My nutrition has been a mix as usual. Great, mostly-healthy dinners courtesy of my awesome husband - he's been off work all week due to his back injury and entertaining himself by making delicious foods. Breakfasts / lunches no quite so healthy, but par for the course. No major food junkie meltdowns, so nothing horrific to report. My weigh-in on Sunday (day after Race Day) showed me up 2.2 lbs in comparison to the stunning 4.3-lb loss of the previous weekend. I'm attributing that mostly to post-race swelling and water retention, but I do hope to maintain this week. Cross your fingers for this Sunday morning. It'll be another post-race weigh-in and with this week's food intake being a bit off, could probably go either way.
So last Saturday was the Christie Clinic Illinois Marathon event! With more resolve than anticipation, I got up a little after 4am and went through my race-day routine. I had a short list of things to grab and put in the car, but of course all of my clothes were already lid out and ready to go, including my super-awesome "It's my First Half Marathon!" shirt - which I put stickers on to edit so that it said "3rd". Those Wal-Mart stickers have really come in handy and made it so my custom-made shirt wasn't useless after wearing it just once! As I'm getting ready to head out the door with yogurt and giant water bottle in hand, I thought to myself, Funny how at 4:30 in the morning, there aren't any dogs pestering me to take me with them (since I'm wearing their favorite outfit) - this early in the morning, they could care less about going for a walk - "you're on your own, crazy woman!" Of course, as I'm thinking this, Coty pads down the stairs and noses me in the back of the knee. "Whatcha doin'?" I let her out in the front yard by herself while I got my coffee ready. (Louie heard this and came out of hiding as well... but after a moment of consideration, he gave me a look that said "Damn it's too early for this shit" and went back upstairs.)
I double-checked that I had my bib (mistakes happen once, but paranoia lasts forever), put Coty back in the house, and hit the road. I was early enough this year that I got a good parking spot (one I thought I'd be able to locate after the race) and at my yogurt and protein bar. The race started at 7am, and I'd arrived by about 6:15am (thanks, Cheryl, for checking on me!) I had 45 minutes to find the truck to check-in my gear bag (with post-race change of clothes, snack and shoes), stretch, find a porta-a-john and get into my corral. I congratulated myself on having exactly the right amount of lead-time. Just as I got out of the car to gather my gear, I ran into two awesome ladies from my running group! A round of pictures was in order.
|Julie and Caitlin and myself|
We chatted for a while and talked about our plan for the race: it was the first half marathon for each of these ladies! They headed off to hook up with some other friends and I went looking for the gear-check. I was so busy drinking my water, I forgot to put it in my bag before I checked it = one giant water bottle, gone forever. Oh well, I drank as much as I could, did my stretches while waiting in line for the port-a-john, found my corral entrance, and had time for one quick pic before they called "GO" for the first corral.
Corral wait time was about 20 minutes or so, but too crowded to do any stretching. I talked with the runners around me - several first-time half-marathoners and MANY first-time marathoners! Most of these had little orange signs on their backs saying "my first marathon" so you could cheer them on as you approached (or maybe even passed) them in the corral and on the course. It was really inspiring starting the race with all these marathoners and being able to encourage those on their first time. Marathoners come in all shapes and sizes and I love seeing that diversity at big races like this one.
I mentioned before, I've been trying to figure out how to work around this foot pain that I've been experiencing. It's prevented me from doing any real training for this half-marathon and left me convinced I wouldn't be able to finish this race, but here I am at the starting line, with a walk/run interval plan and enough GU to get me through 3 hours of running, and the resolve to do whatever I can, no more, and certainly NO LESS. Foot pain or no pain, I'm going to give it whatever I've got.
So I run for four minutes and it's time for my first walk break. I stop. This feels SO WRONG. But I have a plan and by god, I'm going to stick with it. If I end up running 15 minutes at a time and then quitting at the 6 mile mark because I can't take the pain in my feet, I will regret it. So, even though I'm expecting someone in the cheering, super-supportive crowd to yell "Don't quit now, you just got started!" I stop and walk my one minute and then pick it back up. After a couple miles of this, it feels a lot less wrong. After 6 miles of this, it starts to feel RIGHT. But I'm getting ahead of myself.
I'm reminding myself to have some fun. In a way, every race is about finishing, but some are about finishing fast, or finishing well. All other goals were out the proverbial window for this event and it really was ONLY about finishing. That frees you up to focus on all sorts of things: how many tutus can I count in Mile 3? (Fourteen.) Trying to read as many of the signs on the side of the road as possible. Making a point to say something encouraging, give a high-five, or a pat on the back to every person I see wearing that "My First Marathon" tag on their back. Say "thank you" to as many volunteers as I can make eye contact with. Sing along with Pat Benatar (in my headphones) saying "Hit me with your Best Shot" - you know, general long-run self-entertainment. It was getting warm -I got my little towel out and took a couple extra water cups at one of the hydration stations to get it wet for future use.
Somewhere between the 4-and-5 mile markers I realized my feet were starting to tingle. Not bad, but not a good sign. I came around a corner and decided to text Jason and let him know I was still in it. I had some trouble getting my phone out of the pocket of my Batman Utility Belt. (This thing is awesome and sits really well without chafing or riding around like some do, but having the big pocket on the back side makes digging around for things a little bit of a chore. On the other hand, I can carry my GU, phone, iPod, plastic dog-poop bag [yes of course I always need that but rarely have one with me], gum, chapstick, credit card and ID and not notice any extra weight or bulk.) Anyway, the point is, I was struggling with getting to my phone while running, so I pulled to the side and stopped for a minute to sort things out. Once I texted him ["5 miles in, still ok"] and started back into the race, I almost absent-mindedly turned around to the group of volunteers/ community cheerleaders / supporters there and said "Thanks for being out here, you guys are awesome!!" I turned around and started to run when I heard, "CHRIS!! IT'S YOU!"
|Me and Haley from RGX|
About this time I realized I was about 1 hour into the run and it was time for my first GU. OK, got that done. So off I go, 4 minutes run, 1 minute walk, repeat. When I came across a hydration station, I walked. If that meant I was walking during a "run" interval, that's OK. Depending on where that fell in the intervals, I may pick up and run some more before the next scheduled walk or I might not. I was really intent on being as kind to my feet as possible until I figure out what's causing this awful pain. I just ran until the time on my watch read a minute ending in either a 9 or a 4, and then I walked until it hit either a 0 or a 5. Take it easy, keep the math simple.
It was a little after the 10k mark that I realized my feet weren't hurting anymore. This came as quite a shock. My feet were hurting, and then they weren't. I don't get it. But I sure was happy about it. My feet don't hurt anymore! [They got pretty achy and started complaining again around mile 11, about when I'd normally expect it, but that searing shocking pain never returned.] I had now surpassed every training run I'd done so far. This is my longest run of 2014, whether I finish the race or not. I kept on with my 4/1 intervals.
Around 7.0 miles, I saw a GREAT sign hanging in a tree - I didn't get a picture but it said simply "TRUST YOUR TRAINING." No one holding it, just tied up on each corner to the branches of this tree at the side of the road. First, I wanted to cry. I got a little teary, actually. This sign sort of hit me in the face that way. Then I started laughing because the first coherent thought I had was "WHAT training?!?!?"
Next I saw this sign, which also made me giggle. There was a large group of people in front of the neighboring hose, cheering and possibly already doing a little day-drinking...The really funny thing about this sign is that the race ends at University of Illinois, which is a DRY campus and there IS NO beer at the finish line. Tricksters!
This is about when I decided I wasn't having as much fun as I ' been having earlier. I sent a text to Jason... "7.5. Still in it. This is less fun now." and snapped a selfie. OK my intention was to be sticking my tongue out like I was pooped... but the picture somehow came out really flattering. I didn't realize it until later, when he texted back "You still look fresh. Get home and walk the doggies. They are very confused."
|He's right, I look FINE here!|
This is about when I realized my ankle was bleeding. What can I do about it? Time for another photo. This one I sent to the Hubs back home. "8.0. Now THIS." [Response: "Ew. Ur gross. Go away!"] And then of course he suggested I locate a medical tent and a bandaid. Good advice which I promptly ignored. Because as soon as I turned to get moving again, I saw this:
I did find a port-a-pottie with no line just after the 8-mile marker - SCORE! I was excited enough about this that I posted it to my personal Facebook page while peeing. (Again, TMI?? Sorrrrry.)
There's not a lot to say about the rest of the race, except a few funny sights, a shirt I really want to buy for myself, but in the meantime had to spend about 30 minutes chasing it so I'd get close enough to snap a photo.
Time passed. 4 minutes run, 1 minute walk, repeat. 4 minutes run, 1 minute walk, repeat. Two hours in, I had my other GU. The foot pain never really came back. I have nothing to back it up, but I wonder if the pain might be fuel-related?? I haven't used any GU since last year, because my runs haven't been all that long. (With the exception of my 10k, where I SHOULD have used GU but had completely forgotten to stock up on the stuff.)
|Me at Mile 9. Photo proofs from MarathonFoto.com|
I was somewhere between 10-11 miles when I suddenly began to comprehend what was happening. I was over 10 miles. I have less than a 5k left to go. Even if I WALK the whole way it's less than an hour, and my feet feel good enough to run at least some of it.
I'm going to finish. I'm really going to be able to finish it. Once again, I get all teary. That was an emotional realization for me. I had to take a moment to let that sink in, take in that reality. I was surprised, grateful, proud.
So that's pretty much it! I finished the race - and had a blast doing it! My third half-marathon is in the books.
|Crossing the finish line. Photo proofs from MarathonFoto.com|
|After crossing the finish line, I collapsed on the turf and cried a little. Called the Hubs and talked to him a bit. I wanted to thank him for his comment the night before - I really don't know if I would have been able to finish without his support and telling me he believed in me.|
I asked a woman nearby, "Could you do me a sort-of-gross favor?" And she agreed to snap a photo of my mangled ankles. By the time I'd finished, both had gotten pretty torn up.
|Here's how bad my ankles got by the time I finished.|
|Photo proofs from MarathonFoto.com|
My Garmin (which I stopped while talking with RGX and again at my pit stop, had a time of 2:56:37, 8 minutes slower than the half last September, 13 minutes slower than my time in Ventura. (But it's not about speed today, Chris. Today is about finishing.) My official chip time came in at 3:03. Full Garmin Stats can be found here if you're interested.
A few post-race photos:
|My BodyBugg was exploding.|
|I was feeling "SUPER"!|
I hate to reiterate a cliche, but sometimes it's less cliche and more truism: If you believe you CAN'T, you WON'T. And at least this time around, knowing that someone ELSE believed in me, helped me to believe in myself, or if not to believe I COULD, at least to believe I could give it my all. Looking back, I can hardly believe I actually considered not even showing up for this race, because I was certain I wouldn't be able to finish without injuring myself. Self doubt, now and always, is my worst enemy.
UPDATE / side note: I later discovered some serious chafing on my torso that afternoon as well. Haven't worn this Awesome Bra in such a long run before. LOVE the bra, but may need to invest in some Body Glide.