Tuesday, May 3, 2016

4 mile event at THE DOME

Back at the beginning of April I registered for the Fools 5K and registered for this 4mile event at the same time, figuring that having an event will be motivation to get on the treadmill when I can't run. That last part hasn't been all that true, though I have gotten on a couple times a week.  I use to do some of my longer runs over through campus in the early morning in the summer. It is a fairly quiet area that time of day and year---and I could run inclines in the parking garage!

As the weekend loomed closer, the weathermen said the phrase we rarely hear, "100% chance of rain on Saturday".  Oh happy happy, joy joy!   Walking in the rain.  Then I remembered Guitar Ted's (mountain bike writer) who says, "once you're wet, you're wet, you can't get any wetter" and I have always agreed with that.  

I had to dig out my winter running clothes (having put them all away in vacuum bags after the Fools race--apparently *I'm* the fool for doing that).  I felt like I was the only one in layers, but I did see a few others in long running pants as well (I had the winter pants over capris with knee hi socks).  I was quite surprised to see people in flappy shorts, as the temp was 43ºF at the start!   These last four/five years I am *always* cold and my docs can't figure it out, so I have to figure out clothing that will keep me warm, but not make me overheat once I'm ten or twenty minutes into running, which I figure is thirty minutes into walking. Being able to open up the bottom of the rain jacket while walking is good for two reasons: 1. to let air circulate; and 2. I'm short, so it wants to either ride up above the hips, or needs to be open a couple inches to allow for the hips.  #ShortPeopleProblems  

Packet pick up was Friday night or Saturday morning. I chose to go Friday night and got a bib for the event. There were only so many of these style ordered. Those who picked up late got plain white bibs.  I'm putting my back to the test, I want that special bib :-D   A local insurance agent also provided each participant with a purple cowbell for the event. Mine stayed home with The Mike who was content to sleep in.   I was back again at The Dome early the next morning for race (walk) day. 

Finish chute and finish line on the 50 yard line! 

Since I attended this University, I have some great memories in the Dome. They're not of games (I don't care to be in the midst of a lot of people like that). Rather, the memories are of being in Military Science classes/ROTC. Our PT was in the gym, with a two mile run (out/back) to a brown house that was on the edge of town at that time--and is not longer 'on the edge', and we rappelled off the north wall.  Due to my pre-existing condition, two weeks before boot camp I was told I couldn't go/join.  Plus, when I attended the State Regents said everyone had to take a 'gym' class. Mine was weight lifting in the center attached to the Dome. I learned a lot then, and still use that information.

We walked over to the chilly start to line up and of course we're all looking around to see who is there. A fabulous thing about this school is that our coaches are AWESOME.  They're nice on the field/court and off, on the trail system if you meet them, and they participate in events like this one.

We all stood (fairly) silently for the National Anthem. We waited.
and waited. 
and waited.
Someone at the front said, "Do we have to sing it?" being a smarty pants.
Then the race promoter said, "The iPod won't work, we'll have to sing the National Anthem", and so we did. 300+ folks singing the National Anthem at the start of a 4 mile event. It was cool. The campanile was chiming the hour just before we sang.   

Campus artwork
The route was a bit hilly at times and brisk wind at other times. I started out walking and paused to take the above photo. At that time, a couple walkers came up with me and I moved faster than I normally do in order to keep up with them and not be dropped/finish in last.  They were kind to let me tag along. We walked down and around and up to a roundabout that use to be my professors' office building, then down campus to the environmental studies. Then we hiked UP UP UP the incline/hill to the very official name of R.O.T.H. . . . Residence On The Hill.  This was mile 2 and while my legs were feeling good, my low back was furious with me.  It was screaming as much as it could and I wanted to hurl from the pain.   At this point I was like, "well, I can finish in two miles, or I can DNF at 2 miles and walk back to the start. Oh, wait, I am walking to the finish/start". Thankfully we didn't have a lot of hills to go and not anything like that one had been.  It started sprinkling on us around this point as well. We got across campus and it started picking up. By the time we got to the Dome it was a nice drizzle.  

We finished inside the Dome and entered the way the players do...from the NW corner of the floor across the VERY soft/squishy artificial turf to the 50 yard line.  It was awesome!  
My almost finish photo with walking/jostling hand.
photo of other people, not me
As folks crossed the finish, the picture was put up on the display, along with the leader board.

After walking around a bit, the fire in my back went down a couple notches and I had some milk  and a banana, watched the awards, and then had to walk up the stairs to get out to the parking lot.  It was frustrating that I had to stop and move to the side on the stairs, but I was also happy that I did the 4 mile event.

This was a wonderfully organized event, set on a beautiful campus, with some challenge to the course (hills and wind).  I would love to do this event again, and hopefully be able to run it.  My back hated me during the race, and for the rest of the weekend. I'm not sure the pain was worth it, but the legs and mind loved getting back out there.  

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Post 5k (by a couple weeks!) and more traction

April 3 was the 5k  April Fools event.  This is one of the funnest and best races I've participated in. First, this race director has plenty of emails and Facebook notices about an event (but not too many, you know what I mean?).  He also has a great staging area of the Start, food/tents, and Finish lines.

Let's take the Start line.  He has it set up with a nice inflatable banner, plenty of "minute" corral areas and, this is to me one of the best things, speakers all the way back down the corral area. This means, if you're a walker or a 13 minute runner, you can still hear what's being announced and hear the national anthem too!

I got out to the race site about 45 minutes early. The day was still chilly, but not near as windy as Saturday, the original event day, was.  Saturday had wind gusts up to 50mph, and I think a few may have been faster than that.  The race director was able to work with the venue (state park), food venues and portapotty people to have the event on Sunday instead. This in and of itself is a huge feat. Not many cities or race directors would be able to arrange that!  I got a parking spot about midway between the start and finish/staging area.  My main reason in getting there early was to get a good parking spot, and to be able to get a race shirt at 8:30, when those of us who registered too late could get a t-shirt.  HOT PINK :-)    There were a few hundred people I guess, who weren't able to make the race on Sunday, but there were over seven hundred people who were happy it got rescheduled!  The race director is awesome. Any other city/race probably would have resulted in a flat out cancellation.

I started walking back to the Starting area about 8:45.  I didn't want to stand out in the breeze any more than necessary, even though I had on a Mizuno thermal shirt, a loose winter Adidas over that, and my Saucony running jacket. On the bottom half I messed up and wore Athleta knee pants, with Nike winter run pants over that.  I should have worn full length tights and then the Nike over it.  My calves were ccccold!  
Not these type of calves!  
I stayed on the side of the corral until the near end and then tucked in to cross the start line.  I was sure I was going to have the same issue as I do with running--going out too fast in "turbo" fashion.  I think I was doing well for the start and then did pick it up a little to stay with a couple other walkers who were near me. My back was a little 'ick' from the twisting of the hips as I walked, but it wasn't too bad. I was walking faster than I do on the treadmill and could tell that.  About three-fourths of a mile in the right lower back was a sore spot. This had happened before, since the accident, on the treadmill and was a "knock it down" signal to me.  I tried to slow up the walking but it didn't seem to help on this day.  I took my thumb and pushed it into that area to try and loosen it up.

The course is sort of an out and back with a side loop about a mile in.  While I usually see the lead racers on the side loop, today walking this course, I saw them much earlier on the course and it freaked me out! Made me think I must be reallllllly slow and then I realized, 'yeah, I am slow today. I am a walker!'  One of the up and coming runners is a young thing, and it was great to see him out there keeping pace with the leaders. (He's 8).  Some people are shocked to see someone 'so young' out there, but it's really about finding an interest that the person like and loves and he loves running and being fast.

That side loop is almost another mile as well, so it's not a straight line out and back and there is some scenic change to enjoy as well!   On this side loop is where I slowed down and was massaging the right mid back several times.  I got to where I walked with it just barely making its presence known, so it wasn't painful, but wasn't gone either.  Just 'noticeable'.  

The rest of the event, last mile or so, I slowed down a bit more too.  I was loving the beautiful day, with the chilly breeze, even though I'd rather have been running the event. I tried not to let the need to walk get me down, but it was definitely frustrating not to go faster, and having to slow a walk.

I finished with a little over 55 minutes, so definitely faster than I have been on the treadmill, but with the low back twitching and hurting, I just don't know how I could go any faster. [I thought it was funny that we always run in races faster than in training and the same held true for walking--even though I didn't expect it to happen].  I wanted to hang out for the finish, but the cool breeze was at work cooling me down too much. I got my results sheet, chocolate milk, banana and popcorn and headed back to the car.  I was trying to remember if this is the race where the race director has a door prize drawing and I couldn't remember, then I decided it didn't matter. I wanted to get warm!

I had my second traction therapy last week on Wednesday and didn't notice any difference, unlike the first one the prior week.  I hurt going into it and I still hurt after the traction and heat + stim.

Friday I felt a lot better. I got on the treadmill and did another 5K.... at my slower pace 57 minutes.  A couple miles into walking I decided to bump the treadmill up to 5mph and try running. I did get further until the pain kicked in, and then cut it back to walking speed.  A whole 30 seconds I ran.  WOW. I **should** be impressed with myself.  

This week I missed traction.  Essentially, I got a whole two hours of sleep on Tuesday night, waking up at midnight "wide awake" for the day. I grabbed the kindle and read on the couch for a bit.  Later in the morning we had our new bed and couch delivered. I feel like a princess having to climb up into the giant bed (with memory foam padding!).  Last night I slept solidly (probably because I realllly needed the sleep) and today I got busy with closet cleaning and laundry.  My wrist pain shot up with all the activity and back pain was steady. About 11am I get a call from the car dealer that I missed my brake appointment. Thankfully I was still able to take my car in. Unfortunately, it meant I also missed my therapy (traction) appointment this morning.  I called to reschedule and they were surprised to realize they had missed me not checking in and rescheduled for the first available on Monday.  I was surprised that they hadn't called me after missing my 9am appointment.

In cleaning out the closet today, I found my bright pair of Brooks Ravenna 6 shoes that I won at last year's Marine Corps Marathon. I'm 'saving' those for when I'm able to get back to running!  I have three old pairs of running shoes I can use for walking and therapy.

Here's to a beautiful weather week ahead!  

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Walk--not run, Get Me The Rack, 5k!

I usually thing of things to write about when I'm driving, or doing something else that means I can't write down what I'm thinking about.  By the time I get to paper and a writing utensil, I have forgotten what I was thinking ;-)  I hope I'm not the only one who does this!

This last week I was (still) bemoaning that I cannot run.  Someone asked me a few months ago if I've tried running. I said no, quickly, but the reality was that yes, I did try once after the accident.  My treadmill goes has three instant speed buttons of 3mph, 5mph, and 7mph.  I bumped it from 3mph to 5mph for about as long as it takes to say "NOPE", and went back to 3mph. My whole back was so sore from that 'try' that it just became more simple to say "I can't run" since 11/17/16 car accident.

Earlier this week my doc's office called to tell me the results of the MRI I had on Friday of last week. My wrist has water on it.  I wonder why it can't be aspirated. My knee was aspirated about a decade ago when I ripped my ACL and meniscus. My doc just racks everything up to my autoimmune disease.  (sigh)  It'd be even nice if insurance companies let you pick a physician based on their lifestyle. Such as, I'd like a doctor who is food/health conscious, and runs/exercises, and would look outside the box at investigating things.

The results of the wrist said I had water on it, and apparently it'll just go away in time.  The low back showed some issues and my PCP's nurse relayed that I could do injections or try traction.  Let yourself see how you'd react to those two options and being made to make a decision with that information.  I asked what type of injections, 'corticosteroid'.  Oh, so Prednisone?  She replied with yes, probably. Hmmm, well, I HATE Prednisone.

I asked what traction was about.  The nurse told me "weights on your waist".  Hmm, well that one doesn't sound as scary as Prednisone, let's go with traction.  The nurse replied, yeah not everyone wants a needle in their back.  My thought: Why would an injection/RX be anyone's first choice of recovery?  Medicine is good, but seriously, let's try some non-pharmaceutical things first!

This last time for PT, traction was "added".  (i.e. I did traction, plus the stim, but no Gym to see how I feel).   Traction is putting on a corset/waist belt system, laying on a table, having the belt system attached to a machine that slowly and gradually pulls your lower body from your upper body. Essentially, "traction" is the modern day mid-evil times RACK.  It actually didn't hurt. It felt good and I could only tell I was being moved because the Athleta pants slipped on the table as it moved under me.
(found via search for "The Rack")
Afterwards I felt good. Still had some pain, but I felt like I could hop and skip.  The pain came back about five hours later, but not as strongly until later that night.

There's a 5K this weekend that I've been debating on entering, so I decided I better get my butt back on the treadmill to walk a full 5k and see how I'm going to do with it.  I decided my time was doable and wouldn't keep the volunteers at the race finish extra long.  In addition, after I had two miles done, I decided to try to run.  BIG mistake.  I bumped up the treadmill to 5mph and immediate pain shot horizontally on the low back and up the back as well. I went back to walking.

Then the race was postponed from Saturday to Sunday. . . . due to strong winds forecast. By strong winds, we're talking wind gusts up to 50mph.  Some people were upset because they had Sunday commitments, but most were happy that:

1. The race director is looking out for racers and volunteers;  and 
2. That "Iowa Nice" extends to parks being flexible with something like a race.  

I cannot imagine a race on city streets being postponed one day. However, since this race takes place in a state park, and no one had the park reserved for Sunday, then the race can still go on!
I entered this 5K for Sunday, as well as one at the end of the month.   I have mixed feelings for having to walk it, but happy to get out in the beautiful Spring and get enjoy the day.  

Last year when I did the Marine Corps Marathon in October, someone asked me why I just didn't postpone it until the following year, and get a better time, since it'd be seven months after my acral lentiginous melanoma/ "toe cancer".  I said because I got into the race for this year and I was going to do it, and I had to get something BIG moved in order to be able to do the race, and would have to get permission to move that again in the following year.  I am now ecstatic that I ran the Marine Corps Marathon last year.  It was my slowest, marathon ever, out of five, but I did it.

In that fashion, I'm getting out there and doing this 5K.  It will be my slowest, longest 5K ever, but I am going to do it.  (I did walk this race with a friend a couple years ago, so it'll be the second 5k I've walked since 2009 when I started running).  

Now, should I do a costume, or just dress as a "walker" ;-)   It is a Foolish race to do, after all!   

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Baby steps and stability ball

It's been a while since I've written about anything.  I've been reflecting on some things.  Last January I was sick and then found my Melanoma, which led to the punch biopsy, painful recovery on that, and then a month of activity followed by toe surgery which would set me back a few months.  This winter (Nov) had a car collision with a pizza delivery driver who ran a stop sign.  This collision created back and wrist pain.

I had a bit of a pity party for myself in January and February. We had some gorgeous snow that came and I thought, it would be fun to be more in now pain to go out and snowshoe. I didn't. Walking in snow is like walking in sand.  It is a really good workout. One where you don't realize it until you hurt that doing it works muscles you didn't know were connected in such a manner.  Instead, I got back on the treadmill and did walking.  A 5k in 63 minutes seems so slow to me, but it's better than where I was in December and it's better than if I don't do it at all.
Any step forward today is a step more than you have made thinking about it.  (Repeat, repeat, repeat).  

This week at physical therapy, I got to use the gym equipment.  No, nothing like a good leg press which I would love to do again. (My quads and hams would love it). Instead, I got to use a hand crank for helping with wrist action, some weights for seated forward fold and seated back bend, treadmill for 5 minutes flat and then for 5 minutes at slight incline. Interestingly, while I start my t'mill at 2.5 and work up to 3.1mph, the gym one seems fast at 2.5mph.  I suppose there could be difference in calibration for different machines, but it seems a big difference.  My thought as I was doing this was "I did my fifth marathon in October, after coming back from foot surgery in April. When am I going to be able to run again? Experience that runner's high/good feeling?"  Mentioned this to the PT person and she said, 'you're starting from scratch again, it'll take a while.' ARGH.

Today, my second time doing the gym at PT, she had me add in a stability ball.   My face went to a "uh, what? no!" The last time I used a stability ball was several years ago and it was not pretty as the ball rolled one way and I went the other.  I was thinking, "I'm being supervised, it'll be fine".   Laid on the ball with the back on the ball, feet on the ground and walked out to a supported bridge pose in yoga.  Legs felt okay doing it, running shoes slipped on the carpeted floor, and the low back did NOT like the pose. I did ten of them---without falling off the ball! Success :-)   Next up was using the stability ball on a bench, laying on the bench, feet on the ball and doing a bridge pose in that manner. Low back didn't like that either, but it felt good in the rest of the body.   

Friday, January 1, 2016

2015 is in the books and 2016 is off to a slow start. Putting it out there. Keeping it real.

So long 2015. You've been an interesting year.  I had the fewest amount of races in 2015, compared to any year since 2009 when I started running. This was because of that thing called "toe melanoma" I found in January and had surgery for in April (Stage I).
  Really need to think about the longevity of photos. I'll share what I learned: 

"Get a pedicure before having a procedure on your foot/toes, as people will look at that photo for years to come".  

I've learned a lot about Melanoma this year, including that people can get it in their fingernails!  If you have a black streak suddenly appear from your cuticle in your nail, get it checked out! 

Before the surgery, I did the Marine Corps 1775K run at the end of March, as a walk with a friend who was conquering breast cancer. We were guaranteed access to the Marine Corps Marathon in October for finishing this race.  My next race didn't happen until June-- a 5K prediction run where I ran my slowest 5K, I think ever--42 minutes something--but still it was a run, a first race after foot surgery and a race in which I was able to say, "I am coming back."  I didn't do another race until September when I decided I *really* should be doing a half in order to see where I'll be for the MCM in October.  I did the Quad Cities half (Moline Illinois) and finished the second half with an 80 year old gent in PI time 3:14. My slowest half ever, but considering the training this year and that it was my first half back, it was a great time.  I did two 5Ks back to back for breast cancer in October. I actually have never done a breast cancer 5k, as I always had prior commitments that first weekend in October when the local ones are held. I did one in my town for support to a friend in her mid 30s with Stage IV metastatic breast cancer. I did one the next day for so many I know who have had this cancer,  was in a city nearby, and had over 25,000 runners and walkers. I've never encountered a 5K with so many people, and so many who were "just" walkers out for the cause!  It was an amazing experience. My final race was the Marine Corps Marathon. It was my slowest marathon ever, but I improved my first half time from September, and ran a second half that was comparable to my other marathon second portions. My toes really started to hurt about mile 21. I was worried about my legs, and my feet in general getting me to the MCM finish line, but my toes were hurting so much. I started shuffle running at the end, knowing I had huge blisters under the nails.  I ended up losing both my big toe nail and index toe nail on both feet. I tried to save the nails by taking a long soak, sterilizing a pin and popping the blisters, but it didn't work.

Six.  6.  S-I-X races this year. Seems like a low number, but it was a tough year.

The middle of November is when I was thinking, "I need to get back to running, it's been two weeks since the marathon." I didn't and a couple days later I literally hit the gluten-mobile. . . . . pizza delivery driver. He ran the stop sign,  I hit his vehicle.  25 to 0 in seconds gave me a concussion, neck, mid back and low back pain, as well as pain in my right wrist because I went from 10/2 hand positions to 10/slamming on the horn.  I'm really thankful it was about 5pm and slightly sprinkling which meant that there were not any college students out walking to their cars on the street. I am amazed he didn't hit any pedestrians or cyclists.

One might not think the wrist would be much of an issue, but taking off a sports bra/top is painful. Using a mouse/laptop for more than 30 minutes is painful, makes the wrist make weird cracking/popping sounds. A highlight from the accident is the neck xrays which showed my neck was fine, no broken bones. However, from the jaw pain/neck issue I had in April/May/June, I had seen a chiropractor who did xrays.  That showed my neck was not curved as it should be. My xrays from November show my neck is curved as it should be :-)  My chiropractor is awesome and his cracking my C5 for the jaw issue really helped. . . .the car accident was causing issues with C7. As a result of the accident, I really didn't do much for the next 6 weeks.  I did fly for Thanksgiving, and had to hustle through the airport --in extreme pain--to make my connection. Popped Tylenol as soon as I got on the connecting flight (only med I can really take for pain because of my gut conditions).  I walked just over 4 miles on Thanksgiving day with one of my sisters, at a pace of about 2.2mph. While she could have walked faster, I really couldn't. Any faster and my lower back hurt from the twisting of my hips. Really, the *fun* part is asking people to slow down their walking. I really hate having to do this, especially with tore employees who show me where something is in the store. Thanks pizza delivery gluten man. :-( 

A few years ago a friend told me that she puts a dollar in a jar for every day she runs/exercises. I thought this was a fabulous idea. I did it last year with the proviso that I'd put a $1 coin in for any exercise I did in which I had to change clothes. So if I ran and then did yoga it was $1, but if I ran in the morning and biked or did yoga in the afternoon, then that was two changes of clothes and that meant two dollars into the jar.  I basically figured it was one long workout if it didn't involve a change of clothes.  This year I stuck with that same thought, but with the changes this year brought I didn't put as much in the jar as I had hoped.  $134 was in the jar on 31 December 2015.  I thought it was good, considering that many times I wasn't able to exercise. Except, I realized after the 4 weeks of "sit on the couch and do nothing" orders from the general surgeon that I could have probably laid down on the floor and done the Pilates 100 stomach exercises and such. At the time I had been struggling with "I'm sitting here and what can I do other than arm curls". 

Reward money jar

What did I do with the money?  From the 2014 reward jar I had a sterling silver ring made with an amethyst stone, which is The Mike's birthstone.  From the 2015 jar, I took in some pearls I had from The Mike's and my 2009 trip to Hawai'i, plus a couple freshwater pearls I had from which I had to restring a necklace. The jeweler made drop earrings with the three sets of pearls (two round whites, two round chocolate and the two white freshwater).  They're pretty. While they did cost more than the money jar had, I felt it was worth it to make something I will wear instead of having sit in a drawer :-) 

I'm putting it out there, and keeping it real. 

Most of the time in the past I haven't posted my times from workouts. I feel it's not about the times of a workout, but about the workout itself, as everyone is different and has different goals and times. I should only push myself against myself, and not push myself against someone who has a much faster pace and is unrealistic and unattainable for me. I think that pretty much just sets a person up to get knocked down. I want to be about building UP!  Therefore, I'm putting this out there:  
My workout for 1 January 2016. 
2 mile walk. 
2.7mph (I did walk a little slower at the start)
48 minutes. 

My lower back hurt, but not as much as I thought it would. 
 I had to change how I occasionally held onto the treadmill bar because of the wrist. 
I watched the Rose Bowl Parade at the time. 
The Mike was tinkering in the basement, so we kept each other company. 

I could put out there in the Quirky world that, "I walked today" or "I did two miles today". Instead, I'm putting it out there in the universe, to keep this recovery real, that I walked at a 24minute mile pace. ARGH. I use to run double that. I use to walk at 3.7mph (I could walk over 4mph in high school, but that was a while ago).  
This is about where I am NOW and I want, *need* to get back to where I was and more.
Afterwards I did some stretching. Open leg stretching side to side which pulled the lower back area. I did dolphin pose (modified downward dog on forearms) to protect the wrist which hurts. 
Happy new year 2016. Where the only resolution is a "simple" resolution to improve.
Here is to all of US for a better 2016!

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

The days after a marathon

Thankfully, I was able to pack my bags for the most part and take them up the stairs the night of the race.  My flight out of town was 8:30 and I knew I needed to be up around 5.  I made a couple hamb sandwiches on Trader Joe's bread with cream cheese, and packed a ziploc bag of grapes for traveling home.  Turns out, my airport arrival time worked well with my sister's normal 'depart for work' schedule and she was able to take me without a big wrench in her system.  

Once I started moving, I was fine. Glad that bag check was right inside the door at the airport.  At Washington National, I mean Reagan, I love seeing our flag hanging in the airport.  It hasn't always hung there though--and it's nice to see it while we're at war, and after running the MCM. 
THIS.  Why doesn't every airport have one of these bottle refill fountains?  Seriously Detroit Airport doesn't have any of them. I know, I know, it's to encourage one to buy plastic bottles of water. Sigh.  
Delta offered and I accepted, to check my roller bag through to my destination.  I was wishing I hadn't done this when I had to walk through Minneapolis airport with my heavy bag and neck pillow, but it was a wise decision.   
After getting to my gate in MSP and having a few hours to spare I started stretching out, with some basic legs up the wall move.  It feels soo good and relaxing to do this. Then I tried doing Dolphin handstand or something like that. I got into the pose and was feeling good, but then my shirt fell down and a guy was walking back to the gate, so I stopped.  Nice thing about flying out of the lesser used gates is that there aren't that many people to see you do weird things. Yes, those are bandaids on the sides of my big toes as well.  Blisters there too.

I went back to my seat are and started doing stretches. One of the other people flying out started talking to me about the race. I had my MCM finisher shirt on and she wondered if I was a Marine. No, no. I 'm not. The ARMY wouldn't take me in college because of a medical condition. Then another woman came up who said she had run the MCM too. She said she ran for the 22 Too Many group, which is so named because  "Approximately 22 veterans a day take their own lives". (though I'm positive she told me a different time frame).  Apparently you sign up to run "with" a veteran who took his life. The company sends you information you memorize and then place the photo on your back in the race. You commit to sending your medal to the family (through the organization) but that you can try to request a second medal at the finish line, so you and the family would each have one). I kept up the stretching until we boarded the plane.

Back in my local airport I had to walk clear across the frozen tundra to my car. Okay, not frozen tundra, but I had to park out in the furthest lot from the terminal!   

On the floor of the car--where I thought I left it--was my ifitness belt (company now called fitletic). I actually had forgotten this at home, realized it at mile 6 of my drive, turned around to go home and specifically get it and then I still left it in the car at the airport!   Mine is from 2011 and it is showing wear, but still was good. I ended up buying a new one at the expo. It's their "old" version which was more modern than the one I have. On the back of the water bottle areas it has gel spots to keep it stuck on clothing instead of riding up.  The new pouch also fits my Galaxy phone.  I'll keep my old one around, but I like the new one too.   

The rest of this week has been pretty good. Tuesday morning I got up and did yoga class wondering at the time if I was nuts for doing it, but feeling so much better at the end of class.
I've been taking epsom salt baths to help with the aches and pains. I have been dealing with the pain of the blisters under my nails. Friday I said I'd had enough of waiting and decided to pop the blisters myself. I sterilized a pin and stuck it under my big toe nails.  It didn't hurt, which was freaky.  I got a lot of fluid out and then put a big bandaid on and kept it wrapped up all night and day. I changed the bandaid out, but still kept it wrapped for a couple days.  Sunday I went without bandaids and the toes were feeling fine and nails were looking purplish. I think they'll recover from the marathon.

Monday, November 2, 2015

THE Marine Corps Marathon!

I couldn't believe I was running this race!  With all that had  happened this year, it just seemed surreal to be here, in D.C., to run the Peoples Marathon as it's nicknamed.  Wow. 

My ride dropped me off at the shuttle stop around 6am. While there was a line of people to load buses, there were plenty of buses, and the line moved quickly.   
Waiting for my shuttle.  

We were shuttled to the Pentagon parking area, oops, I mean the entrance to security for the Runners Village. Read what I read: The Runners Village.  
This was the surreal line for the Runners Village. Way up ahead, by the yellow street sign (the one that is actually facing the camera) are the metal detectors.  Let's say this line was crazy, it was HUGE, it was sprinkling a little, but people were very courteous and kind.

Strangely, there were friends and family in this huge sea of people. Really, friends and family coming to see their loved ones off on their marathon adventure (or 10K). It's the line to the RUNNERS VILLAGE.  Yes, I realize I'm kind of screaming that in this write up.  It just boggled my mind. Sure, I love when The Mike or other family can be at the start of a race with me, It really never entered my mind to ask my family to be at the Village with me while I waited two hours for the event to start. Because isn't that the bonding time for my 30,000 best racing friends on this day?

Any way, I thought check in went smoothly.  It took me about 45 minutes from drop off at the shuttle to getting through security.  This is why they ask you to be there early.  Race Directors know what they're talking about!  
While waiting in line for security, I snapped a quick pic of the Washington Monument.
The UPS trucks for clear gear bags to check.
First, I love the big brown truck! They deliver my Amazon goodies :-)
Second, in our area at least, they wash out their trucks every evening or at least once a week. This means you get a clean package. The other company delivers dusty packages. yuck.
I think this picture is pretty neat.  30 UPS trucks lined up in a row.  
Where are all the pacers?  
I saw this guy's shirt while we were milling around the starting area.  Thought it was hilarious.  Thought it was great that I caught up to him about mile 23 :-)   
The start of this race is something truly spectacular. One can only see so much when you're in the middle of the crowd, but if you had a front row seat to the starting line, you'd see so much.  There were about five parachute jumpers with the flags, then we had a color guard (which I didn't see), as well as the Osprey helicopters (below) and another set of helicopters fly by as well. 
They're loud and awesome to see. 

In looking around at the start line, I saw a couple people in tank tops with no throw-away shirts or long shirts, and I saw this woman in the next row over. . . double walking boots on her legs and crutches.  I actually saw her at the expo but figured she was a local who was still going to pick up her packet even if she couldn't participate. Um, guess she did participate!  GO YOU!  
This was the first pic I took as I approached the starting line, the second pic was blurry.  Two start line areas, I don't understand why.  I also don't understand why they don't have a wave start of fifteen or thirty seconds.  We're off to a fabulous race with some hills in the first couple of miles.  

Heading down a street to a turn around point. This road was just completely full of people. The nice thing is that people were staying on "their side" of the yellow line!  That doesn't happen in races of 1000 people, but in a race of 30,000 it sure did!  So nice to see happen.  
I thought this was a neat bridge.  Another out and back section (or is the same one as above?).  About miles 6-9 The scary thing for me is that by the time I was coming back on this road, there was a line of buses on the other side following the last runners I thought. I was freaking out a bit, but remembered to run my run and not worry about those buses. If I had to ride one at mile 20, then I had to ride one at mile 20, but I really wanted to "beat the bridge".  Mile 10 or so, along the Potomac, I heard a helicopter and looked up to see "The United States of America" on its side, about ten minutes later it came back by again. I surmise this is the President's from having seen the news, but  I have no idea if the pilot was training or actually escorting the President himself. 

Somewhere along in here, on some steps near a bridge which I think was near the Kennedy Center, the Marine Corps Band was playing for the runners.  :-)  

Mile 12 brings us to the Blue Mile. Wear Blue To Remember group. I dare you to find any runner who was not tearing up in this mile. The first half or so we run past names of those fallen in combat.  
The second half of the race, we run past family members holding up the stars and stripes as we run beneath.  I hold these families in high regard.
Several of the members holding flags were cheering for me in my "This is my fighting cancer shirt". I was running for my mom who died of pancreatic cancer, for my sister who was with me and fighting breast cancer, and me who had melanoma earlier this year.  I could only think that those holding the flags are the ones who deserve the cheering and honoring, they stand for those who have fallen. 

Miles, 13 and 14 were on Haines Point which I use to love to visit for "The Awakening" sculpture which has since been relocated to Prince George's County, Maryland.  It is such a great piece of art to visit if you are ever in the area. I was starting to falter in this area and knowing my energy was waning, but still very determined. We came on the lower part of the mall as I call it, and went by this monument which many people over look or never see as they're more preoccupied with the popular mall area.  Do you know what this is?  
The only monument to Washingtonians who fought during WW1.
I came upon it several years ago with a group of friends.  

As we passed by the Washington Monument, I was running with a man with the RWB (red white blue) group who was carrying a US flag.  How does anyone carry the flag for 13.1 miles, let alone 26.2! These folks should get an extra medal!  
What this man and I talked about were the people on Segway tours while we were running. . . they don't even want to *walk* their tour and we're running a marathon.
Then we ran the mall for miles 17,18, 19.  I was run/walking in here, doing more walking than the first part of the race, but still pushing on.  I remember taking this picture, which I think was out front of the Air and Space Museum, but I'm not positive on that now.  
I don't recall seeing this sculpture before, but I think it's beautiful. 
So there I was in mile 19 and worried still about the bridge. I suppose everyone may have a niggle of fear in the back of their mind about the Bridge we have to beat by a specific time so they can reopen it to traffic.  I never thought much of the bridge other than knowing I had to beat it.  What I've learned on Facebook is that apparently at about mile 19.5 where I turned from the Mall onto 14th, there was a white miniature horse out there. Totally did not see it.  On the other hand, I was tucked in close to the curb area, so if the horse was in the street area I sure wouldn't have seen it. 

Now, I can't tell you the miles, but there were several spots where we had fresh orange slices out on the course. There was a Cliff gel station. I always take one of the free ones in a race not knowing a) if I'll end up needing it and b) I will try it on a training run to see if I'd like it.  I did run with GU (Chocolate Outrage, Espresso Love (which I think tastes caramel-ly), and Jet Blackberry), and HUMA gels (strawberry and apple). I like to switch them up to get a different flavor in the mouth. I also like the Huma as it's not as straight "sugar" tasting. On the last half of this course, I also started drinking the Gatorade. Normally I don't drink it in races (I usually have Cytomax with me).  However, not every water stop in the last half had Gatorade, so I definitely took it while I could, and had a Marine or volunteer fill up my water bottle I carried as well.  

Nice even view of TJ and GW monuments, but I seem to have managed to not get myself in that. 
Let's try it again.
Oh, look, now it's crooked.  :-) 
The Bridge. The Bridge is LONG. It's not just a bridge over a river or over a grassy area or whatnot. No, it's a long elevated bridge area. No wonder they have to have a deadline for runners to get to the bridge. Even on the map, which I've looked at since then, it doesn't seem like the bridge is as long as it is.  It starts as a small elevated area about mile 19.75 and then mile 20 comes when you're 'over the bridge'. Except,  that's just the end of the first bridge, then you get onto an interstate bridge across the Potomac.  You're on this bridge until you get to Crystal City, mile 21.75 or thereabouts. It's a long bridge run. What i thought was interesting was how moral may have dropped on here. . . or at least people's *need* to run dropped here. I was on the bridge with hundreds of others and at one point I wondered if someone was filming us for a zombie movie. We were all just walking along. About the time I had this thought, I was like "not me, I am going to move! Hustle Hustle.  Move Move". I started running and then walked and when I walked I had to keep kicking myself mentally to run, run, run! Move, move, move.  By mile 20 it's such a brain game, with the biggest organ trying to get you to stop. About Mile 21  was also where my toes on my left foot went a little numb. Which was a weird sensation. I worked on doing a long stride so I could stretch my muscles. The sensation came back.   Miles 22-24 were about the same. It was walk, walk, hustle, hustle, run, run. Rinse and repeat.   Along Mile 22 I had someone cross over from the other side to congratulate me for my 'fighting cancer shirt'.  Which reminded me that when I got this shirt it acquired in purple for pancreatic cancer. One of my friends said, "aren't you worried people will think you have cancer when you wear that?"  "No," I said, I can wear a fight cancer shirt and not have cancer.  Forward almost three years later and I am a cancer fighter in the form of kicking melanoma.  Wow, how time can change in the blink of an eye!   Mile 23 my toes started hurting, and I thought "this is not good". It wasn't my toes so much as my toe *nails* that were hurting.  I just knew my nails would be falling off. I've never had that happen since 2009 when I started running. Even then it was only my index toe nail that came off. This time it would be my big toe nails. UGH.  Run, run, run, hustle, hustle, hustle, walk, walk, walk, repeat, repeat, repeat!  On this bridge I was passing a couple of guys, one lamenting he was out of fuel and just needed to get across the bridge. Remember where I said I always take a gel if they're on the course being handed out?  I gave my Cliff one to this man and then continued on my way.  :-)  Good deed done for the race.  

About Mile 24 or so, I'm not really sure where, I had a Marathon Maniac come up to me in the race and ask if I was a Maniac. I said I'm officially a half maniac, but not a full. He pretty much said I should 'go over to the other side' of the maniacs  and become a double agent.  
I didn't know this part, but he said just to find an ultra running group and when they put on runs/training runs, if you log a run of over 8 hours then that can be considered one of your 'marathons' for running three marathons in 90 days. I forgot about that 90 day rule, I was thinking of the two in 14 or 16 days would get you in the club as well.  Not that I'm going to be in the Marathon Maniac club, or at least not any time soon!

Part of mile 24 and 25 skirt the Runners Village we started in this morning, and then we ran about a mile of course we'd already run.  Then it's a quick left, a straight up for 50 yards or so (which I walked). Just as I turned to the right, I heard my name and saw my family there and gave my nephew the stinkiest kiss he's ever had :-D . He's 6 so he's okay with it!  Then I ran off the final distance to the finish (passing some people who passed me on that incline) and then this:
Several corrals of Marines lined up to give us medals. 
Not only did they place it around our necks, but before that, they saluted ME!  ME! I earned a salute from one of our Marines! Who then said, "We are proud of you". WHAT? 

(Cue flood of tears).  

Then a walk through the corral to: 
Iwa Jima, The Marine Corps War Memorial. 

(Cue more tears. For the Fallen. For the heroes. For the witnesses. For the freedom we enjoy). 

More tears. I couldn't stop crying. I have never cried at the finish before that I can remember, but WHOA, so powerful a place, so emotional a race, knowing that we are running free because of wonderful Marines (and other military) who have been guarding our backs since 1775. Yes, the Marines were formed before we were officially a free country!   

Four foreign military men (UK & USA) came up behind me while I was awaiting my official picture in front of this monument.  I was still crying.  The older one gave me a hug, then another hug because I was just a mess. Seriously, I would not hug a stranger, but running does this to a person.  Turns out he was one of the few who carries "The Baton" in the marathon.  He gave me a brochure of it, which I read back at my sister's place. WOW.    
Then I wondered around looking for my finish stuff.
No, not looking for finish stuff. looking for food! FOOOD!  I wanted FOOOOOD!  Even knowing I couldn't eat everything in the box, I just wanted something other than a GU or HUMA. A banana would have been nice. None were available.
Turns out the Marines/finish line area for runners ran out of the food boxes which were boxed up for the 30,000 marathoners and the 10,000 10Kers.  They also ran out of the red finish line jackets. This is what they looked like.  
I finally got a Marine to say "huh, we must not have any" instead of what I'd like have heard was "here they are" or "Sorry we're out".  Trying to translate "huh we must not have any" into "we're out" after six plus hours of running is not easy to do!  

Anyway, I went down and got in line (um, I may have actually cut in line) for the Brooks Running tent to buy a finisher shirt. YEAH I was able to get one of these!   The woman in front of me said she saw 10Kers with the red jacket.  People on Facebook said people saw whole families with them, not just the runner.  This is just completely poor sportsmanship!  I don't even know why a 10Ker would want the red jacket. It says *26.2* on it, not 6.2.  Poor sportsmanship to take more than what you need (1 food box, 1 jacket per runner).  Thankfully, I knew I had a Tera's Whey protein packet in my runners bag at the UPS truck . Unfortunately the truck mine was in was at the bottttoooooom of the hill.  

First though, I had to finish walking the street to the UPS trucks and in doing so I passed a truck with watermelon and grabbed ONE of those and loved the fresh fruit sugar.   
Then I went to the next place that still had food: ICE CREAM!
I figured it was okay to eat this as I was walking to my UPS truck. I couldn't take it home with me since my nephew has nut allergies, but I could partake of it before I saw them again!
Okay, this is not my UPS truck, but I thought it was a good way to break up a long day. 
At my UPS gear check truck I took off my shoes and socks, and had trouble getting my big toe into my Birkenstocks Mayari sandals.
I then had to walk back UP the hill to the Brooks Running area to catch up to my ride.

A shower to remove the stench, and an epsom salt bath to help the muscles and feet worked wonders for me.  I was able to move around, although stiffly. I felt a bit like a tinman.  As long as I was moving I was fine, but if I stopped moving, the first few steps were awkward.

Recovery dinner:  brown rice pasta with homemade alfredo sauce, sauteed spinach, and garlic shrimp A very delicious and tasty meal!   

I managed to find two quarters during the race :-)  50¢ richer, I'll take that!  59,069 steps. I think I am done.  Ready for bed ¢and it's only 8pm!   

Recap:  Felt good at the start. I had a ham and cream cheese sandwich on Trader Joe's bread while waiting in line at the security checkpoint, then had part of a Chobani yogurt before the race.  Was feeling good about running and pacing for the first hour. Second hour I was wearing a bit, but enjoyed seeing the President's helicopter. Third hour, I was like "I am doing this faster than the Quad City half (though still slower than my normal pace), I can do this!". Huma and GU!   Fourth hour, OMG, what was I thinking. I didn't train for a marathon!  Wait--ORANGES!  Fifth hour surgery toe feels fine, other toes feel numb. Oh, wait feeling is back. Blisters on toes. Eeek.  On to the sixth hour:  You've got this, keep run/walking, keep moving, don't stop, don't stop.