Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Muddy Runner Q & A: Reaching New Heights In Long Beach

When you get to know marathon runners, you quickly realize that all of them have tales to tell. There is a reason to this marathoning insanity after all. However, not all marathoners' stories are readily available because not all marathoners have blogs, and thus some motivating stories remain unknown.

Tina, marathoner extraordinaire
One such marathoner's tale that has not been shared online is Tina's tale. Tina will be among those running 26.2 miles in Long Beach on Oct. 17 as Tina is running the Long Beach Marathon. Tina, a fellow Loma Linda Loper, ran her first marathon in February 2009 - Surf City in Huntington Beach - and Long Beach will be her 10th marathon. Her goal now is to run 11 by year's end.

As she prepares to run Long Beach once more - she ran this race in 2009 - Tina took time to share her story with me.

Question: What do you expect from the Long Beach Marathon? What do you hope to accomplish from the race?
(L to R) Claudia, Natasha and Tina, a trio of stars
Answer: I’m pacing my friend (Claudia) who has never run (a marathon). She was hoping to run Surf City or LA but she was injured and couldn’t finish and so we’ve been training, and it will be her first one. I’m not setting a PR here so I’m going to bring my camera. She runs probably a 12- to 13-minute pace so it will be a little slower. I’m going to enjoy this, where I get to be her coach and taking photos. You do feel stressed because you want to get her to a certain point but not the stress where I have to make sure that I beat my last time or my best time. I just have the stress of getting her to the finish line. I think it’s going to be exciting to get to see her cross. You know how it feels that first time, where you put all these miles into it and then you hit that finish line and no one can ever take that away from you. One of the speakers at the Lopers talked about feeling that medal hit your chest. It’s the best feeling ever. For me I’m excited to see her finish. That’s my big goal. It’s the first time I’m pacing somebody and I get to experience her crossing the finish line.

Q: With this being your 10th marathon, how is it for you now looking forward to such a race? Do worry more? Do you get more excited? Less excited? Is it more of a chore? How has that evolved?

A: I still get excited and I still get nervous and I tend to worry about things anyway. You know every bad thing that can happen because you’ve probably experienced it at least once in the runs that you’ve done whether it’s training runs or marathons so you think about those but you also know how to alleviate them. You’ve taken all the stuff you’ve learned in the past and bring it with you. You want to make sure you’re eating right, you’re still worried about the week before that you don’t want to put something in your system that’s going to make you feel ill when you’re running. But I’m still excited to run every single race. This is my second time running Long Beach and I actually PR’d in Long Beach last year and it will probably be the longest race so I figure I’ll have the most amount of hours on my feet running a race but I’m still just as excited. I haven’t had that experience where ‘Oh, it’s just another marathon. It’s not a big deal.’ Every marathon to me is a big deal and every medal I get and every shirt I bring home is like ‘Yes, I got another one!’ I feel like I do it for the medal and the shirt!

Q: Most people don’t understand why anyone would want to run a half marathon or a full marathon but you went above that and ran an ultramarathon, the Shadow of the Giants 50K in Yosemite National Park in June. From the time you started training for that to when you crossed the finish line, what were the biggest challenges you faced along that whole experience?

Pirouetting her way through an ultra
A: Training was hard and I basically had to give up my weekends because you had to do two back-to-back long runs. Some of those long runs were running a marathon and then waking up the next day and doing a 10-miler. Training was similar – you still ate similar types of foods. I was out there (on the course) for seven and a half hours. When I walked I felt like I was hiking. You don’t have cars and the fumes. You’re out in nature… When I knew I was close to that finish line, it was like re-living running a marathon all over again. We didn’t get medals. There were only 200 people who ran it so there was only a small group of people at the finish line but they still were out there cheering for you. They’d been out there just as long as you’d been out there whether they were cheering for you or waiting but there’s not as much publicity at the end of that so it’s kind of like you’re done and you say ‘Oh I’m done, I can’t believe I finished that.’ It’s all this hard work, all this prep and then it’s done. But then you’re like ‘I did it. I ran 32 miles and how cool is that?’

Q: Two years ago you hadn’t done one marathon. Take us back to then, before you ran the first marathon. What made you want to run a marathon and why did you decide to do it?

A: It was one of those bucket-list things. I was like ‘I’ll run a marathon before I’m 30.’ I had a second job and I couldn’t give up my weekend work until I was 30 and then I said I just needed to run one. In my head I was just doing one, it was just to cross it off the list and say ‘I did one marathon!’ They say 99 percent of the world hasn’t done one marathon so that was exciting. Waking up on Sunday mornings thinking that at 6:30 I had to be up and ready and out the door, it was hard in the beginning but I felt like, being a Loper, having people – not that they rely on you, but you start missing people when they’re not there because that’s when you get to spend all this time. You spend hours talking to these people that you don’t see during the week but you see them on your Sunday runs but you look forward to it. That was motivating. I ran my first half marathon a week before I ran my first full marathon, and at that half marathon expo I signed up for my second marathon so I really didn’t know what I was getting myself into. We had done training runs but I had gotten injured so I never got to run past the 20-mile mark. The biggest thing was that I signed up for it, a few other people had signed up for the second marathon at the same time so it wasn’t like I was alone in this. The friendships is probably the biggest reason that I can still run, that bond.

Q: How many marathons did you intend on running?

A: Did I want to run nine? No. That wasn’t what my plan was at the beginning. It was to run one marathon. It became addicting. It became where when I didn’t run, I didn’t feel good. Whether it was frustration or whatever, running helped make you feel good. Those endorphins get you going.

Q: What do you remember the most from your first marathon?

Tina and Art crossing the finish
A: Seven of us ran almost 15 miles together. A couple of people fell behind, a couple of people ran ahead but then there were five of us for 20 miles. I had some IT band problems. It bothered me the whole race but at mile 20, 22 I just couldn’t stay with the group anymore. I kept falling back and I tried to run ahead with them and I fell back. I asked Art (a veteran Loper) if he would stay with me and so we finished the last four miles together. The biggest thing I remember about it was, I had a text on my phone that said ‘I’m at Mile 24’ and I had it to my fiancĂ© and my mom and so I hit the button and both of them were like ‘We’re right at the finish line.’ I was expecting to see them to get me to the next hurdle and when I got to Mile 26, there was my family and friends. I had 15 people come out and support me and they had signs for me and when I saw them, that last two-tenths of a mile was euphoric. I was like ‘I finished. My family is here and they’re supporting me.’

Q: As far as Long Beach, what are some of the things you remember from last year’s race?

A: What I really liked about Long Beach was they closed the bike path down whereas in Surf City they don’t and you run quite a way along the beach. It’s so nice to get that fresh ocean air. I went to school at Cal State Long Beach and you do a little bit of a run there. They have the fraternities and sororities out there and they’re cheering for you and that’s really awesome because they’re up early in the morning cheering for complete strangers. That means a lot to us. Sometimes you just need a little motivation to get you through and you’re probably in the 15- to 18-mile mark when you’re on campus and I thought ‘Oh, look. I used to walk from here to here.’ Also I set a PR there so that for me was good because that was my fourth marathon last year. To set a PR was a great accomplishment. I had (Lopers) Natasha and Angelina finish together and that was very cool. At the very end, once you cross they had these unbelievable cupcakes and that was the best part! I’m looking forward to having some cupcakes at the end!

Q: What is your favorite marathon course you’ve run?

On the Bridge, in 2009
A: San Francisco is my favorite. In San Francisco, they close down part of the (Golden Gate) Bridge for you, for runners. We’re out there running, people think we’re crazy but they close the bridge for us. I would never see San Francisco like I do when I run. The hills are hard but you know what? If I was going to run an easy race, I would go run a 5K or just go run for fun. It’s a challenge in itself. People are like ‘Are you crazy? Why would you want to do that?’ It’s just another accomplishment that you feel, like ‘I can do this.’ Yeah the hills are hard but I’m running 26.2 miles, I’m not necessarily looking for an easy course. Plus you’re in San Francisco and the weather is always good. People are out there cheering for you. You hear Rocky and other songs on the Haight-Ashbury area and people are cheering for you. San Francisco is definitely a marathon that I would continue doing. It’s an accomplishment, to run through Golden Gate Park, to run through The Embarcadero, Fisherman’s Wharf – I would never experience San Francisco any other way.

1 comment:

Angelina said...

Tina is awesome! I actually teared up reading this. She has truly been an inspiration to me.