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Are You Sure It Was Only 26.2 Miles?

Monday, May 03, 2010

Saturday morning DH and I headed to Pittsburgh for the marathon. We drove straight to the Expo site to pick up the registration packet and meet Ruth (Brian36) and her DH. Ruth was sporting a fancy tape job (Kinesio tape) on her knee, and since I'd been having trouble with an ankle, I decided to give it a go, too. I had the right inner arch and right calf taped up to provide support. Then we located our named on the huge wall at Dick's that listed everyone registered for the races. After that we split up and headed back to our hotels.

At 6, we met up and headed to the Pasta Party at The Spaghetti Warehouse. It was the most disorganized mess I've ever seen. They sold way too many tickets for dining anytime between 4 and 10 p.m. Seating capacity was under 500 and the restaurant was still open to the public. We got there just before the line really got long, snaking around the corner. We still had about an hour's wait. People were getting grumpy and very irritated. The wait staff must have been absolutely exhausted; I really felt bad for them.

After returning to the hotel, I laid out all of my clothes, pinned my number to my top, and then prepped my feet hoping to ward off any blisters. I painted most of my feet with Second Skin and then in the morning, I wrapped the soles in duct tape. At a few minutes to 6, we headed down to meet Ruth and Brian at her hotel to catch the shuttle to the start line. We got there in time to see the walkers begin their race at 6:30.

The sky was overcast and the light wind was promising rain. Sure enough, just minutes into the race we could feel the first spits of rain. Then it rained in earnest and continued through almost all of the race ranging from a light mist to a hard rain. The temps were in the low 60s, so it wasn’t too cold, and the rain really was a blessing. It would have been worse to have the humidity just hanging in the air.

I felt really, really good starting out. We were doing 8:2 run/walk intervals. Somewhere around mile 5 or so, a runner came up behind me and alerted me that I had dropped my cell phone. I looked in my pocket, and sure enough my iPhone was gone!!! I turned around and began running against the crowd (not an easy task) searching for the phone. It was wrapped in plastic to keep it dry, and I could picture runners tramping on it. I found it and ran back to catch up with Ruth and she zipped it in my hydration pack—that was the end of taking pictures.

Fairly early in the race my left hip, outside thigh and knee began burning. Classic signs of ITBS. I tried not to dwell on it and focus on my form to try to alleviate it. By mile 12 I was beginning to get toe and leg cramps. I slowed down and wished Ruth well—I was going to have to do more walking if I wanted to finish the race. I took my time, took some stretch breaks, but the cramping continued. One minute it would be in my calf, then in my ankles/shins. Occasionally I would run slowly for a few yards only to feel the cramps begin. I think it was somewhere between mile 18 and 19 that both quads began to cramp. At one point, the medical volunteers came to my rescue as I tried to work out the cramps. They supported me while I hopped around on one foot, unable to put the other foot on the ground due to the severity of the cramp. At that point, I figured it was the end. But the cramp released and I hobbled off with a volunteer at my side for about a block to make sure that I was okay.

From that point on, I never ran more than a few feet at any given time. Around mile 20 or 21 I was only walking. I thought about walking off the course and taking the DNF. But as I evaluated my condition, I came to the conclusion that the pain was just the run of the mill, over-use kind of pain. Nothing indicated that I was headed for a serious injury. And the funny thing was, I wanted to run. I had the energy to run, but my legs just couldn’t take it. It was quite frustrating. And, while it might not have been fun, I was enjoying the challenge of seeing the race to the end and my spirits were good. I could still cheer on others that were feeling the same pain, I could appreciate the volunteers who were cheering me on by name (it’s great having your name printed on your bib!!). I walked and talked with several racers, and that took the focus away from the discomfort. I tried to come up with a top 10 list for why walking at the back of the pack was good, but could only come up with 3:
No. 3 –my clothes might be dried out by the time I finished
No. 2 – I wasn’t in a crowd; spectators were calling me by name, AND (drum roll, please)
No. 1 – there were no lines for the Port-o-Johns!!

At mile 23/24, I phoned Ruth to see if she had crossed the finish line. She had, and said they would be waiting for me no matter how long the wait. By this point, they were shutting down the race course. Volunteers were taking down the timers; thank goodness the water stations were still open.

It was anti-climatic coming into the finish. In fact, I couldn’t find the finish line. The barriers had been removed from the streets, traffic was flowing, and there were no signs. I thought it was at 11th Street, but when I got there, I didn’t see it. So I walked down to 10th—still no finish line. I called Ruth & Brian again and they directed me back to 11th Street and walked with me down to the official finish line. The volunteers and crowds were all gone, and I had to pull my finisher medal out of a box. Then the 3 of us began searching for my DH—I hadn’t been able to reach him on his cell phone and he wasn’t at the finish line. We finally connected, all said our good-byes, and headed back home.

My personal drama paled compared to the drama faced by the race organizers and the city-- someone had planted a bomb-like device in a microwave shortly after 11 a.m. on or near the race course. The last I read was that it was not a bomb, but it did interrupt the race.

Today I feel pretty good. I want to run the Pittsburgh Marathon again—the course is mostly flat or small rolling hills for the first half with some longer, slightly steeper hills in the second half. But none of the hills were real killers. And the end is downhill to flat. Chip time: 6:29:43; Clock time: 6:34:27.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

MARATHONMOM26.2 5/12/2010 2:33PM

    I had written the date of your marathon on my calendar, and I MEANT to get over here to wish you luck... sorry, no excuses. Please know that you were on my mind, and I can now see why!! You are indomitable! I know the pain of cramps, I too have succumbed to injuries and found myself at the back of the pack - but the truth is, no matter when you finish, you have covered the same distance as the winner did!

Congratulations on persevering, on overcoming far more than the winner had to face that day, and on accepting that you can only run the race that is in you on any particular day. You're amazing!!!

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CHOESCH 5/5/2010 11:55AM

    Way to go! I'm so proud of you and your perserverance even when things got so difficult. I don't know if I will ever run a marathon it is such a daunting task - but I am excited to be training for a 10k and pushing myself to limits I never thought I would ever conquer. I hope you know how amazing you are! Thanks for sharing your experience.

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LAB-LOVER 5/5/2010 7:22AM

    I enjoyed reading this -- as I am going to do my first marathon this fall. I'm nervous about the distance but figuring that I can walk if necessary. Congrats on becoming a marathoner!

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D_CLEM 5/4/2010 10:07AM

    Congratulations on having the perseverance for finishing. I'm sure your cheering on the others was huge for them and they won't forget you.

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UROPA40 5/4/2010 5:11AM

    Congratulations on finishing your first marathon. I know it was not the outcome that you trained and hoped for but you put on your big girl panties and gutted out a race that was rainy and filled with pain. I hope you are doing OK and you are able to recover without any permanent injury. None of the people who ran the pig had the outcome they had hoped for. One of my friends missed qualifying for Boston by about a minute and a second ran much of the end of the half with me when he had to divert to the half from the full due to knee pain. The rain had us soaked and the hills were much worse the Cook Forest.
Suzy emoticon

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BOBBYD31 5/3/2010 11:49PM

    you did fantastic! i can't believe what you went through and still finished, that is will power. i am sorry it did not go as planned but you amaze me even more by finishing. after reading yours and ruth's blogs i keep wondering do i want to do this???? the answer is yes! the feeling of accomplishment that you must have by not taking the DNF, you are truly a strong woman! CONGRATS

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    Thank you so much for posting the recap of your experience. I"m going into my first marathon with some leg pain that I'm anticipating will be a problem. I need to hear from other runners about how they handle the pain and frustration...and make it to the finish line. You are such a winner! I will keep you in my back pocket as I take to the course. Congratulations on persevering.

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REMEMBER2BME 5/3/2010 8:36PM

    Outstanding job! You are strong, my goodness.

emoticon emoticon emoticon

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SORGIN 5/3/2010 8:08PM

    WOW! Way to go on the marathon! You have some pretty incredible stamina there and I cannot imagine getting through 26.2, let alone 26.2 in the rain with cramps, soreness, etc. I hope you are feeling better today and that you are wearing your medal with pride. I am so amazed at how you and Ruth tackled this! You both ROCK! CONGRATULATIONS!

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KDONOVAN70 5/3/2010 7:55PM

    Great job at finishing.

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ETTEZEUS 5/3/2010 7:51PM

    Congrats on finishing!! You are a marathoner!!

I'm sort of in shock that everything was gone when you got there. Was there a time limit?

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CRZYRUNRGRL 5/3/2010 7:43PM

    I am so proud of you for not giving up! That's a true runners spirit! Congrats marathoner!

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ELISEL 5/3/2010 7:23PM

    Good for you for finishing! Now you are a marathoner!

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DRAGONFLY1974 5/3/2010 6:51PM

    You still did awesome despite your conditions~!!!!!!!!!!!!! You are awesome!!!!!!!

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Almost Starting All Over

Sunday, April 11, 2010

This morning I stepped on the scales and was disappointed to see what I knew was happening. I'm putting weight back on. It's not mysterious how this is happening. I've been snacking on Tostitos while cooking dinner, having a cocktail or two during the week before dinner, and, oh yes, finishing off the coconut cream pie from Easter. Of the 8 lbs. I lost, 6 of them are back, and I can definitely feel and see each and every one of them.

It's time to get back to tracking my food and eating consciously. To make sure I'm accountable, I'm sharing this week's goals:

April 12-18

Calories: average 1500 per day
Plan my meals at least 1 day in advance.

Monday: 45-55 minutes of running
Breakfast: cereal and milk, 1/2 banana, oj
Snack: pear
Lunch: cottage cheese, celery w/cr. cheese & olives
Snack: Hummus and green peppers
Dinner: Hamburger, Sandwich Thin, Beets
Dessert: Yogurt with Strawberries

Tuesday: 45 minutes of yoga; 45 minutes of running (running club)
Wednesday: 45 minutes of yoga; P90X
Thursday: 45 minutes of yoga; 45-55 minutes of running
Friday: 90 minutes of yoga
Saturday: 60 minutes running
Sunday: P90X; 30 minutes of yoga

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

UROPA40 4/13/2010 8:08PM

    You are training hard for a marathon and it is common to put on weight. Don't be too hard on yourself, just try to eat healthy fuel and don't stress your body too much in these last crucial weeks. Suzy

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CHOESCH 4/13/2010 11:21AM

    I was sick for 6 days and I'm just getting back on track. I got up this morning and did the BL Boot Camp - it felt SOOOOO good! I didn't gain any weight back - probably because I wasn't eating much - LOL but I know that my fitness level has suffered. It sounds like you are taking control and getting back on track - I think that is what we all need to do each and every day - make a plan and stick to it! You can do anything you set your mind to - I know that you believe in yourself and that you know you can do anything! Hang in there!

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TRILLIUM22 4/12/2010 5:35AM

    Yeah, life is like that, two steps forward and one back. You've got your eyes back forward and your ready to go.

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WENDALL125 4/11/2010 10:15PM

    I'm starting anew tomorrow too.
Planning on tracking everything and staying under 1500.
I've gained back almost all of the 18 lb I lost last year.
Let' get the weight back off!!

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Cook Forest Half Marathon 2010

Sunday, March 28, 2010

I returned to the site of my first ever half marathon on Saturday to run again with Brian36 and to meet fellow-Sparker Europa40. It really makes the race special when you meet new friends.

The race seemed to be better organized this year. Maybe not as many walk-ins--they were able to start on time and it looked like they had enough water. It was really cold when we got there around 9:15. It warmed up a bit by 11--very comfortable temperature (high 40s) for running and little to no breeze. I set my Garmin for 8/2 run/walk intervals and Brian36 and I headed to the start line. Europa40 was with her running club friends from Erie.

Brian36 figured we had to run a mile pace of 10:15 to come in at our goal of 2:15. Which meant our running intervals would be in the 9 to 9:30 miles. We hung together throughout the race. This was the first race that I had a running partner, and I'll miss having someone so evenly matched in future races. There were times I wanted to slow down, but kept pushing because she was going strong and vice versa. We pushed and pulled one another throughout the race. It was a team effort as we smashed last year's time. I finished 11 minutes faster than last year at Cook Forest and 3 minutes better than Harrisburg HM with a finish of 2:13:47--a new P.R. I don't want to steal Brian36's thunder, so check in with her.

It was especially thrilling to learn that a friend who ran her first half marathon claimed 2nd place in her age class with a finish of 1:50. She's amazing and consistently places in triathlons.

It was a great day! Looking forward to running with Brian36 again in the Pittsburgh Marathon. With a little help from my friends, I'll get through it.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

CHOESCH 3/30/2010 12:43PM

    Congratulations! I'm in awe of you and your determination to run all of these marathons. You are amazing! I'm still on track to run my 5k and 10k this year - I have to admit that I never thought I would enjoy running but I do love the way I feel when I push through a tough run! Thanks for all your encouragement and for being my sparkfriend. You motivate me to be better!

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UROPA40 3/30/2010 6:49AM

    Great blog and a great race and it was nice to meet you at the race. I was glad I stayed with my friend through the race. It was pretty lonely at the back of the pack and it was nice to have someone to talk too. I am pretty sure I will not be by myself in the pig since last year there were 431 people just in my age group. Suzy

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MANDORA3 3/29/2010 6:51AM

    Awesome job! I am running my first half on April 25th with 2 fellow spark friends!

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DRAGONFLY1974 3/29/2010 5:46AM


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BOBBYD31 3/28/2010 8:42PM

    congrats on your HM and a new PR!!! woo hoo!!!! it is always fun when you have someone to run with. glad you had a good time. looking forward to running with you in the future.

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BRIAN36 3/28/2010 8:24PM

    I just got my blog posted as well. We did make an amazing team and I am really looking forward to running Pittsburgh with you. You should check out the course on mapmyrun. http://www.mapmyrun.com/run/united-

There is a link in the middle of the page called "Watch Course Fly-By Video" which gives you a view of the route. This years course has changed a little from what this fly-by shows but from what I can tell the only changes are on the northshore portion of the route. It doesn't really give you a feel for elevation, but I thought it was nice to get a preview.

I hope you are enjoying a well deserved rest day.

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Ugghh!! Shoes!!

Friday, March 19, 2010

I run in Brooks Adrenaline—currently GTS 9s--and love them. I bought my first pair 3 years ago, maybe GTS 6s then, when I started running and loved them immediately. They felt like they were custom-made for my goofy feet—really wide forefront and narrow heels. Add to that an extra bone at the outside of each foot that makes it difficult to find shoes that fit. A sales clerk once described them as
emoticon feet. (For the record—they’re not webbed, and I did not buy shoes from her). I could easily win an ugly-feet contest.

Since my first pair of Brooks, I’ve tried other brands—Asics, Saucony and even a different Brooks model, but none of them fit like the Adrenaline. Anyhow, I needed a new pair so I ran out to Dick’s last night. Brooks has come out with a new model—GTS 10. I thought I’d get the new model, but they were a big disappointment. The arch support digs into my foot and is very uncomfortable. Luckily, they still had the GTS 9 in stock and they were on sale, so I bought them. The 9s won’t last long, so I’m dusting off my credit card and buying another pair—maybe two. It might be awhile before another model fits like the 9s.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

LIVE2RUN4LIFE 3/19/2010 7:23PM

    Isn't is a pain the way the shoe companies keep changing their models? It's not like they've got to keep up with a fashion imperative. I read somewhere that one of the reasons they do this is to get people to do just what you are doing -- buying multiple pairs at a time. I do the same thing when I find a pair I like. Sheesh.

I'm glad they still had your model in stock. I'm never that lucky.

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CHOESCH 3/19/2010 2:20PM

    I never knew how important a good pair of work out shoes were until I started running. A good fitting shoe with lots of support makes all the difference in the world. So glad you found some that you love. I'll have to try the Brooks brand when I buy my next pair. Keep running! You are an inspiration!

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PETSABRE 3/19/2010 8:55AM

  will remeber that when I go looking for shoes for my self.

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A Great Run and then . . .

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Yesterday afternoon was gorgeous. High 50s, sunny, and barely a breeze. Perfect for a 20-mile run, so I took the afternoon off to do just that. I plotted a route that would take me from the office out into the country and back.

I felt light on my feet and had to reign myself in numerous time because I was running just a tad faster than I wanted. I was enjoying the sounds and scenery so much I didn't bother plugging in the music. At the one hour mark I was just over 5 miles into the run and feeling fabulous. At mile 6, I wiped the sweat from my right eye causing my contact to slide off. With no way to figure out where it was in the socket, I just kept running--I always wondered what would happen if my contact popped out during a race. Now I know--not much of anything. Depth perception was off, but I could see distance well enough with one contact that it wasn't an issue. A convenience store was somewhere on my way back and I figured I'd run in there and slide the contact back into place.

At mile 10, I had been running 2 hrs, 1 min and 30 seconds. Good pace and I wasn't slowing down and still felt great--less than half tired. Wow, this was going to be one of those treasured running days when you can hardly believe it can get this good.

Then it happened. Just past mile 12 my left big toe went into a cramp. It was a bit warmer than I anticipated and I figured I wasn't drinking enough, so I sucked up the rest of the Gatorade from my Cambelback--the convenience store was about 2 blocks away; I knew I could make it there and buy some more. I pulled off my shoe, walked around a bit, tried some easy stretching and finally the toe released. Threw on my shoe and walked to the store. Got the Gatorade, took a bathroom break, and slipped my contact back into place. The clerk was so nice--she gave me a large glass of ice water, too, while I rested a bit and asked about my running.

The cramp was gone and I felt fresh and strong, so I started out at a very slow pace to make sure the toe wasn't going to cramp again. About 10 minutes into the running, my right ankle began to hurt. This has been an on again, off again, problem, but had not been giving me trouble for quite a while so I was really surprised. I slowed down, then walked. It felt better, I started to run again. I ran/walked another three miles until it started to hurt even when I walked and I was beginning to limp, so I called it quits and called my SAG vehicle to pick me up. Thank goodness for cell phones and supportive husbands.

I iced and elevated my ankle last night and today it feels fine unless I'm walking down stairs--then I get that twinge of pain for just a second or two. Tonight I'll do some easy yoga and stretches and ice it again. No running until Saturday. I've entered a 5K, but will only run it if the ankle feels good.

I'll have to wait until early April to attempt 20 miles again--can't take any chances with a long run since I have a half marathon on March 27th. Maybe I'm maturing as a runner. I'm not stressed at not reaching my goal and I'm taking this in stride. It was a beautiful run while it lasted.

Happy Running!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

BOBBYD31 3/17/2010 10:31PM

    great job listening to the body and not stressing out. you will be fine for you half in two 10 days. best of luck with the 5k hope all goes well. hoping someday to attempt that 20 mile mark, right now i can't even imagine it. you are inspiring. i am doing 8.1 mile race on the 27th, we will have to meet up for a race some time.

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TRILLIUM22 3/17/2010 7:23PM

    Hope you feel better soon and this doesn't turn out to be something nasty. Take care of yourself. emoticon

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MJUDE79 3/17/2010 7:08PM

    How do you handle it?! I was just told by the doctor that I can't run for 2 weeks, due to a hip problem I'm having. I'm already freaking out, and it's only been since Sunday that I ran. AND I'm no where near going as far as you (I just reached my 4 mile mark) what do you do instead?

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