Sunday, October 31, 2010

Dean Karnazes Silicon Valley Marathon

I had lofty goals this weekend. I wanted to complete my very own Goofy Challenge, which I called "The Endoofy Challenge." My goal was to complete a half marathon on Saturday and a full one on Sunday. I am ecstatic to announce that I reached this goal with flying colors! Notice the two different chips on each shoe.


For the second straight day, I woke up at 3am on race day. 3am is not even the crack of dawn. In fact, dawn is still tucked so far up that crack that there is no light in sight! It's ok though, because I slept at 9pm, so I did have a solid six hours of shut eye. I usually squirm around in bed like a fish out of water after a race, but thanks to my new compression calf sleeves, I was able to sleep cramp free! These compression sleeves ROCK, that I am considering getting the whole body suit. Heck, I think there may possibly be a new Endorphin suit in the making! I'll keep you all posted.

Marathon day started an hour earlier for me than all other runners. I wanted to get there early to see my one of my marathon mentor, Yolanda Holder, the "Walking Diva" who is going for the Guinness record for most marathons completed by a woman in one calendar year. The Silicon Valley Marathon marked her 92nd of 2010. When I arrived at the start line at 5:42am, I met two future Maniacs, two newly minted Marathon Maniacs, some Dolphin South End Runners, two first time marathoners, and Yolanda!

First up is Yolanda. I dig the fact Yolanda and I always meet up. This has become our standard routine. So far this year, the two of us marathonned (I just made marathon into a verb!) together in New Orleans, San Francisco, Santa Rosa, The Extraterrestrial Highway, Lake Tahoe, Long Beach, and now Silicon Valley. I always looking forward to seeing this Walking Diva.

I proudly wear my Marathon Maniacs shirt on race day for reason. It's my way of sending a signal to other Maniacs letting them know that I am on the premises. Have you ever traveled to a foreign country and you meet someone from your home town? I remember once I was on the Eiffel Tower (the one in Paris, France, not the Paris Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas!) and I saw someone one in a San Francisco State University sweat shirt. I naturally gravitated to that person and struck up a conversation. Sporting that Marathon Maniac shirt is no different. Sure enough, four people spotted me: soon to be Marathon Maniacs Tiffany and Andy Gates and newly minted maniacs Gina and Linda from the Bay Area! Sorry, Andy, my pic of you turned out way too blurry for publication.

And of course, there are the Dolphin South End Runners. Greg, the gentleman below, has run a marathon in 50 states. He's also the very first person in my running club that I met. One of the nicest people I know. The other two young ladies are first time marathoners! Yup, the Silicon Valley Marathon marked Sharon and Martha's inaugural marathons. Both of them were nervous, excited, happy, afraid, you name the emotion, they probably experienced it! What's really funny is that at about 8:29pm the night before the race, Martha posted this on her face book: "...find myself fretting about the number 26.2." I had to email her to tell her to chill out! By the way, Martha finished the race in 04:39:30. Not too shabby! I was very happy to be there for these two at the start line. It is very important for me to be there to cheer on the first timers, even if I am running the race too.

At about 6:50am, Dean Karnazes took the stage with his pre-race pep talk. Clad in Greek attire, Karnazes emulated Pheidippides, the soldier who ran from the battlefield in Marathon, Greece, to Athens to bring news of the Greek victory over the Persians. Today is a big day for runners all over the world, as it is the 2500th anniversary of the first marathon in Athens. After completing his speech, the race director fired off the gun and away we went!

So there I was at mile three plugging along. I'm minding my own business when I feel a presence come up right next to me. I turned to my left and was a little taken back by who I saw. I looked at the runner straight in the eye and said, "Dean? Is that you?" The person replied, "Yup!" It was Dean Karnazes! I was in a little bit of shock. I was thinking, "Whoa, I'm running with Dean Karanazes!" The next thing that came out of my mouth was, "Hello! I am Endorphin Dude!" Dean smiled and said he was pleased to meet me. The next thing that came out of my mouth is classic Endorphin Dude kookiness: "If you hit the wall at mile 18, just call on me and I will send you some endorphins!" I'm glad Dean Karnazes had a sense of humor about it! Come on now, Dean Karnazes hitting the wall at mile 18? Ridiculous! Dean laughed and at that point I asked if I could take a picture with him. He happily obliged. I then ran with Mr. Karnazes for the next quarter mile. Wow.

I'm glad I had my camera readily available for that impromptu photo shoot with Dean Karnazes. We took that shot on the go! After snapping that pic, I put my camera away so that I wouldn't slow down at every mile marker to take a picture. My goal for the day was to avoid my trigger happy fingers and just focus on the run. It's a good thing my buddy and fellow DSE member, Elizabeth McKay, was on the side lines cheering us on. Elizabeth got a few action shots of Endorphin Dude flying through the Silicon Valley!

Throughout this race, I felt confident and strong. The compression calf sleeves did wonders for me. All I need now is the the compression pants for my thighs and quads, which started to ache at about mile 19. I kept focused all the way through and to my shock, I was able to run the final 10k. I did take a very short walk break at about 24.2, but for the most part, I was able to keep a steady pace for the final 6.2 miles. I kept chanting to myself, "GOOFIFICATION! GOOFIFICATION! GOOFIFICATION!" Amazingly enough, that was enough to get me to that finish line under six hours. Imagine my shock and excitement when I looked up at the clock and saw that I had PR'ed by 8 whopping minutes!

Furthermore, imagine how incredibly warm and fuzzy I felt when I saw Elizabeth, Paul, Sharon, Sharon's dad Alex, and Martha cheering me on at the finish line! These folks from my running club did not have to wait for me, but they did. It's funny, I always refer to DSE as my "running club," but I have to say that they are more than just that. There is a reason why I wake up at the crack of dawn on Sundays to run with these folks. They are my friends and my running family, and I appreciate and love them!

Wow. What a weekend. I completed my 6th marathon one day after running half marathon #27. And, I PR'ed and finished under 6 hours. I am feeling soooooo good.

I cherish all my medals, but there's just something about this one that makes me choke up every time I see it. This piece of bling represents all the hard work I've done to prepare me for this half/full double combination. Goofy, Mickey, Minnie, Pluto, Donald, I am so ready for you!!!!

On a final note, legend has it that Pheidippides delivered the victory message, then collapsed and died. Good thing that didn't happen to me this weekend!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Healdsburg Wine Country Half Marathon

There's this running event going on the second week of January at Disney World called "The Goofy Challenge." Some of you may have heard of this. The Goofy Challenge is part of the Disney World Marathon Weekend, and the task is to run a half marathon on Saturday through the park and then a full marathon the next day. If you complete both races, you get three bling-tastic medals. I registered for this race way back in March because I wanted all three pieces of hardware hanging around my neck. Mind you, I had not run a marathon at that time yet. Yes, a medal whore I am, there, I said it.

In any case, I paid an arm, a leg, and a few internal organs for that Goofy Challenge, so I had to work hard to prepare myself for this event. Over the past few months, I have been putting my body through what I call "The Goofification Process." As part of my training, I doubled up races on weekends, back to back. I started out small and worked my way up. My first attempt at the 5k/5k combination didn't kill me, so I moved up to the 5k/10k. Next thing I know, I was running a 10k on Saturday and then another 10k the next day. Eventually, I worked my way up to the 10k/half marathon and then the half/half combination. Amazingly enough, that back to back half marathons in one weekend wasn't too bad.

Fast forward a few months. After running five full marathons over the course of three months, I decided it was time to tackle my version of the Goofy Challenge, which I call "The Endoofy Challenge." Yup, Endorphin Dude was ready for that 39.3 mile run in one weekend. The two races that I chose for this monumental feat were The Healdsburg Wine Country Half Marathon on Saturday and The Silicon Valley Marathon on Sunday. Halloween weekend. Trick or treat!

First up: Healdsburg. I showed up on race day as an evil vampire bunny, complete with fangs. I paid tribute to my marathon twin, Dave Mari, by wearing a Paul Frank shirt. I thought Julius The Monkey represented as the skull and cross bones was appropriate. Hey, I'm sick of that tortoise always winning, so evil vampire bunny sucked up all his blood and ate him! How's that for a running costume?

I took this race nice and slow. I probably ran about 8 miles and walk/jogged 5. I didn't wanted to stress out my body too much the day before the full marathon. My goal was to complete the half marathon in 3:30, which is the time allotted for the Disney World half marathon. I had fun jogging and stopping along the way to take plenty of pictures. I've come to realize that I thoroughly enjoy running through wine country because there is so much scenery to soak in. I get bored running through residential areas, so it's nice to see vineyards, barn houses, and the occasional farm animal. I also had a lot fun interacting with the other runners in costume. Fun times.

I completed The Healdsburg Wine Country Half Marathon in 3:14:45, which is 15 minutes faster than I had anticipated. I didn't push myself too hard and my body felt great. After I crossed that finish line, I rushed to the shuttle so that I could be transported back to my car. I then zoomed on down to San Jose to pick up my race packet for part B of the Endoofy Challenge.

Ah, the life of the Marathon Maniac.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Los Angeles Rock & Roll Half Marathon

Non-marathoners ask me all the time, "why do you subject your body to all that pain?" Pain? I guess I don't see it the same way as they do. Sure, it hurts when I get deep into the race, but the truth of the matter is I really enjoy it. Non-marathoners don't get it. That's why I'm so glad when I show up at these races and see others just like me who truly understand why I do what I do, because they do it too. Behold, these are the Marathon Maniacs and Half Fanatics, at least a small sample of them.

It's funny, I've had Facebook relationships with most of the people in the above photo. These online relationships have ranged from the casual salutation and occasional comment on a photo to the scandalous online rendez-vous in the middle of the night. Ok, maybe it's not all that scandalous. In terms of "scandalous," I think the only incident that comes close is that of the Monkey Man hijacking my photo at the San Francisco Marathon. Check out this pic:

Can you believe it? Some guy in pink photo bombed Endorphin Dude! I had no clue at the time, but when I browsed through my digital camera later that night, I saw the mystery man in the monkey shirt cheesing it up behind me. This was Endorphin Dude's inaugural marathon and Monkey Man upstaged him on the Golden Gate Bridge! Luckily, the perpetrator had his name and number on his bib, so I was able to track him down. SMACK DOWN!!! I searched high and low, and ultimately I found the guy. Monkey man has a name, and it is Dave Mari. I requested Mr. Mari's friendship on Facebook and he happily accepted. Little did he know, I was plotting. Buhaha ha ha ha!

Let me tell you, things got weirder as I ran more races. After I entered the Insane Asylum as Marathon Maniac #2810, other maniacs and half fanatics started to approach me. The only problem was that they were coming up to me thinking I was the Monkey Man! No kidding. On three different occasions, I was mistaken for the man who photo bombed me. I seriously suffered the Jan Brady syndrome. My marathon world crumbled around me because everything was (Dave) Mari Mari Mari! I couldn't handle it. Everybody thought I was him!

This stressed me out so much that I rearranged my running schedule so that I would be on the same course as the ubiquitous Monkey Man to make him pay for what he did to me. Yes, I was going to find Dave Mari on race day and jump into his photo!!! Buhaha ha ha!!! You think I wanted to run the Los Angeles Rock & Roll Half because I wanted to? HECK NO!! In my world, everything is MARI MARI MARI! I hated being the marathon middle child so I had to make things right!!!

Come race day, I showed up with every intent to sneak up on Mr. Monkey Man and make faces in his photo. I was set to follow him all the way up to the finish line so that when he flashed his patented double peace sign and puckered lips, I would do the same from behind! Buhaha ha!!! I was so prepared for this. I took GU shots to give me energy to run from mile to mile to keep up with him. I hid behind port-o-potties and bushes waiting for him, while he took photo breaks with other marathoners. When the time was right, I pounced!

Well, I really did not get the reaction that I had anticipated. You see, when I met the guy in person, I realized that the reason why people mistaken us is because he really is my marathon twin. Dave Mari has such an positive outlook on life and he's so much fun to be around. Hey, if people think I'm him for these reasons, then I'll take it! I decided there and then on race day that there was going to be no sneaking up on anybody. My Monkey Man Marathon Twin and I will share every photo together! Jan Brady, go ahead and get yourself a black afro wig to make yourself stand out, I'm going to stick with Monkey Man! Dave Mari is my friend and not my foe! Take that! Oh wait, Jan, forget that wig. Dave already did pulled that stunt in Chicago! Always one step ahead, that Monkey Man.

If you haven't figure it out already, I was totally jesting. I loved the fact that Dave popped up in my picture on the Golden Gate Bridge. All my friends thought it was a hoot when they saw the photo. I had to find this guy so that I could tag him. More importantly, I just wanted to be his friend. I'm glad that we were able to finally meet in person.

There were many other Marathon Maniacs and Half Fanatics whom I met for the first time other than Dave. The night before the race, we all met up at at the San Antonio Winery in Los Angeles to celebrate Stephanie Elfman Breadsher's 50th birthday. I got to see Marathon Mitch and Jessica Wabbitz again. I also met Sef Cuesico, Mayra Hernandez, Jenn and Robert English, Sherry Ricker, Henry Kuwahara, and Ethan Hopkin. It was awesome to match of up the Facebook profile with the face in person! Of course, we carried the party into the crack of dawn on race day!

There's Half Fanatic, Henry Kuwahara! Notice that we are paying tribute to Dave Mari. That's Monkey Man's signature pose.

There's Sherry Ricker and Ethan Hopkin. Sherry was one of the first Half Fanatic I became Facebook friends with. It's awesome to finally meet her in person, as we kept missing each other at other races. On the other side of me is Sherry's partner in crime, Ethan Hopkin. When I met Ethan, the first thing I said was, "I've seen your face all over Facebook! So glad to finally meet you in person!" Of course, these two struck the Endorphin pose with me.

There's the gang! I see Jenn English, Dave Mari, Jessica Wabbitz, Dianasaur, and Nancy Hamilton Shumard. There were about ten cameras flashing, which explains why Dianasaur is looking the other way!

In any case, I came into the Inaugural Los Angeles Rock & Roll Half Marathon expecting to have fun. After coming off a full marathon in Long Beach seven days earlier, I really didn't want to push myself too hard in LA. Besides, I knew that a bunch of Maniacs and Fanatics would be out there, so it would be one big party. Indeed it was. I ran with my new running buddy, Dianasaur, took lots of walk breaks, had multiple photo shoots, high fived a whole lot of people, and just straight up had fun! Along the way, I met some fans, admirers, and a whole lot of endorphin-charged half marathoners. This race was too much fun.

Here's a shot of Dianasaur, the funnest running partner I could ever find! I wasn't kidding when I said we took a lot walking break and had multiple photo shoots!

Two Tutu Admirers! I met these two in Long Beach the week before and they remembered me. Ladies, if you're reading this blog, friend me on Facebook!

At mile ten, this guy jogged up to me and said, "keep up the good work with the blog." He introduced himself as Louie and said that he enjoyed reading my work. I was stunned! I have fans!

And then when I crossed the finish line, waiting for me there was the Competitor Group photographer, Lester. It's no secret that I love the Rock & Roll events, and that's why I keep coming back for more. The guys at there are awesome. So far, I've met Natalie, Ryan, Ryan, Megan, and now Lester. It's so nice to cross that finish line and have someone there cheering you on.

What an incredible weekend. The Los Angeles Rock & Roll Half Marathon marked my 26th half marathon to date, and I have to say, this was the funnest out of them all. As I sat at LAX waiting for my flight, I kept saying to myself over and over again, "Did I just run my 26th half marathon?? One week after running my 5th full marathon??" People tell me all the time that I am a machine. I truly am beginning to believe it.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Long Beach Marathon

All the leaves are brown and they sky is grey...

I'm a California Dreamer, Baby!! By completing Surf City, The San Francisco Marathon, and now Long Beach, I earned that much coveted California Dreamin' medal and jacket! This series wasn't on my list of goals for 2010, so this makes it so much sweeter. All I wanted this year was to run one marathon and collect my Rock Legend honors. I accomplished these two goals and a whole lot more!

I had a lot to prove in Long Beach. After coming off three less than stellar races in Area 51, Santa Rosa, and Lake Tahoe, I really needed to prove to myself that I am capable of completing a full marathon without killing myself. Sleep deprivation and exhaustion led to hallucinations on the Extraterrestrial Highway. As a result, I finished that race at a dismal 7:46:47. The Santa Rosa Marathon was supposed to have been my PR race, but my feet just couldn't handle the unpaved gravel roads, and because of the heat and my mental breakdown after mile 18, I barely finished in 6:44. As for Tahoe, let's just say that Endorphin Dude got wiped out by his nemesis Endorphin Dud at mile 17! Altitude sickness got to me and I barely finished that race in 8:53:47.

Although I finished those races, being so far behind that pack and feeling the physical and mental pains really began to discourage me. I told myself leading up to Long Beach that if I did not do well at this race, I would seriously consider retiring from marathons and only run halfs and 5ks. That's how defeated I felt. Fortunately, I felt great all the way through and ran a great race! As a result, I was able to shave 12 whopping minutes off my personal record in Long Beach. Woo Hoo! Seriously, the letters P and R are my favorite two letters in the alphabet. Put them together and Endorphin Dude gets a 6:00:13 finish. Woo HOO!

I do have to say that on top of the PR, what made running the Long Beach Marathon worthwhile was seeing all the Marathon Maniacs and Half Fanatics out there. I am fortunate to belong to a group where everyone understands why I do what I do, because they do it too! During the 26.2 mile course, I bumped into quite a few peeps. It's a good thing I had my camera with me!

There is a high possibility that The Long Beach Marathon could rival The San Francisco Marathon as my best marathon experience to date! Of course, nothing could top one's first 26.2 miler, but I have to tell you, Long Beach comes awfully close. For the first time in five tries, I have finally completed a marathon without struggling. I'm not saying that it was easy--running 26.2 miles is never easy. This time around, there were no cramps, no altitude sickness, and no mental melt downs. I stayed focus, took walk breaks when I needed to, and had a lot of fun. Not once did I struggle. As a result, I improved my time and recharged my self confidence for the full marathon.

Look how excited I look after crossing that 26 mile marker. That's the same look I have on my face as I am typing up this blog.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Kennedy Drive 8k

I really didn't want to run this race. I made up my mind early in the week to volunteer at the Kennedy Drive 8k. How could I have possibly run this race knowing that I was going to party it up the night before at Sharon Munoz's quinceaƱera? Sharon, by the way, is a member of the Dolphin South End Runners, the running club that I belong to. She (pictured below with me on race day--yes, the girl showed up to run a few hours after her big party!) and her father invited me to share in her special day. I knew I was going to over indulge in cake and stay out to the wee hours of the night, so it was definitely best for me to serve the club as a volunteer. Only problem is that I forgot to email the race director, so I had not choice but to run it.

I really surprised myself on race day. Amazingly enough, I kept a steady pace all the way through and finished in 55:24. That's an 11:08 pace. How ironic that I woke up at 7am to run an 8k at 9am on 10/10/10, and I achieved an 11 minute pace. SWEET! This brings much a lot of confidence leading up to next weekend's Long Beach Marathon. I seriously do believe that I can achieve a PR!

By the way, I got to showcase my ballroom dancing skills with the guest of honor last night. While everyone waltzed, I shook it up and performed the tango. Thanks Sharon for being a good sport. I'm glad you didn't fall!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

San Jose Rock & Roll Half Marathon

I am a ROCK LEGEND. And to think, a year and a half ago, I thought I was having a heart attack.

Seriously. I remember coming home from work one evening and the left side of my body completely numbed up. There was a sharp pain in my chest, I had a difficult time breathing, and sweat poured down my temples like Niagra Falls. My dog Chewbacca went ballistic when she saw me drop to the floor trembling. I'll never forget how she barked and ran around in circles as if she sensed she was soon going to be an orphan. Fortunately, I regained composure after a few minutes. I did not have heart attack. Thankfully, I was just having a panic attack due to stress, fatigue, lack of exercise, and poor nutrition. This was my wake up call.

I knew I had to make some changes in my life, so I started to take my dog for long walks. Those walks lead to multi-mile urban hikes throughout San Francisco. The two of us walked for hours, trekking along the coastal paths toward The Golden Gate Bridge to China Town. We hobnobbed with other dogs in Nob Hill and checked out the tourists in Fisherman Wharf. We even mutt strutted down the crookedest street in the world. Chewbacca and I walked everywhere, and as a result I lost a chunk of weight. I also saw my cholesterol numbers drop, my blood pressure reach normal levels, and my type two diabetes reverse. However, being the over achiever that I am, I wanted more. So I started to train for a marathon.

On October 4, 2009, I ran my first half marathon in San Jose. I finished that 13.1 mile race in 2 hours and 15 minutes, and was pretty much in shock and awe for weeks, comfortably lounging on clouds 9, 10, 11, 12, and 13.1. My legs, knees, and thighs may have been completed banged up, but my heart yearned for more. The runner's high over took my body and before I knew it, I started to register for more races. Yes, I drank the Kool Aid, but in my case, it was the Cytomax.

Fast forward one year.

I returned to the scene of the crime to do it all over again. Since that debut twelve months before, I completed 24 half marathons and 4 full ones. The 2010 San Jose Rock & Roll Half Marathon marked my one year anniversary and my 25th half marathon. I also received my Rock Legend medal for having completed seven Rock & Roll events in one calendar year. Could it get any better than this? Yes. They say that you never forget your first, and this time around, I got to witness my sister cross the finish line of her first half marathon. Any other time would have been awesome too, but to have the opportunity to see this at the place where I got my first is truly special.

Below is a photographic recap of my very awesome weekend with my sister, her friend Erelyn, and my friend Christine.

I met Meb Keflezighi, the 2009 New York City Marathon winner and 2004 Olympic Silver Medalist in the men's marathon. Meb also won last year's San Jose Rock & Roll Half Marathon. Meb was very down to earth and had very good sense of humor. I approached him in my full Endorphin Dude suit and announced, "Hi Meb, I am Endorphin Dude!" He quickly responded, "Oh shoot, are you going to beat me tomorrow?" Meb is really cool. I felt like a kid (and probably looked like one, being that I was in a "costume") asking for his autograph.

My original plan was to pace Diane all throughout the race. However, by mile three or so, she told me I was stressing her out! She told me to run ahead! Of course, I honored her request and moved onward. Along the way, I saw cheerleaders, elite runners, lots of Cytomax, even a big blue walking bell! At first, that bell scared me, but when I realize that it's frown was just the result of it's ears ringing 24-7, I chilled out and posed with it.

When I reached the final stretch, I looked up at the clock and saw that I only had about 20 seconds before it would hit the 3 hour mark. I looked up at the camera at the mile 13 mark, smiled, and sprinted to the the finish line! I made it with 2 seconds to spare! After I settled down, I realized that it took about two minutes to get out of the starting line so my chip time would have been under 3 hours regardless. Oh well, at least I was able to get an intense Endorphin Dude shot of it!

After I crossed the finish line, I was greeted by the guys from the Competitor Group. I love these guys! When I finished my half marathon in Virginia Beach, Natalie from Competitor was there to congratulate me! I was sad that she wasn't in San Jose, but in her place was her awesome team mate, Ryan. I run these Rock & Roll races because the folks who run the show treat us runners very well. Natalie and Ryan--and all the other Competitor peeps whom I've met but do not know their names--keep me wanting to come back for more and more. I love these guys. After my mini photo shoot with the Competitor Group guys, I posed with a few other of my running peeps!

After I finished my post race stretches and updated my status on Facebook, I went back to the finish line and waited for Diane. When I saw her come toward the end, I couldn't help but get excited. I had flash backs of the prior year when I completed my first half marathon, and I could see and feel the excitement and pride bursting from my sister. Yes, she looked like Quasimoto with a sprained ankle limping over to me, but it was absolutely clear that the runner's high had taken over. Diane was proud. She couldn't stop talking about how she couldn't believe that she did it. Well Diane, you should listen to me more often. I said I believed in you and knew that you could do it, and you did. Congratulations!

Shortly after Diane made to the end, Christine made crossed the finish. The four of us then took our final pose for the paparazzi and limped away.

The 2010 San Jose Rock & Roll Half Marathon definitely goes down in history as one of the best Endorphin Dude races ever. What a weekend. What a year. Life is sweet.

When life dealt me lemons, I squeezed those citrus suckers into a water bottle, mixed them up with Cytomax, took a shot of GU, and ran! I value my life too much to let it see it come to a premature end due to unhealthy choices. I was that obese diabetic guy who sat on that couch all day eating pizza and drinking soda. Thank God Endorphin Dude came along and kicked that guy's butt!