Monday, October 28. 2013
I’ve been procrastinating long enough, it’s finally time to get this recap out of my brain and into the blog-o-sphere.
We left for Appleton early Saturday morning, after dropping off Zoe at my mom & dad’s. I spent the entire drive (about 4ish hours) alternating between worrying about the race and trying to ignore the race.
I took a lot some reading material with me for inspiration, but spent the majority of the time reading the book by Matt Fitzgerald.
It's really good and I had a few moments of “Shit, my nutrition is all wrong!” during the race nutrition chapter, but I wasn’t about to start changing things this late in the game.
After we got to Appleton and checked into our hotel, we headed straight to the expo. It was kind of boring, no exciting vendors, no cool free stuff. It relocated to a bigger venue, but I didn’t think it was any better. Josh did buy some socks, so one of us found a good deal.
We went to a couple of seminars hosted by the organizers. The first one was for first time half marathon & full marathoners, and the second one for pace groups. The first one was geared toward complete noobs and the advice they were giving out wasn’t anything I hadn’t heard before – go to bed early, double lace your shoes, eat carbs the night before – but it was informative just the same.
I was really interested in the pace group seminar. I ran with a pace group at last year’s half marathon, and it was a really good experience and they helped me get 2:12 (at that time my fastest HM), so I was hoping to duplicate that for this race. I thought the pace leaders would talk in detail about their strategy, but most of then just introduced themselves and said what group they were leading. That was that. I suppose I could have went up & talked to the leaders for the group I was interested in, but by that time I was ready to head out. Afterwards, we noodled around Appleton for a while, before heading to a little Italian place for dinner and back to the hotel.
We bring own cooker and make oatmeal in our room before each race, which works great unless I forget to bring bowls and spoons. Oops. So, our race morning breakfast was served in coffee mugs using coffee stirrers as chop sticks. Awkward, but it worked.
Our hotel was a couple of miles from the finish line, so it was just a short drive over to the shuttle pick-up and then a short shuttle ride to the start line. I think we got there about an hour before the race, so we spent that time hanging around and trying to stay warm. The race photographers snapped this photo of us. It was about 37 degrees at the start and predicted to warm up to the 60s, which was about perfect.
Josh and I parted ways to find our respective pace groups, he was going with the 2:15 group. I was fluctuating between the 4:45 and 5:00 group, but I couldn’t decide which to go with. Eventually I decided to go with the 4:45s because that was my A goal finishing time.
Speaking of goals, since this was my first full marathon, I was really trying hard not to set lofty goals for myself and just try to finish in one piece and enjoy the experience and all that. Yeah, didn’t happen - my A goal was 4:45ish. B goal was 4:50ish. C goal was under 5:00.
Just before the gun went off, the 4:45 pace group leader announced that he’d be doing a 4:1 run-walk with the run portion fluctuating between 9:30 and 10:00. Um yeah, no. The 4:45 group was fairly large, so there was another leader, but he was going out even faster. I didn't train using the run:walk method, and I wasn't about to start changing up my training 10 seconds before the race started, so PASS, thanks.
The gun went off and we were on our way. My leg was feeling great, thanks to the emergency PT session I had a couple of days earlier. That was a relief as I hadn’t tried running on it since the session so I really had no idea how it would perform.
Marathoners and half marathoners run together for the first three miles, then the half marathoners split off to run their little race. I’ve run the HM five times in Appleton and every time I get to the split, I always end up thinking that the people doing the full were insane. I got a good chuckle out of that when I passed the split this year, and then a moment when I seriously contemplated just taking the half course, and then a final moment when I reminded myself that I had 23 miles ahead of me and I resigned myself to my fate.
I noticed a hot spot starting on my blister-prone foot around mile 5. That didn’t make me happy, especially since it was all but recovered and even so, I’d taped the shit out of it just in case. Not much I could do about that.
I was feeling pretty good once we passed the 10 mile mark and descended into Kaukauna, averaging a 10:41 pace. We hit a pretty good climb heading out of Kaukauna, which was surprising. This course was supposed to be flat, the only hills being highway overpasses. However, it felt like all we were doing was climbing until the 17th or 18 mile. I’d say that for sure the half is flat, but the marathon is not.
I passed the 13.1 mark at 2:21:32, which is a 10:47 pace. I was pretty happy with that and I was still feeling pretty good. My hot spot was still hot, but for the most part not noticeable. My leg was doing fine. Cardio was good.
The wheels started to come off the bus around mile 15 or 16, when it seemed like everything just started to degrade all at once. My blister started to hurt, followed by my feet, leg and stomach. I knew that the next 10 miles were going to suck, so I switched to brain-off mode and just focused on running.
And suck they did. Around mile 18, I switched to a 4:1 run/walk because I just needed a break from my hurting legs. That annoyed me, but I was hoping that just a slight walk reprieve would buy me some time in the later miles. Josh, who finished the HM and immediately jumped on his bike to come & find me, finally caught up to me around this time. He rode alongside and chatted with me about his race for a while (another PR for him, but he has yet to blog about it hello), but I ended up shooing him away because I felt like I needed to focus all my mental energy on running. Trying to carry on a conversation was just too distracting.
I had one of those “this is the farthest I’ve ever run, cool!” moments when I passed the 20th mile marker and then my next though was, “ugh, six point two miles to go.”
Things started to get pretty miserable after that. My blister hurt, my feet hurt and my leg hurt. Really hurt. Conveniently, my stomach also started to rebel and I’d get horrible waves of nausea after eating anything so I was only able to take a few sips of Gatorade diluted with water at the aid stations. To be expected, my pace got slower and slower.
Somewhere in the later miles, there was a photographer. I decided to smile and give him the peace sign when I passed by, which was supposed to translate to “I’m having fun, this is awesome, marathons are awesome!1!!”, however when I saw that picture, it really translated to “I’ll just pretend to smile and make like I’m having fun but I really want to die this was the dumbest idea ever I’m never doing this again everything hurts I hate running”. You will not see this picture. Not only is it just a bad picture, it just reminds me of how much miserable I was.
This picture I do like, even though my form is shit.
Anyway, the last few miles were a struggle. My tendonitis was back in full force now, every step felt like a knife was being stabbed in my leg regardless of whether I was running or walking. I was so close to the end so I decided I’d just try to run more than walk, which I barely managed to do. I crossed the line in 4:57:26 (Goal C) and I finished running. Even passed some lady who was ahead of me for the last couple of miles. Small victories.
I put a bottle of Advil in my grab bag because I knew I’d need it at the end, and I sure did. My leg was so pissed off and my feet were throbbing. Yay for drugs.
I limped partially back to the car, but then told Josh to come and get me. It wasn’t parked that far away, but it seemed like a hundred miles.
Back at the hotel, I removed my socks and found out why my feet hurt. Ouch, and gross (sorry).
It's our tradition that post-race, we park ourselves on bar stools and drink one or many recovery beers. We found this cool bar in Neenah and spent the afternoon there.
So, that's it. Suffice to say, the marathon kicked my ass both mentally and physically. I wasn't happy with my time or my performance. Yeah, I was dealing with a bum leg and some nasty blisters, those two things weren't entirely unexpected, but I have no idea what was up with my stomach.
Will I do another one? I'm not sure yet. Training consumed my entire summer. If I wasn't out running, I was thinking about the route for my next run, or recovering from my previous run. Every Saturday I was up at 5:00, out the door by 7:00 and sometimes not back until noon. Throw in the usual post-long run activities (stretch, shower, lunch, nap) and there went my entire Saturday. Blisters and GI issues plagued me all during training and I had knee issues in the beginning and tendonitis at the end.
However. I feel compelled to give it another go and run the race that I know is in me. I'm just not certain when that other go will be.
Now that I'm done complaining and whining about the race & training, I feel like I should end on a positive note. Training wasn't all bad, here's what I liked the most -
Right now, I'm focusing on getting rid of the tendonitis so I haven't been running as much as I'd like to (bullet point #1 ugh). I've been following a rehab program that has me doing daily foam roller massage and cross-friction massage on everything from my hips down to my foot, and it seems to be really responding well. I have next to no pain during my rest periods (maybe a twinge here & there) and minor pain during running, which is a huge improvement from 2 weeks ago. Minimally, I'd like to run three times/week - two short runs during the week and a longer, hour-ish run on the weekend. Nothing major, no speed goals, just enough to keep me in shape and sane until the session starts. I'm also giving serious thought to buying a treadmill. Maybe.
Wednesday, October 16. 2013
I haven't been doing much (any, really) running since the marathon. I spent the first week limping around the office and taking the elevator to the coffee shop one floor up. I sort of felt guilty about that, but then I decided to say screw it. I just ran a marathon, I earned that 3 second elevator ride.
Josh had to make a minor repair to my car so after lunch, we headed down to my dad's shop to use the lift. I decided to tag along for a visit & to take Zoe for a walk, since she'd been cooped up in her crate all day on a Saturday. I needed to replace the log book in our geocache hidden at the Oskar Cemetery, so we headed down there, taking the bush trails instead of the road. It was really pleasant back in the woods, with all the colors & smells of fall. Pretty quiet at the cemetery, too.
Unfortunately, walking on the uneven ground of the trail really aggravated my leg, so I ended up slowly limping back home (much to Zoe's annoyance) and downing Advil for the rest of the weekend.
Finally, I decided that it was time to take matters into my own hands, since it really wasn't getting any better leaving it alone. So, for the past several days, I've been really attacking it with my foam roller, tennis ball & massage stick. I took a video of the manipulations that my PT did when I saw her a couple of days before the marathon, so I've also been doing that. All these things are quite painful, but I'm starting to see some progress. My leg doesn't feel quite as stiff as it did last week, and the area which was really tender is getting smaller every day, so that's good news.
Hopefully a few more days of this will do the trick and, assuming I can get to the point where hopping up & down on it doesn't hurt, I'll be able to go for a short run over the weekend. I really want to run one more race before the end of the year, so my fingers and toes are crossed that this works.
Wednesday, September 25. 2013
Well, I made it. I'm not exactly thrilled with my performance and I'm still pretty grumpy about it, but it is what it is.
I heard, at various points on the course when people will still being chatty with one another, that once you cross the finish line, you're in "an exclusive club". I guess I never really thought about it being exclusive, but apparently it is and now I'm in it. Yay.
Once I become less grumpy, I'll write up a race recap. Right now, I'm going to wallow.