Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Girlfriends Half Marathon

How do I do this? How do I write a gazillion thoughts and feelings in one succinct blog entry?

All week we had been told there was rain coming. Some predicted over an inch of rain to fall on us Sunday. Some predicted strong winds to be there with that rain. This scared me as I never ran a wet race and had no training for 13 miles in rain.

Sunday morning was overcast, cool and DRY. Do you hear me? DRY!!! Not one speck of water fell on us or our course the entire morning. Talk about beginners luck! I still have yet to run a wet race. I am thinking that will occur on one of my two races next month. That is okay. They are much shorter at only 7.45 miles and less.

So, back to Sunday!

Christine and I were excited and nervous. We decided to try and run together as it was our first time and we made a PACT. If either of us cries injured, the other is to continue on. I was nervous with the taping on my bad knee. It never felt supportive like when I do it myself. Not at all. I almost tore it off that morning and replaced it but figured that since it was done by a physical therapist that maybe he was on to something I wasn't aware of. I left it. As a note, other than for this race, NO one has taped my knee but me, since April.

This race is a woman's race to raise funds for breast cancer research and aid. However, men were allowed to join the thousands of women, ONLY if they raised at least $1000 and....promised to wear pink. Here are some of the amazing men that raised a LOT of money and ran with us that morning.

(as a note - this runner supposedly told the contributors 
THEY got to choose his outfit if he met his goal)

This one reminded me of my friend Josh. 
You can put him in pink but you can't question his toughness.

At the start, there was four corrals (sections of the road at a four way street junction). We were at the back of the second corral to start running. Then the next corral of slightly slower runners was to start after us, followed lastly by the last corral of walkers. Made sense. And it would have been great, if it worked that way.

When we hit the start line, it became obvious that a lot of walkers had snuck in to the corral with us. And no, this was not just start line congestion. These women appeared to have no intention to run. These walkers continued for the first two miles - even when there was wide open room for them to run. Again, this was not start line congestion.

By mile three we were past the walkers and I was able to keep a nice pace of 10's-11's. The picture above is us running with #1980. We saw her A LOT throughout the race.  In fact, she and I finished 26 seconds apart.

Here is a scene shot while running

So, what happens to a knee that had no real tape support, that was cutting and dodging from left to right and making sudden stops through walkers and slower runners for two miles? The knee gives. And it gives hard.

At mile five, I began to feel knee pain that was threatening to alter my gait. So, I stopped. Stretched. Manipulated my knee cap. And went off again. Christine was a saint and stayed with me.

At mile six I saw my husband and pointed to my knee to let him know there was trouble.

The knee continued to cry out though. The only relief I got was stopping, stretching, massaging and yelling at it. But, I had to do that more and more frequently. I didn't really do any walking until the over-pass hill. Then, I race-walked and slogged intermittently.

At mile ten, I saw Elba from GET BOLD events. He recognized me as the photographer that was at his event (North County Wine Run) just weeks before, and he ran in front of me and said it was HIS turn now to photograph ME. I was laughing. It was hilarious. Here is his photo of me.

At mile ten and a half I saw my hubbie again. Christine and I were coming up to the approach of a hill and I had told her to please, go on. She is really strong on hills, and I knew I was going to have to do some race-walking up it. I ran/race-walked/ran my way up it. This is a shot George got of me just before I turned to face that hill.

Notice the slouching? Yeah. My back really hurts from that. 
I have to start doing a lot of sit-ups the next 6 months in preparation for the next Half in June.

As a note, I put on my headphones and music now that I was alone and could. not. stand. it.

Seriously. The music made me want to go FASTER! I had the energy and it was egging me on. But, I couldn't. My knee wouldn't let me. It ended up being sensory overload and I turned the music off.

At mile 11 or so, I saw Elba again. He again, was making me laugh taking photos and telling me to run faster as he ran BACKWARDS away from me. He and Karen are SO fit. I wouldn't mind having them as trainers but the drive to their city is not practical for my schedule.

Shortly after that, I saw #1980 again, and told her to take the lead. She laughed and said, "Oh no! Too much pressure!". So I said, "Okay. Don't take the lead. How about I just follow you for a little while." She alternated her runs with walks. I alternated my runs with all out stops (but no walking other than race-walks on the three inclines). This caused her and I to leap frog all the way in on the flat stretches.

Just before mile 12 we began our ascent up another hill, though less steep than the first. I stopped at the base of it, hanging on the fence railing stretching my right leg and for the first time in my running experience - wanting to throw up. I hurt. I hurt bad. My heart rate was so nice and low. My left leg had TONS of life left in it. But I couldn't do what I had trained all this time to do. It wasn't fair! 
I then made my way up through the diagonal trail cut to Officers Row. Run/Race-walk/Run/Race-walk. It broke my heart. It didn't help that I didn't see a single person running the entire section while I was going up it. Everyone was walking or doing walk/run combo's.  I wanted to run it non-stop!! (Can you tell the pity train was gaining steam?)

At the top, we turned westward onto a very narrow asphalt trail that was lumpy from tree roots and age. Had to take care with the ankles. Here, I tried to listen to music again. Nope. Wasn't helping. Turned it back off. However, now there was people cheering out there. All down that stretch were signs and people. Our bibs had our names and I was shocked how many people pronounced my name correctly. The cheers and signs were so wonderful. I had to smile through the tears at this point.


As I approached the finish line, with only 2 tenths of a mile to go, I wanted to stop. I wanted to walk. The crowds cheering brought me in. Seeing Cheryl clanging that cowbell made me SO happy. The crowd support and sheer determination got me through that section. I only remember PAIN, and quietly muttering "fuck - fuck - fuck" in cadence to the pounding that my right knee was receiving. I doubt anyone heard it over the cheering and the live band. Hopefully there was no lip readers out there. hahaha

I remember seeing George to the left on the other side of the finish line and going towards him.

I remember when my feet hit the first mat and a 'beep' sounded loudly, it startled me.

I remember a woman coming up from behind me, putting her arms around me and asking if I needed the first aid tent. That confused me. I told her I didn't think so, but I could REALLY use some ice for my knee! I remember that is ALL I wanted at that point.  George said I was wobbling like a drunk sailor.

They directed me to get my timer taken off my shoe and in that short time, I was handed a cold pack. That was amazing to me.

I found Christine. Or did she find me? I don't remember. I do remember sitting on a curb icing my knee and getting up and hugging her.

We walked pretty far to go get into dry clothing. This photo is of us after we changed. 

We came back and I tried the curry soup. YUCK. I then grabbed a banana and bagel half with cream cheese. YUMMM. But, stupid me didn't realize I had cut a line to do that? I swear, I saw no line. There was no one there. :(

The line for chocolate was toooooo long. We all agreed to leave and went to an ice cream shop that sold cookies and cakes. I got a slice of Irish Oatmeal Spice cake. George had a cream cheese/chocolate cake. Christine also had a chocolate decadence.

Distance: 13.1 miles (all ran or race-walked).
Time: 2 hours 46 minutes and 26 seconds
Pace: 12:42 minutes per mile

I am NOT going to beat myself up for an official pace of 12:42.

I ran 13.1 miles FASTER, even with all those stops to stretch, and the three inclines that had some race-walking, than my little 3 mile runs just 7 months ago!! That is AMAZING!!

If you want to look at my actual time NOT stopped, and count only the time my body was moving forward, my Garmin watch says I had an average pace of 11:58 minutes per mile. Again, that is including three inclines that had race-walking mixed in.

I am sore today. Much sorer today than on Sunday or Monday. I have my annual appointment with the sports doc in Tigard this Friday. I just want to have x-rays to confirm the knee pain is still just tendon related, and that I am not trashing my knees as my mom has had two knee replacements.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Taper week one - Overthinking

Tonight I ran just 4 miles. Last Thursday I ran 6. Next Thursday it will be even less. The tapering has begun for the BIG RACE. My first Half Marathon.

It is just 9 days, 12 hours and 20 something minutes away as I type this.

I am wearing brand new shoes this week. My left ankle is wondering what is up with them. I am not sure. Might try the laces differently. Maybe the socks were too thick. SOMETHING is different than my other new pair.

So where is my other new pair?

It is in the spare room....waiting for race day. They were PERFECT last Sunday with just 60'ish miles on them. I am not adding another mile to them until the planned '20 minute run' the day before race day. I already have the pants set aside that I will be wearing, and the socks that fit those shoes best also in the spare room.

I just need to decide what shirt I will be wearing that day.

Why not the same one I wore last Sunday for good luck? I am thinking of it. But also, I am thinking of the weather. It is a long way off but the extended forecast is showing RAIN expected that weekend.

We haven't had RAIN in months. My experience with running in it is ever scarcer. You see, I began running on the treadmill when I started running last August. I told myself I HAD to because of bad knees. Then when the rain came, I had all the more reasons to stay on it. A lot.

All year I stressed each race - "What if it rains?"

Then at each race, I ran dry. I had beginners luck for sure!!!

  • 11/2011 Turkey Trot - Threatened to rain all morning. Not one drop until walking back to the car
  • 1/1/2012 Randy E. Memorial Run - Ran that night, but at 7:00am, the sun was shining for us
  • 3/2012 Shamrock Run - Light drizzle as we stood waiting to run. I wore a plastic rain cover. When it was time to start, it had stopped. By the end of the first turn on the road, I saw blue skies coming through the clouds. I was dry all the way.
  • 5/2012 Rum Run - It was overcast. It was also dry.
  • 6/2012 Vancouver USA Marathon - VOLUNTEER - sunny and dry
  • 6/2012 Run Like A Girl - Partly cloudy. And dry.
  • 6/2012 Solstice Run - Had a few drops of drizzle on my arms the very last quarter mile. But by the end of the finish line, it stopped. We sat, ate and drank in dryness.
  • 7/2012 Harvest Day Run - Overcast, but dry.
  • 8/2012 Every Girl's Run - ran 5K and VOLUNTEER (HM) - Overcast, but dry.
  • 9/2012 North County Wine Run - VOLUNTEER - Partly sunny and dry
  • 9/2012 Color Run - Partly cloudy, and dry.
So you see, at 11 events here in the Pacific Northwest - I have beaten all the odds. Now, here comes THE race. The one I have been training for much of this year. And it is too far out to say for sure, but in the last 24 hours the forecast has gone from 20% chance of rain on race day, to 40% chance of rain, to 40% all that weekend and before, to just now, 20%.

So many questions.....
  • Will my heart rate monitor be okay in the rain? 
  • Will my Garmin watch be okay in the rain? 
  • Will my Foot Pod be okay in the rain?
  • If not, will they be functional in a plastic bag? 
  • Should I wear a form fitting singlet or maybe a compression shirt in case it rains? I own neither....maybe I should be shopping this weekend? Try it on my 5 mile run?

So far away. So close. So excited. So nervous.