Archivo de la etiqueta: marathon

Boston Niega Entrada a Atletas del Woodlands Marathon

Un error de un motociclista en el recorrido del The Woodlands Marathon se ha convertido en una pesadilla para más de 100 corredores que soñaban correr el Boston Marathon en el 2018. Un error que cortó el camino por cerca de 1,300 metros, hará que quienes pensaban haber calificado al maratón más antiguo del mundo lo tengan que volver a intentar.

Fue en los primeros metros de la carrera dónde se dió el error, pero con eso fue suficiente para que lo demás ya no contara. Este jueves, en una carta publicada por el cómite organizador del The Woodlands Marathon se oficializó que la Boston Athletic Association había decidido no admitir a los corredores que supuestamente habían calificado para su evento. Alterar los tiempos en base al ritmo no era una opción.

Por lo tanto, un aproximado de 120 atletas que corrieron en uno de los circuitos más rápidos del país, tendrán que pensar en regresar a Woodlands el próximo año para volverlo a hacer ó buscar otro lugar dónde calificar. Lo que hicieron el domingo pasado no les va a contar.

Willie Fowlkes, director del maratón se ha responsabilizado por el error cometido. Sin embargo él explica que el problema se dió cuando uno de los motociclistas encargados de guiar el camino decidió ir derecho en una intersección en la que debían de haber dado vuelta a la derecha. Ya para el tercer kilómetro algunos corredores sabían que algo andaba mal.

Un error inesperado tomando en cuenta de que por muchos años el The Woodlands Marathon era uno de los eventos mejor organizados del país. Dicha carrera que se celebra el primer sábado de marzo de cada año se estaba convirtiendo en uno de los destinos predilectos para corredores que deseaban califcar al Maratón de Boston.

Las reglas del Boston Marathon especifican que si el recorrido es más corto que los 42.196 kilómetros (distancia oficial), no se aceptaran las marcas como clasificatorias. Aunque los organizadores del TWM han intentado llegar a un arreglo, por ahora la respuesta no tiene contentos a quienes pensaban haber logrado su sueño de calificar.

Así se Vivió el TWM 2017

Como premio de consolación, The Woodlands Marathon estará ofreciendo descuentos en la inscripción del maratón del próximo año a quienes hayan dado las marcas para calificar al Maratón de Boston. Algo que sin duda se queda muy corto de lo que buscaban quienes ya se veían alineando en la salida de Hopkinton en el 2018.

No Fueron Los Únicos

El The Woodlands Marathon no fue el único maratón en el que hubo problemas de señalización este fin de semana. En Florida el “Marathon of the Treasure Coast” también desvió a varios corredores, acortando su distancia por casi 1200 metros.

No Regrets Rotterdam

It’s almost been a week since I ran my eighth marathon. It was a race I looked forward to for five months and expected it to be the best one of my life. I started by dreaming of running a three-hour marathon and as the day got closer I could visualize it as a reality. April 10 was the due date to be ready and that I felt like I was hours before the gun went off.

Some of you already know how it all ended and unfortunately for me it did not go well. I dreamed of the perfect race, prepared for the perfect race and in the end it was far away from it. The anticipation I created for myself and for those around me was incredible. I only dreamed I would not let anyone down with my performance.

Almost one week since April 10th, 2016, I look back at the race and have nothing to regret. For me, when you give it your all and it does not work out, there is nothing to be worried about. Yes, I would have loved to wrap up a great training plan with a Boston-Qualifier performance but as much as I wanted it, April 10 was not my day.

Those around me saw how hard I trained every day to get closer to my goal. Not only was I looking for a B.Q., I was trying to get back in shape and still aim for a sub three hour marathon. I did everything I could to get stronger, faster and in the right mindset. I would train for 3-5 hours a day doing multiple exercises while taking good care of my body. Long runs, speed workouts, tempo runs, weights, yoga, massages, biking, swimming and other activities were part of my training routine for over 15 weeks.

I never saw myself stronger and more mentally prepared than how I felt before what would be my first marathon in Europe. The idea of running thousands of miles away from home was part of the motivation and in one of the races that offers one of the three fastest courses in the world, where world records have been broken. The Rotterdam Marathon provided me with an immense amount of motivation.

As the day got closer I trusted my training more and more. Having run a perfect half-marathon one month before and an excellent 21 miler just two weeks after was part of what I felt was necessary to have enough confidence for the next challenge. I was my own coach during the entire process and very proud of the progress from day one to the last one before the race. I lost over ten pounds during training but felt very strong. I felt like I was in the best shape  of my life.

Running a marathon in a place where you don’t even understand the language is an interesting experience. There were less than ten mexicans in a starting line of over 40,000 participants. Rotterdam is a nice city to look at, with the largest port in Europe and some nice modern architecture. The small population does not allow it for people to flood the streets but those that stand along the course make plenty of noise. The streets are very narrow and overpassing was definitely the biggest challenge.

I can’t point to the moment or thing that made it impossible for me to qualify. I had done everything within me to be ready for that day and I felt I was. I had strategized for many scenarios and it just was not enough. I started from the very back of my wave and found it really hard to run at an even pace with so many people in front of me. I do not blame that because that is an excuse. I ran some solid first ten kilometers, held on for the next five and tried to see where I was by the time I reached 20.

At the time where I did not see it possible to run a faster second half having put a lot of effort into overpassing, I decided it was time to step aside from my dream for that day. I walked for a few meters, tried to take all the negative thoughts out of my mind, even cried for a bit and continued my way. I still had 16 kilometers to go.

I decided to enjoy the rest of the course. Give high-fives to those on the side of the road, encourage runners that were having a difficult time and take in the experience of running a European marathon. It was a dream by itself and I was not going to quit. I did not care about the medal, but I did not travel halfway across the world to step out and not finish.

Before I knew it, I was in the last two kilometers of the race. Those were two fun kilometers for me despite the physical and mental pain of not running a good race. I was happy to be where I was. The music was loud, but the cheers were even louder as I approached the finish line. I looked at the sky quite a few times and enjoyed what I had worked for (in some way) during the past five months.

I went past the finish line, happy to be done but sad it was not my day to qualify. I thought about all the effort I had put to do better, all the hours I spent pushing my body to the limit and this was not even in my top five marathon times. 3:52:20 in the fastest course I have ran.

On the other side, I can’t thank enough those that supported me. It was truly special to see the support coming from old and new friends from across the world. A continuous pouring of support on social media and other outlets. You all made this race even more special than what it already was.

This has been a huge blow in my athletic career but the story won’t end here. Now I will take some time off to think straight of what could be an even better approach for my next marathon. I am not giving up on my Boston dream, a lesson like the one I learned in Rotterdam only makes me want it more. I know I have it in me based on my training results. I know it was not enough and it was not meant to be on April 10.

Thank Rotterdam for the experience of a lifetime even though it did not end how I wanted it, but how it was supposed to based on destiny. I can now say I have ran eight marathons including one in Europe, that is pretty cool in my book. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger and I am still alive!

 

 

It’s Starting to Feel Real

It has been a long journey but now I am only five weeks out of what could be the best day of my life. No, I am not getting married, but I am hoping that five weeks from today I can call myself a Boston Marathon Qualifier.

What has changed since the day I started training? Everything has changed since I got back into running by the end of october. If you asked me back then if the goal of running a sub-three hour marathon was possible, the answer may have been, no.

The Planning Process

November was my first month of formal training. I was still working long hours but managed to get three-four runs during the week. I managed to train for a half marathon but sometimes even running five miles was a struggle. Knowing that I wanted to run a marathon in April and do the best one ever was still a pretty crazy idea.

When I ran my seventh marathon, back in March 2015, I promised myself not to do another one for at least a year. Give my body some rest, recover from a serious injury and then think about another one. That was the first smart decision of this whole training process. That is really when the preparation for this next race began.

I avoided getting back into formal running during the summer. I waited for the weather to cool down a bit and it worked out. As I said, November was good, but December was even better. I was able to log 100 kilometers that month by the last day of the year. It was nothing compared to what was coming but it was a milestone in the process.

Training for this next marathon has been a unique experience by itself. I looked for training programs but was not convinced about following one. I then took another smart decision. Listen to your body, most coaches tell you that but barely any of them let you work based on that. I knew that if I wanted to feel comfortable with the process, I could not go by what a sheet of paper told me to do.

I did some research about techniques used by athletes that want to run in the same timeframe I want. I combined that with what I know I can do and the rest is history. These last two months have been amazing. I am  hitting my goals in distance, pace and strength like never before. I rest when I feel it is needed, I push the pace when needed and take it easy when needed. I overtrain once a week but just to the point I know I can recover quickly.

The Woodlands Checkpoint

To make sure everything was working out, I needed to have some sort of checkpoint. After some analysis, I decided that the Woodlands Half Marathon was the place to do it. A flat course with similar characteristics to the one in Rotterdam. My goal was to run a 90 minute half-marathon without pushing myself to the limit. I wanted to feel like I could go further once the race ended.

The week leading up to this race was also unique. I was coming off my highest mileage month in the program. Six days before the race I was out going for 19 miles at a solid pace in a very humid place. I had to recover, travel and be ready for The Woodlands shortly after. In the next five days, I really reduced my mileage and felt that a sub-1:30 half-marathon was really possible.

The day before the race I heard an elite athlete say. If you feel good in the beginning “don’t go”, if you feel good halfway through “don’t go”, if you feel good 10 miles in, “don’t go”. It was a tip that stuck well with me when I planned the race.

Go easy in the first mile, stick with someone in the next two-three miles and keep the pace for the next nine. Try not to run by yourself and within yourself. By that I mean, running within what you feel comfortable and don’t push it even if you itch for it. Easier said than done but I knew I was prepared to do well.

I looked at the time I had to do in every mile. I looked at what I had to be doing every three miles. I took a closer look to the course mile markers and told myself I can do it. The day of the race I was confident I was going to have a great race. I had not taken a race so seriously since 2014 so it was a special day. After jogging, stretching, hydrating and getting into my corral, I was ready.

The gun went off and so did I. My biggest fear was to feel I went out too fast, but I held myself back and ran easy in the first mile. Before I knew it, I was on target after the first 1600 meters. I started running with a pacer and a group that was aiming for the same goal. I knew I just had to stick with them. The second mile felt easy as well. It was the next two that felt a bit rough. After skipping the first water stop, I took water in the second one. I skipped the next one but felt that was a mistake. By mile five I saw I was slightly ahead of my goal so I held back even more.

I kept running within myself. By mile six I was supposed to see a friend. That is the toughest part of the course with a bit of rolling hills. I saw him and that gave me the boost I needed to keep going. Shortly after, I saw a group of spectators with a mexican flag, there came another boost of energy. By mile eight, everything was going well. At that point I only told myself “don’t mess up”.

I’ve done some races where I mess up in the last few miles. That day was not the day to take chances. I knew that if I kept it together until mile 11 I was going to make it. At mile 10 some people within the group started making moves but I still told myself to stay back and relaxed.

At mile 11, I felt I could go faster but decided to hold on at least another half a mile. That’s exactly what I did and halfway through mile 11 I pushed away from the pacer slightly. I kept hearing their steps. At mile 12 I wanted to see if I could go even faster without burning out. I was averaging 6:40 per mile and ran the last one in 6:15. My finishing time was 1:28:53 with some energy left in the tank.

The Aftermath

I still can’t get over what a great race that was. I wanted it so bad I did everything to get it right. I tried some new things during the race and everything worked out. It was not my personal best but it felt like one. It was my confidence booster for the next 35 days of training.

Now, heading into the last month of marathon training, I know I’m on the right path. Today, I am really starting to believe that running a marathon in under three hours is possible. I am doing the work, putting in the hours and effort but most importantly, being smart about it. Coaching myself and getting the results I want is a great feeling. I can’t wait for the final test, the Rotterdam Marathon.

Camino a Río via Los Ángeles

Arranca el 2016 y con eso nos damos cuenta que los Juegos Olímpicos de Río de Janeiro estan a la vuelta de la esquina. El país que hace menos de dos años hizo vibrar al mundo con una Copa Mundial de Fútbol se prepara para recibir a la élite del deporte durante 16 días.

Poco a poco, los países van defininendo a los atletas que mandarán a competir a Brasil para la justa deportiva más imporante a nivel mundial. Un evento que paraliza al mundo y una a todas las naciones afiliadas al Comite Olímpico Internacional (COI).

Estados Unidos, que regularmente domina el medallero olímpico, no se confia y quiere estar seguro que mandará a sus mejores hombres a la guerra olímpica. Con el golf haciendo su regreso al programa de los J.O. desde 1904, las posibilidades de que vuelvan a ser considerados el mejor país en materia deportiva sigue latente.

En el atletismo, Estados Unidos siempre ha sido potencia cuando hablamos de eventos de velocidad. Tyson Gay y Justin Gatlin son simplemente dos nombres más de una lista interminable de grandes velocistas que ha dado la nación norteamericana. En los últimos 15 años los de las barras y las estrellas han querido ir más allá, buscando dominar en eventos de distancia.

La plata de Meb Keflezighi y el bronce de Deena Castor en las olimpiadas del 2004 fueron solo el inicio de lo que ha sido una gran historia en eventos de fondo para Estados Unidos. En el 2000, tan solo dos atletas habían logrado dar la marca para competir en el maratón, hoy la historia es diferente.

Este 2015 los mejores fondistas de Estados Unidos estarán en Los Ángeles para el selectivo del Maratón Olímpico y poder representar a su país en tierras cariocas.

11 años después de su medalla de plata y tan solo dos después de ser el primer hombre en 31 años en ganar Boston, Meb es el favorito para correr su cuarto maratón olímpico. Quienes empujan más fuerte son Dathan Ritenhein, quien quedó fuera del maratón para Londres en el 2012 pero si se pudo clasificar en la prueba de 10,000 metros. Luke Puskedra, Jeffrey Eggleston y Ryan Vail completan la lista de los cinco mejores maratonistas de Estados Unidos en este ciclo olímpico.

2012 Chevron Houston Marathon
Los corredores que lograron su pase a Londres (runnersfeed.com)

Hoy en día, los hombres tienen que haber corrido un maratón en menos de 2:15:00 (A Standard) ó 2:19:00 (B Standard). También hay corredores como Diego Estrada y Galen Rupp que con haber corrido un medio maratón en menos de 1:05:00 tienen la posibilidad de debutar en la madre de todas las distancias con el pase a los Juegos Olímpicos de por medio.

En cuanto a las mujeres, ellas necesitan haber corrido un maratón en 2:37:00 (A Standard) ó 2:45:00 (B Standard). Al mismo tiempo les sirve un tiempo de 1:15:00 en el medio maratón para ganarse el derecho de competir en Los Ángeles, California el 13 de febrero, cuando se lleve a cabo el U.S. Marathon Olympic Trial, evento que hace cuatro años se realizó en Houston, Texas.

VIDEO: U.S. Marathon Olympic Trails 2012

Deena Kastor de 42 años estará posiblemente buscando una última oportunidad de clasificar a unos J.O. tras haber dado la marca (2:27:47) en Chicago el año pasado. Ella tendrá que luchar contra si misma y contra gente más joven como Shalane Flanagan, Desiree Linden y Amy Cragg para buscar estar en Río de Janeiro.

Flanagan es la favorita tras tener la mejor marca de este ciclo olímpico (2:21:14) y tener la experienca de haber representado a Estados Unidos en Londres hace ya cuatro años. Kara Goucher la acompañó hace cuatro años y volverá a estar a su lado en Los Ángeles.

Molly Huddle encabeza la lista de aquellas quienes sin tener que haber corrido los 42.195 kilómetros, tienen la oportunidad de buscar un pase para estar en Río este verano teniendo que cubrir el doble de distancia.

Hasta el momento son 234 mujeres y 183 hombres los que se han ganado el derecho a alinearse el 13 de febrero en L.A. en busca del sueño olímpico. Solo países como Kenya y Etiopia tienen a más atletas buscando ser parte de los seis (tres hombre y tres mujeres) atletas que representan a su país en la prueba con la que cierra el programa olímpico.

Tras haberse quedado con las manos vacias en el 2012, los Estados Unidos no han escatimado en apoyar la preparación de sus atletas. Quienes llegan a Los Ángeles con el A Standard, reciben apoyo de la United States Track and Field Association para realizar sus entrenamientos. Varios de los que tienen el B Standard consiguen patrocinadores para solventar gastos.

Los caminos de todos estos corredores convergen en una ciudad que en 1984 albergó unos Juegos Olímpicos y donde Joan Benoit Samuelson ganó el oro para Estados Unidos en el maratón, un momento que marcó al atletismo nortaemericano.

 

JBS
Joan Benoit Samuelson alcanzó la gloria olímpica en Los Ángeles 1984

 

No podemos asegurar quién va a quedar en el equipo que represente al Tío Sam en Brasil, pero lo que si se puede asegurar es un alto nivel de competencia en las calles de Los Ángeles. El más alto en toda la historia de maratonistas de Estados Unidos.

XXXIII Maratón de la Ciudad de México TELCEL

Los etíopes aprovecharon la ausencia de los peruanos en la edición número XXXIII del Maratón Internacional de la Ciudad de México Telcel. Ellos se llevaron los honores tanto en la rama varonil y femenil. Además, mientras casi todos los participantes completaron el recorrido de 42.195 kilómetros hubo una muerte que lamentar el 30 de agosto del 2015.

Todo inició poco antes de las 7:00 am. con la salida de los atletas en sillas de ruedas. Pocos minutos después salieron las mujeres elite y ya después de que la Banda Sinfónica de la Ciudad de México tocó el Huapango de Moncayo, que parecía interminable, se dió la salida de los hombres elites y el resto de los participantes.

Un evento que creció de 20,000 a 30,000 participantes en tan sólo un año, haciéndolo el más grande de toda la historia. El recorrido no tuvo modificaciones a comparasión del año anterior. La salida fue en el Hemiciclo a Juárez, pasando por Avenida Reforma, tomando dirección a Polanco para después regresar hacia el Bosque de Chapultepec. De ahí otra vez salian a la Avenida Reforma para llegar al cruce con Insurgentes, de ahí subir a la Glorieta y tomar hacia Avenida Chapultepec, pasando por La Condesa y de regreso a Insurgentes para llegar al Estadio Olímpico Universitario donde estaba la meta.

“Hermoso, además de la ciudad y su gente el maratón es hermoso,” dijo Natalia Zepeda quien venía desde Saltillo, Coahuila a correr el maratón.

VIDEO: El Color del Maratón de la Ciudad de México

Mientras que el inicio de la edición 2014 estuvo maracado por un fuerte aguacero, este año no hubo nada de eso. El sol salió desde antes de que la mayoría de los corredores estuvieron formados en la linea de salida. Este año la música fue el tema sobre el cuál se diseño la experiencia para los corredores. Un total de 20 bandas estuvieron desplegadas a lo largo del recorrido en diversos templetes. Artistas como Kalimba, Mane de Parra y Kiky amenizaron el circuito del evento.

“Increible las bandas, la música, la gente, el ánimo, es increible, es de los mejores maratones que hay,” comentó Edgar Galvez que corrió junto con Sandra Hernández representando a la Asociación Galher, que se dedica a ayudar a niños con cancer.

Lo lamentable del día fue la muerte de una corredora de tan solo 30 años de edad. Erick García Ramírez de 34 años sufrió un paro respiratorio a la altura del kilómetro 35. Los reportes indican que se le dió atención médica en poco tiempo pero aún así llegó sin signos vitales al Hospital de Xoco en Coyoacán. La última vez que un corredor había fallecido en este maratón fue en el 2013. El año pasado, en Querétaro también sucedió un hecho similar.

Los primeros en llegar al Estadio de Ciudad Universitaria fueron Danel Achemic en la categoria varonil (2:19:25) y Shewarge Amare en la categoria elite femenil (2:41:07). Misiker Demise y Abrah Serkalem hiceron el 2-3 en la rama femenil mientras tanto en la varonil Debebe Tolosa y Elisha Korir completaron el podio de ganadores.

Para Achemic, este fue su segundo triunfo en el maratón de la capital del país. El año pasado el peruano Raúl Pacheco había sido el ganador pero no pudo regresar a defender su corona tras su reciente participación en los Juegos Panamericanos. El ahora se prepapra para los Juegos Olímpicos de Rio de Janeiro 2016.

Pero el éxito no estaba reservado para los ganadores. Cada atleta que venía detrás de los elites podía sentirse satisfecho con terminar la distancia, que según muchas personas fue mayor a los 42.195 metros. Este circuito esta avalado por la Federación Internacional de Asociaciones de Atletismo (IAAF), por lo que la distancia esta certificada y puede ser usado para calificar al Maratón de Boston.

VIDEO: Reporte desde C.U. 

Para muchos, lo mejor del recorrido no esta en las calles de la Ciudad de México, sino en que la meta se ubique en el  Estadio Olímpico Universitario. El haber recorrido 42 kilómetros y luego llegar a la misma pista que en 1968 recibió unos Juegos Olímpicos, hacen que los esfuerzos en los entrenamientos y la carrera misma valgan la pena.

“Es una sensación increíble, maravilloso, es también un sentimiento indescriptible. Es mucha emoción la que uno vive cuando llega un maratón y llegar a C.U. es lo mejor,” fueron las palabras de Cesar Garza quien terminó su primer maratón ese día.

Al terminar la prueba y el reto para el cual se habían preparado por varios meses, los finalistas se pudieron colgar la medalla que representa el haber terminado el maratón. Dicha medalla tenía forma de “X”, y es que es parte de un programa a seis años promovido por Horacio de la Vega, director de INDEPORTE. Al final de los seis años de su administración, los que hayan corrido los seis maratones completaran la palabra México.

On Pace for Greatness

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!

Remember the Feeling

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!

Just 26.2 to Go!

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.

Boston via California

No matter how hard things get, determination will get you to the finish line.
No matter how hard things get, determination will get you to the finish line.

I’ve been running for almost 22 years and for the last 14 I started specializing in it. The sport has given me the chance to live in another country, to challenge and learn a lot about myself. Just as there are many things I have accomplished through it there is one I am still missing out on.

It took me a while to understand what made running special. Running without chasing a soccer ball is a crazy idea in my country. It makes no sense to the human eye. For this sport it is what it makes you feel inside what makes it special. After overcoming a thousand obstacles while running you will feel accomplished once you get it done.

I grew up in a town where the sport was really underrated. I would say a race with 20-30 people was a big one for the most part. I got to know those 20-30 people pretty well as the years went by.Americans are used to racing in courses where streets are closed for hours while a race is going on. In Tampico, Mexico, for a very long time that was unheard of. I raced side by side with drunk drivers, taxis and public transportation buses closing my eyes at almost every intersection hoping not to get hit. 

My first official race was a 100 meter dash race, and that was long distance for my age group. Then came the 5 K’s, the 10 K’s for which I would usually travel to compete in Mexico City. In 2007 I was living in Canada and decided that by the end of my time there I would try the 13.1 mile race (21 kms.) at the Vancouver Half Marathon. I ran it and I barely remember finishing it, I did make it to the medical tent afterwards and hours later I found out I placed second on my age group on my first half-marathon ever with a 1:32:33 finishing time.

I stuck with half-marathons for a long time. To this day, it continues to be my favorite distance. It’s not as long as the marathon but it gives me an edge over middle distance runners that may be quicker the first 6.1 miles but get tired on the second half allowing me to catch up or pull away. My best time is a 1:23:30 so I have made some improvements since Vancouver and hope to one day run it under 1:20:00.

Running is a sport where you have to constantly challenge yourself in order to keep it interesting. I knew there would be a day that I had to run a marathon. I always thought that would be after college, but the marathon bug hit me way before that. I was finishing my preparation for the NJCAA Half Marathon National Championship when my mom told me to run the Monterrey Marathon with her by the end of the year. I agreed to the challenge without any idea of what it entitled. I had prepared myself really well for National’s so I was sure I could hold it for another 13.1 miles no problem. Well, I was wrong.

The whole idea of running a marathon seems to be messed up by any normal human being. The thing is, runners are not normal. With that being said, I am not normal and just two weeks after competing at the most challenging half marathon ever I was lining up for an even bigger challenge. My goal was to finish, I was aiming to do a good race, keep a good pace, and enjoy the experience. I started at a pace that I was used to for college races (too fast for marathons) and kept it together for 13.1 miles where I almost ran faster than at nationals. But the struggle came on the second half. At about mile 17 I felt a cramp during a race for the first time ever. It was so intense I had to stop. I stretched and started running again (I wasn’t going to walk for 13.1 miles). Then came more cramps and more stops. I actually drank coke during the race and that did not help at all, but it sounded like a great idea. All the way up to mile 25 I couldn’t go a mile without feeling a cramp. But with a lot of pride, courage and guts I ran all the way to the finish line and couldn’t be happier when I crossed that finish line in 3:40:00. December 2009 will never be forgotten.

I went back to college to compete in indoors less than a month later like if nothing had happened. I was living in Iowa at the time and moved to Texas in August. There I found out about the Dallas Marathon and said why not give it another shot. This was the first time I actually prepared for it. I trained on my own from August to December hoping for a better finish and my first legit shot to qualify for the world’s oldest marathon, the Boston Marathon. I trained well and felt that with a smart race I would be in Boston by next year. It was a great race, the weather really helped my performance and I was feeling great up to mile 20 where my body started shutting down gradually. I made it to the finish with one minor stop and crossed the line in 3 hours 16 minutes. I missed the mark by 6 minutes, I was happy but I felt I had it for the longest time.

I was determined to give it another try the following may. I kept a similar training program now focused on endurance. I was my own coach and taking a lot of pride on every result along the way. I raced in Lincoln, Nebraska which gave me a chance to say hi to some friends in the area. It was the smallest marathon I’ve been in and the course was the same for everyone the first 13.1 miles and then marathoners were on their own for the next 13.1. I struggled a bit to find a pace but once I did I got comfortable and ran a very solid marathon. I was on pace for the longest I have ever been. But again the last 3 miles seemed very very long. I was having problems keeping my eyes open due to fatigue. I was also trying not to fall with my legs becoming heavier every step of the way. I went through the mile 26 mark in 3:10:59 seconds. That was the time I needed to make it to Boston, the sad part, I had .2 miles to go. I crossed the finish line in 3:12:00. I had never been more happy and frustrated in my life. 

My fourth marathon was one to forget. It was in Houston just over six months after barely missing the mark at Lincoln and the day after the Olympic Trials were held in the same place.I was really prepared but when swine-flu hits you just 48 hours before the race the chances of a good performance are almost over before the race begins. I felt horrible by mile 5 and had 21.2 miles to go. Not much to comment here except for the fact that somehow I managed to finish in 3 hours and 41 minutes despite that horrible experience in a fast course.

Marathon number 5 has a lot of mixed feelings. I took preparation to a whole new level. I logged more miles than ever during training. I was breaking personal record on many races and speed workouts. I was on fire. The idea of running my first marathon major in a city that meant so much to me was exciting by itself. If there was a time to make it to Boston, it was then. I landed at the Windy City a few days before the race. I got the chance to soak up the whole experience of a city devoted to the race with over 45,000 people and I would be starting in the front. I probably got too excited but tried to keep it together. The day of the race was magical in many ways except for a cramp that at mile 17 pretty much left me without a chance to make it to Boston. I enjoyed the race a lot despite the cramp. With a 3:27:20 I hope to go back one day because for a runner it hardly gets better than Chicago during a marathon day.

Now I’m going on marathon number six. I have chosen the California International Marathon as the event where I will once again try to make it to Boston. There is nothing in my career as a runner that I want more than that. Since the qualifying standard for Boston changed to 3:05 I became obsessed with that number. When I get done with a workout I analyze my pace and compare it to what I need to make it to Boston. It means I have to go at 7:03 for 26.2 miles and around 4:25 per kilometer. I usually chose flat courses when deciding which marathon to do. This time things will get even better with a downhill course and considered by the Boston Athletic Association as one of the top ten courses to punch a ticket to the starting line in Hopkinton. I don’t consider it cheating since I still have to go the 26.2 but a great help when you have to go that fast. Training in altitude should really make training harder but the race easier.

It's all downhill to Boston
It’s all downhill to Boston

As I said before, running has given me a lot of things throughout my life. But the one thing it keeps denying me is the one I want the most. Once I accomplish that I can think about ultras or even Ironmans, but the idea of making it to Boston in 3 hours, five minutes is a priority before moving on. So from now until December 7, 2014 my mind is set on the challenge that takes me to my biggest goal. Nothing would make me happier than crossing the finish line in Sacramento, California earning my way to the Boston Marathon with a 3:05 or better. Once I get there I actually plan to jog it.