Running in Public

Running has been a solitary journey for me. I’ve never claimed otherwise. For me, every single run (excluding paid races) has been solo.

Until now.

Beginning this month, my best friend (Theresa) and I started running together. Theresa has run since she was a teenager, but she is not a distance runner (yet!). So far the majority of her runs have been aimed toward 5k races, with a single 10k under her belt. She’s faster than me, though, by quite a bit. Where I might naturally fall into a 14:00 pace, she’s closer to 11:00.

We’ve been a natural fit. I can keep pushing us to do “one more lap” and run just a little farther. She pushes us (well, mostly me) to run faster. Our runs have mostly been intervals(ish) – run for a given distance, walk for a given distance.

When we run together, I go to her house and we run in and around a nearby park. Our first week or two were a bit slow – only about two days of running per week. This week has been our most intense week of running so far, with runs on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. We intentionally took the day off today (Thursday) to rest.

Beyond the runner’s tan and the nightly tiredness, I can tell the intervals are pushing me. Running faster, for me, is not natural. It is difficult, sometimes almost impossible, for me to push myself when I am alone. When I’m with Theresa, though, she’s a built in “rabbit” that I can use to gauge my pace. I push myself. I run faster than I would if I was running alone. No, it’s not easy, not by a long shot. And it’s totally worth it.

I’m still cautious about running with people. It’s such a personal experience for me, and I’m not willing to share that with just anyone. Running with a buddy is new to me. But so far, I’m thanking my lucky stars for this summer and my old friend/new running buddy. It’s been incredible, and it’s only getting better.

2017 Independence Half Marathon Race Recap

A week ago, I ran the Independence Half Marathon. I’ve been taking notes all week of the things I want to include in my race recap. The race was overwhelmingly fantastic. I’m going to break it down chronologically:

The night before
I was nervous, but I was pleased that my nerves weren’t terribly overwhelming. I reminded myself over and over that I had zero expectations for this race. I had trained, I would do my best, and I couldn’t expect any more than that.


Also, because the race was so close to my birthday, my family and friends took me to Joe’s KC BBQ. This is a perfect pre-race meal!

Early in the morning
Waking up early is the worst part. I’m not a morning person, and I’m not a morning runner. When my alarm went off at 5:30am, I had to fight every instinct to go back to sleep. (Because this race is close to my home, and because the race didn’t start until 7am, I still got to sleep later than I would before most races! Crazy!)

The day before, I’d made a batch of applesauce muffins. It’s a family recipe that I love, makes a perfect breakfast, and it worked before my last marathon. On the morning of the race, I dragged myself out of bed, dressed, and ate muffins for breakfast. My mother also woke and dressed. We left at 6:15 for the race.

At the race
I give major kudos to the race organizers for finding a location that is easy to find and with plenty of parking. We were able to park reasonably close to the festivities, and because there were many surrounding roads, we never found ourselves blocked by road closures or delays.

We were there early, so we sat in the car for a few minutes to rest. Several people walked around our car wearing tshirts that read “Wagstrong”, in honor of Thomas Wagstaff, a local police officer who was shot in the line of duty a few weeks ago. I texted a friend but soon put my phone away. I was too restless for that.


At about 6:40, we got out of the car and walked to the port-a-potty line. It was long, of course. I evaluated the people in line around me. Ahead of me in line was a runner, complete with her race bib and timing chip, wearing HEAVY eyeliner! Suffice it to say I was amused! I don’t think I’ve EVER worn makeup while I ran. For one thing, running is not a time when I expect to look good. For another thing, I know how awful makeup looks after it starts to run, and given the amount of sweat I produce during a run, I don’t know why anyone would want to take that gamble.

At 6:45, one of the race organizers came over the loudspeaker to remind people that the race starts in fifteen minutes and could we please line up at the starting line. The girl behind me in the port-a-potty line started laughing, looked at the line ahead of us, and announced, “well, we’re in line!” She and I began joking about previous races and long lines at port-a-potties.

The line moved slowly (with periodic interruptions by the race organizers asking the runners to line up), but I got through the port-a-potties in just enough time. I donned my tutu, took a photo, and moved to the end of the race line (just behind the 3:00 pace group).

It was a this moment, as they were counting down the start of the race, that I remembered I’d forgotten to wear sunscreen. Oops. Too late now.

I gave my mom a hug, and I was off.


The Early Miles
The first few miles were relatively easy. I reminded myself, OFTEN, that the first mile of a race is the most deceptive – that it’s easy to keep a fast pace for the first mile but it’s equally easy to lose that pace in the later miles. I intentionally ran behind the 3:00 pace group, and frequently forced myself to slow down. But even forcing myself to slow down, my pace was still a good clip. I was moving along at a sub-14:00 and feeling great.

I was intentionally trying to ignore the pace groups and the urge to run faster to keep up with them. One of my few gripes about this race, though, was the pace groups. I carry my iPhone and was listening to my pace calculations on that, and the paces it quoted did NOT match the pace groups. I could see both the 2:55 and 3:00 pace groups ahead of me, and to be honest, their paces seemed a good :20-:30 faster than they needed to be during these early miles.

However, as someone who was trying to NOT run with the pace groups, this was good for me mentally. It gave me all the better reason to ignore the pace groups.

Just past the 4-mile mark, my fitbit buzzed. I’d reached my 10,000 steps goal for the day. I burst out laughing, then had to explain myself to another nearby runner who looked at me askew.

Miles 4-6
Because the universe has a great sense of irony, I started my period around this time. I wasn’t shocked – my cycle was way overdue, and I’d put in a menstrual cup before the race just in case. But the cramping was certainly unwelcome.

Mile 8
This was probably the moment when I felt the race most acutely. This was where I really began to struggle, mentally, to continue.

Mile 8.5
As much as I’d tried not to let the pacers influence me, I’d kept the 3:00 pacer in my sight the entire race. The distance between us got smaller and smaller until, at mile 8.5, I passed them. This did WONDERS for my self confidence! (Although their pacing was terrible – the 3:00 pacer remained behind me and I think eventually came in around 3:10.)

Mile 9
Another runner, moving at about the same pace as me, slowed down and eventually took off her shoe. She walked barefoot for a few minutes. I passed her as she sat on the side of the road, rubbing her foot, and supported by her running partner. I asked how she was doing and was assured that she was okay, just struggling with some foot troubles. She kept fighting through the race, and she definitely has my respect!


Miles 10-11
At this point, all of my mental focus was on moving forward. I told myself, over and over and over, just keep going, you’re doing great, focus, keep going, over and over and over. I also found myself struggling to swallow the sport beans. My body just didn’t want to eat anything.


Mile 12
Due to construction, the race route had been changed slightly and included a long hill at the beginning of mile 12. I was still running, but just barely. I’m pretty sure I was going so slow that I might as well have been walking up the hill!

Mile 12.5
With the hill behind me, my pace picked up oh-so-slightly. I joked with another runner about how the finish line was so close, yet so far away. This last stretch of the race was both the easiest and hardest part of the race – easiest because I knew it was almost over, hardest because I had so little left to give!


The Finish Line
I tried to dig and find a little more pace. I’m not sure if I succeeded, but I tried. It’s fascinating how my legs just refused to respond. But I made it, I crossed the finish line, and I was on my feet!

I made my way through the chute and, exhausted, immediately dropped to a nearby curb. I wasn’t sick – just completely out of energy. (I didn’t throw up – win!) I drank the water bottle I was given, although it honestly tasted funny due to the Gatorade and sport beans I’d eaten.


My mom joined me. After a few minutes I stood up to explore the post-race festivities. There weren’t a lot of vendor booths – a local health food store and a few sports therapy doctors or massage places – but the atmosphere was fantastic. A car dealership which sponsored the race also provided a booth where a woman with an etching tool would write your name, time, or anything else you wanted on the back of your medal.


My chip time was 3:05:52.8. I couldn’t be happier! This is a PR, and nearly eight minutes off my time for the same race last year. Of course, it helped that I was not sick and did not have any injuries.

The aftermath
At home, I showered, ate a banana, and went back to bed. I slept until almost four pm, when I finally woke up and made supper for myself. I had barely anything to eat for almost 24 hours, but I was too tired to care. I also had no appetite after the race – food just didn’t sound good at all.

I had no blisters or hotspots on my feet. Zero. In fact, my feet felt pretty good overall. There was a tiny bit of chafing on the inside of my thighs, but nothing significant – it healed within a day. My upper arms, just below the armpits, were in rougher shape. My right arm was raw, and my left arm was a open wound. This was in spite of the fact that I’d slathered udder cream on my arms and legs before the race. My post-race shower was excruciating. I couldn’t put my left arm down without pain until Wednesday, and joked about having a chicken wing due to the way I carried my arm. It still hasn’t healed entirely (a full week later!). And, of course, I was sore. Any motion at all was painful.

Summary
This was an outstanding race, and I want to run it again next year. The medal is beautiful. The signage was clear, and had just enough humor to keep me going. The course is flat, tree-line, and feels rural. The finish line area is friendly and welcoming for visitors. My only complaint is the questionable pacers – and that doesn’t really affect me at all.

I am now seriously considering signing up for a full marathon. I think because of my background in running, I have a better understanding of the depth of 26.2 miles. 13.1 is hard, and 26.2 would be even harder. But it feels more possible now than ever before! I’ll adjust my training accordingly and see how the summer goes. Next year, who knows?!

Happy Birthdays and Half Marathons

T minus 10 hours.

I feel like there’s so much I need to catch up on, but I know I’ll never blog if I wait until I have time. 

Yesterday was my 34th birthday. It was an amazing day. Dinner at Joe’s KC and birthday cake with my friends. 


Tomorrow morning I’m running the Independence Half Marathon. My training has gone well. Not over-the-top amazing, but well. Optimistic me is hoping for a PR, something under 3:13. Realistic me knows that 3:30 would be a very reasonable achievement. 

My nerves are okay. I remind myself – constantly! – that however I run will be great. I know I can run, and I will do my best, and that will be enough.

I picked up my tshirt, race bib, and chip timer today. 


Now breathe. Just breathe….

Beastly bonk-inducing breezes and infectious illnesses

We had a *slightly* breezy weekend. Sustained winds of, oh, 20mph or more.

I went for an 8.5-mile long run on Saturday, determined to run and confident that I could run through the wind. I wouldn’t let a little breeze stop me…

I didn’t take any fuel with me. I told myself that this would be about mental training and proving my toughness. In hindsight, I was lazy.

The first four miles or so were uneventful. I reminded myself, frequently, to slow down – since I had no fuel, I knew I couldn’t overdo it on my pace. The weather was beautiful, and I ran (mostly) comfortably. I was running into the wind, but I frequently reminded myself that it would be easier going back.

The next two miles were harder. Even with the wind at my back, I was beginning to feel the effects of the run. I silently cheered for myself (“You’re doing great! Keep pushing! Strong!”) and pushed through my body’s desire to rest.

The sixth mile was when it really hit me. It was HARD. I was running up the last significant hill, and my legs were screaming. For lack of a better description, my mind was shutting down. I could only manage to put together short, cliche sentences to (silently) cheer myself on (like “keep running”, “you can do it”, etc.). It took everything in me to force myself to keep moving.

I hit mile 7 at the top of the hill, and that was it. I’d pushed, pushed, pushed, but now I could push no more. It was almost like a flip had switched in my head. I was pushing, I was hanging on, and all of a sudden I was done. I sat on a low retaining wall for a few minutes to catch my breath.

I resumed my run, but the last mile and a half was BRUTAL. My legs were heavy, and my body just fought me every step of the way!

It wasn’t until after I got home and cleaned up that I realized what I’d experienced – a bonk, hitting the wall, one of my most severe bonks ever.

The exhaustion clung to me for the remainder of the afternoon. I was able to finish some errands, but I had to push myself. I was very relieved when I finally fell into bed!

Unfortunately, a long night’s sleep was not meant to be. I woke up to the sound of thunderstorms around 2am, tossed and turned for a few more hours, and got out of bed at 6am Sunday morning. I dragged myself through the day on Sunday, and by Sunday evening I knew that I was fighting a cold virus on top of my spring allergies. It was a hard, hard day.

Here’s hoping that the remainder of the week is stronger!

Long runs, more sport beans, and a new pair of shoes!

Last Saturday I did another long run, just under eight and a half miles (8.42). I’ve written bits and pieces all week, and I’m just now getting a chance to collect my thoughts on the run.

This run at least began difficultly. I’d been looking forward to this long run all week, but I didn’t sleep well the night before. I was sluggish and drowsy, but determined. The first half-mile was pretty torturous, and it wasn’t until a mile into the run that I really started to find my rhythm.

Ironically, being tired seemed to help me from starting the run too quickly. I didn’t struggle at all to keep my pace down during the first couple of miles. Of course, I never really got to a fast pace overall anyway, but I felt strong even near the end.

I did really well with my pre-run hydration, and I’m starting to see how much this matters. In addition to just generally drinking plenty of fluid in the days beforehand, I forced myself to drink a glass of water (about two cups) right before I left for the run. And it worked! I wasn’t thirsty during the run at all, which meant I never felt like I had to find a place to stop for a drink. Definitely important on long runs!

Just shy of a mile into the run, I saw an ambulance blast through the cross street ahead of me, lights and sirens blaring. As I reached that cross-street, I was passed by a car dragging its bumper. There was definite damage from a front-end collision of some sort. Quite peculiar, though it didn’t seem to be slowing the car at all. It wasn’t until later that I realized these may have been related.

I was at the beginning of a long, straight stretch of road, and over a mile ahead, I could see emergency lights. It was too far ahead to see any details, so I just kept running.

Slowly, the emergency lights began to clear out. Not a surprise, since it took me around fifteen minutes to cross that distance, and I know emergency responders are pros at dealing with these situations quickly and getting out of the way. By the time I got to that location, they had already cleared out.

I was still perhaps a quarter-mile away when two of the police cars turned on their lights and sirens and headed towards me, presumably responding to another call. They were moving quickly, but I waved at them anyway. I’m just friendly like that. One of them waved back, and the other honked at me – win!

I used Jelly Belly sport beans again, but this time I used two packs of their “extreme” version, meaning they had added caffeine. They were… tolerable. Not nearly as good as the original version. I had one package of “assorted extreme” and one package of “cherry extreme”. I wasn’t impressed with any of them. The flavors were just odd. They weren’t the worst mid-run fuel I’ve ever had, but I don’t want to use them again either. I’ll stick to the original beans now!

I was VERY pleased with how my left foot responded to the run. I was at least six miles into the run before this old injury flared up, a definite improvement. Plus, when it did flare up, it didn’t feel as severe as my earlier runs. Baby steps!!!

I’ve even talked to a friend who is a physical therapist about my shoes, and toyed with the possibility of adding orthotic inserts to my running shoes. The physical therapist recommended that, if I do purchase orthotics, I choose Spenco or 10 Seconds brands, instead of the cheap drugstore brands. However, I’m pleased with the improvements in this run, and I feel confident that I can hold off on orthotics for now.

My mid-week runs have also gone well this week. Not perfect, of course, but it’s been good. I feel strong. I’ve been putting in a lot of activity this week. I hope it’s enough to prepare me for the half-marathon in May. Intellectually, I know it is, but it’s quickly getting near enough that I can’t do anything more to improve. That’s also when my self-doubt reaches its peak!

I realized this week that wearing a baseball cap kinda helps me focus during my runs. It’s like blinders – when I’m looking down, the cap hides the upcoming road. It’s a bit of a challenge, in that it is a bit harder to see ahead and be aware of my surroundings, but it’s a pretty big help also. Now I just need to find a good KC Royals cap, instead of the freebie Yahoo cap in the photo!

I also got a new pair of shoes!!! Saucony Cohesion 9s, found online for a great price. There’s nothing as exciting as the smell of new shoes!

I need to ease up on my long runs to let my foot recover a bit more before the race, but the forecast for Saturday is 77 degrees, and I’m not sure if I’ll be able to resist!

2017: Wienermobiles, Jelly Bellies, and the adventure continues…

2017 is begging me to maintain this blog more regularly.

As far as running, 2016 ended on a down note. December was a busy month, and life just kept me away from my running shoes.

I did receive a Fitbit for Christmas, though, and that’s been a lot of fun. It’s been surprising and enjoyable to learn about my movements throughout the day and how running affects those. I also adjusted the way that I’m recording my runs – away from Nike+ and toward Runkeeper, as well as SmashRun and Tapiriik, which work better with the Fitbit. I’m adjusting the sidebars on this website to better represent that.

January perked up. I wasn’t running long (at least not at first), but I was running. I ran at night, and even on a few cold days (in temperatures around 10-15 degrees Fahrenheit).

 

 

At the very end of January, I resumed my long runs. On a particular 8.5-mile run, I encountered something I’d definitely never seen on a run before…

…the Wienermobile!

That was a fun interruption. I got photos with the Wienermobile, and even got to go for a ride.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just a few days later, I was out on an otherwise ordinary run when I saw flashing lights and this:

A housefire! I was surprised by how quickly it erupted – I’d passed the same house about eight minutes earlier and seen nothing amiss. I later learned the fire was started (accidentally) by a cousin who was working on a car in the garage.

 

For a scary-looking fire, the fire department had it quickly contained. No one was hurt. The pet dog was removed from the house, safely. The attached garage was badly damaged, and of course there was smoke damage, but the house was badly damaged overall.

I kept running. I was passed by a couple of police chases. The weather has been unseasonably warm, and I’ve enjoyed that.

I received another gift for Christmas which I got to try out just before Valentine’s day.

These Sport Beans are infused with electrolytes, vitamins, and carbs to fuel athletes. I am incredibly cautious, and I don’t think I would’ve bought these for myself, but I received three packets as a gift for Christmas. I took two packets out for an 8.5-mile run, and I was AMAZED by how well it went!

I felt strong, and that was a huge triumph for me. I was hydrated and fueled. With just the two small packets, I felt like I could keep going for a long time. That’s a breakthrough, and I’m planning to buy more through Amazon!

It was a short-lived breakthough, unfortunately. On the day after Valentine’s day, I became sick. Really sick. I’m still not sure what I had, but it was nasty. It was like a bad flu with bronchitis at the same time. I ran a high fever (102 degrees) for a day and a half, with chills, exhaustion, vomiting, coughing, runny nose, headache, and shortness of breath. It was a bad time.

Even now, I’m not back to running. That illness seemed to suck all the energy out of my body, and while the worst is over, I don’t feel nearly strong enough to run yet. The weather has yo-yo’ed between unseasonably warm and miserably cool. For the time being, running is not a priority.

That’s okay, though. I’ll get back into it as soon as I can. Maybe next week. Until then!

Longview Half Marathon 2016

Last Saturday, I ran the Longview Half Marathon. I have a lot of thoughts to unpack on this race. It’s pretty overwhelming, to be honest.

First thought: amazing!

I woke up that morning and (no surprise) my first thought was on how much I really wanted to go back to bed. It wasn’t nerves – I really didn’t have nerves before this race. Just me questioning my sanity. But I did wake up, start dressing for the race, and texted a few people.

My mother drove me to the race. We left in plenty of time, but when we got to the location, the traffic was TERRIBLE. There was only one entrance to the race parking lot, and it was not too well managed. It took us 20 minutes to get parked. I slipped on my tutu and immediately went to the line for the porta potties, with 30 minutes before the race started.

The line at the porta potties was long and moved slowly. Probably not enough porta potties for this size of race. I listened as they counted the time on the nearby speakers – ten minutes to the start of the race, five minutes… At this point, I was thankful for chip timing. There was NO WAY I was going to start that race without going to the bathroom first.

I was sitting in the porta potty when I heard the air horn to start the race. Not ideal, for sure, but what was I gonna do? I finished up and hurried to the starting chute.

It was NOT an ideal way to start a race. Most of the runners had already started, and assorted people around me were yelling “hurry! hurry!” I was running through the chute while simultaneously pulling my armband onto my bicep, arranging my tutu/belts/shorts around my waist, and carrying my DIY sleeves. I had been planning to wear my wings, but in the rush I had no time to secure the wings (or take the very cool pre-race photo I was hoping to take!).

My tutu, by the way, was a HIT! I made it with a strip of elastic and three rolls of tulle, all purchased from Wal-mart for a little under $7. In addition to being adorable (I got lots of compliments!), it made it far easier for my spectators to see me coming!

The first couple of miles were kind of a disaster. My pace was a wreck. Between all the people who had been yelling at me to hurry and the rush through the starting chute, I knew I was going way too fast. I was arranging my tutu and two belts WHILE I ran, which is certainly not ideal. It took a full couple of miles to get everything fixed in a way that was comfortable.

I also had to pull on my sleeves – a pinterest win! Before the race I’d bought a pair of knee-high socks at Dollar Tree and cut out the toes and heels. I pulled the socks onto my arms, with my thumbs hanging out of the “heels” and my fingers hanging out the “toes”. I wound up leaving them on throughout the race. I was able to roll the socks up and down according to how warm or cool I was. They also served well when I needed to wipe sweat off my forehead or snot off my nose. For $1, I wasn’t worried about damaging or losing them (although I wound up bringing them home and I’ll be able to use them for another race). I really loved these!

During the earliest part of the race, I discovered that in my rush through the starting chute, I didn’t start my Nike+ app correctly. I was able to get it started, eventually, but as a result I was unable to log the first quarter-mile or so of the race.

My nose continued running like a faucet throughout the race. Every half-mile or so, I had to blow snot rockets. (Don’t worry, I always checked behind me before I blew!)

At every mile marker, I took out one of my applesauce packets and took a hit. This proved to be a perfect level of hydration and fueling for the race. I don’t ever remember being thirsty or eager to get to an aid station.

There was a mini “race within the race” after mile 2. We were timed going up a (pretty significant) hill, and the fastest runners were awarded “king/queen of the mountain” medals. Of course, I didn’t even try to be the fastest on the hill. I just focused on holding my pace and effort steady.

Thankfully that was the only real hill on the race. The rest of the course was pretty flat.

Around mile 4, that injury in my left foot began to flare up. Every time my foot hit the ground, I would feel a jolt of pain in the ball of my foot. I focused on landing on the outside of that foot, which helped significantly.

I was feeling strong. I can’t explain this well, but I my legs felt good. I had plenty of energy left. I felt so good that, around mile 5, I attempted to send a text message to my mother to tell her my pace and when she could expect me to cross the finish line. Between the bouncing motions of running and my phone being inside an armband, that never happened. I just could not get the words typed! Luckily it wasn’t too important.

Most of the run is a blur, especially from miles 5-11 or so. The effect of the long run was starting to wear my body down, and my mind became almost completely focused on running. I really can’t overstate the amount of mental energy that I devoted to keeping my mind in a good place for running. Most of my thoughts were some variation of “You’re doing great. Just keep running. Focus on this mile, on the here-and-now. You can do this.” and so forth. Whenever a thought crept into my mind of stopping – either just slowing to a walk or quitting the race entirely – I had to push it out. Mile after mile, I didn’t think about anything else.

In the latter portion of the race, my foot was really starting to throb. I couldn’t flex my foot inside my shoe without feeling a shot of pain. I had to be even more careful to land on the outside of my foot and not put pressure on the ball of my foot. My mind was completely empty of thoughts not directly related to running.

I found myself crying out periodically from the pain in my foot. If I forgot to run on the outside of my foot, or if I flexed my foot within my shoe, I got that awful jolt of pain – and it HURT! But it didn’t stop me.

I was pleasantly surprised, though, to discover that I wasn’t feeling a significant amount of pain in my hips or back. In past races, that was a problem, but this time I felt nothing more than a bit of soreness.

I could also feel a bit of chafing at this point, inside my thighs and on the bottom of my arms. Luckily it was not severe enough to change my stride.

Past mile 11, and especially past mile 12, I let go as much as possible. I knew this was my chance to throw out whatever energy I could find. I was running as hard as I could but, amusingly, felt like I wasn’t moving much faster.

Shortly before the 13 mile marker, I was surprised to see my mother. I’d expected her to be at the finish line, but due to the logistics of the race parking, she had decided to intercept me at that point. It was a good surprise, though, and I pushed hard through that last bit.

As I approached the finish line, I could see my best friend, Theresa, waiting beside the chute. I was so glad to see her! She hadn’t been sure if she would be able to make it, which I understood, but I was so encouraged to see her. It means a lot that she was able to make it.

With the finish line in sight, I was approached by a cute young park ranger, who asked me if I was his friend who’d had a cold. I was thoroughly confused (how does this stranger know I had a cold?) but I said yes, and Park Ranger told me he was going to run to the finish line with me. That proved to be especially helpful – with him running beside me, I was able to push even more, running as fast as I could to the finish.

(I found out later that Theresa had told him she was waiting for the girl in a tutu. Park Ranger had been drinking energy drinks all day, and told her he was going to cross the finish line with Tutu Girl.)

A volunteer cut the timing chip off my foot, another volunteer handed me a medal, and a third handed me a bottle of water. I was, and still am, overwhelmed. This was, by far, my strongest finish to race of this distance. I was tired, very tired, but I wasn’t completely spent. I didn’t throw up. I felt tired, but I felt good.

My final time was 3:29:47.2. Longer than I would have hoped, sure, but pretty doggone good considering the mess that was my training.

After the race, I knew I probably should text several friends who had been following my race and supporting my training, but I didn’t. I was tired, and too overwhelmed to deal with the emotions of contacting others. I’m still struggling to sort out how I feel.

When I napped after the race (or at least, attempted to nap!), my body HURT. It took at least two or three days for the soreness to disappear completely. I had no blisters, though, and other than some chafing in my thighs, arms, and around my sportsbra, I was injury free.

I know this race was exhausting, but as the amnesia of a successful race sets in, I’m starting to feel more and more ready to run a full marathon. I’d like to heal my foot, obviously, and I am unsure of how to handle fueling for distances longer than ~16 miles or so. The applesauce packets, while efficient, are slightly bulky, and I’d have to carry a lot with me to finish 26 miles. Maybe I need to switch to gels, although I still find the cost prohibitive.

The mental training proved to be at least as important as the physical training. I am amazed, and pleased, that I was able to hold my mind in a good place for over three hours.

I don’t know what my future holds in terms of training. The chafing on my legs is healing, so I’m sure I’ll be back to running soon. However, I probably need to incorporate more cross training or strength training. I don’t know what that will look like. Training for a full marathon will probably take quite a bit longer than training for a half, so I’ll need to organize my schedule better.

For now, though, I’m just focusing on how GOOD this feels. I’m ready for my next race now!

what a race!

I’m not even sure what to think at this point.

First there was the foot injury. Then there was the travel. Then, just to top things off, I got sick… a head cold that began as two days of a mild tickle in my throat followed by four days of coughing, sneezing, stuffy nose, laryngitis, and a horrible headache.

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Thanks to the stuffy nose, then the headaches, I haven’t slept well for nearly a week.

I’m excited by my costume for tomorrow’s race, and I’m excited by the opportunity to run. But I don’t even know what to think, and the race hasn’t even started yet!

Wish me luck!

Foot injury and traveling

*edit: I wrote this on Monday, hit publish, and walked away from my computer. I didn’t realize until today that it didn’t actually publish!*

*edit edit: maybe it did publish. I dunno. Too much stress!*

I’ve been a terrible blogger during this training season. I know there are several people who care about me and still read this, though, so let me try to catch you up.

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It’s been a rough one, to be honest. I have another half marathon, the Longview half, in a little under two weeks. Around late August or early September, I increased my mileage, replacing my 3.5-mile runs with 5 mile runs, in preparation for the race. At the time it made sense. I was pleased to see the spike in my weekly mileage.

Of course, it came back to bite me. My left foot began to ache, mildly at first, then much worse. Finally I realized this was not a normal tired-foot feeling, but an injury. 🙁 The pain was concentrated in the ball of my foot, where my big toe joins to the foot. With the help of Dr. Google, I think I have/had metatarsalgia. Thankfully, the treatment is simple – RICE (rest-ice-compression-elevation).

There are no words to describe how discouraged I was.

Instead of increasing my mileage, I had to cut wayyyy back. My runs became short and few. I would end my runs in tears, frustrated by the pain in my foot.

On top of that, I wound up traveling for most of the month of October. I drove to Boston to visit my sister, who lives there. It is very hard to maintain any kind of training schedule while traveling. I ran on a treadmill at every single hotel, every chance I got, but a two or three mile treadmill run just isn’t the same as an outdoor run!!

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Ironically, though, traveling and treadmill-ing was probably the best thing possible for me. That gave my foot a good chance to heal. It’s feeling much better, and I’m hoping the problem won’t flare up during the race.

Between injury and traveling, I haven’t had any really long runs – it’s been a few weeks since I’ve run more than three miles! I still feel strong, and barring a mid-race injury, I’m pretty confident that I will finish this upcoming half-marathon. Without the long runs, though, I will have to keep myself in a good place mentally throughout the run. I won’t have a recent memory of a solid long run to fall back on.

I’ve had to make some huge adjustments in my expectations, too. Finishing the race will be the easy part! I have to let go of my expectations of finishing within a certain time/pace, and that’s hard. I know it will be especially hard at the starting line, when I’m surrounded by runners. Experience has taught me that this is when I tend to push myself too hard – but I also know that this will be when it is most important for me to control my pace!

Less than two weeks, and I’m playing a very mental game. I’ll try to keep you updated!

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