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First Thoughts About My First Marathon

1 Feb

Holy Cow, did that hurt. I wasn’t sure what to expect, though I was sure it would cause some soreness, and maybe a few blisters; I didn’t not expect it to hurt that badly.

I started the Marathon off at 6:15 am with 18’000 fellow runners with the thought in mind to “take it easy at the beginning”. I therefore ignored the overly excited runners that zipped by me in the first few miles with the expectation that “I’ll definitely catch them on the homestretch”.

Passing the 5km mark at 27:02 gave me confidence that I was on track for a good time in the 3:30-3:40 range. Even when I passed the half-marathon mark (21km/13.1miles) with a time of 1:53 I was pretty certain I would at least break the 4 hour mark. Boy, was I wrong!

When I crossed the 30km/18mile, I felt like somebody pulled the plug out of my energy tank, and it all came draining out. My pace rapidly decreased and I got passed left and right by middle-aged men and women, and worst of all, 70+ year old Mr. Bilgutay. It was at that time that I realized that a sub 4hour time would be very hard to reach. So I adjusted my goal and swore that I would finish this darn race without stopping or walking, no matter how long it was going to take me. – I’m proud to say that I ran the whole thing, without stopping.

It took me 4 hours 8 minutes and 42 seconds to finish 42.195km / 26 miles and 385 yards. Here are some stats:

10k: 53:48 – 7:48 8:48 minutes /mile
30k: 2:49 – 9:06 minutes / mile

first half: 1:53 – 8:42 minutes / mile
second half: 2:15 – 10:18 minutes / mile

full: 4:08 – 9:30 minutes / mile

official time and splits here.

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5…4…3…2…

28 Jan

Monday (108th day / 5 to go):
No running today.

Tuesday (109th day / 4 to go):
4.8km (3miles) easy pace… lots of stretching.

Wednesday (110th day / 3 to go):
No running today.

Thursday(111th day / 2 to go):
Another 4.8km (3miles). I’m ready.

Only 1 more week.

28 Jan

Monday (101st day / 12 to go):
Today was my last long run before tapering down. 22.5km (14miles)! It went great. at the 21.6km-mark (13.1miles) I had an exact time of 1:45.20, that’s exactly my marathon pace. 😀 I think I’m ready.

Tuesday (102nd day / 11 to go):
Rest today.

Wednesday (103rd day / 10 to go):
Resting today.

Thursday (104th day / 9 to go):
Aaah, tapering; I love it. 4.8km (3miles).

Friday (105th day / 8 to go):
Last “longer run” before the race: 11.2km (7miles).

Saturday (106th day / 7 to go):
Resting today.

Sunday (107th day / 6 to go):
Easy 3.2km (2miles).

2 more weeks

28 Jan

Monday (94th day / 19 to go):
I started this week with a easy 9.6km (6miles). I’ll start tapering soon! 😀

Tuesday (95th day / 18 to go):
12.8km (8miles) today. This was one of the last fine tuning before the race in 18 days. I ran the 8miles in exactly 1hour and 1minute :D.

Wednesday (96th day / 17 to go):
No running today. I’m including more rest days and shorter runs, now that the big day gets closer.

Thursday (97th day / 16 to go):
9.6km (6miles) easy run on the treadmill today.

Friday (98th day / 15 to go):
I’m feeling good and my foot feels a lot better. 6.4km (4miles) today.

Saturday (99th day / 14 to go):
Instead of running today Rachel and I decided to do some community work. We put our hands on Overtown.

Sunday (100th day / 13 to go):
Only two weeks left until my race. 😀 I ran 3.2km (2miles) easy.

Back to Miami in First Class!

11 Jan

Sunday (86th day / 27 to go):
It’s our last day in Texas before we head back to Miami. Since my ankle has been feeling better everyday I decided to go for a longer run today. I ran 13.5km (8.4miles) with my Father-in-law, a marathoner. This is the longest I’ve run in a month.

Monday (87th day / 26 to go):
We got bumped up to first class, because the announcer messed up and didn’t call out our plane and gave away our seats to stand-by fliers. 🙂 No running today.

Tuesday (88th day / 25 to go):
The marathon is in less than 4 weeks, and since my ankle still aches a little bit I thought it’d be best if I rest it a little bit. Instead of running I sat on a bike for 30min.

Wednesday (89th day / 24 to go):
Miamians are experiencing one of the coldest “winters” in history, and I love it. The temperature is perfect to run. A crisp 9° Celsius (48°F) today, and 9.6km (6miles).

Thursday (90th day / 23 to go):
I like being back to a regular running schedule. Thursday = day off.

Friday (91st day / 22 to go):
School started on Monday, and I’m already swamped with school work. Time for a little mental break; 8km (5miles) at an easy pace.

Saturday (92nd day / 21 to go):
Due to Visa troubles in August I missed the first week of school and with it the orientation weekend. I’ll be in Duck Key today and tomorrow. No running today.

Sunday (93rd day / 20 to go):
I woke up at 6 am to go run. It was a windy, cold morning, but it was worth it; I got to see the sun rise! 8km (5miles) today.

Turkey, Movies and 20miles in 3hours

30 Nov

Wednesday (Day 47/67 to go):
Pre-Turkey Day! Rachel, Joey and I enjoyed South Beach in the afternoon until it started pouring down rain. We had to change our plans and went to a movie instead (Blind Side). I took the day off today.

Thursday (Day 48/66 to go):
Thanksgiving Day! We spend the whole day cooking and eating. Rachel conducted her little helpers (Joey and I) around the kitchen and we all prepared an amazing first thanksgiving as a married couple. Thank you Lillie for that amazing stuffing recipe, it was delicious. After a great dinner we went and saw Disney’s Christmas Carol in 3D. (I ran 10km (6miles) in the morning.)

Friday (Day 49/65 to go):
Black-Friday! Rachel had to work today. When I dropped her off at 5:45am, the mall parking lot was already full of over excited shoppers. Crazy! Joey and I joined the craze a couple of hours later and spend a good 4 hours shopping. (No running today.)

Saturday (Day 50/64 to go):
Joey left today to go back to Arkansas. We really enjoyed having him for the holiday. Next time we’ll see him we’ll be in Texas for Christmas. I spend the rest of the day caching up on school work. The semester is coming to an end and due dates for papers, and projects are all in the next few days. I didn’t run today either, though I had 6.5km/4miles on the program, I had to compromise. However, the 4 hour shopping spree on Friday was a pretty good workout by itself.

Sunday (Day 51/63 to go):
I woke up early to get my 32km (20miles) over with before going to church. The run went pretty well, even though I forgot to charge my iPod and had to run most of the distance humming music in my head instead of listening to it through the headphones. It took me a good 3hours which is an average speed of 10.7km/h (6.67 mph), which is the same I held in my 29km-run (18mile-run) two weeks ago. I think I am on a good path to reach my goal time of 3:30h.

How to get a F-1 Student Visa for the US…

15 Aug

I had to apply for a F-1 Student Visa for the second time now, and I would consider myself as a expert by default. I have learned how to get the whole paper junk ready within 2 days and I feel inclined to share my experience, because I truly think that studying in the U.S. has made me who I am today.

Here is a “short” checklist of things you need to have put together before going to the U.S embassy:

  • I-20 (This is basically the official letter that will be send to you by the University once they accepted you)
  • I-901 receipt, also called Sevis fee. You need to pay this fee online and bring proof of payment (receipts) to the embassy.
  • DS-156, has to be filled out online and printed out. Make sure the bar code on the last page looks something like this.Good Bar Code If it doesn’t they will send you out and will have you redo the form, print it out again until it looks right. (This happened to me, please learn from my mistake! Mine looked something like this: Bad Bar Code)
  • DS-157, can be found here, and has to be filled out electronically through Adobe Acrobat Reader or a similar program.
  • DS-158, can also be found here, fill it out electronically print it out and bring it with you.
  • A 5cmx5cm picture that fits the U.S. restrictions. You can find the restrictions here. (I would bring two pictures.)
  • Then you also need 3 months worth of bank statements. Be sure that the statements cover the amount that is stated on the I-20. If you are not paying for tuition and expenses yourself, be sure to include a letter from your sponsor with the last three bank statements.
  • Pay 140 US$ in Visa fees and bring proof of payment. (157.20 CHF in Switzerland)
  • Write a letter that states that you will be coming back after you are done with your stay. I included possible job offers, ties to friends and family as well as my membership with various clubs that will keep me from staying in the U.S.
  • Include a letter that is addressed to yourself and include sufficient postage. (5 CHF in Switzerland)
  • Bring your valid passport.

Once you have all those things ready or you are only missing a couple pieces, but you are confident you will get them in a conceivable amount of time, call the visa information center at 0900-87-8472 (for Swiss people). You can find your countries number here.

A few more tipps:

  • Be on time when you go to the embassy, there is usually a big line of people that is there for the same reason as you.
  • Be friendly with the people handling your paperwork. They only do what the U.S. Government asks them to do. It is not their fault that you have to go through all the hassle.
  • Talk to the people around you, it will take some of your nervousness away and you will get to know some really interesting people.
  • Bring a book, a newspaper, crossword puzzles, etc. I had to wait for 2 hours in the waiting room.

Good luck!

Disclaimer: The checklist is only a guideline. Be sure to check your country’s website for changes in policy.