Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Joy in the Journey

A year ago, I guarentee that noone would have ever placed money on me finishing a half-marathon. Well, now I have completed two! We all start somewhere. This time last year, I could barely run a quarter mile, much less 13.1. The Rock N Roll Mardi Gras Marathon has been my goal since October. In October, I conquered the 10K and said, what's next? I signed up and kept adding to my training. As I trained, it became apparent to me that I would be ready. I decided to run the First Light Half-Marathon in Mobile in January for a "practice round". The First Light had about 1,600 people running, where as the Rock N Roll NOLA had more than 16,000 people running.
You see, when you run this longer distance, there are more things to prepare for. Fueling your body properly to meet the test of endurance is the biggest key. I am still learning this through training. It took me a while to find a "Gu" that I liked. Gu is an energy gel that you take about every 45 minutes to sustain your carbohydrates among other things. Another item that I CAN'T live without is my Garmin watch. Since the first day I started running with it, it has helped to even my pace. I have learned what a good pace is for me on shorter as well as longer runs. Before my Garmin, I was running too fast and having to take walk breaks to get my heart rate back down. While there is nothing wrong with that (some professionals are big proponents of the run, walk, run method-that's how we all start), I would prefer to run at a steady pace during this test of endurance. My new friend is my iFitness belt that I purchased at the Expo. It has two 6 ounce bottles for fluids, two spots for "GU" and handy dandy zipper pouch for carrying ID, keys, camera, phone, or whatever.
This is a picture of me on race morning with my new iFitness belt on. My other new item that we purchased at the Expo was a "Sweatyband". It is black and says 13.1 on it. A headband to keep the stray hairs from blowing in your eyes is wonderful!
The Expo
So, let me back up and tell you a little about the expo. The Expo is the place to check in, get your gear and "swag bag" and shop! Like anything else, once you get "into" something, you love looking at all the gear. If I love to hunt or fish, then BassPro would probably be my place. While I don't consider myself a big shopper, it certainly was fun to have all of the "running stuff" in one place. I traded my old, empty vitamin bottle for a free 90 day supply of Nutrilite vitamins. Pretty good deal, I'll have to see how fabulous they might be. Is a vitamin just a vitamin? I tasted lots of new products, including protein bars from Nutrilite and Snickers (yummy), Muscle Milk and Cytomax-both yummy as well. I am learning how important protein is and it was nice to find some products that actually taste good. Cytomax is similar to Gatorade, but taste much better to me. It doesn't have that bitter aftertaste. It is sweet, but not too sweet.
Then, there were clothing vendors. I wore my "13.1 cause I am only half crazy" shirt from One More Mile and got a free sticker for my car. That's their little promotion and hey, I got a free "Runner Girl" sticker. One More Mile was by far the busiest vendor, they just have such cute stuff! I got my Sweatyband and my iFitness belt.  We also took a few cute pictures as you can see below.

A quick picture with some of the Sole2Soul Sisters! More information and different post on that will be coming this weekend.

After the Expo, a quick trip to Riverwalk for a snack at Cafe DuMonde was in order. I'm looking a bit tired and rough at this point. We headed back to the hotel, freshened up a bit and had delicious dinner at Grand Isle.

Guess what, time for bed. After a 30 minute nap, my body said oh no, no sleep for you. Now, it was LOUD in New Orleans. Another city that never sleeps. There were sirens, screams, music, and anything you can imagine right outside our window. Scott managed to sleep right through it. I did finally sleep from 2:00-5:00. I really don't feel anxious, but I guess I am. I have decided at this point that this is just how my body reacts.

Here is my gear all ready the night before. I love my new 13.1 headband. You can kinda see it here.
Purple toenails and fingernails-well, I figured if I was going to run injured, I may as well have some fun with it. I have worn lots of purple clothing since Friday!

The Race
Scott and I made the one mile journey down to the starting line. Here are a few pictures while we were waiting to start. It was actually much less overwhelming than I had pictured in my mind. The race was well organized. Based on my estimated finish time, I was placed in Corral 13. They do a staggered start, so I actually started around 7:20. When you see times on the clocks, they are off from my actual time. Again, another reason to have my trusty Garmin.

Waiting in the Corrals, lots and lots of people!!

I just thought this was a funny sign! :)
Here I am in my corral, ready to go!
If you look carefully, you can see me in there with some of my buddies, trying to stay warm before the race.

At this point, I still do not know what my injury is that I spoke about in my last blog post. The only running that I did the week leading up to the half was at a boot camp and it was PAINFUL! I was in lots of pain even to walk. I went to the doctor who figured it was a pulled muscle and put me on a steroid pack to no avail. There are no refunds in half-marathon land, so I figured I would try to run at a slower pace and walk to the finish if necessary.
All last week, God was working with me on just enjoying the journey. I was not going to try to beat my time from January. I just wanted to finish. I was excited to run with a group of Sole2Soul Sisters from the Eastern Shore area of Alabama. We started out at about an 11 minute mile pace. My normal pace for a long run usually ends up about 10:20, but again, that's not what it was about. I realized this would be a battle of mind over matter. I was in lots of pain for the first 5 miles. The whole group was having so much fun. I just hung a little back and tried to process it all in my mind and find joy in the journey. I didn't want to complain and I WAS NOT going to stop unless I collapsed.

Mindy and I running about mile 8.

After mile 5, the full marathoners split off and our group became smaller. At mile 6, we stopped for a moment for one of the girls to use the restroom. That's when we realized two things. My friend Mindy was feeling terrible (she found out on Monday that she had a touch of the flu) and as for me, it caused me much more pain to stop and start again. The pressure in my groin area was INTENSE. Thankful that I had pre-determined this was not going to be a personal best for me, I settled into enjoying the whole experience. About mile 7, we sent Paige on to meet her goal time (she blew her old PR out of the water), and Mindy and I hung back to tough it out. I stayed with Mindy until 11.75 miles and then she said she thought she might have to walk it in, but encouraged me to go on.
Oddly enough, I felt TERRIFIC at this point. While still in a tremendous amount of pain, my spirit was just thrilled to be alive. About mile 10, I started to actually think: running at this slower pace, I COULD complete a full marathon. With each painful, but spirited step, I think I was getting a bigger smile on my face. I love this quote that I found on another blog:
We run to celebrate the life that is flowing through our bodies.
That's the way I feel. I kept on running until I crossed that finish line at 2:30:40. While that is almost 12 minutes slower than my first half-marathon, I am invigorated to take this further!
 Some Rock Stars cheering us on!

At mile 6, we are almost halfway finished!
A colorful character along the way and a picture coming into the French Quarter.

Running by Jackson Cathedral and Cafe DuMonde

Only 1.1 to go, I am so excited and grinning from ear to ear!

 After the race, with my medal and race shirt.
It's Wednesday after the race now and I can barely walk, lift my left leg, bare weight on my left leg, put on my pants, or get in and out of the car. I have an appointment with the orthopedic doctor on Monday. I suppose I will pretty much rest until then. I'm thinking there is some further testing in my future. I will refrain from telling you what I have self-diagnosed with my genius web medical skills. But like the saying goes, Pain is Temporary, Pride is Forever!

OK, I wrote a book, but now I have it to keep forever.

Find Joy in your Journey!


Thursday, February 3, 2011

My first running injury????

Get ready, this is a STRANGE one. This may be a TMI post. Here we go. I ran 9 miles Saturday and felt fine except for the fact that I was exhausted. I was planning on getting up at 3:45, yes, in the middle of the night, to go run with a group of women in Daphne. Well, my lingering bronchitis kicked in and I coughed until after midnight. Well, then I got anxiety like crazy over not getting enough sleep, not being able to wake up, not being able to run, not getting there on time....and so on and so forth. I'm not going to bore you with all that drama, but I finally rested a couple of hours. I was up by 7:00 and made Blake his requested pancakes. I was determined to get this run in. Blake had a playoff basketball game at 10:30, so I had to get going. I finished my 9 miles and felt fine with a pace of 10:12. Perfect for my long run. Just hoping I can add 4.1 more miles to that and stick close to that pace to finish with a new PR in New Orleans on February 13.

On Sunday, we had a very busy day with church, family lunch, and conflicting children's activities which sent us in different directions. I should have run on Monday, but just didn't feel ready. Waited until Tuesday and by then, major humidity had set in with the storms that were on the way. I set out to do a minimum of 4 miles, but ended up doing 3.1 at a 9:53 pace. Great time, but I felt just terrible. I can't even describe it, but all I could think was that there is no way I could do 10 more miles. The rest of the day, the muscles in my lower legs were so tight. Also, I had a STRANGE pain in my groin area on my left side. So, no run on Wednesday. Rest needed. Trying to listen to my body.

This afternoon, I set out to run dressed as if I was going to take on the abominable snowman in the upper 30 temperatures that felt soooo much colder with the wind. Well, the good news is that I set a new PR for the 5K distance, 29:37, 9:34 pace. (I actually think I ran one a tiny bit faster last week, but I continued on to 4 miles, so I don't remember the exact time at 3.1) I digress. The bad news is, I can NOT describe to you the pressure I felt in my groin area in the last half mile. I originally wanted to go 4 miles (again), but the pain was so severe. For those of you that have experienced childbirth, well, it's the worst pain I have had in my lower pelvis in 10 years. I felt like something was going to be delivered right there on that road. CRAZY!!!

I ran while waiting on Bryant at piano lessons, we then rushed home to meet up with Blake and head out the door to baseball tryouts. I was in extreme pain trying to shower, lift my legs to put socks on, and just walking. At tryouts, we decided to go back to the car to get Blake's helmet. Scott told me to "run" because Blake was hitting soon. I took two steps and almost fell to my knees. Not to mention that it was 36 degrees and raining/sleeting at this point. We stood in those conditions for an hour. I pray none of us get sick.

So now, I have naturally come home and diagnosed myself by reading stuff online. Who in the world knew that you could get an overuse injury in your pubic bones? Not me. There are several possible reasons this could be happening: not stretching properly, improper gait, old shoes, or plain old overuse. And guess what the treatment is? Same as most injuries, the RICE method. Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation.

Unfortuately, this has been a random and Debbie Downer post, so I'll leave you with the thought of exactly how I might have to treat this injury. Don't be sickened by it, you can just laugh, visualizing me trying to apply ice and elevate my injured area. Now, that's funny.

10 days until my next half-marathon, my old body is so silly!

Hope you are staying warm wherever you may be!