Monday, February 25, 2013

Training (Almost) Complete

Sunday I ran 22 miles.

Wow. I am glad I was able to write that out, since that means the 22-mile run is now behind me.

Running 22 miles is no joke. It's rarified air. I can't say for sure but I think I've run a 22-mile training run only five or six other times. Usually when I hit 22 miles, it's during a marathon. But Sunday's run was just a training run - a difficult, challenging, intimidating, grueling training run, but just a training nevertheless.

It worked out well for the most part. We stuck together, my group of 12. We encountered some challenging weather conditions - sunny (which made us feel warm when we really weren't) and windy (Hate. The. Wind). I chose a route that wasn't loaded with hills, like our 20-mile run in January was. Some of my runners were struggling a bit at the end but no worry, I have complete faith that every runner in my group that is running the LA Marathon will cross the finish line at the LA Marathon. Bar none.

That's the challenge that lies ahead of us now - the LA Marathon. On March 17, we will take on the challenge of the distance, will take on the 26.2 miles once more and we'll be ready.

What awaits for me now is simple - a 12-mile run on Sunday and a 10-mile run on March 10. Also, my midweek runs will continue as they've been. My streak will hopefully reach 76 on the day of the marathon itself.

All that, though, will take care of itself in the coming weeks. For now, I'm happy that the hardest part of my training is now behind me. What's left will be fun and will only help grow the anticipation I have in the marathon.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Frisco Fridays: Golden Gate Enticement

It's the bridge.

When trying to figure out what it was that drew me to the San Francisco Marathon, ultimately it came down to one thing - the Golden Gate Bridge.

Now, perhaps that's not entirely accurate. I like the challenge of the course. I like the location. I like many things about the race. But the bridge is the closer. The bridge is what made me say "Sold!" and made me long to be on the course running the race itself.

There is no other race in the country where you can actually run on an iconic piece of history as the Golden Gate Bridge. As bridges go, it's probably one of the most famous. Definitely one of the most awe-inspiring. And you get to run on it!

If you run the full marathon the bridge is pretty early. You're done with it by Mile 9. For the First Half, it's the same distance into the race so once you are done with the bridge, then you can focus on finishing strong. The Second Half does not run on the bridge (but there are many other things that make that race appealing).

For me, both times I've run the San Francisco Marathon, the bridge has caused a great deal of anticipation. Once you are off The Embarcadero, you can really start to dream about the bridge. You see it, and it seems close once you are at Mile 2 or so, but it's not that close. You see Alcatraz off in the distance too as you run in the Marina and in Presidio areas.

Despite its enormity, the bridge comes up rather quickly. You wind through some hills and trees and greenery just before you make the final climb up towards the bridge itself. And then, the amazement begins.

So do the crowds.

This is perhaps the one minor blemish in an otherwise awe-inpsiring spectacle. The bridge is open to traffic but two lanes are open to runners. One lane going out and the other lane coming back. It can make for some tight quarters at times.

But not to worry. This is the only part of the race where you see other runners too, and for me this has been special. Both times I've run the race, I've seen close friends along the bridge and that has been a definite highlight both times. I remember those encounters vivdly.

For me, two things about the bridge stand out. First, the views. Amazing. The view of San Francisco from the bridge is wonderful. The city just sits quietly in the early morning, still not fully awake, sun still not beaming overhead. The downside to this though is fog. A friend ran it one year and said the fog was so thick she couldn't even see the water down below. But the views are amazing, that is if the fog allows it.

The second thing was running under the towers. The towers are immense, mammoth, behemoths. Last year, every time I ran underneath I kept my gaze on the towers until I was underneath, so I was practically running with my head straight up in the air at that point. I felt so small and insignifcant being dwarfed by those towers. I soaked up those moments. I was running on a piece of history here, a big piece of the history of me beloved state of California. How could I not feel inspired?

Once over the bridge, you run around a parking lot and then come back around the bridge to get back in the city. This time the city is easier to see as it is off to your left and in front of you. The towers are standing watch now, guiding you back across to safety, bidding you good luck in the rest of your race.

I've often thought how nice it would be to have the bridge towards the end of the marathon, to give you something to look forward to, but ultimately I decided that it's best early. That way you can enjoy it. If I was slogging through, trying to keep my composure when I got on the bridge, I don't know that I would have the same experience on it.

Regardless, the bridge gives me something to look forward to both leading up to and in the race itself. The memories I have of running on the Golden Gate Bridge are some of my fondest I carry with me from any of my marathons, and the allure and appeal of doing so again this year and in years to come has not diminished.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

TTT: Getting Ready, Vine, I Fought The Law?

1. Final Touches: I've kind of been approaching my 22-mile run as I have my marathon - without the taper of course. I've been trying to mentally prepare myself for it as much as possible this week, and starting today I'll increase my carb intake and will hydrate hydrate hydrate. I have one more hard run to get through and then Friday and Saturday will be about resting, recovery, easy runs and the final preparation. As I said in Monday's post, this is the dry run for the marathon, so the approach should mirror it somewhat as well. There's not much I can do at this point to improve my chances for Sunday. Either I've trained well enough to put myself in a position to succeed, or I've not. There's no such thing as cramming when it comes to long-distance running. Wednesday's run gave me 51 consecutive days worth of running, so I think I've done well to get here. Now I just have to see the job through.

2. On The Vine: Have you heard of Vine? It's a social media site that features six-second videos. I think it's only an app, not a site. Anyway, it's like Instagram where you can share and view pictures but with six-second videos. There's not a lot of activity on there, probably because it's so new. Well, because I really need to spend more time on social media, I downloaded it. So, find me on there at... hmmm... it says my full name but wanted my Twitter handle... uh... Luis Bueno or RunnerLuis I suppose would work. I have no idea. It does sound like fun though. Some of the videos I've seen on there are pretty clever, even if they're so short.

3. Evading the Law?: About a week or so ago, I may have avoided a ticket. Or I may have just gotten paranoid over nothing. I was driving on the freeway, not really speeding because as a general rule I try not to speed. There were a lot of slow cars that day so I went around them and got into the fast lane. I came around a slight curve when I saw a California Highway Patrol officer on the right shoulder. I passed him and glanced at the speedometer. I'd taken my foot off the gas pedal slightly and saw that the needle was dipping gently towards 70 mph. That's not ridiculously fast speed here in SoCal, but was it enough to get the CHP's attention? I looked in my rear-view mirror and saw the car put its blinker on and start to pull out onto the freeway. GASP! My stomach was in knots. I haven't gotten a speeding ticket since 2005, when I started to really change the way I drive. And I didn't get want to get one now, especially since I've been so careful to drive safely for such a long time. Up ahead, there were two big rigs on the right two lanes, and ahead of them an exit. I figured it was worth a shot, got ahead of the trucks one at a time and then went down the really long off ramp. I expected to see the CHP behind me throughout all of this, but saw nothing. I stopped at the light to make a right turn onto a street, again expecting the CHP behind me, and again saw nothing. I pulled onto the street and immediately stopped at another light, expected the cop, saw nothing. At this point I thought I might be safe but wasn't sure, but a few minutes later when there was nobody behind me I figured I really was safe. Nobody ever pulled up behind me or anything, so I was relieved. Shaky but relieved. Did I elude a CHP? Honestly, I doubt it. I'm guessing that's kind of difficult to do, but I am glad I didn't stick around on the freeway to find out for sure if I was a target or not. 

Monday, February 18, 2013

Last Long Run: A Final Dress Rehearsal

The LA Marathon is right around the corner; less than one month away in fact.

But before I let all my thoughts race towards March 17, there is the matter of my last long run left to deal with. On Sunday, I will lead my pace group through a 22-mile run as we all but close out the toughest portion of this whole marathon thing, the training.

This week will then be dedicated to preparing myself mentally and physically for Sunday's 22-mile run. I wanted to share some of what I've learned about these grueling last long runs here and give some pointers that I try and give my own pace group.

* Dress Rehearsal: This really is as close as you can get to the real deal, so why not dress like you will on race day? Nothing new on race day - that's what several preached to me when I first began running. I figured then why not try out a potential outfit on the last long run? It's close enough to race day that you can have an idea of what the weather may be like. Gonna try tackling the marathon with sleeves? Want to tinker with a new undershirt? Gloves? Sunglasses? Even if you regularly wear some gear on long runs, there's a big difference between how something feels at Mile 13 and how it feels at Mile 21. So why take it to chance that your sleeves will still be a blessing at the 20-mile mark on race day? Why not discover that yes, they work fine all the way through or no, they are not worth the trouble based on how they feel in the deeper miles? When race day finally does come, and if the outfit you wore was successful, that's one less thing you'll have to worry about.

* Mentally Focused: A marathon brings with it all sorts of feelings - nervousness, anxiety... I guess there's room for excitement too. Regardless of all the emotions surging through your body, there will likely be a similar surge leading up to the final long run. I mean, 22 miles is a really long run. It's enough to scare the wits out of you. That distance thins the herd. How you deal with the emotions and feelings leading up to the last long run can give you an idea of what you're in store for when the big day comes.

* Eat Right: The last long run also provides you a chance of testing out your nutrition both before and during the run. Eat lots of carbs the days before the run, drink plenty of water the three days leading up to the run and eat well the morning of. During the run, test out your race strategy. For instance, I like to use the Roctane GU and during marathons I like to use four total GU gels; I like to alternate between the regular and the Roctane, so I'll take one regular (at about 4-5), one Roctane (10ish), regular (14-15), Roctane (20+). That's kind of my rule of thumb. I like to test it out on the last long run to see how it affects my body, even though I've used that formula several times before. You never know what those things may do to you, and best to find out that something ain't quite right during the last long run than during the marathon itself. Plus, if your in-race supplement/hydration strategy works, then you will be less tempted to just jam things down your throat on race day, because while oranges and random fruits/etc. that you may have access to on the marathon course are tempting, they may also do some serious damage, as the oranges I had at Mile 22 last year in LA would attest to.

* Confidence: All you can do during marathon training is to put yourself in a position to succeed on race day. That's it. You can't BQ during training, you can't set a new PR, you can't get your medal during training. But what you can give yourself, aside from all the physical benefits, is the knowledge that you can succeed on race day. There's no guarantees with marathons, but if you complete this last long run successfully, you will feel confident about yourself, no question. And if things did not go quite right, you have time to tweak the things that did not work, whether they were mentally or otherwise, and get back on track for the marathon. Regardless, a big jolt of confidence is a huge strike in your favor.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Frisco Fridays: No Thrills Without Hills

Among other things, San Francisco is famous for its hills. The city is as hilly as they come; the locals have places like Russian Hill and Nob Hill named as such in order to differentiate between the sizable behemoths.

Thus, it would be difficult for the San Francisco Marathon to avoid said hills. And it doesn't. Whether you are running the First Half, Second Half or the full marathon, the San Francisco Marathon offers a difficult and challenging course made so by the city's notorious natural feature.

Are the hills enough to scare you away? Are the hills monstrous enough to make the race one to avoid?

Certainly not.

The hills add to the race's allure and mystique. Finishing whichever course you decide to run will really make you feel like you've earned your medal. It's not just any runner, after all, that can take on a challenging course and live to tell about it.

But what exactly are the hills like?

The folks who put on the marathon did us all a favor and took the route away from the city's truly frightening hills. But hills are a prevalent component of the course.

That's the elevation chart for the full marathon. While the First and Second half each stray a bit off the full's course, the elevation for each race is essentially the same as splitting the races in half. With that being said, then, you can see that the course is hilly but not one gigantic hill. The first five miles and the last five miles are, for the most part, flat. So, that's 10 of the 26.2 miles right there. And no, the other 16 is not just one giant hill.

There is in fact no one gigantic straightaway. It's more of a wave of hills, a manageable wave.

The toughest hill is early in the full and more than halfway through the First Half. Once you get off the Golden Gate Bridge, you run a bit further and then start climbing. According to the elevation chart, it's more than 100 feet of elevation gain in less than one mile. That stands out though as the longest single hill on the course.

If you're running the half marathon, the hills might make a difference in which one you choose. If you want to run a faster time, I'd suggest the second half. There are a lot of downhills on the latter part of the course and the finish is flat. If you're unconcerned about time and want to experience the sights, the First Half is a better option. Aside from that monster hill, you have hills at the finish which could impede your time.

There is perhaps one caveat for the full marathon. It would be wise to train downhill. Once you get out of Golden Gate Park - around Mile 19-20 - then you will immediately hit Haight Street, which is a long straightaway of hills. Uphill for a stretch, downhill for another, and so fort and so on. Towards the bottom of some of the downhills in 2012, I was grunting audibly. After a steady diet of hills, the downhills can really do a number on your weakened muscles. At least, they did to mine. So training for downhills would be wise. (As a quick aside, I plan on writing another blog post on how best to tackle your training for this challenging course)

Anyway, the hills are certainly part of the San Francisco Marathon's races but certainly not enough to scare any potential runner away. The hills are tough, yest, but they are also manageable and getting past them is a major part of what makes the race so fulfilling.

Trust me, you won't regret having conquered those hills.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Three Things Thursday: Blah, Shoes, Trails

1. Motivation Lacking: Some days, I just don't have it. I don't know why. I've been doing much better this year getting back to how I have been for most of my running tenure. I've run every day in 2013, and that streak is something I am proud of. But there are days like Wednesday when I'm just so blah about going on a run. I'd wanted to run at least six, hoped for eight but by the time I dragged myself out the door, I only ran four. It's strange, still trying to figure out what the hell is wrong. It is easier to get up for runs though than it was at the end of 2012. It's easier to get up for long runs and I can get through them without many issues, but I still get a case of the blahs now and again. Oh well, just have to try and minimize that I suppose.

2. New Shoes Needed? I swear I just bought shoes. Well, it was in November I believe that I finally bought some shoes. I'd worn the other pair for quite a long time so when I finally got into my new pair of shoes, they felt outstanding; like air cushions. Somewhere along the way, though, the air was let out of the cushions. In the last 2-3 weeks, it seems my shoes went from feeling spongy and light to rigid and unyielding. Well, perhaps that's a bit of an exaggeration, but not by much. I do need new shoes and I do need to make the trip out to the running store I go to for some. I probably will still run LA in these shoes but I'm not sure how much longer I want to wear these shoes. I started to get some issues on my foot from wearing the other pair for too long and I've been feeling great since, so I don't want to push my luck too much. I'd like to one day buy two pairs of shoes at the same time and rotate those around, or splurge and buy like 3-4 and have those last me a whole year but until that day comes I'm just going to make do with one shoe after another.

3. Happy Trails: I don't want to make this whole post a bit of a downer so gonna leave with a more positive tone. On Wednesday, when I finally made it out the door, I made a last-minute decision to tackle some trails. Now, I've got a first coming up this year, my first trail half marathon. I don't know what to expect, and to be honest I haven't given it much thought. The race is less than two weeks after the LA Marathon and all of my focus is on that, and for good reason. But at some point I'm going to have to hit the trails more to see what it's all about. So this was the first trail run I've had in quite some time. I enjoyed it. I enjoyed not having to worry about cars and not having to worry about crossing roads and things like that. I enjoyed the solitude. The trail itself was comfortable to run on, for the most part. Okay, well now that I think about it I nearly sprained my ankle a few times by stepping in a hole or some other uneven part of the surface, but that's just something I'll have to get used to I suppose. Anyway, I only ran about two miles on trails, but I was able to enjoy it, more than the other two miles I ran on the street. I need to squeeze in more trail runs and go on more trail adventures, before and after LA. Between LA (March 17) and my trail half (March 30), I'm going to have a memorable last half of March.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Strength in Numbers

A year ago, I paced my group at the LA Marathon. Five of us started together and after the one speedy member took off at Mile 2, the other four of us stayed together until about Mile 20. Two of us wound up finishing together.

There might be more joining me this year. For one, I have a reliable co-pace leader this time around. She's already registered for the LA Marathon, as am I. If our group run on Sunday is any indication, our group could number quite a bit come March 17. I've had several members ask me about pacing for LA and if they all join us, then it will be a fairly large turnout.

And if Sunday's run is also an indicator, the marathon will be a grand day indeed. We ran 15 miles on Sunday and for the most part we all stayed together. We chatted it up throughout as we went on our adventure together. We ran into Redlands as we always do, and then headed out on a desolate trail which we all seemed to enjoy. The conversations were great and made the time fly by. Afterward, we all remarked how strong we felt, how good our legs felt and how comfortable the run felt.

Marathon training is paying off for all of us, and as we've spent so much time and have run so many miles together as a unit, we are really starting to come together as a group as well.

There are a lot of things I like about being a pace leader. I like sharing my knowledge with others. I like watching novice runners transform into true long-distance runners and eventually marathoners. I like how it keeps my honest and makes me stay committed to my own training schedule so I don't fall behind in my pace-leading duties.

But this bonding experience, this bringing together of runners and making it into a group, is grand. I am excited for our upcoming runs, our 22-mile run on Feb. 24, the marathon itself, but I will also be sad when this is all over.

That's part of the job too, though. Forming a unit and then sending all the newly-minted marathoners out into the world of marathon running. Hopefully some of them will come back for the 2013-14 season, and can help out with the creation of next year's group.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Frisco Fridays: An Alluring Challenge

Here goes... been thinking about this for a bit and now I've committed myself, so let's see how this goes.

I figured, how to tie in my most favorite marathon (San Francisco Marathon) and this blog and a bit of regularity, so I decided to declare Fridays on my blog as Frisco Fridays.

Okay, I know that SF locals kinda frown on Frisco but let's just ignore that for now, okay? All right then, let's get started...

What will happen on Frisco Fridays? Well, anything and everything San Francisco Marathon related. Might blog about some of my own experiences, might blog about why you should run it, might blog about the course or the elevation or the city or share pictures or video of the event... I really don't have a specific plan for it, other than Fridays will be regular and will be dedicated to the best marathon you can race, the San Francisco Marathon.

So is my initial venture just to talk about the venture? Well, no. Obviously I have to introduce it but once I get done rambling introducing the topic then I can move on.

Moving on...

What's my obsession with the San Francisco Marathon?

I guess that's about as good a place as any to start.

In February 2010, I ran my first marathon, the Surf City Marathon. I enjoyed it tremendously and wanted to experience another marathon quickly, but heeded the warning many in my running club had given me - take some time before running another one.

Once my muscles stopped hurting me, I began to feel the itch for another marathon. I'd targeted the OC Marathon, but was discouraged from running it. It was in early May, two months after Surf City, and I felt it was too soon in the end.

My itch was growing and I started to look around. I thought about going big. I thought about San Francisco.

The San Francisco Marathon instantly appealed to me. I could probably convince Mrs. LB of a weekend getaway to a new city, I thought. Running in a new place would be a fun way to explore and sightsee. And of course I'd get in my second-ever 26.2-miler.

There was just an issue with the hills. Ah yes, the infamous San Francisco hills. Now, I'm going to leave the details of my hill training for another Frisco Friday, but I will say this: the hills became a source of pride. That I was going to challenge the hills *and* another marathon? Well, that was me taking off the training wheels indeed.

I wasn't going to train with a group like I did for the first one. I wasn't going to run with a group. I wasn't going to take comfort in knowing that a lot of my friends and fellow runners will pile up big mileage and then take on this challenge alongside me. Nope, this was me choosing to face the fire all by myself, to stare down the flames alone.

Go big or go home. Wasn't much of a homebody anymore so I chose big.

What appealed to me then is what appeals to me now. This is no ordinary marathon. Yes, running 26.2 miles is difficult, whatever the course looks like. There are no shortcuts, no rides you can take on any particular marathon course. The distance is the distance, period. But this distance could very well have an asterisk next to it.

Surf City Marathon 2010 - 4:42:26
*San Francisco Marathon 2010 - 4:38:51
Surf City Marathon 2011 - 4:23:38
Diamond Valley Lake Marathon 2011 - 4:45:41

* hard course

It stands out. Certainly from my first four marathons, the course separates the race from the rest.

The allure of a marathon is still very strong inside me. I have run eight marathons overall, six since running my first San Francisco Marathon. But the allure of running a marathon on a challenging course.. well, that just draws out the best in me. Am I man enough to take on the challenge? Do I have what it takes? Am I going to let some obstacles stand in my way?

In mid-2010, I decided that yes, I did want to take on San Francisco's challenges, yes I do have what it takes and no, I wasn't going to let hills stand in my way.

And, as I look ahead to my third San Francisco Marathon, I feel the same way about it now.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Journey Complete: Pace Leader's Pride and Joy

On Sunday, I went out to Huntington Beach for the Surf City races. For the first time since 2009 though I was not participating in any of the races. I went there for one reason – to watch my friend run his first marathon.

Now, there were more reasons that were great – saw some other friends before, during and after the races – but I went mostly to see my friend Ren run his first marathon.

Ren joined my pace group in 2011. His first run with us was when we’d run five miles. He had joined the 13-minute pace group at first but that was pretty easy for him so he came up with the 10s and found a more comfortable pace. I was surprised that he’d never really run before. He was in his early 50s and seemed to be in pretty good shape. He said he has friends at the school he teaches who are distance runners and figured he’d try it out.

Ren had also never run a race before but he ran his first race as a Loper, the Mission Inn 10K in 2011. Everything was new to him – every Sunday was his longest run ever, every accomplishment was a first. One run that stands out in particular was a 15-mile run he and I and two other runners from our group ran in late December 2011, a midweek long run that we squeezed in because New Year’s was fastly approaching.

By January, he was a bona fide runner. He ran the Highland Half Marathon in January 2012, his first-ever half marathon. The next week he ran Surf City half and the following weekend he ran Palm Springs half. Three half marathons on three consecutive weekends was impressive, but it was also a bit much. He injured his foot pretty bad, bad enough that he had to stop running completely. As a result, he was unable to run the LA Marathon. He also was unable to run the Run Through Redlands half in April, but he was out there supporting his friends and I was very excited to see him, even if it was brief.

I was sad for Ren but I knew he was not a quitter. He was determined to get past the injury and return to running. I saw him a few times during the summer, just by coincidence, out in Loma Linda during long runs. He had lost a lot of his stamina so getting through short runs was challenging. Plus his foot was still a bit tender, and the last thing he wanted was to reinjure himself.

By the time Lopers started, though, he was almost back to the old Ren, the runner he’d become. He was chewing up his long runs on the weekends and had been running regularly during the week. He signed up for Surf City, choosing to run that as his first marathon instead of LA (although he registered for both).

Sunday finally came, race day. I was not about to miss his big day. Having been there at the start of his running journey, having felt sad for his injury and seeing him make his return week after week and put the injury in the past, I wanted to see the payoff for myself. So I got up at about 4 a.m. Sunday morning, cruised down to Huntington Beach and made my way to the marathon start line.

I didn’t see him. It was about 15 minutes until race time and I was unable to spot him. I scanned the throng of runners but didn’t see him. I was worried that I would miss him, or even worse that he had gotten injured and was not even there.

But my nerves subsided when I saw him and Dean, another Loper who had joined up in 2011. Dean ran his first marathon one year prior and was now ready for his eighth marathon. I smiled broadly and greeted them. They were both surprised to see me but I told Ren that I was not about to miss his special day. I wished him luck, gave him a few words of wisdom (run strong, this is your day, you can get through it) and got out in front of the start line. A few minutes later I saw him run past the start line and onto the marathon course.

After running into other Lopers before the half and running six-plus miles of my own, I changed out of my running clothes and went to the tail end of the course, hoping to see Ren come in. The 3:30 pacer went by and I figured I was in good position to see him. I figured he’d come in between 4-4:10 so I kept my eyes peeled.

I didn’t see Ren but saw others come in. I congratulated Dean, hooped and hollered when I saw Doug – another member of my group – and walked a bit with Chris, another Loper who had run the full. But no signs of Ren. I checked the Surf City site and saw that he was still on the course, and sure enough I saw him up ahead several minutes later.

I ran onto PCH and started running alongside him. Ren breathed out a few words in between his grunts of pain and discomfort.

“Thank you… for running… with me….”

Not a problem, I replied. This was after all the main purpose of my visit to Surf City. He breathed out a few more strings of words, telling me how he went out too fast and had been walking a lot in Miles 21, 22 and 23. He said this was a whole lot different than running half marathons. And then, just before Mile 26, he said he need to walk. I told him to finish strong, to smile and pose at the finish line and enjoy the moment. This is your moment of glory, the moment you will remember for the rest of your life. He’d earned this moment, I told him, so he should enjoy it and soak it up.

I had tears in my eyes. I’d had tears in my eyes throughout the time I’d been waiting for him, and they came and went, but now that he was about to become a marathoner, they were back. Off in the distance, I saw Ren raise his arms and cross the finish line and I felt a surge of emotions – happiness, joy, pride, amazement – and the tears were flowing at this point.

I walked up to the where the runners spilled back onto PCH and met up with him. I shook his hand and congratulated the newly-medaled marathoner. I walked him out to his car, where Dean had been waiting for him, sprawled out on a patch of sand. I helped him up and together we talked about the race and the day. We all shook hands, gave them each a congratulatory hug and parted ways.

To see someone like Ren complete his journey was touching for me. Seeing him when he’d never run more than a few miles, seeing him prepare for his first-ever race, pacing him along uncharted territory for him and seeing him overcome injury to complete a marathon is inspirational. It encourages me and further hammers home the point that nothing is impossible. And to know that I played a small role in his journey just humbles me.

It lets me know I’m doing something right.

(from L to R) Dean, myself and Ren, a triumphant trio!