Moms RUN San Jose

For Moms who run, by Moms who run…Moms RUN this Town!

Reflections – Big Sur International Marathon

The Story of my 1st Marathon – Big Sur, April 2015  Guest post by Alejandra Chavez

I went to bed around 9pm the night before and got up a couple of times as I always seem to do before race-day.  But then eventually, one of the times I looked at my phone and it was almost 3:20am — it was time to get up! The shuttle would be picking me up at the hotel at 4am. I thought it was a great sign when the bus that I got on was a Pajaro Valley Unified School District bus (the school district I attended in Watsonville and where my mom currently works).

I tried to nap on the bus, but I could hear the runners around me so I was in and out of sleep. Some of them were making the mistake of paying attention to the route – a big no, no. I looked at my watch when it was finally time to get off the bus – 5:22am. I guess we had been on the bus for awhile.

There was a lot of time spent waiting for the race to start.  However, before I knew it – it was time to start gathering in the corrals. As I was making my way to the corral, I finally saw some familiar MRTT faces in the sea of runners: Wendy, Josephine, and Ann. We exchanged hugs and good wishes.  I made my way towards Star, the 4:45 pacer. When they started to sing the Star Spangled Banner, I remember closing my eyes and just having a moment – wow! I’m really doing this! I was already feeling overwhelmed and I began to cry tears of joy. It was crazy to think that I was taking on my first marathon.

I had everything I needed for race day, including prayer cards that sweet Maria Trees made for me, 1 bible verse for every mile. Eventually it was go time!  The first 2 miles seem to fly by and they felt nice. I remember small groups of people along those early miles – near the Big Sur campgrounds. They came out to cheer us on.  There was an older woman who was out in her bathrobe playing her guitar and singing a cheezy song.

I was in a happy place those first few miles. One of the most memorable moments came when we turned a corner after mile 9 and we got our first glimpse of Hurricane Point. It was a sight to behold, not because of the incline but for its sheer magnificence and beauty. It was breathtaking.  You had Hurricane Point in the distance and you could see the Taiko drummers at the bottom. I was still in a happy place and honestly wasn’t that scared of Hurricane Point. Our pacer did a great job of getting us up that hill by running for 2 mins/walking 1 minute. The whole time we were going up I channeled my time on the switchbacks at Rancho. I drew on that training and pretended that I was just back at the switchbacks with Patti, Suki, & Monica during one our regular runs. This made it so much more do-able.  And then we came to the Bixby Bridge which was another magical moment, with a gentleman playing the piano on the side of Highway 1!

Runners crossing a Bridge

Running Bixby Bridge

The first 14 miles felt awesome! I was feeling great and really enjoying the experience, the scenery, everything.  I was feeling so good that I wondered, should I try and go faster? But everyone had warned me about those hills!  I couldn’t break away yet. At that point I thought, maybe I can speed up at mile 20 (ha, ha, ha).

It was after we had crossed the half-way mark that my legs probably felt the consequences of Hurricane Point.  Even though  I felt fine going up, they were starting to get a bit tired. Sometime during mile 15 I decided to put in the headphones and listen to my music.  The music helped and I started to get lost in the miles. I made mistake of choosing an old playlist, but it created quite a moment as Florence & The Machine’s Dog Days came on. As the chorus came on I reflected on how the dog/or dark days are over for me – the old me that wasn’t exercising and didn’t have as much joy in her life – she is gone. That life is gone.  I cried tears of joy as I thought about all the changes that had taken place and now here I am – running a friggin’ marathon!

At mile 20, I was still hanging in there.  I remember a little girl on the sidelines saying “only 6 more miles to go!” 6 miles actually didn’t sound that bad.  It was at mile 21 that things got a bit hazy.  I hit the wall somewhere around mile 22/23. It is hard to put into words what my legs were experiencing at that point, when all I wanted to do was walk. Please can we just walk?!  Legs…..are…..so….tired.  At mile 23, my legs were so ready to part ways with our pacer, Star.

But I couldn’t leave Star, the pacer, who became my running coach. She kept us entertained during the early miles with pacing stories and now she was proving to be a heaven-sent running coach. I needed her words of encouragement: She told us that we had the strength within us, to believe in ourselves, and that this was the day we got to cash in on all of the months of training. She told us to think about our loved ones waiting for us at the finish line who believed we could do this and to draw on their strength. I had to stay with her! And I did think about my friends and family who believed I could do this, when I was not even fully convinced.  My mind said you have to stay with Star – you  have been with her for too long to quit now and her words are helping! You can still finish this race in 4:45.

Alejandra and pacer Star

Alejandra with pacer Star

 

When I saw the 25 mile marker – I thought OMG I’m at mile 25 and OMG there’s another hill!!! But after I climbed that hill I finally felt like I could break away from Star and pick up the pace. It was UNBELIEVABLE to see the finish line. And when the finish line was near I could hear my son, “Mommy! Mommy!” I caught a glimpse of my family and blew a kiss.

It was amazing to cross the finish line, to have powered through the pain, to come out on the other side and to know I had not quit.  It is incredibly empowering to get to the point where it is no longer your legs carrying you forward – you are running with your heart and your mind. You come into contact with a strength and power that had always been within you, but that you’d never tapped into before.  That is the power of the marathon.

God willing, I’ll get to have a new 26.2 journey as I take on the NYC Marathon this fall.

About the Author: Alejandra has been running since 2011 and she joined MRTT in the spring of 2014. She is a mother of two boys: ages 10 and 6. She works for a local nonprofit that is working on issues around homelessness in Santa Clara County.

Alejandra Big Sur Finish

Run a Marathon – CHECK!

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See the Positives

Guest post by Ash Rivera

I’m posting this pic as a lesson for myself (beyond the fact that playing basketball in a dress isn’t the best idea – lol). I looked at this pic and told my nephew to delete it because I hated it. His response? “What are you talking about?! That’s an awesome pic. You made the shot and look at your follow through! Can we take more action shots?”

I look at this and see nothing but problem areas and what needs to be fixed. He looks at it and sees nothing but a good shot and fun times with his aunt. We can all learn something from kids. We should all look at pics of ourselves and see the positives. That’s my goal. Stop focusing on what needs work and what I don’t like about my body and start focusing on what I can and already have accomplished.

ARphoto4MRTTblog

Challenge yourselves to look at yourself with positivity and see what’s RIGHT about you. 😊

About the author: Ash has been running for three years and joined SJMRTT just over a year ago. She has two beautiful children, an 8 year old boy and a 6-year-old girl. She started focusing on her health and getting to a healthier weight at the end of 2012 and has been working to be as healthy as possible since then.

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Test Post – Learning the Process

Hello, Irma and I (Julie) are meeting so that she can teach me the process to write and manage the San Jose – MRTT blog site. We added a countdown to the Big Sur International Marathon. Can you believe that it is only 25 days away? Are you ready? Irma is training for the full marathon and she says that she is not ready!

Irma's last Big Sur (21 miler) in 2014 ...see the anguish :)

Irma’s last Big Sur (21 miler) in 2014 …see the anguish:)

In the comments below let us know if you are training for this event and or if you have a Big Sur race story to share.

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2016…wow….

Seriously, how long has it been since I’ve last blogged here? OK…don’t answer that…my 2015 WordPress stats were abysmal…what happened?? Well, besides having  baby and adjusting to having 4 kids (“what’s 1 more?” they said, “it’s not a big deal!” they said…all LIES!!)….life happened….

What didn’t happen for me was running….honestly, I’ve been on hiatus since after the San Jose Rock n Roll.  It’s only because I have the Big Sur Marathon in April that I am forcing myself to leave the comfort of my nursing chair to get in some miles. Does it scare me that I haven’t kept up with training for one of the most spectacular marathons on the planet? Yes!!  Am I worried that I won’t complete the marathon in the 6 hour time limit? Yes!! Will that stop me from doing the race anyway? Ye….I mean, NO!!!

Of course, not!!

Running is as much a mental sport as it is a physical sport.  And it is also a social sport! Thank goodness for the wonderful mother runners in the San Jose Chapter of Moms RUN this Town (MRTT)!! Without them, I would not have made it out as much as I have the past few months.

We had our National MRTT Winter Virtual Run  few weeks ago.  The theme was “Back to Basics” so we had our Winter Virtual 2016 start and end at my humble abode with a potluck and BBQ. At the very first SJ-MRTT Virtual run in 2012, there was just me and one other mother runner – so having our families for a BBQ was no big deal.  This year, we had 22 moms and their families doing the run…a much bigger deal than 4 years ago (we had to use the front and the back yards for festivities)!

Virtual 408k pics.001

WOW!!  That is 11 times more participants than we had at our first virtual!

A few weeks later, our mother runners also took over the 408K Race through the lovely streets of San Jose.

Virtual 408k pics.002

WOW again!!  Look at all those beautiful faces!!  Did I tell you how much our chapter ROCKS!! I am inspired every day to put on my running shoes just because I know another mom is doing the same thing.

And that’s the beauty of having a running group with people who “get you” yet keep you accountable!

As 2016 continues, changes for me also continue.  My family will be relocating in a few months and I will be leaving my beloved chapter…the chapter that I birthed 4 years ago…that I’ve watched grow from 10 members to over 1000 members. Wow is right.

With that in mind, one of our lovely mother runners will be taking over the blog while I transition our of my role as Chapter Leader.  Julie is currently recuperating and offered to take over the blog to keep her busy since she has to take a break from running.  That’s a TRUE mother runner – if you can’t run, you might as well blog about running!!

I’ll let Julie fill you in on her life….needless to say, she ROCKS and will regale you with much more interesting posts about our wonderful chapter.

This won’t be my last post here…so no weepy reminiscing or goodbyes that sounds like an Oscar acceptance speech…yet!!

 

 

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Mystery solved! What happens on an MRTT group run?

We’ve had a lot of new mother runners join us recently – so exciting!!  But also so scary….What if I I post about wanting to meet people for a run and no one responds? What if I am the slowest person on a group run? What if I do find someone to run with – what do we talk about for an hour (or more) while we’re running? I don’t know about actually “meeting” people who I only know from a Facebook group…

Moms RUN this Town, San Jose is NOT just a Facebook group! We actually ENCOURAGE members to meet for real runs…in person, on a trail in the area, with their kids (if they have them).  Why? Because running is more fun in a group! And as moms, we understand that speed is relative (just like we know that numbers on a scale don’t mean that much). We also know what it takes to get out of the house for a run, especially if you’re bringing the baby and the toddler and the double stroller…and the 7 year old on a bike…and the dog….

So what actually happens when you get 2 or more mother runners together for a group run? Well, it goes something like this…

Group Run Meeting time – 9 AM-ish – there is always a little lee-way to account for explosive diapers and tantruming toddlers. Sometimes we meet earlier depending on the day (weekday vs weekend) or the distance (5 AM start for those long runs!) or if moms need to get back to the house at a certain time (to get ready for work or so their partner can get ready for work or to be there before the kids wake up).

Who runs with who? Here’s where people can get really nervous because we’re talking PACE! The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines pace as “the speed at which someone or something moves”. In our chapter, we have some pretty speedy mamas (8 minute miles or less) and we also have some not so speedy mamas.  I  fall into the latter category and I am totally fine with that! If a tiger were chasing us, you can thank me for keeping the tiger busy so you can get away. Yeah, I’m just a nice person that way! Being “slow” is really relative – I may be slower than an 8 minute miler but I am faster than my two year old!

For group runs, we usually divide up into pace – sometimes formally but most of the time, naturally.  We will all start off together then eventually the faster moms go ahead and the rest of us do the run at the speed that we are comfortable with.  Sometimes we’ll say before the run, “OK, we’ll meet back in an hour” and people run out for 30 minutes then come back for 30 minutes. That way, everyone meets back around the same time and we can all stretch and talk.  Sometimes, we’ll say before the run, “OK, we’ll all do 5 miles” and then people run the mileage in however amount of time it takes them and usually people wait until everyone is back.  The faster ones take the time to stretch and socialize while waiting.  Starting together and ending together is a usually a given during a group run.

Sometimes though, there might be only one person whose pace doesn’t match the rest of the people meeting up. What then? No one wants to hold the others back or kill themselves trying to keep up. This is where we get creative because we don’t leave our mamas behind!  In this scenario, the faster moms will periodically double back to check on the mom running behind her –  encouraging her or just making sure she’s doing OK – then run ahead again. This way, the speedy moms get in more miles and the not so speedy moms know that they aren’t left behind. Win-Win for all!!

Most moms usually find something in common to talk about during their runs.  After all, we are all health minded women who have a care-taking role in our families.  A conversation that starts with, “So, how do you run this town?” could lead to finding out all the races a mom has done or all the activities she takes her kids to during the course of the week or her favorite place to workout or go for a date night.

After the run, some moms just leave after stretching. Most moms, if they have kids with them would let the kids out to play and have a little playdate.  Sometimes moms grab lunch or coffee.  Running is a boost not just physically but also mentally and socially. I am not a sola runner (I’ll do it if I have to) – the “runners high” is always so much “higher” when I am running with other people!

Group Run 20Jun15

Our group run this month…we broke up into 3 pace groups, ran for an hour then got coffee – a GREAT way to start the day!

So don’t be scared of a group run!! It’s OK if you’re the slowest person there or if you don’t know anyone in the group you’re meeting up with.  By the time your run is done, you’d be surprised with how far and/or how fast you ran and how easy it is to make a new friend or 15!

So, when you are joining a group run???

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Why wait until Monday?

I’ve been cleared to run since last week but I was going to wait until Monday, June 1st to do anything official with my fabulous Moms RUN this Town moms only running group.  You know, because if you’re going to start something, the best time is really on a Monday…and if you miss that Monday, well, you’re just going to have to wait until the next Monday, or at least until the next major holiday or season change…

But then this happened…..

"I thought of you..." - seriously, it made my heart so happy!

“I thought of you…” – seriously, it made my heart so happy!

So, I will be up at 5 AM tomorrow and meeting Kristan and some of our other lovely mother runners for a group track run. This is why I LOVE MRTT!! Who else can get me out at the crack of dawn for my first postpartum run? Thank you, Kristan for motivating me and reminding me that a new beginning can start at any time on any day!

See you in 5 hours!!

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15 minutes could lead to a new blog post….

OMG…it’s been over a year since I last posted…how did that happen?

Well, if you really want to know….we welcomed another baby this past year (who knew having 4 kids would make life so crazy busy?!), my hubby had a crazy busy overseas travel schedule, and our San Jose MRTT group has grown and grown (we’re at over 800 members right now) to the point that we now have 3 chapter leaders (including myself) to keep up with all the races and running that our crazy busy mother runners have done! Hmmmmm….crazy busy this past year has been!

Not only has this blog suffered but so has my running…the momentum was lost…until I read this:

http://runhaven.com/2014/12/01/15-minute-rule/

The 15 Minute Rule not only works for running (or working out of any type) but also for blog-posting!! WOOHOO!! And of course, for deciding the best insurance…

So while this post took a bit more than 15 minutes (mainly due to a fussy baby), it’s done!

Ready...get set...WRITE!!

Ready…get set…WRITE!!

And now, I have so many thoughts about what to blog about next…we have tons of new members who have done some fantastic things (running and non-running related) that I would love to share with you. We’ve also made some really terrific connections with local races and businesses.  My personal goal this year is to beat my 2:30 half marathon time…I am hopefully going to get my clearance to start running again 4 weeks then training begins!!

What can you accomplish in 15 minutes?

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Little Baby Fast Steps Going Up the Hill

This was my mantra at the 2014 Big Sur International Marathon this past weekend.  “Little baby fast steps going up the hill”….say it with a steady cadence and it can get you up those big hills on Highway 1 with pretty decent form.  This was a FUN race! Yes, I said FUN because when you get 40-some mother runners together at 3 AM on a Sunday morning to run 26.2, 21 or the various distances of the relay…well, you get delirious, giddy FUN!!  Add in the beautiful views that you can only see from running on the “ragged edge” and what you have is a definite “bucket list” race that is challenging and oh-so-satisfying at the end.

IMG_2741 IMG_2737

 

I signed up for this race because I was awake and on Facebook when registration opened.  It had only opened for 5 minutes and I get my first message from one of the moms from our San Jose Moms RUN thi town group. “Hey, are you going to sign up? It’s going to sell out soon!”  Conversation went back and forth: relay vs. 21-miler vs marathon, haven’t done that mileage before, girls weekend or bring the family, are the hills big or really, really, really big?

IMG_2731 IMG_2729 IMG_2725

In the end, I went for the 21-miler and thought I would use it as a gauge to see who well I would do for my September marathon.  I didn’t do too badly for my first over half-marathon length run.  One of the moms who I was running the 21-miler with injured her leg at the race so I did mostly run/walk with her…well, it was more like a run/walk/sing/dance/yoga/chant mantras/take pictures kind of race.  Anything to keep our legs moving for those 21 miles! We ended up getting separated towards the end and that was hardest part of the race for me.  Running sola after having 17 miles of conversation and fun…well, it just wasn’t the same.  I did catch up with another MRTT member who was running with her husband and that kept me going until the last mile when they decided to sprint to the end while I kept to my steady plod.

The finish was incredible though! 21 miles RUN and DONE!!

big sur IM button

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3 months…seriously???

My last post was January…when I was full of energy and enthusiasm for a new year and new start….<sigh> Short-lived!!

It’s like dieting…except everyone gets a notification when you decide to eat a whole pizza pie with a diet coke and then it gets posted on Facebook as your status….

pizza not exercise blog pic

 

I have been exercising though..well, running, at least! I have the Big Sur 21-miler this weekend.  I didn’t really follow a training plan, but I did get in two 18-mile runs in the past month.  This will be my longest run to date and will probably be a good indication of how I will do in my marathon.

As far as long distance runs go, I am definitely a newbie.  I much prefer 5Ks and 10Ks and have limited my half-marathon races to just one a year.  Thirteen miles is pretty far and the thought of going farther than that just seemed ridiculous in my mind.  Seriously? Thirteen miles is FAR!!!

But after doing a few half-marathons, that thought comes in…well, what’s a few more miles? Another hour or so of running? It can’t be that bad…

Oh, but it can be…

The first time I ran 14 miles, it was so sad! Like watching those stop animal cruelty videos featuring Sarah McLauchlan over and over again for a 20 min 1 mile run….I ran 13 miles with a few friends from my moms running group (moms RUN this town) and then one friend stayed with me while I ran the last mile on the track. My head wasn’t in it…I didn’t want to run over 13 miles….I didn’t want to do it…what would that mean in my life if I could…if I did…I didn’t think I could do it.

And then it was done….

And I was OK – legs were sore, I felt a cramp coming on, but it really wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be.  I AM ABLE to run over 13 miles!!  And then, I wanted to to do more.

So my first 18-miler was actually pretty good…despite cramping on the last mile, I felt ACCOMPLISHED! So when the opportunity came up to run another 18 miles, I was said, “Sure!” just to make sure I could really do.  Of course, I did these long distances with some of the best mother runners in San Jose.  The conversations and encouragement were definitely instrumental in getting me through the miles.

Now, I am a few days away from running 21 miles…I am pretty sure I can do it. And if I can run 21 miles, what’s another 5.2 more in a few months?

Oh, did I mention this race is in HILLY Big Sur???

big sur IM button

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It’s been so long…I can’t even think of a good title….

Hello and Welcome to the 1st blog post of 2014!!

Are you still out there, oh, loyal followers?  I hope so!

It’s been 9 months since I had my 3rd child and 9 months since the San Jose Chapter of MRTT celebrated it’s 1 year birthday (yeah, I timed it that way!  =) And I gave myself 9 months to get “adjusted” to life as a mom of 3…well,the time has come so I am BACK!!

But changed…being a mom of 3 is definitely harder than being a mom of 2…don’t let your friends fool you! They say the transition from 1 to 2 is the most difficult but I beg to differ. I’ve definitely had to rearrange priorities to accommodate having two school age children and an infant.  And yes, the baby does just go everywhere – ballet class, gymnastics class, piano class, art class – and he probably doesn’t get as much floor time or reading time as my older kids, but I like to think he is still learning things and having fun.

I’ve been back to running since I was about 3 months postpartum due to having a c-section.  But even that hasn’t been the same. I’ve run a few 5Ks , did the Title 9K again (great race!) and did the Mermaid Serena 10-miler.  I even did the Warrior Dash again! However my “Inner Competitor” seems to be missing.  All those races I did “just because” – just because a bunch of my lovely running mamas were also running it, just because I had committed to it last year, just because the price was right to do a race I hadn’t done before.

But I haven’t felt the need improve my speed or increase my distance.  With all the hormone changes that comes with pregnancy, not to mention all the stress of daily life, running has been enjoyable but not FUN!!  Like life with 3 kids – enjoyable but not FUN!!  It’s become something I “have” to do. And yes, when I do it, I like it.  But if it wasn’t for my Moms RUN this Town group, I wouldn’t have run as many miles as I have postpartum.

Now some of you might say, “That’s OK! Just enjoy the run!”  You are probably the same people who say, “Don’t worry about the dishes or laundry! Just enjoy the time you  have with your kids!”  And while I do feel/think this way for the most part, I also know that the dishes need to get washed and the laundry needs to be done – it’s hard to enjoy your kids when they don’t have any underwear….

So, with 2014 already underway, I am on a quest to find my Inner Competitor…not because I am a competitive person, but because I want to my “drive” back!  I want to find that passion that I had when I first started running.  So with that being said….

I signed up for a marathon!!  Oh yes…I am BACK!!!

How true! Now to figure out that name of this little baby….

How true! Now to figure out that name of this little baby….

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