Tuesday, May 31, 2011

California Classic Weekend

On Friday Derek and I packed up the FJ and headed for a fun filled family weekend in Fresno to do the California Classic Challenge, metric century ride on Saturday followed by a half marathon on Sunday.  This is the perfect training weekend for us, since Vineman 70.3 is coming up in July.  We stayed with my Aunt and Uncle at the Casa Durham.  Almost the whole family made the trek; my mom, Aunt Chris, Tommy, Tarah, and Terry (well for a few hours while on his way to Napa).  We stayed up and hung out for a few hours.  Bright and early Saturday morning we were up and eating yummy steel cut oatmeal with dried fruit and nuts before the race.  I wore my new outfit from www.bettydesigns.com which I was so excited to get as a gift from my love!  Derek and I had to leave a bit early to pick up our race packets, since we were late.  We got everything ready and met everyone at the start line.  Derek, Diane, Chris, Tarah, Shawn and I all tried to start together but with 1,500 people we got separated.  I was in no man's land with the girls in front of me and the guys behind.  I knew that eventually I'd meet back up with them again.  It was really slow going for the first 4-5 miles through town, there were a few times that I even had to unclip and stop but once on the 168 it was full steam ahead. 

The 168 freeway was closed for 10 miles for us to ride on, and that was really cool.  I finally caught up with the girls, and we slowly spun down the 168.  It was much smoother than I had anticipated.  For some reason I was thinking that it would be a really rough 10 miles, but it was probably the smoothest part of the entire ride.  Derek and Shawn caught up with us about 3-4 miles after getting on the 168 and we were all together again.  Once off the freeway we no longer had any traffic control, which I though was a bit strange since we were on country roads that people go blowing by you at 70 mph!  There were several uncontrolled intersections that cars would not stop, so it was a bit scary! 
me, Shawn and Derek stopping to say Hi to Mary. 

It would have been nice to have a little police presence out on the road so drivers slowed down just a little bit.  A semi truck passing you on a little country road can be unnerving at times.  We stopped again around mile 30 at the first rest stop and it was crazy!  Hundreds of people were there and only 4, yes 4 porta potties!!  Really!  Thankfully I didn't have to go, or I would have had to wait in at least a 20 minute line.  Once back on the road, we just cruised along at about 18 mph and talked.  It was so much fun to cruise along and chit chat.  There were some really pretty areas that we went through, but also some really scary ones. The route back to the finish took us through some pretty rough areas of Fresno, I really think the race organizers need to plan that part of the course a bit better.  I'm not really sure what our finish time was, since we did not have chips and I didn't start my Garmin until mile 24.

Derek, Shawn, Diane, Tarah, me and Chris

Afterwards we hung out and had lunch at the park then went home to rest.  When we got back to the house we all sat in the ice cold pool for a bit and then the spa!  Perfect recovery combo.  I also used my Grid foam roller and my legs were never sore.   Uncle Jim made us an awesome tri-tip for dinner with salad, corn, veggies and pilaf.  I was totally stuffed!  Derek and I went to bed pretty early since we had to be up super early again on Sunday. 

Yumm!  Courtesy of the Durham support team

We were up bright and early Sunday morning and out the door a little late.  Derek, Diane, Chris and I barely had time to park and get to the start line to fine Mary.  I think we talked for maybe a minute before the gun went off.

Derek, Mary, me, Chris and Lisa
It was crowded!  Derek and I once again started way too far back and had to fight the crowds.  We ended up running on the sidewalk for about a half mile to get around the mob.  Our time goal was to run the half in under 2 hours.  We started off in the 8:30-8:40 range and kept that pace, it felt good and wasn't a push.  The first few miles of the course really twisted and turned, but we did get to see Shawn a bunch of times and unload our warm clothes on him.  Thanks Shawn for always being our pack mule!  Once out of downtown Fresno we were taken through some really rough areas and beautiful industrial streets.  I mean after Big Sur the views here were just as stunning, I heard later that there were a few hookers out and about, I was a bit disappointed that I missed them!  Mile 6 we entered the Fresno zoo, and Derek took off!  He is really creeped out by zoos and caged animals really bother him, so he was off like a little rocket through the zoo. Once out of the zoo I fot him back on pace and we cruised along.  Around mile 8 I decided that I wanted to run faster and see if I could break 2 hours.  Derek tried to keep up, and stayed with me for a bit, but then dropped back.  I just kept finding people ahead of me to catch and pass, my last few miles hovered around 8:00.  Turning the corner and running onto the field I knew that I was well below 2:00 and ended up with 1:48:56 Woohoo.  Derek was not far behind, he sprinted to finish in 1:51:03.  He crushed his goal!  I gave him a water as soon as he crossed, but he just walked to the side and flopped down in the grass, he was spent.  I am so proud of him! he did such a good job and really put in a huge effort.  Especially on tired legs.  Shiny new PRs for both of us. 
Derek was spent after his finish!
Derek and I on the field.
Mary, Derek and I

After we finished we went back out on the course to cheer Mary and Chris on.  After Mary went by we waited for Chris.   I ran the last half mile in with her, in case she needed a little moral support!  She looked great and was running at a good little clip and she was extra cute in her lulu outfit.  We all hung out on at the stadium afterwards, ate breakfast, talked with my mom, Shawn and Jim (the awesome support team!).  Chris and I happened to turn around at one point to see Diane running across the finish line!  She walked/ran the half and beat her old time by 20 minutes!  Overall it was a great weekend filled with family, food and racing.  It was a perfect weekend and perfect training for Vineman in two months.  Lots of swim, bike run in my future.  I get the whole next week off of school to relax and recover from this weekend.  Even better we'll get to see the see the family in a few weeks in Vegas for PJs 21st!  Can't wait!

Friday, May 13, 2011

big sur and other news

Hmmm where do I start?  This was supposed to be just a race report of the Big Sur Marathon, but the weekend turned out to be so much more than I ever expected.  Friday we packed up the Ferrari, a feat in and of itself, then drove up to Monterey  We stopped by the expo and picked up our bibs etc, and met Bart Yasso (geeked out a little bit).  Had a nice dinner with Irene at the Whole Enchilada which has the best Mexican food ever, and turned in for the night.  Saturday Derek and I went on a little shake out run along the beach down by Fisherman's Wharf, and it was gorgeous outside!  I'm talking 70 degrees, sunny and no wind, which is unusual there.  I want to move to Monterey, there is the best running/bike path that goes on for miles and miles along the coast.  I'd go run it every day.  My mom and Dad drove over to go to lunch and spend the day with us in Carmel.

Carmel was amazing as well and we had a lovely lunch outside, my Dad even got to eat his favorite dish, abalone, for an appetizer.  We walked around, shopped, had coffee and did all that you're not supposed to do before a full marathon.  Rest my legs?  Walk up and down hills?  No, I didn't do that!  It was a fantastic day.   Once back to Irene's I had to figure out all the stuff I needed and get it ready, since at 4am my brain does not function and I'd surely forget my shoes if they were not set there!  Race morning came and it was cold and my lower back really hurt!  So I was a bit worried because I could barely stand straight, so I took a couple of Tylenol hoping that would help.   It was 40 degrees out and windy!  I'm a fair weather runner and to me that is freezing and just short of torture.  Thankfully we arrived to our bus pickup location and got to sit in a warm and toasty bus, then in a semi warm tent for RW Challenge people.  It was nice to not have to sit in the cold wind.  RW Challenge had a great set up with food, coffee, our own nice porta potties and tents to keep us out of the wind.  I waited until about 5 minutes to the start to get out of my cozy Lululemon sweats, and then froze walking to the start area, my teeth were chattering while we waited in the corral.  Once the gun went off it was slow going for the first 2 miles.
Start line way in the distance

Derek and I accidentally got into the wrong corral and had to weave in and out of people for the first 2 or 3 miles.  In a way I think it was a good thing because we didn't start out too fast and just got into a nice rhythm.  We chatted, took pics and enjoyed the view through the Highlands. The course is basically all uphill or downhill the entire way, and through the Highlands the road is really slanted and not so bad on fresh legs but the end it killed!  At mile 4 we saw Shawn, Derek's cousin who's a CHP officer, we stopped briefly and gave him all our cold weather stuff.  It was really cool to see someone on the course, and have the option to not carry all my accessories!  We then settled into a nice easy pace.  The views were absolutely gorgeous!  I was amazed and distracted the entire time, at least there was something to take my mind off the fact there was yet another hill to climb.   One of my favorite parts was the grand piano about mile 10ish, and then coming back so we got to see him twice!  The first half went by really fast and before I knew it, we were at Rocky Creek bridge turning around.  This is where we picked up the pace since we felt really good.  I think we went out a bit too conservatively the first half.  We were not pushing ourselves and really just took it easy.  So on the return we decided to kick it up a notch.  I will say that it turned into an absolutely gorgeous day, sunny no wind and about 70, I was regretting my decision to not wear a tank top! 
I don't even look like I'm running
Derek looking good

Piano man!

Derek and I passed a lot of people who had passed us earlier, they were either going really slow or walking the uphill.  Neither one of us walked once the entire course, unless you count stopping to get water, pee or take a pic.  I felt fantastic and know I could have gone a lot harder the entire time, but I really wanted to enjoy the view and conversation with Derek.  I think one reason we felt so good was that we really stayed on top of keeping hydrated and nutrition, we took in 1 Gu and 1 salt/electrolyte tab an hour.  Around mile 20 we started to get back into the Highlands and the road camber (slope) hurts!  There were strawberries at mile 21!  At first I didn't think that sounded good but once you've eaten like 4/5 gu's a handful of strawberries was nothing short of heaven.  I was still feeling good but my hips hurt when the road became really sloped, I'd try to run along the edges or the middle but that didn't help much.

There was a little detour through Point Lobos of about 2 miles, it was pretty but there was no breeze anymore and it got HOT!  This is about where Derek's knees started bothering him so he would slow down and have to say something to reel me back in.  I didn't want to slow down much because then my back would hurt.  Somehow we made it through this part without getting snippy at each other!  Once out of PL it was about 2 miles to the finish and I was so ready to be done.  I never hit the "wall" that people talk about, or was ever in any terrible pain, I just wanted to be done and get my massage!  It seemed that at every turn or hill I'd think the finish line would be right there, but it wouldn't.  We finally got to the finishing chute and my Mom, Dad, Mary and Daniel were there to cheer us on.  It was really cool to see them and be able to give them sweaty hugs.  They went to the RW Challenge finish area with us where there was a lot of food and stuff to drink.  I went over to get a massage in the VIP tent, probably one of the best massages ever!  My therapist said that my legs felt great and that if she didn't know I'd just ran a marathon she'd never have known.  I guess all the stretching and work on my Grid have paid off!
Yay! We're done!
We finished in 4:31:29, according to my Garmin our average pace was 10:08 and there was an elevation gain/loss of 1986/1976 feet.  That's a lot! 

After resting in the finishers area I was ready to go check into our hotel and take a shower, but Derek kept wanting to sit.  We finally left with my parents to go get the Ferrari in Monterey.  When we got there Derek tells me he has good news and bad news, I'm thinking that we can't go to a hotel for a few hours since it's too early.  So he tells me that we're staying somewhere else but we have to sit in traffic on PCH to get there.  PCH was closed for the marathon and going back towards Carmel it was all backed up.  I was fine with that, I love the idea of staying somewhere nice, but he wouldn't tell me where!  So we're driving towards Carmel and pass the turn off for Pebble Beach, not staying at The Lodge.  Pass the Carmel Valley turn off, not staying in there, hmmm that leaves either Tickle Pink Inn or the Highlands Inn.  And it turned out we were staying at the Highlands, he won't let me go up to check in with him which I was fine with since there seemed to be about 10,000 stairs to get to the lobby.

Way too many stairs!

I stayed with the Ferrari, and then we were taken to our room or shall I say suite.  Oh my god!  It was huge, had a 2 person jacuzzi, fireplace, living room and huge balcony with the most stunning view of the coast.  I cried as soon as we got inside!  I think I was so overwhelmed with the fact that I just finished a marathon and the fact that we were now staying at the Highlands Inn, somewhere I've always wanted to stay but never have since it costs a fortune!  Derek was a little freaked out because I was crying, he had me go sit out on the balcony to enjoy the view.  It is breathtaking, and pictures really do not do the view justice, I think it's my favorite place in the world.  Then he's there next to me on his knee with a beautiful ring in his hand, and asked me to marry him.  Now cue the tears again, I could barely squeak out yes because I was crying.
Isn't it pretty!  Both the ring and the view.

I had no idea that this was going to happen!  Talk about shocking!  I was all excited to be staying there and then he surprised me with a proposal!  My next surprise it that I have to hurry up and get ready because our families are all down at the main building waiting for us to have a celebratory lunch.  What?! They all knew about it!  I was so overwhelmed with everything that I am certain I looked shell shocked when we finally made it to the restaurant.  Lunch was amazing and it was so nice to share the day with so many people that I love.  Afterwards we had drinks in the lounge overlooking the water.  Mary and Shawn joined us at one of the fire pits for drinks and s'mores while watching the sunset.

 It was an absolutely perfect day.  Derek even had an expensive bottle of wine in the room for us to drink!  I even stayed up until 10pm, which is way past my bedtime,especially after a marathon and being up at 4am!

We slept in on Monday and had breakfast in the room while we enjoyed the view of the ocean, I swear I did not want to leave the room!  Eventually we left and drove to Pacific Grove to drive the Ferrari along the coast and up 17 mile drive.  We stopped along the way and took lots of pictures. I love 17 mile drive!  It is so gorgeous.  Derek and I thought it was funny that every time we stopped to get out and take a few pictures we'd turn around and there would be people posing next to the Ferrari taking pics!  It got more action than we did.
That field right behind the Ferrari is home to some of the luckiest cows in the world!  They get to hang out in it all day and enjoy a multi million dollar view.  I was kind of jealous of them.  

We drove the marathon course after 17 mile drive and I am so happy that we did not do that beforehand.  I would have been freaking out, I knew the course would be hilly but I didn't realize that the entire thing was going to be up, down, up, down and so on.  Plus from the car the hills seemed much longer and steeper than they did by foot.  At least on foot I could put my head down, or look at the ocean or talk to Derek and get him to quote a silly movie or something.  After we went back to the hotel and shared a bottle of wine on the balcony while enjoying the view and then had an amazing dinner at Pacific's Edge restaurant at the Highlands, it was pure heaven.  Champagne, wine, salad, huge rib eye and yummy dessert!  I left in a food coma. 
I earned that steak and bottle of wine!

Derek almost had to drag me out kicking and screaming, but I decided that if I ever wanted to come back I'd need to go quietly. 

Overall it was one of the most amazing, memorable weekends of my life.  I thought it would just be running a marathon together, but it was so much more.  I feel so lucky to have such a wonderful man in my life!  He wanted to create an event that I would never forget and he sure did.  Now time to plan a wedding!