Sunday, May 22, 2011

Ogden Marathon 2011 - Embrace the Suck

I did it. I finished. And it was a great day. Not a PR day, but it felt just as good.

Finish time: 4:56:07. I'm a really happy girl.

It really started the night before with dinner and carb loading with Ashley and her crew. We met at a little restaurant and after we had waited about 20 minutes of the hour wait we decided to get take out instead. I ate a really yummy turkey, bacon, and avocado sandwich. The bread was to die for and I already plan on going back there sometime soon.

Brittany, girlfriend to Ash's brother, Ashley's mom, Ashley, me, and Heather

I got 4 hours of sleep but slept a good 8 the night before that so I wasn't too worried. I had a bath, shaved my legs, took my time getting dressed and ate a waffle with peanut butter and jelly. I usually don't eat before a long run but this was 3:30 a.m. and we were running at 7:00. I figured I was going to need something. I got all my gear and headed out the door. But not before finding a sweet note from my hubby.

I picked up Mel and we met her running group at 4:30 to get our bus ride to the start line. Heaven knows why we had to be there that early because we waited 1 hour and 20 minutes for the start. The field where we waited had fires but was a big muddy mess. It was pretty cold. I did get to use the long line of porta potties twice before the start. My feet were freezing though. Mel kindly let me wrap them in her sweatshirt for a while. I wore my gorilla feet and they just don't keep you that warm while you're standing still or are wet.

The race finally got started and we were off! I felt like it took me a while to get warmed up and comfortable but after the first mile I felt good. I didn't feel like I was pushing the pace and just felt good. I ran into Brittany from dinner the night before and we ran together for quite a while. I didn't listen to music until we parted ways at mile 17 or so. I just listened to the race atmosphere and everyone's conversations. People are interesting. The scenery was beautiful as well. I could kick myself for not taking a few photos along the way because we passed old barns set in fields of bright green dotted with yellow flowers against the backdrops of tall, snow-crested mountains. The opposite side of the road was the reservoir, a nice biking trail, and fields of horses that were curious about what was going on. The spectators were awesome, the volunteers amazing. I was drinking in the experience and loving every minute of it.

I felt so good. Like really, really good. And I did until about mile 19 or so when I entered the second canyon. Things were starting to get a little tight and started to suck a bit. It felt like a long run. From miles 19 to 23 I smiled. Things were to that sucking phase and I was going to embrace it and love it. I reminded myself that if I was hurting it was because I was alive. Alive and running a marathon. I used my mantras a little more and focussed on good form. I stopped and stretched a few times. My hip flexors were what was starting to bug me a little. My calves were getting tight and my feet were starting to ache. Just tired though, no pain.

Mile 23
Just before mile 23 I got out of the canyon and there was Heather cheering for me. It was a really good mental boost and I knew that there were only 3 miles left. Those last 3 miles were sucktaculous. I took that little boost that Heather gave me and ran those last 3 miles really well. I hurt, but I had a smile on my face and felt good. Really, really good. I knew I wasn't going to PR but didn't care. It was a great day.

One more block!

Heather and I. She was my support crew. During more than just this one marathon.

Heather, me and Jodi (she ran the half and stuck around to cheer me on!)

Ashley and me. This girl is amazing!

This race was a big experiment. Experimenting with shoes. Experimenting with form. Experimenting with mental exercises. Experimenting with fueling. Experimenting with carrying a water bottle for 26.2 miles. And I'm so pleased to say that all that experimenting went well.
I had a Hammer gel right before the race started and then at miles 5, 10, 15, and 20 as Angie Bee suggested. I also used Nuun in my water bottle. I liked being able to drink whenever I wanted and gu whenever without waiting for an aid station. I also think I got more fluid in me than I normally do. I refilled 3 times. I practiced in training and I think all those push ups made it so that my shoulders didn't even get sore. I worried about that and switched hands every couple of miles. I had no stomach issues whatsoever which is a first. I think I have that part figured out for me. I also took my peppermint/ginger oil before the race thanks to MissZippy and I think that's another reason why my stomach did so well. Plus when I weighted myself as I got in the shower, I weighed the same as the morning. I hydrated well and was pleased about that.
I had a tinge of calf cramping but came upon an aid station that had bananas. I ate one and made an effort to drink a little more and didn't have any other problems.
One thing I do need to work on is proper running form while going downhill. That's hard to do and I find that I take it slower than I normally would. I just can't cruise down like I used to be able to do in normal running shoes. That being said, my quads are not sore at all. The last two times I've run this marathon I've had to go down the stairs backwards for 3 days. I think my new running style has something to do with this.
Mentally, this was my best marathon. I was happy the whole time. I never went to a dark place in my mind. I smiled the whole way. I used my finger rubbing technique whenever I felt tightness or felt tired. I thought about each child in my church group that I have charge over. I thought about Janae. I thought about Nora. I thought about all of you that support me. Miles 7-17 were dedicated to Heather. She knows why. Paying it forward, baby. Miles 18-23 were for Mike. I embraced the suck for you. Miles 23-26 were for myself and my family. I needed to know that I could finish, and finish strong and finish happy. My poor husband has really been there for me when I've struggled. He's worried about my health. Sometimes more my mental health. He's always been my best cheerleader. He couldn't be to this finish line. It was the first time. He was taking care of running the kids around. And it was hard for him not to be there. And my kids think I'm pretty awesome for simply doing it.
"It was a great day to be alive."
I took a walk last night when things started getting stiff. Today was a much better day. I'm walking pretty normally. My list of things that hurt are: my calves, but not unless I flex, my hip flexors, the tops of both feet are tender right above the big toe, and my achilles tendon on the right side is tight. Not too shabby and nothing feels injured. Just sore. I'll be icing and rolling and trying to decide whether or not I'll be doing this again in less than 3 weeks time.
Thanks so much to all of your for your thoughtful comments, e-mails, and texts. Running a marathon really shows you that you are loved. It's one of the things I love the most about running.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Taper Madness... I think not.

Usually during the final week of the dreaded taper I am going crazy. I have cleaned my house from top to bottom, done yard work, planned everything to the last detail and have basically driven everyone around me crazy. It's a little like nesting in those last few days of pregnancy. This go around is different. Sunday gave me the first taste of nerves. You know that butterfly excitement feeling you get that is also accompanied by that pit in your stomach that is associated with a feeling of dread? You know, that one? Well it hit me when I realized that my quads were sore. Very sore. As in after a hard 1/2 marathon downhill sore. Even tonight I can touch my quads and they hurt. Add that to my calves which also took a beating during that trail run and you can see why that pit arrived in the bottom of my stomach. But you know, this time around that pit only lasted Sunday. Amid the training that has not gone as planned, running through yet another stupid injury, and now soreness before I even run the dang marathon, I finally just let go of everything. No more pit in my stomach for me. I've given in. Que sara, sara. Whatever will be will be. So I've had a couple of naps this week. I've watched a chic flic with Heather during the day while the kids were at school. I've eaten more chocolate than I should have. And I got a massage on Tuesday. One hour solely on my calves and feet. It was torturous heaven, if that makes sense. Good hurt. This taper thing, hey it isn't so bad after all.
I thought I had planned what I was going to wear Saturday, but I wore some old capris this morning and wondered why I wasn't wearing them on Saturday. And I still don't know what I'm going to wear on my feet. I could wear my Evo's. But I've only worn them up to 16 miles. And my Sahara desert feet sweat in them. I could wear my gorilla feet (Gist brand five fingers) but that's what I wore on my 20 miler when my toe started hurting. My doc says the shoes didn't cause it, but they have me leery. So I've got about 32 hours to figure that out. I have my shirt picked out at least. And I read through my last Ogden report and remembered that I wished I had brought gloves. So I will this year. And the weather looks decent. 65 degrees and sunny.
Now more than ever I've decided to make my mantra for the last few miles (or many many miles) of this marathon be "embrace the suck". Mike from Canada has been a follower since the beginning. Like 3 years or so. He's seen it all through my short little running stint. And he's offered words of encouragement and wisdom along the way. I was pretty excited because he and I were running marathons on the same day. Until he rolled his ankle this week and is out. Go over and send him some good vibes. I'll be thinking about the suck factor for him, for Heather my running partner, for Janae and for anyone else who doesn't get the privilege of running a marathon this week. Not that everyone one wants to. But for those who do and can't, it sucks. And embracing the suck isn't always easy or what we planned on doing.
Some may call us runners crazy, and they might be right. But it's like we know this little secret that can't be explained through words. Telling someone how running feels doesn't work. It's something so individualized and something that gets planted so deep inside you that it's hard to put into words. I guess that's why this blogging/running community is so great. You don't have to try and explain the madness because everyone just gets it.
As Mike would say, "it's a great day to be alive." Now go out there and act like it!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Just so you know...

1. I love my regular doctor. I may have made it sound like I didn't in my last post but that simply is not the case. We just don't agree on this barefooting thing and I don't want to fight about it because I've already made up my mind on the whole thing. My doctor is one of a kind. He does house calls. He's come over on weekends, late nights, you name it. He is so willing to do anything to make us better. He genuinely cares about us. Plus he has an awesome garden and brings me fresh produce all summer long. We're good friends, we double date, he lives around the corner and his wife is also a really good friend. My kids all love him too. He brings them treats when he visits and makes sure that he's never the one to give shots. He is awesome and we are so lucky to have him in our lives. So now that we're clear on that one...

2. Push ups: I completed the 6 week program last week. It was hard. I'm sure I'll be going back to it after the marathon's over. The last set on Friday went something like this: 26, 26, 33, 33, 26, 26, 22, 22, 53. And that 53 was HARD. I was supposed to be able to do 60 but just couldn't squeak it out. I'm planning on doing my test for 100 in a row tomorrow. It should be far enough away from the marathon to affect me. It should be interesting!

3. I am feeling so unprepared for the marathon. My 20 miler was 7 weeks ago with an 18 miler 5 weeks ago. As a result I did a split run on Monday to try to simulate fatigue. I know I shouldn't wear my body out this close but needed a little mental training. After running that 5K last Saturday and then another 5 that night at tempo pace, I ran Monday morning 5.5 miles at a hard tempo pace. Then I was going for an 8-10 miler that evening. When I started my legs felt so stiff. My calves were so stiff it hurt to just walk. I considered turning back at mile 2. But I kept going because I had previously decided that I was out there for mental training. Embracing the suck as Mike says. So that was my mantra the whole run. I kept telling myself that this was really sucking. Everything was sore and hurting. But I stuck a fake smile on my face and embraced the suck. I turned on some good music and that fake smile turned into a real one. I was liking the hurt. I was really embracing and loving the suck. By mile 5 everything had loosened up a bit and though it still hurt, it wasn't torture anymore. The last 2 were hard but I just kept thinking about how the last part of the marathon was going to hurt and this was training for that. So although it wasn't a 20 mile run, those 10.5 miles were very hard and it hurt like a 20 miler and it was really good mental training. I was able to practice my own mantras and crazy finger touching techniques and I felt better prepared after that run. I needed that little mental boost.

4. I completed my last long run on Saturday and have begun the real taper week along with the obsessive weather checking for Saturday. Right now it says a high of 65 degrees and showers. I'm sure it will change 5 more times before the real day but if it ends up being that, I can handle it. The last two times I've run this marathon, the finish line was around 90 degrees. It's hard to train all winter and then go right to summer weather.

5. Toe update: Today is not so good. I didn't get retaped last week because of time constraints and after my Saturday trail run it is not doing good. There is no top of foot pain though and I'm getting taped tonight. And I'll be taped for the marathon so I'll just have to see what happens.

Lastly: some pictures of my gorgeous and hard trail run on Saturday. 8 of the hardest miles I've ever done. I ran a new trail that had some serious uphills and downhills that I wasn't really prepared for. My quads are still very sore today. I'll be rolling and resting and rolling all week long. I know. I'm so smart to do that right before the marathon.

Monday: 5.5 mile run in gorilla feet, push ups week 6, 10.5 mile run in Evo's
Wednesday: push ups week 6, fully body weights, 5 mile run (4 miles barefoot, 1 mile in gorilla feet)
Thursday: 5 mile run in VFF's
Friday: 2 mile run barefoot, push ups week 6, yoga
Saturday: 8 mile trail run in Evo's

Monday, May 9, 2011

Good News and a Barefoot 5K

*First I need to say thanks to everyone for your support, prayers, and thoughtfulness. I've really felt the love and once again am thankful for my support system full of friends and people I've never met yet are friends just the same!

*I decided last Tuesday to go see someone about my foot. This has not been an easy decision for a few really stupid prideful reasons. My regular doc knows about my barefoot and minimalist running and thinks I'm crazy. He thinks I'm trading my knee and hip injuries for stress fractures in my feet. So I really didn't want to confirm what he thought. I REALLY believe that this is the best option for me and it's not something that I'm going to be talked out of. I'm also really stubborn if you didn't already gather that. The chiropractor that I go to doesn't know much about it and is skeptical. I found a doctor of orthopedics who is a barefoot running advocate. He also works in an office with a podiatrist and an orthopedic surgeon. He actually lives in my city but works about 40 minutes away. I made my appointment and then started to feel better. I considered canceling but knew that if I did a long run I'd be right back in the same place so I kept it.

*Wednesday my foot was feeling o.k. and I worried that I might not be able to tell him exactly where it hurt. So being the smart person that I am I went for a run to bring it all up. I didn't go until night. I was barefoot. I figured I'd just go until my skin or my foot said to go back. I went out to that smooth piece of asphalt west of town and by the time I got there the sun was going down, the temperature was perfect, and I was feeling SO good. My foot had loosened up and everything felt good. What I really wanted to do was raise my arms up in the air and let out a big WAAAA WHOOOOOO! But there are still houses out there and I didn't want to scare anyone. But the feeling was awesome and oh how I wanted that to last! I got home after 5 miles that ended in complete darkness. People always ask me about stepping on glass. My response is that I just watch where I'm going and step over or go around things I don't want to step on. So here I was in the dark with only the occasional car headlights to light up the road. I was worried about stepping on something that I couldn't see but had good luck. Even the little pebbles didn't bother me as much as normal in the dark. Weird. Bottom line: best barefoot run to date. Everything was just working. And not much top of the foot pain afterwards.

*Thursday and my doctor's appointment. He had me bring my shoes and my training log. He spent an hour with me. He watched me run. He had me stand on one leg with my eyes closed. He said I had excellent balance. I told him I practiced that one at home. He measure my flexibility in my calves and ankles. He manipulated my feet all over. He compared the two and was so thorough. We had a good chat about barefoot running. Bottom line: he said that he didn't even suspect a stress fracture. My big toe and the toe next to it have been overextended so that during the liftoff phase of running my toe stays on the ground longer than it should and puts extra stress on my arch. The top of the foot pain that I feel after the run is a result of that extra stress that being put on my foot. He believes I can still run the marathon. He taped my arch up a little to help give support for that big toe. He wanted me to walk around on it that day and then give running a try on Friday. He said he'd then tape me again Saturday before my run if it helped. There are other ways to tape it but this was the easiest and quickest fix. He also said that my transition to barefoot running was good and that he didn't believe that it or my shoes caused this injury. He said it's not an acute injury but that it's one that happens over a lot of time. It can be as simple as the slope of the road that caused it. We're going to try to get me through the marathon and then work on a permanent fix.

*The taping was awesome. My foot felt better just walking around. Friday I went for a nice 5 mile run in the afternoon. It was a good run and I pushed it a little and things were good. I was pretty excited about the progress and the lack of pain after the run. I still could feel it during the run, but it never got any worse and the after effects were not there like they have been.

*Saturday my plan was to run 8 in the morning and then 8 in the afternoon. That was a fail. But it worked out o.k. I decided to participate in a charity 5K for a little 10 year old that has an inoperable brain tumor. I am good friends with his family and wanted to support them. As I was getting ready to go to the run, I debated what to wear on my feet. I brought both pairs of my shoes and my socks. I wanted to run it barefoot but was nervous. It was in another city. I didn't know what the roads were like. I didn't know the course at all. And to be honest, although I run barefoot around town, I've never done it in a big group and was slightly nervous. But after I registered and found two of my friends I made the decision to just do it. I scanned the masses of people and saw a sea of shoes. No minimalist shoes to be seen. And before I knew it we were off. There was a mix of road friendliness. Nothing really run to run on, but nothing too bad either. There was a huge 1/2 mile hill that sucked. I dry heaved a little before slowing down to walk for a minute. I jumped on the sidewalk after a particularly bad section of chipped asphalt but finished it strong. My time was 28:36 I think. They just called out your times as you crossed and I'm not sure on the seconds. I was pretty danged excited. I did get to talk to a guy and his daughter along the way. He had pointed me out to his daughter and we struck up a conversation. He has been working his way down to a minimalist shoe and was in a zero drop shoe from K Swiss. I'm assuming they're like Newton's. And after the race I found a guy who was barefoot. We went over to talk to him and found out that he ran in his Vibrams. It was fun to talk to a few people about it and I got a positive response from everyone. I'm sure it will not be my last barefoot race.

* My family came into town and I got to see my new niece and go out to dinner with everyone. This put my next run at 9:30 at night. I only went 5 miles but it was good. Not the long run I had planned, but oh well. Not much has gone as planned lately. And that's o.k. I'm learning to be flexible and being able to just roll with the punches. Maybe this is part of what I'm supposed to be learning from all this!

Ready to run!
Julie, Jodi, and me

After the race
Julie, Jodi, and me

Last week's workouts:
Push up challenge week 5
Monday: push ups, full body weights, 20 mile bike ride
Wednesday: push ups, full body weights, 5 mile run barefoot
Friday: push ups, 5.25 mile run in gorilla feet
Saturday: 5K race (barefoot), 5 mile run in Evo's

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The tightrope walk

It's a fine line that we all run. It's a constant challenge to find a way to balance our lives. There's family, work, school, service in church, service in the community, extra activities, your kid's extra activities, and exercise. We try to create balance in our thoughts. Not obsessing about one particular thing. Putting proper priorities first. And then there's the fine line between soreness pain and injury pain. Knowing when we can push and when we need to back off. Lately I've felt like I'm on a tightrope. The line seems very thin. And so far I've been able to keep my balance up there. But with the marathon just a few weeks away I've been in panic mode a little bit more around here. Trying to figure out how to get back into things without re injury.

Last week was shaping up to be very nice. My foot was feeling good. Running actually helped loosen everything up and I felt better after running than I did before. I even had a couple of days where I was completely pain free. It was great. I had hope. I was pretty sure that I could run that marathon, slowly, but still finish. My week was also really busy and I had something going on every single night so that I didn't attend my cycling class or visit the swimming pool.

I did get to meet up with these sweet ladies though!
Heather, Ashley, Janae, and me

The weather sucked so I didn't bike outside either. I just ran. Well, and lifted weights and did the push up challenge. But probably not the smartest thing to do just coming off an injury. I was good until I had a little soreness after Friday's run.

Saturday was a scheduled 20 miler. I already knew I wasn't going to attempt that. It's that tightrope act again where I was trying to balance coming off an injury and still "train" for the marathon. I had planned to do an 8-10 miler and then try for a longer run broken in two the week after and then just do a 2 week taper.

It was a good run. It was a hard run. I chose to do it mostly uphill and ran the mountain by our house and around until I had gone up the canyon and got a ride home.

It was beautiful.

The sun kept coming out from behind the clouds and then back behind. So my gloves kept coming off and going back on.

The pain in my foot had moved upwards and felt different. It never got any worse, but didn't feel like it got loose like before. It wasn't until Sunday night that I was fully paying attention to it and realizing that it felt pretty bad. Different than before and it has me worried. I am not limping. I can not press down on a certain spot and have it hurt. It just hurts to walk on it. I am again taking it easy and will see what happens, but that marathon seems further out of reach. It was a long shot anyway. But that isn't making this any easier. I feel like I'm slipping off that tightrope. It's a fine line. And sometimes you just have to take it one day at a time.

last week:
Week 4 push up challenge
Monday: 3 mile run (1.5 miles barefoot), full body weights, week 4 push ups
Wednesday: 4.5 mile run in socks, full body weights, week 4 push ups
Friday: 5 mile run in socks, week 4 push ups
Saturday: 9 mile run (7 miles trail) in Evo's