Monday, June 13, 2011

Utah Valley Marathon 2011- #7 It is what it is.

Well marathon #7 is in the books. It certainly wasn't my best race. But what was I expecting? I knew this one wasn't going to be a PR and it was more about adding one more number to my list of marathons rather than the time. But sometimes false hope creeps in and sets you up for disappointment. Besides the fact that I ran a marathon 3 weeks ago and wasn't trained properly for that one. So am I disappointed? Yes. But not in my effort. Or in my time, even though it's a far cry from what I believe I am capable of. I am really disappointed because I think I have a new injury. And it's the same old on and off injury that I've been trying to escape from for 7 years now. The dreaded IT band. What is really discouraging is that this injury is what led me to barefoot and minimalist running. I was so sick of hurting while running. I knew that it was something I was doing wrong and have been determined to fix what it is so that I could continue doing what I love. So I must still be doing something wrong. I really wish that there was a pro barefoot runner around here so that I could get some coaching or something. I should be able to figure it out myself, but I guess I can't.
Thursday I was reviewing some of the race details and realized that I was going to have to leave my mom's house at around 3:00 in the morning to catch the busses. On a whim, I called the host hotel to see if they were still giving out the marathon discount. They had one room left and I booked it. I then called Heather to see if she could get away for the weekend and come with me. Her saint of a husband agreed and so Friday we were off for a girl's weekend!

We met up with the other blogger girls at yogurt land and then had fun shopping and eating.

Rachelle, Chris, me, Ashley, and Julia

I didn't really sleep much. My stomach was in knots and I just couldn't settle down. Finally it was time to load the busses and I met up with Julia and Ashley. It always seems like such a long ride up to the start. I still had pretty bad nerves.

But it wasn't long before the cannon went off and it was time to start. I did the same plan that I used 3 weeks ago in Ogden and carried my water bottle and Nuun. I ran with Julia for the first 5 miles. It settled my nerves and I was really excited for her to be running her first marathon. I stopped at the water station to fill my bottle and saw her a ways ahead of me. I could have caught up, but I knew that I was not going to be able to keep up with her the whole time and needed to settle into my own rhythm. I just didn't feel fresh like I did before Ogden.
It was beautiful scenery and perfect weather. This was touted as a downhill marathon but everyone had failed to mention the uphills. It was actually nice to have some variety. There was quite a large hill at around mile 7 that I loved. I took it nice and steady and cruised up it. I didn't even feel out of breath at the top. It was around this time that I had a conversation with a nice man from Arizona who was wearing Vibrams. We chatted for a bit about the transitional time because a woman was asking me about them just before I saw him. He started barefoot as well and got up to 18 miles. I picked his brain about downhill running a little and then told him I was going to just hang behind him and just watch him for a while. We hit the first real downhill into the canyon and I tried to mimic what he was doing. Quick turnover and man, he flew down that hill. It was pretty steep and I felt a little out of control and slowed down. There were several rolling hills and at about mile 10 I felt my IT band hurt. It wasn't just tightness. It was pain. I was unprepared because I haven't felt that pain for about a year and a half. And here I had just been telling him how great barefoot running has been for my body. I was good on all the uphills and the gentle downhills but every time we hit a steep downhill that pain would flare up and I'd have to slow down. I tried stretching it but it just wasn't working. I finally reached just the bathrooms right before the halfway point at 2:15 and took about a 5 minute bathroom, fill water bottle, and stretch break then headed on out. It felt like those first 13 miles had taken forever. So I stuck a smile on my face and tried to enjoy the scenery and soak in the race vibes around me. It was around this point that I stuck my music on. I also chatted with several people along the way. I reminded myself to embrace the suck. It was fitting that the race's motto is "Pain that you enjoy". So it wasn't a perfect scenario. So it was going to be a long day. I refused to let myself be discouraged at that point. I reminded myself that I was lucky to just be out there on the course that day. Pain or not, I was lucky to be running.

The calf cramps started around mile 16 or so. I had one salt packet which I took and it held them off for a while. I didn't have any cramping in Ogden and didn't take any salt and I think I fueled about the same so I'm not sure what was going on. I even had my fancy calf sleeves on. I'd stop and walk to get rid of them and then start running again. It was getting hard to keep the negative thoughts out. So I started naming things in my mind that I was thankful for. That helped distract me and got me back in a good mood. Through the rolling hills, I would pass people on the uphills and then as soon as the downhill started I'd have to slow down because of the pain. That was pretty sucky. You're supposed to be able to make up time on the downhills!


Mile 21 hit and I got to see Heather. It was SO great! What a mental lift that was. I stopped and complained to her about all my ailments and then started back up again. Those last couple of miles were long. I made sure to thank every police man directing traffic for my safety. After thanking one of them, he told me that I was a better woman that he was. My first response was to tell him, no, that anyone can do this, then I said, "wait! I AM a better WOMAN than you are!" He laughed and said, "I was just checking to see if you were still mentally there!"

Mile 25 and I see Doran and Jody. They're my neighbors and Jody is such a great support to me. She's always sending me good luck texts before each race and is always checking up on me. Doran ran the half and decided to be gracious enough to run me in the last mile. It was so great having company and support! It really was kind of a lonely race. The last two blocks my calves were in a permanent lock but I was not going to stop and walk the last two blocks. However after crossing the finish line and stopping, I wasn't sure if I was going to be able to walk again.




5:09:20

Another big surprise was my dad at the finish line. My mom has been to almost every finish line but my dad has never been able to come. It was great to have them both there.

And then there was Heather. I don't think there are words that really express how grateful I was to have her there. I don't know many people that would sacrifice to come and be my race photographer when she really should be running the race with me. She has handled her injury with such grace. I am so grateful for her in my life. She is so unselfish and is truly happy for me even when I know it's not easy to hear or see others running when you can't. I love her and I couldn't ask for a better and truer friend. And I didn't even get a picture with her.
Now that I've had a day to think about things, I am more discouraged than before. It's a good thing the negative thoughts I've been having now didn't creep in during the marathon. I may not have even finished. I'm kind of baffled. I've gone and looked at my photos. It looks like I'm landing correctly. I've only gotten blisters from barefoot running on a smooth hot asphalt road and even then the blisters were on the outsides of the middle of my feet. Maybe it was just the two marathons too close together. Maybe my body can't handle that. Maybe my body just can't handle the distance. Maybe trying to mimic that guy threw off my normal stride and I screwed something up. Maybe that brutal trail run I did a week ago did it. I got a massage on Tuesday where I knew my quads were sore but as we got into the massage I realized that my IT bands were sore too. So she really worked them so much that I still have the bruises from it. Maybe it was too close to the marathon to have that done. I may never know. I've done 7 marathons now and 2 of them have been good and positive experiences. Why do I keep coming back? I ask myself that a lot. As does my husband. I've tried to be really positive at home. I've let these things really bother me before and it doesn't do anything good for me or my family. And that's not worth it. So you all will have to listen to my whining. I keep coming back because I believe that someday I will feel like I've done my best and reached my potential. And until that happens, I'll be back. It just may not be for a while.

36 comments:

Laura said...

COngrats....the tough runs make us stronger. I hope you get your injury taken care of! I am so scared of being injured...
I am with you on the marathon. I am actually taking a break this session and only doing halves until the Fall. To be honest, it is nice to 'only' have to plan around running 20km on a Sunday as opposed to 30-35....

Julia said...

Jen...this is a beautiful post...despite the frustration the genuineness that is you totally came through. I wish I could have stuck with you longer. You are the epitome of strength and calm...I think this is what helped me ease into those first 5 miles. Before the race I was literally having major anxiety that I would not be able to do this. I was not sure this was for me...Starting with you calmed my nerves and your kind words through those 5 miles meant the world to me.

I am so sorry to hear about your pain. I hope that it will heal quickly. You are SO strong for pushing through that and finishing well. I am so glad to hear your family was at the finish and that you were able to find friends along the way.

Your courage amazes me and inspires me on a daily basis. I loved your last line...and am so glad to hear you will be back again and again!

OH! And I must say...I loved the police man story ;) You are a better woman than most of us! LOVE YOU! I hope I can see you this summer. :) You are truly amazing and your friendship has meant the world to me!

Chris said...

Congratulations on pushing through th pain and negative thoughts tocimplete your marathon!

I was running hills with friend who works in as Physical Therapists aide who said that to relive your knees when going down hill (I am fighting tendinitis in one knee) you should actually heel strike going down, engaging your Glutes...it seemed to help me a bit on the downhill portion of my hill drills.. i hope your knee feels better soon!

Mallory said...

Congrats on finishing!! Way to go. I hope your injury is healed soon :( That's awesome that your Dad was there!

Jerilee E. said...

I'm so sorry the race was so challenging and painful but seriously awesome job pushing through and finishing!! I hope your injury heals quickly. Love all the pictures- I really wish I had taken more.

Wendy said...

Congrats, Jen! Great job pushing through, even though it wasn't easy.
I hope your injury heals quickly.

Julie said...

Good job on the race Jen! You are amazing!
If I can offer any advice at all on the ITB stuff, it would be to concentrate stretching and strengthening the hips. Especially the gluteus medius. I've battled the ITB nightmare for over 2 years and it all comes back to the hips.. The usual culprit is weak hip muscles. I bought a yoga DVD called "hip helpers" or something to that effect that showed me LOTS of good stretches and exercises to do. I sit with a thera-band at work and do exercises (looped around my knees doing the "clam" thing) and I foam roll my ITB's on both sides daily. I also roll my hips, ITB and butt on a tennis ball working any trigger points and sore spots I feel to break up scar tissue and relax the muscles. Natural anti-inflammatories help too...I take turmeric, white willow bark, fish oil and arnica. Good luck and I hope you can nip this thing in the bud! You have had more than your fair share of bad running luck and don't need the ITB joining the injury party. : /

Margs @ Faster Bunny said...

I'm so sorry you had a tough race! I am super amazed at ANYONE who runs marathons close to each other - I was dead for 4 weeks after mine.

Hope you heal soon !!

misszippy said...

Sorry to hear you had a rough day out there. don't let it get you down...marathons are mysterious creatures and it can take forever to get them right. And don't forget it wasn't that long ago that you were taking time off for your foot.

For now, rest up and get that ITB in order.

Elle said...

Congratulations on the finish! Maybe not your best marathon, but an amazing effort, all the same.

Loved reading your story. I hope you are recovering happily and comfortably now.

Jennifer Cotter said...

In my book, any marathon finish is amazing! And, you've done 7?!? That truly motivates me. I hope you heal quickly so that the "next time" comes soon for you! Congratulations!!

Johann said...

Well done! This is the type of run that really makes you strong even though you are already strong if you finish it. Great run! ITB is often caused by too much running and road camber as well. Two marathons in 3 weeks is a lot if you've only done 7 marathons so just relax and take it easy (shorter) for a while. For the camber, make sure you run with both legs on the lower side of the road more or less equally. All the best!

Stefanie D. said...

Jen, you are so amazing to finish strong even though your body was in pain! Congrats on finishing another marathon! Even though you don't think it was your best, YOU FINISHED 26.2 miles for the 7th time, and there are SO many people that can't say they have done that!!! It was so nice to meet you! You are so beautiful!!

Rachelle Wardle said...

Jen first of all congrats on finishing despite your pain. It would have been so easy for you to quit but you didn't because you are strong and I absolutely love that about you. Your determination is inspiring and I know that you will work through these problems and you will be back. Because you will never give up.

I am so so sorry about your IT band problems. I wish I could say something magical to fix it for you but I really just want you to know that I love you and you truly are an inspiration to me.

Lindsey said...

Congrats! You did such a great job in spite of your pain! I hope the IT band doesn't turn into anything even more serious. :(

Pam said...

First of all, congratulations on another finish.

As for your IT band... damn. That really sucks that it's flaring back up after all this time. But you know what? All those things you listed--the back-to-back marathons, the trail run, the hardcore massage--any ONE of those things could have made it hurt. Put them all together, and I'm sure that's got to be it. Don't get discouraged yet, girlie!!!

Audrey said...

Way to push through and finish, you're incredible. IT band issues are the worst. I hope you get to feeling better soon. Running in Altra shoes has seemed to help my IT band pain a ton.

Nelly said...

Great run!

I'm with Julie and Johann - you might have to work on strengthening your hips. I've had IT band problems and know a left knee problem, and it was partly caused by weak hips I think. I now do strengthening exercises daily and go to a physical therapist for help with it.

And doing 2 marathons in 3 weeks is a lot of running. I bet your IT band is just overloaded right now. I would work on foam rolling it a lot. Maybe rest up and try to get your IT band healthy. Maybe go back for another sports massage to see if they can loosen it up at all.

And great pic at the beginning - I recognized Julia, Janae and Candice...

Holley @ Lunges and Lashes said...

I am glad you just enjoyed being out there and running! That is the best part, who cares about time or anything else! Give your body some rest and take care of that IT band!

Jess @ Blonde Ponytail said...

You are so so so strong Jen! It sounds like you were a rock for Julia and your strength was evident with her too.

I'm so proud of you for completing 7 freaking marathons!!! Amazing! It looks like it was really warm.

I think you should definitely give yourself time, but you most certainly can handle the distance as evidenced by your 7 completions!! So so So proud of you!

Cara @ EAT. PRAY. RUN. said...

You're incredible, and don't ever be too hard on yourself. Girl you just completed another 26.2 miles! Remember when you never thought you would be able to run a half? I always think back to the days I thought I couldn't do something and realize crossing the finish line is an amazing feat in itself! I hope your IT band gets better, nurse it and take it easy :) Congrats again!

Nikki said...

Jen,
I have been following your blog as well a few of your friends, and I have to say that you are very inspiring. I am new to running and reading about your experiences has really helped me with this new journey. I even started my own running blog to help me on my way. Thank you for sharing your life and your love of running. I hope I get to meet you at yogurtland someday.

Congratulations on your 7th marathon! That is a HUGE accomplishment and you should be so proud!

ashley & sundance said...

Jen! YOU ARE AMAZING! I was so glad I got to spend the few hours prior to the start with you! You are just awesome. I love talking with you and you really calmed me down at the start of the canyon.
I'm sorry your IT band is being a punk. I hope things quickly improve. (anything I can do to help??) 7 marathons? and the last 2 within 3 weeks? HELLO? We are FREAKING NUTS. lol. We keep coming back because we want to do better, we want "good" races, we want results, and quite frankly, the theme, "Pain You Enjoy" is absolutely correct.

You will get better. You WILL come back stronger! Because YOU KNOW YOU CAN!

lOVE YOU GIRL!

Jennifer said...

Congrats on your race! Hope you feel better soon.

Coy Martinez said...

Please dont be dissapointed with your time or with your effort! YOU RAN A MARATHON! You did it in Vibrams. This is something that a very small portion of the population of this world will ever attempt or succeed at! I've been injured for months now. Only yesterday was I able to complete 6 miles without pain!

My husband started running with me a couple weeks ago. He runs 11:30 minute miles and he's sooo happy. I run with him a lot to encourage him and I have to say that what we're doing is more important than any time element.

YOU DID FANTASTIC! BE PROUD AND KEEP THAT CHIN UP!! :)

Cory Reese said...

I finished a little behind you at the race. It is so funny to look at your pictures, I have some that look exactly the same on my camera.

Way to go with #7!

Tricia said...

congrats!

Lindsay and James Cotter said...

i'm so proud of all you ladies! amazing! sorry about the cramp, thats the worst. But you really did amazing considering your past injury!

Emz said...

Dang IT bands.
Dang calf cramps.
But
Looking dang awesome the whole way.
Loving the photo with the MTN & runners & shadow. Awesome.

Penny said...

Jen you did amazing, with all that you had going on with your IT band and feet. Girl you are an inspiration to me. You just keep going. I to like running in my vff's but my darn feet hurt all the time. So when I read your post it made me even more determined than ever to keep trying to figure out what I need to do to. I sure hope your IT band and feet get better. You a strong Lady .

The Hungry Runner Girl said...

SEVEN MARATHONS!!! Girl you are amazing! I LOVED seeing you on Friday and wish I could see you every week. So glad that you got the hotel room but sorry that you didn't get a lot of sleep! YAY FOR MASSAGES!!!Your photos ARE GORGEOUS....most beautiful marathon ever! Calf cramps are the worst but you got through it and stayed strong...that is what makes you a CHAMPION!! I LOVE YOU SO VERY MUCH!

One heart and mind said...

So love ya girl. That was such a fun weekend. Thanks for inviting me. You are one of the strongest people I know and I am so glad that we're friends! Two marathons back to back after wondering if you would even run one is amazing!

Running Ricig said...

Awesome job! Getting up at 3am to run a marathon should be accomplishment enough, but way to push through!

Korin Lopez said...

Wow Jen you are amazing! I am in total awe of you!

Lindsey said...

Hi Jen, I just found your blog!

Nice work pushing through that marathon to finish even though you were hurting pretty badly. Great job staying strong!!!

I hope your IT band gets better soon. Injuries are the worst! Oh and I'm so impressed you ran the entire marathon in Vibrams! I have Vibrams and I love them for walking and hiking, but so far I have only built up to running two miles in them.

KT80 (Running Like a Girl) said...

Your 7th marathon?! Wow! This was a great post, very inspiring! Thanks! :)