don't have to be built like a runner or even fast to run. In fact, he started the "Penguin Brigade" which are runners who 'waddle'. I am definitely a penguin!!! And lastly, he convinced me it's never to late to start. He truly introduced me to one of my greatest joys!! And there he was .....introducing another one of my top three running heros: Joan Benoit-Samuelson!!!!! OMG!!!!!

Joan Benoit-Samuelson won the gold medal in the first ever women's Olympic marathon in 1984.  That was the first time women were allowed to run a marathon in the Olympics. Can you believe it???? 1984!! That's barely 25 years ago!

For the majority of the twentieth century it was widely believed that women shouldn't run long distances. Besides women not being encouraged to be active and athletic, many people (even doctors) thought women would ruin their chances to have children if they ran too much. There was widely held fear that women's uteruses would jiggle out of their bodies!!

Kris and I had read this some where early on when we had started running. In fact, we would routinely joke about it. I'd come in from a run some days and say:

"Wow! That was a tough run!!"

Kris: "Did you jiggle your uterus out?"

Jill: "Yeah, but it's ok. I picked it up and put it in my waist pack."

Kris: "Thank goodness you didn't leave it behind like last time. Took us for ever to find it!"

And so on the banter would continue.

I just can't believe the ignorance that was prevalent back then.

So there I was listening to the woman who snatched the gold at that first women's marathon. And not only did she take the gold, but she pulled ahead of the competitors early in the race and kept the lead the whole way! And she is one petite woman!

Joan Benoit-Samuelson is not your tall lanky runner type. She isn't any taller than I am. I was encouraged to see someone my height tear up the marathon course. Who says you have to have mile long legs to be a good runner? This gave me more encouragement.

Something else that is encouraging to me is that Joan and my other top three running hero (Katherine Switzer) is that they are over the age of 50 and are still running. Joan had finished the Chicago marathon barely a week before and she ran a solid sub-3!!! It cheers me to think I'll be running for years and years to come. I'll be happy if I 'run myself into the grave'. Ha ha.

After Joan spoke, John Bingham got back on the stage to give encouragement especially to the first time marathoners. He gave us some tips on what to expect. He said to be prepared to, at some point on the course, to look at our running partner and think "I wish you would just SHUT UP!"

Me and my running partner Cindy
I couldn't imagine that! My running partner and I enjoyed each other's company on every run. Even the 20 miler! But I had heard about those times where you just get agitated and everything annoys you. I think you get that in every endurance sport as I had experienced that on several of my long distance rides too. Our coaches called those times the "dark places". I was hoping to avoid those places the next day.

As we made our way back to the hotel after the dinner, I noticed I was getting more and more anxious about the race. I was breaking racing commandment #4: Manage Your Fear. There was a million things that could go wrong and attempting the longest route I'd ever done on an unfamiliar course was scary. Until I told myself, "This is just another long run with the team." The moment I put it in that perspective I instantly calmed down. After all, I had done a long run with the team a million times with no big tragedies. 

I had nothing to worry about.......

Monday, October 25, 2010

Part 4: Racing Commandment #3

Don’t be on your feet too much the night before your race.

Our fried Robb lives in San Francisco and we just can’t miss him when we’re in town. We usually only get a few hours with Robb at a time which is a shame because we love to hang out with him. But I needed to stay off my feet and Robb had a halloween party to get ready for that night anyway.

So Robb fought his way through the protesters at the hotel and took us on a tour of the Castro. I have been to San Francisco several times but never made it to the Castro. So I was thrilled when Robb said he’d take us on a tour.

There are several famous bars down there (like the first gay bar with large plate glass windows) and lots of cute shops. I loved the bar named “Moby Dick”. God help me, it made me giggle. But honestly it just doesn’t take much with me.

My favorite store was called “Under One Roof” which has a little of everything and everything was neat. This is where I got almost all the gifts for my triple digit donors. I stayed in there a couple hours there was so much cool stuff to look at. They are are dog friendly so I made some new canine friends as well. And to top it all off, they donate the proceeds to several aids charities. I’m all about helping out. So that was the cherry on top of the shop for me. :)

Castro seemed a little cleaner and a little quieter than the rest of the city. However, I understand it can get pretty wild on the holidays! :)

I wanted to see the location of Harvey Milk’s camera shop. So Robb was kind enough to be sure we went past it. It’s empty now. But still there. I love historic sites.

After the camera shop it was time for lunch. Robb never lets us down with food suggestions either. He took us to a place called “Chow”. Get there early so you don’t have to wait. The food is delish and varied and the staff is great! Loved it!!!

They had a spicy noodle dish that I really wanted to try. But I didn’t think I needed to temp racing commandment #2 again. So I opted for a mellow pizza. It was great!

Sadly, after lunch it was time to say goodbye to Robb so he could get ready for his party and I could take a nap to get ready for mine. The inspiration dinner for the athletes was that night and I wanted to be fresh.
I've said it before, I'll say it again: Robb, you could do movie makeup!!WOW!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Part 3: Racing Commandent #2

Racing Commandment #2:

Don’t eat anything unusual or anything that could remotely upset your stomach or otherwise make you sick.

So Kris and I found a Thai restaurant. We love Thai food and the spices don’t get to me. But, I wondered if the spices used at a different Thai restaurant would negatively effect my stomach. But it’s San Francisco. I wasn’t about to go eat at some safe but mundane Olive Garden or something! Beside, I brought a good supply of Pepto Bismo with me just in case. :) So bring it!

Dinner was great and Kris and I stayed mellow and went to bed early. The private shopping started at 7am and I wanted to be out of the hotel at 6:30 to get at the front of the line. (I wasn’t sure how many of us had the ‘exclusive’ privilege of private shopping.)

I don’t think Kris believed I was going to get up that early. You might say I’m not a morning person. In fact, if I am up before 10 on a weekend, the devil gets nervous.

So when I stepped out of the shower the next morning at 5:40am Kris was standing there with a panicked look on his face.

“WHAT are you DOING????”

“I’m getting ready to go. I told you I was hoping to leave the room by 6:30.”

I could tell by the look on his face, he didn’t believe me when I shared my plans the night before. So he scrambled to get ready. I’m sure he thought he was going to have at least three more hours before I would be up. He was shocked! Hee hee hee!

It was still dark out when we hit the streets. The protesters were still there. But they were fewer at this time and they were much more quiet. The whole city was quiet. It was nice. I wondered if there’d be a crowd at Niketown this early.

We arrived at Niketown fifteen minutes before the private shopping opened. There were four gals in front of us. That’s it. I would have liked to have gotten pictures of the name wall. But it was still too dark.

Private shopping was great! Well worth getting up early. There were a ton of help so I basically had a personal shopper to help me find all my gear. I could browse the items before they were picked over. I didn’t have to wait in line for the cashier.  And they had a DJ and MC for us. At 7 in the morning! Can you believe it?

Two odd things I noted however: 1) even though this was a ‘women’s’ marathon, I was surprised they only had one item for men. 2) They provided ‘breakfast’ for us. Hot coffee and various pastries and doughnuts. Are you kidding me?? We have a marathon to run the next morning and you are feeding us pastries??? Is that what you provide your Nike pro-athletes? I don’t think so.

Needless to say, I stayed away from them. :) (I love junk food. But for the marathon, I've been scared straight!)

When we left, the sun was up and the sidewalk was still empty. So we snapped pictures of the name wall unjostled.

Then we head back over to the expo. I specifically wanted to hit the Jetblue booth that was screening a video of the route. Kris and I were especially interested to see if the hills were as scary as they looked on the hill profile chart we have seen.

It was great because the video had commentary so we knew exactly where the water stops versus re-fueling stations were. So that was helpful. Also, none of the hills looked scary on the video. Walking away from the course video, I wasn’t scared of ‘nothing’!

Stupid. Stupid. Stupid.

Marathon Weekend Re-Cap (Or more accurately: The Blow-By-Blow) Part 2

Nike and the Expotique

The first order of business was to get to the expotique to pick up our race packets. You may have noticed I didn’t say “Expo”. No, Nike does an Expotique. Which means in addition to the regular booths you’d see pre-race they include back massage, foot massage, and of course running bra fittings. I was pretty excited.

As I was processed the check-in volunteer said, “Oh, you’re a Nike+ member.”
Nike + is a device Kris got me a few years ago that tracks my running (through my i-phone) and can be uploaded to the Nike website. It’s super cool because all the other Nike+ users load their runs on the site too. So you can see each other’s progress and join virtual races where you try to run faster or longer than the others in the ‘race’.

I loved it so much that I got one for my friend Kim when she decided to run her first marathon this year too. So Kim and I were poised to rack up the mileage on our Nike+‘es. Then Apple came out with OS 4 for the i-phone and totally ruined my plans.

OS 4 does not play well with Nike+. I knew my pod was old. So I bought a new one just in case that was the issue. Nope. So I started the high mileage portion of my  marathon training with no way to brag to my virtual friends on the Nike site. That bent my nose bad since I am an unlikely runner and until then, never was the runner running longer than everyone else. My ego was slouching and sad.

I also have a Garmin. So the good news was I could track every marathon training mile on that. However, the Garmin site lacks the virtual community and therefore brag potential. Which is sad, because good-natured bragging among friends (even virtual ones) is fun and motivating. But at least I could track.

So I was told since I have a Nike+ I get special treatment and should talk to the kind ladies at the concierge desk about all the cool stuff I get. So I did and was told I get:

Private bag check in the Nike tent. Which means I’d get my checked bag faster than the other non-Nike schmucks at the end of the race.

I could start the race in the Nike+ corral rather than the regular pace corrals the other rabble would have to use. (This didn’t matter to me as I was already slated for the early start with the TNT team. Which means I didn’t have to contend with corrals period).:)

Private shopping the next morning at Niketown (Nike’s retail store). Which means I can shop for event gear without having to fight the massive crowds.

I have access to the Nike tent at the finish line where they would have free food, massages, stretching, Nike professional athletes (including my hero Joan Benoit-Samuelson)

I could also have my finisher’s necklace engraved at the tent. Super Cool!!!!

And if I talk to the concierge at the back of the expo in the Nike area, I’d get another gift.  Sweet!

I wanted to talk to the Nike people anyway about my missing mileage. So Kris and I made our way to the back of the expo to the Nike area. But we stopped on the way to blend some smoothies at the Safeway booth.
Safeway had these bikes set up that had blenders rigged to the front. They fill the blenders with smoothie ingredients and people would get on the bikes and pedal to blend the smoothies. So of course I had to do that. I had sandals on, so the nice lady had to help me get my feet into the straps. But once I was ready I blended a mean smoothie. :)

At the Nike area, I was referred to Geoffrey who was the Nike+/i-phone expert to help me with my tracking problems. I explained to Mr. G that my pod wouldn’t work after the i-phone OS upgrade and described the symptoms.

“Sounds like your pod is dying. You should try getting a new one.”

“Already tried that Geoffrey. No dice.”

Then I told him how I switched to the GPS app as soon as that came out. (Nike came out with a GPS app for the i-phone that also tracks your runs but it does it by satellite location rather than the sensor pod.) So I started using that which was ok except the GPS drains the phone’s battery. And by that time I was doing long runs for training. So my phone would die before I was done with my runs. @#!*?//!

So Geoffrey changed some settings on the phone to use less battery and also turned off my push notifications because it’s believed push notifications sometimes will knock out the sensor mid-run.

So now I just had to decide if I wanted to use the GPS app on the marathon and risk the battery dying or use the sensor app and risk it getting knocked out some how. More on that later.

Next it was off to get a foot massage. There was an hour and half wait! So they were taking people’s cell phone numbers and would text me when my turn was coming up. Cool. The expo was really busy by this point. So we thought we’d go to Niketown  to see the name wall and to see if it was too crowded to do a little shopping.

The name wall is super cool! It’s a big wall with every runner’s name on it.  Everyone makes a pilgrimage to the wall to find and take a picture of their name.

It was too crowded! There was a no room in front of the name wall to attempt to find my  name. People were spilling into the street as there was not an inch of space left on the side walk. I told Kris, let’s come back tomorrow morning during private shopping to do the name wall. He agreed!

So the plan was to got get dinner and come back tomorrow when the private shopping opened. Then we’d hit the expo again and catch everything we skipped. So off we went to dinner and to break racing commandment #2.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Marathon Weekend Re-Cap (Or more accurately: The Blow-By-Blow) Part 1

It’s the last day of work before my marathon weekend and I’m thinking about how great everything has worked out. No injuries, no illnesses and no logistical snafus. We were home free! Marathon weekend was on its way free and clear!

“Bleep! Bleep”

An e-mail from the head of our TNT chapter came over my cell phone and the subject was: “Hilton Hotel SF on Strike”

What?? We were scheduled to arrive the next morning. Don’t tell me the hotel is on strike!! Where in the world are they going to find another hotel in San Francisco at this late date!!!!

I figured we’d be stuck in a Motel 6 in Oakland and they’d have to bus us to the start line. Which would mean getting up two hours earlier than the already inhumanely early wake up call at 2:30 am! Not to mention spending a long weekend in a roach motel instead of a nice luxury property with concierge service. Damn!

I opened the e-mail and was relieved to learn it was basically business as usual at the Hilton SF. Only housekeeping and catering would be effected. We would however, have to deal with protestors outside.

That’s ok. I can deal with protestors.

I was pretty nervous the night before we left. I was worried about leaving a key piece of gear behind. My husband kept saying, “Don’t worry. If you forget anything we’ll just buy a replacement in SF. Stop fretting.”

I wanted to use my own gear. The stuff that got me through the last five months of training and was proven on the road. Every endurance athlete knows you don’t try something different on race day. That is commandment #1:

Thou shalt not try anything new on race day.

As it happened, I almost forgot to pack the bladder to my waist pack. My waist pack is very old and it is unlikely we would have found the same model in San Francisco. My husband would have suggested just buying a whole new waist pack/bladder set. But then we’d be breaking commandment number one.

Though I did make it to San Francisco with all my important gear my compulsion to always pack light failed me later in the weekend. But more on that later.

 As expected the ride up in the team bus went by quickly. When we arrived at the hotel you could see the protestors in full force. They were loud and angry. I was not looking forward to walking through them.

The bus circled the block and stopped on the opposite side of the hotel where there weren’t any doors. So not only would we have to battle our way into the hotel, but we would have to schlep our luggage around the block first. Great.

So I grabbed my bag and rolled it behind the line of runners and followed the leader around the corner. Where hotel staff had a secret side door opened for us to ‘sneak’ into. Yeah!!!

I was waiting for the line to move so I could get in, I heard the picketers grow louder. I looked up and here they came marching around the corner making a bee line for us. Their leader was in the front head down yelling at us through her bull horn. The doorman immediately grabbed his phone and dialed for back up.

I was willing the line to move faster so I wouldn’t get caught with a bull horn in my ear before I could reach the safety of the interior. But they were ascending on us FAST. I started yelling to the runners in front of me “GO! GO! GO!” The line moved only a fraction faster and the protesters reached me just as my running partner Cindy made it in. I executed a perfect dive roll into the door pulling my luggage behind me and managed to miss the brunt of the cacophony of anger.

Phew! Who tipped them off?

The hotel was packed and the line for registration was a mile long. But they did such a great job moving the line that we were checked into our rooms in record times. There was a live band in the lobby probably to try to drown out the noise of the protestors. And they were serving lemonade and cookies. I was too freaked out to partake as I was trying hard to eat healthy before the marathon.

All weekend they had complementary wine in the evenings, and again I wouldn’t partake. God forbid I have any empty calories before the marathon!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Marathon Weekend Photos - Set one

Back of running singlet. Names of people I ran for.

Front of singlet. You put your name very big and bright so people will cheer for you by name. I heard "Run Jill Run" all along the route.

The "Gauntlet". You had to walk through a tunnel of cheering to get to dinner. It was over whelming!

A man was holding a sign: "I'm a survivor because of you." Wow! That got me!

Me and my running partner Cindy.

Joan Benoit-Samuelson spoke at our dinner! One of my top three running heroes! Holy Cow!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Marathon Route

Untitled by anjil1206 at Garmin Connect - Details

Click the link to see the marathon route. Hilly! My moving pace was 15:15. Pretty proud of that in the conditions. Will blog details later.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Running Song for Team in Training (TNT)

This song was written specifically for TNT. Please enjoy and consider making a donation to the Leukemia & Lymphoma society.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The Bucket List

You've heard a lot about 'bucket lists' recently and I sat down this week to think of my bucket list. I could only think of three items that I really wanted to accomplish before I die and I only came up with three things: 

Complete a century ride. 
Complete a marathon.
Write a book 

That's it. Not many things and nothing that'll change the world. Heck, nothing that would mean anything to anyone but me. I don't know what I think about that. Does it mean I'm just very content with my life or just really shallow, or really boring? Hhhhhm. 

There's other things I would love to do but don't have it on the list because it seems  absolutely impossible (bring about world peace for example or break my addiction to sugar). I don't want to spend my whole life longing for something that will never be. Don't Buddhists say "Desire brings suffering?" (I know my desire to complete a marathon has brought suffering! But to be honest it's also brought a lot of growth and joy). 

So I don't know. Maybe it's ok to just leave it be.