Category Archives: Marathon running

What the Beets? Why Every Athlete Should Make Beets Part of Their Weekly Menu

When it comes to endurance events, such a running a marathon, biking a century ride, doing an Ironman, and so on, most athletes reach out to energy drinks and caffeine before the start of their events. But what if we can replace the above-mentioned with beet juice instead and boost athletic performance even more?

 

 

 

Photo Credit: Jaclyn Schmidt

My picture during Urban Cow Half marathon on Oct. 1, 2017, where I had a big PR, finishing in 1:43:56 with a 7:56 pace. I felt amazing during the whole time and the Super Beets powder that I mixed in my water and drank it before the race sure kept me steady and strong.

 

A study published in the Journal of Applied Physiology in 2009 found that individuals who drank beet juice experienced up to a 16% increase in endurance compared to those who did not. Also according to Jacqueline Ritz, founder of the Paleo Mama blog, beets fight cancer, lower the risk of heart disease, lower blood pressure, increase endurance in athletes, and they are also an aphrodisiac. Being a high nitrate vegetable, beetroot, the red bulbous part, has become the super food for runners, cyclists, and other athletes. What if you don’t like beets and don’t wish to eat it, but still want to reap some benefits in increasing your endurance? There are many products on the market, such as this powder I buy from Wholefoods.

 

I have used this before races and my running felt effortless. I just mix a scoop with water and take it about an hour before the race, or a long run. Love it!

 

How high nitrate foods enhance our performance:

 

Another thing you can do to benefit from high nitrate vegetables is to eat more spinach, arugula, radishes, celery, lettuce, parsley, and rhubarb. Talking about nitrates, Amby Burfoot, the author of In Beet Juice We Believe published in the Runner’s World, explains how our body processes beets and turns them into a superfood. Burfoot points out that beets get their endurance power from helpful mouth bacteria that convert the nitrate in beets to nitric oxide, which appears to be the miracle substance. Nitric oxide can substantially lower blood pressure and somehow extend endurance. I guess we runners should not need too much more convincing regarding beets, which are good sources of folate, manganese, potassium, vitamin C, and dietary fiber, since we all try to avoid the famous “wall,” when our body rebels and starts hurting.

 

Ways to eat your beets:

 

  1. My favorite one is borscht.

 

 

Best borscht I have ever had made by my awesome friend and best training partner Andrea Brizendine. She added quinoa,  carrots, potatoes, and onions to it. I gobbled it up with whole grain bread and hummus. Delicious! It also makes me run longer and stronger! Isn’t this what we runners want?

 

To try this recipe and cook the same vegan borscht that my friend Andrea shared with me, please go to https://natashaskitchen.com/2013/05/18/easy-superfood-red-borsch/

So easy to make and so healthy! For a quick glance at the ingredients needed to make this,  see below.

 

Ingredients for Superfood Red Borsch – vegan style:

 

12 cups reduced sodium veggie broth
1 medium or 1/2 large onion, peeled and cut in half (ends removed)
3 medium potatoes, sliced
1/4 cup quinoa
3 medium beets, peeled and grated
2 good handfuls of chopped kale leaves
2 bay leaves
3/4 cup sliced carrots
1 Tbsp Mrs. Dash
3 Tbsp ketchup
1/2 Tbsp lemon juice
Salt & pepper to taste

 

2. Roasted beets, which I cut up, drizzle with olive oil, wrap them in aluminum foil, and roast them in the oven till they are tender.

 

3. Beet salad, which I used to eat as a child and liked its sweet taste. To make this salad, I cut up the beets and boil them till they are soft and tender. After they cool off, I remove the skin and grate them. I mix them up with a little salt and pepper and drizzle red wine vinegar on top. I keep the beet salad in a glass container in the fridge and eat it with roasted potatoes and other meals that go well together with this salad.

 

Credit recipe goes to my friend Cristina Nagy.

 

How about you? How do you like to eat your beets? Any special recipes you would like to share? No matter how you choose to eat, or drink them, one good thing could happen: you will BEAT your race PR with the mighty BEET!

 

For more info on running and real estate, whether buying or selling, please e-mail me at carmenmicsa@yahoo.com, or call me at 916-342-2446. Running for real estate with joy!

 

 

10 Reasons Buddy Runs are Fun, Interesting, and Challenging!

“The best way to relieve stress is not yoga or meditation – although those can be wonderful – but human contact. We need each other.”

Maia Szalavitz, The Sun Magazine

Although running is a wonderful activity to do solo, because it is a great way to problem solve, meditate, and reflect on life, running with your friends can be fulfilling, fun, and make those miles pass by quickly. To me, running with fun and interesting friends has been especially valuable during the long runs, as well as when doing trail running. The chatting, the laughter, the multiple perspectives on life and running have made me look forward to my runs with my amazing friends and training partners.

Holly has been my first running partner. We connected through the Fleet Feet training Facebook page and we became friends. It is always lovely to run together!
Although we went to graduate school together, Elisia and I became friends during my first CIM training with Fleet Feet in 2015. We ran many of our long runs together and had fun and interesting conversations. I am so happy that we reconnected through running.

10 REASONS RUNNING WITH FRIENDS IS MORE FUN, INTERESTING, AND CHALLENGING

 

  1. Running is a social experience and making new friends who love running as much as we do makes running much more enjoyable.
  2. Running is simply more fun when doing it with your running buddy/training partner, or doing it with a big group.
    My wonderful friend and favorite training partner Andrea and I jumping with joy during an easy run through Ancil Hoffman, or what I call my slice of Paradise. Lots of joy and excitement.

    3. Running with a good like-minded friend can make you step outside your comfort zone, such as adding push-ups after your runs, or doing squats and lunges at the bottom of a hill. My friend Cheri, who teaches an awesome core class at Cal Fit, inspires me to get those push-ups done.

After Cheri saw lots of my running posts and jumping pictures, she played around with her phone and came up with a brilliant way to take high jumping selfies. She set the phone on the 10 second timer and placed it on the ground, making our jump look really high. Fun photography I-phone trick that I would not have learned had I not met Cheri and started running together.

4. We all have a love-hate relationship with speed workouts on the track, but doing it together as a group makes it so much fun and challenging. Being on the Fleet feet Sacramento racing team, I get to train with the team on Tuesdays for our track workouts and long runs during the weekend. When I see my team mates run strong, I am motivated to run strong myself.

A fun evening doing speed workout with my Fleet Feet racing team. Josh and Tracy are much faster and stronger than me as a runner, which motivates me to strive and reach for more.

5. Running with others is beneficial to our emotional well-being, as we can talk about our successes and injuries to people who might have similar experiences and can be supportive of our journeys. The key, however, is balance, as we do not want to bring everyone down with our injuries. Instead, we want to find ways to be positive and encouraging of our running partners.

6. Trail running is the best to run with others for various reasons: company, support, strength in numbers in case a bear or mountain lion cross our paths, and the fun of being together in nature.

Having become part of the Trail Mix family of dedicated trail runners in 2016 has been the most amazing experience for me, as I have met incredible people and have explored new trails I never knew that existed before.
Exploring the Auburn Confluence trails with Adam and Aaron. Adam and I have been on the Fleet Feet Fit and now on the Racing team together.  He has also been an amazing training partner in 2016 when I trained for the CIM (California International Marathon), my third marathon.

7. Running with others gives us a different perspective on life, as talking about our ideas, problems, and challenges with our friends can bring solutions and answers that we could not have found on our own.

8. Running and training with a group, such as my racing team,  can infuse more meaning and purpose into your life, as well as unveil  life’s pure joys. 

My team mates from Fleet Feet Sacramento Racing team, which I have joined last year in December after running my third marathon and having a great year with a few age group wins in races.

9. Running with others makes us more accountable, which is paramount to our success in life and sports.

I have run most of my 20 milers with my wonderful friends from FF Fit who kept me accountable and made me enjoy those 20 mile training runs for CIM.

10. Running with others brings the concept of togetherness to a new level and makes us happy, content, and physically and mentally healthy.

Karen and I became wonderful friends during the Parkway 20-mile race that we both ran before the CIM. This picture is at the start of the CIM marathon in 2016. Grateful for our amazing friendship.

And when in doubt of whether to run or not to run, simply reach out to your friends who will help you stay on track. Also remember: running is a two-way street, which means that  your friends are there for you and you will in turn be there for them. All for one and one for all – my favorite musketeer mantra.

“What do we live for, if it is not to make life less difficult to each other? “ George Eliot, Middlemarch

For more info on running and real estate, whether buying or selling, please e-mail me at carmenmicsa@yahoo.com, or call me at 916-342-2446. Running for real estate with joy!

5 Reasons Why Running and Biking Make a Great Cross-Training Team

“Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you have to keep moving.
Albert Einstein

My Biking Background

Before I became a runner, I used to love to bike places by myself and with our sweet kids who learned how to bike before they turned eight years old.

 

The kids and I doing a short bike ride around the neighborhood at the beginning of 2017.

 

I also used to bike to Sacramento State University when I did my Masters degree and loved the no parking hassle and getting my exercise done at the same time. I have also done a few century (100 miles) and 100K rides for Diabetes Tour de Cure in honor of my dear father.

After a long 10-hour century ride. I used to always get lost and my family worried about me.

 

Running and Cross-training

Yet, once the bug of running took a hold on me in 2015, I started to neglect my Specialized Women design road bike. With a sticker on the middle bar that reads in Japanese calligraphy, self-moving vehicle, my bike started collecting dust in our garage, because I had found pure joy and more freedom in running, not to mention an excellent way to burn roughly four times more calories.  I was thus preoccupied with my running Lunar 8 Nike shoes and my Brooks Cascadia shoes and following my training schedule provided by our racing team coach. At first, I was running 4 to 5 days a week, but then I increased to 6 days a week to cram more miles and get stronger, and yet more prone to injury.

Overusing our muscles doing the same repetitive motion will certainly lead to injury sooner or later, which happened to me last month in March after a tough track workout. Thank goodness, I can now start back running wiser and stronger after my tendon has healed. As I biked 20 miles today, I kept writing in my head, while feeling the wind, smelling barbecue meat cooking on the grills the day before Easter,  and watching the swollen and swift American River on my left side.

My 20-mile bike ride today instead of my 20-mile long run, as I need to build back up slowly with my running and marathon training for Mountains to Beaches at the end of May.

I even imagined a funny conversation between my bike and I that went this way:

Bike: “So, now I am good enough for a 20-mile spin, because you can’t run in your snazzy Lunar Glide shoes, huh?”

Me: “Uhmmm! You know you have been my first love ever since childhood.”

Bike: “Yeah? And running is your hot lover who gets you high all the time.”

Me: “Nonsense. I just love to run and maybe my Lunar Glide shoes and you can be civilized and share the roads and trails from now on,” I replied while listening to the Runner’s World podcasts.

Bike: “I guess we can… Pedal harder! You can get a biker’s high without getting too tired, or too winded!”

Me: “Sweet! Maybe biker’s high is a little more real than unicorns.”

While biking and not getting tired, I also came up with five reasons biking and running can be best friends:

  1. Biking is a fast and great way to do intervals and hills with less pressure on our body.
  2. Biking can be done during a class indoors no matter what the weather is like, or outdoors for more sunshine and vitamin D.
  3. Biking can be a great training partner during off season, during an injury that allows you to bike, or just as an addition to your rest, easy days.
  4. Biking will build up your stamina and endurance, as well as provide excellent cardio benefits.
  5. Biking and running can become best friends and help you with that PR when running your next race.

As for me, I have decided to balance running, biking, playing tennis, strength training, and aqua jogging to avoid injuries. Running 5 days a week should be enough. Running and swimming the same day if I choose so can give me two intense cardio workouts and less stress on my joints and body. It will feel as if I am training for a triathlon and maybe one day, I will actually do one! Cheers! Happy feet! Happy pedaling!

For more info on running and real estate, whether buying or selling, please e-mail me at carmenmicsa@yahoo.com, or call me at 916-342-2446. Running for real estate with joy!

 

5 Worst Running Injuries I had in My First Two Years as a Runner and What You Can Do to Prevent Them

Romanians (Yes, I am Romanian American and quite proud of it) have a great saying: “smart people learn from the mistakes of others, whereas not so smart people learn from their own mistakes.” I would love for you to learn from my mistakes and know that learning from your own mistakes is unavoidable. Besides,  when things happen for the first time, it has little to do with your intelligence level: it has to do more with life’s constant element of surprise, or what I like to call an ocean wave sweeping us off our feet when we are least expecting it.

Balance

 

One of the things I think I am pretty good at is balancing my busy parent, professional, intellectual, and athletic life.  I feel that I can juggle things, because I use my calendar well and try to write down all appointments, all my to-do lists, and still have room left for fun activities. I also found out that as a runner, balance is key. I need to balance my workouts, the time on my feet, as well as make room for tennis and strength training. But what happens when you become a little too confident in your running abilities? Well, you tip the balance scales to the heavier training cycle of running, so you start doing two runs a day even after a race you did the same day, which I have done and felt great at the time. You know that your form is good, so you won’t get injured, but overuse injuries can creep up upon us. Our bodies take the beating up to the point of quitting, so that’s when we start having problems.

 

Five worst running Injuries I have had in the last two years

 

I always thought I had a stronger body than my body really is! And, yes! I am an optimist who likes to wear the rosy glasses often. Moreover, just because I have played tennis for 22 years and never got injured is not enough to proclaim the Herculean strength of my body. As a matter of fact, once I started to run in 2015, I realized how many weak areas I had in my body, starting with the ankle which I injured in my first month of running due to poor form and improper shoes for my feet (I was wearing the low Altra shoes that offer no support to our ankles), but bounced back in 4 days. Then the knees pointed out to me that I had developed IT band syndrome, when I felt pain on the side of my knees and runner’s knee when my knees hurt right below the knee cap.

My first  half marathon Run the Sly in 2015, my first year running. I wore the copper fit knee sleeves to protect my knees from hurting, especially during longer runs.
My first CIM marathon that I finished in 4:13, even though I pulled my groin muscle at mile 18 and had to slow down.

 

Although I always ran with my knee sleeves on for about a year, as if they had magical powers, I had discovered that I could run without them with no pain when I forgot to put them on. That day I ran freely without any “crutches,” so to speak and felt like Forrest Gump .

Next injury took me almost six months to clear, as I had developed Planter Fasciitis after buying running flats that had a lower heel drop than I was used to and due to my tight calf muscles. Every morning, the sharp pain in my heel felt like walking on needles or stepping on a nail, but once I started my run, I was pain free and kept on going.

Towards the end of 2016,  I also developed a mild form of shin splints, with pain running up the inside of my lower legs.  Shin Splints can happen to runners whose feet maintain ground contact too long, or if the foot lands too far in front of them. Higher mileage will also contribute to shin splints.

My fifth injury came on totally unexpected on March 21st, 2017 after I did some intense speed workout on the track. I did 4 mile repeats and felt great until I got home and started to limp badly. My husband asked me if I twisted my ankle, or my foot. I said “no.” My speed workout felt wonderful as always.  I just didn’t know what happened, but I was sure I would be like brand new by the morning. And, yes: my rosy glasses were on. I had no clue that I had developed one of the worst injuries that only affects 0.6 percent of runners from what I have read – see how special I am?

I had developed peroneal tendonitis on my right foot, which is extreme pain on the outside area of the foot right above the ankle. Unlike all the above-noted injuries that never stopped me from training and running races, this one left me limping and unable to run. Yes, I was smart to stop running, while resting and icing, but it was mainly because my injury forced me to do that. I have not run in two weeks, doing aqua jogging, stretching exercises, and foam rolling.

After two weeks of rest and doing aqua jogging, Pilates class, and core exercises, I have tried acupuncture http://www.acupunctureinsacramento.com for the first time in my life to attack the tendon and be able to restart my Mountains to Beaches marathon training coming up on May 28th in Southern California. It worked so well and I highly recommend it, but check about your injuries with your doctor first.

Do You Have Peroneal Tendonitis? Here is How to Fix it

http://www.healthline.com/health/fitness-exercise/peroneal-tendonitis-stretches#2

Although the article below talks about 5 most troublesome running injuries, which I had all, my sixth running injury comes and goes depending on how long and intense I run. I have had piriformis syndrome on and off, which is simply pain in the gluteal muscles, making it hard to maintain a certain pace, once it kicks in. I like to call this injury a kick in the butt, not figuratively speaking, as that’s the area that hurts and slows me down.

The 5 Most Troublesome Running Injuries

 

When it comes to healing all kinds of running related injuries, I recommend reading James Sullivan’s advice below and then read about my healing methods.

http://www.mensjournal.com/expert-advice/how-to-recover-from-running-injuries

 

CARMEN’S 20 HEALING METHODS FOR THE ABOVE-MENTIONED INJURIES AND ADVICE:

 

  1. Listen to my body and address the issue promptly.
  2. Read many running books and changed my running form after reading the Chi Running book by Danny and Katherine Dreyer. I highly recommend it, as I was able to apply the lessons and improve my form and speed.
  3. Read about the injury and take action to heal the body while running, if safe to run.
  4. Changed the type of shoes I wore and currently run in the Nike Lunar Glide 8, which are better for my feet.
  5. Changed my running shoes every 400 miles to avoid injuries.
  6. Rolling my foot on a tennis ball daily and often while working at my desk to get rid of Plantar Fasciitis.
  7. Using the foam roll often and doing different Yoga stretches.
  8. Doing weekly core and strength training exercises, such as squats, lunges, kettle bell swings, bridges, and so on.
  9. Doing hills to strengthen my body, especially my gluteal muscles.
  10. Running much slower on my recovery days to allow my body to fully recover.
  11. Running with friends to keep myself accountable.
  12. Using the sauna to loosen up the muscles and recover well from tough workouts.
  13. Using the Epsom salt baths after long runs.
  14. Not running the day before a race and especially before a marathon.
  15. Using the chiropractor once to realign my body.
  16. Using the acupuncture and common sense to heal the tendon.
  17. Not taking Levofloxacin or Ciprofloxacin antibiotics, as they can weaken the tendon and ankles, leaving one more prone to injury.
  18. Talking to other runner friends and asking for their advice.
  19. Staying humble.
  20. Being wiser about life and running – hopefully!

 

CARMEN’S 12 GOALS FOR RUNNING STRONGER AND INJURY-FREE IN THE FUTURE ALL THE WAY TO 100:

 

  1. Balance my tennis and running better, meaning that I won’t do a speed training session the same day that I play tennis. Instead, I will do an easy run the day I play tennis, or no run.
  2. Strengthen my muscles more.
  3. Do more stretches after my runs and ice more often at the first sign of soreness.
  4. Give up racing, if a small nagging injury is present and wait to be totally healed.
  5. Run mostly 5 days a week instead of 6, unless I am behind my schedule and my body feels healthy to handle the extra pounding.
  6. Do two easy runs a day when feeling good, but never a hard run followed by an easy one. After a hard run, or race, I can do aqua jogging to relax the body and muscles.
  7. Incorporate aqua jogging and biking into my weekly workouts for cross training and getting the body stronger.
  8. Listen to my body more and respond with rest when needed.
  9. Be flexible in rearranging my running schedule, if my body cannot accommodate a speed workout that day.
  10. Mix road and trail running, but avoid running too many hills on tired legs.
  11. Order custom orthotics for my high arched feet to take away the pressure from the calf muscles.
  12. Use acupuncture, deep tissue massages,  and active release techniques to stay strong and healthy.

 

I have tried Crossfit for a month and got my body stronger, while learning to incorporate some of the moves into my own strength training schedule, such as the deadlift move.

 

Although these injuries seem to be too much, I have enjoyed my running tremendously and highly recommend it to all my friends as the best mediation in motion out there. I have been successful at it, winning many age group races and even winning first female overall in the Gumby 5K trail run this year. I believe that with the right plan and improved running technique, I will continue to run many more races and marathons. Running is life!

For more info on running and real estate, whether buying or selling, please e-mail me at carmenmicsa@yahoo.com, or call me at 916-342-2446. Running for real estate with joy!

Running Later in Life and How Running Keeps Us Younger, Healthier, and Happier!

It takes courage and determination to change at any age, but taking up running later in life to increase one’s health and fitness level is not what the every day person does.

Meet five incredible athletes all in their 70s who are not interested in joining any senior’s classes soon. Their passion and joie de vivre: running.

 

Last year while training for California International marathon, my third marathon since I started running, I had the pleasure and honor to meet these four amazing women Charlyn, Barbara, Carolyn, and Linda all in their 70s – so driven, radiant, humble, and truly inspiring.

 

Big 70 to 74 age group winners at Valentine 4-mile race this year. Carolyn in the red, Barbara in the middle, and Charlyn next to her.

 

We met during our Fleet Feet Fit track workouts led by our amazing coach Chad Worthen. Being the  gregarious and curious person that I am, I made friends with them and started asking questions. Charlyn amazed me first, as I talked to her and learned about her transformative and inspiring fitness journey . I even used her story on my mom to get her moving, which worked. My mom started running with me short half a mile distances the  summer of 2016. I have to say that her form was perfect  and that she did not want to run slowly. In 2017, a few months later after getting to know all these wonderful women, I have decided to interview them and learn about their extraordinary journeys.

 

Charlyn Frazier’s beginnings and progress as a runner

 

Charlyn Frazier started to run in February 2011 at the age of 66 after joining a local gym. She had played a lot of tennis in Southern California in the 70s and 80s, but after moving to Sacramento in 1990, she became inactive and put on a lot of weight in the next 21 years.  Luckily, her trainer at the gym suggested that she kicked up the cardio and try running.  

 Charlyn ran her first 5K race in 39:33. It was so exhilarating and she couldn’t wait to do it again.  Soon after that, she ran her first 10K in July 2011, her first half in October 2011, and her first marathon California International Marathon in 2012.  This was just the beginning of her enthusiasm and passion for running. As of February 2017, Charlyn has run 104 races, four of which are marathons. 

 

Charlyn finishing CIM 2016 with a big smile on her face. Another marathon in the books. Marathons are actually her favorite distance and she loves to train for them. Charlyn admits that  even though she is not nervous on race day, she is as excited as a child on Christmas Eve.

 

Her breakthrough in running came in January 2014 when she decided to join Fleet Feet Fit program. She immediately loved having coach Chad Worthen hold her accountable and give her positive feedbacks, while reminding her to get in her miles and stay focused during workouts. 

 

Charlyn wearing bib number 70 to match her age at the Urban Cow half marathon in Sacramento. What a joy!

 Charlyn’s advice to other new and seasoned runners

 

  1. Taking up running for the first time means to start out slow with short distances and work up from there. 
  2. Be ready to be amazed at how quickly your endurance and pace will build-up. For example, Charlyn finished her first 5K on May 30, 2011 in 39:33 and less than three months later finished a 5K in 36:08. Note that she set 5K PR at Run to Feed the Hungry in December 2016 with a time of 27:58.  
  3. It is very important to have a network of running buddies. It was a major step for Charlyn in her running journey when she joined up with Fleet Feet to train for her first Urban Cow Half Marathon. The camaraderie in a training group is a phenomenal motivator for setting that clock and meeting up on the road on a cold winter morning. 
  4. Meet and run with other runners who can inspire you to become the best you can be.  Charlyn has become friends with Barbara, Linda, and Carolyn all featured in this blog.

  Charlyn’s greatest accomplishments as a runner

 

  • In 2015 Charlyn finished 9th in Buzz Oates Run-Sac competitive division. In 2016, she finished 7th being rewarded with $75.00 and $150.00 respectively. She also earned a place on the 2016 Milestone 100-Mile Club having logged 116 miles in Buzz Oates races http://runsacseries.com/. This earned her a cool shirt, hat, and jacket! 
  •  Charlyn’s greatest honor has been receiving the Sacramento Running Association’s Award for 2015 Veteran Women Athlete – Marathon and SRA’s Award for 2016 Veteran Women Athlete – Road Running https://runsra.org/.

 

SRA (Sacramento Running Association) Achievement Award for Veteran Woman Marathon Athlete.

Barbara Rinker’s beginnings and progress as a runner

 

Barbara finishing the California International Marathon in December 2016 with a bright smile on her face. Running brings her so much joy and she loves competing. Her favorite distance is the marathon.

 

Barbara Rinker started to run at 50.

She remembers walking from the 20-mile mark of the American River Trail to the Fish Hatchery as part of a weight loss contest with Weight Watchers to lose pounds and get healthier. Then the walk progressed to a jog next to her long-legged husband. She eventually got pretty efficient at jogging and signed up with Buffalo CHIPS together with her husband. After running her first 10K in 58 minutes, Barbara was hooked by the joy of running. She also realized that running is as mental as it is physical.

 

Barbara’s advice to other new and seasoned runners

 

  1. The more you move, the more capable you are of moving.
  2. Appropriate rest days are just as important as running and workout days.
  3. Barbara’s advice to women 60 and older:  “make yourself available to other runners; you could find them to be great confidence builders. Find a good training group and talk it up with others of like mind.” 
  4. A proper running schedule will help you set and accomplish your health goals and increase the fun in your life.  Heavy breathing is good for the soul and the lungs.

Barbara’s greatest accomplishments as a runner

 

  • Barbara has run 11 marathons: 9 California International Marathons, 2 Boston Marathons, and 1 Avenue of the Giants.
  • Total number of other races: 172, including 1 30K, 23 Half Marathons, and a mixture of 5 and 10Ks.

Carolyn Slavich’s beginnings and progress as a runner

 

Carolyn Slavich was 62 when she started running.  She decided to try running when her daughter ran the CIM that year. Carolyn started to run around the track at the tennis club with one of her tennis friends. She doesn’t think she made it even 100 yards the first time she tried it, but kept at it until she could run 5 miles. Her first races were Susan G Komen 5K and Run to Feed the Hungry.  When she was 65, Carolyn’s daughter talked her into doing a half marathon. Carolyn ran the Sacramento marathon half, which became the Cowtown and the Urban cow about five times.

When Carolyn was 70 years old, she decided to try a marathon. She looked for the perfect training program, but they all were for people faster than she was. Then she found Harry Tortuga training for the Urban Cow half and was able to combine that with a marathon training program she found on line. Carolyn completed her first CIM at 70 in 5:39.

Carolyn’s advice to other new and seasoned runners

 

  1. Running is very personal for everyone and the desire to start running has to be there for an individual.
  2. Carolyn encourages everyone interested enough to give running a try, because the end result is an amazing feeling, especially once runners reach their goals.
  3. Running certainly keeps you fit.
  4. Runners are such great people and running is such a wonderful social sport.

Carolyn’s greatest accomplishments as a runner

 

Carolyn Slavich’s 1st AG (Age group) place at the Shamrock’s half marathon in March 2017.

 

  • Carolyn has completed 6 marathons and Boston will be her 7th.
  • Carolyn is not totally sure, but she thinks she ran 100 races.
  • She attributes her running accomplishments to her coach Chad Worthen and the Fleet Feet FIT training.

Linda Hall’s beginnings and progress as a runner

 

 

Linda won 1st place in her AG at the ZooZoom 5K race on March 26 (5K races are her favorite).  We’re both displaying our stuffed animals that we received for placing in our AG. I finished second in my AG.

 

Linda Hall was 32 and just starting her first job as an assistant professor of biology at MIT in Cambridge, Massachusetts when she started running.  She was working in a high stress job, setting up her own research laboratory, competing for grant money, teaching really bright students, and living in a big city. Linda had a husky-shepherd dog (Nikki) who loved running around Fresh Pond in Cambridge.  Once Linda started running with her dog to and from work, she was hooked. Linda has been running for more than 40 years.

Linda did not run any races until she moved to New York City in 1979 when she joined the faculty at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, where she was a professor of molecular genetics and neuroscience. She joined NYC road runners and also Prospect Park Track club. Linda’s first race was Leggs mini marathon, which was really a 10 k race in Central Park. That year Dustin Hoffmann was in the movie Tootsie.  He ran in that race in drag and was just ahead of Linda. The crowd was cheering for him, which was an indelible moment.

 

Linda’s advice to other new and seasoned runners

 

  1. Buy yourself a pair of good running shoes and vow to wear them out (it takes 300-400 miles).
  2. Then buy another pair of shoes and keep going.
  3. Running is a great way to relieve stress and to solve problems.
  4. Running can teach us patience and to approach problems systematically: one step at a time.
  5. Nothing seems bad after a nice run alone or with friends.
  6. Listen to your body and don’t try to do too much, too soon.
  7. Find a group of friends who are a little faster than you and stick with them.
  8. Running is a great way to maintain your weight, but you still can’t eat everything.
  9. Have fun with running, but listen to your body and you can keep running for many years. …more than 40 years for Linda!
  10. Running teaches you the importance of running your own race, but also the importance of encouraging others.

Linda’s greatest accomplishments as a runner

 

  • Linda has run 7 marathons: NYC marathon (4 times), Marine Corps, Grandmas (in Minnesota), and the San Diego rock n roll marathon

Besides these wonderful and dedicated women athletes, I also had the honor to meet and interview David Ghent, who competes and wins in the Senior Games in the 70-74 age group, which used to be Senior Olympics.

 

My friend Andrea and I met David Ghent at the American River College track stadium. We started chatting with him and found out how much he loves to sprint. We also learned that he is in his 70s and living life to the fullest. His favorite event is the 100 meters dash.

 

David Ghent’s beginnings and progress as a runner

 

David Ghent is a different type of runner; he is a 73-year-old sprinter who loves sprinting due to the fact that it is over quickly. David has attempted distance running, but found out that he didn’t have the mental fortitude for it. David started sprinting for exercise and fell in love with it. He was sprinting at American River Junior College one day when this man asked him if he ever thought about sprinting in the Senior Games, which used to be Senior Olympics. The Senior Games are divided into 5 year increments from 50 years on up. David had never heard of it before, but started checking into it and decided to enter his first competition in 2014. He won three gold medals and has competed ever since.

 

David’s advice to other new and seasoned runners

 

  1. It is never too late to start something.
  2. People put too much weight into numbers when discussing age. It is almost expected that when one reaches a certain age, one is to stop living and “take it easy,” which is a big mistake.
  3. If more people could experience the feeling of when endorphins are activated into the pleasure center of one’s brain and the positive effect that endorphins have on the thoughts and feelings of the person, maybe more would choose to run.
  4. Joining a running group is such a positive and motivating environment. It is more enjoyable to participate in doing something with other like-minded people than alone.
  5. Completing a marathon doesn’t have to be the end all of a goal. Just go into it with the thought of moving, as they say from couch to 5K.

 

David’s greatest accomplishments as a runner

 

  • To medal is the ultimate goal, but to be a participant and take in all that the Games have to offer and meeting the athletes is truly a privilege. To witness a 92 year young woman shot put and a 101 year young man shot put, throw both the javelin and discuss, and to run and finish both the 100 and 200 meter dashes is truly inspiring.
  • Every two years there is the National Senior Games which are held in a different state each time. One has to qualify to participate and each state has their own qualifying events. David was fortunate enough to have qualified in 2015 which was held in Minneapolis, Minnesota and again this year in Birmingham, Alabama. He will be participating in the 50, 100, and 200 meter dashes. He failed to advance to the finals in 2015, but that is his goal this year in Birmingham.
  • David has run many 5K races and finished 2 half-marathons.
  • David’s big goal and plan for this year is to run and finish the CIM, which will be his first marathon. He hopes to erase that from his bucket list.

When it comes to running and exercising to stay healthy and happy, running can be a great outlet. After all, life is rarely a sprint; it is a marathon, so why not run your first marathon at any age and find more inspiration from others who have done it and have transformed their lives, one step and mile at a time.

I hope you have enjoyed reading this blog, and if you have your own amazing stories to share, please comment here.

http://nutritionfacts.org/2017/01/24/exercise-as-a-treatment-for-depression/

http://www.runnersworld.com/walking

For more info on running and real estate, whether buying or selling, please e-mail me at carmenmicsa@yahoo.com, or call me at 916-342-2446. Running for real estate with joy!

How to Lose Weight, Have More Energy, and Run Faster on Real Vegan Food!

Sports, Nutrition, and Energy

 

I loved sports since childhood and have been blessed with tremendous energy to keep going for hours, doing gymnastics, playing soccer, tennis, handball, basketball, and running, which has become my greatest passion next to tennis. Having been so fortunate to have all this energy, I never thought that I could increase my energy levels even more by becoming vegan, but once that happened, I was amazed. I also felt that I fully earned my nickname the “energizer bunny” that a lot of my friends bestowed upon me.  However, the main difference in my stamina came in 2012 when I decided to become pesco-vegan http://www.livestrong.com/article/98689-pescovegetarian-diet/ after watching Tamra, one of my tennis friends who is vegan eat after our tennis matches. She was my inspiration! One day after our singles match, I told her I was ready to become vegan, so she gave me many good pointers. I thus made the switch right away and turned fully vegan for the first month, after which I added the seafood to my diet.

The pesco-vegan diet

 

It follows the vegan diet, meaning no dairy products, no meat, no eggs, but adds seafood and wild fish, which are good sources of Omega-3s and are great for brain function.  In less than a month, after I changed my diet, my energy level doubled and I felt twenty years younger. I also lost weight, even though I was never big, but the belly fat after giving birth to our sweet children would not go away until I changed my diet and dropped from size 8 to size 4 in just two months.

As a pesco-vegan, I used to enjoy wild-caught salmon with a variety of side dishes. Always buy wild-caught fish if you decide to eat fish.
Salmon and sweet potatoes

 

The Fully Vegan Diet

 

In December 2016, while taking a Pilates class at California Family Fitness with Linda, a vegan for more than 27 years, I decided to become fully vegan and not eat any more seafood. Last year, I had a phenomenal year in running winning seven races in my age group and setting 16 PRs (personal records) out of the 18  road and trail races that I ran,  and I never ran low on fuel or energy. I also got accepted into the Sacramento Fleet Feet Racing Team, so fueling my body properly is super important. I have fun making big pots of lentil soup, vegan burgers, salads, pizza using the fresh herbs dough from Trader Joe’s, and pasta.

Pasta with mushrooms and zucchini.

 

Lentil and mixed whole grains- Yummy!
Carbs are great for runners and all other athletes!
Salads are great and so easy to make! You can top them with beans for extra protein, tofu, Quinoa, and seeds. Delicious and so healthy!

While all this sounds good, you might wonder why you should accept my story. How about other runners or athletes? Do they share a similar story with mine? Pretty much so!

Interview with Josh Fernandez, writer, English Professor at Folsom Lake College, vegan marathon and ultra runner who is on the Sacramento Fleet Feet Racing team

Josh will run Boston this year, 2017!

What made you decide to become vegan?

“At first, it was my friend Toni Okamoto, who runs a website called Plant Based on a Budget http://plantbasedonabudget.com/.  One night, I was at dinner and I called her and asked her about being a vegan. That night, she convinced me that I could easily go from being a vegetarian to vegan. Eventually, we started running together and we ran the Running With the Bears marathon where I met one of her friends, a guy named Dave Wiskowski. He was really cool an ended up running a lot of the race with me. He is an ultrarunner and a vegan. Actually, at the time, he was a fruitarian. An ultrarunner who only eats fruit! I love weird stuff like that.  Anyway, he’s a really amazing guy. A true inspiration. Together, they convinced me that cruelty-free eating is the only way for me.”

 How did changing your diet affect your running?

“I became a vegan several months before the California International Marathon in 2015. I thought to myself, “Well, this will either help me or kill me.” I started eating a lot of avocados, veggies, and pasta. I could feel a difference in my body right away. I felt leaner. I had more energy. I started training with very little fatigue. I got this feeling that I could run forever. Maybe some of it was a placebo effect, but it didn’t matter. I felt strong. That year I knocked almost 20 minutes off my marathon PR and qualified for the Boston Marathon.” 

 Was your experience as a vegan only positive?

“Yes. I used to get tired every day at around 3 p.m., like this really low energy, sluggish feeling, especially if I was at work. At 3 p.m., I would literally rest my head on my desk and struggle to get up. Then I’d pound a coffee, which would keep me up all night. I don’t get that tired feeling anymore and I attribute that all to being vegan. Dairy, especially cheese and lard, weighs me down quite a bit. Cutting that stuff out produces really beneficial and exciting results if you’re an athlete.”  

 What is your favorite source of protein after a long run? 

“I love avocados. I really like to eat a big fat sandwich with avocados, spinach, bell peppers, cucumbers, and hummus. I wash it down with a smoothie made with kale, celery, ginger, apple, garlic and a scoop of Vega protein powder. I think when you’re vegan for a while, your taste buds morph, so even sort of gross food (like garlic in a smoothie) is somehow incredibly appetizing. That’s what my wife says, at least. “

 Any pros and cons of the vegan diet?

“The only con is when people invite you over to dinner, you have to engage in the awkward conversation where you let them know they’re either going to have to make a vegan meal, or you’ll just “bring something from home,” which never happens. But luckily, when you’re vegan, nobody really invites you to dinner, anyway.” 

Any specific advice for runners or anyone else looking to change their diet and become fully vegans?

 “My friend Toni suggested (since I really loved cheese, like in a sick way, enough that I would sometimes eat a block of medium cheddar for lunch) that I should become a vegan in phases–first you get rid of  milk, then eggs, then cheese, etc. So that’s what I did and it really worked. I don’t miss cheese anymore. When I’m craving pizza, Amy’s makes a really good frozen cheese-less pizza that hits the spot, since I don’t like the taste of imitation cheese. You’d think with all the technological advances in the world someone would engineer a cheese that doesn’t taste like toe fungus, but I guess that’s not really a priority. Anyway, I think everyone loves animals, so I would suggest that everybody go vegan. Don’t make me bust out pictures of what happens at factory farms.” 

 Why vegan vs. vegetarian?

“For me, it comes down to two things: health and compassion. I feel my healthiest when I’m not weighed down by meat and dairy. I also feel the most connected to the world when I’m not causing pain to other animals.” 

Now that you have two opinions on turning vegan, I urge you to find out what works for you as far as your diet, consult a nutritionist, read more about the vegetarian and the vegan diets, and embrace the change.  I wish you a healthier, speedier, and more amazing 2017. You can do it!

For more info on running and real estate, whether buying or selling, please e-mail me at carmenmicsa@yahoo.com, or call me at 916-342-2446. Running for real estate with joy!

 

 

Run, Eat, Pray, Love! Thoughts about Running my Second California International Marathon with a 26 minute PR From My First CIM!

RUN

“You need to learn how to select your thoughts just the same way you select your clothes every day. This is a power you can cultivate. If you want to control things in your life so bad, work on the mind. That’s the only thing you should be trying to control.”

I am using Elizabeth Gilbert’s book title Eat, Pray, Love book as part of my blog title together with a few quotes from her book, because I am deeply interested in the philosophy of running and what it takes to razor time, so to speak, when slashing and shaving your old PRs (personal records).  And, yes I shaved 26 minutes from my first marathon, finishing CIM in 3:47:47 and only missed my Boston qualifying time by 2:47:47 minutes.

At the start line, walking to my 3: 43 pacing group.
Trying to stay warm at the start line. We had the best weather we could have asked for.
With my friends Karen and Nikki and our pacers 10 minutes before the start.

To run a marathon well it takes dedication, hard work, perseverance, and many good choices, such as how to train, what to eat, what to wear, and, most importantly, what and how to think  about an upcoming marathon.  As the above quote says, I selected only positive, radiant, and confident thoughts during all my months of training and before the marathon. I also visualized myself smiling and running , such as in this picture taken by our sweet son Alex when I came by our house around mile 14. I also smiled and tried to defeat “the wall” coming up at mile 20 – see video below, as my quads got tight  and slowed me down enough to lose my pacing group. The video below was taken by Robert Fausett, the son of one of my good tennis friends, Janice Cowden.

Smiling and running. Waving at my family at mile 14 . Picture taken by our son Alex Micsa.
Smiling and running. Waving at my family at mile 14 . Picture taken by our son Alex Micsa.

 

https://www.facebook.com/robfausett916/videos/1343230939042508/

EAT

Stop wearing your wishbone where your backbone ought to be.”

During my intensive 3-month training with Fleet Feet Fit, a more customized and demanding training group than Fleet Feet CIM training program, I constantly worked on my nutrition and what made me feel well-hydrated and fueled.

I don’t know about you, but I love to eat real food during all my runs, but especially during my marathons. I have discovered what works for me and I am happy to share with you so that you don’t have to choke and get a stomach upset on gels and other highly engineered foods. Not only do I like to eat real food, but being pesco-vegan, I have even more restrictions. The pesco-vegan diet follows the vegan diet, meaning no dairy products, no meat, no eggs, but adds seafood and wild fish, which are good sources of Omega-3s and are great for brain function.  In less than a month, after I changed my diet in 2012, my energy level doubled and I felt twenty years younger.

Favorite marathon food I ate every 5 miles during CIM. I did not eat the fig bar, but ate the other two.
My favorite breakfast before long runs. I add a little blueberry jelly on top and also eat a banana.
Post run bar that’s healthy, has little sugar, and has my favorite ingredients: dark chocolate and nuts.

 

PRAY

“There’s a crack (or cracks) in everyone…that’s how the light of God gets in.”

I am a firm believer that God is present in my life and trust his/her timing, guidance, answer to my prayers, and his/her amazing grace. Whenever I pray for something and ask God to help me accomplish a higher goal, a loftier pursuit, or something as difficult as running a marathon, I ask God to help me if he/she thinks I am ready for the next step. Pushing for things that I am not ready for can end in disillusionment. However, by letting the door cracked open, I invite just enough light, wisdom, and sunshine that my heart, soul, and mind needs.

I was listening to a podcast and the author said this quote. I turned my back and saw God’ radiant light and reveled in this sunrise. Running is mystical and answers many of our prayers.

 

When running a marathon, I feel that praying is particularly important and gives us the extra strength we need to conquer the marathon beast lurking out around mile 21, or so. I also believe that running

a marathon is the most humbling experience that reminds us to stay grounded and run in the moment. We all have goals, but we need to understand that our times can derail up and down, more likely down depending on the day, the course, and our physical and mental preparation.

In my case, during the CIM I started to really feel my sore quads, especially the left one around mile 20, which made me slow down, lose my 3:43 pacing group,  and reevaluate my goal. I accepted that I would probably lose the Boston qualifying time, which needed to be 3:45, but I really needed 3:42 to make sure I got accepted, and that I needed to continue to run strong to get a big PR from my last Pony Express marathon that I ran in May, and an even bigger PR from my very first marathon, last year’s CIM.

I prayed, ran, and stayed focused not even hearing my name being called by friends and spectators, or seeing my friends’ special signs for me all the way to the finish line.

Sign made by my awesome friend Holly and her daughter. I gave Holly a high five at Fair Oaks and Arden and loved seeing them cheer on me and the other runners. Cheering gives us energy.
At the finish line with our son Alex. So special!
At the finish line with my husband and our daughter Sophia
At the finish line with Andrea, my friend and amazing training partner.

LOVE

“Zen masters say you cannot see your reflection in running water, only in still water.”

“What does love have to do with running a marathon? ” You might ask. The answer is: everything! When you run with joy and smile through the miles, you feel an immense love for others, for yourself, for exercising, for being together, and for the whole world. Another aspect of our love for running is the stillness of our minds and thoughts while hitting the pavement and while fatigue wants to steal our joyous stride.

During training for CIM, the love for running with our training buddies and our dear friends keeps us going during those four weekend of running 20 miles to be well-prepared for the marathon.

During a 20-mile training run- jumping with joy with my amazing friend Andrea.
Running track with my crazy fit runners Adam and Romero.

Running with love and appreciation for our families, friends, and our happy feet will make any marathon training and race so much more meaningful  and give us a new perspective on our lives. And when in doubt: run, eat, pray, love, and then repeat for your next marathon.

For more info on running and real estate, whether buying or selling, please e-mail me at carmenmicsa@yahoo.com, or call me at 916-342-2446. Running for real estate with joy!

Tips on Having Your Best 20-miler – Running Gear, Nutrition, and Having Fun!

What does running 20 miles and having fun have in common, you might ask yourselves? I agree: it is an oxymoron. One that is harder to grasp for most of us. In fact, when I did my very first 20 mile training run last year in preparation for the California International Marathon, I felt like someone who can’t swim, as I imagined drowning in my own breathless repeated gasp for air. And then the knees screamed at me, screeching and halting, while my brain could not process why I needed to stress my body by running 20 miles when cars are perfectly capable to carry us places.

My friend Elisia and I ran the whole time together and finished strong in the rain. She told me: "We never walk to the finish line. Let's finish strong." OUr last miles were wet, too, as it started to rain.
Last year, my friend Elisia and I ran the whole time together and finished strong in the rain. She told me: “We never walk to the finish line. Let’s finish strong.” Our last miles were wet, too, as it started to rain.

This year, as I am getting ready to run my third marathon, my approach has changed. Now I am looking forward to the fun challenge of running four weekends of 20 miles in a row, according to my training schedule, too. Today, I ran my third 20 milers together with my runner and blogger friend Adam, and I felt great during and after the run. Adam did a great video on gear during our run, in which we talked about our hydration backpacks, shoes, sunglass, hats, and so on – see below.

https://www.facebook.com/Adamtherando?pnref=friends.search

Obviously, as highlighted in the video, hydration and fueling during a long 20-mile run is crucial, which is why we both described our backpacks. When doing an unsupported training run like we did today, it is imperative that you have your own hydration (I drank almost 1.5 liters of water mixed with Tailwind, which provided carbs, electrolytes during my run today), gels, fig bars – my favorite, snacks, and other small necessities without adding to much weight to an already long run. Both Adam and I commented on how comfortable we felt with our hydration backpacks, but this depends from one runner to another. It is advisable to try what works best for you.

PREPARATION FOR YOUR LONG RUN

Running a 20-miler puts a lot of stress and pressure on our bodies, which is why we need to be prepared before, during, and after our long runs. Here is what I recommend that you do, but feel free to  tweak these recommendations to fit your running style and philosophy.

BEFORE THE RUN:

  1. Prepare all your clothes, running shoes, fueling, hydration the evening before just like you should do before your races.
  2. Eat your carbs, protein, and hydrate well the whole week before your long run, but especially the day before.
  3. Skip the protein the day before running your 20 miles, as you need to fill up your muscles with glycogen. Focus on qood quality carbs, such as spaghetti with marinara sauce, sweet potatoes, bread, fruits and vegetables.
  4. Get excited about running long.
  5. Try to vary your running routes to enjoy different sights.
  6. Plan your long run with your running group, or least one running buddy, as running by yourself will be “crime and punishment” – ha!ha!
  7. Set your alarm clock.
  8. Go to bed earlier and try to sleep seven hours.
  9. Visualize yourself having an amazing run.
  10. Don’t worry and go with the flow.
Fueling my body before my 20-miler
Fueling my body before my 20-miler

DURING THE RUN:

  1. Start slower and pace yourself.
  2. Run with a partner who has a similar pace.
  3. Chat, chat, and chat some more during your run to forget about those miles.
  4. Enjoy the views and conversations.
  5. Hydrate and fuel well. Start taking a gel or your favorite carb source of energy after 45 minutes of steady running.
  6. Practice your hydration and fueling during these long runs and take it seriously.
  7. Pay attention to your breath and check on your form regularly.
  8. Running a 12 or 13 miler comes a little easier to most of us runners, so keep going until you hit 15 miles.
  9. With five miles to go, think of it as your five mile day and keep going.
  10. Keep smiling as you pass mile 18, as the happy ending is near.
  11. Take a quick video of yourself at the end of your run to assess how you are feeling and how your run was.  Here is my video and a few pics I took:

Focus on nature and the beauty around you to make your run more fun!
Focus on nature and the beauty around you to make your run more fun!
Picture break in Old Sacramento
Picture break in Old Sacramento

AFTER THE RUN

  1. Do your cool down, light jog, or walk for a little bit.
  2. Do your stretches and a few lunges.
  3. Change to dry clothes right after your run, especially if you have to drive back home.
  4. Eat a peanut butter and jelly sandwich or a protein bar as you are driving back home and drink more fluids, preferably some chocolate milk.
  5. Change your shoes and wear slippers.
  6. Get home and prepare yourself a protein shake with spinach, berries, and almond milk, or the milk of your choice. Add a scoop of high quality protein powder. I like to use Vega powder.
  7. Take an Epsom salt bath, or use a Jacuzzi tub while sipping your protein shake.
  8. Relax, stretch, massage your body.
  9. After your relaxing bath, eat lunch and repair your damaged muscles with lean meats, beans, rice, potatoes, etc.
  10. After lunch use your foam roller and relax.
  11. If you have access to a pool, go for a swim and your muscles will be happier.
  12. And last, but not least congratulate yourself for a fun 20-miler. You did it!

HAPPY FEET! RUN WITH JOY!

For more info on running and real estate, whether buying or selling, please e-mail me at carmenmicsa@yahoo.com, or call me at 916-342-2446. Running for real estate with joy!

 

 

Pony Express Marathon & history- My Second

“Men Wanted” “The undersigned wishes to hire ten or a dozen men, familiar with the management of horses, as hostlers, or riders on the Overland Express Route via Salt Lake City. Wages $50 per month and found.” – Ad in Sacramento Union, March 19, 1860.

Maybe our modern day Sacramento Bee newspaper ad should have read this way: “Runners wanted! The undersigned wishes to complete 26.2 miles by running on both sides of the river and be familiar with the management of steady feet, controlled breathing and pace, as well as muscle fatigue, body aches, anger, and lots of swearing from miles 18 and on. Wages $0 per month and a huge shiny medal at the end.”

CourseMap300ppi-1-791x1024

I first heard about Pony Express, the new marathon galloping in town May 2016 at last year’s Expo for the California International Marathon. At the time, I was so overwhelmed and focused on completing my very first marathon that I just obliterated the amazing offer to run this historic marathon for about $80, if I had signed up at the Expo, but here is what I found out later about this new marathon that I did not think I would run.

A few historic facts about Pony Express as outlined on the National Park Service website https://www.nps.gov/poex/learn/historyculture/index.htm:

PonyRiders_Pic

Pony Express was in operation for only 18 months between April 1860 and October 1861, but it became synonymous with the Old West.

More than 1,800 miles in 10 days! California the Pony Express could deliver a letter faster than before from St. Joseph, Missouri to Sacramento!

On June 16, 1860, about ten weeks after the Pony Express began operations, Congress authorized the building of a transcontinental telegraph line to connect the Missouri River and the Pacific Coast.

The passage of the bill resulted in the incorporation of the Overland Telegraph Company of California and the Pacific Telegraph Company of Nebraska.

November 7, 1860: Pony Express riders carried word of Abraham Lincoln’s election as President from Fort Kearney, Nebraska to Placerville, California in a record 5 days. This was considered one of the most significant accomplishments by the Pony Express.

On October 26, 1861 the Pony Express was officially terminated.

Most of the original trail has been destroyed by time or human activities. Short fragments of the trail can be seen only in Utah and California. However, approximately 120 historic sites may be available to the public, including 50 existing Pony Express stations or ruins.

After having completed the CIM, my first marathon in 4:13:21, I decided to train the whole winter to get stronger and faster for my first ultra marathon Folsom Gold Rush 50K for which I had signed up right after the CIM while on runner’s high- ha!ha! I also ran Super Sunday Run, ZooZoom, and American River Parkway 5Ks and placed first and second in my age group, so I decided to test myself by signing up to run the inaugural marathon in Sacramento, http://ponyexpressmarathon.com/runner-info/registration-information/marathon/ Pony Express on May 1.

My goal for this year was to run a 50K trail run, Folsom Gold Rush on May 14 and the California International Marathon in December to try to qualify for Boston. Yet, at the encouragement of a few good runner friends, I thought it was a good idea to try to qualify for Boston by running the Pony Express that was hosted by the Rotary Club of Sacramento and benefited Courage Worldwide and Alpha K9. It also promised a flat and fast USATF-certified course that started and finished on Capitol Mall and ran along both shores of the Sacramento River. It hit many points of interests in our beautiful Sacramento, such as Old Sacramento, Tower Bridge, Raley Field, and Land Park.

My main goals for my second marathon: to beat my last year’s time and set a new PR (personal record), try to qualify for Boston, which I knew would be challenging, but doable, to use this marathon as a benchmark for my CIM, and last, but not least, to use this as training for my 50K. With my plan to run Pony Express, I felt I was scoring on many levels.

The week of the marathon

I ran lightly two days that week and prepared myself physically and mentally. I visualized myself running smoothly and efficiently in the low 8s per mile, which I needed to qualify for Boston. I also slept well, ate my carbs, brown rice spaghetti with vegetables, fruit, and hydrated well.

The day before the marathon

I went to pick up my bib number and spent time at the Expo. As opposed to the CIM (California International Marathon), the Expo was quite small, but had some nice booths and vendors. I even bought myself a crafted neck cooler from Artful panache that contained tiny, non-toxic, water-absorbing polymer crystals. The crystals can go from dry to wet hundreds of times and will last for years.

My bib and bottle of beer
My bib and bottle of beer

START LINE

After a good night rest, (I am blessed to sleep very well the night before big events) the morning of the event, Catalin, my sweet husband, dropped me off at the start line on Capitol Mall and 6th Street. We arrived at 6:20 a.m. We stayed in the car a little longer and chatted. It was pretty quiet around there, which felt so different from the CIM. Last year when I ran CIM on December 6th, the event felt like an ocean with towering waves crashing against the shores of inactivity. The excitement from the CIM was definitely absent. I acquiesced the stillness of that May 1st cool morning right before the start, but knew that we would have some noise, cheering, and hopefully some more excitement as we got closer to our 7 a.m. start time. I went to the restroom – always a good idea before races. I also wanted to find some of my CIM runner friends, so I kissed my husband good-bye and told him that I would see him and the kids at the finish line.

To my great delight, I came across my friends Jennifer, John, and Robert who were all doing the half marathon, as the Pony Express had four events: marathon, relay, half marathon, and Running for Rhet 5K kids’ run. We took pictures together. My CIM friends
I promised to post them on our Run4Ever Facebook page that I had created after we finished our CIM training so that we would keep in touch and continue to run together whenever we could. We wished one another good luck. My friends also told me to go for my BQ (Boston qualifier time), which needed to be 3:45 minutes based on my age, but I needed to run it in 3:40 minutes to be accepted. They told me that I could do it! I smiled and looked down at my shoes, as if checking for growing wings. I believed in myself and having others believe in me was huge, too.

There were about 8 minutes before the start, so I proceeded to find my pacers, two gentlemen who promised to take us to the finish line in 3:38 minutes, which was my plan, too. They both seemed nice and experienced, but one of them kept fiddling with his watch, which got me a little nervous. The start happened about 5 minutes later than 7 a.m., as the organizers kept talking, which also got me a little antsy. Two men on their horses led the way, reenacting the original Pony Express. This placed me back into history and made me feel grateful to be running this marathon healthy and happy. I started strong, running with joy and a huge smile on my face. Our pace group was small and cozy with one more woman and a guy who was running his first marathon. After going over the Tower Bridge, we had a little more room to run and keep a steady pace of 8:16 per mile. I felt downright elated from the start. I kept talking about the Boston qualifier and how I had my mind set on it that day. The pacers and the other two runners were super encouraging (maybe too encouraging- ha!ha!). I felt in control of my pace, breathing, thoughts, and the running universe. We ran by the river, admiring the stillness of the water and its smooth flow that matched our even pace. The morning was as quiet as the marathon. Hardly any spectators and cheerleaders on the course, as not many people even knew this marathon was happening. The temperature in the low 70s was pleasant at first. Half-way into our marathon, it got into the 80s, making it hard to keep our pace.

During the marathon

Around mile 10, I felt invincible. “Keeping this pace is easy,” I said to myself. “I can do this and make it to Boston,” I continued. Never a good idea to let your mind race, or feel overconfident. At mile 11, my amazing Trail Mix friends greeted me with loud cheering and “Go Carmen.” They worked that aid station as volunteers, best ones in the event! And, yes! I am biased! I was finally able to eat real food, which I like the best during my runs. I grabbed four slices of oranges and pretzel sticks and gobbled them up. I was looking strong. My friends’ cheers propelled me with renewed energy and enthusiasm. I kept going strong till half point.

Around mile 15, I lost our pacers. They continued to run with their 3:38 min. sign up like a torch of torture, a reminder that steadiness and humility are more valuable in life than short-lived speed and overconfidence (one of my favorite lesson from this marathon!).

Around mile 18, as we came back over the Tower Bridge, I got mixed up with the kids doing their 5K race. I did not see any signs for our marathon route and ended up crossing the finish line with the 5K runners. I realized that I got lost. I kept asking people until finally someone pointed to the right side of the bridge, where I needed to make a right. I was demoralized and upset on myself for being ME: not always paying attention and having my head in the clouds, dreaming of Boston, philosophizing, or writing poems in my head. At that point, I realized that I had missed my chance to make it to Boston, as I got detoured by .7 miles, or about a good 6 minutes. Yet deep down, I knew I would have a nice PR at the end. I had to keep going and forgive myself for getting lost. The course was well-marked overall. However, at that crucial point when runners from different races mingled, I felt they had no volunteers to direct us and make sure we did not miss making that right turn, but then, I don’t like to point fingers. I needed to take responsibility for my own mistake. My feet felt heavy. My heart sank in resignation. My mind continued to chatter about irrelevant things. However, after being back on track and on the course, I needed to pull the reins of my being and regain control. I started to run steadily again and focused on finding equanimity and serenity inside my heart, mind, and soul. I had to chase a different goal: a big PR from last year’s marathon. Life was still good and my getting lost was not the end of the world. It could always be worse, one of my favorite things to say in life, as cheesy as it sounds.

Around mile 22, I got another small joy and victory seeing my friend Ashley, one of our CIM runner friends who cheered loudly for me as I ran through quiet Land Park neighborhood. Most of its residents did not know about the marathon, for it was barely advertised. I already got over being upset for running such a quiet marathon with almost no cheering, so I decided to withdraw in my Zen universe: my strong mind. I had to pull some strings to finish strong.

After mile 23, I decided to leave any worries behind and run one mile at a time. I started to run in the 9s at mile 18 and continued that way till the finish line. My gluteal muscles were a little sore, but my knees were strong, so I kept running and looking forward to see my family and friends at the finish line. As I crossed Broadway Blvd., I got closer to the Capitol and 10th St., where the finish line was. I started to pick up my pace, realizing that I would finish in 4 hours! As I made a left to run towards the finish line, I saw my family! Sophia peeled away from my husband and ran next to me holding hands towards the finish line. She wore her white dress shoes, not her tennis shoes, but she kicked her legs high with delight, joy, and great pride to see her mom finish her second marathon. All my troubles had drifted away like summer clouds. I laughed and smiled as we ran together. This was definitely the most favorite and cherished moment of the marathon!

Crossing the Finish Line

Pic taken by Alex Micsa, our son and my favorite race photographer
Pic taken by Alex Micsa, our son and my favorite race photographer

Our son Alex was running on the sidewalk and took tons of pictures of me crossing the finish line. He has been an amazing race photographer in many of my races. I kept waving and smiling at him with great joy and gratitude. I also saw my husband hurry towards the finish line, as I seriously picked up my pace and crossed the finish line in 4:00:11. I finished second in my age group, which I never expected! This was my pleasant surprise of the marathon. Award_PonyExpress_16
CarmenFinish!

What a great marathon and PR! I did it! Boston will have to wait till I will run the CIM this December. I lost and found myself during my second marathon. I made my own history of humility, serenity, composure, determination, strength, and inner peace. Pony-up, Sacramento! Kick up those hooves!

CarmenKids_Carriage!
UsPonyExpress_May1!

For more information on running, or real estate, please contact me here, or e-mail me at carmenmicsa@yahoo.com.