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Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The Final Stretch - with a run through Texas

Last week, I didn't post an entry.   The week before last, I only did one midweek run.  Then I left for Texas.   Saturday morning, I did wake up at 6:00 a.m., but instead of heading out for 12 mile run, I headed out for Austin, and my brother-in-law's college graduation.   After three hours in the car, we arrived at the hotel just in time to change and get to the graduation, then there was dinner and drinks, and fireworks.   The next day was breakfast, and family photos, oh, and packing up said brother-in-law.   (I didn't actually help, but Justin did).   Then dinner and back in the car to Dallas.  Monday, I worked from my in-laws house and finally made it out for a run that afternoon around five o'clock.  I ran about 30 minutes, and vowed never to run in the evening while in Texas again.   The next day flew by, and Wednesday morning I woke at the crack of dawn.   It wasn't intentional, - I had been eaten alive by mosquitos the day before and couldn't sleep due to the itching.     So, I ran about four miles.   It was 8:30 am when I got home and I am pretty sure that I sweated enough to fill actual buckets.   Thursday and Friday went by with no running.  I planned to do 10 miles on Saturday.   The training schedule only said 8, but I missed the 12 mile so I thought I would add an extra two to even it out.  Well, apparently failing to sleep due to my itching finally caught up with me and I overslept and didn't get out on my run until about 9:30.   I had to be at my sister-in-law's graduation from high school at noon, so 10 miles was out of the question.   At 2.3 I thought I was going pass out.  Seriously.   I walked into the house and straight to an ice cold shower.   I hate cold as you may have picked up from previous blog entries.  (If you missed it, check out "8 miles in the Rain" and "The Ice Bath").  I have vowed never to run in Texas again.   

We flew back to California the next day, and on Monday morning I set out to do 8 miles.  With only a week left until the marathon, I didn't want to over-do it, but I was feeling pretty good.  For the first time I ever - I maintained a pace under 11 minutes for the first 7 miles.  The last mile, I went up to 11:11.  I never thought I would see that type of improvement.   I have no intention of matching that pace in the marathon.   In fact, I hope to stay between 12 and 12.5 minute miles.   At the beginning of the season, I said that speed was all about perception, and that remains true here at the end.   I am  excited by the improvement that I have seen.  Even the tortoise has someone behind him.

As I go into this next week, I am getting nervous.   The farthest I have run so far is 19 miles and yet I am facing 26.2.   To make matters worse, the hip pain that has plagued me - but not stopped me - all season, flared up yesterday worse than ever before.   As has been the case for the last few weeks, work continues to be stressful and I am may ultimately end up trying a case next Wednesday.   I am concerned about the weather, I am concerned about what to eat and drink this week.  I am especially concerned about whether or not I will get enough sleep in light of my toddler's recent decision not to sleep in his own bed.  I have a lot of doubts about my ability to accomplish this endeavor.   I play games in my head, - just like I have all season.  Sometimes I calculate the the pace I need to keep in order to finish the race in under six hours, 13.74.   Sometimes I promise not to be hard on myself if I have to walk the last six miles.   Sometimes, I think about how after doing this, I will probably keep running (not right after doing this - more like a couple weeks after this).   I even go so far as to think about doing half marathons in the future or celebrating my 40th birthday with a triathlon (40 is two years away -  that should be enough time to recover, right?).   I wonder about what Justin is going to do with Oliver while I am running.  I wonder if I am going to actually physically collapse at the end.   I have a great deal of uncertainty about whether I will have enough nutrition on me, and whether it is suddenly going to upset my stomach.   I am, well, a little bit of a mess.  

This time next week, I will have run a marathon.   I will have raised over $3200 for the Leukemia and Lymphoma society.  I will have honored my Dad, my Cousin, the mom of one of my closest friends, Justin's great grandmother, and my sister-in-law's friend's father.  I wish I didn't personally know so many people affected by Leukemia or Lymphoma, and I wish there weren't so many other people, that I don't know, affected by this disease.  But, as this journey from zero to 26.2 comes to a close, I feel thankful.  Thankful to have a body that can make this journey, thankful that so many of those people are still with me and can support me in this endeavor, and thankful to all those who have donated.    So, thank you my dear friends and family, for your generosity of spirit and boundless enthusiasm.   

Sunday, May 13, 2012

20 Miles - I am going to die - just like Phidippides

I thought this would be a good week for us to take a brief look at the history of the marathon.   Phidippides was the Athenian runner who ran from the plains of Marathon to the city of Athens, approximately a 26 mile while run, and died shortly thereafter of exhaustion.    It was his job to inform the City of Athens that the Athenians had defeated the Persians at the Battle of Marathon and to warn them that the Persians were on their way.     Now, my immediate thought, is that if someone died running 26 miles, then perhaps it is not the wisest thing for me, or anyone else, to do.  And, yet, since the inception of the modern Olympics, people have run the marathon.    A closer look reveals that Phidippides, was actually a "professional" runner, much like Olympic runners.   That's what this guy did, - run.  This seems to support my earlier hypothesis, that I , a non runner, should not be running a marathon.    

This hypothesis is also supported by my experience running Saturday.    Once again I had to be at the practice at 6:30 a.m., this, in and of itself, is actually a valid reason for me to not run a marathon.   Once we got started running, I felt pretty good.   The first 6 miles, - all good.  The next 6 miles -- not dead yet.   About 15.5, I thought about killing myself I was so miserable.   At 18, my back spasmed.  WHAT?    What the hell was that?   Oh, and it kept doing it.  So, I walked the last two miles, trying to stretch out my back periodically.    I stretched a little when I finished, and then got in my car to go home.   I walked into my house and could barely move!   I contemplated an ice bath, but decided, hells no!  (see previous entry on the ice bath), so I took a hot shower and stretched some more.    Then I proceeded to fall asleep on the sofa for 45 minutes.   I seem to vaguely recall Oliver playing legos, but for all I know, he could have stuffed legos up both our noses and I wouldn't have been the wiser.    I finally got up and went to lunch and shopping.   I was so tired.   And, sore.   My feet, knees, hips, back, shoulders, eyes and head all hurt.     Clearly, my body had decided that this much running was unacceptable.    Again, all supporting the aforementioned hypothesis. 

During my run, the mentor I was running with had mentioned the story of Phidippides, -- she said something, like, just think if he would have died after only 21 miles, then that would have been the marathon.   And, I thought, "damn fool, I wish he would have died after 21 miles."   I was trying to remember the whole story, I remembered that he was in fact a messenger, but I seemed to recall that there was more to it than just the 26 miles.   So, I looked it up.  (Thank you wikipedia).   It turns out, prior to that 26 mile run, Mr. Phidippides had run 140 miles each way back and forth to Sparta, and had fought in the battle of Marathon.  So, he didn't actually die from running the 26.2.   He died from running 306 miles.    The idea of someone running that far makes me laugh.   Or cry.   

So, I thought to myself, how many people have died running a marathon?   I googled that too.  I couldn't find an exact number, but the risk appears to be .8 per 100,000 people.    I tried to figure out how many people would be running the San Diego marathon, and the best estimate I could find was 40,000, -not even 100,000 people.   I figure that means  the odds are ok that I won't actually die (to all you math nerds, I know that is not how probability works, but I'm trying to make a point here).   I am just going to feel like I did.  

Running While Sick

For the second time since I started training for this marathon, I got sick.   Really sick.   

During the week, after working 10-12 hours, all while blowing my nose endlessly, it's tough to motivate to go out for a run.   But, with 18 miles looming before me on Saturday, I didn't want to miss the group run.   And, cold medicine got me through the week, -- so surely it could get me through the run, right?   Answer is no.   Advice for this week is do not run while high on cold medicine.  It is probably good advice to not run while high on anything, but it has been quite a few years since any other sensory altering substances have entered my blood stream, so let's just say cold medicine.  

Friday night I knew I needed to sleep, so Nyquil seemed like the obvious choice.   Saturday morning, I needed to get up and run, and Dayquil was sitting right there on my kitchen counter next to the coffee maker.   Seemed reasonable at 6:30 in the morning, after having taken the Nyquil only 7 hours before, to pop a couple.   I should note, I am not quite coherent at 6:30 in the morning, even on my best days, so in a Nyquil fog, my senses were probably already impaired.   Anyway, I showed up to practice (late), and we got started running.   About 9 miles in, I realized I was lightheaded, at about 10 1/2, it dawned on me that I had taken in a lot of cold medicine in the previous 10 hours.   By 12 miles I thought I was going to faint.   I told the mentor I was running with to go on with out me, and that I would just walk it off.  Fortunately, she didn't, because really, that statement is just more evidence that I was a little loopy.   Seriously?  I feel faint, why don't you leave me alone, three miles from my car.  Anyway, she walked with me the last six miles of the course.   

In addition to the big take away of this week (reminder:  don't do drugs and run), I would also like to give a shout out to the people who walk the marathon.   Because I walk all the time, it never occurred to me what a bitch it is to walk that many miles.  Granted by the time I started walking I had already run 12 miles, but the next day, my legs hurt in totally different places than usual.   My hip is always sore the next day (I am old), but my calves had never hurt before, but they did that day!    Walking a marathon, -- or a half marathon is no joke!   So a serious, you rock to all the walkers out there.  

And, just as a side note, if you do do drugs before running, you can probably walk it off.   But, I recommend having someone walk with you, because otherwise, you could very well end up in a ditch.  

Friday, May 4, 2012

Running Alone

Last Friday night was rough.   I didn’t sleep at all.   6:30 a.m. rolled around and there was simply no way I could make it to my practice.  I needed sleep desperately.   So, I turned the alarm off, rolled over and slept until 10.  

Later that afternoon I emailed my coach to find out if I could run with the Westside team on Sunday.  I was set and ready to go.   But, once again, someone (or something) reared it’s ugly head and I was deprived of sleep.   I did manage to make it out of bed by around 7:30 a.m., laced up my running shoes and took off on my ten mile run by myself.  

I run by myself in the evenings 2-3 times per week.   But the majority of these runs are between 2 ½ and 3 ½ miles.   I follow some variation of the same route every evening.   But, I knew if I was going to do 10 miles I needed to mix it up a bit, so I started running east away from my house.   About 2 miles east I turned north for about a 1/2 mile (did I mention that east is flat and north is a hill?) then it was time to go east again for another half mile.    Finally, at last, west.   About 2 miles west there is a drop, woah!  Oh, no, it’s time to go north again!   Going north, north, north, and, okay, going South.    Relief.   About that time I realize, thanks to my handy dandy iphone app, that I have gone 7 miles, but I am only about 1 mile from my house.   I have to get in another two miles.  I am going to have to go north again!!!!  I know what you are thinking, why does she keep going North when there is the possibility of going South?   Well, for starters I deeply fear the South.   Nothing good ever happens when you go South.   In the case of whether I live, about a mile a Southeast of where I live, I hit gang territory.  North of where I live, are crazy celebrity mansions.   Hills or no hills, I’m going North.   I finally made it to 9 miles – at the top of a gently sloping hill, which meant the last mile home was going to be super easy.   It may have been the fastest I have ever run.  

Running alone is, not surprisingly, a little bit lonely.   When I run with the group, there is conversation and commiseration to keep me going.   But, out there alone, its all me.  And, well, I am just not that interesting to myself.   I’ve been told to expect to run most of the marathon alone.   Sure, I will start with people I know, and I may even make new friends along the way, but the marathon is an individual sport.   The thing about that sentiment is, while I will be running alone, I will be running with all the camaraderie and support that friends, family and the team have given me a long the way.   With all that, I could never really be alone.    So, I suspect that when I finally run the marathon, that will the be the fastest I will have ever run.