Monday, April 29, 2013

Toledo - Embracing the suckitude

Saturday's weather was perfect - 60s and sunny. Monday is ok as well - 60s and partly sunny. Sunday, however, it rained and rained and rained and I think a few of the participants in the Toledo marathon floated off the course...

I could pick up my stuff on Sunday before the race, but when it's that close to home, and the race starts at 7am, I like to take care of it the day before so I have one less thing to worry about and stress about on race day. The shirt - meh. I like that it's a vneck, I like that it's women's fit, I really like the lack of sponsor logos all over the back, but the design is nothing special. Besides, it's the same yucky chartreuse as last year. The half folks get turquoise shirts. Maybe we can switch next year? 

I bought a headband at the expo, and picked up a pace chart for my wrist. Runners got blue bracelets with "Runners united" in yellow letters. I didn't wear it because I always want to minimize the stuff and weight I carry on race day.

I was in denial about the forecast, but I also realized I should have a light jacket that wouldn't soak up the water (like a sweatshirt would), so I went to the Salvation Army and picked up a windbreaker. Taped my raceday message on the back.

The arena was open beforehand and the expo was completely cleared out. I'm really really appreciating all the marathons that have buildings open beforehand so we can wait in the warmth and have access to real bathrooms.

The full and half runners start at the same time and it's a big confusing exciting mess at the start. Most people line up by approximate pace time and it all settles out in the first half mile. 

I started with the 4:40 pace team because I seem to go out too quickly. I knew they'd control the pace and keep it in the 10:40-11:00 range. I thought perhaps if I started slower, I would crash and burn less in the second half.

Around mile 0.2 it started rained and it rained FOR NINETEEN MILES!!!!! Ugh it was miserable!!!! At mile 1.7, my left leg started hurting, exactly where it hurt during Lansing. I planned ahead of time and had 4 ibuprofen in my waist bag. I stopped at the 2 mile water station to take two. I accidentally dropped one, so I took all three and it really seemed to help. My legs both hurt equally, but it was fatigue and running hurt, not injury hurt.

It rained some more. Every few minutes I had to drop by arms by my sides so the pooled water could fall off the sleeves. I knew I needed to wash the jacket, but I didn't think I would be wearing it... It was so miserable, yet quitting was never an option, so I embraced the suckitude and accepted I was going to be wet all day and it was going to be suck, but I would get through it. At least I had a visor to keep the rain out of my eyes!

Mile 8 a man had a sign "Marathoners make me wet." I laughed and told him it was terrible! The amount of spectators was way down this year because of the rain and it was a bummer, but I don't blame them one bit.

Mile 13.8 I saw Ironman!!! I knew he was registered but I didn't see him at the start. He likes to wear his Ironman hat, and had on the same coat as at the Martian. Instant motivation!!! Yup, I passed him. A few miles later he caught up during a walk break and we walked a good half mile and chatted. He was complaining about everything! The water and Gatorade arrangement, the bathrooms at the start, no Gu until mile 17. Blah blah blah. Did someone need a waaaaaambulance???

I really like doing races that I've done before because I know where the course goes. Mile 20 is in the Wildwood park area. The woman in the turquoise passed me and held out a Gu and a packet of caffeinated jelly beans and asked if I needed anything. So sweet!!!

Miles 22-24 go through a path that is probably really nice for biking or running, but at the end of a race, the boredom is brutal. There was a man I had seen at mile 13 who had a sign "You've already run 74,382 steps. What's a few more?" He had a different sign this time "It may be rough, but at least the rain stopped!" He gave me a ziploc baggie with exactly five peanut M&Ms in it. It FINALLY stopped raining and my jacket got too hot. My gloves were in the pocket and it made sense to keep both for next week, so I tied it around my waist, but it wouldn't stay tied, so I tossed it at the mile 23 marker.

Somehow mile 24 is the hardest part of every race. I see the marker and realize it's still a good half hour or so until the finish. Thankfully in Toledo there is a water station just past mile 24, then the course goes back on campus.

When I got to 1.8 miles left, I started counting down aloud from 180. I got under 100 and my legs took over and I was flying! The last mile was a 9:30!!!! I knew the end was RIGHT THERE and I wanted it to be over!!!!!! I've avoided hitting THE WALL every race so far this year!!!

As soon as I crossed the finish line, a man asked if I needed medical help. I assume it was a standard question of all finishers. He said they could warm me up in the medical tent, but I was ok. I asked a spectator to take my photo and I really like it! I look like a pixie!!! Number nine, baby!

The race ends in the Glass Bowl stadium and I slowly shuffled my way out of the stadium to get my glass beer mug. Hobbled over to see the food situation and I ran into INDY!!!!! "What are you doing here?????" I cried, in the middle of the longest bear hug.

"Watching you finish," he said. I was so incredibly surprised and so happy to see him there. I know he really wanted to run it himself but a lingering foot injury has prevented any training this year. He had set up text alerts on me, and when my time registered at mile 7, he hopped in the car and came to meet me. So wonderful!!!! It's one of the nicest things anyone has done for me! He asked if I wanted to go for lunch, but I was wet and smelly, so I asked for a raincheck.

Came home. My shoes were water logged and every piece of clothing was still wet. My blister came back, as I knew it would, but it's both water and blood blister this time. Gross! My hips hurt so I'm wearing my spanx girdle for compression and heading to the gym for a slow gentle bike ride. I took a half day off work. I have 9 hours of personal time that I will lose if I don't use by the end of May, so today seemed a really good time to use 4 hours.

The mug is the same as last year, but yellow (it was green last year). They actually had enough beer this time! Last time they ran out, but I knew I had to drive home, so I didn't have any. A pizza place was serving hot pasta and cold breadsticks. Nice change for post race food. They also had bagels, bananas, cookies and Twizzlers. Indy ate the cookies and banana :)

The medal is alright. I don't love it. Medals hang one of two ways - either on a flat bar, or the ribbon is a V and the medal is on a hoop ring. I prefer the hoop ring style because they lay better on my hanger. I'm not sure the significance of the bell tower. Perhaps if I lived in Toledo it would mean something to me. The blue is glass, which is cute for the Glass city :)

I thought for sure I would PR for 2013, but I was 57 seconds slower in Toledo than I had been at the Martian. Just like Detroit 2012, I know exactly where I lost the time. In Detroit I missed my PR by 13 seconds because I stopped to talk to Tammy. This time, I lost my 57 seconds when I walked with Ironman for a half mile. Ah well. The company was great and helped to break up the monotony and suckiness of the weather. God made some runners to be really fast, and made others determined to finish no matter what. It's obvious which category he assigned me.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Toledo - I finished

It rained FOR NINETEEN MILES!!!!!!!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Forcing recovery when time is not an option

After the Lansing marathon, both of my quads ached and felt as hard as rocks. This is to be expected. They were both extremely sore on Monday, but by Tuesday morning, the right one had started feeling a little better. Left, however, didn't want to support weight or initiate movement. Once I was already moving it was fine, but getting started was painful.

Of my remaining spring marathons, I really really want to do Cincinnati. I'd like to do Toledo, but that's the one I could give up more easily. I looked at their website to see about the prospect of deferring my entry to next year and it's not an option. So my choices are try or don't try. What did Yoda say? "Do or do not. There is no try."

I had gone for a little walk on Monday but it wasn't enough to burn out the lactic acid, so I went to the gym immediately from work on Tuesday to bike a half hour. All the upright bikes were being used so I had to settle for a recumbent the first 15 minutes, then was able to use my preferred bike. It felt good. Did a deep standing pigeon pose on the seat.

Stopped at Target on the way home for a foam roller. I've seen instructions to make your own and they're easy enough, but time is of the essence right now. I rolled my thigh and hip on Tuesday night and again on Wednesday morning. I can feel a huge knot in my quad, so that's good because it means the swelling has gone down. The rolling seems to be helping but I can only handle it for a few seconds before I need to move to a new position.

The remedy for any running injury is RICE. The REST component is obvious. For COMPRESSION I've been wearing my Spanx girdle all week to compress my hip and thigh. I can't tell if it's helping or not.

I feel somewhat better today. I'll keep compressing and rolling, then go to yoga on Friday and we'll see.
My friend's husband is a graphic designer and he combined my two Martian photos so my eyes are open on the good picture. It's not terrible when my eyes are open!!! :)

Monday, April 22, 2013

Lansing marathon review

Lansing was a Sunday marathon and I definitely prefer Saturday races so I have the extra day before I need to go back to work. I had asked several times if I could pick up my number on race day and the answer was always yes, but please be there by 7am. I didn't know the area, or the parking situation, so I decided to go up on Saturday and stay in town so I had one less thing to worry about on race day.

The stuff in the packet was pretty good - a bag of coffee, a Snickers energy bar, chapstick and a mini flashlight. There were two coupons for Playmakers, but I don't need anything and don't have any stores nearby.
When I do a race for the first time, I always order a large shirt. The Free Press shirts run extremely small, so I always err on the side of caution to make sure it fits. This one must be a large from the men's big and tall store. It's HUGE!!!

The front is cute, but the back is ALL sponsors. Bah!

The Belle Tire shirt went to a THIRD race, this time with my race message on the back. Unfortunately I finally lost the shirt. Guess I can't be "Kaufman" anymore...

I might have taken a tad bit too much food... I barely ate any of it. The race didn't provide Gu, or any gel, which was weird, but I knew ahead of time so I took my own.

I could surmise it was going to be a bad day when I woke up and my car was covered in FROST!!! It was the first time he's ever seen winter (ish) weather :( 

Lansing Community College had all their parking structures open and free for runners to use. I parked in the first one I saw, which was about 0.6 miles from the start. It was a nice walk in the morning, but took almost 30 minutes after. I took a picture of my spot for when I lost my mind at the end...

The start / finish line was in front of the Capitol building, which was pretty enough. It was a PERFECT day for running - sunny and upper 40s. We were right next to the Lansing Center, so runners could wait inside, and use flushing toilets before and after the race, which is always great :)

The first few miles were GREAT!!! I was running 9:30s, which I knew were too fast, but they felt good. I didn't feel like I was working hard to hit them. I was also completely unaware of all the runners passing me. I wasn't trying to keep up with anyone, just doing what felt good.

Just past mile 3.... a TRAIN!!!! A TRAIN ON THE RACE COURSE!!!!! I wasn't trying to qualify for anything so it wasn't a HUGE problem for me, just an inconvenience. I took the 3-4 minutes to ditch my Belle Tire shirt. Plenty of people made an impromptu bathroom stop...

At mile 4 I met my IT band. I've never felt it before, but when I became aware of pain from the outside of my left hip, across the front of my thigh and to the inside of my knee, I knew immediately what it was, and it made for an extremely painful run. I must have asked 20 course marshals for aspirin or tylenol, anything for pain, but they said they weren't allowed to give anything to runners. One man offered me his water or his apple, which was super nice of him, but I passed on both.

I asked a medic for something at mile 12 and he said he didn't have anything. Ummm ok. I would have thought aspirin was standard in every first aid kit, and he had an entire ambulance at his disposal.

I finished the first half and desperately wanted to stop. The number of runners dropped considerably after the first half. It was a 2-loop course, which I've discovered I really really dislike. It was also the emergency route, so I have no idea if it would have been better using the original plan. The new one went through neighborhoods, including an apartment complex, where the extremely nice people set up tables in their yards with water for us.

I must have looked TERRIBLE in the second half because every marshal and many of the volunteers asked "Are you ok, ma'am?" It concerned me that they were all so concerned about me. I kept asking for aspirin, but no luck. One of the women marshals offered to call for a medic to come meet me. I said I'm finishing, but that would be wonderful! She got on her walkie talkie and noted my race number, but the help never came. Lesson learned - tuck a foil packet of aspirin in my pocket and take after 1 hour.

Running past a cemetery. Funny sign: the morgue is one mile away - look alive!

Mile 24 - alone on the River walk. 

Runners turned the corner onto this bridge and the end was in sight!!!! You could hear music from the finish and it was just over a mile away. As I was nearing the finish, a relay participant was walking back to her car and she yelled at me. She didn't call, she didn't cheer, she yelled "Keep going!!!! You got this girl!!!!!!"

A volunteer was at the last corner relaying race numbers to the finish line marshal, so when runners made the last turn, they were announced by name and city and the woman with the microphone was great! Very encouraging!!!

The food at the finish was nothing special - bananas, cold bagels, Snickers energy bars. I passed on everything. One of the guys at the finish line gave me a bottle of water, but I didn't even open that. I always assume I'll be ravenous after a race, but I'm usually not. I was in no hurry to drive home, so I sat on the curb, took off my shoes and relaxed for a few. My right pinkie blister came back at mile 17.

I had asked for a picture of the medal ahead of time and there wasn't one posted. One of the volunteers at the expo thought they were the same as the 5k medals, which were hideous. I had seen the medals from 2012 and they were beautiful. I really really wanted one. Thankfully they were the same this year. Easily as nice as the Free Press medal, even if smaller (I don't imagine many medals are as big as the 2012 Free Press, aside from Disney).

I don't even know my exact time. It doesn't matter. On a scale of 1-10, my pain level was a 7.5 or 8. When I finished the first loop, I saw the half medals and realized they were the same as last year, which gave me renewed determination to finish. I wanted the medal, dammit!

The race took entries through Saturday, and they ran out of shirts, and medals for the half. Inconvenient, but they said they're ordering more of both today and will mail them to those who missed out.

The volunteers, marshals and crowds were extremely nice, but not sure I'll do this one again. The course was boring, but again, I know it wasn't the original course. Maybe that would have been fantastic. It was a 2-loop design though, so probably not.

One of the teachers at work today noticed I was limping. He said something to the effect of "I don't understand why you do that to yourself." I said I ask myself the same thing every time. I thought races were supposed to get faster and easier, not slower and harder :( So far I'm 0 for 2013 :(

Sunday, April 21, 2013

I met my IT band in Lansing

I finished, but it was a slow, painful finish. Complete story later or tomorrow. Time for shower, food and bed!!!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Another race, another alternate course

Lansing made it official today:

Unfortunately, due to the Flood Warning for the Red Cedar River that extends into Monday evening, race organizers and City of Lansing officials are modifying this Sunday's Lansing Marathon and Half Marathon Courses. The original course route was designed to incorporate a double loop using almost 7 miles of the Lansing River Trail. Portions of this trail will likely be underwater at the peak of the projected flood stage Saturday night.

We are implementing a contingency course that we designed some months back. The new course will follow the same basic layout, including an out and back loop in the neighborhoods southeast of Forest and Auerlius Roads. The course will retain a portion of the Lansing River Trail from Beech St to Adado Riverfront Park, a stretch of the trail we do not expect will flood. Race and City officials will monitor the course to make sure it is race worthy right up until the event start time.
Please check this website frequently for further updates, and follow us on Facebook and Twitter, @Lansing Marathon.

We will redeploy our resources along the new route. This change will in no way affect our level of security or safety for our participants, volunteers and spectators. We are working with City of Lansing public services... police, fire and emergency medical, to provide the safest environment possible for all concerned. We thank the City for their utmost cooperation as we make this unprecedented change, and we thank our participants for their understanding.
I haven't run the original course so it doesn't really faze me to run a different course. I knew the original design was a 2-loop course, I'd assume the new one is as well, but it doesn't really matter. I'll get through it. Although I did NOT just see the part about the out and back loop... la la la la la I don't see that!!!!

I just REALLY hope Toledo isn't flooded because that course is WONDERFUL. I've raved about it to every runner I've met or talked to in the past year. Somehow there is ONE hill. Everything else is flat or downhill. That's my kind of course!!!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Recovery and Boston (they're related)

After the race I shuffled through a slow walk on Sunday, forcing my legs to move, no matter how stiff and sore my quads and hips felt. I wore my Vibrams to work on Monday and things felt even better - still not good, but everything was improving according to schedule and my biggest complaint was the blister on my toe. I had drained it, but there was still too much loose skin.

I have to carb load again in anticipation of Lansing on Sunday and on the way to Kroger I heard one of the hosts on 97.1. Naturally I picked it up mid-story and he was saying he wasn't surprised, if anything he was surprised it hadn't happened sooner or at a stadium. Then he said we have a marathon here in Detroit in the near future.

The dots immediately connected. Boston! Nita! I probably checked her blog 15 times, looking for the post that she was ok!

Two women from work checked with me, to make sure I wasn't there. Sindi is very nice, but we rarely talk outside of our department meetings (We work for the same company but work in different districts). She texted "Hey this is Sindi. I don't think that Boston is the marathon you were getting a number for but now I'm not sure. Hope you are home and safe!! Please text back." I did, immediately.

A few hours later Jillian texted as well, "Michelle! You weren't at that marathon were you?!?!"

I assured them both my race was local and that I was home safe and secure. The teachers on Tuesday all asked if I was ok, that they had been worried because they knew I had a race that weekend and they didn't see me on Monday (when I'm at a different school).

After a few hours the news saturation was way too much and I wanted to escape. I needed to go for a run, leave the gps watch at home, and just go until my head was clear. Running is normal, it's natural, and it's something that makes sense. Besides, it's really hard to stay angry or sad or ruminating when the endorphins are flowing, or when you're more focused on breathing. Is it any wonder my brother and I went for a long run together on September 11, 2001?

Unfortunately my legs weren't ready to run just yet, so I told my friend I needed to watch the Berenstein Bears or something, maybe Full House, something simple where everything always works out fine.

I save Post Secrets that I really like and here are a few to restore faith in humanity.

My upcoming races are all scheduled to proceed as planned. Each has posted to their websites that they might have minor changes to security or using more course marshals, but every race will go as scheduled.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

We can't all be first

I woke up before my alarm on Saturday and immediately hopped on the Martian website for news on the course.

This is only the finish line water!

The map wasn't even posted online. I looked at a paper copy at the start, although I'm not sure why it mattered. I realized there's something even worse than an out and back course - a two loop course! I know it wasn't the intended course and I give Running Fit serious props for setting up a course overnight. They did a great job, but oh man was it a bad route!

The race is only a 10-minute drive from home, so I relaxed and ate breakfast, watching Jeopardy! while I did so. At 6:35 I realized I had to get going! I made it to the course at 7:00 for a 7:15 start and the very first person I saw was Ironman! Is he stalking me or what?? :)

It started the same as last year, then we turned left on Outer Drive and went through a subdivision. Back to Hines, through another sub, back to Hines for the "normal" finish. Then we did it again! There were many places we passed four times and it was so mind-numbing!!!

It didn't help one iota that the weather was so nasty. I didn't have any gloves, but at mile 14 found a matching pair on the sidewalk. I never took them off and they're going to Lansing next week.

The first nine miles were really easy. For a long time I was two steps behind a man with red hair, then this woman joined us and the three of us ran together for several miles without ever talking. I love seeing older people run. Most of them are better than me :) The early miles felt GOOD. I wasn't thirsty, I wasn't hungry so I wasn't forcing myself to eat or drink, even though I knew I needed to do both.

At one point we were on Hines running north up to Lake Hines...

It was cold and lonely. At least when I was training on Hines I had cars driving past to distract me. It was a hard difficult run and took a ton of willpower to get through. Nita is running Boston tomorrow and has asked people to take a specific mile to pray for her. I said I'll take 24 because it's the hardest mile for me and the time I need people the most. At 24 I was all alone on the Rouge River parkway behind Henry Ford Community College, no spectators, no other runners. I've never met Nita, only know that she's a lot shorter than me and wore a fuchsia shirt at the Free Press, but I kept imagining she was just behind my right side in the pink shirt, telling me to keep going, that she knew I could do it, to stay with her.

A few steps later, a woman jogged over to me. She might have said her name was Donna, and that I looked cold and like I needed someone. I did, desperately! I asked if she had water at her tent. She said yes, water and Gatorade. I asked if I could have a water, please. She called out to the guys at the table "Get this girl a water and a hug!" I passed on the hug but her company for those few steps was much appreciated. Thank you Donna!

I had my best half split - 2:17:30. Granted it was only a 30 second improvement, but still an improvement. I hit mile 20 at 3:51 so I was happy about that. Any time I can get to 20 under 4 hours is good. I don't even know my official final time. I'm not on the results page. My watch says 5:21, so that's what it is. Then I decided a runner's personal record resets every year. I was actually sandbagging this race so I can PR the next three weeks :) Nice logic, eh? Or I can borrow Ironman's logic that it's just a training run.

I knew Ironman wasn't too far behind me, so I waited for him to finish. He took my finish line picture then we slow shuffled to our cars. Number 7 baby! I'm so tired though I can't even keep my eyes open!!!! haha This is the SECOND race I've worn this stupid Belle Tire shirt, fully intending to leave it on the course. I got it from the lost and found at school and it doesn't really fit me, but somehow it keeps coming home with me! The best part is the name Kaufman on the back - not my name!

The course may have been terrible, but the medals are SWEET! The eyes are shiny silver and the head is sparkly!!! It's tons nicer than it looked in their posted pictures. The wonderful volunteer at the finish gave it to me in a plastic bag. Someone actually complained about that, but I was fine with it - kept the medal from getting scratched! My numb fumbling fingers couldn't open the baggie. "Do you want me to open it?" she asked? Yes please.

The man volunteer asked if I wanted a bottle of water. Yes, please. "Do you want me to open it for you?" Yes please :) I grabbed a few cookies and sat on a parking block to wait for Ironman. The girls next to me said I wouldn't be able to get up. I said I knew, but some strong man would help me stand :)

Running Fit does a good job organizing the race, but both times I've done it, the weather has been absolutely nasty and I've struggled with the race because of that and due to the complete lack of spectators along the course. If I do this race again, I'm not signing up until the day before at the expo when I have a really good idea of the weather. Yes, it's in my head, but experience has shown time and time again that I run well in the sun and terribly in the overcast.

I have a monster blister on my right pinkie toe. I'm going to soak my feet, pumice stone the calluses and drain the blister. I took a picture of it, but I don't want anyone to get sick haha

Sweet dreams little Martians!