Saturday, June 18, 2011

The Moment of Truth - Kevin

I'm not going to deny the facts. It's been a long while since I've written an entry. The last time I wrote one for this blog was back in February before the Chinatown Firecracker 10K. Much have happened since then. Call it a shockwave. Call it a roller coaster, in which I still feel, experience in this moment at a smaller magnitude.

I lose her. I won her back, but I lost her again. I'm not going to hide and I can not hide anymore. Losing love is a huge deal. It hurts and there is a lot to think back. I still have much love for her, but I don't want to get into the details here. Ultimately, I slip, I lost my balance in life and now I'm biting my lip and trying my best to learn from my experience and to move on. I must say though, losing the most amazing person in my life was a huge set back in my training for Western States. Like Dean, another inspiration of mine for ultra-running after Jimmy Dean and the Coyotes (Louis, you're my inspiration for beign active in general and that's bigger than many things ;)), I've always wanted a 'mothership' of my own. She'll always be apart of me and my heart.

Going back to my activities since I've slightly jacked up ligament on my mid foot, I have leapfrogged Chinatown 10K, Tokyo Marathon, Miwok 100K, 3 day WS training camp with a total of 72 miles and lots of fun verticals within. Now leading up to Western States with one more week of taper to go, it's feeling exciting and emotional.

Chinatown 10K
While it seemed so long ago, I still remember much of what had happened. Without boring my nearly nonexistent audience, I will keep the details to myself. One of my ultimate goals that day, in terms of reaching new personal achievement, was to help out my coworker Jordan. It was to get him cross his first 10K finish line. We did it and I'm proud of this big fella. However, we had given up on each other since then. Before that, we had run 2 5Ks together. He PR'd his second one by nearly 20 minutes!! We were also P90X buddies, trying to bring it every morning, get stronger together, live longer together. Now that he no longer tries and that I'm doing my own thing, I hope that he had found his happy place.

Tokyo Marathon

This year, I ran with Louis as pandas. Little did we know that Japan had brought in a pair of panda into that country the night we arrived. It was funny and coincidental depending on how you look at it. Apparently it was a big deal for Japan to 'rent out' the pair from China.

The run itself was a blur. Mostly, I was trying to take it easy and go by feel since I was coming out of my injuries. I was sticking with Louis for the first half, but eventually we were leapfrogging and separated. It was indeed another experience with tons of support from the citizens of Tokyo. Lots of people dressed up for that race. There were quite a few other pandas out there!

Miwok 100K

Having scarred by TNF50 San Francisco up in Marin Headlands this past December, I was nervous going into the race. It was my longest race I've yet to ran. 100K. 62 miles and change. Going into this race, I wasn't sure if I had enough training done or if I was prepared physically. Emotionally, I was going in with a roller coaster state, hoping that Miwok 100k will beat me up in all aspect and kick my butt. That way, it would help me better prepare for Western States which was six weeks away at the time.

My nutrition management was quite good up until the last 10 miles. My pace was pretty good also, again up until the last 10 miles. My goal for the event was to run steadily and consistent. I was able to keep a 11:00 mile pace for most parts. At the turn around point, 35 miles into the race, I was still feeling fresh and strong. Passing people on the hike and down hills and strangely remain constant on the flats, racing with no one else but myself. By the time I had reached mile 47 (Pantoll), I was feeling hungry and got lazy to put nuun in my hydration pack. I also replaced my electrolyte filled food with solid food and that's when things fell apart slightly. My energy level had decrease significantly after that. The run toward Tennessee Valley (mile 55) was not fun, even though it was beautiful out there. At some point in that section, I was walking the flats. I even tried running it but I was so depleted that I realize my walking speed was the same as running. I had to sit down and refuel with broth at TV aid station. It reminded me very much of TNF50 at mile 38. Since I had that experience at NF, I knew what exactly I need to do here. Eat, down broths and stay strong. More importantly I told the volunteers to kick me out. It was sad to see runner after runner passing me by as I was sitting there for a good 20 minutes.

Shortly after I saw the Crosby-Helms sisters (which I had been pacing with from turnaround to Pantoll before I decided to go on on my own) passed me, I knew I had to go. It was rough but it took me a good amount of time to do that climb. Once I got to the top, I couldn't believe what I saw. The downhill before another climb! I bombed down this fireroad and passed a few people. It was an ego boost, an emotional ride up! At some point before the final climb, I caught up to the CH sisters again! There I stuck with them and finished strong together! My ultimate goal was to beat my TNF50 time of 11:24, but I fell short and finished at 11:49. I was upset about the time but happy that I came close. It was a good lesson to go through to prepare for states.

Western States Training Camp

The training camp was exciting. June, Erin, Crispin and I drove up to Auburn on the weekend of memorial day for the 3 days of festivity. Due to heavy snowfall earlier this year, the first day of training camp started in Rucky Chucky River as opposed to Robinson Flat (mile 29.7). From Rucky Chucky, we ran towards and passed Forest Hill Elementary School all the way to Michigan Bluff, where we turn around and run back to Forest Hill for a total of 31 miles. There were some tough climbs but also some fun rolling hills. The latter portion of that run go cold and misty from drizzling rain. The views and scenes there were amazing. The singletrack along side the American River was just epic.

At the end of day 1, my foot was hurting and my calves were tight. I desperately needed a half massage and a foot massage. Luckily, Monster of Massage was there for complementary massage and you pay by giving the masseuse tips. During the massage, my symptoms of lead my masseuse to believe that I have plantar faciitis on my right foot. :( This is a good news and bad news. It's good that I still have a month away to treat it. The bad news is of course the injury itself and to have it so close to race day.

On our second day of training camp, the weather had improved quite a bit. The sun was out earlier but that might be because we started a tad bit later, which was nice. We ran from Forest Hill to Rucky Chucky and back up to McKeon Ponderosa Way, slightly south of Forest Hill Rd. It was fun going through this section because of the net downhill and the rolling downward singletracks. Even though we only covered 19 this day, it was still exhausting from the day before.

The final day started at Green Gate and ended in Placer High School. The run itself was fun and there wasn't too much climb which is a good thing. Comparing to the last 25 of AC100, WS100 is much easier. Though come race day, I may change my mind. The most memorable parts occurred after crossing HWY 49. The rolling meadows, the scene of the river and Auburn - Forest Hill Bridge and then to No Hands Bridge to Robie Point and finally to High School. To avoid getting the bad juju, I didn't run my lap around the track at the training run. Hopefully, this will help me achieve my goal of finishing the race under 24 hrs. Of course, my ultimate goal is to finish, but it's always good to set the bar a tad bit higher, whether it's borderline feasible or not.

Here I am with less than a week away. I'm super duper excited, super duper grateful for all the love that I've gotten from my crew to the Coyotes and Panda and friends. I definitely can't get to this point with out all of them.

The past four months of emotional and physical roller coaster all boiled down to this.
I'm learning to walk again. I believe I've waited long enough. Where do I begin?

To keep alive a moment at a time.
That's still inside, a whisper to a riot.
The sacrifice but knowing to survive.
That first decline, another state of mind.
I'm on my knees, I'm praying for a sign...
Forever, whatever. I never wanna die.
I'm dancing on my grave.
I'm running through the fire.
I never wanna leave.
I'll never say goodbye.

Last but not least, it's not about luck, but the willingness to endure. That applies to everything in life.

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