Once again my goal is to qualify for the Boston Marathon and I believe it can be done, but it is only up to me making it happen.
Today I am 40 days away from my seventh marathon and what I would consider my fourth realistic shot at running under the qualifying standard. The ones that don’t count are my marathon debut in Monterrey, running a marathon with the flu in Houston and coming out of a torn groin and hamstring injury when I recently ran the California International Marathon not even two months ago.
My fourth attempt at making it to the starting line in Hopkinton, Massachusetts will be in Torreón, Coahuila, Mexico at the “Maratón Internacional LALA.” I’ve learned a thing or two about preparing to this kind of races on my previous marathons, but nothing can really prepare you for one, you just have to live in that moment. 40 days away, here are some of the things I’ve been working on.
Between the C.I.M. and the LALA Marathon I have less than 100 days in between. That means almost no time off after the first one. I usually take two-three weeks off, but this time I cut it down to 10 days. I was sort of dissapointed on my performance at Sacramento, I felt I played it too safe and could have done a better job. At the same time I wanted to take advantage of my conditioning to get in track for the next one. I looked at the possible options based on my criteria and found LALA to be the best bet.
This marathon is one of the most popular 26.2 mile races in Mexico. Most winners run it under 2:10:00 and many others punch their ticket to Boston in that same course. It is flat and in a time of the year where heat is still not a factor. I may have not fully recovered from the injury that slowed me down on the way to Sacramento, but the drive to make great things happen is there.
For Sacramento, 90% of my training runs were in altitude, for Torreón 95% of my training has been done at sea-level. This has allowed me to do faster runs without getting completely exhausted. Working on building up endurance in Mexico City was a challenge by itself. The same energy required to run a 5K in altitude is almost the same as a 12K where I am now.
Now I am more confident on my pace and my endurance that I was heading into Sacramento. Most of my runs are between 4:30 and 4:45/km, just a few under that pace. With this I am trying to work on my turnover agility while not putting to much pressure on the injury I am trying to come out of. At the same I am not burning myself out before the race, something I have done in the past a few times. Adding gym workouts has also made me stronger this time around.
With 40 days to go and six marathons under my belt I somewhat know what to do from here on out. I just have to try and stay calm, the 20+ mile runs are coming up. Just a couple of time trials between now and March 1st, but it’s mostly endurance I have to focus on. If I don’t have it where it needs to be, being fast will barely get me past the 13 mile mark.
Finishing a 26.2 mile race is something I have experienced, but doing it under 3 hours and four minutes is something I haven’t. It is a long race and it is a long time out there. I am preparing to show up at the starting line with my best physical and mental game. Because once the legs give up, the mind takes over for good or for bad.
The next 39 days might fly by, but it is day 40 that counts. I want to be there knowing I have a shot at a dream that has been denied to me for the past six times. If I get to “fly” on day 40 this guy has a real shot of making that dream come true. I believe I am on pace for greatness, that means, Boston, I’m going for you!
If I could only use one word to describe the past 364 days of my life I could use either crazy or unexpected. Every year you want to become a better person, better at what you do and how you treat others, at least that is what I want. This year is hard to sum up in one blog with everything that happened but I will give it a try.
I feel thankful for most of the things that I got to accomplish this year. A year that was perfectly scripted the day it started but somewhere along the way that script got erased and life has not been the same. I wanted to keep my job, keep working in the United States, develop into a strong journalist and earn a reputation that could open me the doors more easily anywhere. I realized that sometimes no matter how good you are, your passport can hurt you.
I can’t complain of what I had to do to believe I was ready for any challenge. In the first half of my year, while I was still working at Telemundo in DFW. I covered the “Heart of Dallas Bowl” the first day of the year between my alma matter and the University of Nevada in Las Vegas where U.N.T. took the title. I had worked many games back at U.N.T. watching the program develop into what happened that first day of 2014 at the Cotton Bowl, so I was happy to be there.
Then came the Cotton Bowl at AT&T Stadium, many Rangers games, a U.F.C. fight, Mavericks games including a playoff series against the San Antonio Spurs who would later win the championship. I was working on my own stories, I felt I was on my way to easily get a work visa once my student visa expired. I had gone through a lot of punches in my early career, I was starting to feel some stability in my life. Unfortunately that changed, after a great year and a half with Telemundo I had to say goodbye.
Before I knew it I was heading home not only after 18 months in Telemundo but almost six years living on my own in the United States. I wanted to say everything happens for a reason and more than six months after that happened that is still not so clear to me. I came back thinking my degree from a U.S. University would be my easy way in to a good job in Mexico. With the World Cup around the corner nothing mattered more for media corporations than what happened in Brazil.
i spent time at home thinking and trying to rebuild my life. Trying to find a meaning to whatever happened in this new era for me. It was and still is hard for me to understand why things happen the way it has. After half a year of sending resumes to many different places and not finding one full-time job many questions are raised.
Meanwhile I did have some nice experiences. I covered a triathlon, a marathon and to top it all off a Formula 1 Race. This last one was the best thing that could happen to me at any given moment, and after struggling with the job hunt, it was even better news. It was a one week job that I will remember for a lifetime. As a fan of the sport, having all the pilots, cars and celebrities (including Pam Anderson) walk right by me and stopping for pictures was like giving the key to a kid for a candy store. It felt surreal, but it could not be more real. At the end of the race I did not care about the outcome as much as I did not want it to end.
I like to say I went to heaven and came back the day after it ended and it is something that I believe truly adds to my curriculum. Since that trip I kept on traveling all over the place for almost two months. I was not staying in the same place for more than five days straight. I had a trip to shoot my first commercial, a project in which I am still working, and I was at home (Mexico City) to watch one of my favorite soccer teams win the national league championship.
After many weeks of being depressed by not finding a job I used travel to keep my busy and productive. I did everything including running a marathon where I had to sacrifice the will of qualifying for Boston due to an injury and now could only worry on finishing to remember how great that feels.
At the end of the year I am happy with most of the things that happened this 2014 but I am still seeking for that emotional, personal and professional stability. I know I’ve been through a lot and that this roller coaster will never end even if I want it to. That is how life goes, there are reasons to feel sad about 2014 but more to feel happy.
I started OscarSports.com to keep talking about sports, one of the things I love the most, and 2015 will be big for this project. This website will experience changes for the better early this new year. This is my new baby which I will keep feeding to make it grow. If work does not come to me I have to create it for myself and this is it.
I know I have to keep rolling with the punches, that is the only way to grow, to mature and to become a better version of yourself. I will not give up in the seek of better things and I hope that everyone that made it this far in this post does the same. Happy New Year everyone!
Once again it took guts, once again it took pain, but once again I reached for glory. It definitely never gets easier, you just start to believe in yourself a bit more every time you do it. I am now a six time marathoner and even though it was my slowest one, I can end the year having done something I had forgotten about in 2013, cross a marathon finish line.
When I ran my first 26.2 mile race back in 2009 I had no idea what I was gettig myself into. Exactly five years later I am fully aware of what it takes to do something like this. Different to the past five experiences, due to my long hours at work and school I had stayed away from running for a long time (on my standards). Running two-three times a week was a miracle and going over five miles was not that easy. With that being said, I had a lot to work on when I got back to running back in July aiming to run a marathon by the end of the year and dreaming of a Boston Qualifier performance.
I don’t choose race for their prestige, I come up with the decisions based on the weather, the altitude, the size of the field, if there are pacers and the type of course, hoping it is as least boring as possible. The California International Marathon met most of my requirements but what made it shine among other options was that is was considered one of the top B.Q. races in the country.
Little did I know about Sacramento except for it being the capital of California. When I watched the video of the course I saw rolling hills and a flat end. It would be my first point-to-point marathon so that would make it interesting. I tried to keep some element of surprise alive by the time I got there so I kept my research on the place once the decision was done to a bare minimum.
Training started well but it had an abrupt pause at the beginning of October when I tore my left hamstring and groin at the same time. That really put into question if I would be able to participate in what I considered my last big goal of 2014. Fortunately I was able to push through and declare myself ready but I did have to give up on my idea of going for Boston.
Once race weekend approached and I arrived to Sacramento I was happy I was there but really nervous of how my body would react to a big race after a very irregular training. I was not nervous about finishing, I was nervous about how I was going to finish. I liked the scenery, so I tried to feed off that and I also liked it that it felt like a small marathon. Going to San Francisco for a short visit two days before the race trying to make the most of my trip to the heart of California.
Race day came and for me it started at 4:20 am. At that moment I woke up, changed into my running gear and my extra layers to stay warm and headed out the door towards the bus stop that would take me to Folsom, where the race would start. I tried to sleep during the 30 minute ride but ended up just daydreaming about what was ahead. Once we got there you could feel the beginning of the end. This journey started even before I signed up, it began the same day training did.
The race started just a few seconds after it was scheduled but the distance ahead stayed the same. The first mile went by quickly and that was good news, the worst thing is to have the first mile feel like three or more. I clocked the first 13 miles within five seconds of each other. I was feeling good and enjoying the rolling hills. My injury did not bug me for the first third of the race. Once I reached the middle miles I was extremely confident I would finish and that I had a chance to run my fourth fastest time. I just had to keep pushing.
I believe it was around mile 18 when it sank in that I was running in a fast marathon. I had not seen many people walk or cramp as I had seen past the halfway mark in other races. It was just a matter of about an hour to get done. I passed mile 20 and halfway through I thought it would be a good idea to walk and recharge energy for the last five. Huge mistake!
It was impossible to regain a solid pace for the rest of the race, it took me forever to run again and when I did I cramped twice in the same leg. I now think I should have kept running even though I was already over the 8:00/mile mark. That would have saved me at least ten minutes and probably a sub 3:40 finish. 3:52 was my finish time. A race I was proud just like any other marathon to finish but upset I did not try my very best. I was glad my injury did not come into play as bad as I thought it would.
Just like any other race there are many lessons learned from this one that will help me for the next one. I now remember what it feels to run a marathon, to get to the halfway mark feeling good and to get to the wall still with some energy. Yes, the next one will be much harder. My halfway split needs to be ten minutes faster and my marathon time almost an hour faster. For now, enjoy the accomplishment, let my legs rest and get ready because in 81 days I will do it all over again. Maratón LALA 2015, you are next!
After miles and miles of training this (the title) seems to be an encouraging statement. It is and isn’t all at the same time. I have ran five marathons (Monterrey, Dallas, Lincoln, Houston, Chicago) and I kind of know what to expect of the distance. While that gives me some confidence that I can finish, each one has been different and tomorrow at the California International Marathon won’t be the exception.
I’ve ran a marathon without training, one with the flu, another one with really sore legs and only two where I can say I felt “good” most of the way. In all of them I had the goal to qualify to Boston and for one reason or another I have not achieved that. Here in Sacramento, that was the goal when I signed up back in August, in October an injury almost made me quit, during recovery I regained hope to accomplish the feat but to be honest the injury has not healed 100%.
You can dominate long runs, but I never run a marathon during training, so it is those miles that you don’t run during training which make this distance special. Your body is only meant to run 20, the last six are a huge mental test and an dangerous territory for the human body. I have not ran a marathon since October 2012 in Chicago.
With the injury (torn hamstring and groin) back in late september, my only focus is on finishing the next 26.2 miles here at the CIM.
Not having the pressure of Boston is letting me relax a bit, while it is also a bit frustrating since all I’ve heard about it is how fast it is, making it one of the top 5 marathons in the U.S. that get you to Boston.
I’ve never been to Sacramento before and so far I like it, tomorrow I might hate it or love it even more. The marathon does not seem to be such a big deal around here, even though you have people from all over the world coming in. It has that small town feel marathon to it that does not translate into an over hyped event, the opposite to what I felt in Chicago. Such high energy can really affect your own energy levels for race day.
Here in Sacramento, with barely over 10,000 runners expected you feel part of a tighter runners community. People are here to run an race, not too much about bragging of what they have done. I feel the same nerves I’ve felt in the previous five, but this time my goal is to feel good and not get hurt. A good finish time will come along by itself. Training in Mexico City has made preparations quite hard. Running 4 miles was hard for a long time and the last 19 mile run was a nightmare.
Lately I’ve been working and traveling a lot, which has made it harder to have energy to train and stick to some type of program. Since the end of september I have not been in the same place for more that five days with the exception of F1 week in Austin. But the finish line does not care about excuses. My main goal is to finish.
Here, it will be barely over sea-level and mostly downhill. My goal is to start at a conservative pace. Much slower than the 7:00/mile I was aiming when I signed-up. I will stick to the 3:25 pace group for as long as I can and if I feel good after mile 22-23 I might attempt to push the pace and get as close to 3:20 as possible. That would make it my third fastest marathon, not bad for what I have gone through during training. For marathon seven, hopefully in march it will really be “Boston or Burst” while looking for a sub three hour performance.
For now I will enjoy the ability to walk since tomorrow that might not be possible. The race starts at 7:00 am, I hope to be done before 11, and then hopefully share good news with all of you. A good way to close 2014, after all my troubles, I’m doing what I love the most.
It was August 5, 2008 when I left behind what I knew, who I knew and anything that seemed familiar to me. I had made the decision I never thought I would make when I was a little kid. Even a year before that day I was dreaming of moving in a different direction. That day I crossed the border, heading into Council Bluffs, Iowa.
Out of all 50 states in the United States I seemed to have chosen the least popular one, everyone around me wished me luck in Ohio, or Idaho while I was headed somewhere else. I do like to step away from my comfort zone. This time I had no idea if I would turn back.
Six years later I do look back at that day. Even though I am back in Mexico I learned a lot about others but mainly about myself from August 5, 2008 to August 5, 2014. I made the decision based on athletics, but it changed my life. I went in blindfolded, I came out with a different perspective about pretty much everything. Except, mexican food remains as the best one to exist.
People ask me, what was it like to live in another country? I divide my six years into several parts. The first part was great because I was excited to discover a new place, a new culture. I believe there were about 5 mexicans at the college I attended my first two years. Thanks to Iowa Western Community College I got the opportunity to live abroad (once again).
I was excited to be away from home, but it didn’t take long for the excitement to vanish as I was being tested like never before. Running for a college in the U.S. is no joke no matter how good you are, in my case, how good you think you are. From day one I knew I was in for a huge challenge. The days went by and the results on the track were not pleasing my coach, at races I was not even close to delivering what was expected from me. Nerves and pressure were getting the best out of me.
I was pushing my body to an unknown limit, but my mind was not willing to go down the same path, too bad it had to. About two months into this adventure I finally had a good race. It took away lots of pressure, and then came Chicago, where with a better race I proved to myself and others that I had made it over the hump. Not to say things were easy from that point on but I regained confidence and never looked back.
That is why Chicago is such an important city for me, it really marked a before and after on my whole adventure. I kept working hard and my times continued to drop. On my second year I made it to the Half-Marathon Nationals. I didn’t win or wasn’t even close but I enjoyed it so much because of everything it meant and how hard it had been to make it there.
Running got me into the United States, but education kept me there. After two years at Iowa, where I made a lot of friends in a place where mexicans are a rare species, and winters can hardly get any colder I moved down to the Republic of Texas. Now Denton, Texas was my home. I kept running but on my own time, and I really started to study.
It took me a while to get used to everything, Texas has a mind of its own. Remember that I said that in Iowa there were around 5 mexicans in the whole college, here that number was probably the same but per classroom. After a whole year of adaptation I finally got things rolling and focused on journalism like never before. I always knew that if I didn’t make it in life as a runner, I would love to travel the world to talk about sports.
In Iowa I had also studied the same thing but things got really serious at the Mayborn School of Journalism. There was no way I could have combined varsity track and journalism. I had a hard time digesting things at the beginning but with practice came great things. I started doing stories about pretty much anything I could think of. The best one yet is when I had the chance to fly on a WW2 airplane for free while recording the whole experience.
As I was studying to become a great reporter, I was also preparing myself to run marathons, (ran 4 while I was in Texas) and missed Boston by 75 seconds one time, I was the leader of the Running Club, I usually had one or two jobs to pay for my own expenses and tried to have some kind of social life. It wasn’t easy but it was possible. By this point I was barely going back home to see the family.
Coming into my final semester I had been looking for internships all over the place. I applied to almost every place possible. I went home for Christmas without a thing but the day I came back Telemundo called me for an interview, I obviously went and got the internship.
So on the final stretch of my college life I had even one more responsibility which meant that twice a day I had to drive an hour to and from Telemundo plus working on the local newscasts plus a sports show. It was a non-stop race to the finish. I survived and before May 10 (graduation day) I already had two real-world jobs waiting for me.
I did celebrate the accomplishment of graduating taking into consideration how hard it had been to get there. But there was not that much time to celebrate as the monday after graduation I was already working on my first assignment for “Al Día”, a local hispanic newspaper.
Just when I thought I had seen it and experienced it all I was in for yet another wake up call. I had never worked in a newspaper before, but I was hired for my writing skills. I had never edited a whole tv show before (at Telemundo), but I was hired because they liked how I did things during my internship. I was again under a lot of stress and pressure, I was again close to quitting and packing, but that did not happen. I do not do that, I wasn’t going to that time.
It took me close to two months to get things turned around. I had hit rock-bottom, there was only going up from there. I was now being sent out to cover the Cowboys, the Rangers, NASCAR and many other sporting events around the area. I started receiving less criticism and more compliments towards my work. I had pretty much started all over again.
The year went by, running was put on hold for a while due to work but I was doing what I liked. I was now ok with dealing with pressure, and was able to deliver 99% of the time. I started looking for a Work Visa Sponsorship but that never came, so I prepared my trip back home for good.
May 20, 2014 was the day I took off, but hopefully I get a chance to go back. Not necessarily to Dallas or Iowa, where I made great memories but anywhere to a country that pushed me to my limits over and over again. A place where I discovered how hard life can be when you’re on your own but also how good it feels to get back up.
Like Rocky says; “It’s not about how hard you hit, it’s about how hard you get hit and keep moving forward.”
That is so true. I had great moments but I also fought huge battles against myself to make things work.
I learned a lot about myself and what I am capable of, something I’m quite sure wouldn’t have happened if I stayed at home and watched life go by. I lived some of the best experiences a guy at 25 could have wanted. My job as a reporter was just getting started in the DFW area, but I had the experiences of a veteran.
I hope I made an impact on the life of others just like many others did on mine. Thanks to running I got in, thanks to journalism I stayed, but thanks to perseverance I was able to hold on. Today I am collaborating on a project that gives more athletes the chance to experience what I experienced. (CMASAthletes.com)
Right now I am fighting another one to find a job. It’s taking me time but if I was able to overcome I did in just the past six years, I know I will find one. In the end, all I can say is…. “Thank You USA.”