Saturday, August 01, 2009
Some of my Spark friends have been asking when they're going to see my race report from last Sunday's 1/2 marathon... and I've been avoiding writing it, because I've been struggling with my feelings about this race. I went to SF with trepidation (since I was injured) and determination (since I was injured!) and I spent my entire weekend thinking about my body and the race. Would I be OK? I never doubted that I would finish the race, I just feared what kind of pain I might have to contend with. As it turned out, I was actually OK during the race. My pain was nominal and I took it easy, but more on that later...
The morning of the race I woke up at 4 a.m. as planned. I had plenty of time before I had to leave at 6 to meet Mary (Lilhlfpint - who is to be credited for most of the photos in this blog - Thanks Mary!!). I spent over 45 minutes going through my physical therapy stretching routine and then applied topical anti-imflammatory cream to my knee and ankle, and then taped myself for good measure. Before I knew it I was already 10 minutes behind schedule! I had planned on walking to the marathon start line a little over a mile away, but I decided that if a bus came along I'd just hop on it to save time, which in fact I did. Mary and I met at the start after the marathoners and 1st 1/2 marathoners had left and we walked to the shuttle buses to take us to the start line for the 2nd 1/2 marathon. The ride over was uneventful if you ignore the fact that the driver couldn't figure out how to get into Golden Gate Park since so many of the roads were closed! We arrived fairly early and were able to watch some of the marathoners run by. I saw people who were running a sub-3:30 pace pass and let me tell you, they looked strong! It was quite cool (maybe 56 degrees?) and misting, so I tied my space blanket on for warmth.
My friends from home Sol and Terri met us and we all lined up together in the 2nd corral.
Terri is a walker and Sol can run with me although he usually chooses to walk quickly, so my plan was to stay with them and run in short 30 second-1 minute bursts when necessary to maintain a 16 minute/mile. Mary had a slightly different plan so we agreed we would all just run our own race, and then we started.
It was interesting to start our race and immediately mix in with the marathoners who were just reaching their half-way point. These runners were much faster than us so I needed to stay all the way to the right and out of their way. I started out walking but within feet I felt like I had to run a bit, if only to let the pack dissipate around me... so I ran a 2 minute interval and felt pretty good...hmmm... as I walked for about 5 minutes I realized I was at a 13:30 pace, and thought it might be smart to try to stay around that average for the first half so that I could "bank" time for the second half when I would surely slow down. The first mile and a half I couldn't seem to warm up by just walking so I kept my blanket on... people could hear me coming from the rustling noise it made - and I felt like I was in the middle of a forest during a windstorm! I decided I just needed to ditch it and run a bit to warm up! Just before mile 2 there was a short out-and-back, and since Mary was ahead of me she caught this pic of me:
We spent the first 6 miles running through Golden Gate park, which was beautiful but full of rolling hills. I don't remember too much about this run because I was so focused on my average pace and trying to decide when to run, and how much to run. I was balancing my pace with my fear of injury and it was all I could think about (which really wasn't a bad thing since the miles seemed to fly by!). I caught up with Mary and we chatted a bit before I ran ahead of her. I do remember needing a long potty break at one point - imagine my frustration as my interval beeper kept going off, one minute, two minutes, three minutes, four - and all I can think of is how this is going to affect my pace LOL! But as soon as I got back on the road I found myself running with the 2:45 pace group (roughly 13 m/m) and decided I would run with them until my average pace was back to 13:45 or less. It was a pretty comfortable pace to keep, I just didn't want to run more than a mile at a time because of my knee, so when we exited the park I walked and watched them take off ahead of me.
Outside the park the scenery turned from green and lush to urban almost immediately. We entered the Haight, a neighborhood made infamous during the '60s as a place to tune in, turn on and drop out.
The streets are still lined with smoke shops and "hippie" boutiques, but now there are also tattoo parlors and vegan cafes. There are also some serious hills!!
I usually love running downhill (gravity is my friend!) but I felt like I was hiking down a black diamond ski run on some of these hills! And for every downhill there is eventually an uphill... Still, this part of the race was more interesting to look at than what came next - the hilly part of the city between Potrero Hill and South Beach - a deserted, HILLY, industrial area - oh, and did I mention that it was HILLY?!? The sun was up by now, the temp had climbed, and we had over 4 miles of blech to run through. I noticed this woman who seemed to be keeping a similar pace as I was since we kept yo-yo-ing past each other, so I started chatting with her on one of the hills and we kept encouraging each other the remaining 6 miles. I also saw Mary again and we chatted a bit, and then I ran past two of my running club friends who were doing the full marathon, and that was a nice surprise. Finally we reached the water!
We only had about 2 miles to go and I was feeling pretty good, so I decided I'd try to run more than I had the whole race, and switched to my 1:1 intervals. Mile 12 was on the Third St. Bridge, right outside AT&T park and once we rounded the stadium we could see the piers along the water and feel the cool breezes. I met up with Patty (Run.Or.Rust) with about 1 mile to go and I got to offer her some support on the way to the finish line... and then, there it was! Marathoners to the right, 1/2 Marathoners to the left, and we're done! According to my Garmin I finished in 3:02:55, well below the course cut-off of 3:30. While it was about 25 minutes slower than my last 1/2 marathon I'm finally starting to feel pleased with my results, especially now that I'm paying the price for them... I have to admit that I have been as sore, if not worse, than after my last marathon. I definitely do not recommend running a long race after a 7 week hiatus from training!! But its nice to know that I can...
Monday, July 27, 2009
A few days ago I rhetorically asked "Do you know me?" and went on to describe what I imagined would be my experience in the San Francisco 1/2 marathon. My plan was to walk as much as possible and run only when necessary to maintain the minimum pace allowed for finishing - 16 minutes/mile. I'm injured and was told to minimize my running time as it would only slow my healing (or make my injury worse...).
I learned some truths about myself as a result of this injury and race:
I am competitive. I couldn't stand to think that I couldn't run at all in a RACE.
I have a big ego. 16 minutes/mile was a blow to my ego, since in my last half marathon I maintained a 12 minute/mile pace. I finally admitted to myself that I couldn't be happy just doing the minimum required, I was driven to do more. (Back to being competitive...)
I have a high tolerance for pain when that pain is standing in the way of my goal.
I am goal oriented when it comes to athletics. (So how come I'm NOT as goal driven when it comes to housework, weight loss, employment, etc.?????? I think that's the subject of another blog...)
I am stubborn.
No matter how many races I complete I will always be affected IN SOME WAY by nerves in the week leading up to the next race.
I believe that I can run a race even when everyone else thinks I can't.
I am willing to suffer for a medal and bragging rights.
I am less satisfied with a medal when it comes with a slower finish time; however, I do accept that I can't continually PR and must accept the race that's in me on any particular day. (It just won't be my favorite medal...)
I can hardly walk today, but I'm already thinking about my next race (6 weeks and counting!!).
Finally, I learned that support from my loved ones (including my Spark Friends)(ESPECIALLY my Spark Friends! Thanks Bev and Jen!!) before and during a race makes the difference between slogging through the pain or forging ahead with a smile on my face
So while you may know me, I'm still learning about myself.
Thursday, July 23, 2009
I'm the walker at the back of the pack.
I'm the runner-wannabe with the knee brace, ankle wrap and ibuprofen bottle.
I'm the slow one who keeps thinking "Maybe I should try running?" but know that I really shouldn't, at least not today.
I'm the one who's blocking your way (Sorry about that!) and hobbling along at a snail's pace.
I'm the one who's worried that I won't finish before I'm forced off the course.
But I'm also the one who has completed two marathons, five half marathons, assorted shorter races (5k-10k-15k), a duathlon and two cycle centuries (100+ miles each). I didn't walk those, I didn't worry about being last in those, I didn't get in your way during those - I finished them strong and swift and sure, and loved the sense of accomplishment after each one.
Today is different. Today, I'm injured, but I'm here. I came a long way for this race, and I'm giving it my best effort within the limitations my doctor has given me.
So smile at me as you run past me, offer a word of encouragement; someday you too might have to walk a race you had planned to run -- and if and when you do, then you'll know just how much harder it is to walk it. And when I pass you, I promise I'll cheer you on!
Thursday, July 23, 2009
I hate house cleaning. I don't mean the spring cleaning - attacking the whole house and making it fresh kind of house cleaning, although I'm not a big fan of that either - I mean the everyday, run of the mill dust/vacuum/scrub/mop kind of cleaning.
I blame it on my mother (Isn't that why mother's exist? To blame for everything wrong in our lives? My kids certainly seem to think so...) because she liked to clean, found it therapeutic, and therefore never really taught me how its done. OK, I know how to clean a toilet bowl, scrub a sink, wipe down mirrors and glass -- I'm not a big fan of dirt either so I do have to do the basics -- but mopping floors? As soon as I finish sweeping up all the dog hair and crumbs and dust bunnies (which seems to never end, I might add) I get the mop (hmmm, which one should I use today? The electric wet vacuum thingy that is supposed to make my life easier but never quite sucks up all the water? The one with all the strips of Sham-Wow type cloth? The spongy one that never really scrubs off the dirt? The rubber squeegee one with the rag wrapped around it? The Swiffer wet jet with the pads that keep falling off? - yes, I own them all. Kept buying new ones thinking THAT was the key to getting the job done easier and faster!) and the bucket and begin in the corner of the kitchen.
Problem is, by the time I get out past the breakfast nook I've run out of steam and I still have the family room, hallway, dining room, bathroom and entry to mop. Not to mention the two bathrooms upstairs... Just the thought of it has me exhausted!!
What prompted me to write this at all is that I have a house guest coming Friday morning for the weekend and I had to make up the bed in my daughter's room for him. That led to me dusting/cleaning off her vanity because when she left for college she left all kinds of makeup dirt and hair care product stickiness. So I cleaned that and noticed the window shutters were filthy - they collect a ton of dirt and dust when the windows are open - so I started wiping them down (both sides, of course!). Then I realized I needed to vacuum the floor and empty her trash can, and oh, how did I forget about the bathroom?
That's another story altogether. My two teens share the bathroom and my son is a pig. There really is no other way to describe him. He ignores every effort I make to teach him how to clean up after himself (heaven forbid I make the same mistake as my mother and just do it for him - then he'd never learn how!!) and he seems completely blind to any and all dirt, hair, soap scum, toothpaste and worse... My daughter managed to leave even more makeup, hair care products, hair and lord only knows what else on her side of the sink than she had on her vanity - so I had to tackle that too. All the while I'm grumbling. I don't want to be doing this, I don't ever go into these rooms (kids' bedrooms or their bathroom), out of sight/out of mind was working just fine thank you, but that dang guy from Australia had to come to stay with us... and I'm not even going to be here this weekend, why isn't my husband helping?!?
I've got a real problem here because I hate housework. I love company though, and I WON'T have guests stay in a dirty room. So the room/bathroom are now ready for Peter but I've started looking around and getting overwhelmed by how much still needs to be cleaned everywhere else in the house...
Monday, June 15, 2009
Today I completed my first duathlon (run, bike, run). It was an all women's event held at and around Disneyland. I entered it about 2 months ago during a moment of insanity; at the time I had only been running but I was lured by the promise of a free ticket to Disneyland... in hindsight I wonder why that even mattered, since I used to be an annual passholder and don't even care to go anymore... but there you go. Offer me a "freebie" and I become a different person. I just love a bargain!!
Since I completed the San Diego marathon 2 weeks ago I have been having all kinds of knee trouble. My knee hurts intermittently, it buckles without warning, it locks up on occasion and my IT band (where it attaches to the outside of my knee) hurts all the time. Add to that the fact that I still have achilles tendonitis and I've felt like a wreck! As this day approached I became more and more stressed about participating. I didn't want to do any permanent damage to my knee or ankle but I also didn't want to lose the $100 I paid to enter (so much for the "free" ticket to Disneyland LOL). Since it is a "beginners" event I knew it would be low pressure and I could take my time, so I decided to get up and go, figuring I would walk if I needed to.
Did I mention that I haven't ridden more than 12 miles on my bike in the past 10 years? Oh, I guess I skipped sharing that little tidbit tee hee. Since my bike was stolen after completing a century 10 years ago I have not cycled. At all. I bought a new bike a few months ago thinking it might be fun to start again but honestly, I was intimidated to get out there. I couldn't even remember how to shift gears, let alone deal with traffic, flat tires, pedal clips, and saddle soreness... but since I had this new bike, I should start racing, right? My triathlete superstar girlfriend Jo got me out there last week and helped me get through my jitters, so I figured that part of the race would be OK.
I went to the expo yesterday in a knee brace and had the Trek techs show me how to change a flat tire. I got to meet famed Triathlete Sally Edwards and heard her speak about the monkeys on our backs -- fear, doubt and negative self talk -- and how to get rid of them. She spoke about the tone of this event, women helping and supporting women, and encouraged us to find our inner athletes and have fun!
So at 2:45 this morning I got out of bed, limped into the bathroom to dress and put on my brace and headed out the door. Jo suggested I get to the race as early as possible so that I could rack my bike at the end of the rack, where it would be easier to find during transition. When I showed up at 4:15 a.m. I couldn't believe someone else was already there!
I was really early, so I set out my helmet, gloves, shoes and drink and met some of the other women around me. Everyone was really nice, although most of the people on my rack (determined by race number) were part of a local Triathlon group and had raced before. A little later on I met some gals I had spoken to at the expo yesterday and we chatted a bit about our nerves and encouraged each other. Finally it was 5:15 and time for us to start our 15 minute walk over to Disneyland for the start of the race.
By the time the gates opened at Disneyland it was light out and we were greeted by Disney staff. The race was set to start on Main Street, facing Sleeping Beauty's castle. Being a race for women the first mad rush was not to the corrals, but to the "real" restrooms! I was going as fast as I could but still wound up behind 30 other women on line when someone suggested we just use the men's room since there weren't any men around... you didn't have to tell me twice! I was the first one in that bathroom! By the time I left the line was was equally as long as it was for the ladies room hehe. I made my way up Main Street and found that I was in the first Corral... what were they thinking?
It was really cool being up at the front for the kickoff ceremony and start of the race, but I chose to hang back in my corral so that I didn't hold anyone up. I met 4 really nice ladies who run with a club not far from me and we compared notes about other events we'd been in and our running intervals. They were all about my age and it was such a good feeling to know they ran about my pace and used the same 1:1 intervals as I did :D We were treated to a brief warm-up by Minnie Mouse and then the gun went off ... along with tons of confetti and a finish line ribbon held above our heads as we started. I thought about the people in the other corrals who would have to wait at least 3 minutes per wave to start - they wouldn't get the confetti or ribbon to run under - so I was counting my blessings.
I decided to ignore my interval watch and just try to run as much as I could. My knee was hurting but as soon as I started running my ankle pain distracted me LOL. I just kept going, thinking this hurts but its not bad enough to stop... a few minutes later I was running around Frontierland and into Fantasyland when the runners from Wave 2 started passing me... I realized that I had to focus on MY race, not theirs and walked a minute with the gals I had met at the start line. Then I ran again, thinking its not far now... I can rest on the bike...
I got to the transition area and couldn't get my shoe untied! I pulled on my helmet, kicked off my shoe and slipped into my bike shoes, grabbed my gloves and tried to pull them on with my teeth as I started to walk my bike to the "bike out" area... it wasn't until I was underway that I realized that I had forgotten to remove my running water belt! I never intended to cycle with it on, but oh well... after the whole race was over I realized I also never tightened my helmet in the back - good thing I didn't crash!
The bike course was mostly flat, with just a couple of small hills over the freeway. I found myself passing people and feeling pretty good... suprised, I started loop two of the ride as I saw people from the final wave just returning from their first run. That really gave me a second wind! I think I made up a lot of time on the bike leg, which made me start thinking about finish times and placing... not a good thing to think about with the second run looming ahead... As I entered the transition area the second time I dismounted and could hardly walk on my left leg. "Oh NO" I thought, I'm done now... but I sat down and changed my shoes and just started walking. Its only 2 miles... I can walk 2 miles... just need to finish...
I tried to run a bit but really struggled. So I told myself I would try to run for 1 minute, and then I could walk for 2 or 3 minutes.... and so it went until I was nearing the exit from California Adventure. We had about 1/2 mile to go and I was trying to run but was obviously favoring my left leg... I limped a bit and a gal named Nancy (who I think was really an Angel sent to help me!) came up from behind me and said "C'mon mama, lets run it in together. I'll run with you, we can do it!"... that was all I needed to hear - someone was there with me, for me, beside me - and believed in me! So we started to run... and we crossed the street, passed the water stop, kept going ... I finally said "Nancy, I need a walk break" and she said "I'll give you 3 traffic cones (about 15 feet), then we'll finish this!". In my last blog I wrote about my demons - the ones that always want me to quit trying as I near the finish line - well today, Nancy chased them away!! We ran the rest of the way in together and I urged her to run the last 15 feet ahead of me, but stayed right behind her (I finished 1 second later). After we crossed the finish line I hugged her and told her how much her being there helped me ... she said "that's what its all about!". What a cool lady!!!
I hung around to talk to some of the people I had met along the way, and then wandered over to the results table to see my finish time... imagine my surprise when I found out I finished 12th in my division!!! Holy Cow!! I know it was a small field, only 32 people in my division finished, but still... got me thinking, I wonder how I could've done if I were healthy?... dangerous thinking, that... that's the kind of thinking that gets me spending more money on more races hehe!
I loaded up my bike and came home to my ice packs. I am now officially "on a break" for 2 weeks before I start training for the San Francisco 1/2 marathon... but maybe I'll do some cycling in the meantime...
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