Looking at the Bright Side of Injury

I’m taking my first DNS (“did not start” for those not in the know) for a race on Sunday. While my hip continues to improve — especially after a fantastic massage on Wednesday that utilized some Thai massage techniques — it is far wiser for me to sit out the half marathon. It’s an inaugural race in the park where I always train and I’ve really been struggling with the inner argument that wants me to run it anyway. But common sense is prevailing… And the glare my husband gives me if I so much as hint I might want to give it a go.

Lucky for me, this is the weather forecast for Sunday:

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If I believed in the man upstairs, I’d say he’s telling me something. ;) I won’t be sorry to miss running 13.1 miles in a thunderstorm in 80% humidity.

Hey, maybe they’ll reschedule the race. I can dream, no?

Who Exactly is this Father’s Day Gift for?

My amazing husband, as I have mentioned ad nauseam, is a talented swimmer. He is among the fastest English Channel swimmers and has won national level medals in Masters swimming events. Although he’s not currently training for an event, he swims around five times a week. He also does yoga more often (and better) than I do. The kind of preparation, training and dedication for distance swimming exceeds that of marathon running, IMHO, and is probably closer in line to ultra-running. Luckily for me, all his years of swimming and training means he really does understand my obsession with running.

He’s also highly supportive of my racing and can usually be found running from point to point to snap pictures of me. His aerobic system rivals the heck out of mine (maybe I should incorporate swimming into my cross-training? Nahhhhhhh), so he does pretty well at running for a guy who never runs. For instance, in January he ran a 54 minute 10k on zero training.

He’s been running in his New Balance Minimus shoes that are great to bring when traveling, but not the best for running more than short distances in. Plus the shoes are looking pretty worn. He’s been talking about trying out some Newton Running shoes because I rave about mine so much. He’s also considering running in the local July 4th 4-miler, which had over 3,200 finishers last year. (PS, Deena Kastor is coming to town this week to do a speech and speed workout in preparation for this event. I’m not going to be able to do the speed workout since I have a half marathon next Sunday, but I do plan to go watch Kastor run and speak).

20140615-120118-43278236.jpgSo yesterday I went to our new local running store and bought him a pair of Newton’s version of “entry” shoe, which has less pronounced lugs on the forefoot. The colors of the men’s shoe in the Newton Energy are much less eye-popping than the women’s. My husband is afraid of any clothing not blue, gray or green, so this is a good thing.

Um, I also might’ve bought myself a pair of Newton Gravity shoes because the shop owner twisted my arm (ok, it took next to no convincing) into trying them on and letting me run on their treadmill in them. I have a running shoe problem. The Gravitys are fantastic, though.

My husband seemed genuinely pleased by his gift. I’m not necessarily foreseeing him taking up running on a regular basis, especially as it’s not his favorite thing to do. Is it ok it annoys me a bit that he runs so fast for a non-runner?

I just hope he doesn’t get me swim goggles or something for Christmas. There is such thing as too much together time. ;)

A Keeper & The Blues

I met with my new trainer on Wednesday and I think he’s great. It’s weird how certain motions are difficult for me. His goal over the next month is to open up the tension in my neck, shoulders and back so that on race day I feel light and full of energy. The idea is that I’ll have more energy because I won’t be fighting the tight spots in my body. I’m so happy I made this switch. He’s a keeper.

I also am finally getting over this sickness. I had a great tempo run yesterday, even though breathing is still a little labored. I averaged a 7:44 over the tempo portion, which was 6 miles this week. The total run was 13.1 miles in 1:47. That’s 10 minutes faster than my half marathon PR from November. Yay!

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I’m not a big Facebook or Twitter person, but I stop in both time to time so as to not be the relic I actually am. This morning I saw that my “baby” brother is having an art show tonight in Kansas. I so wish I could go. I am not close to my siblings and never was close to my brother except a brief period in my early 20s and his tween years (I didn’t live at home — go figure why that was when we got along. Also, we bonded over Beavis & Butthead). My sister and I have had our moments of closeness, but not much at all in the last 8 years when she moved near my parents. My parents think nothing of going into my sister’s house and rearranging her furniture and pictures on the wall when she’s not home. They say horrible things about her behind her back. I’m sure most of it isn’t even true judging from the things they’ve said about me behind my back that aren’t even rational half the time, nevermind a realistic portrayal of me.

20140404-122137.jpgLooking at my brother’s Facebook post, I was hit by sadness and by how much I miss him and my sister. By my longing for a relationship with them. To a degree, I understand why that is so difficult. When my sister lived in another state from our parents and she and I were close, my mother gave her hell for talking to me. So my sister would either cancel plans with me to escape the wrath or not tell my mother she was speaking to me. It was hard on my sister. Now that she lives near them, I don’t stand a chance. I’m grateful that she still emails me on my birthday. That’s an act of defiance on her part.

Our mother is terrific at one thing: driving wedges between her kids and our dad. No lie is too small. I gave up fighting it for my own sake, but I gave up so much in doing so. Sometimes, like this morning, it hurts so badly. I want to do something drastic to try to make it all right again. Lay myself on the train tracks so my mother can run the train over me. Again.

But I won’t because it always ends badly. I try to be strong, but I’m not strong enough for that, for the malignancy that is my mother. I may never be strong enough. So I stay safe instead.

Treasure Coast Marathon Recap

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[If you are new to the blog, you can click HERE to get a brief synopsis of how I got to this race.]

I wanted this recap to be entertaining, but in the interest of getting it done before I forgot the experience (I’m old, as my son likes to remind me), I went the dull route. Apologies in advance.

My marathon long weekend started Thursday. My husband, son and I travelled from the frozen northeast to my mother-in-law’s house in Florida, which is about 30 miles south of Jensen Beach where the race was held. She had tacos cooking when we arrived, which made my son ecstatic.

I had a couple missions for the days before the race: get plenty of rest, continue treatment of my injured calf muscle (ice, heat, massage, repeat) and hydrate hydrate hydrate (mostly with coconut water). If you missed them, the posts on those days are here and here.

Packet pick up and the expo for the Treasure Coast Marathon was Saturday. It was well organized, and although the expo was small, I purchased some cool new shoelaces that I’ll be testing out soon.

The night before the race I requested chicken for my pre-race dinner. We had salsa chicken, which is basically chicken cooked in a jar of salsa. It’s my go-to easy meal. We had salad on the side. Nothing weird or unfamiliar. After dinner, I got everything ready for the race morning, including laying out my clothing. I made overnight oats, which I totally forgot to eat in the morning.

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Up24 sleep reading

My alarm was set for 2:30 a.m. I tried to go to sleep early, but I tossed and turned a lot. And when I did start to sleep, my husband would get restless. Neither of us got much sleep. (Check out my Jawbone Up24 reading for the night. Cool, no?)

I turned on the hot tub to heat up, then made coffee, mixed up UCAN for my fuel belt and ate a banana and beet/sweet potato baby food. When the hot tub was up to 102 degrees, I stuck my calves in and drank my coffee while reading GOMI message boards, which is my new guilty pleasure.

After a half hour, I got out of the spa and finished dressing, took my second bathroom break, slathered on anti-chafing gel, and before I knew it, it was time to drive to Jensen Beach.

We arrived by 5 am and there was plenty of parking. My first stop was at the bathroom. I got to use a real one rather than a portapotty. Not much after that, the lines started. I really should’ve tried to go again before the race start, but I hoped my previous three goes was enough. That turned out to not be the case. Dumb on my part.

Next I taped up my calf with kinesiology tape, sprayed myself with loads of high SPF sports sunblock and walked around to keep my calf muscle warm.

At 5:45, I got in place near the 4:30 pacer. I saw a woman there that I am pretty sure was the old biddy who yelled at me at my 10k back in January. She was still leather-tanned and inappropriately age dressed in booty shorts and just a sport bra. Wtf. Just no, woman. It’s not attractive.

I planned to use the Lolo Jeff Galloway app, so I brought my iPhone (I usually only carry my iPod nano because I prefer to race light). Then I started my audiobook, Apple Tree Yard (excellent so far, btw).

The race was both a half marathon, which has been held for years under a different name, and the full, which was in its inaugural year. We all took off together at about 6:01am. It was still dark and around 64 degrees outside.

At first I hung with the 4:30 pacer, but he wasn’t very consistent during the first mile. He was glancing at his watch even more than I was. I decided to go on my own. I also decided to not take the first Galloway walk break since my pace was plenty slow.

Mile 1 – 9:49

The first hill was a bridge over a waterway. The race was on the coastline, which meant much of it was flat, but we had several bridges to crest. The incline wasn’t bad. I just tried to keep my effort level the same there as on the flat. I ignored Jeff Galloway’s walk break since I don’t like walking hills.

Mile 2 – 9:40

At some point I realized the Galloway app was no longer working. This kind of irritated me, but I chose to not take my iPhone out of my SkirtSports skirt pocket to restart it. I figured I’d worry about run/walk ratios later.

I didn’t take water at any of the early water stops, but I did greet and thank the volunteers. There was one church group around mile 3 or 4 that was particularly enthusiastic spectators. Considering this was a smallish race, the crowd support was very nice. Plus, there were tons of volunteers. Really impressive at the water stops, course marshals and police/safety duty.

I took my first bit of UCAN fuel at mile 3. Around mile 4, I saw the half marathon leader coming other way, probably mile 7 or so for him.

Mile 3 – 9:43
Mile 4 – 9:37

We meandered through some neighborhoods, then headed towards the town of Stuart. I had to run over a mat there, and this was where the first relay exchange was. I almost accidentally got into the relay line (brainless when I run, I was just following the other folk). A guy with a walkie was reading off bib numbers. I’m not sure if that was a security measure or to notify the relay people of who was approaching?

All of this was around mile 6, where we turned around to head back towards the bridge.

Mile 5 – 9:26
Mile 6 – 9:31 (fuel)

Facing this way, I could see the sun coming up. There were more cars on the road than I expected at that time of day, but there were police on hand to help us cross the roads.

I was passing a lot of people in this segment. I was feeling good and steady, but also could feel an urge to poop coming on (sorry, tmi). The sun was low and getting in my eyes, so I took my sunglasses from their perch on my hat. And they proceeded to be so steamy that I couldn’t see. Luckily they cleared up with some air circulation.

As we reapproached the bridge, it looked like we might be turning right before. I think I was just hoping I could skip a hill and my steamy sunglasses kept me from seeing other runners heading up the bridge. As I got closer, I realized that yes, I had to run back over it. No biggie. I still hadn’t taken any walk breaks. So much for that plan.

Mile 7 – 9:22
Mile 8 – 9:23
Mile 9 – 9:30 (fuel)

After the bridge, the course took a right turn. Shortly after, at around mile 10.2, the half and full split.

Mile 10 – 9:47

The full went through a nice little neighborhood with lots of new construction going up. I spied a portapotty that may or may not have been ok for race participant use. I took waaayyyy too long in there, struggling with my fuel belt and getting my skirt back in place. I am too vain to run with my skirt half tucked into my panties. The icing of this wardrobe fight was when I was too rough with my YurBuds earphones, and did some sort of damage to the wiring. The sound for my audiobook went dead.

I decided to run and try to sort it out, which was awkward. There was not a soul around the course here, although the race had put out plenty of cones so I knew I was on track. I wondered how many people had passed since my bathroom stop.

20140305-235512.jpgI gave up on my audiobook after rebooting my iPhone did zilch to resolve the problem. I put on my race playlist. Well, I got music, but it was only the backing vocals and some of the instrumentation. No lead guitar, piano/keyboards or lead singer. Plus it was pretty staticky. I might’ve sworn a bunch.

I decided to make do with the weird audio. It was pretty surreal. At least I sort of knew most of the lyrics. Fifteen miles of this nonsense and it was still better than being stuck with my own inner dialogue.

Between the bathroom break, which probably let my lactic acid negatively affect my muscles by sitting in place for a few minutes, and the struggle with the iPod, my pace got a little leaden. Given the choice between running the remainder of the race needing to take a dump or losing time and pace… I suppose I wish I’d just gotten in the stupid bathroom line before the start.

There were no course marshals on this segment of the race, but there was what looked like a timing mat. I ran over it just to be safe, although it wasn’t marked. It made a beeping sound. I randomly wondered if it was going to blow up or something. I really don’t know why it was there since there were no signs indicating we should run over it.

Mile 11 – 12:04 (potty)
Mile 12 – 9:46
Mile 13 – 9:39

Then I saw my husband for the first time since mile 1. He had tried to catch me at mile 9, but missed me. The half marathoners rejoined the marathon course (mile 11 for the half). I took my first water station walk-through here. My UCAN is a water based fuel, so I was getting plenty of hydration. But I was getting hot as the sun and temperatures rose.

I ran over the mat at mile 13.8 (no idea why that’s where it was, but I did what they told me).

Mile 14 – 9:50

My left calf was starting to feel a little off. Not worse, but like it was tiring fast. I had to focus hard on what I learned about chi running form to make sure my gait wasn’t going all crazy. I was concerned about feeling a sharp pull like I did during my Friday run. I think I mentally started to fade here because I was worried over fatigue leading to further injuring my calf.

My husband ran behind me for a bit (I didn’t realize) and I saw him just before the mile 15 left turn for the marathoners. Of course there was a small but steep hill there. I ran up it, but shortly after began to sporadically walk. So were all the other runners in my vicinity, which unfortunately made me feel like it was ok to give myself that break. I need to not “monkey see, monkey do” next time around.

Later, my husband told me he observed that my calf muscles fired differently in each leg. My gait wasn’t lopsided per se, but he said my leg muscles were definitely working differently.

Mile 15 – 10:02
Mile 16 – 10:40

Despite my walk breaks every half mile or so, I began passing people who likely passed me while I was in the portajohn. According to the race data, I was in 29th place at mile 9, 39th place at mile 13.8, but ended up ranking 26th (but I finished as #28 overall? — I’m not sure how that worked, just reporting from the results site). My husband drove by in the rental car and honked the horn and hooted at me. I figured he’d try to park it somewhere and meet me again in a few miles.

Mile 17 – 10:18

We came to another bridge at mile 18. This one was longer than the first one. We could see it for awhile in the distance, and anticipating it was not great for my mental game. Which was a waste of time since it really wasn’t all that bad once I tackled it. I ran it the whole way and passed some more people. A weird distorted version of Green Day’s American Idiot played on my iPhone, which made me chuckle.

Mile 18 – 10:20

By now, it was getting very hot and there was no shade. Everyone was walking and even stalling through the water stations. My calf felt ok, but tight. Any time I tried to run faster, it felt off, and as I tired, this happened sooner. I continued to check my form and posture to avoid pulling anything.

Mile 19 – 10:16

I was getting very thirsty at this point. I was a little more than halfway through my UCAN, and so one of my water bottles was empty. My husband was at this stop. I don’t remember saying much other than that it was hot and I needed water. I had the water station refill my empty bottle and also drank a cup of ice water. I sucked on the ice cube for a bit. Heaven.

Mile 20 – 11:03 (water bottle refill)

Almost all the runners, myself included, began running the course tangents long in order to get a little shade from the sidewalk shrubbery. I was covered with a salty grit from sweating. I was thirsty, and I worried a little about my sodium levels.

Mile 21 – 11:21

I was struggling with watching the other racers take walk breaks. I really should not have let that give me permission to take them too. I was hot and tired, but I really think I could’ve held onto my pace better. At the next water stop, I decided to take a salt pill. I’d wrapped them in Saran Wrap, which turned out to be a problem because I had trouble unwrapping the pills. I wasted too much time fumbling with the damn things. I believe this is where the 4:30 pacer probably passed me. I wished I’d seen because I would’ve run with him if I’d realized.

Mile 22 – 12:42 (salt pill snafu)

My skin was getting pretty toasty and red at this point. The sunblock folks aren’t lying when they say the stuff is only for about 90 minutes. I cursed my northeast winter acclimation. I later found out it was 80 degrees in the shade by this time.

Mile 23 – 11:12

The final hill ahead at mid-mile 24. Another bridge overpass. I dug in and ran the whole thing. American Idiot played again as I ran up. My iPhone must’ve been trying to tell me something.

Mile 24 – 11:12
Mile 25 – 10:34

My husband was waiting for me after the mile 25 marker and he ran with me the next mile. The ball of my right foot was on fire at that moment. I also felt blisters on my usual two problem toes on that foot. The left calf was tired and tight, but not in pain. I was really grateful for my husband being there for the final push.

Mile 26 – 11:17

My watch was about .15 of a mile over due to not running tight tangents (although this was not bad for the course of 26.2 miles). My husband took a short cut to catch me at the finish and left me to run the final stretch.

My wonky playlist, which was on ‘random’ play, started a new song. Springsteen’s Born to Run. I kid you not. It was probably the least identifiable worst version of it through my busted earbuds, but it was The Boss.

One of the half marathoners dressed as superman high fived me. I took a ton of high fives when offered. It’s my thing.

Last .2 – 8:53

Official time: 4:31:53 (my watch listed the mileage as 26.35)

I got my medal, took some bottle water, headed for the bananas, grabbed half a sesame bagel, and went to the car for the instant cold packs we had there.

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Our heights correspond with our placement.

As I was icing my calf, I snapped a picture of the medal for the blog, did a quick post, then thought I’d check the real time race tracker and see if my official time was posted. That’s when I discovered I’d come in 3rd place in my age group.

Of course I had to go back for the awards. So, I shoved my poor blistered foot back into my shoe, struggled out of the car, and waddled stiffly back to the race finish. When we three 40-44 year old ladies had to get up on the podiums, the other two declined stepping up on the blocks. We were all too gimpy to do more than get on the (very low) stage.

And that’s the story of my training run marathon. I hope I didn’t bore you too badly. I smiled a lot all the way through, even when I got overheated. It was a well-organized race, and I’d recommend it to anyone looking for a smaller race with terrific course support. The only bad part was that the photographer didn’t take pictures of the full marathoners. :( My husband got a few of me, including the one of me in pink on the award platform, so if I can get him to forward them to me, I’ll post the ones that won’t hurt your eyes.

Post-Marathon

I plan to do a race recap when I get home. I fly back today. Right now I’ve got my legs in the hot tub again.

I feel surprisingly good. My injured calf feels nearly healed, which underscores that the injury was not caused by running, although I certainly could have destroyed it if I hadn’t been careful. The massage yesterday along with more icing, rolling, hot tub did me good. I slept hard last night. I was worried I’d have trouble getting out of bed or doing stairs, but so far it’s been fine. I won’t rule out delayed onset muscle soreness for tomorrow, though.

I really had a lot of fun, although I think getting my Boston BQ won’t be a easy thing. It’s hard to say based on this race/training run whether it’s an over stretch, but I do feel like I know much more about what I’m getting myself into. The last 6 miles were tough, but not quite a death march. I do need to get mentally tougher at that segment, though. My body can do it.

Have I mentioned I love running? I must because 26.2 is a looooonnng freaking way.