Tuesday, February 19, 2008

26.2 Miles is HARD

I'm sure this comes as a surprise to nobody, but 26.2 miles is a LONG run. It's also long when you have to walk (like I did). So, first of all - I'm sorry that it's Tuesday and I ran on Sunday and you are hearing nothing 'til now. Frankly, I forgot my laptop and didn't get home until today, so I couldn't give an update. But here's the blow-by-blow:

I was sick all the way up to the starting line, but when I woke up on Sunday morning - I felt pretty good. I feel like this was through sheer force of will, more than anything else. I got up at 5 am and just before I left the room, Scott leaned over and took a picture of me. (I'll post all the pics as soon as I get them from the digital camera bearers.) I went downstairs and milled around with the TNT folks. At this point, I was still thinking that I might be able to run a 5 hour marathon (which is what I had trained for and was probably my pace, right through the 20 mile run). When we left the hotel around 6:15 or so and went out to the start line, I stood with the 5 hour pace group and struck up a conversation with some fellow and ex-TNT'ers who were doing the half. It wasn't a bad morning, probably the temps were in the low 50s, which did not bode well for later. I wore a long-sleeved tee shirt while waiting for the race to start.

The canon went off at 7am and I started walking/surging forward with the crowd, but we didn't actually cross the start line for a while. Then I was running down Congress Ave with a bunch of 5 hour marathoners and feeling pretty good about the pace. Turns out, I started too strong for someone who had not been able to get out of bed the previous weekend. Live and learn.

I saw Scott at the 5.5 mile mark and he took my picture. He actually saw me take off, which I had not asked anyone to do (figured it would be too chaotic - I was right. He said he could barely spot me in the crowd). Anyway, I ran pretty well for the first 10 miles or so, but this was a pretty hilly part of the course and I think it really took a toll on me. I stopped to use a really gross port-o-pottie around mile 11.5 and lost my ability to run steady around mile 12.

Thus began the walk/run odyssey that would make up the 10 miles. This is where I knew I had gone out too strong and was forcing my not-quite-recovered self to do a task that I wasn't really up to. My back hurt and it started to get pretty warm out there. I saw the family at mile 17 (ran by) and mile 21 (stopped for a second). They were waiting for me at mile 23, but by that time I had lost my ability to run. This had, in fact, happened at about mile 22.

Kathleen, at this point, had send out a mad text message to all of her friends, telling me to send text encouragements to my cell phone. This was fantastic (though my text message memory filled up pretty fast and I probably didn't get all of them)! I called Ellen at one point who told me that Sean was sitting on my shoulder and encouraging me along - remember - easier than chemo! But seriously, I was wicked tired and this just made me very emotional (I had hit the psycho wall by this time anyway). Things were becoming a blur and I remember a large woman, shaking a maraca (sp?) and yelling "eye of the tiger, baby!" Very strange. But this was when the crowd matters most, when the 80 year old man runs by you and asks you if you're going to make it, it's sure nice hearing someone say, "all downhill after you turn the corner! You can do it!" Of course, this was a lie. But it was still nice to hear.

Anyway, at mile 23, my mom and my 5 year old niece decided to walk with me. Actually, they were sort of pacing me. My mom kept telling me that we could do a 15 minute mile and be done in 45 minutes, which of course I wasn't so up for at that point. Sage told me that I should have ridden my bicycle and perhaps things would be easier if we had roller blades (couldn't have agreed more). Anyway, Scott, Kathleen, and Todd showed up at mile 25 to pick up Sage and my mom so that everyone could go to the finish line. And I was on my own again. All I could think was that I had over an hour to finish, so I should be able to get in that last mile. Then I saw this mega-hill within the last 8 blocks or so and I seriously thought I would give up. Just then, a fellow TNT runner came along and walked with me until I got within about 5 blocks. He had already finished and was going back to encourage the rest of us. He just kept telling me that it wasn't long and I was almost done.

About 1-1/2 blocks from the final turn, he told me that I only had that little bit and then I would be in the chutes for the last 3 blocks. And he told me to smile, 'cause someone would be taking my picture then. And I started to jog. (This was Sean, really, because I seriously could not MAKE myself do this at any point in the previous 3 miles). I started to jog and then...I started to run. I heard the announcer say my name, and I ran even harder. At this point, everyone on the side was cheering me and so was the announcer (as noone else was running at this point - these were just the crampers and the stragglers finishing up). And so I ran across the finish line, all arms up like an Olympian or something. And it was fantastic. Even 6 hours and 17 minute (way slower than Katie Holmes - dang it) into the race, it was fantastic.

And that's the story of my race. I'll post again in a couple of days to tell you about the recovery. Mostly because I need to run (not literally, thank goodness). Thanks for everyone's support! You've all been great! Sorry for grammar errors, I'm not proofing this post...

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Better news

Alright, I guess I'm feeling a little better today (finally!) I still have a vague cough and some sniffly-ness left over, but I am not feeling as fatigued and weak as I was - maybe thinking that I may indeed be able to run my race. Perhaps it won't be the race I had originally planned (having taken this entire week off to recover), but I may be able to achieve some semblance of the time I had originally thought (circa 5 hours...)

So, tonight I need to pack everything and eat some carbs. Let the loading begin. Oh - and another little treat from the illness - still working on getting my appetite back. What can I say?

Monday, February 11, 2008

Bad news

The worst news would have been that a week before this stupid race, I broke my leg (or anything, really). But this is pretty bad. I started coughing on Thursday afternoon and by Friday morning, it was all about the fever, chills, aches - your basic symptoms of the flu. But it wasn't the flu - isn't the flu. It's a "flu-like virus" that's given me bronchitis. Yup, a week before the damn marathon and I have bronchitis. At this point, I guess I'm just hoping that it will subside enough for me to finish in the seven hours allotted to marathoners. I can't believe this.... I'm so, so sorry. I'm really going to try to do what I need to do. Good news is that it should not be a big deal that I haven't run since last Tuesday as this is the taper. I just need enough of this to go away to finish. That's all I care about now.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

No Excuses...

Okay, I have no excuse for neglecting the blog so badly. Well, actually I have a LOT of excuses; it's just that none of them are very good. Anyway, I just thought I'd better tell you about the long runs in the last couple of weeks, including the 20-miler on January 26 and the 10-miler last Saturday. They make an interesting comparison.

First, the 20 mile run.
Might I say that I really surprised myself here. I mean, 20 miles! Holy crap! I ran 20 miles. If you convert this to kilometers, it's like 32 kilometers or something. I find that just insane. And yes, I felt insane while I was doing it. This was the day that me and my running partner, Jimmy (the husband of my TNT coach - both of whom are fantastic, no other way to say it), just ran about using his wrist Garmin, which tracked our mileage via GPS. The next week he told me that he had uploaded the data into a couple of websites and found that we may actually have run farther than 20 miles, so there!

Anyrate, started off okay, but I don't think I drank enough water early on. Combine this with the fact that we ran a bit further than we would like (a bit over 5 miles) before hitting the first water stop, and I found myself with some minor dehydration issues (mostly upset stomach) around mile 8. Again, not a problem itself, but it caused me to skip my running goo (in deference to my poor tummy), thereby depleting my glycogen much faster, and causing me to hit the wall around mile 12 (earlier than the day of the 17 miler where I believe I hit it around 14.5). A compounding, snowball effect, if you will. Hitting the wall for me really means that I've depleted the glycogen stores I have (I was probably not carbo-loading properly either), and I've switched over to fat-burning. During the switch-over, my blood sugar drops and I seriously lose a lot of motivation. In fact, it's a bit of an emotional roller coaster where I just wonder whether I'm ever going to finish and convince myself that I must be the stupidest, craziest person in the world for ever thinking I could do this. Then, a few miles later, I'm fine. Go figure.

Of course, after the switch over, I'm really pretty tired, but I do get a second-wind of sorts. Nothing major, but I don't feel like dropping on the spot. Anyway, nothing much to tell there, just ran to the end. I asked Jimmy to tell me when we got down to .2 miles so I could up my pace and practice finishing strong, so he did and I did. When it was over, I really just felt amazed that I had actually done it! 20 whole miles (and then some).

Of course, then I drove myself home, forced myself to eat some lunch, and fell into a mild coma for the rest of the afternoon. Later I went to visit Scott's mom and grandmother, and found myself walking stiffly. When she saw this, she asked me what had happened and I said, "Nothing, just ran 20 miles. That'll do it." The next day I had pretty much recovered, except for some mild muscle tenderness. Did I mention that I also used Ben-Gay that night for the very first time? Anyway, we'll see how that 20-miler compares to marathon day.

The 10-miler

And then there was last weekend. Nothing much to tell here. I ran a pretty decent pace (much better than my 11:39, 20-mile pace), I think it was like 11:07. To be honest, I had dropped much of the anxiety that I used to feel before these long runs because after 20 miles, what's 10? Just a Saturday morning stroll. Crazy, huh? Just went out, ran my 10 miles, and got on with my day. No massive recovery and only a little stiffness, which had pretty much disappeared by the end of the day. So...

This weekend I have an 8 mile run and then its just a couple of itty-bitty runs (2-3 miles). I try to do these a bit faster. On Valentine's Day, I get to begin carbo-loading (which I'm oddly excited for) and need to start drinking lots and lots of water.

Okay, so that's the long overdue update, which I guess I put off because it was so massive and there was so much to tell. Of course, if I would just stay on the ball... Whatever, I'm running a marathon people! It's all I can do to work and train. I barely even read anymore! I'll try to update once more (at least) before the race day and take lots of pics for everyone.

Ciao for now.