Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Enter The Dragon... As A Monkey - Kevin

Here is my unfiltered verbiage for going into 2012. Call me a scatter brain if you will. 2012 is the year of Dragon according to Chinese zodiac. While the symbol can be significant, it is just another year of life. As much as it is down played, each year of life can be significant, if that makes any sense. 2011 no doubt is a big year for myself in many ways. Depending on how I choose to look at my year, I can say that it's either a year of roller coaster or a year for digging deep into life. But I would like to choose the latter.

Although my personal life had been affected in 2011, the result from the affect eventually became my encouragement and motivation to drive toward my journey to find the meaning of life.  It also allowed me to seek out for happiness and my new desires. Whether it meant hitting the lows of the year and getting out there to focus on how lucky I was to be selected to run Western States 100 or simply visiting my family in Hong Kong, I embraced and enjoyed every moment of it.

Did I mention that it has been two years since I've met the Coyotes? Since then, the New Year holiday became a holiday close to my heart. On New Year's Eve of 2009 moving on to 2010, the other Vita Panda, Louis Kwan, introduced me to the SoCal Coyotes. The group has been a blessing to my life. It has given me dreams I had never dreamed of (i.e. WS100). It has taught me lessons for life and for running, which I'm sooo thankful for.

Although the Coyotes New Years Eve run is only on it's third year, it is already feeling like a tradition for myself. As a group, we question each other and learn about each other for what we each experienced in that very year before moving on to the next. What is that one thing that you have failed to accomplish in 2011? What is one of the proudest thing you've done in the year 2011? What is that one thing that if you were to have accomplished, it will fulfill the year 2012? Often times, it's nice to share these feelings and experiences of our past, present and hope for the best for our future.

There are many things that I truly embrace from the year 2011. Most of which has nothing to do with running. Although Western State was definitely a feat I'll never forget and that I'm forever grateful for. What I learned in 2011 is that whether we fail or succeed, we should embrace it all. Yes, even at the lowest of the low. In the end, there will always be someone that's going through a tougher time than you are. Make the best out of every situation. Try your best to never take anything for granted because nothing is forever.  Many of these bases were discovered while I spend my time running throughout the year.  Sometimes, one needs to take a step back and look at the big picture. In my case, take many many steps forward relentlessly. That is why I'm so grateful for running and to have found myself enjoying all this at this day and age (mind you that I used to hate running).

As far as my running career goes, I'm pretty happy with what I have accomplished in 2011. Western States 100 sure enough was an epic experience. Miwok 100K was probably one of my favorite / most enjoyable race of the year. That may or may not have anything to do with my huge bonker at The North Face Endurance Challenge San Francisco back in December of 2010, which overlaps a great portion of Miwok 100K's course. I'm also pretty stoked about getting faster. It was great to PR at Santa Monica Boardwalk 5K followed by my very first DNF at Los Pinos 50K.

2012 is going to be a great year. Now that it's 3 weeks deep into 2012 and I've raced two half marathons.  One on trail, the other on road (my first road 1/2). It certainly feels great to train hard again entering the new year. 2011 have prepped me for a more aggressive 2012. The way I see it is, let's not take my gift for granted. Go big or go home. Live like you mean it. So long Bunny. Hello Dragon.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Louis - Boney Mountain Trail Race: Stepping out of the comfort zone

Because of my hiking background, I always tend to be on the safe side.  I carried that with me to running/triathlon and it has been working.  This help me with my run and Ironman because when I play it safe, I can go longer.  With back to back 30mi + weekend under my belt and being very comfortable at the Boney Mountain Training Run a few weeks prior, I know I can PR this race for sure.

The run

Wanting to push for a better time and to step out my comfort zone, I decided to run fast on the first big descend.  I ran this course a total of 4 times and I took it easy on the first descend every time... and for good reason.  The first steep descend is over a mile long on pavement.  Running fast put a lot of stress of my legs.  Coach Jimmy told everyone to take it easy and I listened.  But I want to push it a little.  I wanted to know if my body can take the stress.  After all, I have been running trails and I haven't really have any problems on the descend (on trail).  I descend on stuff that was 3000-5000ft high and I was fine with it. This one is only several hundreds feet, I should be able to manage.  I figured I will probably get tired out and then I just need to spend some time recover.

VitaPandas haven't done the same event for a while

It was a pleasantly surprise to see my Ironman Coach Jason and a few Ironman teammates to be out there running. My AC 100 pacer Erin M is also out there to cheer.  I should of take a pictures with all my pacers (Kevin, Erin C, and Erin M). It was the first time that all 3 of them are in the same place after they accepted my invitation to be my pacer =) 

I did my warm up, I felt good, and I took off.

I was surprised to feel very good on the flat leading to the downhill, I was going at a good pace and I wasn't tired.  The descent was fine too.  I pushed with a good pace that's faster than I normally would go but manageable.  I focused more on my heart rate and breathing because I want to make sure I can maintain a good pace for the single trail that follow.   After the downhill Coyote Christian passed me before the single track (we did a 50k and he finished just right ahead of me) and I tried to follow him.  But after a while something is not right.  My shin stared hurt a lot and that never happened. Next thing I know I have to walk.  As a matter of fact I have a hard time moving my leg.  It's official! I trashed my legs mile 2 of the race.  It hurt so much quitting sound like a very good idea but that isn't an option.  I then focused the next 2 miles on recovering.  By this time Coach Kiley, Kate Robot and Erin aka my AC 100 pacer passed me.  Kiley and I were running for a while but he eventually pulled away.  Finally, finally, after 2 long miles my leg started to come back a little and I was able to run at a decent pace on the flat.  Not at my normal decent speed but I was happy that I was making progress.  I passed a few people during the descend leading to the fire road and I actually caught up and passed Kiley.

By mile 6 I know I won't recover the way I was hoping for.  Kiley retook the lead.  I decided to give it my best anyway just to see how my body react.  I power hiked the uphill and run a section here and there. At mile 9 I helped another racer by giving him water and salt tab.  When I started the big descent on mile 10.5 I knew I was done.  My legs were shocked that I can't go fast on the downhill.  I was probably going 65-70% of what I am capable of...  I did see Kiley and was about 1-2 minutes in front of me, but I just cannot catch him.  I just want to finish the race and be done with it.  It was nice to see speed racers Natalie and Sim cheering for me at the last uphill.  I sucked it up like a buttercup and run as 'fast' (but slow *_*) as I can. at 2:52 something, I crossed the finished line.  I was maybe like 15 seconds slower than my last year time.  I blame it on the guy that had cramp!  I gave everyone a high five, told Coach Jimmy and Coach Kate what I did, and we went to have lunch.

As much as it hurt this proved to be a very good experience.  As one of my favorite quote, we don't learn from happy time but we learn from struggle.  I struggled, and I learned.  I am glad to try to step out of my comfort zone on a course that I ran a few times prior.  This helps me train for my 100 miler races. I know pacing is important, but I did not know doing something stupid for only a few minutes can destroy my leg.  I am glad everything happened happened today.  Sometime we can't change the outcome, but we have the power to paint our outlook.  As long as I learn something out of it, that's what it matters.

I am running Carlsbad half marathon in two weeks and I am looking forward to try something new again (probably not as dramatic as this one).

Monday, January 2, 2012

Louis - My Angeles Crest 100 Mile Trail Race Support

Yes, I signed up for AC 100.  What's more exciting than that?  I got myself an awesome team of people who will support me during the race.  I am very fortunate to have pacers, managers, dedicated support, and I even got myself a nurse practitioner!  Everyone I asked said yes! I wish life is this easy!  What they will be actually doing are yet to be determined.  But I just want to tell you guys a little bit about my wonderful teammates.

Let's start off with pacers... it's good to have people that run like 2X as you to be your pacer

Kevin and I knew each other from the Subaru club before we do any of these crazy endurance stuff.  He is the other blogger of this Vita Panda blog.  He finished Western States in under 24 hours while I finished Ironman CDA the same weekend.  Kevin will be pacing me the last 25 miles of the race.  He has been a very supportive friends and I want him to cross the finish line with me.

I knew Erin from one of Godfather's Sean new year run.  She quickly made it in my bad ass list and I think it will be fun to have her pace me.  Her racing experience will definitely aid me during the race.  She will probably pace me when I am 'mentally' out of it because I think she will do a good job bringing me out of lalaland.  Yes, she is a 100  milers finisher!

OMG, look at that leg. Yup that's Erin... another one.  Erin has a lot of racing experience and she has a fantastic record of being a race crew.  I am very fortunate to have her as my crew because a lot of people want her to be in their teams.  When Coach Kate, one of my ultra running coach, found out Erin is in my team, she gave me not one, but two middle finger because she wanted Erin to be part of her crew. Lucky me!

Paul is my Ironman Coach and my friend. I am glad that Paul is on board to over my event.  He was a head coach for numerous Team In Training Ironman events and he now has a team call Team squareone. He know what it takes to help his participants cross the finish line.  I got lost at time and Paul pointed me to the right direction so I can find myself.  I am looking forward to have him help me reach my goal once again.

Sarah, aka Daniel's Hot Wife, is my teammate when I train for my first Ironman.  We did a few Ironman and now she is mainly coaching people at Squareone.  With her on board I know I will not have to worry about logistic as she can organize anything you throw at her.

I know Kim from the Team In Training marathon team and I sucker her into doing an Ironman by offering her strawberries at the Triathlon Info meeting =)  She is a nurse practitioner and I called her from time to time when I was dying on the trail.  She is going to run the American River 50 miles so beside making sure I don't die during the event she can also pace me if need to be.  Actually, I asked her because I want homemade cookies during the race... shh.

I know Stephen from the Wilderness Travel Course. He is an avid hiker, mountaineer, and an Ironman.  He knows the whole Angles Crest 100 trail and he will help my crew pinpoint where I am and do anything I need when I am at the aid station.  Also an avid dancer, I am sure he can keep our team entertain while everyone is waiting for me.

I know Saveria from the Ironteam.  An mountaineer and an Ironman herself, Saveria knows what it takes to take care of another endurance athlete.  With her on board I know she will take great care of me on race day.  Plus Saveria and her husband Paul are just so cute together. It's nice to see them at aid stations.

I asked different group of people to make sure I have a good mix of friends from my different sports.  Stephen from hiking, Kim from marathon, Sarah/Saveria/Paul from the Ironteam, and Kevin/Erin/Erin from the Coyotes running group.

And last but not yet, I must introduce my Ultra Coaches
Coach Jimmy
I told myself that if I were to train for an ultra marathon Jimmy has to be my coach.  Jimmy is an accomplished athletes and mentored a lot of ultra marathon to cross their finish lines.  VitaPanda Kevin is one such example.  I am excited to see what he will throw at me.

Coach Kate
I haven't been really working with Coach Kate yet but I know both Jimmy and Kate a few years back.  She has been very supportive with what I do and I know she will show me the kind of support I have been getting from her on my ultra marathon training.

Coach Bev
I haven't get a chance to work with Coach Bev but I know she is a bad ass.  She did not just qualified for 1, but 4 Kona Ironman.  Her experience as an 10 time Ironman finisher will definitely help me with transiting from triathlon to running.

If you want to know more about the group that I train with, please visit the following sites.
Running Team - SoCal Coyotes
Triathlon Team - Team Squareone