Monday, December 5, 2011

They don't call it a marathon because its's supposed to be hard.

I know its been a while since I've updated this. Since my last post, I've PR'd a 10k, PR'd a 5k and finished my marathon. People always tell me discouraging things like "I hate running, in time you will too" or "I did a marathon once and it sucked, you'll only have to do it once and then you'll see that its awful." So far these Debbie downers are WRONG. My marathon was this past Saturday and I hate to say that I'm hooked. I loved it. I typed up a little recap of my race. I have to say that your first marathon is a once in a lifetime experience and can probably make or break your relationship with distance running.

My first Marathon

I’ll skip the boring stuff about packet pick up (it was quick and easy and very well organized) and pre-race dinner at Spaghetti Warehouse with our running group (the food was mediocre but the company was great) and I’ll go straight to race morning.

Race day morning found me in good spirits. I was excited and the nervousness that had been present the entire week before was nowhere to be found. I knew I had this one in the bag. After getting dressed and eating our breakfast at the hotel, we arrived in downtown Memphis at 6:45 and headed straight to bag check. The 15mph wind blowing around and the 48* temps made for a chilly wait. Bag check was easy and efficient and we had plenty of time to relax before heading to the starting line. We met up again with our running group for a group picture and then we headed to the porta potties and the starting line. I said goodbye to Bobby at this point and wished him good luck. He headed to corral 2 with the sub 1:30 half finishers and I headed to corral 10 with the 4:30 marathon finishers. In the corral, it was cold but I knew once we started running and the sun came out from behind the clouds it was going to warm up fast. I ditched my jacket and decided to race in a tank top, shorts, arm warmers and gloves (the temp was about 50* and windy for our 8am start). 

When it was time for our corral to finally start everyone started to rush forward over the start. I tried to hang back knowing that our time didn’t start until we crossed over the actual timing device. After I crossed over the line, my race went as follows:

Miles 1-3: SLOW and steady. I maintained a 12 minute per mile pace. My 5k check in was 36:00! When I realized this I kind of panicked but then realized that I had 23 more miles to go, so slow was ok.

Miles 3-6: We came through Beale Street where everyone was cheering and it was hard not to get swept up in the energy. I turned up my headphones and went back into my zone. This was not the time to speed up. I hit the 10k mark around 1:11 something.

Miles 6-10: We came through the grounds of the St Jude’s hospital and were cheered on by patients and families. I felt the crowd around me start to surge forward with a sudden burst of energy. Everywhere I looked people were high fiving kids, raising their hands in the air, dancing and in my mind, wasting a hell of a lot of energy. I stayed to the middle of the road and ignored every kid and every band and every spectator trying to keep my mind on the race. This was not the time to expend energy. I did have the thought that these people probably think I’m a cold hearted monster but I have a marathon to run and that’s all that matters. After we passed through the hospital, I realized just how smart I was because people started stopping. They had been caught in the trap of getting into the crowd and forgetting about the race. I was smiling on the inside.

Miles 10-13: The half marathoners started dropping like flies. I spent a lot of time dodging them. I tried to encourage a few of them because around mile 11, its all downhill for them after that. Turns out, when someone is thinking about quitting a race, they really aren’t that friendly. I gave up on them and turned my headphones back on.  After the split from the half marathoners around mile 12.5, the course got a lot less crowded. The breathing room was nice. Bobby met me at the mile 13 water stop and loaded me back up on gels and took my extra clothes from me. It was nice to see him at this point but I wasted 3 minutes trying to get my gloves out of my spy belt and trying to get everything situated. This was mistake #1.

Miles 13-18: This stretch of the course sucked…big time. From mile 15-18 it was all uphill and the wind was in my face. This is also about the time that the sun decided to stop hiding behind the clouds and it began to warm up fast. I reminded myself that I still had a ways to go and tried to conserve my energy for the last part of the course. I saw Bobby again at mile 15 and stopped for my first bathroom break. I surprisingly only lost 30 seconds here which was nice. I focused on taking in fuel and getting up that incline.

Mile 18-21: An amazing thing happened here, I started passing people left and right. I got a second wind around mile 20 and was overjoyed to realize that I had not hit the wall. Bobby saw me again at mile 21 and he was a sight for sore eyes. I felt like I had been running forever. Another bathroom break at mile 20 lost me a few more minutes- I had considered just peeing on myself but thought that might not be a good idea. I was really not a fan of stopping at this point because I still had a sub 5 goal in mind.

Mile 22-24: I zoned out for these miles and there’s not much to report. I was running and passing tons of people who were hitting their wall. I did begin to feel the effects of the temperatures but pouring water on my head helped a lot.

Mile 24: My hamstrings were screaming. I stopped for yet another bathroom break and lost a few more minutes. It was at this time that I realized a sub 5 was out of the question. There was no way I could make up for all my lost time. Mile 24 was a 14 minute mile and the funniest part is that I thought I was “flying” through it- my pace felt so fast!! It was at this time that I ran into a man I’d like to call “Mr. Creepy.” I had made a general comment at the beginning of this mile that I had never been so happy to see a particular building in downtown because I knew that meant we were on the home stretch. He turned to me and said “I thought you were going to say you had never been so happy to see a handsome man like me.” Insert eye roll here. When I took a walk break, he proceeded to put his hand on my lower back and try to push me forward (WTF?). This actually gave me the fuel I needed to start running again.

Mile 25-26: I was running from Mr. Creepy. My garmin said I did 9:30 miles for my last two miles. I successfully kept him away from me until mile 26 when we had to turn to go up an on ramp. This was no ordinary on-ramp because I turned the corner to go to the finish and “FUCK” what was this? Whoever designed this course was sadistic. I began the slow ascent up this thing and Mr. Creepy caught up with me. He touched my lower back again and I lost it. “Don’t fucking touch me again or I’ll kick you in the balls so hard you’ll roll down this hill” I said to him. I could tell he was trying to think of something smart ass to say but thought better of it when he realized I was serious. He went on.

26-26.2: The end is near!!! I got up the hill and it was downhill into the baseball stadium from there. The downhill killed me more than the uphill at this point but I was still running. I crossed the finish line with a smile on my face and my hands in the air. I did it. My first marathon! My time was 5:06:50. I averaged an 11:43 minute per mile pace which for me nowdays is SLOW!!!

I’m disappointed in my time because I know I could have ran much faster. However, I had nothing to go off of and being conservative was my best strategy to ensure that I finished. Besides, it was so much fun to pass people in those last 10 miles who hit the wall that I’m not sure I ever really hit. I never had thoughts that I couldn’t do it, I never thought I didn’t want to do it again and best of all, I never shit my pants (I had a real fear of this).  The good news is I feel better after my first full marathon than I did after my half marathon so that does say something about my fitness improvement in a year. I’m looking forward to my upcoming 50k with the goal that I want to finish it in the same time that I did my full. This goal is VERY ambitious but its good to have goals.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Mileage is up and spirits are high!

And I'm back in the game!! The last two weeks I've been able to log 25-30 Miles per week which is where I needed to be to start adding for the marathon training. I've been running through my pain and its really continuing to help my symptoms.

So in true race training form, I've made a spreadsheet!! I have somewhere around 14 weeks until race day and I have to make them count. This is week 2 of my spreadsheet and I've not missed a beat yet! As long as we can keep my symptoms at bay and my mind on track I'm certainly up for this challenge.

I must take some time to vent though. Its still HOT!! I'm ready for cooler weather and less humidity!! At this point, I'd take one of those two. They don't even have to come in pairs!! This week has been decent at 6am (somewhere in the high sixties) but give me a break already God! I'd also like to point out that taking off at 6am, its pitch black outside now. I'd like to be able to run in the daylight so cooler temps are what I'm begging for.

I signed B and I up for a 10k Sept 17 to kick off our running season! Fingers crossed for those cooler temps. I'd like to PR this race if I can.

Recap of last week or so:
Today: 5 miles
Yesterday: Rest Day
Sunday: 8 miles
Saturday: Rest Day
Friday: 3 Miles
Thursday: Rest Day
Wednesday: 6 Miles
Tuesday: 5 miles
Monday: 5.5 Miles

Now that I"m caught up on the blog perhaps I can stick with posting on it!!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

No Answers.....More Waiting.... But More Running too!!

All this waiting will drive a woman crazy!! Still no answers on my "recent" health problems. I say "recent" because we're getting close to the two month mark on the symptoms. My rash has gone away and the prednisone the doctor prescribed about a month ago really helped calm a lot of my symptoms. Now I have good days and I have bad days (for a while there, they were all bad). For instance, on Tuesday I was tired and hurting so bad that I was crying but today I was able to work 8 hours and run 5.5 miles. Also, most of the joint pain has settled into my hands and elbows and isn't so severe in my knees and hips anymore. This really helps with being able to keep running. You take what life give you I suppose.

On a very positive note, I have found that the more I run the better I feel (if I listen to my body and rest when I'm tired). Best of all, on the days when I run, my symptoms are less severe. So I'll keep pressing on and listening to what my body tells me.

I was able to get an appointment with a rheumatologist on September 16 so fingers crossed (if I were capable of crossing my fingers right now) that I get some answers. Until then, I'll just keep trying to take care of myself as best as I can.
So as far as I know I'm back on track with the running. Last week I did 25 miles (almost what I was up to pre-half marathon in the Spring) and this week I'm right at 16 right now and looking to get in 10-12 more for the week. I may actually bust out of my shell on Saturday and show up to run with the local running club. I'm getting rather tired of my reclusiveness (is that a word?).

Monday, July 25, 2011

Waiting for answers

The silence on my blog has been deafening. Last week was a bit of a battle for me. Running was almost next to impossible and I was happy to do 3 miles three different days last week. I was so sure I was being sidelined with an injury. My joints were achy and I was exhausted for no apparent reason. What I thought was poison ivy progressively got worse and now has spread over my entire midsection, back, shoulders and my ass. Needless to say I'm in a bit of a miserable, itchy state.

Needing answers and once again being overcome with a migraine (for the third time in a week), I sought a professional opinion. The first question out of the doctor's mouth was "does anyone in your family have Lupus?" The panic set in. I have watched my mother struggle with this disease for years. I've watched her be in pain, I've watched her be worn out, and I've watched her go through the struggle of finding a treatment that helped her have a normal, happy life (which she does now). This was not a question I wanted to hear.

They took 7 vials of my blood today for the tests and I have to wait 3 weeks for some answers. It comforts me to know that my "injury" probably is not running related but it scares me to death that it might be this disease that I don't know much about (and apparently neither do doctors). I'm going to take things one day at a time and I'm probably going to have to take the week off from running. The only thing my body wants to do right now is sleep.

I'm praying that I get answers and I'm praying that its something else that's easy to fix. I have to remind myself to live life one day at a time because I tend to panic over the unknown.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Excuses, Excuses

I'm a huge believer in not running through an injury. That's why I've been off of running since Thursday. After my 4.5 miles on Thursday an annoying and persistant ache in my groin returned. I really have no clue what it is but it keeps coming back and if this 3 day break from activity doesnt make it go away I have to go see a doctor. Tomorrow is 20 weeks until Marathon day and supposed to be Day 1 of my formal training program. I can not afford a set back. Time off drives me crazy even though I know its better to let your body heal.

Monday, July 11, 2011

The need for speed.

For my entire running life, I've been slow. Like turtle slow. We're talking 11-13 minute miles. But lately I've noticed something over the past few months.....I'm getting faster (YAY). But with this new realization I'm finding that I really dont know how to pace myself for my long runs. Yesterday I did 8.5 miles at an average pace of 11 minutes per mile but when I plugged my Garmin in to look at the data, my last mile was run at an 8 minute pace!! Obviously I'm not running a consistent speed and I must find a way to work on this..........

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Lazy ass

The little demon of guilt has been sitting on my shoulders all week. I have a hard time not feeling defeated and completely guilty every time I take a day off, especially if its not scheduled. Last night my husband and I dared to go to dinner with some friends and have some resemblance of a social life. BIG MISTAKE. Our puppy apparently felt neglected and chose to keep us up from 2am on. We spent the evening getting up to let him out and going back to bed for 5 hours. Needless to say, after only 3 solid hours of sleep I felt like a walking zombie. The scheduled long run was shelved until tomorrow. I know I will get it done but I still feel so guilty for taking off. I guess this is compounded by the fact that I took off Thursday due to a terrible migraine.

I ran 5 mile yesterday, what the fuck did you do?