Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Still a Luxury

It's been so long since I posted that I couldn't even remember my password to log in. That's bad. So, why the absence? I suppose I have to admit that I have been disheartened by my injury. As of my last post, I was running with MUCH pain, but had not received the MRI results. I went back to the doctor on March 10 and was told that I had extreme bruising and a stress fracture (a small break) in my hip. It's in the bone that runs from my hip socket to my pubic bone. Of course, he told me NO running for 6 weeks. I have tried to be good since then and really did limited running. The only running that I have done was about 20 minutes each week at about a 13:00 minute mile pace with a group I am training in the Couch to 5K program. (I promise another post on this very soon)
So, I had signed up for the Gulf Coast Half Marathon way back in December. Well, the time was here and I had to participate. I told myself I could atleast walk the 13.1 miles. The most walking I had done was on March 26. That was the day of the Azalea Trail Run, which is a very popular run in Mobile. I was having a pity party for myself since all of my friends were running and I couldn't. I set out to walk 6.2 in my neighborhood. I made it about 5 miles and had a TERRIBLE blister building on my right foot. Ding, ding, ding, I should have known the same thing would happen when I tried to do 13.1 just a few short weeks later. Note to self: Running shoes are NOT meant to be walked in!
That brings us to the Gulf Coast Half-Marathon weekend. I was determined to walk it and not miss the fun. I told my family they didn't have to come cheer for me since it would be a little less than exciting. I went to pick up my race packet and was a little disappointed by the lack of excitement being generated by the event. We picked up our packets at a local running store and literally all it had in it was the race bib, safety pins, and a bracelet for the after party. The t-shirt is super cute, but it's not a wicking shirt, which a lot of people had a problem with.
The race was 1,500 people, which is about the same as the First Light Half that I did in Mobile in January. I would have expected a little more energy and a "swag bag". Then I got to thinking about it, really, what is usually in those bags is kinda like getting a goody bag for your child at a birthday party. You might get one little treasure, but for the most part, it's just junk. The other good part about no expo is that I didn't spend any extra money on unneccesary "running stuff". Now, my expectation is for big expos at big races.
I have also been seing a chiropractor, which I can't really tell has made a difference. I do like that he has a massage therapist there and that I can get a mini-massage of about 10 minutes. I have also continued in boot camp during this time I am suppose to be healing. Well, I think I have done JUST ENOUGH to keep my hip irritated. For lower body, we do things like jog, goat trails (running up and down the football stadium bleachers), squats, and all different kinds of lunges. Possibly, I'm my own worst enemy.
On to the Gulf Coast Half-Marathon, which was held on Sunday, April 10. Here's a picture of my race day gear:

The weather was HOT and HUMID!!! I know it was over 70 when we started and I think it was about 84 when we finished.

 The sun was trying to come out from behind the haze and humidity. Thank goodness, it didn't make too much of an appearance. The people volunteering at the water stops were wonderful. They were having a blast, playing music, and providing lots of encouragement!
My plan for race day was to power walk the first 10 miles and then if I felt terrific, jog in the last 3.1. Well, of course, so much for my plan. Here's how it actually happened:
I started off walking at a 13:30 mile pace. That's booking it pretty good for short little ol' Leah. I kept my friend Leslie in sight. She was jogging and walking. Neither of us had properly trained for different reasons, but we knew we were going to finish and have fun doing so. We walked together from about mile 1.5 to about 6.5. We were Creative Memories buddies when I lived in Mobile and I have been gone now for 8 years. It was great to catch up and hear about all of the exciting things happening in her life. Below is a picture of us after the race. Believe it or not, they gave us a water bottle in the finishing chute, but after that, the only drink option that I could find was BEER. I see people drinking beer after races all the time, but that always sounded horrible to me, even though I love beer. Well, when there was no water to be found, that ICE COLD beer went down pretty easy.

The blister on my right heal was gradually building and becoming unbearable. Guess what, the only thing that made it feel better was to jog. Remember, running shoes are meant for running! Ligthbulb moment again! Somewhere after mile 6, I started passing my buddies who had made it through the turnaround at mile 7 and were heading down the home stretch. It is so exciting to see those super speedy runners booking it. Leslie and I started to notice that even the most seasoned, lean, mean running machines were struggling in the heat and humidity. Pretty soon, my friend Ali Penton passed me. He is my son's Cub Scout leader and always has that sincere smile on his face:

Obviously, he is the one on the right, waving and smiling. He placed number 74 out of 1,500 runners. Top 5%-very impressive! Do you believe me now about the haze, heat, and humidity. It was a thick covering as you can see.
Next, I saw a familiar face coming, it was one of the Sole2Soul Sisters, Laura Morris and another friend of hers, Angela. I am so impressed with their times considering the conditions.
Then came my friend, Mindy, my blogging buddy. Before my injury, we had such good intentions of running this race together and setting PR's. She is the one that I ran with in New Orleans when I was injured and she had the flu. Our day will come, but this was not it. She had a great run!

Then, I kept looking and looking for my other Sole2Soul Sisters from the Eastern Shore area. When I came upon them, they were having such a good time, but were walking. You know, not everyday is a perfect race day. From lack of training to bronchitis to low blood sugar, they all were just making it. They had to make sure to act like they were running, so that is why they are laughing so hard.
So, finally, I made it to the turn around spot at mile 7 and this group was having an absolute blast!

I did a few things this time that I have never had to do before in a race. I stopped just before mile 7 to re-tie my shoes in hopes that would help the blister issue. Just before mile 10, I finally gave in and used a porta potty. I spared you a picture of that, but I'm telling you, it was some kind of hot in that miserable, stinky place. So, now it was on to the finish. I pretty much jogged about an 11:00 minute mile with a few walk breaks for the rest of the race. The hip pain was not as bad as I thought it might be. I did manage to get a few more scenic shots. The views were tremendous and I'm sure would be even better on a clear day. We even had a para-glider come flying by around mile 8. By this point, I was running some and wasn't able to get out the camera fast enough.

In miles 11 and 12, I started thinking that maybe I am crazy for having registered for the Marine Corps Full on October 30. When you are trudging along alone, you have a lot of time to think. Then I started rethinking, here I was able to complete 13.1 without really working on any training for over two months. When I get ready to run in October, I will be prepared. I realize it is going to be a huge difference than running a half, but I am up for the challenge.
Here are a few pictures from the afer party. It was so gloomy and overcast that I put my sunglasses in my car, not thinking about the reflection from the white sand. I love this picture of me, Paige, and Mindy!

 Half-Marathon number 3 is in the history books. It was a fun day!

Still a luxury? My beginning runner friends think I am totally nuts. And well, maybe I am. I guess I do have an addictive personality. Addictions run deep in my family and I can certainly think of worse things to be addicted to. On days like today, when I wake up to a bright, beautiful day with a temperature of around 50, there's nothing I want to do more than just go for a run. Right now, I'm not able to, and I sincerely miss it. I will heal and I will get back out there. I will have to regain some of my lung capacity. It's amazing how quickly your lungs and heart muscle can start trending backward. Since Sunday, I have registered for two more half-marathons. One is on October 9 in Mandeville, LA and the other is April 15, 2012-the same race as this past Sunday. They are both being hosted by the same group.
One of the definitions of luxury is: a pleasure out of the ordinary allowed to oneself. I guess a love for running isn't ordinary. I feel a sense of accomplishment that I haven't felt in a long time. Even though I walked most of this race, I was still able to finish. It may seem a bit silly to pay money to run up and down the road, knowing that you are not going to place. But it is just a mental and physical challenge that I enjoy. The best part is the emotional boost that it gives me. I enjoy this journey with fellow runners that I have met along the way. It's a way to build relationships and celebrate successes. I love my running friends! My next blog post will tell you even more about building relationships through running.

By the way, my official time was 3:01:50, an average pace of 13:53.

Until then,