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.