Friday, October 24, 2008

Post Marathon Workout and Goals

I took Sunday, Monday, AND Tuesday off from working out even though I knew I should do some sort of activity. Wednesday I decided to return to the gym. I took it easy and stayed on the eliptical and the bike. Well it turns out...I have somehow further inhibited a post-marathon injury....

Ugly toes. may be thinking, how is this an injury?? is greater than the regular "black toes" that marathoners get. I not only have black toes but my toes are also swollen AND they have this little sac of something right near the quick. And it's not a blister...more like...a red puffy something. I think it was amped up after my little workout because it now hurts to walk. I called the nurseline last night and they told me to go to Urgent Care. I have a hard time believing that ugly toes warranted an urgent care visit so I'm trying to see if it will go away. The nurse's rationale was that it has been 6 days and my toes are far from my heart and thus more susceptible to infection.

So I'm still going to wait.

I have also been mulling over that idea of running Twin Cities next year. I think there is a pretty good chance it will happen. In the mean time, during the winter, I have some goals to accomplish to make the next marathon so much better.

1. Find some more running buddies in my area (join a running club)
2. Lose about 15 lbs. I know I'm not hugely overweight or anything but 15 lbs would get me to more median "normal". The BMI charts say I am high on the "normal" range but I'd like to get more to the middle of the normal range. And yes...I realize that the BMI charts are highly disputed and not really a good way of finding "normal". Anyhow, losing some weight might help the knee problem some as well.
3. Reduce the calories. This has been the hardest thing to do post marathon. It seems as if I'm always hungry and always tired. My body is still used to needing insane amounts of calories to sustain long runs and now it doesn't quite know how to go back. I'm working on telling my stomach to stop growling at me. (Funny story--it did this during a meeting yesterday really loud and my boss glanced over at me...yikes!)

Anywho, Good luck to my fellow blogger Jen this weekend!!! I know you'll have a GREAT marathon!!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Kansas City Marathon 2008 (WITH Pictures!)

Gather around is the story of my first marathon :-) I will upload more photos later to this post when I have access to them! This one was only at mile 4 or so...

Friday morning, my parents came to our apartment to pick my roommate Amanda and I up for the trek to Kansas City. I hadn't really slept much the night before because I was so worked up about running this marathon. We loaded our stuff in the car, took a "car ride" photo and endured 8 hours in my parents' Ford Explorer headed to Kansas City.

We got to Kansas City around 4:00 PM and went straight to Crown Center where the expo was held. Little did we know, that the expo was really at "Hyatt Crown Center" and not just "Crown Center". We found a nice lady to direct us through lots of hallways and skyways before we finally found our way to the expo. We picked up lots of free goodies, our chips, and a cotton T shirt that said "Kansas City Marathon" on it. Amanda thought this would be our only Tshirt and was a little upset that it was cotton...but we'll get to more on that later. I was trying to figure outa solution to carrying my gels during the race as well. Amanda and I both bought a spibelt for $20.00 to carry our gels and other items.

We left the expo and headed over to my Aunt Ellen and Uncle Jim's house where we would be staying. As we walked through the dining room, I spotted a cake on the table--it said "Happy Birthday Rachel!" It was very sweet that they had baked a cake for me considering I had not gotten one on my birthday. They also made a great big pasta dinner with breadsticks and a beautiful salad.

After dinner, I printed off some photos of my grandmother and uncle to attach to my back the next day. I also showered so that I wouldn't have to do that the next morning. Amanda and I headed to bed about 9:00 pm but definetly didn't sleep much at all. As hard as I tried, I could not really get to sleep. I woke up before my alarm even went off at 4:45 AM. Actually, correction, Amanda's alarm went off because mine had mistankenly been set for the wrong day.

Anyway, I hopped out of bed and ate a quick bagel and banana and attempted to hydrate up. I threw on my running skirt and then contemplated whether I wanted to wear a normal black nike running shirt or my NF shirt. I took both of these shirts on and off multiple times before finally settling with my NF shirt. I really didn't like the color on the NF shirt (green) but I figured it was what I should do. Since it was only 40 degrees outside when the race started, I knew I would need a jacket. The only one I brought was pink and blue, so I ended up looking a bit like a parrot in the beginning due to the contrast in colors.

Anyways, after creating my parrot costume...we headed out the door. 6 of us crammed into my Aunt Ellen's car and headed out into the dark Kansas City morning. We arrived at the Crown Center at 6:00 AM. We then took off into the Crown Center to do the neccesary things like use the restroom, stretch the IT band, etc. (Dad got a photo of me stretching my IT band that I'll add later). Anyways, around 6:30, we headed over to the start line. Amanda really wanted to finish in 4 Hrs 30 Min and I thought that this was feasible so we got behind the 4 hr 30 min pacer and said our final goodbyes to the cheering crowd.

The National Anthem was sung and the hairs on my arm stuck up in realization that I would be running within moments. The anthem ended, then gun went off, and we were moving. First, we took off with a little bit of a crowded jog and I was suprised we were above a "walking" pace but that quickly changed with a "car wreck" like effect. Everyone in front of us halted very quickly and we collided with the people in front of us. This happened about 3 times before finally we were at a regular walking pace towards the start line. Once we crossed the start line, we were off. I quickly realized that I had made a giant mistake by loading my brand new spibelt full of gels. It was bouncing around like crazy (and my number was attached). I was getting so annoyed by the whole thing and couldn't wait to use my first finally went away when I did.

Amanda stuck with me for the first 3 miles. She had to go to the bathroom right away and so she looked out for a port-o-pottie while I tried to determine whether I really wanted to stop. We found one shortly after our first really large hill up to the Liberty Memorial. I decided to be nice and stop with her even though there was a really long line. This was my first mistake. I should never have stopped for a bathroom that I didn't need to use. Anyways, Amanda and I continued on. We hit a few more up hills and then it was nothing but downhill for awhile. My knees really don't do well with down hill. They were starting to hurt so I started to slow down a little. This is where Amanda and I seperated. I think we may have been at mile 4. This is the reason why I seriously think I shouldn't have stopped at that porto-pottie.

Anyways, I caught back up to Amanda briefly about 10 minutes later and then she was gone again. I refocused my energy to try to stay focused on my run and on finishing. My knees were already hurting and I was starting to get really warm with the jacket on. I wanted to see the "support clan" so badly so I could throw my jacket at them. Finally around mile 6, I heard "Rachel! Rachel!". I veered from the center of the course and quickly threw my jacket at my aunt then headed back on course.

The next 6 or 7 miles kind of went by in a blur. Lots of uphills and downhills, and listening to the people around me. Actually, they put our name on our number tags so there were quite a few people cheering my name. That was pretty cool. There were lots of people on the sidelines to cheer the runners on which was really nice. The water stops were alright. My first few water stops I ended up with the quarter filled cups again. By the third water stop I took two glasses of water to make sure I could rinse my gel down. I don't know what mile I was at, but at one point I could see the 4:30 pacer ahead of me and since I knew that they stop at all of the water stops, I picked up a cup and took a run for it. It didn't really help in my favor because it happened to be the one water stop where they filled my entire cup with ice water (actual ice cubes in it). Yea, ice water and running at the same time do not mix at all. It made my breathing a lot harder and I ended up dropping the full cup and splashing everyone around me. I lost the 4:30 pacer even more in this endeavor.

Around the half marathon mark, there was an "out and back" loop. This is where I discovered that I was still somewhere between the 4:30 and 4:40 pacer because I saw the 4:40 pacer headed "out" while I was headed "back". That was pretty exciting. There were three girls in front of me running their first marathon who had also seen the same thing. They were equally as excited as I was.

I was in front of the 4:40 pacer all the way up until right before Mile 20. By then, my knees were killing me and I had to go to the bathroom so bad because my stomach was hurting. I stopped at a port-o-pottie again to wait in line. There were two Team-In-Training girls waiting for their friend in the John when we saw the 4:40 pacer run by. At this point, I had a bit of a panick. The girls around me were yelling at their friend to get out of the bathroom so they could catch up. I went into the port-o-pottie and realized that many, many people had stopped here before me. There was actually brown stuff splattered all over the toilet seat. Not a good sight to see when your legs are already so tired. I tried as hard as I could to keep my legs from falling on that seat. Yuck! I quickly made it out of the port-o-pottie and was on my way again.

My cheering team saw me somewhere around mile 20. My knees were killing me as I walked through the water stop. My mom asked me how I was doing and I said "knees hurt". My Aunt, not really having a lot of familiarity with marathons, said "Maybe you should sit down." This made me pick up the pace and take off. I told them I was fine, put on a smile and ran. I hit mile 20 and kept going. At mile 21, I walked a bit, gritted my teeth and kept going. Every one of the volunteers could see the pain on my face by this point. One woman who was shouting out free advice shouted at me as I passed, "Knees, yes knees hurt. I've been there. Knees hurt." At this point I could do nothing but laugh. Gee...I'd never heard of that sort of a cheer. Anyways, I trudged on. I kept thinking about my uncle and grandmother who couldn't run and why I was running. I thought about my support team and how they had chased me around the whole day and woken up at the crack of dawn to support me. I thought about all of the volunteers on the course, the National Guard, the police men.

At one point, I was struggling pretty hard. There were fewer and fewer cheer teams on the course, the bands seemed to be concentrated more in the beginning half than the last half, and there were fewer runners around me. I was hoping for one of those "runner comes along side you and tells you to keep moving" moments. But that didn't really happen. Instead, we were running through a little bit of a more economically challenged part of Kansas City. I saw two guys who an ordinary person might have thought of as "thugsters" standing along the course. They were high fiving everyone. They got a great bit smile on their faces and high fived me as I passed them. I'm not really entirely sure what their position was in their community, but I felt like they may have been youth advocates. Regardless, it gave me a new boost of energy to see someone on the side of the course in this particular area of Kansas City and to think that they took out a part of their day to do so.

Anyways, the last few miles were pretty tough. My knees and ankles were shot. Yes I say knees. It wasn't just my right knee by this point. OH! And then whole entire race, my elbow got this tingly sensation, and my arm eventually went numb. So I was dealing with that as well and trying to shake my arms out. The last few miles were all down hill. Amanda later told me that she was so excited to hear the news. I, unfortunately, was quite the opposite. I walked down pretty much every hill until the end. The down hills were killing me, even to walk them. By the time I hit mile 25, I was almost in tears. I walked a good portion of the last mile, knowing that I would finish before 5 hours no matter what. I just wanted to finish. I ran a portion of it because I saw a guy running while dragging his foot and figured if he could do that, then I could run as well. I kept looking for the finish line. We made two turns and I still kept watching for it. Finally, finally...I could see it. The finish line was ahead of me. 26.2 was ahead of me. I took off running as fast as my legs would take me. I don't even know where the energy came from but it was there. I ran, looking at the clock, trying to make sure my time was before 5 hours. I finished in 4 hours 53 minutes chip time.

I crossed the finish line, my parents, aunts, and Amanda were all there waiting. They took two photos in front of the finish line and then I wanted so badly to keep walking. My dad pleaded with me to stay there so he could take some more photos and I told him I had to keep moving. He tried to argue with me one more time and I just started crying. I couldn't handle the pain anymore. Finally they let me go and I meandered through the finish line spectacle. A lady ran up to me and asked me if I needed to go to the medical tent and I said no, that I would be fine. They threw a medal around me and said "you earned this". Then I was shoved through the "runner's food court" as they advertised in the race material. This consisted of bananas and oranges by the time I made it through...oh and some yogurt. I wanted a piece of bread so badly. I guess they had cookies and rolls earlier that were gone by that time. I was a little disappointed at this part of the race. BUT...they did hand me a nice "finisher" shirt that was moisture wicking and New Balance.

Anyways, I shoved through and meandered

around looking for my lost family for a good 10 minutes. Finally my aunt found me, and I tried so hard not to cry again but I couldn't help it. I broke down again. She took me over to the medical tent and runners cleared the way for me to get there. A lady ran up to me with a clipboard and asked me what was wrong. I think my dad told her that my legs were cramping, which wasn't quite the case. But they sat me down on a cot while they waited for a massaging table to get cleared. At this point I became hypothermic because we were no longer in the heat. I started to shake uncontrollably and tried hard to stay warm under the space blanket. About 10 minutes went by and finally my massaging guy came over and took me to the table. I had a hard time getting up but explained the IT band problem I had been having. My knees wouldn't move at all and it hurt extremely bad. He said he would focus on it. I started to shake pretty bad on the table and he piled more and more blankets on me. I kept on shaking while he massaged my body. He did it very lightly and so it didn't really feel like it did a whole lot to be honest. But it was good to rest for a little bit. When he was finished, he instructed my supporters to keep me warm and make sure I drink fluids because I was dehydrated and hypothermic.

We went out into the sun and I was a thousand times better. I looked for some sort of "food court" as they had advertised in the booklet and realized that the oranges and bananas was their idea of a food court. Interesting.

Anyways, after a bit of searching, we left. I called Andy to tell him that I made it. We headed home, the supporters crashed and I stayed up and talked to my aunt about the race.

We planned on going to the "After party" because it was also advertised that their would be food entertainment, and awards there. Well, there were awards but none of the other. It was another disappointment. Instead, we went to City Tavern, because we had gotten a $25 gift certificate in our race packets to go there. I made the mistake of ordering crab legs for $29.95 and finding out that it was a very meager dish for the price. There was probably less than half a pound of crab legs on the dish and far more of my side dish (fries). The crab was not cooked well either, it was really dry.

But anyway, all in was a great time. I finished!! may ask...will I do it again??

I think I may run Twin Cities next year...

Monday, October 13, 2008

For every good run...

There is always a bad one. I was so excited after my 20 miler. Actually elated. Then it changed. I actually thought that the knee was totally healed but I think I was wrong. I will be completely honest, I didn't want to run my 8 miler this weekend. But I got out of bed, got dressed and figured that once I got out there I'd be fine. It was in the 70's, the leaves are beautiful, and for the first few steps I was actually doing alright. But then I turned my I-Pod on and it seems that every song that was playing was just annoying the crap out of me. I think I was just easily irritated and would have preferred no music but I had already started the darn thing with music. Right before midpoint, my knee started acting up. I decided to readjust my knee band by tightening it up a little. Bad idea. My knee was hurting worse. So then I stopped and loosened the thing. My knee still hurt but not as bad as it did when it was tight. I trudged on. Made it halfway, turned around, and the wind was something fierce. My pace slowed down alot. Running out there I was at about a 9:10 min/mile. Running back I was 10:10. I walked a few times, yelled at my knee and the wind, and kept going. Somehow I made it back with an average pace of 10:00 min/mil.

Anyways, my knee feels kind of icky today but not near as bad as it used to after a brutal long run. So at least I have that going for me. Today I'm doing a 4 miler with Amanda and then after that I think I just have a 3 and 2 miler...then I'm done tapering. I can't believe my marathon is already this weekend...scary!

One good thing to take out of all of is my birthday. And it's warm outside, albeit rainy and gross, but warm.

Monday, October 6, 2008

20 MILES! Bring on the Taper!

Run Distance: 20 Miles Run Time: 3 Hours 20 min. WOOHOO!

Awesome, spectacular, GREAT news to report! I finished my 20 miler on Saturday and my knee did not hurt very much at all. I got a few faint pain shocks but nothing serious. I only had one mistake that lead to a bit of pain in the knee...and that was forgetting to take my knee strap off before I started doing quad stretches. YIKES! My knee hurt for a good five minutes or so pretty bad but then it went away. And guess what? It didn't come back! Yes...that's right...I was walking up and down the stairs the next day!! I think I did have some trouble for the following hour after my run and I was a bit stiff in class after...but nothing really bad. Normally I am limping and avoiding stairs for at least 2 days after a long run. But yesterday I was a new person. I will also have to say that those energy shots really do help. I hadn't really taken them until my run last week. They really helped with my run on Saturday. I used the Power Gels and although they are really kind of gross to consume, I had energy during my entire run. Andy (the bf) was a little shocked when I came back and I didn't look totally drained. Actually I had alotted 5 hours to finish this run just in case anything happened and he was suprised to see me back early.

Congrats to all of those who conquered Twin Cities this weekend! I'm kind of glad that I didn't make it in that one with all of the weather issues that were going on (I hate wet and cold!). Now I just hope Kansas City gives me some nice weather in less than 2 weeks!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Strap and the Knee

Run Distance: 5 miles

So, I ran 5 miles yesterday--on the treadmill because I needed those gym points once again. Anyways, when I first hopped on the treadmill, I forgot to put my strap on. I didn't really feel like getting back off to dig through my bag to look for it--so I kept running. Well, not even a mile into my run, my knee was doing this really odd locking sort of pain. So, now I'm worried that my improvements now rely on the strap. I mean, before the strap, I was able to run at least to 4 miles without knee pain or at least a gradual pain. I mean...yea it is GREAT that I can run painless...but tied to the strap?! I don't know...that is so less glorifying. It is like saying you can walk...but with crutches. Okay, maybe not that extreme...but seriously! Oh well, if it gets me through my marathon-then bring it on.

Anyways, today I am dreading my run. It is only 10 miles. But a 10 mile run on a weekday can make things hectic. I preferred the 5 and 6ers. One of the main reasons I can't wait for this marathon to be done--I can go back to my lovely "little" runs. They really weren't "little" back in the day. 6 is a nice number. But when you've ran looks like a "little" number. Oh boy...the waters that I swam into.

So...20 miler on the horizon...not sure which day I'm fitting that one into. My mom's bday is on Saturday but I also have a 4 hour class on Saturday. So I think I'll either run Saturday morning or Sunday morning and then just visit the parents on Sunday. Oh how I can't wait to have time back in my day! 2 more weeks!!!