Monthly Archives: February 2012

Third time around

3rd time around

I’m 18 days away from the LA Marathon and I’m feeling pretty good. This is a big difference from last fall’s taper for Long Beach. Other differences between previous marathon training cycles last summer/fall and winter (Los Angeles):

1. I’m on a truncated training schedule. I didn’t begin training until after the Carlsbad Half on January 22nd. I worried that 8 weeks wouldn’t be enough. I’d barely be able to squeeze in one 18 and 20+ mile run before a proper taper. Nevertheless, I felt okay going from 15 to 18 in one week and two weeks later increasing to 22.

February running

2. I’m running pretty low mileage and fewer days. The one week I hit 40 miles was when I had a half marathon on Sunday and did my long run on Saturday. I usually ran 5 days/week in previous training cycles, but the easy and recovery runs tended to be shorter. My overall mileage is lower, but not by much. In December, Marc, swapped out two days of running for cross or strength training in my schedule. After I had IT band issues in December, he decreased my total weekly miles. At first I thought I wasn’t running enough, but I like this schedule. While I’d love to PR, my first priority is to avoid injury. So far it’s working.

Fitness stuff for the home

3. I’m doing consistent strength training and inconsistent cross training. My schedule allows me to do either strength or cross training twice per week. I like lifting more since I can do it with dumbbells at home. I feel the benefits, especially with my recovery and avoiding injury. I didn’t do any strength/cross training for LB. For LA I occasionally did a core strengthening workout from Runner’s World.

4. Aside from the Friendship Run, I’m doing all my long runs alone. I did group training runs, but typically ran alone at my own pace. Those long runs were on new courses, planned by someone else, and sometimes had support along the way. Thanks to those SRLA runs, I started training on parts of the LA course.

Didn't wear a pace band.

5. I’ve PR’ed in recent races. While I ran the Holiday Half and Carlsbad Half before I officially began training, those efforts have really helped my confidence. Before LA and LB, I didn’t race for 3-4 months (excluding the Friendship Run, which is more of a supported long run). My two previous half times have me eyeing a time well below my previous marathon goal times.

6. I’ve run fewer and shorter long runs thanks to my truncated training schedule. This time around, I have just one 18-miler and one 22-miler. That 22-miler is my longest training run ever. For LA I ran 18, 21, then 20; for LB I ran three 17-18 milers, 20 and 21.5. Though I had fewer 18+ mile long runs, they were better quality.

7. I’m regularly massaging my legs with the stick, but skipping the post long run ice bath. I ice my hips after most long runs.

8. I have an online coach who creates my training schedule and is there to address my questions and concerns. I previously used training plans from Active Trainer. While they were pretty detailed, they were generic. I like that Marc has specific splits I should hit for tempo or speed training rather than something like 5K pace or “run hard.”

Track workout Wednesday

9. As for speed, tempo and hills, I’m still doing those. However, since I’m on a truncated schedule I’ve only done a few runs at the track and a few dedicated hill workouts. In previous training cycles I did one of these workouts once a week for the majority of my training.

10. Overall, I’m a stronger runner.

Tidbits on work, life, and play

Life

The projector

When my parents got home from Arizona earlier this week, I helped my dad unpack the car. As I carried out a box from the car, he told me I’d love what was in it and that he’d show me later. Shortly before Sean and I returned to LA, my dad set up a projector and reels of short 30+ year old home movies. I watched my first birthday party. Short observations: (a) my mom was a fox in 1981 and still is; (b) I’m glad my dad no longer wears short shorts; (c) I was a decent walker at 1, but had no idea what to do with a rooster-shaped piñata; and (d) it was funny to see Danny punk another boy who tried to ride off on my new wheels. We need to transfer these Super 8 movies to DVD.

Lent is one of my favorite times of the year. This is the first year in several where Ash Wednesday Mass isn’t the first I attend since Christmas. I’m more invested in my faith these days and giving up something like meat, tortillas, shopping, or alcohol doesn’t fit with how I want to observe the season. Instead, I’m adding some things in to my life that I hope will help me grow in my faith and as a person.

Work
At Job2, I’ve been coding transcripts from interviews with black, Latino and American Indian pioneers in the sciences. Most of them have dedicated a large part of their career to increasing diversity in these fields. It’s pretty cool to read about their successes, but it’s saddening to hear about the struggles they’ve faced in the academy because of their race or gender.

In the news
Speaking of diversity and higher education, I was surprised to hear on Tuesday that the Supreme Court will hear a new case on affirmative action in college admissions (NYT story). As a post affirmative action kid (thanks, proposition 209!) and higher education nerd, this news piqued my interest and worried me a little. I’ve studied the University of California’s race blind admissions policy as well as the benefits of diversity in the classroom. I’m no legal buff, but did read a lot about Grutter v. Bollinger (2003) and Gratz v. Bollinger (2003) as part of my coursework. This was right after the decisions came down and some of my professors had contributed to the social science research cited by Justice Sandra Day O’Connor in the Grutter majority opinion. The higher ed nerd in me wonders what, if any, role social science research will play this time around.

Entertainment
A couple weeks ago, I read a review for The Baker’s Daughter: A Novel, by Sarah McCoy on Feminist Texican’s book review blog. A couple minutes later, I purchased and downloaded the book to my iPad’s Kindle app. The Baker’s Daughter attracted me because the two main plot lines occur over 60 years apart and in two different countries. Of course, the story of Elsie in Germany is linked to her German bakery in present day El Paso, Texas. Second, as Melissa (Feminist Texican) points out, it might be one of the few works novels to consider both the Holocaust and the politics of immigration at the US-Mexico border. I loved The Baker’s Daughter and would definitely recommend you read it while enjoying some coffee or tea at a local bakery — preferably one that makes traditional German breads and pastries. You’ll get hungry reading about freshly baked brötchen, lebkuchen (gingerbread), cakes and kreppels.

Papá Chepe was the supervisor, he's quite bossy

I finally got around to watching A Better Life. Demián Bichir’s best actor nomination was well deserved for his portrayal of Carlos Galindo. Bichir gave a great performance as a father trying his best to provide for an ungrateful and difficult teenage son while dealing with the challenges and consequences of living in the shadows as an undocumented immigrant. It made me think of Papá Chepe and tío Pancho, both immigrants and jardineros in LA.

Muppetvision 3D

I watched the Oscars mainly out of habit and curiosity. I hoped Bret McKenzie would win for Man Or Muppet (he did!) and wanted to see how things turned out for Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer. I’m still annoyed that there was no performance of Man Or Muppet, but did see Cirque du Soleil perform. The latter seemed like free advertising for their show at the Kodak Theater. I was pleasantly surprised when Natalie Portman described Carlos Galindo, portrayed by best actor nominee Demián Bichir, as an “undocumented immigrant.” I was glad the show writers didn’t use “illegal immigrant.” Drop the I-word!

Running
I’m supposed to figure out a race pace this month. I haven’t figured it out yet and doubt I’ll have it by Wednesday. Also, I’ve largely ignored other fitness goals that don’t have anything to do with training for the LA Marathon. I’m okay with that.

Finishing strong

Some long runs are decent and not that difficult; others really suck and make me hate distance running. During this training cycle, I’ve had very difficult 16-milers. The 18- and 22-milers have been less difficult. Sunday’s long run was tough. I had to take short walks a few times. Long runs are supposed to be slower, right? The only good thing was that I didn’t give up on it at 13 miles when I made a quick stop for water at home.

Wedding planning

Sean registering for a grill?

I thought I was going to like registering for gifts. It’s a bit more involved than I expected, just like the rest of the wedding planning process. Also, I know it’s just one more way stores are trying to get me to be a loyal customer for years to come. Hey, wedding industrial complex! I see you lurking behind those unnecessary one-purpose appliances.

Although it involves a lot of driving, I have enjoyed the caterer search. We’ve met with a couple for tastings and like what they have to offer.

Twenty-two through the Westside

Yesterday morning, I woke up, made some coffee, ate peanut butter toast with bananas and then proceeded to run 22 miles (longest training run I’ve ever done).

I missed some stuff there. I procrastinated for 90 minutes by watching Saturday Night Live, catching up on Words With Friends games, and hoping a sunny morning would suddenly become overcast. It didn’t.

Beachside running

I eventually got going a little after 9 and ran up in to Beverly Hills and through the final 8 miles of the LA Marathon course. About two hours later, I was at the beach admiring the views of the Pacific Ocean from Palisades Park.

I’ve run this route half a dozen times in previous marathon training cycles. I like it because it helps familiarized myself with the end of the marathon route, but it’s also challenging. The final 4-5 miles are on San Vicente Blvd through Brentwood and in to Santa Monica. It’s one of the best places to run in LA thanks to the tree-lined streets, a soft surface on the grassy median, water fountains, few stoplights and traffic, and plenty of other runner, walkers and cyclists. It’s also on a nice decline, which is less fun if you’re doing an out-and-back.

Quick break @ Palisades Park in Santa Monica

At Palisades Park, I stopped for a few minutes to refill my water bottles and take some photos. I’ve never taken pictures during a training run (or race) before. I hate carrying unnecessary items while I run. For a 22 mile run, I don’t feel comfortable without a phone. Now that I have a decent camera on my phone, that meant some pictures.

The second half of my run took me back the same way I came. On tired legs all the hills felt tougher and I felt like walking some. I stopped a couple of times, but started running after a few steps. I need to practice going up hill on tired legs considering there are some hills at miles 18 and 20 on the course. I finished off the last mile with some strides (about a couple blocks each). That helped me have my final mile be the fastest at 9 minutes.

I finished in 3:33:21, which puts me at a decent pace for my long runs.

As far as recovery, I felt pretty good and today I hardly felt sore. In the past when I’ve run 20+ miles, it hurt to sit the following day and my legs felt stiff. I didn’t have any of that. I’m going to credit the last ~9 weeks of strength training for the good recovery.

Post long run tan

One thing the run did leave me with was with a goofy tan line. At least it’s cool enough to wear tights with skirts these days.

***

One other thing about this week in marathon training. My Wednesday tempo run called for a 1.5 mile warm-up, 2 miles at 8 minute pace, and a 1.5 mile cool down. I was bit intimidated by this as 8:0X miles are quite difficult for me.

I did the workout on the track at UCLA. The tempo miles definitely felt challenging, but not insanely difficult. I think I nailed it.

Out of the classroom, but still on my bookshelf

Banned books (sort of)

I got the idea to start the This Day in Chicana/o History series some time in late 2009 or early 2010. I was inspired partly by other bloggers documenting Los Angeles history and by The Writer’s Almanac, one the many podcasts I listen to daily. After searching online and in old Chicana/o Studies textbooks for birthdays of famous Chicanas/os and dates of important events, I started the series. I wasn’t consistent with it back then and abandoned the project after a few months. (Definitely one of my weaknesses as a blogger and person in general.) I hope the current revival lasts especially in light of the struggle for a relevant education in Tucson.

When I started this project in early 2010, I had no clue a law banning ethnic studies was in pipeline in the Arizona legislature. HB 2281 particularly targeted the Mexican American studies program in Tucson Unified, a predominantly Latino school district. In May of 2010, Governor Jan Brewer — yeah, the one with her finger all up in President Obama’s face — signed the law. Tucson educators resisted the law and held on to Mexican American Studies until January when the Tucson Unified School District board voted to suspend the program or lose state funding. Over 80% of the books used in MA Studies courses were forbidden from being taught in the classroom. I’ve read many of these books, some are amongst my favorites. I read most in Chicana/o Studies courses in college.

Some books that were removed from Tucson classrooms

Before I ever took a Chicana/o Studies course, I became more invested in school when the subject was my history or the authors of the assigned books had Latino surnames. This is saying a lot considering I was quite the nerd, especially in history and English. In sixth grade, I wrote a report on Edward James Olmos for my project on a famous American. It was the first time I ever read about the Sleepy Lagoon trial, zoot suits and Chicano theater.

In the summer before 10th grade, I read Rudolfo Anaya’s Bless Me, Ultima as an assignment for honors English. While I’d never been to New Mexico, stories of curanderas and witches who turn in to owls and have healing powers were vaguely familiar. I’d heard similar tales from my cousins who spent some of their youth in Mexico. In discussing the book in class, I hated my teacher’s take on it and how she pronounced Ultima (ul-TEE-mah).

Both Luis Valdez’s Zoot Suit and Other Plays (Olmos starred in the stage and film version of Zoot Suit) and Bless Me, Ultima will no longer be taught in Arizona schools. They’re just two books on a long list.

Chicano and American Indian lit

I haven’t read many of the banned books in years, but I’m committed to re-reading them thanks to Feminist Texican’s Read & Resist project. While this won’t introduce books directly to Tucson youth, it may shed some light on how ridiculous it is to remove these books from the classroom and get us talking about the important of a relevant education.

As for the This Day project, you may have noticed that all the postings this year are about famous men. I have many women on the list, but could use more. If you have any suggestions of people of events for the project, let me know in the comments or email me.

V-day dinner by Chef Danny

Lori's balloons were the centerpiece

My brother, Danny, invited Sean and I to a Valentine’s dinner over the weekend. I know V-Day isn’t a family oriented holiday, but Danny’s a trained chef and it’s kinda rare that I get to eat anything he makes. Whenever I see him he’s usually exhausted from work. Sean liked the idea of a home-cooked gourmet meal rather than going out to a restaurant.

Traffic from LA to Hacienda Heights was horrible, but it was worth it. Danny made a delicious dinner with a little help from me, Lori and Costco. I like helping him out, it actually makes me feel like I know something about cooking.

We sat down to dinner a little late, but it was fine with me and accommodated my parents’ schedule.

Green salad

Green salad

Shrimp in a cayenne butter sauce with garlic asparagus

Shrimp in a delicious cayenne sauce

Filet mignon with a mushroom sauce, shrimp, roasted potatoes, asparagus and carrots (not pictured: garlic bread from the grocery store)

The main course

Apple pie a la mode (from Costco)

Apple pie & vanilla bean ice cream

I was so stuffed.

My favorites were definitely the cayenne shrimp and the mushroom sauce.

V.R. breaks out the sad puppy dog eyes for a chance at some steak

As or VR, he was really working the puppy dog eyes angle to get some steak.

Love and other L words

My grandparents are adorable too

My celebration of love typically comes two weeks before February 14 when my extended family gathers to celebrate Papá Chepe and Mamá Toni’s wedding anniversary.

Ureño Saldivar family, 1968

I believe the Ureño Saldivar family has been throwing anniversary parties since 1968, the 25th anniversary.

Ureño Saldivar grandkids, 1983

I don’t remember the party for 40th anniversary, but I was there in a frilly dress.

50th Wedding Anniversary

I do recall the huge party for 50 and the whole family dressed in forest green and gold. I thought it was so cool that my grandparents had reached such a milestone. A year later, my fathers’ parents, Grandpa Bartolo and Grandma Juana, also celebrated their 50th anniversary.

Most of the celebrations are low-key, save for the numbers divisible by 5. Since the 60th anniversary, we’ve gathered annually on the last weekend of January to share a meal and celebrate the beginning of our little* extended family.

Celebrating the grandparents' 69th wedding anniversary

This January, the 69th anniversary, we celebrated love, luck, longevity and loyalty. After all, love isn’t all you need to stay together for nearly seven decades.

*The Saldivar family had a big reunion in 2003 (or 04?). After studying a huge family tree, I realized that Mamá Toni’s branch of the family is much smaller than most of her brothers’ and sisters’ families. I have a few cousins compared to my mom.

This day in Chicano history: Edward R. Roybal (1916)

February 10, 1916: Edward “Ed” R. Roybal was born in Albuquerque, New Mexico

While Roybal was born in New Mexico, he’s closely linked with mid-century Los Angeles history. His family moved to Boyle Heights in the early 1920s, he graduated from Roosevelt High School (like my mom), attended UCLA (go Bruins!) before going on to a long career in public health, community organizing and politics.

In 1949, Roybal was elected to the LA city council. There were some road bumps.

In 1993, Roybal told The Times that at his first City Council meeting [in 1949], he was introduced as “our new Mexican councilman who also speaks Mexican.”

“My mission was immediately obvious,” he said later. “I’m not Mexican. I am a Mexican American. And I don’t speak a word of Mexican. I speak Spanish.”

It became his role, he said, to educate his fellow public officials about Latinos and to pay special attention to what he felt were the long-neglected needs of his largely Latino constituencies. [Source: LA Times obituary, 2005]

In 1962, Roybal moved on from local politics to the national DC and became the first Latino from California to serve in Congress since 1879 (source). He was later appointed to the Appropriations Committee and became an “influential advocate for federal funding for health, education, community health programs and bilingual education.” [Source]

Some highlights from his long career provided by the USC Edward R. Roybal Institute on Aging:

  • Author of the 1968 legislation that established the National Bilingual Education Act to assist schools in meeting the educational needs of children who come from non-English-speaking homes.
  • Played an important role in the passage of legislation outlawing age discrimination and fought for benefits and opportunities for those with disabilities.
  • Responsible for funding America’s first AIDS research and treatment programs
  • Championed the first federal funding for Alzheimer’s Disease and was instrumental in renewing legislation to provide medical service to people with the disease
  • Led the campaign to restore funding for programs for the elderly, including a senior citizens’ public housing program and a community-based alternative to nursing homes
  • Successfully maintained the Meals on Wheels program and protected veterans’ preferences in hiring in 1982
  • Consumer rights defender
  • Co-founder of the House Select Committee on Aging, serving as chairman from 1983-1993
  • One of the first legislators to introduce legislation to establish a national health plan for the United States
  • Founder of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, which he served as both president and treasurer
  • Founder of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO)

I noted Congressman Roybal’s passing in 2005 and wrote: “It’s amazing to think that many of the issues he worked on as a Councilman in the 1950s and then as a Congressman, such as police brutality and immigration, are still problematic. For anyone from LA who has studied the history of Chicana/o politicians, there is no way to avoid the impact of Ed Roybal on the growing political power of Latinos.”

Photo of Edward Roybal being sworn in to the LA City Council in 1949 from the Los Angeles Times photographic archive, UCLA Library. Copyright Regents of the University of California, UCLA Library.

A red nose and a white dress

Which one?

I was not looking forward to dress shopping. There were three main reasons: I can be indecisive; I wanted to avoid the ego blow when I saw the non-vanity sized tag in the dress that closed (or didn’t); and the pressure to have the “oh, mommy!” or “this is the one” moment. I also dreaded having to go several places to find something I wanted. Up until now, planning has been relatively simple and Sean and I have gone with the first or second site or vendor we’ve found and liked.

And so, I put it off. I probably would have waited longer if the planning checklists I consulted didn’t say wedding dress shopping should begin right around now, or two months ago.

As January wore on, I started searching. First, I looked through general wedding planning websites for tips on finding a dress, trying on dresses, types of dresses, best dresses for your body type, etc. I made a spreadsheet of local bridal boutiques, both small business and chain shops. I read Yelp horror stories and freaked out. I asked friends and family for recommendations for shops and got some tips.

Then I waited a couple of weeks. This is the way wedding planning goes for us. Sean and I will be productive one day and then take a break for the next two weeks.

When I was home for the grandparents’ anniversary party, mom reminded me about going dress shopping. Early last week, I opened up my trusty spreadsheet — Google Docs has been great through planning — and made two appointments at shops near my apartment. I let mom and Lori know so they could make plans, take time off work.

For the next few days, I did my homework. I checked out the many dresses made by the labels carried at the boutiques. By Friday morning, I had three albums of screenshots of dresses I liked along with a list of elements I did and did not like. I didn’t have any musts for my dress, but knew I probably wasn’t going for a huge Cinderella ball gown with a busy pick-up skirt or a fitted mermaid gown with tons of bead work and huge bows.

Mom and Lori arrived promptly at 9:40 on Friday morning and we drove to Rosa’s Shop in Culver City. I’ve been in the area many times and noticed the store, but never had occasion to step in for a bridal gown, formal dress, first communion or baptism dress/suit.

Rosa met us outside the shop and we quickly got to business. I named dresses I liked and she pulled them out or found something similar. Lori got a mini upper body workout moving the dresses from the racks to the dressing room.

While Rosa went through the racks she pulled out a couple of dresses with details I liked and were within my price range even if they were not on my not-so-short list. Once in the dressing room, I stripped down and she began helping me get into the dresses. We’d step out of the room and take three steps to the platform where I’d slip on Lori’s shoes and check out my reflection.

I tried on 6 or 7 dresses. I can’t remember the exact number, just that we were pretty efficient. I liked all of them. Surprisingly, mom and Lori were mostly in agreement. I expected our preferences would differ more and underestimated how well they know me, my style and taste. If I wasn’t excited about a dress or didn’t like something about it, they didn’t like it either. They were opinionated without being unhelpful or stressing me out.

The penultimate dress I tried was made by a designer whose dresses feature corset backs. It was nice, but not my favorite. The whole process of getting laced in seemed a bit complicated and I didn’t want to do that again for the last dress on the rack, also by the same designer. I was ready to be done, but Rosa asked me to try the dress on. It was her favorite. She’d pulled it out earlier from a rack after I told her what I was looking for.

“You said you wanted [X element],” she reasoned.

Rosa was right. I agreed to try it on. She took it out of the clear garment bag and took it off the hanger. I got the dress on and walked out to the platform. I slipped on Lori’s shoes and instantly grew 5 inches. I stood still and studied my reflection as Rosa laced up the corset and tied the strings. As she pulled tighter, I felt something. No, it was not the loss of oxygen.

I loved my reflection. The dress was perfect. I loved the fabric and the pretty, but not overdone details. I loved what it did for my figure. I felt beautiful.

I looked down to my mom — and odd feeling since she’s a few inches taller than me. She nodded her head like she does when she’s thinking and gave a soft smile. This dress was different. She had immediate comments on all the other gowns. Not this one. Lori — now wearing my purple flats — was smiling too.

I needed to see what Sean would see as I walked down the aisle with my father by my side.

“Can I try on a veil?”

I stayed on the platform while the others walked over to veil display. They picked out a chapel length veil. Rosa affixed it to my hair and pulled the tulle down over my face.

Something clicked. I turned to my mom.

I choked up as I said, “Mom, this is the one I want.”

Yeah, I cried. My nose got red. Lori took my camera out of my purse and took some pictures. (Of course, those won’t be shared.)

As cliché as it sounds, I’d just had my “oh, mommy!” moment. (Oh, wedding industrial complex, you win again. At least I’m aware of what I’m falling for because I read Rebecca Mead’s One Perfect Day: The Selling of the American Wedding. That makes it okay, right?)

As I walked around the room getting a feel for how the dress moved, I thought my dad would’ve been crying if he saw me. It’s a good thing my mom and Lori foresaw that and didn’t let him tag along.

I went back to the carpeted platform and stared at myself for a couple more minutes. I asked Rosa about the details, cost, length, bustles and other potential alterations.

And then I realized it was 11:36 and I had a noon appointment at the Alfred Angelo store in Beverly Hills. I hurried to change in to my casual dress. Rosa gave me a quick hug before leaving and I promised to return.

Glad I didn’t bail: SRLA 18-Mile Friendship Run

17th Annual 18-Mile Friendship Run

I almost bailed on the SRLA 18-Mile Friendship Run at Hansen Dam earlier this week. I’d forgotten to register and saw that the late fee was $75 ($15 over early registration). That’s pretty steep for what would essentially be a long run with course support. I sucked it up as I like supporting the race host, Students Run LA.

I went in to the race this morning a little hurried. I didn’t get much sleep after a friend’s party and then fixing up the blog to prevent more hacks (hence the new look). I woke up this morning at 5:30 annoyed that I had to leave the dinner party I was dreaming about. Instead of digging in to a giant bowl of arroz con pollo, I drank coffee and ate my usual pre-long breakfast, peanut butter and banana toast.

A couple hours later, Sean and I were at the Hansen Dam Recreation Center. I jokingly asked Sean, “why is running so white?” while walking past a crowd that truly represented LA’s diversity. One of the reasons I love SRLA is because they bring a lot of diversity to the running community. I picked up my bib, took care of pre-race necessities, told Sean about the best spectating spots near the start/finish line, squeezed into the crowd of SRLA students and got my podcasts ready.

Finishing the first 9-mile loop

I didn’t have much of a plan or a goal for this race. I wanted to finish <2:50 (9:27 pace), but would be fine a few minutes over. A 9:27 is a little fast for a typical long run, but I figured it’d help me gauge my fitness and figure out a marathon race pace. I know I can run sub-9 without a problem for 13.1, but what can I do for 26.2?

At the half

We started promptly at 8. I kept the first mile easy and slow. It’s nearly impossible to run a fast first mile with congestion at the start. I mostly succeeded in my goal of not getting stressed by runners blocking me and slowing me down. I settled in to a comfortable pace and ran about 9 minute miles for the first loop. I finished the first half in ~1:21. I pulled over for a bathroom stop and lost a couple of minutes, but didn’t stress. I also stopped to remove a pebble from my shoe, and at most of the water stations. It was easier that way, otherwise I’d miss the water or crash into another runner walking as I tried to pick up/grab a cup. The second loop was more challenging. I got tired, the sun bugged me more, and I hated running on the dam. I really needed water up there, but was saved by volunteers with oranges. I managed not to slow down as I knew I was within reach of my goal.

Danzantes at the finish line

As we exited the dam and ran the final half mile stretch, I sped up slightly. I got another boost when I heard the beat of Aztec drums and saw danzantes between me and the finish line. Unfortunately, they ended the song just as I passed, but it still energized me and made me feel even better about the race. I felt great when I finished. I didn’t feel fatigued or more achy than expected. If I had to, I could have gone a few more miles despite mild IT band pain.

Despite the stops and slowing down a bit, I met my informal goal. I finished in 2:47:56 (9:20 pace); 5th in female 30-34 age group.

Finishing strong

Last year, this race was tough mentally and physically. It was the first time I’d run 18 miles. I also made the mistake two weeks before the race of donating blood. I’m all for donating blood, but was too dumb/inexperienced at this wannabe athlete thing to know it’d affect my performance for a couple of months.

This year was much different since I knew what to expect and overall have become a stronger runner. Eighteen miles isn’t easy, but I know it’s doable. It was a sunny morning, but much cooler than last year. The climbs in Shadow Hills (miles 4-6 and 12-14) didn’t feel as challenging as when I ran them last year.

Preparing for another LA Marathon

Overall, I’m really glad I didn’t skip the race. I’m getting excited about the LA Marathon. I’m beginning to think that what McMillan calculators say I can run for the marathon is in reach, especially on the familiar Stadium to the Sea course. I needed this race. I’ve felt a little unsure thus far since I didn’t feel like I was training in earnest until two weeks ago. I’m 6 weeks out and have only done one 18 miler. I trust that Marc, my online coach, will get me to the start line healthy — my number one priority.

Two notes:

  1. My Garmin had me at about 17.3 miles. It clocked a similar distance last year. I don’t think the race is short, but I think the reading on the dam is inaccurate. I was matching up with the mile markers the first half until the stretch across the dam.
  2. If you take water every mile, you might want to carry a bottle or fuel belt. There’s no aid stations on the dam. The race organizers let people know about this, but I underestimate the length and the need for a quick sip. There are aid stations right before and right after the dam.
  3. My bathroom stop was my first during a race. Glad I checked that off during a low key event.

Ten tidbits for the week

I love lime.

I got a mysterious cut on my thumb. It’s more annoying than painful, especially when squeezing lime or giving my apartment a much-needed scrubbing.

Which one?

I went wedding dress shopping with my mom and sister yesterday. I’m pretty sure I found the dress.

Mozzarella en carroza @ Rocco's

I read on NPR’s The Salt blog that Americans eat an average of 31 pounds of cheese annually. That caught my eye for obvious reasons. I didn’t know if it was a #31fail or a #31ftw. Then I did the math. 31 pounds is only 1.35 ounces a day. That’s around 1 1/3 servings daily. No big deal. If it was the amount of cheese I consumed yesterday — one slice on an egg sandwich, half a slice on a cheeseburger, half of that mozzarella en carroza up there, and whatever was on two slices of sausage & spinach pizza — then I’d be concerned.

UCLA is mine!

I really hate this statement: “getting a BA is the new high school diploma, it’s meaningless.” All that tells me is that the speaker comes from quite the privileged background. I know that for someone who shares my background — immigrant parents, first generation college student, Chicana, lower middle class — earning a BA was beating the odds. Hell, graduating high school is a big deal for a lot of people like me. It’s true that college-going and graduation rates have increased for all segments of the population, but some groups still fall far behind.

Shopping PSA featuring Sean

I made my first trip to Target in a few weeks. To keep to my not be a sucker for Target resolution I made a list beforehand, and stuck to it for the most part. I bought one item off the list, a set of 10 pound dumbbells. Sean gave me his disapproving side-eye if he caught me looking at something that was not on the list, but he suggested the new dumbbells since the 8 pound ones are too easy.

Fitness stuff for the home

I’ve been strength training twice a week for seven weeks now. I’m seeing some results. I’ve been able to increase the weights 25%. Okay, it’s only going from 8 pounds to 10, but that’s still improvement. My jeans and blouses fit less snug too.

Garmin run for 1/30

I thought I was getting faster after incorporating regular strength and cross training. After doing the math, I’m not so sure. I averaged a 9:15 pace for easy runs from October through December; this excludes long runs and races. In January my easy runs averaged a 9:04 pace. Not as big a difference as I thought considering my average easy run is shorter these days. Well, at least I’ve shown some recent improvement in the half marathon distance. I ran about 2:03 in my first half marathon in October 2010. My personal best in December was 10 minutes faster.

Cindy and her mom

This week I realized I was “brave” because I venture out in to the world without makeup and any special hair style 95% of the time. I don’t wear makeup because I want to buck social norms. I’m just too apathetic to bother, too cheap to spend money on the good stuff, and don’t like spending much time getting ready. I really like the way I look with makeup, but I’m not so used to myself with mascara and eyeliner that I feel I look ghostly or insecure without it.

Happy hour hefeweizens

I had my first beer in a month yesterday. I temporarily gave up alcohol in January. It’s easy for me. I don’t drink much to begin with. Now, giving up Diet Coke for a month was difficult.

Old Skool

My Blogotitlán friends want to run the Chicago Marathon in the fall. I’m bummed I’ll have to sit out this reunion as I’ve already decided not to run a fall marathon and I’ll probably be tapped out of any extra funds due to the wedding and honeymoon. [Photo by Oso.]