Monday, October 29, 2012

Iron Embo's California Voter's Guide

I'm pretty sure most people know who they are voting for for president, and for those of you who are still undecided, I figure there is enough info out there for you to make a good choice (Obama of course).

But I was talking with my dad this morning about the California propositions, and I realized there are some sneaky ones out there. So for those of you who have a liberal leaning in politics, but might be too busy to look in to the issues yourself, I've come up with a nice short voter's guide for California voters.

1. Prop 30: YES
Why: Tax the rich to support our schools? Yeah, I'm down with that.

2. Prop 31: NO
Why: It adds bureaucracy and adds layers of restrictions and poorly defined requirements and leaves key decisions up to unelected bureaucrats. Plus my dad is voting NO, and he's pretty awesome.

3. Prop 32: NO
Why: Let's see, campaign finance reform that was written by billionaires to make sure they, themselves are excluded from it? I think not!

4. Prop 33: NO
Why: it's another deceptive insurance company trick to raise auto insurance rates for millions of responsible drivers in California. And they tried to be sneaky and make it seem like we are voting for discounts. (Mercury Insurance's billionaire chairman George Joseph has spent $8 million to fund this prop. When was the last time an insurance company billionaire spent a fortune to save you money?)

5. Prop 34: YES
Why: My religious and ethical feelings and beliefs aside (I don't believe any one has the right to take away another person's life) there are two major flaws with the death penalty: 1. It costs more to put a prisoner to death than it does to keep them in prison with no possibility of parole, so it would save the state money. 2. There are always cases where a person condemned could possibly be the wrong person, and then you would have killed an innocent person.

6. Prop 35: YES
Why: I think human traffickers should receive increased prison sentences and fines. We need to take a stand and show that this is unacceptable!

7. Prop 36: YES
Why: Because it will save the state money, and I don't think a person who has only committed non-violent crimes should be condemned to life in prison. We need to save those spaces for violent criminals. Yes, I've been a victim of a non-violent crime. My car was stolen, and it sucked! But if the kids (I don't know if they were kids, but it seemed like a prank a kid would play) had been caught and it was their third non-violent felony, I really don't think they should have gone to prison for life for stealing my 1997 Saturn Coup.

8. Prop 37: YES
Why: I'd like to know if my food is genetically engineered or not. Plus, even though there may be flaws with this proposition, we have to start somewhere. And I'm sorry, but Monsanto is funding every single No on Prop 37 commercial I have seen. If Monsanto doesn't want this, then I definitely do!

9. Prop 38: NO
Why: It taxes people who only make $17,346 a year to fund schools. It is a massive income tax hike for the middle class, your rates could go up by as much as 21% over twelve years. When Prop 30 is also being voted on to tax the rich to fund schools, I don't think we need to have this tax as well.

10. Prop 39: YES
Why: It requires that all corporations doing business in California pay taxes determined by their sales here, no matter where they are based. If they are getting the opportunity to use our incredibly large consumer market here in California, I think they should also be paying their fair share of taxes back to the citizens in the state who are buying their goods.

11. Prop 40: YES
Why: Seems like even those opposed to this proposition are no longer opposed to it, so why should I be?

Thursday, October 11, 2012

10 Things I Learned at the Chicago Marathon

1. Don't ever trust George and I made reservations with them months ago for a one bedroom apartment, and the place canceled our reservations the day before! (I had confirmed on Wednesday, and they canceled them on Friday). wouldn't help us at all!

2. Be patient and kind and persistent and good things will come to you: After 3 hours on the phone ,with the place that canceled our reservations, George got us very nice one bedroom at the Courtyard Marriott, which was on the race course.

3. If you are going to Chicago in October, be prepared to run in COLD weather: Otherwise you might be forced to buy a cute penguin hat to keep your ears warm, but all your friends might think that you are wearing a fried egg on your head.

4. Marathons freakin' hurt! I thought since I had trained for this one, actually trained and followed a marathon schedule, that this would be a nice long jog. Well by mile 13 I had to switch from running 9 minutes/walking 1 minute to running 4 minutes/walking 1 minute, and my legs started to feel like a jack hammer was hitting them. Or actually, like they were jack hammers hitting the pavement really hard, over, and over, and over again.

5. Counting down makes things easier: At the half way point, I told myself: "Hey, I just have 13 more miles to run. I can do that. I've totally run 13 miles before!" At 14 miles I told myself: "I just have 12 more miles to run! I can do that, I've run 12 miles before!" At 15 miles I told myself: "I just have 11 more miles to run I can do that! I've totally run 11 miles before"...and so on. You get the point. Basically I had to keep telling myself over, and over that I could do it. I'd done it before and I was going to do it again!

6. Don't kid yourself: if you can't run for 10 minutes at mile 15, then you aren't going to be able to run 10 minutes at the end of the race either. At mile 20, I started thinking: "Wow, just 6 more miles left, if I was running 10 minute miles then I would be done in an hour" (BTW, I was NOT running 10 minute miles, but whatever). I thought: "I can just run it in, no more walking breaks!" Ha! That lasted until the next 4 minutes when my watch beeped, and I decided that maybe I would stick with the run/walk until mile 23. At mile 23, I knew I could just run it in. I mean, it would take me only 30 minutes if I was going 10 miles per hour (which again, I wasn't). But again, the first time my watched beeped after I had passed mile 23, I stopped to walk. I thought: "Well, 3 miles is a little long, but I will definitely run in the last 2 miles." Let's just say, I did run in the last .2 miles, and running down that finish line shoot is quite amazing!

7. I am actually an ultra-marathoner: No need to sign up for the ultra team next year. I did an ultra last Sunday. First we had to walk 1.75 miles to the starting line. Then we ran 26.2 miles. Then it was .5 miles just to walk down the finisher's shoot to get our medals. Then we had to walk 1.25 miles back to the hotel. Then we had to walk 1.4 miles to get to dinner and back. So my little legs took me 31 miles on Sunday, and that's an ultra marathon!

8. Nothing Beats Zachary's! I love Zachary's, but I thought being in Chicago, I would experience the true Chicago deep dish pizza and be blown away. But what I learned was that nothing beats Zachary's. In fact the pizza in Chicago didn't even come close! I didn't even want to eat the leftovers for breakfast!

9. Friends and family support is so important: Knowing that my parents were out there on the course waiting for me to come by and cheer me on, and knowing that my friends were out there running with me, made my day!

10. And most importantly: It may not be a good idea to do something new on race day! So I thought it would be cute to wear my Jasmine Barranti underwear. You know, that way I could pretend she was running with me. Well, normally I don't wear underwear, and they started chafing at mile 2, and I had to spend the entire race sticking my hands down the front of my pants trying to readjust them, which wouldn't have been so bad, except that the streets were literally lined with spectators, so I had to do this directly in front of people staring at me and yelling at me to not give up, and keep going!

All in all, it was a great race, a great weekend, and a great vacation. I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to run a marathon (or watch other crazy people run a marathon). 

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Spooky, Scary Zombie Run!

Ok, so maybe it's not spooky yet, but it is definitely scary. I am attempting to organize a 5-K Zombie Run in October (20 or 21) for a fundraiser for both the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and the Diabetes Hands Foundation. Yesterday I met with Claire Blaney, who was wonderful and told me everything I need to do in order to make this even successful. It was quite a lot of things to do! I think the hardest part is the unknown. I'm scared that if I put all this effort in to the Zombie Run, it might be a waste of time if enough people don't show up and I don't make any money!

But I guess the only things I need to pay for are the permit: $160 and the race bibs: $150 and a $300 deposit. Hopefully I will be able to make that back and then a lot more, but I've never been a fan of throwing fundraisers that cost money, because there is always a risk that you could lose money.

But you know what? Enough being scared. I am just going to take this head on. One step at a time, which means today I will apply for the permits (or at least contact the Parks department to see if those two days are available). Once I get permits, I'll set up the event on EventBright and then start working on sponsors and volunteers. It looks like I might need at least 20 volunteers!!! Oh my, I hope I can find that many.

Anyone interested in volunteering? Of course that would mean you couldn't run in the race...which will be totally awesome if I can get it all together! There will be runners and zombies. The runners will all start with at least 3 lives (flags on a yarn belt that can be yanked off by zombies). Runners can only win the race if they complete it and still have lives left. Zombies can win by finishing the race with the most lives taken (in under one hour). I think it'll be a little crazy...I'm going to have zombies running the course both ways, but if it works out, we could make a lot of money for cancer research and to help connect, engage, and empower people touched by diabetes!

Monday, August 27, 2012

42 Last Week, 41 This Week

No, I am not getting younger, and by the way, I am not even in my forties yet, thank you very much! 42 is the number of miles I ran last week for my marathon training and 41 will be the number of miles I will run this week for my marathon training. Crazy, huh? I mean, I know I just did two Ironmans, but when training for them we were swimming and biking, and working out A LOT, but we never had to run more than 40 miles in a week, in fact, I think I only ran over 20 miles in a week a couple of times.

So do I like it? I think I do. I really like not having to swim. Chlorine is yucky, and my goggles always leak, and since it's never warm in the Bay Area, the thought of swimming never seems very appealing. I also like not having to drag my bike and all my gear around with me every where I go. I mean, I still love to ride, and get a ride in every Tuesday with my OSB buds (if you are free on Tuesday nights from 6:30 to 8:30 you should join us!) but it's so nice not to have to bring it with me every weekend!

And you know what? Running is kind of fun. You might think it would get monotonous, doing the same thing every day. But each run is so different and unique. Last Wednesday night I ran 9 miles at Inspiration Point. The fog was rolling in, the wind was blowing so hard, I felt like I was going to fall over. I was out at the very end of the trail all by myself, thinking that zombies were probably going to come out and chase me:

And then on Saturday I was running 5 miles on the American River trail. Even though it was only five miles, we didn't start until 11am, so it was super hot, and I felt miserable. It took every ounce of determination for me to keep going and not stop and walk. But then the next day we woke up at 6am, started at the exact same location and ran 18 miles. That 18 miles was mentally easier than the 5, since it was so early, and nice and cool, and there were so many people out running with us. It was really enjoyable.

So far I'm loving training for a marathon (ok, well two marathons). Maybe after this I will go back to tris. But for right now it's a good break.

Running from the zombies at Inspiration Point

Friday, August 17, 2012

Already Needing Encouragement!

So I thought when I signed up for a marathon that it was going to be super easy compared to training for an Ironman...but I already slept in this morning and missed running the ten miles which is on my Chicago marathon schedule (yes...I am training for two marathons right now...but there are 2 months between them, so I figure I should be totally fine). Yesterday I mapped out my course, and was super excited to wake up at 6:30am this morning and go do it...but then this morning I was super tired, and in a lot of pain from track yesterday! Coach Al made us do pushups and crunches, and squats and supermans..and well I hadn't done strength training in about 6 let's just say I am hurting more today than the day after Couer d'Alene.

Anyway, I guess the reason I am writing this is because I need encouragement. I know I can still run the ten miles today..but since I missed doing it in the morning, it all of a sudden has become so much more daunting. But isn't that what this is all about? Physically I know my body can do it...but this isn't about what my body can do...this is a mental struggle more than anything else. Leave my nice comfy house with my adorable kitty cat to go out and spend 2 hours hitting the pavement. Right now it doesn't sound like too much fun...but just writing about it right now is making it more and more likely that I will do it. In fact the more I write about it, the more I am thinking, this is silly. I just need to get out there and do it. Someone who is getting Chemo doesn't get a choice about whether or not they want to. They fight ever day. That's what I need to do!

Ok I guess it's time to stop talking and start doing! I'll update you all later today!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Time To Start Again!

Think the Run team is ready for Embo? I hope so, because here I come!

So as you can all see from my last blog, Ironman Couer d'Alene was super hard. I finished it, and I was really glad I did. But it was a really difficult day. Of course the reason I began training to begin with was to raise money to help find a cure for cancer. So when I was out there, I just kept reminding myself of how lucky I was to have my health and to be able to partake in such an amazing feat.

Ironman Coeur d'Alene is over and I have sworn off another Ironman (at least until 2014), but the fight against cancer isn't over. So I've signed up for Team in Training again. This time I'll be training for the Honolulu marathon. I've already had a couple of people joke about how I am being a slacker, just training for a marathon. I somewhat agree with them. My long workouts only take 3 hours...which for Ironman training would have been super short. But I am looking forward to this as an opportunity to be able to spend more time fundraising. Even though I love the physical part of all this, the main reason I am doing this is to help raise money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Now that I am "just training for a marathon" I will have time to do that!

So I invite you all to follow my training and my fundraising adventures. And please let me know if you would like to help out, by donating, or volunteering your time at fundraisers, or even offering cool and fun ideas on how to fundraise. My goal is $5,000 in the next 3 months! Any and all help is appreciated!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Coeur d'Alene Kicked My Butt!

So I have been really bad about posting this season, and I apologize. Quick recap: I've been swimming, biking, and running for the last 8 months. :) That's about it.

It's funny, this whole season, I have been thinking that Coeur d'Alene was going to be so much easier than Canada. I felt like I was in a little bit better shape. My swim times were getting faster, and even though I didn't do a great job at doing any of my markers, I felt a lot better at Wildflower and went 20 minutes faster this year than last. Basically I got on the plane to Spokane Washington, where I would then get a ride into Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, thinking that Sunday wasn't going to be too hard. It would be a long day, but I wasn't really worried about it. I was pretty sure I would do a lot better than I had in Canada, because it couldn't possibly be 95 degrees. I also thought the bike ride was going to be a lot easier. I knew the swim would be cold, but I don't mind cold water too much, so I wasn't worried.

What I learned on Sunday was don't ever underestimate an Ironman. Sunday was harder than I could have ever imagined.

The swim started on a small beach. We were packed in like sardines. It took us about 15 minutes just to get through the mobs of spectators to reach the beach. When the gun went off (was there a gun? I don't really remember, I just know that everyone started running into the water, so I knew it was time to go) I followed the people in front of me into the water. It was cold, but not too bad. I started to swim. Arms kept bumping into my head, I couldn't seem to find a space just for myself like I had in Canada. At one point a guy grabbed my arm and my watch and pulled me down. I actually thought it was George just messing around with me, so I turned to laugh and tell him to stop trying to cheat, and I realized it was just some random guy who apparently wanted to pull me back. I tried to ignore that and swim away from him.

You can see from the video that swimming away was kind of hard. When I finally made the first turn at to come back to the beach for the first loop, the water started to clear out. I found my own space, and was super happy. I thought, ok, this is good. Now I just have about 1.5 miles left, and I can do this. After a little while I realized there was no one around me because I was swimming the wrong way. Once I corrected that, I was again surround by people kicking me in the face and hitting me on the head.  I still got out of my first lap in 36 minutes and I thought, "if I just swim a little bit faster on the second loop, I can beat my Canada swim time." So I put more effort into my second loop and was thinking I was doing pretty good despite the deepening waves...but when I got out of the water I realized I was 7 minutes slower than Canada. Oh well, I thought. It was a really tough swim, but my time wasn't too bad: 1 hour 18 minutes.

So then I ran into the changing tent. I got in there and it was crazy. The bad thing about being a somewhat decent swimmer is you get out of the water at the same time as actually really good athletes who are competitive. I was a little overwhelmed and there didn't seem to be very many volunteers in the tent to help people. So I went to the very back corner and was prepared to get ready by myself when a really nice lady came up to me and took my bag. She was really great. She took out all my stuff. Opened my FRS for me and while I drank it put my socks on me. Then she put my arm warmers on, and got my sunblock out. I was out of transition in less than 11 minutes...which isn't the best transition time, but I was happy to be on the bike.

The bike....Ugh. So all year long I thought that CDA would be a lot easier than Canada. I had studied the elevation map and it said there was just 2,300 feet of climbing. Canada had about 4,000 feet, so I assumed all year that CDA would just be a lot easier. Saturday, the day before the race, I realized that the 2,300 feet of climbing was just for one loop and there were two!!!!! At that point I realized my goal of doing CDA an hour faster than Canada would probably not be achieved.

But I started the bike in a positive mood. I kept saying all week, it's all about your attitude, and I was going to have a good one. I'm glad I have a lot of experience consciously being positive, because Sunday's bike ride was challenging. It began with a short out and back which was supposed to be somewhat flat but wasn't really, and then we went back into town and started the hard part of the course...on the elevation map it looked like two climbs and then pretty flat...but it wasn't. It was two long climbs and then a steady, unrelenting uphill for about 15 miles. At times negative thoughts would creep into my head, but I would tell myself I wasn't going to listen to them. I had told my friends to stay positive, and by golly, I was going to follow my own advice. Any time I started to get discouraged, I started to pray that everyone on my team would have a great day. Thinking about them, and hoping they were enjoying themselves, and not miserable helped me not think about how hard the bike ride was.

And truthfully, although it was hard, harder than Canada, with more climbing and strong headwinds, physically I felt pretty good through the whole thing. I had a headache, but I took some advil and then I was fine. My biggest complaint physically was my nose kept running. Yuck! I hope I didn't blow snot on any of my fellow Ironmen. :)

Finally I was at mile 100 and saw Jeannie cheering me on. I knew it was mostly down hill from there. I was disappointed that I hadn't gone as fast as I thought I would have but I was super happy to be done.

Bike: 8 hours and 3 minutes (one minute faster than Canada)

I kept thinking how much I couldn't wait to get off the bike and start the run!

That was until I started the run. :)

I kept a smile on my face most the time (I think). It helped that I had so many friends out there on the course to cheer on.

Ok, so I realize this looks like I am in pain...but it's still a smile, right?

So again...the run wasn't that physically hard. I ran, I walked, I ran, I walked...but after I started going out on my second 13.1 mile loop, all of a sudden it became extremely difficult to stay positive. I started thinking of what a hard course it was, how I hated hills, and wondering why I would be so stupid to sign up for a second Ironman. If it had been my first I could have kept telling myself that I needed to keep going so I could be an Ironman. But I already am an where was my motivation???? Well it came in the form of my amazing teammates and friends and family who came to cheer me on. Every time I would run by 7th and Lakeside there was a huge cheering section for me, and out on the course I saw all my beloved friends struggling, just like I was. I realized that I was lucky to be out there, lucky to have such great people to be sharing the experience with, and lucky that I had this opportunity.

The sun went down as I was climbing that stupid hill before the turn around. I walked all the way up it, then ran/walked down the other side, and then turned around to walk back up it. When I got near the top I saw that I was at mile 21. I had 5 miles left. By then it was completely dark. For some weird reason, when it's dark and my vision is impaired, I can push myself harder. I started to run. At mile 22 I looked at my watch and realized that even though I wasn't going to beat my Canada time by an hour, I could still beat it by a little bit. So I ran, and ran, and stopped to eat some potato chips and grapes, and then ran again.

My friends were waiting for me at mile 25 and when I saw them I got a surge of energy. I started to remember why I was doing this, and how much fun it was. I walked a little bit up the very last hill, so I could run in down the straight away to the finish line. The street was lined with people. It was great. Music was blaring, everyone was cheering. I saw my friends and started high fiving them, and then everyone wanted to high five me, so I obliged!

I was done!!! And I did it about 7 minutes faster than Canada: 15 hours and 48 minutes. Not what I had been hoping for...but considering how hard the course was, both physically and emotionally, I think I did well.

George and Dana and Jasmine and Tyler were at the finish line to greet me. I couldn't ask for a better finishing party!

George helped me get some pizza, and then I got a headache and felt like crying. My head hurt a lot, but I was mostly overwhelmed with the day. I hadn't expected it to be so challenging, and I just felt like I needed a good cry. Some chicken broth and tylenol fixed me right up though. We got my bike, dropped it off at Tri Bike Transport and then walked to the car. We got to see the last finishers come in as we walked there, and it was super exciting to see them.

All day, I had told myself I would never do this again...but that finish line is like no who knows...I heard Ironman Brazil isn't that hard. ;)