2016 California International Marathon (CIM) Recap

The marathon is 26.2 miles. That's a whole heck of a lot of miles to be traveling. On foot. Running. Or in my case this time, sometimes jogging, sometimes walking. Traditionally, people train to run these things. Call us crazy but there are thousands of us who like torturing ourselves, I guess. Why we do it is another story and everyone has a different one to tell. We’ll save that for another post. 

But before we get to the nitty gritty of the race itself, let’s first review how the weekend started out. 

There was a an official shakeout run on Saturday, which a bunch of #werunsocial folks participated in. I even got to meet Katrin, Woot! It was a nice 3 miles around the Capital on a cool sunny morning. We hit up the expo afterwards where I bought a hoodie. #treatyoself, David, you’re about to run a marathon tomorrow!

So nice meeting Heather, @runs_4reeses_pieces!

Following the shakeout run, a bunch of folks met up for coffee at a nearby Starbucks. We chatted, talked race plans, and enjoyed hot beverages. Fun times.

#CREW

Leading up to the Race

I began my training cycle for this race back in August and committed to achieving a Personal Best (PB) or Personal Record (PR) which was anything under 3 hours and 52 minutes. That time was achieved back in June of 2014. My “A” goal was to finish the race in 3:45. I felt my body was ready to take on the training cycle at the required paces. That was until about 2 1/2 weeks before the race. I developed pain in my lower left leg (calf) and just couldn’t recover well enough to be 100% on race day. 

The training plan I used this cycle was the Hansons Marathon Method. True, I may not have stuck to the plan to the exact T (for example: running a 9 mile tempo instead of a 10 mile tempo, at times). But, the plan has worked in the past. Like I said before, I used this method and even set a PR with it. This is why I thought, “Wow, that was great! I’m going to use it again and try for a faster time.” I’m glad that I had a plan but now I realize that I need to try something new. Not to knock a specific plan (to each his own, right?) but my take away is that I understand how a training plan is a necessary tool for a successful marathon. 

Race Day

#flatrunner

With fastie, @alexiaruns, at the start area.

Obligatory pre-race crew photo!

Some of the #9Run6 family. Way to go ya'll! @mcrunnerchris, @wholeheartedrunner, @bradbernel and @shibamom93

I just didn’t feel strong enough for this race. There were lots of rolling up and downs in the early miles which really beat up my quads. I was sore for days after. It’s hard to train for hills when there aren't that many where we do a bulk of our training. Also, I think that not completing more long runs - and when I mean long, i’m saying more than 16 or 18 miles - was a major factor in how I performed. My body just didn’t know what it felt like to be out there that long. 

The time it took me to run the first half of the marathon was respectable. You never want to go out too fast in a marathon. Sure, if you’re feeling good, go for it but be careful. That feeling can, and usually does, come back and bite you in the ass. Hard.

Me. At mile 25. Whatcha gonna do?

That leaves me with the second half of the race - the dreaded “wall” and the finish. My wife, as supportive as ever when it comes to training and racing, told me that she would be at mile 20 (the “wall”) to cheer me on. As I approached that mile marker, I frantically looked for her. It didn’t help that Mile 20 was a relay exchange point which meant that many people were lined up on both sides of the street. As I passed the relay exchange point, I finally saw her with running friends, cheering. I slowed down to a jog, and then a walk, hanging my head a bit low and shrugging my shoulders as if to say “well, I made it this far…” I had nothing left emotionally. I was just glad to see her. Our good friend Jen encouraged a kiss and I was happy to oblige. I needed that something to keep me going for the last 10k. Thank you Jen for capturing what, to me, was the best moment of my race. Not crossing the finish line, not toeing the start line but being supported when it counted the most. 

Highlight of the race. #TRUTH

Earned. 

Happy Birthday Pretty! #prettyneedsinstagram right @tanoshegirl?

I crossed the finish line with pride. Even after a gosh awful 14 minute mile 25. Hey, I finished twenty six point freaking two miles of running! I’ll easily take this race as a lesson learned. I’m always thankful, never taking anything for granted, that I’m able to run another day.

A Different Perspective: The BOB Stroller for Children with Different Abilities

Asher is all smiles sitting next to his older brother, Elias

Asher is all smiles sitting next to his older brother, Elias

A speaker is a nice to have especially when our youngest is soothed by music.

A speaker is a nice to have especially when our youngest is soothed by music.

As a runner, when you have children you know the running game changes.  The days of solo running or "travel light" running are few and far between.  Being a mother runner or father runner means ushering in either a single or double running stroller and all runs with the stroller are then strength training runs, not just for the fact of the added weight, but children want interaction.  An infant might get fussy and older children are either chatty or want to stop and pick up every little speck of nature that you whiz by.  Therefore, preparing for those stroller runs takes thought.  Snacks, blankets, entertainment - which for some that means toys and others it might be a tablet or something similar.  It's all about the bonding with your child/children but also making sure those miles can happen.  

Yet, what type of planning is needed for a child who has special needs?  Does one need a specialized running stroller?  What does it all look like?  As a mom of 4 children I can tell you my stroller running mindset was flipped on its head when my 4th was born and was diagnosed with a rare chromosome deletion.  All that previous experience, although helpful was at times not helpful.  Shopping for a running stroller took more thought and consideration. Reclining options for reflux, feeding tubes, respiratory issues. Seat support for muscle tone. The list goes on.

Perfect amount of leg room and support which comes in handy for Elias to stretch when needed and Asher to have for his leg braces.

Perfect amount of leg room and support which comes in handy for Elias to stretch when needed and Asher to have for his leg braces.

When my first son was born, we had purchased a straight forward, utilitarian jogger.  The two other sons after him also used this stroller.  We packed the typical snacks, drinks, toys, etc.  When my fourth was born, he hated, yes hated the stroller.  The seat was to far recessed for him, didn't offer a lot of support and I couldn't see him at all.  We barely could get down the block without him screaming.  One day I ran 3 miles with him screaming half the time.  I was in tears, he was in tears.  I just kept thinking maybe I'm not moving fast enough, maybe he will eventually tolerate this, maybe he will go to sleep.  None of those things happened. After that I knew that the stroller had to go.  Besides the fact that he came with extra stuff - feeding machine, breathing machine, extra blankets, clothes for his reflux and so on, he did not like not being able to see someone he knew.  We were able to find a stroller for this past year that allowed him to always face me when running which was atypical because with most strollers, only infants in carriers are to able to parent face in a running stroller.  Him being 3 it was a challenge, yet him being small for his age helped him parent face for this last year will minimal stuggles. He has hit a growth spurt as of late which made him a little taller causing us to realize the parent facing time would need to transition to a conventional running stroller fairly soon.  

In comes the BOB Duallie stroller!  I will admit, at first the double stroller was intimidating.  Obviously it is so much more than a single in size and weight.  I'm not a tall woman, 5'3" at best so upon opening the stroller for the first time I was unsure I would even be able to push it. Yet, I was ready to take on the challenge of the push and of having him no longer face me when running.  The perk?  His older brother would be sitting right next to him which has proved more valuable than almost anything.  With my nerves high, I set out for my first double stroller run about a month ago and have since run 65 miles with my new BOB. 

Portable Nebulizer. Right where he needs it.

Portable Nebulizer. Right where he needs it.

I will let you know that the Duallie has been great, yes it really gives me an upper body workout, but it has been perfect in piling in all the items that are needed with a child with special needs.   There are plenty of pockets to put extra clothes and medical needs. The inside pockets next to each seat has been great to store his portable nebulizer.   Easily accessible and in the best location to use when needed.  The pockets, along with the oversized canopy make it perfect to set him up for a breathing treatment and to keep running.  Typically at a stoplight, I can set him up for a treatment when needed, fold down the large canopy that covers him almost entirely and keep chugging along down the street.  It has been a time saver when running with my youngest and he is needing a treatment. *Side note: He is very familiar with his breathing treatments and although he cannot not talk or hold his nebulizer accessories, he is very good about communicating his need for treatment and has learned how to turn his body to receive the treatment.

Wonderful oversized canopies which might be perks for some parents for napping. For parents of children with special needs it is for so much more: sensory stimulation decreased, wind protection so nebulizer machine can be used while running, etc

Wonderful oversized canopies which might be perks for some parents for napping. For parents of children with special needs it is for so much more: sensory stimulation decreased, wind protection so nebulizer machine can be used while running, etc

I should back track a little before continuing on with storage. Each seat has a sort of trunk "brace" for lack of a better word. For my child, with low muscle tone and in need of a little extra trunk or waist support it has been wonderful. He doesn't slouch or fall to the side having that little extra around his hip/waist area. 

Large basket deceptively simply but keeps things dry and debris out

Large basket deceptively simply but keeps things dry and debris out

Back to storage, the large, easily accessible basket in the undercarriage cannot be overlooked. During the past month, I have been running when it then starts to rain. Most of the time it has been a quick sprinkle but less than week ago it was a downpour. Besides picking up the pace because my kiddos were with me, all his medical needs were stored in the stroller and I didn't want them to get wet. Well despite me getting soaked, everything yes everything in that basket stayed dry. I was amazed and grateful.  

 

Another benefit, has been the multiple positions the seat can recline.  Yes, this is not a new perk and many might think how beneficial it is for their child without special needs, but I want to bring light to how huge an aspect this is to parents with children with needs.  As with many children with health and/or developmental needs, angle and reclining position make a big difference in whether the child screams the entire time or smiles or even falls asleep.  Our son has both serious respiratory and reflux issues along with developmental delays.  The first day we took the stroller out, he was fussy and had 2 big, messy reflux incidents.  I'll admit, I felt defeated.  Starting, stopping, cleaning him up (which was a struggle because he is a non mobile 3 year old so I had to hold him while trying to clean up "breakfast" with the other hand).  I wasn't sure the stroller was going to work for him.  Yet, later that day, I put him back in the stroller (yes he was fussy) and after a little over 5 minutes of raising and reclining the seat and we found the perfect angle.  Small, incremental adjustments that to some might drive them crazy, but this family is so grateful that the BOB strollers are able to recline easily and in such a variety of angles.  Since that first day, we has never (knock on wood) cried in the stroller again, has not had a reflux issue and has even taken a nap.  Winning!  

Toys clipped to the red rubber rings, food pouch on the side. We are set! 

Toys clipped to the red rubber rings, food pouch on the side. We are set! 

Just a sampling of the necessary gear we pack in our Duallie.  

Just a sampling of the necessary gear we pack in our Duallie.  

It is the small things that with use, we have come to truly appreciate about the BOB Duallie.  The red rings for toys to be clipped to since our youngest doesn't have the fine motor skills to hold items for a long period of time, not to mention his excellent skill at throwing things overboard.  I know all parents can relate to that skill.  The option of having a swivel wheel or a fixed wheel.  Swivel when we are walking, cooling down after a run is great, because it makes turning two kids and a stroller that equals nearly 100 lbs easier.  Yet, the fixed wheel while running offers so much more stability for him, a smoother ride helping him stay upright and having no reflux issues.  The high weight limit is also a perk.  It allowed me to transition the youngest from a parent facing, single stroller to a forward facing double stroller because he was able to sit next to his brother.  Without such an experience, I am not sure how the transition would have happened.  

I have to expand a little on the maximum weight and height topic just slightly.  I had posed the question: Does one need a specific stroller for children with special needs?  The answer is yes and no.  Depending on the need, but for our son who is 3, he is quite small for his age.  A specialized stroller would be extremely big for him, he would sit very recessed in the seat, little to no pockets for things that he would need and many other things.  The BOB Duallie has been wonderful in transitioning him to forward facing.  He's getting taller, he's gaining weight but he is still a little guy who is just not ready to be in a specialized running stroller.  And really, for his medical challenge, he might not be ready for such a stroller for many many years.  So we owe a thank you to our new BOB Duallie for giving Asher - giving us the next step in our stroller running adventures.   

The family, minus the husband.  How 90% of my running happens: stroller and bikes running all over town. 

The family, minus the husband.  How 90% of my running happens: stroller and bikes running all over town. 

Disclaimer: We received this stroller from BOB Gear in exchange for our honest and unbiased review. All opinions are genuine, truthful and our own based on use with a child having special needs. 

Lessons about Stroller Running

I realized the other day that by the time we have had our Bugaboo Runner (read the review here) a full year I most likely will have logged close to 1000 miles, maybe more. 😳(I need to replace the tires, I'm sure. Hey Bugaboo wanna send me some tires?!?!  😜). Not many to some, but to me that number is astounding!  That's a lot of Asher crying, laughing, and sleeping. Yet the biggest things that I've loved about becoming an almost 100% of the time stroller runner (yes even my long weekend miles have been with the stroller most of the time) is the things that I have learned about stroller runners in general:

 

1. Stroller running moms and dads are badass!!!  Come on, pushing anything at any pace takes strength, perseverance and sheer will. The desire to get those miles regardless of how much your body wants to turn around and not finish the run.  

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2. We got speed!  Yup, when you see a runner with a stroller do not immediately assume they are slow. And remember when a stroller runner passes you DON'T say "I need to pick up the pace" or "I can't let a stroller pass me". Give a hi-5, cheer them on. Consider it a good thing they pass you, that stroller runner is putting in some serious hard work out there!  Their hard work to catch up to you only means you too are putting in hard work!  There are some speedy, quick like lightening stroller runners out there too. If you don't believe me check out (Erinamg, momslrb, littlebeastling, runfargirl, runemz and nycrunningmama) on Instagram. 

3. We hear your complaining about being behind a running stroller when you are on a training run or during a race. We are pushing a stroller, not hard of hearing. Those two are not mutually exclusive FYI. Also, if you groan about being behind a stroller please make sure that you pass them and ARE faster than the stroller. You don't want to get your ankle clipped. 😂. Just kidding, we try not to bump into anyone. Ok ok, I've thought of it before though.  

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4. Stroller running providers a regular running partner. There is no texting or calling back and forth to coordinate the run. There really isn't any compromising on miles or pace. The running partner is sitting right there in the stroller. Heck they are probably running entertainment too. Asher has started to clap for me while on training runs. Well, at least until he falls asleep. He's like my own personal cheerleader.

5. On the flip side, Stroller running makes it hard to run solo. It's a love/hate relationship with the stroller. One the one hand, there is the fabulous opportunity to bond with your child(ren), to incorporate strength training or even ensure that afternoon nap. Yet, when you do get to run by yourself, it can be lonely. It's always a battle between making the run "easier" and having a little company.

6.  Last but not least, I've learned stroller runners love a good hi-5, a pat on back, a "good job". As I've said over and over, pushing a 25-35lb stroller PLUS the weight of your child or children is tough!  When you see a runner on the race course, training on the street give a little wave, smile, cheer. It truly does help us run a little taller, forget about the struggle for a little while and push on.

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We've talked about it before and it's probably obvious - having 4 children and full time jobs makes training challenging for both of us. Yes, we try to include the children in our workouts and runs as much as possible, but we never want to force them to participate (they have to be willing) and there has to be training times where we can run to our best ability and then some. They say, if you want to be fast then run fast. So we have to have days where we can "run fast". (By no means am I saying Dave and I are fast, just working hard to be fast. 😉).  

So how can we both run in one day, after work and not be in he dark you ask?  We call it #runnerswitch. After work, dinner is either really simple, leftovers (yup we do that) or prepped beforehand (hello crockpot!). While the family eats dinner, one of us gets ready and runs 4-6 miles to a selected park. The family meets the runner at the park and "tag your it!", the other one runs the 4-6 miles home. It's the best way we can equally get training time and the kids get outdoors for an hour+!  Win win!!!  

With the weather getting warmer, daylight longer #runnerswitch is back!  And we love it. When this time of year comes along we get to spend almost every night of the week running and playing at the park.   It's a family affair for sure where everyone gets to  participate in physical activity, enjoy the outdoors and enjoy each other's company. It is extremely important to us to model for our children healthy living which also means balance. We do not force our children to run, play soccer, tennis, etc but emphasize keeping active even if it's climbing, jumping and running around a park. Fun and family is what it's all about. 

If you have children, how do you and your partner get training runs in?  How do you involve your children in running and/or staying active?    

#Disney2LV Weekend Recap

I’m a runner. Today more than ever do I truly, honestly believe that statement. Close your eyes and think about what makes you the happiest: spending time with your significant other; eating a juicy steak; longs walks on the beach. For me, it’s running. Outside, short or long distances, in whatever weather Mother Nature wants to give to me.

This past weekend, I and few other ‘crazies’ participated in what was dubbed as #Disney2LV: two half marathons, in the same day, in two different States. It’s not that unusual to run a half marathon; it’s become the fastest growing running race distance in recent years. What is unusual is running two in the same day. In different States.

After registering for the Rock ‘n’ Roll Las Vegas ½ Marathon and later finding out that the Disneyland Inaugural Avengers Half Marathon was set for that morning, I immediately questioned whether running both in the same day was possible for me. I heard of this type of craziness before and thought to give it a go.

Truth is, a lot of folks were going to be doing this so why not join in on the fun? I was excited to toe the line and had the shakeout run the day before to calm the legs. My two oldest sons and I ran the Disneyland Avengers 5k the day before and had a blast.

It's Black Widow. This line was 20 minutes long. 

It's Black Widow. This line was 20 minutes long. 

Hulk. Who else?

Hulk. Who else?

Elias with the Iron Man Hand Repulser Pose. He has it down!

Elias with the Iron Man Hand Repulser Pose. He has it down!

Asher admiring his race bling.

Asher admiring his race bling.

Being a Disneyland Half Marathon and heavily themed with Marvel references, it was only fitting to get dressed up as a Marvel character. I guess I’ve been on a dressing up for races kick lately. I purchased a Hulk shirt and Hulk hands to wear while running. Paula had to buy very little and two bullet bracelets was all that she needed for a Black Widow costume. We ran and battled against some fierce Santa Ana winds for the majority of the course but seeing all the different costumes people thought up was a fun part of the 13.1 miles. I especially liked the Ant Man and Wasp couple I saw.

Immediately after finishing we were interviewed by the media team at runDisney. We made the recap video!

Immediately after finishing we were interviewed by the media team at runDisney. We made the recap video!

Speaking of the course, it was new for runDisney and Disneyland races and I appreciated the change of scenery. I would’ve enjoyed the course a lot more if I wasn’t shielding my eyes from flying debris and garbage. I hate to think that this race will be consistently windy because of the landscape and the time of year it’s held.

We ran the half at a good pace and chose not to take pictures with characters. I know, boo! But since I ran the 5k with the boys earlier, I figured we covered that already. We made good time and had fun running together. We finished and were immediately interviewed by the runDisney media crew and our soundbite made it into the official runDisney recap video. It was a fun well organized race from the expo to the finish and I wouldn’t hesitate on recommending it my fellow running friends especially if you’re a Disney and Marvel fan.

2LV

After getting cleaned up we headed to the nearby Santa Ana airport to catch the flight to Las Vegas. I met up with a few other ‘crazies’, talked running shop and took off. It’s nice to be in similar company with other like minded individuals who share the same passion for running as you do.

It's  Andrea Barber . She's a 'crazie' too. 

It's Andrea Barber. She's a 'crazie' too. 

@pavementrunner workin' the ProCompression booth at the Avengers Half Expo

@pavementrunner workin' the ProCompression booth at the Avengers Half Expo

I must admit that I hate travelling alone because the entire family shares this same passion for running. It’s just nearly impossible for all of us to travel all of the time. I got settled in to the hotel, grabbed a bite to eat and put my feet up for a couple of hours before getting changed for the second Half Marathon of the day.

It was really cold and I wasn’t prepared at all for the temperature outside. Thankfully and luckily I saved the mylar blanket that was given out at the morning Disney race. I used it to keep warm (and during the first mile of the race). I now know that this is the Kentucky Derby of the Rock ‘n’ Roll Series. There were over 40 corrals and tens of thousands of runners!

Packet pickup was made super easy by organized booths for same day pickup. The pre race festival was jam packed and the energy in the air was ultra high. This energy continued on throughout the race. The majority of the race was held on the famous Las Vegas Strip hence the hashtag #StripAtNight. The city is amazing lit up at night and we had the Strip all to ourselves. It’s an honor to run this race and I enjoyed every minute of it. I ran into some friends who were also on their way to completing the same #Disney2LV challenge. Running with friends makes 13.1 miles in cold desert weather somewhat bearable. All I could think about was getting chapstick for my cracked lips and a fat ass cheeseburger as a post race reward dinner.

Cold, tired and hungry. Disney2LV adventure complete!

Cold, tired and hungry. Disney2LV adventure complete!

Upon finishing, I took the obligatory selfie and picked up my post race food and of course my Rock Star Heavy Medal. That’s finishing 5 Rock ‘n’ Roll races in the same calendar year. Shout out to those who have been inducted into the Hall of Fame and then some! I was proud of my accomplishment but was kind of sad to celebrate it sans the family. It wouldn’t be too long before I saw them and showed the boys my racebling.

Rock 'n' Roll Heavy Medal no. 5 Rock Star

Rock 'n' Roll Heavy Medal no. 5 Rock Star

I slowly made my way back to the hotel, got cleaned up and headed out for that post race reward. 

The weekend now seems like a blur and writing this is bringing back all of those special moments. I ran with the ones I love the most, met new friends and ran with them and accomplished something I wouldn’t think of doing in a thousand years. Yeah, i think I’d consider myself a runner.

Keep on Movin' in the Summer Heat

Summer time is great with longer days and warm nights, but also heat.  When you live in sunny California, sometimes the heat can be unbearable. And oh how nice it is to sit inside with air conditioning and perhaps a lemonade or a frozen treat.  The idea of getting out and being active is tiring in itself.  

 

Yet, there are ways to "beat the heat". There is the obvious ways such as the pool, beach or heck traveling to a cooler destination, but those are not always possible. With 4 kids, packing me up for any of those things may require a nap afterwards.  It's a lot!  Therefore, here are a couple of things that I do with the kids to help keep our bodies moving in the summer, avoid having to many "lazy" days and becoming a zombie in front of television screen.  

 

"ROLL A POSE" YOGA:  with a square cube, I printed, laminated and velcroed different kid friendly yoga poses to a cube.  The children use their own homemade mats made from towels (that have seen better days) and left over fabric from a past birthday party.  Each child was able to roll the cube to show which yoga pose we would do.  The pose pictures are able to be interchanged, the children are allowed to add their own poses too.  It's a great way to get them involved, motivated and moving!  

Yoga in the shade and baby feet photo bombing the shot. 

Yoga in the shade and baby feet photo bombing the shot. 

Having laughs while keeping cool

Having laughs while keeping cool

It's all about effort, not perfection. 

It's all about effort, not perfection. 

I think they nailed this one!   Asher needs to work on it though, he forgot to roll over. Lol

I think they nailed this one!   Asher needs to work on it though, he forgot to roll over. Lol

WATER BALLOONS: ok this one is self-explanatory. We don't have a pool, but the children love getting wet in the summer. Next best thing that is extremely affordable is water balloons. We bought 2 bags of 100 water balloons each.  Filled up buckets with the balloons and had fun chasing each other, catching balloons, throwing at targets. Moving but also keeping cool. 

Smiles and laughs!  

Smiles and laughs!  

The boys ready to get wet.  

The boys ready to get wet.  

Run!  Two against one...

Run!  Two against one...

The fast Gabe seemed to avoid getting too wet until...

The fast Gabe seemed to avoid getting too wet until...

It's so easy to rest in the comfort of air conditioning during the hot days of summer. Yet there is so much fun to be had in the heat and ways to keep cool too!  Happy Summer!