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So, I Ran A Marathon

10/12/2009

I’ve had a week to absorb the fact that I did indeed run a marathon.  I guess I should get around to recapping, hey?  Honestly, the whole experience was so physically and emotionally grueling that I sort of didn’t want to think about it for awhile.  Now that a week has gone by, I can definitely tell the story more clearly!

The weekend started off on Friday night with a big ol’ pasta dinner with a bunch of friends.  We hit up the Olive Garden and enjoyed their never-ending pasta bowls, breadsticks, and salad.  Saturday, I spent the day resting and resting and resting some more…and getting anxious, and anxious, and anxious some more.  As you’ll recall, I was battling a lot of things marathon week—tendonitis AND a severe cold.  Saturday, I made sure to rest as much as possible and try not to be nervous that those two things would affect my run!  I also made sure to eat pasta for lunch and some simpler carbs and protein for dinner…and NO vegetables.  I drank tons of water and Gatorade, set out my clothes, and went to sleep early, ready for the next day to start.

And then it was Marathon Day.  Wow—after spending all that time training, I was starting to think it would never come!  The day started early, at 4:50am.  I got up, got dressed, and made some peanut butter toast…of which I could only eat about 3/4 of a piece, I was so nervous!  I grabbed a banana and a Gatorade for the car, and the man and I headed out to pick up Sara and head to the race. 

The drive to the race seemed soooooo long.  If you’re familiar with the Milwaukee area, we ran from GRAFTON (!!!) to the Lakefront.  Um, it takes like 25-30 minutes to get to Grafton by car…so it felt like a looooong way from home!  We arrived at Grafton High School, nervous but very excited to get going.  It was great to see all the other runners and be in that atmosphere! 

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(Nervous energy, anyone?!) 

Before we knew it, it was time to head outside and line up for the start.  We saw some of our friends and family, which was a great boost right at the beginning of the race!  Sara and I kept looking at each other in awe that we were about to start running a marathon. 

Miscellaneous 073 Here we are, all ready to go!

And then, the race started.  We both got a little emotional—we were really doing it!  The first few miles flew by and we both felt great.  We ran with our friend John, as well, so that made it really fun.  The scenery was beautiful and the crowds were great.  We ran through the countryside and kept cracking jokes every time we saw farm animals—for whatever reason, whenever the runners were running by, the cows would moo or the geese would quack, so we kept joking how into the marathon the animals were, as in, “The cows are into it!”

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(Sorry for the size of these pics, they are from the official photography website
and I couldn’t get them to save any bigger!)

We also tried to focus on taking it one mile at a time.  At each mile marker, one of us would look at the others and say, “That was a good mile, care to go for another?”  It was a good strategy and we kept a great pace going.  We had decided at the start to line up near the 4.5 and 5 hour pace groups and stick with them for as long as we could.

I would say I felt AWESOME for about the first 10 miles.  At that point, I looked at Sara and said, “It feels like it’s really flying by!”  We had stopped to go to the bathroom once, stopped to stretch once or twice, and we walked through each water stop, but other than that, we were running the entire time.  We reached the halfway point at 2:32:48, and I think we both felt pretty good still.  In fact, I didn’t really start to feel bad until about mile 16.

A quick aside:  I have decided that my body can easily run 16 miles.  On all the long runs and during the race, I have felt pretty awesome up to 16 miles.  For whatever reason, the 17th mile always seems to be “the witching hour” for me.  (Ok, it should be called “the witching mile,” but you know what I mean!  Seriously, even the night before the marathon, I had dreams about the mile 17.)  The 17th mile is ALWAYS when I start feeling really badly, and during the race, this was no exception. 

We saw my family around mile 15, and that was a great shot in the arm…but soon enough came the dreaded Mile 17.  At this point, I became a COMPLETE.  MENTAL.  CASE.  As in, my legs were hurting badly—so badly, they felt like lead bricks.  I had to go the bathroom.  I was crying—yes, CRYING!—with every step because I felt so bad.  And this didn’t just happen through mile 17…I was a complete basket case from mile 17 through about mile 22.  Honestly, if it hadn’t been for Sara, staying with me and talking me through it, I would probably not have finished the race.

It was exceptionally bad around mile 19, when we stopped to use the porta potty and I couldn’t go.  It was EXCRUTIATING.  I felt like I had to pee so badly and I just couldn’t go.  I should note that I followed my hydration schedule just like normal, and I didn’t change anything up—so I am not sure what the deal was…more on this later.

Around mile 22, Sara hit her own wall.  At this point, the two of us just sort of put our heads down, stopped talking, and focused on hitting each of the last miles.  We were SOCLOSE and so we wanted to just keep on going, no matter how hard it hurt.  I would like to say THANK YOU to the volunteers at the mile 22 water stop.   There were only two of them, a man and a woman, and the man took one look at me and knew I was in rough shape.  He said to me, “Amy, you’re going to finish this!” and it was more of a direction than it was an encouragement.  I can’t tell you what that did for me—it helped me to break through and focus on the fact that I WAS going to finish.

The last three miles of the race were on my regular running route for my long runs, so I knew exactly where we were and exactly how far we had to go—I’m not sure if this was a good thing or a bad thing, honestly.  It was terrible knowing how FAR away the finish was.  Yes, it was only three miles, but when you have TWENTY THREE of them behind you, it really SUCKS knowing how much farther is left.

Finally, finally, finally, we rounded the last corner and were on the straightaway to the finish—we could finally see it!  I joked that I had cried so much during the last miles that I wouldn’t have any joyous tears left for finishing…but just then, we saw a HUGE group of our friends and family, jumping up and down and cheering and whistling and ringing cowbells and making a giant ruckus for us.  IT. WAS. AMAZING.  We were finishing!  We ran a marathon!  Everyone was here to support us! 

We held hands as we ran towards the finish, crossing the finish line in a heap of tears.  We were smiling and hugging and laughing and bawling all at the same time.  It was, seriously, the most amazing thing ever. 

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We finished in 5:27:49 and I am damn proud of that time.  Sure, our pace slowed a bit (ok, a lot!) during the second half of the race, but it doesn’t matter.  We were focused on finishing, and that’s what’s important.  I hit the largest wall I’ve ever hit, and I ran with a cold AND tendonitis…yet I still managed to finish.  It was amazing.

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Afterwards, we got food and drink, walked and stretched, and talked with our family and friends.  There were lots of hugs and tears.  The very first thing I said was, “I’m never doing this again,” and honestly, I sort of mean it.  My body just cannot handle that distance—the race was the most physically and emotionally grueling thing I have ever done, and I was in excruciating pain at the end.  I think my focus for future races will be half marathons and shorter distances—because honestly, after this, those distances seem so EASY to me now.  I feel like I could get REALLY fast at half marathons.  I just have no desire to run another race this long, knowing how it went this time around. 

Remember the bathroom issue I had around mile 19?  I should mention that post-race, I peed blood.  There, I said it.  On the internet.  But that gives you an idea of how bad I was really feeling.  Once I was able to get some more food and liquid into me (I had the MOST. AMAZING. BLOODY MARY!) I felt a ton better, but that first post-race bathroom break was no fun.  I am not really sure what medical explanation there is for that…I hydrated just like I always do, so I am not sure what happened.  I do know, though, that I didn’t focus on FUEL as much during the race, and I think that hampered me a little.  I forgot to take some Gu at certain points, and this is a big no-no.  Marathon runners, make sure you KNOW your fueling strategy (and set your watch by it, if you can!) because I definitely forgot to fuel at times. 

All in all, I have to say that although it was tough, I am SO GLAD that I did it.  Seriously?!  I RAN A MARATHON.  I can hardly believe it.  I am forever in that tiny club of athletes:   I am a marathoner.  Awesome!

So where does the blog go from here?  Well, I’m taking a bit of a break from running for awhile, and using the opportunity to get back to the gym and do some “fun” cardio, like the elliptical, swimming laps, and the stair stepper.  I’m sure Sara and I will get together for a few jogs, like we always do, and I know I’ll run the occasional 5K or longer race…heck, I’ll probably even do a half marathon in the not so distant future…but the blog?  Only time will tell.  See, I’m planning a wedding as well, and it’s that blog that is my priority now—it’s the one I always want to write on and improve.  This isn’t the end of Amy Runs, but I’m sort of taking a break now to see how if I want to develop this blog into something else.

In the meantime, I have some thanks to hand out:  Thank you to my family and my friends for supporting me during this mission…thank you to Sara, especially.  Without you, girl, I would not have made it through this race.  You are a wonderful friend and I am so blessed to have you in my life!  Thank you, also to Chandra, and Sabrina, and Ali, and Sai, for being especially supportive during all the tough times, and providing encouragement and motivation when needed.  And thank you to my readers!  Your support and encouragement has meant the world to me. 

Wow.  I’m a marathoner!  What a journey…what a journey. 

A Recap IS Coming!

10/07/2009

I promise!  I have been so TIRED after Sunday’s race and I really want to devote the proper amount of time to recap the race for all it was…which was AMAZING.

I can’t believe I finished a marathon!  Wow.  It was simultaneously one of the best and worst things I’ve ever done.  It was  a physical and mental struggle and I have so much to tell you guys about it that I want to make sure I do it correctly…so please bear with me while I gather all the photos and thoughts I have—I am hoping to be able to write the recap today or tomorrow!

In the meantime, here’s a teaser pic of Sara and I as we’re about to cross the finish line!

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I’m Running A Marathon

10/04/2009

…RIGHT NOW!!

By the time you read this, I will be already in the midst of running the Lakefront Marathon here in Milwaukee.

HOLY COW!

The training has been intense, both mentally and physically, but honestly?  I think the worst part so far has been the waiting for the race.  The running, I can handle.  The waiting?  It’s excruciating!

There is no way to online track the runners for this marathon (too small), but if you are interested in seeing the route we are running, you can watch this video:

http://www.jsonline.com/blogs/lifestyle/60321332.html   

I have the day off of work tomorrow (thank you thank you thank you!) so I will hopefully update with pictures and a race recap then. 

Until then, follow me on Twitter, as I will try to update as soon as possible after the race!

Thanks for coming along with me on this journey, everyone!  I have really appreciated all your support. 

Pre-Race Thoughts

10/03/2009

As I sit here drinking my lemon-lime Gatorade on the rocks (HA!), I can hardly believe it…the marathon is TOMORROW!!!  I am filled with a myriad of emotions.  Among them, I feel:

scared
nervous
anxious
excited
happy

I have so many thoughts running through my head.  What if I didn’t train hard enough?  What if I don’t feel good in the morning?  What if I come in last?

I have battled through a lot during this training.  Sore ankles, scraped knees, tendonitis, and most recently, a cold.  But through it all, one thing remains—I AM GOING TO RUN A MARATHON.  And how many people can say that?!  It’s an awesome thing, truly it is—I only hope I feel it’s this awesome on mile 24 as I scrape my way the 2.2 miles to the end. 

Sara and I picked up our packets yesterday and we were both giddy with excitement.  Afterwards, we went out for pasta with some other runners…it was great to swap stories and learn their tips and tricks.  My iPod is loaded, my outfit is laid out.  I have all my Gu packets and chews lined up, and Gatorade ready to go.  I am well-rested, and although still recovering from my cold, I feel well enough to run.  Tomorrow, I just want to HAVE FUN.  Just enjoy the scenery, enjoy the race, and FINISH.  Hopefully I’ll be able to do just that!

So with that, I leave you.  Tomorrow morning, I have a post set-up to post WHILE I’m running.  Feel free to leave some words of encouragement for me here tonight…I’ll definitely carry them with me as I race tomorrow!

See you from the other side!

Tendonitis

10/02/2009

Sometime after my 16-mile run, I started experiencing some pain in my right foot.  It was on the side of my foot and slightly under the arch, and didn’t seem like a big deal at the time—in fact, I thought it was just post-run soreness.  After my 18-mile run, the pain was back, and much more intense this time.  It was then that I had the inkling that something was wrong.  After my 20-mile run, I couldn’t put ANY weight on my right foot…and that’s what prompted me to head to the doctor.

I took a week off from running, then went to see a sports podiatrist recommended by my mom’s doc (she works for a foot doctor as well).  They took x-rays of my foot, and I had to walk up and down the hall in various ways in order for him to check my alignment and pronation.  He also inspected my running shoes…and then it was time for the diagnosis.

TENDONITIS.  Boooooo.  This is not what a marathon runner wants to hear two weeks before her marathon!  Luckily, he said I was already wearing the correct shoes for me, but that my right foot just needed a little extra help in order to stabilize.  He prescribed some OTC orthotics, an ankle sleeve, and a pain medication/icing regiment to help me run.

Last week, I got to try it all out for the first time!  Basically, I take two ibuprofen an hour before I run, then two ibuprofen after I run.  I have to ice my foot after every single run, and of course, wear my new orthotics and ankle sleeve every time.

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Here’s my new orthotics and sleeve.  (Don’t mind the puzzle, me and the man like to work on them lately!)

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And this is what the orthotics look like (top and side views).  They are quite a bit thicker than the regular insoles on my tennis shoes that they replaced. 

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Here I am all suited up and ready to run…so what was the verdict?

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Woo hoo!  They worked great.  I could feel the difference almost immediately and I had no pain after my run.  Thank goodness.

In other news, the race is in TWO DAYS.  Stay tuned, I have two more entries this weekend—one tomorrow on my pre-race thoughts, and one on Sunday that you’ll be reading WHILE I’m running.  Unfortunately, they don’t have online tracking, so you won’t be able to track me during the race, but I will twitter an update as soon as I can post-finish.

I am really super sick right now as well, so everyone please say a prayer that I feel better within the next day!  

It’s Marathon Week!

09/28/2009

Holy crap.

I’ll be back tomorrow with info on my tendonitis injury and some pre-race thoughts!

Holy crap, holy crap, holy crap. 

18 Miles: aka The Run From Hell

09/22/2009

I ran 18 miles two weeks ago and it was probably the worst run I’ve ever had.  Sara would probably call it a Hateful Run.  I was in a new city and pretty excited about having a change of pace as far as scenery goes for my run…anyone who has trained for a distance event knows that you sort of get in a groove and travel on your same path over and over again…and that can get really boring!  Well, this run couldn’t have been farther from fun…or exciting…or anything remotely enjoyable at all. 

So, needless to say, I headed out bright and early on a Saturday morning to tackle 18 miles.  I figured it would take me close to 3.5 hours, maybe a little more.  The run started out great and I was having a good time, but I forgot the cardinal rule of running in a new area:  WATCH WHERE YOU’RE GOING.  15 minutes in, I took a very large fall on the sidewalk and scraped both my knees and my palms.  We’re not talking baby scrapes here, people, we’re talking blood-running-down-my-legs scrapes!  I didn’t have any kleenex with me and not a bathroom in sight, so I cleaned myself up as best I could with some water from my fuel belt and a leaf.  Yes, A LEAF.  Hey, you do what you gotta!  I found a bathroom a few miles later and was able to stop and clean up a little better…but my knees continued to bleed for the rest of the run.

And that fall was just the start of it.  Later on, I felt like I had gotten stung by a bee on the back of my leg.  Nope.  My shorts had SPLIT and my legs were chafing!  So now I am hobbling along with two bloody knees, split shorts, and no end in sight. 

The run was long, hot, and frustrated, and by the end, I could barely run anymore (this was the start of my tendonitis—more on this later!).  I was crying and walking and bleeding and dirty and chafed and miserable.  It was an experience I would not like to repeat.

I finished the run in 3:45, which is not too bad considering all of the above, but I was more than disappointed.  It was a terrible run and really screwed with my mind for the next week or so.  Thankfully, I was able to get out and do my 20-miler the next week, and aside from barely being able to walk at the end (I couldn’t put weight on my right foot), that run was MUCH better than the 18-miler. 

I suppose you want to see the damage?

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This is after like two days.  It proceeded to get really scabby and pussy and gross and it still is not healed all the way.  I am hardcore, I am! 

So, you’ve heard me mention tendonitis up above.  I have another post in the queue to talk about this, but I am waiting until my orthotics come in so I can snap some pictures for you guys (I know you love reading all my words, but pictures just make for a better post, don’t they?!).  I am planning a nice long run tonight with all my new gear, so hopefully my foot will feel great!

What was your worst run ever?