Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Fight Like Hell

In two weeks I will have completed my first marathon. As of today, I have raised over $1,000 for the Lance Armstrong Foundation, while Team LIVESTRONG Chicago broke through the $200,000 barrier today, an extraordinary achievement. All the long runs have been put in, as well as most support runs. I still have several of those left in these last days of taper before the race. I have been watching what I'm eating for a while now. Basically, all the work has been completed. Now I just have to take care of myself and don't do anything stupid that would void all the months of hard training and preparation.

Yesterday, the Berlin Marathon was run. A world record was set by Kenyan runner Patrick Makau at 2 hours 3 minutes 38 seconds, an outstanding pace of 4:43 minutes/mile. Several of my VIP Running teammates  were there and their results fluctuated from 4:30 to 5:30 hours. My expectations have to be within that range. Anything below that would be unreal. It was very gratifying to see their names on the results page and read their posts on Facebook throughout the day. This morning one of my teammates wrote that now came the hardest part: withstanding the shopping marathon his wife had planned for the day after the race. Yikes!

My last long run was held on September 17th. We started running at 3:30AM. Our group was 5 runners deep but, as always, we did not finish together. I was set to complete 24 miles, and that I did. Five hours later, I was done. The run had multiple stops, a driving rainstorm in front of the Capitol where we crossed paths with fellow VIP teammates who had started later in the morning and with my Chicago traveling partner Paco who for the past couple of weeks has been doing long runs by himself, a solo stretch towards the later part after all other runners had dropped back and a final push to the end aided by Paco whom I again coincidentally crossed around mile 21. There was no dip in the ocean afterwards this time. There were tons of people out and about setting up for the International Coastal Cleanup Day. I hope they took with them all the crap they were bringing in to "celebrate" cleanup day.

I spent most of the past week in New York City on business. I arrived late on Monday. The day before, on Sunday afternoon, Lance Armstrong summoned NYC runners via his Twitter account to a flash run through the streets of Manhattan and Central Park to promote LIVESTRONG's new campaign which is being launched under the slogan "Fight Like Hell". The picture above is of a billboard on the corner of 34th St. and 7th Ave. His main purpose for being in NYC was to participate in the United Nations Forum on Non-Communicable Diseases (mainly cancer, diabetes, lung and heart disease) which took place on Tuesday. He also participated along with LIVESTRONG CEO Doug Ulman in the Mashable Social Good Summit to talk about how the LIVESTRONG Wristband is the original social network. While in NYC, I got the opportunity to run on The Highline, the city's new urban space along the West Side. It is an amazing place sitting safely above street level running unimpeded for a mile (over 15 city blocks). Being in NYC last week and coinciding with what went on brought much closer to what we will be running for and definitely brings a certain closure to all the months of hard work and sacrifice that have been put in to prepare for Chicago.

Not much will be going on between now and race day. Final preparations for our trip will take place. Some maintenance runs and therapy sessions. And getting as much done at work as possible in order to enjoy our week long trip to Chicago. My race shirt came in two weeks ago. Yellow Team LIVESTRONG shirt of course. Thanks to a tip from a VIP Running teammate, I got some race day shorts yesterday at Marshall's...LIVESTRONG too!!! My race packet and bib number also came in last week.

Now the wait begins...but before that, don't forget to wear YELLOW on LIVESTRONG day on October 2nd to celebrate 14 years of the Lance Armstrong Foundation. And, finally, if you wish to contribute to our Chicago Team and to LIVESTRONG's mission, please do so at:


Remember, LIVESTRONG helps people affected by cancer by giving them the tools they need to live life on their own terms.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Rewards Start to Show

It has been 2 weeks since I last wrote in this blog. Work and family have been keeping me busy. With Labor Day weekend past us, I'm a month away from heading to Chicago to run my first marathon. Last Friday, we celebrated my wife's birthday. Over dinner, we started talking about the trip with the couple that will be joining us, and finally, I felt a sense of excitement in the group.

Since January, I've run over 400 miles. My training program for the race is on its seventh and final month. I went on a diet, trained for a 10K, joined VIP Running, started exercising and doing basic strength training, took to the pool over the summer to cross train, worked my way up into completing double digit runs, got injured, took time off, did (and still doing) rehab and therapy, launched a fundraising campaign and reached my goal, and now I've made it past 20 miles on a long training run.

The last Saturday of August, I took to the road at 3AM with a group of 9 runners on a long training run organized by my team leader, Daly Berríos. In a couple of weeks, she will be running the Berlin Marathon (one of the five world majors along with London, NYC, Boston and Chicago), so this was her last long run before the race. She recruited her father and the husband of one of the other runners to help us out along the course with water, Gatorade and food...and also to illuminate dark stretches of road with their cars' headlights. Halfway through the run the group split in half according to pace. Each group kept a support car with them. At 6AM, 3 runners joined our group to keep us fresh and alive as we started our second plunge into Puerta de Tierra and Old San Juan. Iván and Rubén also came out to cheer us on. They weren't even running, just showing their support at 6AM on a Saturday. That was very gracious of them. Both completed the Sabrina 16-mile race the following day.

On our way back from Old San Juan, at around 18 mile mark, two more runners joined us. One is a female national running champion, Yoly I think.  The other one is a personal trainer and avid runner. They managed to pace us at around 9 min/per for a couple of miles. I don't know whose Machiavellian plan was this at that stage of the run, but I managed to stay with them until we reached the Escambrón area. From there, since the rest of the group was going for 24, I headed back towards Condado by myself. While crossing Puente Dos Hermanos, I saw a couple of paddle boarders just standing there near the bridge looking into the water. They were following two manatees that had come into the Condado Lagoon to feed on bottom grass. I finally completed  21 miles in front of Chef Treviño's new dive, Casa Lola, which is where we went to dinner for my wife's birthday on Friday. Sand washed up by Hurricane Irene was still covering part of Ashford Ave. I walked down to a 24-hr market (if you can call it that) in front of La Concha to buy a bottle of water and a Snickers bar. I had to ask one the employees for a dollar exchange. Mine were soaked and the vending machine apparently doesn't like sweaty bills. He also let me use the phone to call my wife to let her know I was alive and kicking after completing 21 miles. I planned on patiently walking the mile or so I had left back to Kings Court, but Daly's father happened to drive right in front the 24-hr joint just as I was starting to walk back. I hitched a ride on the back of the SUV after convincing him that I was stinky and sweaty enough not to use the front seat. He kept insisting, though. I used to deliver the newspaper to his house 20+ years ago. That was the revelation of the run, so we'll see if my new nickname (paper boy) has staying power. I doubt it.

Back at Kings Court, I was presented with the picture above. The morning was amazing. The ocean was flat as a pancake and calm wind conditions made it look like an endless blue oil slick. Hurricane Irene had come through earlier that week and kept pulling moist air and rain bands over the island for the entire week. Seeing this on Saturday morning after running 21 miles was plain numbing. But I still willed myself to take a quick dip before heading home. How can you say no to that invite?

Yesterday I broke through the $1,000 mark on my fundraising for Team LIVESTRONG. If you wish to contribute to the fight against cancer and the extraordinary work the Lance Armstrong Foundation does for cancer patients and survivors, please do so at:


October is just around the corner. One more long run left.