Sunday, September 18, 2011

A Wise Man Once Said...

Such classic lines as: “Do your best and forget the rest” and “Bring it” … but another wise man once said “Some runs just suck!”

Today was the long awaited Fox Cities Half Marathon. Having done the 5K yesterday with my No Boundaries 5K prep group and leading my runner to an amazing PR, I was emotionally all charged with adrenaline and ready for this race. You see, one year ago I was running the 5K not even hoping to dream of running the half, and yet this year here I was, running my fifth half marathon.

Unfortunately, some days no matter how much your heart wants it, your body has other ideas. Yesterday I started to feel a bit under the weather, mostly just cold symptoms. I have also been battling a bit of a hip/hipflexor strain as well. But it was race day and I was ready to perform… my body however had other ideas.

I woke up feeling just a bit off. I tried not to focus on it, had my usual pre-run breakfast of toasted peanut butter sandwich with banana and I was off to the race. Stopped at the port-o-potty and while in there was quite ill … thought maybe it just the smell and tried to put it out of my mind.

The start of the race was awesome; standing at the start line with my friends who I trained with. A lot of them were running their first, or trying to better their first. The air was electric with excitement! And we were off… the first mile was pretty great. I took off fast like I always do, and settled in quickly and felt comfortable. By mile 2 I could not shake the uncomfortable feeling in my stomach …and before I knew it I was throwing up at the side of the road. Let me tell you, puking at the roadside does NOT make you friends. If I had a dollar for every single person who asked “are you okay?” I think I would be rich. While I appreciate the concern, clearly I was NOT ok and I was also quite embarrassed!

After I was ill, I forced myself to run up the big hill (bridge) because Coach Jim teaches us to conquer those hills and to try to make up time I tried to run super fast down the hill. I was able to make the third mile the fastest mile yet. I was feeling ok, and thought maybe all of that illness was behind me. Unfortunately I was wrong, and by mile 4 I again revisited the side of the road for more fun.

For the first time ever in a race, at mile 5 I seriously considered quitting. I mean not quitting, per say, but whether I should just give up on running and just plan on walking it in. There was no time limit for this race … but then I thought well I can’t give up on myself so I have to at least wait until the half way point before I walk it in.

At about the same time I thought, “What else can I possibly do to make me feel better” I was afraid to take any more G2 or Chomps, but I thought maybe I could handle a salt tab. I took it, was able to keeo that down, and soon I was feeling quite a bit better. I was able to cruise from the half way point all the way until mile 8.5 or so sipping on G2 slowly, but thankfully no longer sick to my stomach.

At mile 9, a welcome site was the FleetFeet Cheer station. My usual running partner Larry was taking pictures. He said something to me (don’t remember what it was) but my response was “I think I’m dying!” He said “you’ve got this, you’re ok.” Brenda, a friend and head coach for No Boundaries was also at the station. She hopped out and ran with me for a bit, trying to encourage me. I found out later she actually thought about running more with me, because she wasn’t sure I was going to make it. Apparently I didn’t look so hot!

Mile 10 I settled into a bit of a rhythm, and I noticed Heather (one of the girls from our training group) up ahead. I yelled out, and we ran together for a little bit. I hit a groove and was ok until about mile 12.

I really don’t remember much of mile 12 … all I remember is that I really should have ran more, but I just couldn’t make my legs move. I felt like I was running through molasses and oh boy was I dizzy! My thighs, hips, and butt were all cramped up … and the happy people walking were starting to make me mad!

Another one of our training partners was along the route towards the end. I heard her cheering for me, but really felt quite out of it. She later told me that I looked like I was daze. I’m pretty sure I didn’t know where I was at this point. At the very end, a welcome site at mile 13 was my best buddy Anna from the training group. There are a lot of special people that come into our lives, and I truly believe that she is a godsend. We have been close all summer, working hard to push through this training program and supporting each other. The site of her waiting for me brought me back into reality. Anna grabbed my hand and literally dragged me the last part of the race. When we got close to the finish line, I broke away in a sprint (because you always have to finish a race with a sprint). Funny enough, it was my fastest sprint in ever!

Across the finish line I was immediately surrounded by like 2 or 3 medical staff. There was one medical staff lady under one arm, and Anna under the other. I knew I had finished the race, but honestly I wasn’t sure of much else. I was able to walk it out, and then Anna tricked me into going into the medical tent. (She told me later she was worried because I was cold to the touch). Since she works for the company that was providing medical staff, she said she wanted to say hi to co-workers and introduce me. After arrival and much arguing, the convinced me to stay and lay down… I stayed for a bit, but eventually I did leave. I talked to the medical staff and said, yes I know I am dehydrated, and I know I am sick… but I’m an NP and I know how to take care of myself (besides I am the worst IV start in the world when I am healthy, seriously anesthesia has a hard time – there was no way anyone was going to get an IV in me).

So at the end of the day, despite being sick and fighting through a hip injury – I finished in 3:13:42 which is less than 2 minutes off my PR. If I take off the time for visiting the side of the road, well, it was closer. Was it the race I wanted… not on your life… but I guess there is something to be learned from every race … so here goes.

1.      Salt tablets are crucial for me. I need to pay attention to that and take at regular intervals, especially when I am sick or feeling sick.

2.      Pouring water over my head probably doesn’t really cool me off too much. I may feel hot, but when the air is cold it probably does more harm than good.

3.      My new $25 dollar socks worked like a charm. I put toe caps on the 2nd toes of each foot and for the FIRST time ever in a race I am blister free and chafe mark free as well!

4.      This weekend was my mini-Goofy challenge. 5K and a half marathon … I have a feeling some of the tiredness in my legs at the end was also compounded by the running yesterday, but that’s ok.

5.      My goal was NOT to PR, this was just a training run. I did not quit… even though maybe I should have (or would have had valid reason to). I was mentally tougher today than physically tough, which is a step forward for me. I was able to block out the pain and keep going.

So I guess some days are big victories. Some days are small victories, but part of being an athlete is trying to find the victory instead of accepting defeat. I know I am capable of better, maybe on another day, but now starts the marathon training. Yeah, secretly I worry I can’t do it. And on the surface there are things today that make me think that more, but yet there are also things in myself that I saw today that make me believe all things are possible. I am going to choose to focus on the positives today. I survived! :)

Saturday, September 17, 2011

The Journey - One Year Later (Fox Cities 5K)

I bet when you clicked on this blog, you thought it was all going to be about weight loss, how my clothes fit, etc. Well, the weight loss happened (down about 40 pounds) and yes my clothes fit better (a nice size 16 instead of a size 24), but todays journey is a fitness one. 

You see one year ago, I trained and ran my first 5K today. I wasnt sure I could do it, and I was struggling. I participated in a 5K prep class through the local FleetFeet FoxValley running store. That class gave me the confidence to not give up. Come race time, one of the coaches was nice enough to pace me for the race. I finished, confidently, and ready to start my running career. Since then I have run a ton of races -- too many to count -- and tomorrow at the very same event I will be running my FIFTH half marathon (and still training of course for my first marathon at Walt Disneyworld in less than 4 months)

Sure thats an ok story.... but thats not even the journey I am talking about today.  
A couple of months ago my friend Leah (and owner of FleetFeet) asked me to be a coach for the No Boundaries 5K class. ME, a coach! I thought for sure there was no way I could do this ... I mean Im just me, not an elite runner. But I trusted her, and I signed up.

I had a blast this summer coaching the walkers and runners and helping people to reach their goals.  In fact today was THEIR goal race (the same place I was one year ago). 
I decided to run the race and pace one of my runners to a PR. She really wanted to finish under 47 minutes and I KNEW she could do it.

I was soo excited for today. Wearing my big red FleetFeet shirt that says Coach on the back, I felt so proud! The first mile my runner was like a grosshopper -- waay to fast and I had to reign her in. People around me were looking at me funny as I was telling her to slow down. The second mile was alot better. She was struggling by the 2.5 mile mark, but I just kept trying to think of motivating things to say. I picked a target runner about 1 block up and said "We are going to beat her out at the end."

Around mile 2.5 we met up with another runner (who had the same name as my runner) and she said "Ive been imagining your coaching me, your really motivating!" That just totally made my day! Around the corner at 2.9 miles we went ... I started preparing my runner for the end. "As soon as we see the finish line, we are going to run it out, ok" We got to the 3 mile mark and all of the other coaches were at the sidelines (and some of the mentors too) and they all hopped off and ran it in with us!

I have never been soo proud to be part of a team. One of the other coaches said "who said running isnt a team sport. I was next to my runner, a couple coaches were behind so she couldnt stop. She PR'd ... finishing with a time of 43:08 almost a full 4 minutes off of her PR!

I knew coaching was fun ... but I am sooo fired up right now. Its almost more fun to help others reach their goals than to reach my own!

So the journey -- one year ago I was finishing my first 5K and feeling like I was going to throw up after crossing the finish line ... fast forward one year and I am strong enough to help others reach their goals, at the same race!
And last but not least ... one year ago when I was leaving the expo I ran into a girl from work who was running the half marathon. I remember her saying "maybe next you will be doing the half marathon with me" - I smiled and walked away thinking "no way in hades will that be happening...

Tomorrow is my fifth half ... Its gonna be amazing!