That which does not kill us, makes us stronger. - Nietzsche

Friday, September 30, 2011

and the doctor says....!

I went in for another appointment. I'm sick of pain and I wanted answers about it. The pain has shifted from ankle to mid-inner-calf, my calf ALWAYS feels tight, and it always hurts. It's not horrible - I circled 3 out of 10 on a pain scale, and that's on the worst of days - but it's annoying. I did get some relief after an hour of yoga but it tightened up again way too quickly.

Plus, I can't tell you how much I miss enjoying running. Running in pain is just not fun.

The doc said it's nothing serious, yep, I pissed off (his words) my posterior tibial tendon and continued to piss it off so it put a strain in my soleus muscle. If I'm not mistaken, this makes Courtenay and I injury twins. He said it makes perfect sense if my previous shoes were rolling my feet out, and with proper fitting shoes/orthotics, lots of stretching, and some time, it should heal just fine. Oh, and I'm fine to run on it.

....except I'm really not. Because I got all excited and ran 3 miles and it hurt. And it hurt afterwards. I stretched a lot before and after and I used the stick and I iced and today it hurts to walk on it and I'm just not happy. Plus, cardiovascular wise, that run sucked. The hills kicked my butt when they're usually not so bad. Arrgh. Blame it on donating blood, marathon recovery, both, or the option I'm taking - just forget about it because it's not even worth worrying about.

I did find a calf/shin brace at Dick's when I went there to pick up more KT tape, and it seems to help more than my compression sleeves. It's got velcro so I can put it on tighter and it's more supportive. It took away nearly every shred of pain when I put it on and walked around the store. I just don't think anything is helpful enough at the moment if I want to run on it.

I do get to see my old PT for a gait analysis to make sure it's nothing structural (read: it's not the shoes. It's your running form.) He said it's doubtful if I've already been through PT and addressed my weaknesses. That will be fun and interesting, anyway.

So no triathlon this weekend. I wanted to do one last one this year, but honestly, it's going to be cold and I HATE swimming in cold water, plus tris are pricey (remember, I just spent tons of money....didn't even mention my new swimsuit and running clothes) and it's 2 hours away. There's stuff I want to do next weekend, though. I want to do Warrior Run - and I probably will, regardless of how I feel - and there's a bike/run dual that I'd love to do the next day. (Yep, they took out my least favorite part of the tri!!) Maybe another week of not running will help, provided that I and everyone around me can survive that long. They're both 5k runs so I'm not worried about losing so much fitness that I couldn't do them.

Guess I may be getting my money's worth out of my gym membership next week, although I didn't time my tattoo so well because I'm really not supposed to be swimming either....(I considered the tri because the swim would be brief and the tat would be covered by a wetsuit). 

Grumble. I hope this is a speedy healing thing.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

being nice to my feets

I still hurt. I still hurt to a decent degree of suckiness. I still feel pain when I walk. It's all my stupid calf's fault.

I got a massage yesterday morning that made me cry. I was told that I could probably benefit from another massage very soon, but I have to figure out if I can financially swing it. I've spent money this weekend like it was going out of style. (More on that in a minute!) I have to see if my HSA will actually cover it. However, it did feel like it loosened up a lot of everything in there, including parts of that leg that I didn't realize were so tight.

But post-massage, it still hurt to walk. I went to a running store (not my usual, but a place where I had a coupon) to look at shoes. It hurt like a biotch to run in the shoes I was trying on. I also felt not really listened-to by the employee and I ended up not buying anything and walking out crying because I am just awesome. I will probably never go to this store again because they now think I'm insane. So let me know if anyone wants a coupon for $15 off shoes. The shoes she told me I should get are made to correct an outward-rolling foot. Let's clarify this: my foot rolls outward because my orthotic makes it roll outward. So then I need shoes to correct the problem that the orthotics create. Does that make sense to anyone but that running store employee?? Also, the shoes she wanted me to buy were fugly.

I almost just went the f home to cry and sleep, but I need new shoes, so I went to the running store that I USUALLY go to. After having another mini-emotional breakdown when I told the guy that I can't quite remember my last pain-free run, I was helped. I was totally helped. If he thought I'd lost my damn mind, he didn't show it. Long story short, I got the hookup - BETTER orthotics. The doc-recommended ones have a super high, hard arch support that was pushing my foot up and over. I don't have arch issues at all. I was told I don't even pronate *that* badly, although I do pronate and now is a bad bad time to explore any minimalist shoe dreams. After much analysis, I ended up with a pair of saucony rides (neutral shoes) and softer, less extreme orthotics. And the orthotics? They gave me the sample pair for free after they realized they didn't have my size in stock. The shoes have pink and black accents and are cute, too. And I tried THE STICK for the first time. How had I not discovered this piece of magic?? Oh yeah, because it's $35 for what's essentially a piece of plastic and I'm cheap. But holy crap - he told me to try it while he hunted me down some shoes and that thing is AMAZING. I am now regularly sticking the injury and finding some relief. I would've paid $200 after I tried it.

If I can run pain-free and not need the compression sleeves and tape and pre-run aleve and I can increase mileage and do speedwork and hills I will owe this guy my soul and my firstborn child.

Oh yeah, I WAS wearing the right shoe size but it's a very close fit, so I ended up trying and getting a half size bigger. Your feet swell when you run long distances, around 2 hours or over. Makes sense, hadn't thought of it. That's why I lose toenails, and I lose them on the foot that's a hair bigger than the other one. He also said I should swim because my feet are straight, like flippers. I suppose the fact that they're a whopping size 9 only helps!

They call me Flipper, Flipper....

So I felt way better after that. Then I met up with my bestie for a pedicure! I figured doing something nice for my feet would get me some good karma with them. She picked out the polish that I have on in that pic, btw, and the woman at the salon did NOT recoil at my lack of toenails. Actually, she did a great job of faking it by painting the little nub that's left on the one toe and the thin bottom layer left on another. And we got the cold gel and the hot stones and the hot towels and the massage, and I realized that the left calf was STILL super freaking tight despite the massage therapist spending nearly the whole hour on it earlier. Yeesh.

So I'm still bummed about the calf thing, but feeling better after being so daggoned nice to myself. This is only temporary, this is only temporary....

Then of course, my final post-marathon indulgence appears in the post below. <3 my turtle!!

The marathon tattoo

...because I can't think of an occasion (besides maybe the birth of my future children) more worth celebrating with a tattoo. Here's the new addition to my right calf.

Artist: Mike at Designs by Dana, Cincinnati

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Finisher Video

Disclaimer: obviously this is not *my* pics page for the marathon. My page actually features the *next* 30 second video clip, so it starts after I've crossed the finish line and all you get is my head at the bottom of the screen for one second. This is the guy who finished about 10 seconds before I did. His name is Greg. Enjoy his pics, too, if you'd like.

I will get around to posting some of my pics here with some witty commentary, plus other pics I have; just haven't gotten there yet. If you want to see them NOW (and aren't my facebook friend), check out bib #979 on the photo page. I'm pleasantly surprised that a few of them turned out really good. The ones that didn't were taken somewhere around mile 23 if memory serves me correctly...and who looks good at mile 23 of a marathon??

Anyway, the video - that's me appearing under the F in FINISH, just to the right of the half marathon time clock (half finishers on the left, full on the right), about 13 seconds in. Right after that, he announces my name.

Also noteworthy: the poor guy limping at the beginning (but he still beat me!) I hope he wasn't like that long. Then, after I cross the finish line, check out the two half finishers who run for a total of 3 seconds. They're hilarious.

clicky here for video!!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011 what???

Post-marathon, I thought I'd take a week off to relax....but I've never been good at relaxing. The frustrating part, though, is that I think my legs would really really like me to.

I know the doctor diagnosed me with a generic "calf strain", but doing my own research, I'm pretty sure posterior tibial tendonitis (PTT) is more of what I've been dealing with. The day before the race, I noticed that it seemed to have migrated - I could pinpoint another, similar, bruise-like pain to the middle of the inside of my calf. Of course, it being the day before the race, the proper response was to freak the f out. However, KT taping not only the OTHER pain site but the new one seemed to keep everything together for the 'thon.

Isn't it pretty??

In the aftermath, my entire calf feels way tight. I'm still sorting out what pain's what, but as the usual (I'm guessing) 26.2 mile soreness wears out, that's what I'm left with. I was feeling that way to a slightly lesser degree the week before, too. Stretching and foam rolling don't seem to touch it, and it doesn't feel tight to the touch - I think everything's tightened up way the heck down in there.

So I'm getting myself a nice massage this weekend in hopes that THAT will do some good. According to the interwebs, PTT does well with a deep tissue massage anyway (although the pinpoint pain stuff is not nearly as noticeable as it used to be - and it's never again been as bad as it was in the aftermath of the Newtown 5k.)

Meanwhile, I'm a bit restless. I already want to run again (although today I've just felt super exhausted - I think it kicked in late.) Yesterday, I felt jumpy enough to take a 3 mile walk, thinking 4 mph would be a struggle. Nope - I was walking at an average of barely over a 14 minute mile, including up and down some insane hills. I was power-walking, ya'll. Then on the last downhill I decided to "run" although that wasn't really possible yet and I probably just looked like a big doof trying to propel my hobbling, uncooperative legs forward (and running at an 11 minute pace. Downhill.)

I totally want to do some more races - the Warrior Run 5k, possibly one of the versions of the Deer Creek triathlon, but that's the weekend of the first - eep. It's also my last chance for a tri this season, and they have a sprint, an olympic and a half ironman (no, I'm not going for the half IM yet!) Cinci half marathon is in less than a month. I wasn't planning on it, but after PRing the first half of my marathon, I'm really curious as to how fast I could do it. Aaaand I keep telling myself NO racing unless this calf thing is 100% gone. I'm not interested in prolonging it further; I'm also not interested in not running!!!

I also am big time in need of new shoes and in a new shoe/orthotic setup. I think I mentioned before that I've got too much of a good thing going on, and I'm now rolling my feet outwards instead of inwards, so it makes sense that I'm hurting the tendons on my inner leg, which are probably fighting back. I will be consulting a running store (maybe multiple running stores) this weekend. 'Cuz this pain thing? I'm pretty much over it, thanks. I'm just insanely happy that the most recent round of it wasn't nearly enough to keep me from a 26.2!!!!

The stats

Clock Time4:56:40
Chip Time4:53:18
Overall Place1582 / 2513
Gender Place384 / 744
Division Place68 / 120
Age Grade46.2%
13 12:17:27

Sunday, September 18, 2011

I hope this isn't a premonition of race photos to come...

Dear God. Why can't I look like a normal runner for a camera, ever??? This is from mile ten's facebook page:

That's me on the far left with the crazy outfit and crazier facial expression. Katie is next to me, and Greg and Heather are the smiley ones in front of us. Read the blog entry to find out more about how we kept each other going!!

Holy crap, I AM A MARATHONER!!!!!

And I did not die, and I am not injured, and I came in under my goal of 5 hours - and I am very happy that I decided to rethink the 4:30 goal after the calf issues started. It let me enjoy the marathon a lot more.

Beforehand, I was feeling pretty much every emotion that a person can possibly feel, but the overarching emotion was TERROR. Plus, it was cold - good running weather, bad waiting weather. And yes, it really was 100+ degrees over labor day weekend and in the low 50's this morning!!! Yes, Ohio really does have weather that is THAT EFFED UP. Luckily, Mark was running the half, which started an hour later, so I could keep extra clothes on until the last minute and then give my clothes to him to put in our bag to check. Running Buddy Jene and I parted ways soon before the start, her to go line up with the 4:00 pacer, me to find the 4:45. I found the group and met Pacer Paul. We chatted for a few minutes, and then the national anthem started. Jene had said I was going to cry when the race started and I didn't think I was. We were both wrong, I guess - as soon as I heard the national anthem, I started SOBBING. Yep, a regular hot mess, I was. The B-1 fighter jet flyover was AMAZING. Then Pacer Paul said he had to go to the bathroom and said, "Here, first-timer, you get to hold the sign!" Umm, ok. I stood there and held the 4:45 sign. Then we moved closer to the start line. No Pacer Paul. The gun went off. ARE YOU SERIOUS??? I was terrified that I would be stuck trying to pace a group of people. I started asking if anyone knew if I was on a prank show or otherwise the victim of some horrible joke. Then, he showed up!!! I gladly passed the sign back to him pretty much as we took off running.

The pace group started out pretty slowly. I made a quick friend in Katie, who was running next to me, and we chatted for a while. We were joined soon by Greg, who was a fast runner (40-something 10k), but had never done a marathon. He had done a 30k a while back but hadn't really trained for this one and was looking to go slowly for the first 20. We stuck with the pace group through the first hill at mile 1.5. It was a doozy but also too early for it to really be a problem. I turned on my ipod for some extra oomph on the hill and was pleasantly surprised to remember that I had put the mortal kombat theme on for my first sign. Hearing "test your might.....MORTAL KOMBAT!" before the techno kicks in, while watching all those people run, was a pretty awesome moment.

After the hill, Pacer Paul told a joke - what do you call a male cat in love? CAT-sanova. As we groaned, he produced from somewhere a loooong typewritten list of jokes.

Soon after that, the three of us got ahead of the pace group. The little voice in the back of my head told me it wasn't a great idea, but I had made friends that I didn't want to leave, so I stuck with them. We met a girl named Heather, a 20 year old Air Force Reservist who hadn't trained much and said she'd run with us as long as she could. With that, we formed a little team. Live together, die alone! I called out and everyone laughed.

Most of the race is a blur, but here are the noteworthy things:

I think I listened to about 5 songs on my ipod, total. I turned it on at times if there was a lull in the conversation but never made it through a full song before something would happen or someone would start out again. My marathon playlist was 40 songs and I was afraid it would be too short!

The miles FLEW by for the first half of the race. I was always so shocked to see another one already. We kept about a 10:30 pace for a while. Again, I was really worried about that being too fast. That's how fast I ran my last 15 miler and I decided at the time that was too fast for marathon pace. So torn between sticking with my new friends and slowing down!!

Greg kept wanting to shoot out ahead of us. For a while, I would join him and then I realized that his 10:00 pace (sometimes in the 9's) was just not right. Then the three of us started sticking to our speed when he went faster. He kept telling us he needed us to slow him down. At one point I told him I was going to put a leash on him!

Somewhere around mile 7, I think, a group of people were standing outside base housing with FIG NEWTONS!!!! OMG, fig newtons are awesome. I sooo did not have enough saliva, though, and it took forever to eat it.

We all were walking at the hydration stations. There were a TON of them. I alternated between water and gatorade, but by mile 8, my stomach was feeling all kinds of funky. I had done shot bloks at miles 2.5 and 6 but I decided to hold off because I was getting gatorade. I got the strawberry banana gu they were passing out at mile 8 and decided to stash it for mile 9. Then mile 10. Then mile 11...and so on until 16. My stomach just did not want ANYTHING for a while besides water.

Miles 8-10 were awesome. Spectator support tends to be low since most of the race is on base and all the security stuff...but we ran off base into the town of Fairborn, which pretty much converted itself into a huge party zone for the occasion. Bands, TONS of spectators, a big line of kids to high-five, people banging on pots and pans in their front yard, cute little girls cheerleading, a guy with a mic calling out all our names....I smiled the whole time we ran through Fairborn. They even have their own site: We also sped way up in Fairborn. I was so sad to leave it.

As I was running into Fairborn, I heard my name and saw Running Buddy on her way out. She was running with the 4:00 group and looked great. I was soooo happy!! As I was headed out of Fairborn, I saw fellow blogger Christina and gave her a shout as well.

Katie's 11 year old daughter and 4 year old son were in Fairborn with huge "Go Mommy!" signs. She ran over to them and her 4 year old ran out and hugged her. Cutest thing EVER.

At one point, an older woman asked me if it was my first marathon. I said yes, and she responded that she had ran 202 marathons. HOLY CRAP. We all asked her a bunch of questions and found out she ran her first one at age 31, she was now 65, in her most productive year she ran 19 (including 10 in 13 weeks) and her resting heart rate is 40. She passed us and Heather said, "She's totally pwning us too!" (Yes, she said pwning!)

For a while, Greg and Heather got ahead of Katie and I and we stuck together for a while, but the other two did eventually slow down. At a water stop, Katie got behind us and the three of us slow-jogged as we waited for her to come back. She waved us on. I felt awful continuing on, but I had started running again and I was starting to get more to the place where I was feeling the burn and couldn't stop and start as easily, so we went on. This was about mile 11 or so.

At mile 13, I realized I had forgotten to take Aleve before the race. I had a small moment of panic, but I was surprised at how well I was doing without it. My calf hurt, no doubt, but it wasn't slowing me down.

I totally hit a 13.1 PR. Around mile 12, I thought I may. As we approached mile 13, the other two kept asking me about it. We crossed the 13.1 mat and my Garmin said 2:17. (As it turns out, my official 13.1 time was 2:17:27 - a 1:32 PR.) Greg kept congratulating me, but I was totally torn between "That's so awesome!" and "OH CRAP I'm going too fast!!"

That was the point where I let myself admit that I was starting to hurt and struggle a bit. The other two agreed.

Around mile 15, I started to feel the dreaded chafage. WTF? I NEVER chafe. I used to on occasion, back when I first started running and was 35 lbs heavier, but never lately. I had new shorts on, but they were tempos, and I've ran in tempos before. Didn't chafe when I wore short-ish shorts on my 20 mile run. But yup, definitely chafing, definitely owie, right where my shorts hit my thigh. I sucked it up and said if that was the worst thing I had to deal with, I'd be thrilled. And I didn't have to deal for long - the next hydration station had a marked medical tent. "Do you have vaseline???" I yelled, and they pointed to a guy standing by the road with an open jar of it. I have never been so happy to see vaseline in my whole entire life. I grabbed a glob, and in a super ladylike moment, proceeded to rub it on both inner thighs. "That's right, no chafing!" yelled a volunteer.

Near mile 16, all of a sudden this wave of hunger came over me. Extreme starvation hunger. I ate the strawberry banana gu and it tasted AMAZING. Grabbed two gatorades at the next station and felt better. 

This was when I started to slow down. I delayed the wall as long as possible, but we had a stretch of running in the sun, which was now starting to get hot. I spotted my tattoo - what doesn't kill me, makes me stronger - and showed it off, trying to use it as motivatin. Around 18 I admitted that I was at that freaking wall. Our group decided to stay together. Conversation got forced. Someone asked what everyone likes to do besides running and it took me forever to think of an answer. Then I blurted out, "I really don't like running right now!" We were talking about our families and I was going to tell them about my nephew, but I couldn't remember how old he was. I tried to remember when he was born. I tried to remember how old he was when we got married. Then I thought we got married in 2009 and this was 2010 and I was fighting to remember the year. Oh, brain. It was going to die long before my legs were. I told Heather and Greg that they could speed up and leave me now. Greg turned around and looked me in the eye. "We're taking you with us!!!"

The two of them kept telling me that I was the pro, that I had trained, I had run further than either of them. WTF? Me, a marathon pro? I just laughed.

Somewhere after 18, Heather had to stop at a porta potty. Greg and I said we'd wait for her but she wouldn't have it, so we kept going. Greg's plan was to stick with the group until mile 21, and then he'd speed up for the last 5. I told him he could go slow with me if he wanted - I was into the 11 and change pace by that point - or I'd understand if he sped up, but THIS WAS MY PACE NOW. He stuck with me.

The hydration station near mile 19 had a rock and roll theme and a guy dressed as Elvis. "Welcome to station O, your rock and roll hydration station!!" Pretty funny.

Somewhere after that, a guy was on his hands and knees in the middle of the road. He was trying to straighten out one leg, which looked stuck in a bent position. He had a crowd of people around him and he was screaming these awful, blood-curdling screams of pain. I felt so bad for him.

Greg kept talking to me. He kept commenting on how I was PRing and how we didn't have far to go and asking me questions and I was pretty much just grunting at him. I saw someone on an online forum mention something about needing to suffer alone during a marathon. I was at that point and found myself wishing he would just run away, but knowing he was keeping me going, too. I didn't want to keep running until mile 21 but I did because he was with me and he had said that's what we were doing.

As we neared mile 21, I formulated a plan. There was a big hill. I was going to walk it. Then I was going to Gallowalk to the end. I decided I could be way proud of myself for running (other than water stops) 21 miles straight.Near that hill, I heard a "There she is!!" I turned and saw Pacer Paul and his group. I ran with them for a minute...then the hill. I left Greg with them and I walked it. I was at 21.15.

The hill was .4 miles long. I passed other people who were also walking, and managed to walk it at a brisk 13 and change. When I got to the top, I had my plan - run .2, walk .05, until the end. Break it down into nice quarter miles. I sadly watched the 4:45 group move on ahead. Running down the overpass went really well, and was exactly .2. It was then that my third toe on my right foot felt stabby. I was pretty sure I had ripped off that nail - I had lost the nail next to it during training. Well, it had been floppy and I had pulled it off entirely earlier in the week. I debated stopping to pull off my shoe to check, or better yet, stopping at the medical tent where they could check because I didn't think I could bend over and get my own shoe off, but I was afraid to stop. The run/walk ratio worked well for a bit - I was able to run faster and the walk breaks really helped. I didn't even feel like I NEEDED them when I got to one, but I felt better after that short walk. I inserted some longer walk breaks - at the hydration stations and up some smaller hills, because I was over running anything but the flattest ground.

At mile 23, I decided I missed having friends. I started talking to a guy who had stopped and doubled over for half a second. His name was Matt and he was a student at Purdue. I asked him if he cared if someone was running with him, remembering how annoyed I had been getting with conversation earlier. We ran together for a couple of minutes, but then he said he needed to walk again.

One of the latter hydration stations had an Austin Powers theme. A guy wearing a crushed velvet jacket told me I looked, "Groovy, baby!" I cracked up. I was walking a (small) hill later when I saw two little girls giving out high-fives. I ran to them and they both said, "You can do it!!" I soooo needed to hear that.

I walked A LOT during the last few miles. A lot. I hit mile 24 and thought I had three miles to go and it took way too long for me to get the math right, and even then, two miles seemed like way too far to run in one stretch. I brought back the intervals. I hit a downhill and FLEW down it. I was the only runner for a while. I hit a 9:18 pace. I felt invincible. That didn't last. I knew I could hit sub-5 without much running, heck, I could finish the thing walking, and it was really really hard to come up with reasons to run. I remembered feeling pretty similar last year at the half - the last few miles are the same. It didn't help that most of the marathoners were walking by that point, and we had joined up with the 3.5-4 hour half marathoners, so they were all walking too. Motivation hit an all-time low. Mark is at the finish line! Jene is at the finish line! Try to get to them faster!!

I was taking a walk break when I hit 25. Try as I might, I couldn't make myself run again. My brain wouldn't kick in. I tried picking a landmark, a time, to start running. Nope. Finally, my brain thought, "This is ridiculous" and my feet involuntarily ran again. Once they did, I wouldn't let them stop. I was in the last mile. I saw the big buildings on base and remembered how long the walk had been to the starting line this morning. A couple of fellow runners cheered me on. Holy crap, that was the longest mile ever. Only .4 to go! someone told me. .4 miles seemed like about 40. The base was full of annoying twists and turns. I was .3 miles away, according to my Garmin - and I saw someone I recognized. "202 marathons!!" I yelled and caught up to the 202 marathon woman. She smiled and told me I must have done some really good training. I almost started laughing as I thought of all the people online who told me there was no way I could run a marathon with the minimal training I'd done. "What? No! I didn't train well! I'm just stubborn!" She went on. "That's the mistake a lot of people make, they don't train enough and they go out too fast." I had probably done both. My Garmin chirped. Hmm, there's no 26 sign. Oh seemed to be .1 mile too far. Round the corner.....and there were the planes! There was the crowd! There was the finish! I ran as fast as I could....and looked down and saw a whopping 10:44 pace. Yep, I had killed my legs!

I thought I would cry, but I think that required too much energy and some actual hydration to make tears. My throat did get choked up, though, and I know I had a smile on my face. The smile faded a little as I scanned the crowd and saw no familiar faces....but then toward the end, there was Mark, on the other side of the fence, arms raised above his head. I smiled, raised my arms, and yelled out the first thing that popped into my head - "I F***ING DID IT!!!" Yes, yes I did, in front of everyone including small children. It just came out. I sprinted a few steps toward the finish line, remembered to raise my arms over my head, and got my medal. Then I remembered to turn off my Garmin, which read 2.39 in 4:53. After that....there were volunteers standing near the finish line with gatorade and POTATO CHIPS. OMG potato chips!!! Salt and carbs!!! I'm never hungry immediately after running, but I was starving. I shoveled potato chips into my face like I hadn't eaten in days.

Jene found me pretty easily after that. She had missed her goal by ten freaking seconds, which made me super sad!! She asked if I had found Mark yet, and I replied that I had seen him in the crowd but I hadn't found him since. Then I realized: he might have retrieved our bag. He had my flip flops!!! This may sound awful to anyone who has not run a marathon, but in that moment, I was more excited to see my flip flops than my husband.

He found me, sans bag. Said goodbye to Jene, and headed for the beer stand. OMG beer!!! I had two, thanks to Jene giving me her coupon. BEER IS SO AWESOME. For the record, they had miller lite and I usually only drink microbrews but it was SO GOOD. Then he picked up our bag. I had been avoiding sitting down for fear I'd never get up again, but I sat so I could peel off my socks and shoes and inspect my toes. I had a HUGE blister on one toe, wedged under previously popped blisters and callouses. Ouch. There was one on my nail-less toe, right where the nail would've been. I thanked myself profusely for yanking that nail off before the race. I had NOT ripped off the nail of the other toe; matter of fact, it looked fine but hurt like crazy. (I discovered later that I had a blister under the nail that was causing the pain.) I spotted Heather, who had finished a few minutes after me, and she said that Katie had caught up with her and kept her going to the end. Greg found me and said he had finished in 4:45:11.

Long walk back to the car, drive home, and SHOWER. SHOWERS ARE AWESOME. We compared battle scars. Nothing like a warmish shower to make you realize everything that hurts - blisters. Sunburn. Chafing. Both of my arms had chafed where they were rubbing against the seam on the armpit of my shirt. Luckily I hadn't realized it at all until after the race - the one arm HURT, though, and I had to walk with my arm held away from my body. My heart rate monitor chafed, which is why I hadn't been wearing it lately. We went out for pizza at a place with paper tablecloths and crayons, and I wrote "I JUST RAN A MARATHON, MOFOS!" on the table. A decorative sign behind our booth said, "What would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail?"

My answer: run a freaking marathon. Official time: 4:53:18.

(Also, huge props to the huz, who PR'd his half by 21 minutes!)

Picture post to come soon!!!

Friday, September 16, 2011


In less than 24 hours I will be running a marathon. I think I'm going to throw up.

I have to go in to the office for two meetings, one of which involves me leading a group of people, one of which is me meeting with my supervisee. They will all have to deal with my very divided attention.

Then I come home, pack, and huz and I will drive up to Dayton for the expo, dinner, and early bedtime. An old friend is letting us crash at her place so we don't have to do the Cincy-Dayton drive again. Still need to figure out what to do about breakfast in the morning, particularly the coffee part.

No more strategizing, no more training, nothing more I can do now except to show up at the starting line and run for a long time and pray it goes well!!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

new runner's best friend

Yin yoga. I've never done it before; most of the classes I've taken are of the more active vinyasa or ashtanga variety. I had a half off coupon to a local yoga studio, and this was one of the most convenient times for me to go. Plus my calves are in desperate need of some stretching.

In yin yoga, you hold poses for 3-5 minutes. In an hour and a half, we did maybe 10 poses. Maybe. At first I thought my short attention span and natural need to be bouncing off walls would make this a disaster. However, the instructor was so relaxing. At first, he kept talking, which kept me from going insane sitting so still. After a while, I realized he wasn't talking anymore and I was content to not be moving. I got a little restless in spots, but holy cow - I didn't realize how much more of a stretch I could get just by holding some of my favorite poses for a while longer. My hips and back especially are loving me right now. We started out lying on our backs, and my lower back absolutely hated it. It hurts when I lay on hard surfaces - I keep my side of the sleep number bed as low as it can possibly go! When I was laying there, I was thinking, hmm, this probably isn't SUPPOSED to hurt so much. By the end, same position, back felt fine. Aaaaah.

Need to make a habit out of this. After I dropped my membership at my old gym, I haven't been able to find a yoga class I liked as much as the one I used to attend, so my regular yoga practice has been much more sporadic (and mostly limited to my impatient self doing stretches for a few seconds at a time at home.) I forgot how much better I feel after a bit of yoga and how much of a difference it made in my being able to run comfortably. Going to get a pass to the studio - which is ridiculously close to my house - and do this sort of thing more often. (Local peeps, let me know if you'd ever like to check out a class with me - is the place!)

My outfit for the Air Force Marathon!

My phone could not do justice to the day-glo. It's pretty fantastic. Will look even better paired with my pink nike visor and blue zensah sleeves!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Last long one and Cheetah Run 5k recap

Today I busted out my last "long" run (I may do a 10 next weekend, but I don't even consider that long anymore) pre-marathon. 15 miles. I was dreading it a little - not really dreading the running, just dreading doing ANYTHING for that long. Short attention span is my middle name. But the weather today was wonderful - overcast, temps in the 60's, nice cool wind gusts - and that helped a lot. I'm starting to put together my marathon playlist and I tried a few new songs on the ipod, most of which turned out to be winners. As a huge Journey fan, I'm kicking myself for not putting "Separate Ways" on there way sooner. My other fave from the new stuff:

I'm being quite serious. It's really fun to run to that song. I even put that on when I hit mile 14 and STILL ran with a smile on my face (and probably a little extra booty shake!)

Nutrition and hydration were good - I brought two bottles of gatorade, put one at the beginning of the trail, ran with one for 2.5 miles and found a place to stash it. It's a five mile loop, so every 2.5 miles, I stopped for gatorade and a shot blok. Seemed effective.

I planned to run it at an 11ish pace, but 10 and change felt good and easy so I stuck with that and held it almost the whole time. I let myself ease up the last two miles. End result was a 10:35 pace, which I'm good with. I still plan to start the marathon nice and slow - I'd rather run 26.2 slower than I'm capable of running than to start out too fast and hate everything and everyone by the time I finish.

Yesterday was the Cheetah Run 5k at the zoo, which my Running Buddy wanted to do for her 30th birthday. I've always been curious about that race, so I signed up to do it with her. Err, behind her!! I knew the Cincinnati Zoo was hilly - I forgot how hilly. It's REALLY hilly. It was also really crowded - something like 1200 people total, and some pretty narrow areas in the zoo. I kept waiting to start my Garmin and kept looking for a mat, but after a few minutes I asked someone if we had actually started the race and they looked at me like I was insane and told me we had. I don't know where the chip timing actually began, but it was a good 2-3 minutes before I could even run. I was trying, but it was so crowded, and I realized that I wasn't really "running" but moving at a walking pace and bobbing up and down more than necessary. Ha.

We ran through the zoo for about a mile. It was neat but I didn't think of how gross animals would smell while running. Ahh, cat urine and giraffe poo!! A bunch of us were all stuck in a group that couldn't speed up and I mentioned, "So, I guess this isn't a good PR race, is it??" A bunch of people laughed. One guy joked (I think) that he was taking pictures and posting on twitter.

Then we left the zoo and ran downhill for a while. I got some good speed going downhill, and I figured we were just going back down after running mostly uphill in the zoo. Ah, no. We turned a corner and had to run up a hill that my Garmin says went from 583 feet to 820 feet in not quite half a mile. I ran most of it, but when I looked down and realized I was "running" at a 15:something pace, I walked the rest of it.

Back in the zoo; THAT part was mostly downhill. I was gasping a bit because of the humidity (I HATE RUNNING IN HUMIDITY!!) and consequentially got a mouthful of zoo animal feces smells. Managed to keep breakfast down and finished strong - 8 something pace for the last quarter mile. (Garmin says I momentarily hit a 6:43 pace.) My 32:27 finish isn't too shabby, for me, given the circumstances. I mean, really, if I had to design the cruelest 5k course ever, it would look something like that!! It was also good for 161 out of 686 females - top 25%, I think. Although I'm happy to now have a technical shirt with a bright orange cheetah on it. Rawr.

Ah well. Happy Birthday, Running Buddy (who, btw got 31st place female because she's amazing)!! My shin is doing well despite the hills and the 15, and I'm feeling pretty good.

My plan for the remainder of days until the marathon: biking tomorrow and Wednesday if I'm feeling up to it and weather permits. (Might swim as a backup if I can drag my butt to the pool). Easy run Thursday, again, if I'm feeling up to it. Try to get some yoga in there somewhere. Some kind of light workout Friday. Up to 10 miles Saturday, easy pace; maybe some biking Sunday. Short, easy workouts and lots of stretching the next week leading up to the marathon, just to keep everything loose. The time I'm saving by not running will be spent putting together the marathon playlist and making sure work paperwork is done so I can leave early Friday!! Woohoo!!!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Race report - Urban Dare Cincinnati

So, a few weeks ago, thanks to a handy facebook sidebar ad, I became aware of this thing called Urban Dare. It's a scavenger hunt/trivia game/race, sort of like the Amazing Race (I imagine, since I've only seen bits and pieces of the show). Something you may not know is that my nerdiness and my love of trying new, random things are perhaps even greater than my love of running. This was RIGHT up my alley. I tried to talk the less-adventurous husband into it, but he was having a bad day and was not in the mood to hear about my latest idea that involves him venturing into unknown territory. (Actually, he said have fun. Then I told him it was teams of two. THEN he said he didn't want to hear about it.) So I left it alone for a while.

A few days later, Groupon featured half-price registration to Urban Dare. HALF-PRICE!!! I was so on it. When I got a chance to talk to Mark the husband, I pretty much told him: "That race thing I wanted to do? It's half-price. We're so doing it."

What I didn't know was that we would be doing it on the hottest day of the year. No, literally, the hottest day of the year. 100 degrees. And the thing started at noon. Even though I had explained how you get to the various locations on the map - walk or run - Mark saw me putting on my sports bra that morning, and asked what for. Then he said, "Really? We have to RUN???" I was afraid that he would want to bail, but he's the competitive type once he gets going, so I figured we'd be good. And we were.

We met at a martini bar downtown, got our shirts and our numbers. His went on his back, mine went on my front, to ensure that we always stuck together. We all had to wear our shirts, too. We also got our passport to get stamped. After a brief intro, and a costume contest (which the only team in costume, two girls in tutus and feathers in their hair, won), we got our clue sheets. Our strategy was to sit down in the shade and attack the sheet first, since we were told the clues may not be in logical order. He started at the top, I started at the bottom, and we pulled out our cell phones to start writing down addresses. I had trouble finding the only baseball player to be MVP in both national and American leagues, but Mark found out quickly that it was Frank Robinson. The only clue we didn't get relatively quickly was the location of the Hamilton County bicentennial bell - there's one for every county in Ohio. It was ridiculously ungoogleable. As he searched for it, I pulled out our downtown map (it was a last-minute decision to do a web search and print one out before we left) and marked out all the spots we needed to hit, and figured out the fastest route. He still couldn't find the bell, so I called some friends as we speed-walked to the first spot.

On the way to the first spot, I was skimming our clues and noticed there was a bonus - a 5:00 time deduction - for getting a picture of four people acting like they were shooting bows and arrows. We passed a bus stop and I asked the people sitting on benches if they would help us out. We got one guy who was super enthused about it, and two other people who agreed to do it, but we couldn't get a fourth person to step up. They were looking at me like I was out of my mind. I explained that we couldn't be in the picture. Then a woman came up to the bus stop, smoking a cigarette, and we begged her to do it. It took a little reminding that they needed to mime arrow-shooting, but they got it:

I sincerely hope that none of these people ever face a life-or-death situation dependent on their archery ability.

Onward to our first stop - The store with the same name as a 2006 film where Crispin Glover plays two brothers. Another team took our picture in exchange for us taking theirs.

Next stop was the Freedom Center, just down the road, for a picture with a piece of the Berlin Wall. (Did you know that was there? Me neither!) The problem was, the Freedom Center is huge. Where was the piece of wall? Inside? Outside? I ran in to ask an employee. Mark says we should've just followed the other teams, but how did we know that they knew where they were going?

Took us three tries. Sun was in his eyes.

We hadn't bothered to look up the location of Frank Robinson's statue - it had to be somewhere near Great American Ballpark. This time, we did follow the other teams.

He's right there over my shoulder. Note the other team taking a pic right behind us.
 Then things got a little hairy. We never had figured out where that bell was. On the way to Simon Says, I had called some friends, who weren't sure either, but guessed that it was in one of the parks near the Purple People Bridge. I had guessed the same myself, so we decided to go there...but partway there, I just wasn't feeling sure about it. That gave us a lot of ground to cover to try to find it, and we didn't even know that it was there. So we stopped for a minute and re-googled, and this time, Mark found out it was in front of the courthouse. Sweet. And then I realized we had missed a stop - a park that I thought was across from the Reds Hall of Fame, except it wasn't. I had mapped it haphazardly based on google maps on my phone, but I had to re-look it up, and as it turns out, I was off by a few blocks. The park was actually not even on our printout map. So we had to do a bit more backtracking to get there.

We were both feeling a bit frustrated, and it was HOT. Thank God we brought water bottles. We slowed way down and I was frustrated with that, but then we found the park. There's a big statue of Abe Lincoln, and we saw another team taking a picture with it. "Is that what we need?" he asked. No, we needed the Marine Corps Memorial, and it was a dare, not a picture. I *think* that team may have been confused by another clue, which involved a statue of the 9th president, and I snickered.

I spotted the passport-stamper, who did so after we completed the dare - run three-legged around a circle of cones. We nailed it.

Game on!! On our way to the next landmark, we passed a group of hotel? restaurant? workers outside on a break. They asked about our race, and I asked them to pose for another picture we needed - hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil. They were happy to oblige and said they had done the same for a few other teams.

They were so happy!

Our next stop was the grill belonging to the lead on Sanford and Son.
Really hard to take self-pics with someone over 8 inches taller than you.
We found the courthouse! I had the address wrong in my head, but he clarified, and we had our bell.
Much smaller than I had thought it would be. (That's what she said.) Note the self-pic reflection in Mark's glasses. And I'm totally cheesin'.
Just around the corner was the "What's Happening Downtown" mural. I had no clue how anyone would know that's what it was called, nor do I know how Mark managed to find out. It's on the side of a mental health agency. You really can't tell, but it shows three people looking in different directions out windows.

Yeah, good enough.
Next was the temp agency that shares the nickname of UMass.

Note how we get progressively less smiley as we go. We literally stopped moving just long enough to snap this.
Close to being done!! We found the statue of the 9th president. (William Henry Harrison, not Lincoln. The first President to come from Ohio. He served one month in office before he died. That's most of what I remember from 8th grade Ohio history.) That one was a dare - I had to stick my face in a plate full of whipped cream to find a piece of gum and blow a bubble. Whipped cream on your face is gross when it's 100 degrees, and I think the heat made the gum funky. It was a weird texture...crumbly. I couldn't blow a bubble to save my life. Lack of saliva, maybe? I asked if Mark could try and the UD staffer didn't care. I popped the piece of gum in his mouth and he eventually managed to blow a bubble. I spotted a towel and asked if I could use it, and got shot down. I wiped my face with the shirt I'd worn before I got the official race shirt.

We jogged to the last spot. Mark spit out the gum. I almost got ran over even though I had the right of way. At the firefighter's memorial, we had to find letters that had point values, and calculate the point value of the word on our passport - importance. The letters were on sticks in a bee-filled flower garden and some were tricky to find, but we split up and got it done.

Last one!! I was happy to notice that there were other teams going farther from the finish line, which means they weren't done yet. We ran back to the bar, but we were missing a picture. I had been looking for a happy-looking couple the whole time, and I finally spotted one. I sprinted through a red light to catch up with them. They agreed to recreate a famous WWII photo for us:

They were every bit as adorable as they look here!!

DONE!! We booked it back to the starting point. Our official time: 1:32. We got our 5 minutes knocked off for a final time of 1:27 and finished in 17th place out of 80-90 teams.

Wow - a fully stamped passport!

Not shabby at all. It would've been nice to win, but I figured we wouldn't - we had no clue what we were getting into, and neither of us are 'nati natives, even though we love trivia. Our teamwork was pretty freaking amazing, and like we usually do, we made up for each others strengths and weaknesses. I was SOAKED in sweat - stupid cotton shirts!

What a clue sheet looks like after it's spent 1.5 hours being covered in sweat and water bottle condensation.

When we got home, I mapped out our route, more or less, and found out we had covered 3.6 miles. And I was totally proud of my logistical skills - it was the most logical route (minus the slight moment of confusion) that we could have taken, I think.

E marks our sidetrack/backtrack. Otherwise, quite the nice loop!

Pretty fun experience overall, and a good chance to tour downtown (we hardly ever venture down there!) and learn a bit more about the city. Thumbs up.

Friday, September 2, 2011


Just a quick post to let you know I've emerged from my semi-funk. One thing I couldn't have predicted about training for a marathon is how much anxiety and doubt and emotional roller coaster-ness is present the closer it gets. I'm better and more optimistic today, but holy crap, Imma look forward to not being such a hot mess!

I'm week looks like I'm going to be busy getting together with old friends and hopefully getting my commemorative post-marathon tattoo....maybe other fun things like a pedi and a massage....we shall see.

I have also decided that in the next two weeks, I need to find the most obnoxious running shorts I can find and wear them to the marathon. Just because.

Also post marathon, I can't wait to cycle more, get new shoes, hopefully find someone who can help me figure out how to slowly get back into running WITHOUT PAIN this time, and maybe wean myself off of calf sleeve addiction. I'm looking forward to the Warrior Run 5k and the Thanksgiving 10k, and I may throw in a half or a tri in there but only IF I don't hurt anymore and if I have energy and I feel like it. Post-marathon, I am going to take all the time in the world that I need to recover. Heck, maybe I'll buy a hot tub too.

Good, positive ramblings tonight.