Thursday, September 20, 2012

2012 Air Force Marathon

It is time I write my marathon story. I woke up at 4:15a.m. that morning and didn’t even need my alarm clock which was set for 4:45a.m. I showered so I could wake myself up completely and feel good. I then prepared for the race by dressing, body gliding everything that might rub with Body Glide and then getting the children up so we could all leave by 5:20a.m. I should have stretched more, especially since it was a very cold morning. AND I should have stretched after arriving to the race site, but I was too excited to just be there so I forgot about the stretching part.

At 7:10a.m. the announcements started and soon after the flyover of the B-2 happened. That was simply amazing and awesome. After that the star spangled banner and I had tears in my eyes just thinking about all that the song is about. On the dot of 7:30 the gun went off. It took about 5 minutes to actually arrive at the start line, but that is the good thing about large races, your actual time doesn’t start until you go through the start line. I started out slowly, as I was instructed to do by so many marathon runners. I checked my GPS watch often to see if I was going slow enough. When I saw that I was speeding up, I would slow down again. The first big hill wasn’t as bad as I had dreamed it to be and I continued on. I felt amazing. The air was crisp, the temperature perfect and the crowd wonderful. I continued on till mile 5.

Everything was going fine until all of a sudden I felt this Massive pain in my left knee. It felt horrible. A sudden harsh pain that felt like I had been hit. I went to the side of the road and stretched and then walked for a while. After walking for about a half mile I started to run again. 4 steps into the run I was frozen. The pain was massive. I couldn’t do it. I walked again. I then went to the side of the road again to do stretches for a longer period of time to help ease the pain. The pain was so intense, it was like my knee was broken. I thought back to mile 5 to what might have happened. I wasn’t bumped or kicked. I didn’t trip and I never stopped suddently, so what the heck was the pain about? The only thing I could do was speed walk. Slow walking hurt and running was massively painful so both of those were out. Plus I knew if I did a slow walk that I wouldn’t make the 7 hour time limit to finish. I had a decision to make right then. Do I speed walk the rest of the 20 miles or do I ask for medical help and go back to the start? I was too proud to just give up at mile 6. I couldn’t do it. I knew my sister was waiting for me at mile 10 so I could at least get there. Soon after making the decision to continue there was a man walking next to me with a backpack on. He could tell I wasn’t doing well and asked me if I needed anything. I told him I needed medicine for I was in severe pain. He had some ibuprofen. I should have probably only taken Tylenol, but I took the ibuprofen anyway. I would pay for this later on in the race. My husband and sister called me soon after to see how I was doing. I tearfully told them both that I was injured and in pain, but I was going to give it a go anyway.

At mile 8 I saw my sister. She was there with her husband and two children. She had come all the way from Washington D.C. to see me in this race. I couldn’t let her down. She asked me if I needed anything and I told her medicine. She went and bought medicine and when I saw her at mile 10 I took more. I would pay dearly for this in mile 19. Both Warren and Jan cheered me on and I speed walked on my way. Many times I felt like quitting. I knew I had trained in a far better way than this and you’d think speed walking would be easy. It was painful. I had trained to run. I had run 22 miles on two different occasions and did many other long runs of 18 or more miles, and walking was only done when I was very tired and it was slow walking when I did it, never speed walking. Your feet land differently when you speed walk than in running. I remember reaching the half way point at 13.1 miles and using the bathroom, but after that I really don’t remember much until mile 19.

By mile 19 I was dizzy, I was sick, I was done. My body had reached the end of exercise and wanted to rest. I was four and a half hours into this race as this point and it was beginning to get hot out. Not too bad hot, but in the 70’s. We were out in the sun, no shade available and I was just not doing well. I needed a sandwich and should have asked for something at a medical tent, but I was afraid if I stopped that I would wake up on a stretcher and not be able to continue. I plugged on, putting one foot in front of each other. Each step was so painful. It was like I was walking on rocks by this point. My feet were just not used to walking so fast like this. I needed to run or slow down or something. I started to talk to myself. I said things like, “You are awesome, you have come a long way, your entire family is waiting for you, you can do anything you set your mind to do, you paid a lot of money for this race, you are so great and will finish.” Then I started to sing a song I know called “I am a child of God.” I sang the first verse over and over and that seemed to help. I’m sure others around me, if there were any thought I was crazy. Singing was the only thing helping me. Every time I reach a mile marker I knew I was one step closer to finishing. I felt sick for about 3 miles. I was sure I’d pass out. I’m not sure how I made it exactly. I was seriously spinning. At every mile stop I took in water, Gatorade and ate the chunks of bananas that were offered. I had GU’s on me and had eaten all 5 that I had packed by mile 21. I had planned on eating them every 5 miles, but since I felt so weak I knew I should eat them more often.

By mile 22 I needed salt and I needed it bad. I knew it. When I reached the water station I asked a volunteer if anyone had chips. They did. I grabbed a handful of BBQ chips and ate them one by one. This was the only thing that perked me up. Finally I felt better. They had asked me if I wanted more than the handful and I should have taken the entire plate. I didn’t know how my stomach would handle them. By mile 23 I was sure I was dead on my feet. I was hurting so bad. My feet were like bricks. Why was I still doing this I thought, it wasn’t a smart idea. However if I was going to quit then it should have been at mile 5 when I first got injured, not now. I was so close to the end. Only a 5K left. I could do anything for a 5K.

I walked next to a couple girls dressed in red. Don’t remember their names, but I do know they were talking me into finishing. They told me I should have volunteers pour water on me to cool me off. So at mile 24 I asked for that very thing. I asked every single volunteer to pour water on me. I felt amazingly better. At mile 24.3 my son Daniel texted me and said “Where are you?” I had to laugh as I knew I was taking FOREVER to finish and I had told him I’d be done by 5 hours and here it was 6 hours and counting. I told him where I was and then continued on.

At mile 25.7 I saw my husband, he was cheering me on to the finish. He said, you only have about a half mile left, you can do this. I started to cry. I had come so far and I hurt so bad. I just wanted to quit, but knew that wasn’t an option. Jason then ran back to the finish line so he could get pictures of me finishing. From this point on it was just a curve and then you will see the finish line. There were hundreds of people there waiting for you to finish. People were cheering and clapping. I started to cry uncontrollably. I couldn’t calm down. The feelings I had were so intense. I was sure I wouldn’t make it to this point. I was sure I would pass out when I was sick and dizzy at mile 19. I’m not sure how I made it to mile 26, but I did and the tears just kept coming. I pulled it together to smile so I could have amazing finishing pictures and I speed walked through the finish line. The medal was put on my neck and I was done. I did it. I have carried the medal around with me ever since. It’s in my purse and I look at it often. If I had my way I would be wearing it 24/7 for about a month. I earned it. Every mile of that medal I earned. Here are some pictures to enjoy:
My race number.  Notice the BEER coupon.  A guy noticed
that I still had this coupon when I was leaving the race and
asked me for it.  I gave it to him.  He was more than overjoyed.
Seriously Sir, it's only Beer.  Then my sister said, "Michelle,
It's Free Beer and that is much different."  Too funny.

front of shirt

back of shirt

awesome hat

B-2 that flew over to start the race.

me starting the race.  I'm right there in the middle with the white
hat and black jacket with white stripes on the sleeves.  I got that
jacket for only $1.00 at a consignment store and I threw it out at mile
two when I was warm. Hopefully it gets donated to some lucky person.

Finishing the race.  By the way, these pictures
are not the greatest, they were taken on my cheap
camera.  My sister took MUCH better pictures and
as soon as I have those pictures I will insert them in here.

Posing with my finishing medal.

Front of medal

Back of medal

Full medal with ribbon.

Me posing wtih the medal and so
glad to be done.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Park to Park Half Marathon, 10K and 5K

I let Michelle talk me into things that my rational mind screams at me not to do.  This is one of those things.  Last year, Michelle ran the 1/2 marathon at this race and I ran the 5K.  It was a great race.  Everything was done the right way and we all had a lot of fun.  I PR'd that day and even placed 2nd in my age group (something I had never done before).  Michelle kind of egged me on and got me to agree to do the 1/2 marathon this year.  At the time, the race was so far off in the future that I didn't really think much of it.  I made a semi serious attempt at training for it including running a few 10Ks.  At the Beed Lake 10K, I felt pretty lousy at the end and remember thinking to myself the last few hundred yard that I didn't want to run a 1/2 marathon if it meant that I was going to feel this badly 6 miles in.  Never the less, I have this thing about not letting Michelle gloat so I kept it to myself and told her how ready I was for the Park to Park.  I think she knew the truth anyway.

The day of the race was actually cold.  I had to wear a hoodie just to stay warm.  However, as big as I am, the colder the better.  I placed myself way back in the pack thinking that I would stay at about an 11 min/mile pace.  When the gun went off, the professional runners (there were about 25 of them there) took off at what ended up being slightly less than a 5 min/mile pace (the first 10 finishers crossed the finish line before I hit the 6.5 miles).  However, my goal wasn't to compete.  It was to simply finish.  Having never run more that about 8.5 miles in practice, I was worried about how I would finish.  I knew I would finish but I wanted to finish on my feet, not crawling on my knees.  Over the first couple of miles, I realized that I had started out too slowly.  I spent a good bit of time weaving in and out of slower runners so that I could find some room to run at the pace I wanted.  My goal for the race was to finish in 2:10 but I knew realistically that I would be somewhere in the 2:20 range. 

Over the first 5K I felt great.  The cool temperatures were helping to keep my core temp down and that was allowing me to work harder.  By the time I hit the half way point, I was starting to hurt.  My hip flexors were on fire as was my left foot.  As I have become a better runner, my stride has changed and I have gone from a shoe with massive heel support to a more neutral shoe.  As I was running I realized that I still had too much support and needed to go to an even more neutral shoe to avoid the pronation that was causing so much pain in my foot.  I kept thinking to myself that I was going to hit the wall any second and that I probably should stop and walk for bit but other than my hips and one foot, I felt great.  So I kept on running.  Michelle met me on the trail at about mile 12.  I was really hurting by then but how can you stop with only 1 mile to go?  I decided at 12.5 to push myself and finish as strongly as I could.  I ran through the UNI drum line (they were providing some on course entertainment) with about 0.4 miles to go and just started to pick up my pace from there.  With about 0.2 miles to go, the crowd started to get thick and their enthusiasm was contagious.  I began running even faster.  Now my lungs hurt, my knees hurt, everything hurt.  I began passing the people in front of me and by the time I rounded the final corner to the finish line, I passed the fifth person in front of me.  As I sprinted to the finish line (I'm sure it wasn't much of a sprint, but it sure felt like one to me), I saw the clock and it read 2:10:01.  I crossed the finish line at 2:10:08.  The feeling of crossing that finish line was pure exhilaration.  A race volunteer leaned down to snip off my timing chip while another one gave me a gatorade and another yet place the finishing medal around my neck.  I did it.

Finished! What a great feeling.

I was feeling a bit woozy here.

Done, rehydrated, and ready for some pizza.

Usually when I get done with a big race, I am not in the mood to even think about doing it again.  However, almost immediately, I told Michelle that I will be doing more 1/2 marathons.  I like the distance and with a little more structured training, I think I can pull my average pace from a 10:00 minute mile to an 8:30-9:00 minute mile.  What a great race.  My ankles are still a bit sore but with an additional loss of 20 pounds, that will take care of itself.