Thursday, January 31, 2013

Galveston Half Marathon-Race Report

January 27, 2013

The week before the half marathon was good.  We had a great 6 mile run on Saturday, and I had managed to get in three good runs during the week, each one ranging from 2.5 to 3 miles.  I was still nervous, but I was feeling better about it.  We had packet pick up, and then I really started to get excited.  Paula wasn't with us, but we managed to get a group picture anyway.

Me, Paula (on the phone) and Kelly

The day before, I followed Coach Ric's nutrition plan as closely as I could, and before I knew it, it was time to go to sleep and get ready for race morning.

Paula picked us up, and we drove to Galveston.  The weather was all ready better than last year.  Last year was freezing, raining, and the winds were over 20 mph.  This year was a cool 60 degrees with clouds promising to keep the sun away.  

We met up with our fellow Road Runners before the start, and I stretched as best I could with all the excitement in the air.  My IT band was making its presence known, but it wasn't any worse than it's been in the past, so I knew it wouldn't be a problem.  At least I hoped it wouldn't.

The gun went off, and we were on our way.  We made our way to the sea wall, and I honestly don't know if there could have been a more perfect day to go for a run.  The temperature was great, the breeze coming off of the gulf was heavenly, and the sun was starting to make it presence known.  We were hitting mile 2 when the lead runner was on his way back and at mile 4.  It's always amazing to see the elite , and it's a benefit of being a slow runner-we are always still on the track forward when they've already made the loop.  =)

When we made the loop and came back to the seawall, we were really having fun.  We started singing and laughing and just took in the view.  Kelly was feeling really good, and we starting ribbing her about lacing her Gatorade chews with something.  I had Skittles and M & M's in my pack, and Paula had Gatorade chews, but they weren't having the same effect on us as Kelly's were.  

Mile 4.  Pictures don't do the scene justice.
So far, everything was going great!  Then at mile 7, we had an awesome surprise!  We had our own pit crew!  Most of our Road Runners had run the Houston Marathon a couple of weeks ago, so a few of the ladies came to cheer us on.  And that.  Was.  Awesome!

Our awesome Road Runner family!
Me at mile 7!
I remember making this turn last year.  This turn led to a four mile loop that seemed to take forever.  This is where it started raining pretty hard, but it's also where I found my groove.  I also remember that there were several porta potties in these next four miles.
So, I told Kelly and Paula I would run ahead to one of the potties as to not slow us down.  So I did.  I ran ahead.  And I ran.  And I ran.  And there were no potties!!  WTH??  It wasn't until  about mile 9.5 or 10 that we found one!  And by then, I knew that stopping was going to mess with my rhythm.  But, what are you gonna do?

So, we keep going.  Paula's foot was starting to bother her, but she still looked strong.  It was around this time that we noticed two ladies.  We had been around each other all throughout the race, but they caught up to us when I had to stop for the potty.  One of them seemed to be struggling.  Kelly worried about her, and she decided that if we caught up to them again, she would offer them a Gatorade chew.  The sun was trying its best to peek through the clouds, and I could feel the first beads of sweat getting into my eyes.  

At mile 11, we saw our pit crew again.  They truly gave us the extra bounce that we needed!  They had ice towels and ice water for us.  As I grabbed an ice towel and draped it over my head, I swear the Angels starting singing!

As we continued on, we kept encouraging each other.  We stayed as steady as we could.  We passed our last water stop, and before we knew it, we only had one mile to go.  We made our last turn, and in the far distance, you could see the finish line.  

We were on a walking interval when the pain in my knee started shooting like fireworks into my upper thigh.  I couldn't continue to walk, or I wouldn't make it.  I had had visions of us crossing that finish line with our hands joined and our arms raised in victory.  But I could no longer do the intervals.  

I ran.

I makes no sense to me that I can run with less pain than walking, but that's the way it was.  I ran, and I reached those girls that Kelly was worried about.  When I reached them the first time, I saw one of them look toward me and she said, "Let's go!"  They started running, and within seconds they started to walk again.  

So I passed them up.  And I heard one of them say, "Well, it's only one of them."

I didn't have time to really process that, and I just kept running.  When we got within a couple of blocks from the finish line, I heard them coming from behind me.  We were side by side running toward the finish line, and all I could think was that she was going to be in my pictures and ruin them.

You could hear the crowd, and I heard someone say, "You have 30 seconds!"

Well I don't know what was going to happen in 30 seconds, but I knew I had to step it up and finish in 30 seconds.  So I gave it my all and ran as fast as I could.  And I saw that girl look toward me and then she stepped it up and ran faster.  As she waved to her friends cheering her on, she fell back a bit.  But then she realized I was ahead of her and she ran faster to beat me.  And she did.  And she is in all of my finish line pictures.

Although I am smiling in my finish line pictures, I wouldn't have been.  I was so focused on finishing that I didn't even really hear my friends calling out my name.  But then I heard someone screaming, "Smile!  There are cameras!  Smile!"  So I started smiling for my pictures, although I didn't look up.  And there is a random girl beside me.

I thought it was funny.  In no way did I ever think I would be someones competition. That we, Half Marathon Group A, would be a threat to someone in a race.  Gotta love that twist!

I saw my husband right away, and my little one ran up to me and gave me a hug.  I turned around quickly because I heard Kelly's name being called out as she was about to cross the finish line.  Paula was right behind, and they gave Kelly the medal to put around her neck.

We did it!  Our amazing friends were there to congratulate us.  And then, again, going above and beyond, they had chocolate milk, nice and cold and ready for us.  I wish I could express how much it meant to us that they were there.

We made our way over to the post-race party (I hobbled) and got our snacks.  I wasn't really feeling hungry at all, but I got my stuff anyway.  We enjoyed the weather and sat for a while.  Paula was quiet, but the content look on her face was beautiful!  I was so proud of her and so happy that she had accomplished this.  Like me, this was not something that she set out to do.  But do it, she did.  She opted for heading home, but she had her treats to enjoy on her drive.  

Kelly and I and our families were going to head back to the sea wall for lunch, but we opted for a spot on The Strand, right by the post-race party.  It was a beautiful day, and we had much to celebrate.  

And celebrate we did!

I was disappointed that we didn't beat last year's time.  In fact, my time was 50 seconds slower.  But I really can't complain.  Other than my pain in my leg, I felt pretty good.  Maybe not like I could have keep running, but definitely like there is another half in my future.

The Worst 13

January 14, 2013

We did some traveling over the holiday.  Before Christmas, I had my first 13 mile run of this training season.  And it was a good run.  It didn't start that way though.  I thought I was going to have to stop in the first few miles because my IT band was acting up.  My chiropractor had told me if I had to alter my gait in any way, it was time to stop.  

But it's so hard to stop. 

We hit the intersection at mile 5, and something happened.  Either my legs loosened up or they went numb.  But either way, I would be able to continue.  At mile 10, a fellow Road Runner drove by and gave us peanut M & Ms.  That was awesome, and it was just the fuel I needed to finish the run with ease.  I felt really good and  felt like I could have kept going.  

After Christmas went on our trip. I took my running shoes, but running in the snow is something I am unfamiliar with; and I let the ice intimidate me.  I wish now that I would have went ahead and went out for at least a mile...  Alas, I didn't.  I have these beautiful pictures of snow, and I imagine myself running in them like the Rave Runs they have in Runner's World magazine.

This should have been me, although maybe less maniacal 

We made the long drive and arrived home on New Year's Eve.  We were all tired, and it was a quiet celebration at home.  Then I woke up and the new year welcomed me with a fever.  There would be no long group run for me.  I did my best to get well quickly, and I was able to go for a good 3-mile run the following Wednesday.  I worked out some trying not to push it and have a relapse.  Saturday's run was a scheduled 12 miles, but we opted for 13 since Kelly was not with us for the first 13-mile run.  Not only that, but we had only run the 13-mile distance once.  Last year at this point, we had run that distance at least 4 times before our first race.  So off we go for 13.

In my mind, I see myself as this elegant runner.  I am graceful and powerful and I picture myself 50 pounds thinner.  In reality, my face is the color of a tomato, I am hacking up phlegm every 20 minutes, and I am not above going into the bushes to do my business and wiping myself with wet leaves. (gross)  My point is everything was going well until mile 8, then things started falling apart.  My chest started to hurt.  I couldn't cough up the congestion as easily as I had been.  I was slowing down.  In the last two miles, I asked for an extra walking interval.  Kelly and Paula were very accommodating.  I stretched.  I focused on my breathing.  But I was not rocking this run by any means.  We kept going.  My hips were tightening up.  And my chest hurt.  And all I wanted to do was finish.

It's such a fine line and it's a constant mental battle.  Am I quitting or do I need to stop?  And if I stop, is it only because I want to?  Is it because it's too hard?  How do you trust yourself to know when all you want to do is stop?  How do you know you're stopping for real reasons, not ones that you trick yourself into believing?  I can't stop because I will feel like I failed.  

"Do you need to stop?" Kelly asked me.
"I need to finish." I replied.
And we kept going.  

I was falling behind.  And with every walking interval, my legs were fighting me.  We were finally within a half mile from Paula's house where we started.  Kelly's watch went off for us to take our walk break, but I kept going.  I knew at that point if I stopped again, I wouldn't be able to start again.  Kelly gave me a thumbs up and let me go.

And I ran.  I found a stride, thankfully, and I kept running.  I was going to make it.  I was going to make it to Paula's house and finish what I started.  Then both of my calves started with spasms.  Less than 200 yards to go!  I refused to stop; I was going to make it!

Then I turned a corner, and a car was coming, and I had to stop.  And that was it. It was as if the record scratched and everything else did too.  I didn't run again, but it was just a short walk to her driveway.  Still it was frustrating!

Me, Kelly, and Paula after the 13 miles

The run ended, but my heart didn't.  My heart rate was very slow to come down.  I was hurting.  I have never felt that bad after a run.  Kelly drove me home home.  As soon as I came in I laid down on the floor to stretch, but it ended up being me just laying on the floor.  And my heart rate still wasn't back down to a normal level.  I was going to go upstairs to lay down, but I didn't make it upstairs.  I made it to the couch, and literally crashed for 45 minutes.  And I had no energy for the rest of the afternoon.  It was awful!

Needless to say, I was kind of freaking out because the Galveston Half Marathon was at the end of the month.  A bad run can really mess with your confidence, and this one was definitely messing with mine.  It was by far the hardest 13 miles I have run so far.

I could only hope that race day would be better. 

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

When Life Knocks You Down

January 14, 2013

I've thought about posting for many months now.  But I have not had the "want to" to put words down.  It's like when you avoid talking to someone because you don't want to answer the question you know they'll ask you.  Or not going to church because you think God is so disappointed in you, it's just easier to make excuses not to go.

This year was is off to a rough start.  I woke up with a fever on New Year's day, which also happens to be my anniversary.  After taking a couple of sick days, I went back to work.  And things there weren't good either.  I felt hopeless.  I was without hope.  And that is not a good place to be.  

I don't like feeling that way, and I couldn't see a way out of feeling that way.

I have been exercising.  I haven't stopped, although I did have a lapse when I was sick.  I am still running.  I am still swimming.  I am still getting to the gym.  

And I am still not losing weight.

I am frustrated.

But I am still here.  And I am still in it.

I guess hopelessness will not win after all.  I will keep saying this until I believe it.

Warrior Dash 2012

November 12, 2012

Although there has not been a large lapse in my exercise, I felt very unprepared for this Warrior Dash.  The lack of weight loss has been weighing on me (no pun intended), and although the negative voices in my head are not as loud, they are still ever present.

But, the day had arrived.  I had my racing tiara ready to go, and we took off to my sister's the night before the race.

In the morning, we got ready to go, and I went to get my tiara.  And it wasn't there.  I knew I had brought it with me because I wore it for a minute in the car.  So I went back to the car to find it, but it wasn't in the car.  It was in the driveway.  Where I had ran it over.  It was in pieces, and I was so sad. 

Alas, a Warrior Princess must prevail; so we took off to Cedar Creek without proper adornment.

We were all set to go.  This year it was my sister and I, and her friend Chris and his daughter Mary.  Che and her husband were to join us, but unfortunately  we got separated, and we ended up in different waves.  =(

We only ran the first half mile or so since Mary was recovering from a week of illness.  But we were fine with that.  The weather was beautiful, and we were just happy to be out doing the Dash.

The first obstacle was the Breakdown Barricade.  This is where you jump over a fence an then have to crawl under some barbed wire a couple of times.  I was happy to find that this year, I was able to get over the barricades much easier and I didn't have to flop myself over them.  There was a man struggling to get over them, so I gave him some encouragement along the way.  Next up was the trenches.  This year the ground was not as soft, so I squatted myself along to get to the other side.  

Pretty soon, we were caught up an backed up at another obstacle.  I think this was called the Cliffhanger, although we had to pull ourselves up a slope rather than repel down.  Some people were attempting to climb it without the rope; but I knew I would use the rope.  We continued on and once again found ourselves backed up for the same obstacle, although this one was a little steeper.   It was also here that we found ourselves being lapped.  Guys were running ahead of the line and taking their turn.  Some people got a little irritated with that.  One of the runners shouted, "We're actually racing!" like the rest of us are only faking it.  I get what he means; he was going for time and prizes.  Fine.  But I think if you want to be a contender, you should sign up for the first wave so you don't have anyone ahead of you.  You can't expect to cut in front of lots of people and not expect for someone to get upset.  This is what I'm thinking, and then it was time for me to take my turn.  I'm climbing up the slope and all of a sudden the rope is being pulled up between my legs and getting harder to use because one of these guys cannot wait for me to finish getting up the slope.  I looked back and was all, "WHAT THE HELL?" and he was all, "Sorry." But I don't think he was.  It was rude.

After this second slope, I was feeling pretty good.  I know I have slacked on my strength training all this time, but I was happy to find that I was stronger.  I felt stronger, and I could tell that these obstacles felt easier than before.  So now, I'm hearing the Rocky song in my head, and I'm feeling pretty good.

Then we saw a Kobota coming to get someone that had torn a ligament.  Yikes!

I think the next obstacle was Hard Rain.  This was our first water obstacle.  We stepped into murky water to get to a wall.  This is basically like a reverse Great Warrior Wall.  You had to climb up a ladder first and then come down the other side using a rope and small slats.  The extra kick here was they were dousing us with water at the same time.  So I'm climbing up this ladder, and you can't see anything because the water is falling down as well as being sprayed on you from the side.  And I slipped.  I didn't fall down, but I did have to pull myself back up.  After that I was kind of nervous about slipping, so I was slow and careful.   Cautious, but still feeling strong.

And then we hit the Capsized Catamaran.  

Into the dirty water we go.  And it's deep.  Chest deep.  And there's some sort of weeds floating around hitting my legs.  Now would normally be the time that I start freaking out, but instead I'm looking ahead to the buoys we have to get over.  I jump up and pull myself up.  But I can't get up.  Again, I try to pull myself up; and I am not successful. I start shouting to Angie that I can't get up.  I move over to her side hoping the water is not as deep and I can pull myself up.  But she has to help me to get over.  Back into the water we go, and it's even deeper.  Like I can't touch deeper, so I start slowly swimming to the next buoys.  And those weeds are sweeping past my legs again.  The water gets less deep as we get to the next buoys.  And now I'm angry.  I was feeling so strong and now I can't pull myself up over this damn buoy.  And I was going to be damned if I wasn't going to pull myself up on this next one.  I cursed out loud as I jumped up and pulled my leg up.  I think I kept cursing until I was up and I knew I would make it.  And I did as I heard the Rocky song playing in my head.  Back into the murky water I went to the plank where we had to use a rope to pull ourselves out of this river.  Well, it wasn't as easy as I had thought it would be.  The plank was a little higher than expected, and when I jumped up, I banged the crap out of my shin.  And it hurt!!!  Once I was up, you could already see the forming of a bruise.  It throbbed and ached for the rest of the race.  

The Rocky song stopped playing.

Next thing I remember is Mud Mounds, which wasn't hard but rather annoying.  These were five mounds of mud that you had to climb over.  The surface was either slippery or rocky, basically anything but stable.  My legs actually got a little tired on this one, but it wasn't bad.  I definitely started feeling that I was definitely getting a little more beat up this year, but I was still good to go.

Instead of the Road Rage and Storming Normandy, we had an obstacle that was a mix between the two.  This one was a long run of tires covered by a net.  So basically you had to bear crawl under this net and through the tires.  About half way through it, I said, "Can I just say...that this SUCKS!"  It was a lot of tires.  The good part is, I started feeling pretty strong again, because last year I wouldn't have been able to bear crawl for any length of time much less over tires.  So Yea!

We knew now we were reaching the end.  We came up to the Teetering Traverses.  I was ready for this one, but then I kept thinking about the woman who was carried off on a gurney last year.  I didn't know it at the time, but when our pictures came back, I saw it.  And then this woman was yelling, "It's so high!" and I told her not to look down.  But I did take my time.

Right after that was the Cargo Climb.  I used my knee to pull myself up because my legs were tired, and I gave myself a nice big bruise on my knee to show for it.  Up and over we went, and again, I felt the climb was easier than last year.
Then came the wall.  I actually paused for a minute here.  It seemed like I couldn't do it.  I couldn't quite figure out the timing of it or something, and I remembered getting back on a bike after so many years, and I knew it was going to be a piece of cake.   I pulled up, and there was no turning back.  I had another moment of panic however, when I couldn't get a good grip on the top of the wall.  But it was just a moment, and then I was over it.   Angie and I high fived after that, and then we were rounding the corner to the end. 

 It was time for the Warrior Roast.  We ran to the fire.  Angie said, "Are you ready?" and I said, "NO!"  Because I can't jump to save my life.  I am a horrible jumper!  But it was now or never, and I was facing another first, so I ran anyway.

And then I jumped!  Over the fire!  And again over the fire again and again!  And I actually leaped!  It was awesome!

Last was the Muddy Mayhem, and I saw my family right before I went into the mud pit.  The mud was thicker and more shallow than last year, but this time I didn't have to fight to get out of the pit.  I was out, and then Angie and I danced our way over the finish line.

Last was the Muddy Mayhem, and I saw my family right before I went into the mud pit.  The mud was thicker and more shallow than last year, but this time I didn't have to fight to get out of the pit.  I was out, and then Angie and I danced our way over the finish line. 

Another Warrior success!