Monday, October 25, 2010

So now what?

I hit my lowest weight on April 18 and have put back 5.8 pounds since then. I gave myself a week to recover from the marathon and eat whatever I wanted without weighing in. Now, however, it's back to the Daily Plate to get off these few pounds. I don't subscribe to the notion of winter weight.

The gym routine has been biking so far - 4 times since the race and on Sunday I restarted a light weight routine. The next session of classes at the Y starts in a week and I hope to sign up for a weekly spin class. As for running, I haven't been in a hurry to get back to that, even though on Sunday there is a run through Hell (Michigan). I'm doing this one simply because I want a t-shirt that says "I ran through Hell!" Not sure if it'll be this year or next.

I want my working out to be more variety and more enjoyable, although I do plan to continue running. I think 3-5 miles a few times a week should be sufficient :)

Thursday, October 21, 2010


After spending Sunday lounging on the couch and replenishing my lost calories, I got back in the game on Monday and became that person. Yes, the one who works out less than 24 hours after finishing a marathon. I think this is actually recommended? It certainly was in my book because my hamstrings were tight, but the more I sat, the worse they felt and while a little painful, moving helped. So I biked for 10 ridiculously slow minutes, then stretched and repeated. Hot tubbed for a good half hour while I was there. I skipped work on Monday because I was scheduled to be at the elementary school and my legs wouldn't have appreciated sitting on the floor or in little kid chairs.

I also drained my blisters on Monday night. I don't think most doctors recommend that either? Yet the one on the ball of my foot made walking pretty painful so I just disinfected a pin and got it over with.

Thursday I was back at the Y for a 30 minute bike ride. There is a 10K I want to do on Halloween so I hope to try running again on Saturday.

I spoke to my brother within an hour of finishing the race and one of the first things he asked was whether I'd do another marathon. Even then I said I'd do another half, absolutely, but the full would be a long way off, if at all. It seemed like everyone I talked to asked if I was planning to do another. Why do we have to think about the next one? Why can't I just celebrate this one? The bucket list says complete A marathon, not several...

Yet here it is, Thursday, and I can say without a doubt that yes, I would do another marathon. Seeing as I did pretty much everything completely wrong this time, I can only improve my time (by hours!)

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Are you ready? Ready! Thank you Detroit!

Coolness aside, I'd like to say thank you...

- to the 2000+ volunteers working long before dawn
- to the thousands more that showed up with their husbands, wives, grandparents, grandkids and dogs to cheer for family, friends and strangers
- to the starting line dj for playing Journey's "Don't Stop Believing" as my wave was approaching the start line
- to nature for providing a perfect running day, including a sunrise visible from the Ambassador Bridge
- to the woman with the squirrel puppet - not what I was expecting to see and it made me laugh
- to the families in Indian Village who didn't offer water, but instead had beer tables and Polish music
- to the patient drivers who waited for the stragglers to cross the intersections
- to the musician around mile 13 who was singing Good Riddance (Time of your Life) and when I passed he was singing "For what it's worth, it was worth all the while. It's something unpredictable, but in the end it's right, I hope you had the time of your life."
- to all the kids (and adults) who held out their hands to slap five.
- to all the runners who commented on and encouraged what I had written on my calves in Shapie: Bucket List #5.
- to the shirt and medal designers - they're great!
- to all the bands and groups that showed up to entertain us
- to the woman passing out hard candy - any calories helped!
- to the people on the side of the road playing their iPods on speakers or turning up their car radios for passing runners
- to the Live United (United Way?) group at mile 12 for blasting AC/DC
- to the Canadian race walker who asked about #6
- to everyone who read my name and encouraged me to keep going
- to all the police and border workers who weren't just monitoring human traffic, but cheering and encouraging
- to everyone who took the time to make signs ("Toenails are overrated," "Just one more song")
- to the student who pointed out the obvious - that I can indeed walk
- to the Department of Homeland Security for allowing our passage into Windsor - it was definitely the best part of the race

Thank you Detroit! I love you all!

Yup, I'm a dork! :)

Someone posted this as a comment on the Freep's website and I like it so I'm sharing his words:

"When I ran the Chicago Marathon last Sunday and was limping my way to the finish line, a woman was holding a sign that said, 'There will be a day when you cannot do this. And today is not that day!' That inspired me to finish. You'll find your inspiration and you'll make it."

Monday, October 18, 2010

The aftermath

To describe the marathon in one word: Surreal.

I know I completed the entire course, I know my feet hurt, but when looking through the Freep's photo galleries, I saw runners going on Michigan Avenue, going past Campus Martius, but I don't remember passing these sites. I remember individual moments:

- Two girls in Canada at the fluid station who smiled at me and said "Good job, Michelle." I looked at them, thinking perhaps they were students, yet wondering why they were in Canada, until I finally remembered my name was on my bib.
- The policewoman with the 8 1/2" x 11" handwritten sign that said "Yes you can!"
- Coming up out of the tunnel and seeing cheering people standing two deep to encourage us all.
- The church that had a water and banana station, taking it upon themselves to help us even though they weren't an official fluid station.
- The man in Indian Village who met me in the street to offer me some jelly beans.
- Best sign of the day: "That isn't sweat. It's your fat cells frying."
- The woman on Belle Isle who said "When you wake up tomorrow you'll be a marathoner. That's something 99% of the world can never say."
- Stopping at mile 21.7 to talk to Mike from the Y who was working as a race official. I remarked that I didn't know if a better description for my feet was burning or kniving. He reminded me that at this point it's all mind over matter and I only had 4.7 miles to go.
- A member of the medical team draping my finishers medal around my neck because no one else was there to do it.

By the time I reached the end, the crowd was largely gone, but that's ok. I finished. My entire goal was to not die so regardless of my time, I won my own race! The name of the game was slow slow slow, just keep surviving. I never saw the last chance pacer so not only did I finish, I did so with time to spare!

After the Riverwalk, we turned right and were faced with one last hill. I was beyond burning energy, I was beyond running on fumes and kept going only on willpower and desire. I kept trudging up, one foot after the other, cognizant of the blister on the ball of my left foot, every cell screaming to quit, but my mind saying no, keep going. I looked up and the first thing my eyes focused on was the Mile 25 sign. I started crying, realizing that yes, I'm going to do this. Un-athletic, poorly trained me just completed 25 miles. At mile 26 I started crying again then on Fort St. summoned every last iota of energy and ran to the finish.

The Freep is running a video of the finish line and here I am

The damage to my body isn't too bad either. I have a blister on the bottom of my right pinky toe, and a quarter sized one on the ball of my left foot. My biggest gripe is that I didn't stretch afterward and now have hamstrings that feel like concrete and make it painful to straighten my legs. This will pass. The pain is temporary but the accomplishment is a lifetime.

Come back tomorrow for my thank you letter to the city :)

Sunday, October 17, 2010

I did it!!!!!!

I completed all 26.2 miles. The full story is forthcoming, but for now I need to eat as many calories as I possibly can :)

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Just a few hours now

It's 8:36, my alarm is set for 4am and I'm about to hop in bed - after I eat again. The irony is that I can't seem to ingest enough calories today! Tomorrow I plan to arrive downtown at 5:30 and eat until the race starts. Calories = energy, plain and simple.

My clothes are out, I met my brother and borrowed a race belt so I'm as ready as I'm going to be. Do I feel prepared for the race? Not at all, yet I have a strong feeling of confidence (delusion) that has served me well in the past. Case in point: I bought a car with a manual transmission when I had no clue how to drive it, yet I knew I'd figure it out; I twice quit my job without having anything lined up yet the rent and car payments were always paid on time. Things have a way of working out!!!

I also keep in mind when I did the triathlons on Belle Isle. The water was so cold and the current so strong that with every stroke, my body was screaming to quit. Every time I looked up, I saw a kayak or canoe and it would be so easy to latch on and get dragged back to shore. I couldn't breathe, yet I kept going and eventually I finished it.

Something else to keep in mind: Sound mind x sound body x total physical exhaustion = ALIVE! Pain is temporary but the memory and the accomplishment last forever. Those who stay will be winners. Etc.

Something seriously cool is you can track runners' progress during the race on the Freep's Marathon website. In the top right corner, click on Runner's Tracking on Race Day. It's not real time, but updates when runners cross timing pads throughout the course. How cool is that? If you want to track me, I'm number 6821 scheduled in the I wave.

One way or another I'll see you at the finish!

Best of luck Lizzy! Come say hi if you see me sporting the Billups jersey :)

Friday, October 15, 2010

Getting all the ducks in a row

Today commenced the final preparation phase. I've been eating more and trying to carb load all week (I haven't stepped on a scale all week either - the first time in a year and a half to abstain from my morning check in). Today I started eating exclusively natural, preservative free food ie lunch was whole wheat pasta with broccoli, baby carrots, peas and a scoop of peanut butter for flavor. Dinner - though late - will be a piece of chicken breast and 2 organic yellow potatoes. Dessert will be my second apple of the day.

After work I ran to the Salvation Army for disposable clothing. I picked up a pair of gloves, a blue striped hat with a fleece liner and a yellow fleece jacket. Too bad I'm discarding it all because I actually like the hat and jacket :)

Then I ran downtown to pick up my number. The expo wasn't terrible, but I also wasn't very interested in it. I just wanted to grab my bag and come back home, yet the booths were arranged in a serpentine and the pick up was, naturally, at the very end. Nevertheless I got a bottle of yellow Gatorade, a single serving of brown rice and a baggie of peanuts. More importantly, I picked up my number. I have a green bib which means I'm a first timer. Attached to it was my timing chip. All the previous times I've been chipped, it has been about the size of a matchbook and I've laced it onto my shoes. This one is a small piece of plastic about an inch tall and as thin as paper. I loop it on a lace and I'm good to go. Printed on my timing chip is my name and the name and phone number of my emergency contact. I have it written on my shoes as well, but it never hurts to have multiple locations to find the number. Brother, make sure your phone is turned on!

The last thing I picked up was my race shirt. So many of them are hideous yet this one is really nice. It's long sleeved and 100% polyester (wicking baby!) But...I got an extra large and it's none too big. I have long arms so I'm going to either wear it at 3/4 length or constantly pull at the edges. It's ok though because it's the best designed race shirt I've ever gotten. Here's a picture. You can see my haircut too :)

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

A bad batch of shoes?

I have no idea how or why I know this, but every batch of condoms produced are tested and if the results are greater than .03% damaged, the entire batch is discarded. Random, I know, but it makes me wonder if shoes face the same testing before going out to stores. Maybe there's nothing wrong with Mizunos - I wore them for 3 or 4 years without incident - maybe I just got a bad pair?

The Vibrams are GREAT!!! - so long as I stay under an hour. Once I hit the hour mark, the balls of my feet start hurting and get progressively worse, so I tried the pink Mizunos on Monday and they felt and sounded loud and clunky. Maybe they're just damaged? I'm going to try an older pair today and see how those fare. I had kept the turquoise pair as errand running shoes, but they might get upgraded for a few days. I actually had a pair in my cart on Amazon yesterday, but decided it was too close to start with a new pair :)

When this is all said and done - whenever that may be - I think I'll stick to running 3 miles for fitness and mixing in biking, ellipticalling, spinning, kickboxing. I enjoy running for a half hour or 40 minutes, but multiple hours? nah!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Fashion versus Function

Some people look really nice when they work out. My mom even wears makeup when she goes to the Y. Such things never even cross my mind, as my workout attire is 100% functional, without the least regard for how I look...

Everything I wear on Sunday will have a clear purpose:
- my grandma's old bandana keeps the sweat out of my eyes and my hair off my face
- UnderArmour sports bra
- Hot pink Pistons jersey. It's sleeveless so I don't have to worry about underarm chafing and the material wicks. Plus I like the color :)
- DanSkin tri shorts. Much like bike shorts, but with a band of rubber to grip my thighs and prevent riding up. They have two pockets intended for Gu or Clifbars, but I use them more for the iPod and house keys.
- Wool five finger socks - grey instead of white to hide the dirt better. Wool to wick.
- Shoes to protect my little piggies.
- Polarized sunglasses to protect my light sensitive eyes. Yes, I wear them long before sunrise and in the rain.
- I will also be sporting Salvation Army gloves and a sweatshirt in the beginning to be discarded once they have served their purposes. I wonder what the organizers do with all the roadside clothing? I sure hope they donate it somewhere.

And of course, the pink iPod (that coincidentally matches the jersey lol). The Freep says "The Detroit Free Press Marathon strongly discourages the wearing of music devices. Participants must be alert to their surroundings and able to hear medical emergency vehicles, motorcycles, buses and official marathon vehicles. For your safety and the safety of those around you, we strongly urge you to run headphone-free."

I know the entertainment stations are going to be great, but I've trained for eleven months with the same playlist - I can't give it up now!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

T Minus one week and counting!!!

At this time next week (8:30 pm on Saturday) I'll be in bed, resting up for the race. At this point, I'm definitely doing something, I'm just not sure which. Anonymous - whoever you are - made some excellent points, namely that I CAN walk if I need to. My bucket list says "Complete a marathon." It doesn't specify a time limit or indicate that I need to sprint every step. My goal is to finish on two feet without any assistance. If I have to walk some, I've still finished. Look at the competitors every year in the IronMan Triathlon who collapse and start crawling, anything to keep going. I don't want to be in that position, yet they're still doing everything possible to finish and I admire them more than the professionals who breeze through it.

The Freep Marathon obviously has time limits because they're closing streets and employing cops. Yet the limit is SEVEN HOURS for the full marathon. That's just over 16 minutes a mile. I could walk the entire thing and still finish in time...

I have worked hard for eleven months training my body and my mind. It's all about mind over matter. Here's how General Patton phrased it: "Now if you are going to win any battle to you to do one thing. You have to make the mind run the body. Never let the body tell the mind what to do. The body will always give up. It is always tired in the morning, noon and night. But the body is never tired if the mind is not tired."

Should I need further motivation, the back of my front door has two things: a map of the route and underneath that four simple words YOU CAN DO THIS!

Stand by for a decision.

Friday, October 8, 2010

I didn't anticipate this wrinkle

I encountered a problem on the Freep's marathon website. The deadline for changing races was October 1, at which time I didn't think either distance was anywhere close to being a possibility. After surviving an all-time long run of 80 minutes yesterday I still plan to go ahead with my audacious idea of running the half in a week.'s too late to I go with the full and drop out at 13.1 miles. Do I pay another $90 to enter the half? There are no refunds or transfers of registration, yet at this point, the double registration fee isn't a huge concern (even though I registered early to save $20...). Finishing is what matters. Advice? Any one complete it previously and have good tips? Anyone from the Freep reading this and want to make a recommendation?

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

If this makes me a hippie, pass the beads!

I've enjoyed a healthy life so traditional versus alternative medical care is never a decision I pondered for even a minute. This past year, however, I've become somewhat holistic and touchy-feely, not because I want to be a hippie, but because it just feels good!

Since I started the 11 month training program (soon to be even longer...) I've gotten in the habit of getting a massage every month. The ExSalonce salon in Lincoln Park offers a full hour for $45, which is among the cheapest I've ever found and she's good! After my hour today, my calves feel great, my foot doesn't hurt anymore and I feel like I could run a marathon! (ha ha)

My other hippie tendency is courtesy of Charity Loring who offers free yoga classes. Free! I only tried yoga once before - my brother and I signed up for a class through a community education class, but we barely survived the first class because every time we looked at each other, we started laughing! Not to mention it's hard take "exercise" seriously when the last ten minutes involves laying down and not moving. ummm I can do that at home...Yet yoga with Charity is relaxing and soothing and in the summer, she invites us all to her house for a cookout.

After both hippie activities, I feel more relaxed, i have no pain and I think my posture gets better. If these are hippie traits, let me dig out the tie-dye!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

The Power of Denial

The back to running agenda has been going pretty well despite a sore left foot, yet I hadn't really pushed myself. This weekend, I decided to go for it and see what happened. The plan was to run a full 60 minutes and I'd either get through it, or my body would fall apart, but either way, at least I'd know. I can deal with positives, I can deal with negatives, but uncertainty? Not so much.

I got out the hippie shoes, the long sleeved t-shirt and my gloves and I was off. 61 minutes later, I was still standing, none too worse for the wear. I had no major pain in either joints or muscles, thankfully! I don't think it did it right, though, because I wasn't sweating very hard and I was barely breathing hard. I had to force myself to drink water because I wasn't thirsty either. I was pretty slow - 5.67 miles in 61 minutes, but I survived, which is all that matters.

I was planning another 60 minutes today, but my old procrastination and punctuality problems reared their ugly heads and limited me to 37 minutes before I had to work. I feel great today too. Ok I'm exhausted and my left calf feels worked, but it's nothing a good night of sleep won't cure. I don't start work tomorrow until 9:30 so I'll recover my superpowers tonight.

Thursday I'm planning to run 80 minutes and if I survive 100 on Saturday, I'm changing my race entry to the half, with the full intention of completing it. Not the race I want to do, but a half marathon is a good accomplishment in and of itself.

Would a running coach recommend a half on basically 2 weeks training? Not in a million years, yet - and this is huge - I built a solid base from October 2009 to July and I've been able to draw strength from that despite the weeks off. In the end, if my body can handle it, I'm back in the (half) game. Ultimately it's all about having priorities and walking comfortably on Monday, October 18 is definitely not one of them.