Monday, November 09, 2009
5:01 a.m. Monday, Nov. 9. Time to get this day startedóaccording to Daisy, our dog. This was not my idea. I was thinking more in terms of 7 or 8 a.m. After all, today Iím a very special person. A person who wants a little TLC and some pampering. Daisy looks at me as if to say, ďThat was yesterdayóyouíve been there; done that. Now letís get going; itís time for my breakfast.Ē Such is the life of a marathoner. The glory doesnít last for long.
Ignore Daisyóand let me revel in a runnerís high for just one more day. This may be a long blog; there are so many details still fresh in my mind.
4 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 7 I arrive at the Radisson for pre-race check-in for the Harrisburg Marathon. Itís a beautiful day and supposed to be even more beautiful tomorrow. There are quite a few people checking in. Some runners are studying the course map, some look a bit lost as they walk around the room trying to figure out where to pick up their bags and then their chips. Others look like itís just another day, just another pre-race registration. After picking up my bag and chip (No. 216) I start down the hall looking for the hotel registration desk. Thereís a couple behind me looking too. We start talking; itís her first marathon; her husband is there for support. A little stab goes through my heart; wish mine were here.
After hauling all the gear to my room, I open the bagóit has my race number and pins, Hershey-brand candy bars, and a really cool wind-breaker. I try the wind-breaker jacket on immediately. Just a little big; a fleece jacket will fit under it perfectly. Then I open up my computer and get directions to Romanoís Macaroni Grill for a carb-loading dinner. It takes just 10 minutes to get to the restaurant, but thereís a 25-30 minute wait. I decide it will be worth it and get my buzzer. But 10 minutes later I change my mind and head up the sidewalk to a little sandwich shop. Itís a disappointing meal. I consider consoling myself by shopping, but control the urge. Some of my favorite shops are here: Eddie Bauer, Talbots, The Loft, Williams-Sonoma, Clarks.
Back at the hotel, I start laying out my clothes and gear and take a shower. I have a small blister on my right foot that isnít 100 percent healed. Earlier in the week I asked the local running club members for suggestions on how to protect it and guard against others. Advice included Band-Aid Active Strips (blister blocks), Body Glide,Vaseline, 2 pairs of thin socks, socks with toes, Second Skin, and Duct Tape. Just to be safe, I packed everything but the socks with toes. As I listen to the TV, I thoroughly dry my feet, then paint a large area of the soles with Second Skin. Then I put on a second coat. Then I turn flip through channels until I canít keep my eyes open any longer.
5:30 a.m. Sunday. The alarm goes off, I roll over, turn it off and lay in bed for another 10 minutes. I get dressed (long-sleeved shirt, compression shorts), put on sun block, and ponder over whether I should walk down the hall to the hotel restaurant or walk across the parking lot to Perkins for breakfast. I opt for Perkins.
Itís dark but clear, not as cold as I expected, and the half-moon is still out. Itís a very pretty morning. Considering that the hotel looked full, and there are lots of runners here, itís very quiet. I think about the marathon walkers, who will be starting in just 15 minutes. The first 15 minutes of their race is before sunrise.
6:15 a.m. There are only 2 booths occupiedóboth by runners. 6:15 already; time is flying by this morning. The waitress brings me the menu and as I hold it I can see that my hands are shaking just a bit. I take a deep breath and try to calm myself. I order a short stack of pancakes, bacon, and coffee. The restaurant crew knows weíre here for the marathon and the waitress asks if Iím ready and wishes me luck. The pancakes look great, but after two bites I feel like Iím going to throw up. I canít believe I am this nervous. I canít start the race on just two bites, so I slowly chew a couple of more and wash them down with big gulps of coffee. I manage to eat 2 of the 3 pancakes and 1 piece of bacon. If I eat another bite Iím going to be sick.
When I pay the check, the manager asks about the course. I tell him itís mostly flat with some rolling hills in a park out by HACCóHarrisburg Area Community College. He names a park, but itís not the one. Then he names anotheróWild Woodóyep, thatís it. His eyes get big and he says, ďOh, boy!Ē and he kind of shakes his head. I must have looked a little alarmed, Ďcause he saysówell, you must have done some training on hills, so it wonít be bad for you. I leave wondering just what Iím going to meet when I reach Wild Wood.
7:00 a.m. Iím rushing around my room pulling all of the last minute things togetheróGatorade in my new Nathan hydration vest, cell phone, food, and iShuffle in the pockets. Hotel key, car key and tissues in my back pocket. Hmmm, maybe the long-sleeved shirt is too much; itís going to be in the mid-60s and full sun before the race is over. So I change into a short-sleeved shirt and put on my arm warmers. After imitating a run, I decide that the arm warmers may chafe, so I switch back to the long-sleeved shirt.
Then I start to prep my feet. I put the Band-Aid on over the blister, then carefully partially wrap my foot with Duct Tape. Then I repeat with the left foot. I walk around the room a bit; it feels okay. I have no idea of this is going to work. I may be ripping it all off before the race is over. I throw on two pairs of thin socks, lace up my shoes, and head to the shuttle to the race.
7:20 a.m. As Iím quickly walking to the shuttle stop, I worry that I missed the 7:15 shuttle. But there are a lot of runners waiting and I learn that the shuttle isnít really on scheduleóevery 15 minutes. I check out what others are wearing; almost every combination possibleólong pants and long sleeves; one in a tank top and racing shorts; others in short sleeves, but long pants. Most have gloves. Two are wearing plastic bags over their tops; they retain heat and are disposable when it warms up. Iíll have to remember that.
7:30 a.m. The shuttle arrives and we shuffle on. No one is moving very fast. I sit beside a guy who has run 6 marathons. He asks how I am and I tell him Iím nervous. He says just enjoy the race and donít worry about time; thatís my game plan. As we get off the shuttle, weíre wishing one another good luck.
7:40 a.m. The first thing I do is head over to the bathrooms. Only three people were in line when the shuttle pulled in; now there are about 10óstill a short line. Then I head to the registration area to drop off my post-race bag filled with a light jacket, pants, and socks. Itís probably 40 degrees, so I stay in the open building near a heater and exchange stories with other runners. Quite a few are running their first marathon. To pass the time, one of the runners is juggling balls. I watch him for awhile; he seems to be oblivious to all that is going on around him.
8:12 a.m. The building is starting to empty out; people are slowly making their way to the start. As I head out of the building, EMS volunteers are bringing in the rolling stands that hold IV bags. Itís a jolt to see them and a reminder that not everyone will finish the race and that some may need emergency care. I quickly banish the thought from my mind.
8:30 a.m. BANG!! And we are off! I start to choke up almost immediately and I try to breathe deep and not let the tears escape. Iím really doing this. Me!!! who used to say she couldnít understand why runners would run 26.2 miles. It was crazy; what was the point? I hope to know the answer in less than six hours.
I start out running 5 minutes; walking 1. But before Iím even over the bridge crossing the Susquehanna, I stop to take a picture. I want to savor this day. I am grinning from ear to ear. Friends, family and volunteers supporting the racers are cheering, clanging cow bells and jingling tambourines. And I am laughing; Iím really doing this.
We turn left heading up Front St. along the Susquehanna. Thereís a good turn out of well wishers along this stretch. Time at Mile Marker 2: 22:45. A little slow, but these are still ďwarm upĒ miles as I didnít do any pre-race warm ups. In a race this long, the first several miles are serving as the warm up.
Mile 4: 44:24. My legs feel good and strong, and Iím enjoying the run. Iím not running with music and itís niceóIím taking time to talk and say good luck to those passing me.
Mile 5: 55:57. Still running 5:1 intervals.
Mile 8: 1:29:35. Iím running off and on with Juanita. This is her second or third marathon. Her last one was the Rock n Roll in Virginia Beach. She said it was a blast and recommends it.
Mile 10: 1:53:04. As I near this marker, Iím thinking half way point, but of course, thatís not right. It is, however, the half way point of the farthest distance Iíve run so far. I feel really great and have a terrific urge to call DH or my sister to tell them of my progress, but itís too soon. I told both to expect a call between 10:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. The later the call, the better the news.
13.1 Beautiful Miles!!!! Itís 2:30:37. Not a P.R. for a half, but I am thrilled with my time. I canít contain my excitement any longer and so I call my sister, who is on vacation in Myrtle Beach. She picks up on the first ring; sheís excited to get the call and comments that I sound good; not huffing and puffing or tired.
Then I call DH. Heís driving, so I donít want to keep him on the phone. He congratulates me on my progress, wishes me well. I tell him Iíll call back when I cross the finish line.
Most of these miles Iíve been running solo, only occasionally joining another runner. I look at the scenery, cheer myself on, think of my co-workers, friends, family who are silently with me today; there expectations that I will finish this race motivate me to keep moving. Off and on I have been thinking about what I would write when this is all over. I hope I remember it all.
Miles 17 through 20 are through Wild Wood Park and are grueling. These are not rolling hills. These are big, steep hills. I am just focusing on getting through this park. Gone are the good thoughts of friends, family, etc. Itís just me trying to tough it out.
Mile Marker 18: 3:33:13. Iím walking up and down the hills, which I didnít expect. Sure, I planned to walk up the hills, but thought I could enjoy picking up a minute or two by running down, but these are too steep and they will finish off my knees. My knees are beginning to ache a bit on the outsidesóthatís the tight IT bands letting me know that Iím punishing them again. We run through the park, into a residential area (more steep hills) and back into the park. As I am walking down the hill, I cheer two women starting to run up. One say, ďIím from Florida, and we donít have hills.Ē I tell them to walk; there are a lot of hills ahead and they can save their strength for when we hit the flats again. She says thanks and they promptly switch from running to walking.
Mile Marker 20. We are back on the streets, running a slight downhill and onto flat areas. Itís such a relief to get out of the park. From this point on, I am breaking new ground. My knees are aching and the soles of my feet are beginning to ache. But no hot spots on my feet, so the foot treatments are holding up. Iíve been drinking Cytomax at each water station and drinking Gatorade from my hydration pack. Iíve eaten a Clif Bar and a package of Moon Blocks or whatever theyíre called, and a Reeseís peanut butter cupóyum! Back at the last water station, I had several cups of water added to my pack.
Miles 20-22. Iím slowing down considerably, but still think I can cross before 2:30 p.m. And I know I can finish the race. As the minutes and miles pass, I alternate between feeling very, very tired and feeling euphoric. I have surges of adrenaline that bring tears and a catch in my throat. I AM GOING TO FINISH A MARATHON. WOO HOO!!!
Mile 22. I can feel a ďhot spotĒ developing on the bottom of my right foot. This time, I take preventative care, and I stop to pull off my shoe. Everything looks okay; there is no blister. I take care to shake out any small debris from the park trail, carefully put on my socks to make sure there are no creases or wrinkles, and lace up the shoes. Oh, it is so difficult to start running again. Every step causes a deep, dull pain to my knees and hip joints. Iím not running set intervalsóI run until I think I should walk. Most times, Iím running at 7-8 minutes before walking. If I run long enough, the joints seem to feel a little better for awhile, and then I feel the pounding, and a start to walk.
I am searching for Mile 24. I donít know why, but Iíve become fixated on Mile 24. I am coming down a street and I can see the river. I have never been so happy to see a body of water in my entire lifeóI tell this to the volunteer who is stopping traffic. He says I am almost there and doing a great job. It gives me a boost. I see one of the mile markers and another surge of adrenaline goes through me; I pick up my pace. And then my spirits plummetóit is only Mile 23. I really am tired; Iím losing track of the miles.
Mile 24. My spirits just soared again. These last miles have been a roller coaster of emotion. I think maybe I should call DH or my sister and have them cheer me on and provide some much-needed support. But that would take too much energy to hold the phone to my ear. Iíll call when I cross the finish line. My quads are starting to ache, too. And a couple of times Iíve felt as if my back was going to go out. If that happens, it could be a show-stopper. Iím focusing on my running form. Head above shoulders, above hips, above knees, above ankles. Iím picturing a string held taut keeping me upright. Most people are walking now. Everyone passing one another says congratulations; good job; weíre almost there; weíre going to make it. While tired, they seem to be relaxed. There are some grimaces, but when spoken to, all break into a big smile. We know we are going to finish.
Mile 26. I am fighting back tears. I am about to do what I thought I couldnít do. I am so proud of my body; it didnít break down; it didnít let me down. I am sprinting the last 0.2 miles; I donít know where itís coming from. Itís amazing. Another runner joins me. Heís much faster and pulls ahead and I shout ďGo for it!Ē Iím a few feet from that beautiful finish line. My arms are up in the air and Iím yelling. The photographer is thereóI sure hope he got a picture.
Chip time: 5:27:08 Clock Time (Official) 5:27:50 Pace: 12:29
I am crying when I call DH. I gave him a scareóďwhatís wrong? Are you okay?Ē I pull myself together and tell him Iím great! I finished! And then I rattle onóI canít recall what I told him. I wish he was here; I miss him.
I walk around for a minute or two, check out the food, but Iím not hungry. Within minutes, those legs that had me sprinting across finish line now have me hobbling to the shuttle. My knees do not want to bend. I wonder if I can make it down the steps to the parking lot. There are a lot of people doing the same halting walk back to their cars. I can barely lift my legs to step into the shuttle. I take the first seat and even though Iím not sitting back in it, I donít move. My back is on the verge of seizing. I try to relax, share stories with the others. Finally, Iím relaxing and I can slide back and rest.
At the hotel, I take a quick shower. I feel like a new person (almost). My hobbling is not quite so pronounced. I am eager to drive home. Running a marathon is a lot like giving birth: Itís painful, but shortly after, you donít remember the pain; you remember the results.
Monday, November 9. As I finish this blog, itís just after 10 a.m. Iíve taken the bags of leaves out to the street to be picked up later today, three loads of laundry are finished, the dog has been fed and walked, and Iím about to start raking leaves. Daisy was rightóitís just another day.
But today I will be smiling all day, because I know I AM A MARATHONER!!
Some pics from Sunday:
A runner checking out the course.
Bridge Across the Susquehanna
Some Racing Humor
Sunday, November 01, 2009
Today was my last scheduled long run. My program called for 10 miles, but I ran 13.1 and finished the last mile with a cool down walk. The rest of this week will be easy runs every other day. Thursday will be the last day; I'm going to need as much rest as I can get.
I'm still having some problems with hip and leg pain and today I got blisters, which I haven't had before in these shoes, but it's been better than usual the last several weeks. I honestly don't know if I'll be able to finish 26.2 miles. All I can do is try my hardest.
Most of my clothes and gear are packed. I'm neither nervous or excited right now; it's more like I'm resigned to running this race. Today was a perfect fall day, and despite some pain, it was a good run. I finished the first 10 miles in 1:45.
My goal is to finish before they shut the course down; that means finishing in under 6 hours.
Friday, October 30, 2009
Really. No joke. He's here to film the movie, "Unstoppable" about a run-away train. There's a rail line that goes right through the heart of my little 4-signal-light town. Pretty Cool. If the weather cooperates, they'll be filming all day tomorrow and a few more days after that.
About six weeks ago the production company arrived to finalize the arrangements and take applications from the towns people for extras. I didn't go--I was down at the rails-to-trails taking a 20-mile training run for next week's marathon. But I hear a good number of people will be there as "extras." DH & I plan to head downtown tomorrow for awhile and watch them film. Helicopters are arriving tomorrow, too. I don't know if they'll be used for aerial shots or if they actually play a role in the movie.
This is about as exciting as it gets in my sleepy little town. Hope I can get some pictures.
That's a wrap!
Thursday, October 01, 2009
Be warned; this blog is a downer.
Betrayed--that sums up how I feel tonight. And angry, frustrated, hopeless, and tired. There are probably a lot more adjectives that would work if Iíd dig a little deeper. Itís been weeks since Iíve been on a run that felt really goodómaybe since the half marathon in early September. Thank goodness thereís no ice cream handyóif there was, the half gallon would be empty and thereíd be a sticky ring around my face from shoving my head as far into the container as it would go to get the last licks from the bottom. Iíd look like Daisy, our dog, after she sticks her head into the yogurt container to get the last dollop. Itís comical when she does it; it would just be pathetic if I did it.
My ankles, knees, thighs, quads, and hams are all hurting. My stride is choppy and Iím barely shuffling along. Iím not enjoying this at all. Iím tired of training for the marathonómentally and physically. I wish it were over. I've been betrayed by a weak mind and weak legs.
Tonight I had to call it quits after just a few minutes of running. I had planned to run 10 miles this evening, but my muscles are tight and everything hurts. I canít risk an injury; Iím on a 50-mile relay team that is racing on Saturday and if any one of us drops out, the whole team is disqualified. My leg of the race is just short of 6 miles. Maybe with some more rest and the excitement of the race, Iíll be in a better mood and better shape on Saturday.
Iím falling behind on my marathon training plan. I missed last weekís 23 miler. I rescheduled it for Sunday, but really, I thing thatís overly optimistic. The following weekend is the Century bike ride; no running that weekend. Itís unlikely that Iíll be able to finish the ride; another downer. All my efforts this summer have gone into running. I told my friends not to wait for me; when Iíve gone as far as I can, Iíll catch the sag wagon back to the start and Iíll be waiting for them with a beer in each hand. But thatís not really how I want it to end.
I donít know what to do to get my mojo back. I want to be excited about running. I want to feel confident that Iíll finish the marathon. I want to know I can count on my joints and muscles holding up. I want my will power back! I want to eat a gallon of ice creamóBen & Jerryís NY Super Fudge Chunk.
Maybe tomorrow will be a better day. This one's been a bummer.
Thursday, September 17, 2009
This week Iím Spinning instead of running. Last Sundayís HM left me with a blister the size of Rhode Island on the bottom of my foot. I didnít know it was there until the early a.m. hours on Monday when I was roused from my sleep by a hot, burning sensation. No running until it heals sufficiently.
Itís been a long time since Iíve gone to spinning class. This may all be fortuitous as I have a Century (100 mile) bike ride coming up the first weekend of October, and Iíve barely been on the bike.
At 5:40 p.m., TC cranked up the music, turned down the lights, and closed (locked??) the door. There would be no escaping.
We started out slow; a nice leisurely pedal on a flat road. ďIncrease your cadenceĒ he shouted over the music. ďMake those legs turn over.Ē I hunched over the handles and churned my legs like pistons in an engine. Not bad; running has built up some muscle. ďOkay, now give your bike a full turn; you should be at 5 out of 10 on the resistance.Ē I gave it a full crank. The pistons slowed a bit. I pushed them harder. A few minutes later, they pushed back. I eased the resistance back a quarter turn.
ďOkay. Weíre starting up the hill. Another full turnóyouíre at 6 now. Weíre going to position 2.Ē I upped the resistance to 6 and stood up. Each turn of the pedal I rise and fall. The music is pounding; the beat has slowed a bit driving home the slower, more difficult cadence. Sweat is pouring; chest is heaving. ďIn a minute, weíre going to position 3 where youíll alternate for a couple of minutes between positions 3 and 1ó4-6 pedal rotations at each position; crank the resistance to 7.Ē
I set my resistance to 7. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 down I go to the seat; 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and up I go leaning over the handlebars. The music is pounding louder, my breathing is labored, my eyes are stinging from the sweat. The pistons have slowed; this vehicle needs a tune up!! I backed off the resistance before the engine had a blow up. ďKeep it going; weíre going to do this sequence three more times; a 40-second rest at resistance 5 between each series. For the next sequence, itís 4 pedal rotations for each position.Ē
1, 2, 3, 4 up out of the seat; 1, 2, 3, 4 down on the seat. I so desperately want to take a sneak peak at the clock. Is this class half over? Almost over? Donít look . . . donít look . . . donít look. D*%#, I looked. It is only 6:02. I canít do this; this is tougher than running. There is sweat pooling in my shoes; dripping from my nose, my hairówhy doesnít anyone else have a wading pool beneath her bike?
Focus on the music . . . boom, boom, boom. I can feel it in my bones; reverberating in my head. Pushing me to keep pedaling. ďOkay, weíre climbing again. Get ready.Ē Wait, wait . . . where was that 40 second break? I donít feel like I got a break!! Up goes the resistance, slower go the legs. But Iím going to make it. I have to finish. Thatís the name of the game. Finish what you start.
6:30 . . . finished!! And Iím going back for more tonight.
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