Sunday, January 25, 2015

The Finale

At lunch with my family and friends after the race.   Icing my knees

Well, it's done.  I am proud I finished the entire 26.2 miles.  I am happy it is over.  I am disappointed I took longer than I wanted and that my body hurt so much.  I am relieved to not be running and training any more and I am itching to recover so I can run again.

Three weeks before the marathon I ran a half marathon race and it felt great.  I had no pain and ran the fastest I have yet.  (still slow because I am basically a slow runner but fast for me).  Everything felt great that day.

One week later I did a 22 mile training run and at mile 20 I had so much knee pain that I had to walk/run the last two miles.  After that run my left hip hurt a lot.  My left toe also hurt and my knees hurt too.  I tried to do a couple more short runs after that but everything, especially my hip, hurt.  So I backed off and didn't run until the actual marathon day.  I iced, I hot epsom salt bathed, I massaged, I e stimmed.  I did everything I could to get my hip to stop hurting.  About 5 or so days prior to the marathon my hip still hurt.  At one point I broke down in tears because I thought I wasn't even going to be able to show up at the starting line.  After all the training; runs in the dark, miles around a track, long runs, intervals, hills, etc.  After all that, I wasn't going to be able to do it.  But I did have some hope.  One runner friend on Facebook wrote that a week was an eternity to recover.  I clung to that and my hip actually did start to feel better.
At the expo the day before the race

As the day got closer my anxiety increased. I was nauseated at times and I really couldn't focus on much besides the impending day.  Two days prior to the event I was dreading it.  I felt like I was going to war: I had signed up for it but now it seemed like a horrible idea.  (I know it is nothing like war and I apologize for feeling like that to those who have actually gone to war).  Funny though, the day before the event almost all my anxiety disappeared.  I felt as ready as I was going to be.  I got all my junk ready for the day: clothes, music, hat, nutrition, bib and more.  I felt pretty calm.

The morning of the race I awoke at 3:37 am, a few minutes before my alarm was to go off.  I went through all my normal routine for a race.  I eat right away so it is about 2 or so hours before the race.  Time enough to be out of my stomach but still in my system.  I had a banana/date smoothie (2 bananas and 4 dates with just a few almonds) and 2 pieces of toast with almond butter.  Then back up stairs to shower (no shampoo) and get dressed.  Then load up all my gear and head out to arrive 45 minutes prior to the race.

It was dark but not too cold at the start of the race.  Kelly came with me and it was great to have him there to share my excitement of getting started. I did a 10 minute warm up run, visited the porta potties twice (of course) and then lined up.  Some guy sang the Star Spangled Banner and then we were off.

The first 5 or so miles went by in a blink.  But around mile 7 or so I started to hurt.  Uh oh.  Not a good sign when you have 19 more miles to go.  But hey at least the first 7 were pain free and on a good pace.  I still managed to keep a decent pace and the pain wasn't too horrible until around mile 14.  Then all hell started to break loose.  My right knee was in agony.  It hurt with every step.  And every few steps hurt even more then that.  Then my other knee started to hurt and then my hips and my quads.  From about mile 18 to the end every frickin step hurt.  I hung in there and ran most of it, though at a slower pace than normal, until about mile 22 and then I had to walk a bit and then run a bit. 

A selfie with my coach, Megan

I'm dying here

and here
As I approached the last 1/4 mile I walked until the turn to the last .1 mile and then I ran through that with the finish line in sight.  As I got just about there Aiden came running out to greet me with flowers.  He held my hand to the end and then I used him as a crutch to make it to my waiting family and pals.  It took 5 hours and 11 minutes.  51%ile place for my age and sex.  77%ile over all.  It seems crazy considering how much it hurt and how long it took but it seemed like the race went by in a flash.
Aiden running to the finish line with me 

I am proud to have tried, proud to have worked hard to get there and proud to have finished.  But I can't help but feel disappointed in how long it took.  I can say I ran a marathon but I feel like I have to put in qualifiers.  I ran a marathon but it was hell.  I ran a marathon but super slow.  I ran a marathon but my body fell apart.  Does it count?  Can I put the sticker on my car?  Part of me feels like I need to do it faster, better, stronger before it counts.  But most of me feels like that is bullshit. Why are we (at least I am and I don't think I am alone) so judgmental when it comes to ourselves?

The best part of the race was the support from my family and friends.  So many people wrote me encouraging things on Facebook and email.  Lots of people congratulated me at the race and wished my happy birthday.  One man came up and said he did his first marathon on his 40th birthday and now he was 76 year old and doing is 80th marathon!  Two other women came up and said it was their 50th birthdays also.  Another fantastic thing during the race was having my coach run part of it with me.  She was super supportive and I couldn't have done it without her.  But best best best of all was my friends cheering me on during the race at mile 14, 21 and the end.  They brought signs which boosted my morale and them just being there touched me deeply.  Thank you!!!  

And even more awesome than that was seeing Kelly, Kaylie, Kyle and Aiden at mile 9,18,23 and the finish.  Your support, especially from Kelly, over all these months of training and racing has been unbelievable.  I love you guys so much.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Counting down...

After my first Half Marathon with my awesome support team in March 2012
One week away. I am getting nervous and excited.  It's still a full week but I am already having a little trouble sleeping just thinking about it.  With my first couple half marathons this really only happened the last day or two.  But everything has been accentuated with this race.  The time, the training, the injuries, the fun, the satisfaction are all multiplied by more than just two.

It's going to be really hard.  But that's why it is a marathon.  As my coach wrote on her facebook page: (she was quoting someone else just to be straight)  "If you want it to be easy, don't be a runner.  If you want it to be the most rewarding challenge of your life, lace 'em up and start today!" Also on facebook, Nicholas Kristof shares about two guys thru-hiking the PCT during the winter. That takes guts and determination (and training and skill).  I admire this and in my way feel that I am emulating it.

For some people the marathon is not that big of a deal.  And maybe not that hard for some.  But for me it is a huge challenge.  I decided I wanted to do it a few years ago.  Last year during the half at Carlsbad there was a point when you have to go right for the half and left for the full and a man was there directing the runners.  I told him, pointing to the left, "next year I'm going that way".  Not long after that run I developed plantar fasciitis and was forced to take a brief respite from running (6 weeks but it felt like 6 months). Even then I had it in my mind to do the marathon.  I researched for a coach and by serendipity, through an article in Competitor magazine that a friend read, I found the perfect one for me.  And then through multiple injuries I trained and recovered and trained some more.

This last week, like most of the weeks in the last 6 months, has been bumpy.  After the 22 miler a week ago by hip was killing me.  I visited my primary care doc and got a steroid shot in the trocanteric bursa of my left hip.  That was Thursday and now Sunday I think it is starting to feel better.  But it has been hurting a lot and that scares and worries me for next Sunday.  As I was reading the article about the winter hikers and all their foot problems and pain and that they have just kept going it felt like a little message to me to do the same.  I am tough.  I'll make it or at least I will give it my all trying.

So, I hope the hip makes it through and the knee.  I hope my nutrition is good and I don't feel too queasy with too much or weak with too little. Same goes with my hydration.  It looks like the weather will be good.  I am glad it wasn't today, rainy.  But let's hope it isn't too warm by the time I finish.  I hope I ordered the size small t-shirt and that it fits right.  This one I might want to wear when I run.  I hope I finish close to my time goal.  But even if I don't I hope I finish happy and proud.  When I completed my very first half marathon my family saw me near the end and thought I looked worse than when they had seen me a few miles before at the top of the hill.  But I wasn't feeling bad I was feeling verklempt.  Which means choked with emotion.  I had worked hard to get there.  So if you are one of my wonderful friends and family that are coming out to cheer me on don't be surprised if you see a few tears at the end.  It's been a long road.  Thanks for sharing it with me.  See you at mile 12 or 16 or hopefully 26.2!  XOXO

Sunday, January 4, 2015

22 miles "all done. was horrible."

Ready to go...

At the start of the run when I had the energy to take a photo or two
When I finished my run today I texted Kelly.  I wrote "all done. was horrible." That was about all I could get out.  all done. was horrible.  I ran 22 miles today.  Well, I ran 18 miles today and alternated between hobbling and walking the last 4.  I really felt good until about mile 18 or it might have been 19.  My stupid watch went dead at mile 9.  (I guess I should have charged it).  I turned on my phone gps when my watch died but then I kept forgetting how far I had already gone on my watch.  Was it 7.8 miles or 8.7?  I got a little mixed up after that.  I knew my route, though, so I just ran it.  I had decided earlier this week to go up to Carlsbad to do a sightly shorter version of the actual marathon so I could get a picture of what the route is like. And I think this will be helpful.  There are a few hills but they really aren't that bad.  Overall it is a great course.  I think I could do really well on it if I only had a completely different body.  Like someone else's.  Preferably an experienced marthoner.  Or maybe a 25 year old body instead of my 50 year old one.
Who would pay $16 to join?  They should pay me to join to help offset the shock of getting this in the mail. 

Another great option would be if maybe the marathon could be changed to 18 miles or even 20 miles instead of 26.2.  Like I said I felt pretty good until about 18.  And then all hell broke loose on my body.  I felt fine energy wise and breath wise.  I felt strong enough to run a lot longer in that area but everything below my waist basically felt like shit.  My hips hurt, my feet killed, my big toe throbbed and worst of all (which is totally new) my left knee cried out with sharp piercing pain.  I would run about 1/8th of a mile and then my knee would hurt so much I would have to stop and walk about the same distance and then repeat.  I basically did this until I reached my car.

I was so glad to see that car.  The shoes came off immediately.  I was smart enough to bring my orthopedic sandals.  My left toe was so stiff I had to use my fingers to actually open the space between the toes to slide on the sandal.  Then I texted Kelly because I didn't want him to worry since I was running a bit later than I had said.  I ate my bagel I also had smartly brought and then carefully drove homeward.  I also remembered to bring my credit card so I went and got burritos on the way home.   I went to MXN because they have drive though and I wasn't sure if I could get out of the car and walk.
Drive through window

Biggest soda I have ever bought!

22 miles.  I did it but I barely survived it.  As I was running/hobbling/walking those last few miles I kept thinking about the difference between a half marathon and a full marathon.  I may have mentioned this in my blog before but I think of this often when I am running long distances.  I remember sitting on a bus going to a starting line with a bunch of runners.  I was chatting with a woman who was a little older than I and a bit more experienced running wise.  She had done quite a few marathons.  I recall so clearly saying to her.  "I think if I can do a half I should be able to do a full marathon"  What the f was I thinking?  I wonder if she thought I was a flippin idiot.  Because now I think that.  It is totally completely different!  Ha ha.  But now, every once in a while (not today), I wonder if I could to an ultramarathon?  Oh my god, I am such an idiot.
It's painful but good....

And then this to warm me back up.

Anyway, today was horrible.  But I basically did it even if I did hobble/walk the end.  Now,  can I do 4 more miles?  I may be crawling but I think I can do it.  It just won't be pretty.
My best animal friends right where I plan to spend the rest of the day.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

San Diego Holiday Half Marathon Race Recap

Today I ran another half marathon. It was fun in that it started at the Albertsons just down the street.  The not so fun part was that it was 39 degrees outside when it started.  But actually that wasn't as bad as it seemed it would be.  My coach had me run a 20 minute warm up prior to the race so I ran straight out of my house and the running warmed me up quickly.  I ran twice around the park near my house and then down the street to the start of the race.  Once I got to the race I saw that the line for the bag check was super long so Kelly, nicely, drove down to pick up my bag.  Then there was the wait for the bathroom.  It was, as usual, quite long.  The race was supposed to start at 7:30 and I was still in line at 7:29.  There was a near brawl in the line next to me.  Some one was taking a long time in the bathroom and the man waiting for the stall started pounding on the door.  The lady came out and started yelling at him and actually hitting him.  He was about 6 foot 5 inches and she was probably a foot shorter.  They continued to argue/fight right in the outhouse stall until the crowd started yelling at them to move along.  Anyway, pretty silly, when this is supposed to be a fun activity.
People lining up, not the best picture, sorry.

Finally, I got to the starting line. The race started at least 20 minutes late and by then we were all noticing the 39 degree temperature.  Every race starts with the National Anthem, which I always like.  It settles the nerves and in some ways changes the focus outside of running to bigger things for me.  And then ready... set... go.  There was one big hill at the beginning but after that it was mostly down hill and I was able to run faster than I ever have for a 13.1 mile race.  I set a personal record and felt great at the end of the race.  No chafing, nutrition was good, feet felt fine, body strong. It was all good.
A photo taken of me by a fellow runner

A bathtub full of ice, waiting for me to drop in with a loud scream.  Can't do it any other way.

So, I know I can do a 13.1 mile race, no problem.  But, the big one awaits me in just 3 weeks. Last weekend I ran my longest training run of 19 miles.  It wasn't too bad.  My feet hurt by the end and my body was definitely tired   But even at 19 I think I could have kept going.  I hope so because I will have to do 7 more miles.  I was pleasantly pleased though about my recovery after the 19 mile run.  I  did all the usual stuff: ate a healthy meal soon after the run, took an ice bath within an hour, rolled my muscles and then took another bath, this time hot with Epsom salts, that night.  And the following day I got a foot massage.  Overall, my body felt pretty good.  I have been worried about my right big toe, my left hip and my old plantar fasciitis.  And all of those felt ok.  Yay!
Blue Sky Preserve, mile 10-12 during my 19 mile run

Mile 10.5, a welcome sight!

I have had the last week off from work.  I go back to work on Tuesday.  Man, I love being on vacation.  It makes me really look forward to retirement.  I have no problem not working.  It has been so relaxing to have a staycation.  I have enjoyed family time, Christmas festivities, movies, cooking, cleaning out my closet (so exciting since I have needed to do this for a long time) and a lot of time laying around reading books or watching tv on my ipad.  I don't want it to end.
I love this boy!

I got my schedule from my coach for the next 3 weeks.  Next Sunday I have to run a 22 mile run!!  That will be my last long run until the 18th.  I will have two weeks of a taper to give my body time to recuperate and strengthen.  I can't wait for the taper!!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Woe is me

Sunset Cliffs, the end of my 16 mile run last Sunday

Can I just say I am sick of running.  This is a bit of a problem because I still have a lot of running to do before January 18th.  And I don't really like to complain for a couple of reasons; one, I am doing this to myself, I could quit anytime and two, there are other people that I know and don't know with much much bigger problems.  So I feel like a fraud complaining.  But I am going to do it anyway.  So, as a warning read this only if you don't mind hearing about all my sorrows.
Aiden had a band performance last week, Grandma came to watch

I am sick of running.  Well, not really.  I still actually like it when I am doing it.  I am just sick of the time it takes away from doing other things like watching TV or drinking alcohol or staying up past 8:30 at night. 

I am super tired of getting up before the sun rises to run.  It's dark and cold.  Sometimes I have to drag my husband with me because I am afraid to go to the track alone in the dark.  And I am tired of making him do that.  I do like the feeling, though, of having run 9 miles before I even have breakfast or before I head to work.  So, there are good parts and bad parts to that.

More than anything I am sick of my body hurting.  Right now my left big toe joint is throbbing.  I hate not knowing exactly why and I hate worrying if it will keep me from accomplishing this feat.  And most nights when I go to bed my legs ache all over and my feet hurt. It makes it hard to fall asleep.  Sometimes I take Motrin to help me sleep but then I wake up with a tummy ache because I am too lazy to eat before I take the medicine.  When I get up to go the bathroom in the middle of the night my calves are so tight I have to hobble.  So I do stretches at 3am.  It's ridiculous, really.
Decorating the tree
Another selfie, since I am the one always taking pictures

Oh and did I mention that I had a nice rash under my right arm pit?  That hurt. After the rash,  I switched from the natural deodorant that I liked (because I prefer not putting toxic aluminum crap on my body) back to the Prescription Strength Degree Antiperspirant.  And I liked the natural deodorant, it was the first natural one I found that actually worked.  But I guess it didn't work well enough for 10 miles of running.

Today I started my morning in the operating room at Palomar Hospital for a quick 30 minute procedure then I came here to my office for a day of seeing patients.  This afternoon I will go home for a couple of hours and then return to Palomar again for a night shift delivering babies.  The best news, though, is starting tomorrow I am on vacation until Tuesday 12/30.  Of course, I will be running during a lot of that time off and then there is that little holiday on the 25th but still... I'll have more time to relax and recuperate. I think I need it. 
Peace and beauty

Monday, December 8, 2014

Really...another run?

Oh my, this training is a lot... a lot of running, a lot of getting up early, a lot of aching muscles, a lot of time, a lot of ice cold baths and steaming hot baths.  Just a lot.  I am still liking the training and not "over it" yet but on the other hand I do look forward to not having to think every day about running in one way or another.

Over the last months I have run in a lot of different environments: the hills of Austria, the streets of Portland,  the beach in Mendocino, the avenues of Paris,  and most recently the sand trails of the local desert.

We spent a few days before Thanksgiving out at the desert near El Centro camping in our RV with some friends.  Aiden rode his motorcycle, did a little BB gun shooting and we all relaxed a lot.  And, of course, I ran.  I love running in the desert.  I got up fairly early, 6:30ish (much better than 4:30), and ran along a straight road.  It was still cool but not cold.  The sunrises were beautiful. I saw a few trucks go by towards the nearby shooting range but otherwise it was just me and my music.  By the time I got back to camp everyone else was up and ready to enjoy the day.
This year's table

Last year's table

Thanksgiving was super simple and quiet this year.  My mom was out of town in Hawaii with my brother and his family so it was just Kelly, Aiden and me.  And I didn't feel like making a big meal so I ordered a fully prepared all Vegan Holiday Meal from Jimbo's.  It was great to be able to eat everything on the table instead of just a few things on the other hand the food was not quite as good as homemade.  We had a nice day riding our bikes before dinner and then watching Maleficent on TV after dinner.  I don't think I would want all my holidays to be as small but for this one it worked just fine.
Selfie on our bike ride

So, now we are in December and Christmas is just around the corner.  The house is decorated, most of the presents are ordered (online is the way to go), and Christmas cards are ready for pick up.  We still need to get the tree, put up the lights, wrap presents and buy a few more gifts.
Kaylie and Kyle at the game after Thanksgiving

Soon after Christmas is my 50th birthday and then The Race.  I have a lot more running to do before then.  This Sunday I will run 16 miles, my longest so far.  I am not sure what will be the longest distance my coach will have me run before the big day.  My body is holding up so far and for that I am super happy.