Thursday, October 15, 2009
As this race approached, my anxiety levels began to grow. Yes, I’ve experienced pre-race anxiety before, but not like this. I felt neither ready nor prepared. My body had been sluggish all week. My training schedule had been thrown out of whack with the trip to Reno to see my mom. Add to that the debacle of the OC Marathon (blister at mile 4) and I really wondered if I could do this. Yes there is something to be said for getting through 22 miles with a bleeding foot, but that race became an exercise in enduring just to get through it. I never got the sense of accomplishment in meeting a goal.
So, Saturday arrived and I gathered up the kids and headed for Long Beach. I had just gotten my race number, shirt and goody bag, when Jackie called and said they were just getting there. Within a few minutes we found each other, along with Mary, Janey and Denise and we all hung out together for a while as we meandered around the expo. Around 3 I headed out since I had some errands to still run before getting home. I had a good dinner with familiar foods: veggies, rice, chicken. I spent the rest of the night gathering up my gear, making sure I’d forget absolutely nothing. I probably overdid it, but took precautions with the extra stuff.
So, Sunday morning I was up at 4am. I got dressed, gathered up my gear and began nursing my watered down Gatorade as I got the stuff together and headed out the door. I was out by 5am, but apparently that wasn’t early enough. I hit traffic on the 710, about 2 miles before the Broadway off ramp. It took another hour for me to get to the parking lot where I had prepaid for parking (Civic lot 2 between Magnolia and Pacific) I now had less than an hour before my wave start time(wave 5 7:20) so I started eating my power bar as I walked to the race area. By now, the water/Gatorade was announcing its presence and I needed a bathroom. But, just like last year, the lines at the port-a-potties was insane – at least 20 deep for each- I decided to wait since it was now 6:50 and I still had to check my backpack. I found the baggage check, and there must have been over 100 people still trying to check their stuff. I got it in, and quickly headed into the started area. Wave 1 had already gone. I soon found the girls: Jackie, Janey, Mary, Denise, Tammy. We quickly got some pre-race pictures and before we knew it, we were moving forward and our wave was due to start. And off we went.
As we moved past the start line, I turned on my IPOD shuffle. Bon Jovi’s “It’s My Life” started and my anxiety levels subsided, now I felt like I was about to have a good race. As we’ve done in the previous two races (SF and Disneyland) Jackie and I stuck together early on. I had told her that this time she would probably finish ahead of me – she was better prepared. We were going at a comfortable pace at roughly 11 minutes per mile and we were targeting the 5:15 pacing times. We both were watching the bathrooms and port-a-potties for an opportunity where the lines weren’t too long. Of course all of them had long lines. Around mile 4 we spotted a bathroom with lines that weren’t too long, we went for it. It cost us about six minutes. Shortly after we got back on route, we spotted Mary, and as we were passing her she got a few pictures of us.
Jackie and I did what we’ve done during previous races: She got ahead of me, usually at the water station, and then I’d catch up after she’d take a walking break. Around 5 mile I spotted Tammy and passed her, and shortly afterwards, her husband Bob. Jackie was still in my sights up ahead and we continued on, as the course took us along the beach. It was along the beach part, around mile 8 that I spotted Cherri and Nick and passed them up too. Shortly afterwards, the course took us by the Belmont Pier and back on the streets again.
The half and full marathons split after the mile 10 marker and we heading up Livingston as the course took us to Marine Stadium. I still had Jackie in my sights, and occasionally caught up to her. We continued like that through Marine Stadium and onwards towards Cal State Long Beach. Around mile 16 I saw her step into one of the port-a-potties, and then passed her. I figured she would probably just get about two or three minutes behind me and would eventually catch up.
At this point, the water stations were conveniently about half way between each mile marker, which was nice. I’d pass a mile marker, then look for the water station as my next marker. And I hit every cool’n’fit station on the course – it definitely helped. I had my gel flask with my Accelerade gels and had had some around mile 5, and 15. Around mile 10 I had my cliff shots and used my inhaler, as I’ve learned not to go more than 2 hours without doing so. I was getting water and Powerade at every water station. I was feeling good, and my energy levels kept up. I also sipped the water/Gatorade I had on my fuel belt as I needed.
It wasn’t long after I passed Jackie that I spotted Angie on the other side of the road as she was approaching mile 21. I was pretty impressed that she was almost 5 miles ahead of me. Then I reached Cal State Long Beach, and the course took through the campus. There were lots of students cheering us on – it was great, and it certainly helped break up the monotony. Then I was on the route back towards the beach. And finally there it was mile 20 – psychologically that’s a biggie – 6 miles to go. I was starting to tire a little and had fought off a few side stitches with walking breaks, but then picked it back up. My energy level pick up again at mile 21 – the last 5 to go – less than an hour now.
I started focusing on the music to keep up the momentum. I probably looked pretty silly to those around me trying to do a modified “hoedown throw down” as I was running – but I was having a little fun too. Then Mile 22 – Bon Jovi’s “Keep The Faith”- perfect timing…Then mile 23 – which had previously been my holy grail – what came on? “The Climb” - yep that did the trick. I could feel my legs starting to get sore – but kept on. Then I saw Ocean Avenue – the home stretch. Mile 24 .. Then Mile 25 – the final mile – Now my knees were getting stiff but all of sudden I looked up and saw Janey. Then, Mary. I couldn’t have been more happily surprised. They’d walked back after their race to see me and Jackie and cheer us on to our final mile. I cannot begin describe how much that meant to me. That was it, time to bring it home.
I could see the last two stop lights before the turn down Linden to the finish line. Just as I was approaching the first, a woman who was coaching/cheering people from Team in Training said to me “Oh my god – you look incredible – you don’t look like you’ve just run a marathon!” I have to give Janey and Mary some credit for that – seeing them really perked me up. And then, there is was the final turn, and down the hill to the finish line. And as I came to the bottom of the hill, there was Denise waving to me – and then the finish line- I had to stop for a moment and yelled out a big “YES!!!” before walking over to get my medal. Now I felt like I had accomplished my goal of running a marathon.
I stopped to look behind for Jackie for a minute or so, but didn’t see her and proceeded on through the finisher’s area. I got my cupcake, water, bagel, banana and Larabar, then headed for the cool’n’fit station. As I stopped to stretch, I spotted Jackie approaching the finish line through the white tents. I headed back to meet her and then we found Denise, Mary, and Janey.
We walked around, then got our beer in the beer garden and hung out for a little while. Afterwards I had to leave and started the trek back to the car.
What a day! What a race! Now I feel like a marathoner – I ran the race I wanted to run in May at OC. But seeing my friends throughout at the race and getting that support and encouragement along the way really made it an unforgettable event.
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
Finally..... I got myself into the local running store to get properly fitted for shoes. And why am I saying finally you ask? Well, I got a gift certificate for Valentine's day and still hadn't used it. Then there was the fiasco with my shoes during the OC Marathon in May.
Last week when I was off work on friday, I finally got myself in there since I only had one munchkin in tow. Well, got the membership to the store, which would later buy me an advanced fitting, some discounts, and a shirt. The owner, who does the advanced fittings, wasn't in that day. Figures.
So, Saturday, no matter what, I decided I was getting in there. First I took the kids to the movies (Hannah Montana is playing at the local discount theatre - $1.75 a ticket ) that way they'd get some play time and would be pacified for a while. Afterwards, off to The Running Lab. I told them to grab some books and when we got there told them to plant their you know whats in the chair and read quietly.
And so we started the fitting process. With the advanced fitting, they not only measure your foot, legs, check your ankles and observe you walking. They put pieces of red tape on you in various places, mark you up in others and then get you on a treadmill with a video camera to observe how you run. With the markers on you, they are points for observation that the vidoeo, when downloaded to the computer, and some pretty nifty software, can be used to measure and observe whether you're balanced, under/overpronating/ and all sorts of other cool stuff.
The end result: They found that my form is good, and balanced. My stride is good too with properly heel and mid-foot strike etc. But, I do pronate a little as I carry through the stride so that I'm leaning slight inward on my ankle. Basically I'm avoiding having the stress of the weight carry through onto the bunion (surgery is in my future, I know). It's the type of thing that long term can lead to shin splints, pain in ankles, knees, hips etc. He said, what has probably saved me thus far is that I have good form and balance.
So the prescription - motion control shoes. I'm now the proud owner of a pair of Brooks Addiction 8, and so far so good. I ran 6 miles in them yesterday, and another 5 this morning. I do feel the muscles on the insides of my legs and my gluts are a little sore from being forced into a straighter position. But I do feel good running in them.
And with that it's time to gear for the next race - SF Marathon (1st half)
Friday, July 10, 2009
This is a cross post from a blog on another forum, but I thought I'd post here to share since some of this issues seem to be affecting others around here.
I've been stewing over this issue for some time now and decided it was time to blog and try to get some of this out.
For those in maintenance and recommitting the title may be meaningful for you too. I've had several other friends in a variety of forums touch on this issue in one way or another, so I know I'm not alone, nor is this unique.
For those of you not familiar, I'm what is now considered a veteran MFer. I hit my goal, or happy weight about in the fall of '07. I maintained within my goal range for close to year and then little by little the scale crept up. I'm now roughly 15-20 lbs above my happy weight and am slowly working my way down again.
So what happened? I got a bit cocky about my success and allowed myself to slip into old bad habits. Now I'm not a junk food person. My vice is carbs and sweets - bread, pasta, and portion control. I love fruit, but will overdo it. And ...of course there's the biggest problem - stress, comfort, emotional eating. Yes my life is chaotic (work, kids, home, husband's business etc) and it has been a stressful year and I've fallen back in to the habit of eating my way through it.
Now factor in the running. In the past year I've completed my first 1/2 marathon - and 3 more subsequently, my 3rd 5K, my 1st 10K and my first marathon. So you'd think with all of this running (I was up to 30-35 miles a week during my marathon training period) I wouldn't be gaining. Wrong. I was telling myself that with all of the calories I was burning running, I could eat more. Well running consumes roughly 100 calories per mile, so 1 5 mile run - 500 calories - well that doesn't justify the extra bread, bowl of ice cream or cookies.
So I after the marathon last month I gave myself some time to recover. My foot had a pretty bad blister and it took almost two weeks to completely heal over. Once recovered I restarted 5&1 and within a short time I could tell the plan was working.
I'm staying off the scale because I need to relearn to listen to my body and not obsess over numbers. I'm a very type A person and will overanalyze anything. I need to relearn hunger, real hunger and how much better I feel when I don't over eat..
But after some time off, I missed running. So I decided to restart slowly. 3 miles. Yikes, boy that was rough. I really had to fight to get through it. I just felt so fatigued. Well being on 5&1 my glycogen stores were pretty low, and just can't fuel the running. I tried a couple more times - same thing. Then I tried having an extra bar before a run - much better - now I could get back to 5 miles.
Which brings me to the balance issue and my problem. While I was in losing mode I was very focused on my eating habits. Not exercising. Now running is a priority for me. Not only do I feel better doing it, but it helps my asthma, a lot, and has proven to be the best stress reliever for me - which I need. I'm hoping to join a group of friends for the SF marathon at the end of july (we're running the half). and need to get back to my long runs.
So balancing the need to lose - the need to fuel the running has not been easy. Balancing healthy eating against obsessing is another challenge. I wish I could just relax about food, but I can't. As soon as I do, I overdo it. Where's the happy middle ground? I don't know. I'm still searching.
In the meantime it's one day at a time. Slowly my clothes are getting more comfortable again, and I'm working my way back into a regular running routine. I do find I have to add extra food before a run to get me through it (NOTE: I don't recommend this - stick to the plan as intended for best results).
My goal these days isn't just about the scale - it's balance. With food, with running, with life in general. Living in a state of constant chaos and stress is not good and doesn't promote balance. I can't change all of it, but I can change some of it. So I'll work with that.
And for those you wondering, yes the next curve ball has come (see previous blog for reference) and it is in the form of hiring a lawyer (the third one this year) and filing for due process against my school district for my son. But I've got a pretty good feeling that we'll score on this one - maybe even get a home run.
And with that.. one of my songs of the moment (see link)
Thursday, May 07, 2009
The official OC Marathon pictures are up on the Brightroom site. Mine are at:
They're pretty much just finish line and around the OC Performaning Arts Center - I'll have to search the Lost and Found for more.
My son's pictures are at:
And my daughter's pictures are at:
I still need to post some of the personal pictures, which I'll do shortly
Wednesday, May 06, 2009
Well, I'm finally getting to write about my first marathon this past Sunday at the Orange County Marathon in Newport Beach and Costa Mesa.
As most people that know me can attest, my life is a soap opera of sorts. Not the kind of wild parties and an exciting social life, more like the endless array of curve balls that get thrown my way. No matter how much planning and organization I engage in, or logic or preventative efforts I put into something, or even the research and preparation I endure, there's always a curve ball that I can never predict. This race was no exception.
In my short running career, every one of my "firsts" have had some sort of glitch or surprise factor. And this race just continued with the tradition. My very first race, which was my first 5K in August of 2007 at the Disneyland half marathon was during the worst heat wave of the year. I live not too far from Disneyland and we'd been experiencing 3 digit temperatures for several days before the race. On race day it was already 90 something by 7am. But I got through it and finished my first race ever at the age of 41. My first half marathon was the Disneyland Half Marathon in August of 2008. The curve ball of that race: I left my timing chip on the kitchen counter and didn't realize it until I was in the parking lot at Disneyland, so I had no official recorded time for my first half marathon.
And so the tradition continues.
I'd been following the Hal Higdon training plan for beginning marathoners with a few adjustments, mostly shifting cross training and long run days out of schedule necessity and often wasn't able to squeeze in what I felt was sufficient cross training. But I stuck to my long runs religiously. When the I was gearing for the longest training run, 20 miles, I started fighting a cold and didn't run all week, but did complete the 20 miler on schedule. Then as I started tapering down, problems with my son at school were escalating and I missed a few mid week runs as a result. Still my last "long run" prior to the race was supposed to be 8 miles, and I did 10.5 just because I felt like it.
So, during that last week, as race approached, the anxiety was building. What did I get myself into? Would I be able to do this? What would the weather be like? How should I dress? How I should I fuel, hydrate, pace, etc. Those endless questions pertaining to preparation and wondering if I'm doing the right things to get me through this. The shoes I'd been running in had over 300 miles on them and I could feel the padding on the inside at the ball of the foot was wearing down, so I'd started breaking in a new pair of shoes - same brand and a type I'd had before and worn successfully. I even added some gel soles for extra padding help with the endurance.
So friday came, the first day of the health and fitness expo. I'd taken the day off to stay home with my son, and in the afternoon went down to get my race package, along with those for my kids. Wondered around, got my jacket and stocked up on some gel packs. That night showed the kids their stuff and they got pretty excited.
Saturday morning we were up and out pretty early. We got down to the fairgrounds and found the ground from their old school that participated in the kids race training program. My daughter was excited to see them, and another mom I knew was there - her daughter was in my daughter's class at the beginning of the year and they'd done the training program together last year, but she had a softball game that morning so only the son was running.
They got to the 9 year olds race so off I went with my son, while my daughter stayed with the school friends waiting on her group. My son was excited. My son has Down Syndrome and one of the charity partners for this event was the Down Syndrome Association of Orange County which is raising money for a Pediatric Down Syndrome Clinic here in Orange County. My son was the only child I'd seen with Down Syndrome participating. The race started and off we went (I ran with him - the course is a mile) he slowed down a few times but ran most of it. The photographers were having a field day with him and he was cheered on the by crowd. He finished in around 12 minutes, and was not the last in his group. Immediately afterwards, my daughter's group (8 years) ran, and she finished in about 11.5 minutes - her asthma started acting up after the first lap. But the kids had fun and I can't wait for the pictures to be posted.
So Saturday night I'm pulling out all of my running gear trying to decided - morning will be cool, but how much will it heat up? Packed my backpack, and all of my gear and got myself into bed at 9pm. Of course I didn't sleep to well with the usual pre-race anxiety before a big race.
I got up at 3:30 am - settled on my capri length running pants, tank with long sleeved shirt and a jacket that would remain in the car. I decided on a disposable water bottle that was half water half gatorade in holder to carry with me during the race. I really don't like wearing waist packs so I stick with pockets. I packed my inhaler and gels in the pants pocket and more gels in the shirt pocket. I got my timing chip, and race bib on, gathered up my stuff and out the door I went at 4:15 in the morning. I nursed a bottle of Powerade on the way down to the Orange County Fairgrounds. When I got there gathered up my stuff, checked my backpack and headed for the shuttle bus.
I decided to stick with the fuel plan that worked for my long runs. I had a Powerbar (stage one fuel) on the shuttle bus from the fair grounds to Fashion Island where the start line was - about an hour before gun time. After getting off the bus, I hit the porta potties and wondered around a little, then headed for the start line. At 6:10 I got out the inhaler, then started stretching. Helicopters were flying over, then the national anthem, the horn and off we went.
The course took us from Fashion Island, down to PCH to Corona del Mar along the beach. Then we went through the Bayside section and came back up to PCH then into the back side of Newport Dunes. During mile 2 and 3 my right shoe wasn't feeling right. I kept stopping to adjust, and shift, but it still kept bothering me. Finally at mile 4, I stopped and decided to take off my shoe and re-adjust the tongue and padding.
When I got my shoe off, I saw blood already leaking onto my sock. Cr$%^&&%$!!!! Okay you get the idea. Mile 4 and I already had a blister, hence I was running slower than planned. So I get my shoe back on , pull out my phone (thank goodness I decided to carry it with me this time), and I called my husband. He was barely awake when he answered the phone, when I told him I need my other shoes, get them, look in the guide for the spectator areas, and look for one around the mile 10-12 area, figuring it would be an hour for him to get up, dressed, get the kids, and drive to Newport Beach. Okay that wasn't exactly the way he planned to start his day.
So I plod along, going a slow an easy pace and trying to not aggravate my foot anymore that it already was. Around mile 6 we're running along a dirt path on the backside of Newport Dunes and he calls me back to say he's got my shoes, some first aide stuff and is heading out. Okay so I continue on. The course then takes us into the Newport Back Bay area which is an ecological preserve. Although I'm slower than normal and my foot isn't too happy, I can't help but loose myself in the scenery. From about mile 7 to mile 12 we were in the Back Bay Area, it definitely is the most scenic race course I've run yet. Between the scenery ant the music on my IPOD I managed to keep my mind off my foot. It helped that a few nights earlier Rocky IV had been on, the one where he fights the Soviet fighter and trains in Russia. I kept repeating in my mind the same lines his trainer kept telling him: No pain,....no pain.... no pain.
Just as I'm passing mile 11 my husband calls and says he's at the water station at mile 12, can I see it? No I was still in winding part of the trail. Then I come around the bend and see the trail and climb up the hill to the street and there it is, Mile 12. I can see my son and husband on the side just past the tents with the water and grab a cup of water and meet up with them.
By now my shoe is bloody too. So I sit down, take it off, and start changing my timing chip onto the other shoe while DH is cleaning up my foot. The blister is now the size of a quarter. Fortunately he found the moleskin in my bathroom, so with some clean up, padding,. moleskin and my old shoes, I'm set to go. I get my Power Bar gels out and eat them, chase them with water and head for the port potties for a pit stop. While in line, I get the inhaler, I could tell it was time for another dose, and notice the woman in front of me with the prosthetic leg. Okay, I wasn't going to whine about my blister now.
So now, cleaned up, fueled and recharged I head back out. DH and the kids are across the street waving as I head down a residential street. It's now 3 hours and 15 minutes past gun time. Normally I'd be somewhere around mile 16 by now. Well so what. At this point I didn't care all that much about the time, I just wanted to finish, and I wasn't going to finish limping across the finish line either.
I head down the street then see the split where the half marathon turns left to head to the fairgrounds and the full marathon continues on straight. I head straight and I notice how much fewer people there are. Wow, what a feeling, no more dodging walkers and squeezing through groups. I really now felt like I was in this race for me, and me alone. The course took me down Redhill Blvd past mile 13, and 14. As I was going up on the freeway overpass, a woman caught up to me asked about pace, we got to talking and she became my race partner for the next 5 miles. The course took us through the Performing Arts Center, and South Coast Plaza, and then onto Segerstrom.
I must admit at this point, it was a bit tedious as the scenery wasn't too exciting here. Near mile 19, DH calls to check where I'm at. He'd taken the kids back to Orange for breakfast -- daughter picked Orange Cafe as her choice and he was heading back down to the fairgrounds to be at the finish line when I got there. I had to slow to a walk to talk on the phone, during which my short term partner went on.
The course went on to the riverbed. By now I was taking short walking breaks every mile and a half or so. The foot was holding up, and I was determined to finish. At mile 21 I got out another gel pack (I had had my cliff shots at mile 17), and was feeling okay,. Then mile 22, and finally I came to my holy grail - every race has one - that one mile marker that eludes you, that takes forever, that seems like you're never going to get there. Well mile 23 was it for me. Finally when I saw it, I got a new surge of energy. The course took us into a park, then into an undeveloped area with dirt trails, and then up a hill and back onto residential streets. I turned the corner and saw the mile 24 marker, and my determination surged again.
As I was going through the residential area I caught up to and passed the woman I'd been running with. She encouraged me on, and off I went telling her all I could think about was mile 25. Then we crossed a busy street (Harbor maybe) and I saw the mile 25 marker. I called DH and told him to start watching, I was down to the last mile. He called me back a minute later to tell to pick up the pace and I might still come in under 6 hours. So I pressed on. Through the streets, then I saw Orange Coast College, then Fairview, and the Fairgrounds. I turned right along the entrance to the Pacific Amphitheatre, then on and the course took us in at Centennial Farms. And there it was... The finish line. I could see DH and my kids and I waved as I ran by them. I crossed the finish line, got my medal, water, snacks and found the family.
Yes I was sore. I immediately headed over to the cool'n'fit booth and had them spray my legs and started stretching. From there it was off to the massage tables. And shortly afterwards, headed home.
I was sore that night, and my foot hurt. But I ate, took some Advil, took a shower and rested the rest of the day. Monday I was still a little sore in my legs, but my foot was by far the more prominent pain. Today I'm fine, leg and muscle wise, but the foot is sore. I have an open wound about the size of a quarter, right over the bone. It's healing rather quickly, I just have to wait it out.
In the meantime, it seems a bit surreal, In all I probably lost somewhere between 45 minute to an hour because of the blister on my foot. But I finished my first marathon. I'm still pretty amazed that I actually did it.
And so from here? Well, I'll be sticking to half marathons for a while, just because of the time needed for full marathons. My body is comfortable with 10-12 mile runs so I 'm in a good place. Will I do another full? Probably, I just can't say when. For now I need put my attention into my son's school problems and getting my weight back down as it's been creeping up again. So next week it's back on Medifast and I'll cut my running down to short runs and get back into strength training...
For those interested, if you're still reading I've added a link to the video on my youtube page of the clip DH shot during the race. I've also got a few still pictures I'll post shortly...
So now, where's the next curve ball????
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