Monday, April 25, 2016

Toledo - Meeting expectations

I've done the Toledo marathon three times. It's close enough, it's fairly cheap, and the course is good and flat. I've scaled back on doing full marathons on consecutive weekends though, and I love Cincinnati so much more, so I registered for the Toledo half this year, way back before my foot betrayed me.

Like the Martian, I had no business running it, but it's close, it was already paid for, and I haven't skipped a race yet that I had registered for. Besides, my foot hurts whether I'm running or doing nothing. It was all about having reasonable expectations. Way back when, I envisioned running with the 1:50 pace team. That became hoping to finish under 2:30.

I was woefully unprepared for the race, obviously, so it made no difference what I did short term. I wound up having a glass of wine and staying up until midnight on Saturday, then waking before my alarm, which gave me a big 4 hours of sleep. Then I realized I didn't really have anything to eat. I ate half a bran muffin, foregoing the calories (energy) in the other half, not wanting a bathroom stop mid-race.

Always wear a Chicago shirt!!!
It was 40s and full sun - perfect!!!! The start and finish lines were different this year due to construction at the stadium on the University of Toledo campus. No biggie. In past years the half runners went into the nature park, then turned left on the path. This year we turned before the park. It wasn't a fabulous course, nor was it terrible. Along the way I passed a lot of "Happy Birthday Michelle B." signs that were obviously meant for me :)

The first 8 miles felt great, then everything started hurting and I had ZERO energy. Oh well. I finished in 2:25:35. Could I have made it under 2:25? Yes. I had wanted to stay under 2:30, so it was ok.

I finished 186/286 in my age group and 1067/1645 among women. Not terrible considering the absolute lack of training. Although the winner of the men's marathon finished before me. That sure has a way of humbling me :D

When they shared a photo of the medals online months ago, I wasn't impressed. Then I saw a few finishers wearing theirs around mile 12. Holy red sparkles, Batman! It's HUGE!!!! Seriously! I measured it when I got home - 4" diameter. It's even bigger than my Disney medal. You know what would have been better though? Make it out of glass (or at least fill in the numbers with glass) seeing as Toledo is the glass city!!!! (The full medal was a diamond with a spinning circle in the center and the names of all the previous winners engraved on the pack. Ironically it was smaller than the half medal.)

The food in Toledo is the best at any marathon I've done. Pizza, mostacoli, garlic bread, yum! Beer in our pretty finisher mugs :D
Had I been able to change the name on my bib, it would have been F*ck PF

Saturday, April 23, 2016

I swear I lived

I've heard the song I Lived by One Direction countless times on the radio. I thought it had a nice chorus, then YouTube suggested it today, so I listened again. It began with a guy speaking to the camera about living with cystic fibrosis and I thought it was an ad, so I hopped over to the computer to skip it, only to realize it was the start of the video and within a minute I was in tears. If the words aren't a good enough message, the video is cut between the guy talking about his life, and scenes of living that are so wonderfully mundane that most of us take them for granted - ice skating, a birthday party, riding a bike, jumping into a swimming pool.

Hope when you take that jump, you don't fear the fall
Hope when the water rises, you built a wall
Hope when the crowd screams out, they're screaming your name
Hope if everybody runs, you choose to stay
Hope that you fall in love, and it hurts so bad
The only way you can know is give it all you have
And I hope that you don't suffer but take the pain
Hope when the moment comes, you'll say
I, I did it all
I, I did it all
I owned every second that this world could give
I saw so many places, the things that I did
With every broken bone, I swear I lived

Hope that you spend your days, but they all add up
And when that sun goes down, hope you raise your cup
Oh, I wish that I could witness all your joy and all your pain
But until my moment comes, I'll say
I, I did it all
I, I did it all

Such has become my approach to life recently. I want to see everything, do everything, enjoy everything. Finishing the half tomorrow will hurt, but that's no reason to not do it. I feel like I've attained the clarity that comes with old age or inevitable dying, yet I've never felt more alive. Early in the year when I started to realize the running isn't going to happen this year, I decided to take a different approach and say yes to everything. And I'm having so much fun!!! Lunch with teachers I rarely see, live music on a Wednesday night, an 8-bit Nintendo competition, a 2+hour phone call when I desperately needed a nap. I'll run again when it's time. Unfortunately I can't force it to be on my time, but "God has a way of solving problems and we have great faith in the future."

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Today is/is not the best day of my life

Driving in to work on the day of the 2014 Chicago marathon lottery, the last song I heard was The Best Day of my Life and I just knew I would be picked. It became my theme song for the race.

Today is 2016 lottery day and with the foot, I didn't even enter. I heard the song after work and momentarily felt a tiny bit sad because I love the race so much. Then I reminded myself that a break from crazy mileage running is the ultimate first world problem.

I flipped to the next station, which was Andy Grammar's Good to be Alive. Amen! I feel like I have a lot of big things up in the air right now, looking for a new job, moving at some point, if a child happens, it'll have to be sooner rather than later. The big things are all in a state of flux, but they're going to start falling in place and everything is going to be amazing. It will all work out exactly how it's meant to.

Another song that says it all is by Sixx AM, Just open your eyes and see that life is beautiful. See?! I'm not all angry hateful swearing cardio music :D

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Fighting Gravity

Apologies to my male runners, this is another post about bras. See ya next time! :)

In the very pit of my heart, I hold a grudge against UnderArmour for discontinuing the Endure sports bra. I bought my first one in 2008 and repeatedly bought at least 2 a year until they changed the model for their high impact bra. I then found one on Amazon for about $40, then one final one on eBay for $29. It was white and sold as "damaged" because it had a small pen stain, and a makeup stain on the back, tags still attached. I can wash off the makeup, and just don't care about the ink. I haven't been able to find any more :(

Eventually I had to find something different, but all the bras nowadays seem to be a lot lower cut. Are we wearing them to support the girls or to look "sexy"? Pfft! Give me a sports bra that comes up to my collarbone!

Seriously. What is the point of this little knobby stitch???
REI is where I found the Endure in the first place, but they now sell MovingComfort. I bought Fiona style. It's ok, a total pain to get on because it has eye hooks in the back, so you pull it over the head, adjust the hooks, then tighten the velcro on the shoulders. The weirdest thing was a small stitch right in the center that has no purpose. I suppose it's to make it "nicer looking." Just. Don't. Care. I want my sports bras to fit like a straitjacket. The first time I wore it, the stitch rubbed a sore on my breastbone, so I immediately cut the stitch and smoothed out the neckline. Overall rating: 6/10. It basically works. It's expensive ($66) and a total pain to get on.

A few weeks ago I was at Meijer and browsed through the fitness clothing. For shirts, they're about 1/3 the price of Athleta. Not that I ever buy running shirts, I just felt like looking. I saw their version of a high impact sports bra, looked at it, tugged on the tightness of the band and finally tried it on. The RBX maximum support bra is a zip-up design, which I don't love, but it sells for $26, and this week they were sold buy 1, get 1 half off. Two bras for $42 :D It's not the most flattering looking bra, but again, just don't care! Support and comfort wise, it's equivalent to the big name companies. Overall rating: 8/10. It works and it's cheap. Only available in black or gray, but things like that don't matter to me.

For what it's worth, the UnderArmour Endure rating was a 10+/10. I should have bought them in bulk :)

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Let it go

The Chicago marathon lottery window closed yesterday. With the kind of year I've had, they would pick me, then I would be in this same situation all summer - too injured to train, stressed about the race, the entry fee, the lack of training. The smart thing (and I'm not always smart when it comes to running) was to just not enter. I had trouble falling asleep last night, told my bestie I felt unsettled, but I couldn't identify the source. It was the marathon, duh! I still had 3 hours to enter, then 2 hours, then I finally fell asleep and the lottery went on without me :(

Of course I could still enter on a charity spot.... :D Not this year!

Monday, April 11, 2016

Martian - Best day of 2016

Saturday was the Martian marathon. I had no business attempting it with my complete lack of training. Yet, they offered a new event this year, the "Milky Way 26k" 5k and half marathon combination. I had registered way back in October.

It's close to home.

I've never not done a race I had registered for.

I could certainly hack my way through a 5k.

Nothing was making my foot better, so why not see? I stopped running so as to be able to run the races. It was race day, so if not then, when??? Besides, if I didn't try, what else would I do? Sleep? Netflix with my cat?

The forecast was COLD! (Windchill of 12 degrees....) The actual temperature was every bit what they predicted. Sometimes I dress too warm or not warm enough, but I nailed it on Saturday - Athleta pants, thick SmartWool socks, cutesy knee socks, Chicago marathon jacket, gloves.

Then I ran into the problem of which shoes to wear. The Hokas are more comfortable, but they've been rubbing a blister the past few runs, which the Mizunos have never done, so despite them being less comfortable, it was a Mizuno day. A fresh blister at mile 2 of 16 would be a day-ender.

Really nice for a 5k, about average for a half
The 5k started at 8:00. I let people pass me, no big deal. I ran the entire way without stopping or walking for anything. (No Twinkies to distract us...) My final time was 29:37, which was exactly one minute faster than the Twinkie run. So I was pleased with that. Far from a PR, but better than I expected.

Looking at my statistics makes it even better. I didn't train, I wasn't trying and still managed pretty decent placements:

25/124 (age group)
146/902 (women)
390/1515 (overall)

The half would start at 8:45, which gave me 15 minutes to cross the parking lot, drink a little water and eat 2 cookies.

The half...

It started really snowing and the wind picked up to the point that we had white-out conditions. Don't think, don't wimp out. Grit, girl! You're tougher than snow!! I made it to the halfway turnaround point where a race volunteer was directing half runners to turn. I had been looking at every runner on their way back, looking for Nita. I thought about telling the volunteer "Tell Anita H----------- that Michelle made the turn!" Then I realized how crazy that sounded. I didn't know where she was, didn't know what she was wearing, didn't know her race number hah I knew she'd pass me at some point on the way back.

I kept going. My heart and lungs felt great. My foot was KT taped and 3 NSAIDs were happily swimming in my bloodstream. The pain was from the complete and utter lack of training. My glutes hurt, my groin hurt. Around mile 8 I thought "I can walk the rest of the way...." Then I asked myself Are we athletes, or are we bitches???

Just keep going. I knew it was going to be an ugly race, and it was, yet it was the best day of my year. I was so thrilled to be running!!!!

There is a super steep hill around mile 11. Every year I attack it with the mantra Make this hill your bitch! (Sorry, my runner self is a potty mouth...) Every other runner was walking up the hill. Injured girl, comin' on through!!! :D

Mile 12+ on Brady, a man was pacing his friend, pushing him to the finish. I shut off the music and listened to him instead. Are we athletes or are we bitches? Don't stop, keep going. It was hurting either way, so power through the last steps and be done that much faster.

I finished.

My goal was to finish without medical evacuation. Whatever time I got was what I got. In the end I managed a 2:32:09. I'm doin the best that I can. It was a good 30+ minutes faster than Disney, my only trail half was a 2:29, so I was in the ballpark. It wasn't a terrible time given the conditions. I just can't think about the 1:58 I ran on the same course last year.

I grabbed a handful of cookies (they're soooooo good), and my immediate thought was How in H E double hockey sticks am I ever going to do the Pig? I HAVE to switch to the 3-way. (5k, 10k, half)

My quads were beat, as bad as they are after a full, yet two days later, my foot is back to how it was. Certainly no better, but no worse either. For now I'm going to let it ride before I decide about Toledo and Cincy. (Oh hell, I'm totally doing them unless a major catastrophe flares. We all know I am. I'm crazy stupid stubborn. Then NO fulls in the fall. Not. Even. Chicago. My soul cries to type that.)

Was 16.2 miles on zero training a good idea? NO! Would I recommend it to anyone? Never! Am I glad I did it? Absolutely!!! The pain will fade eventually and I'll be left with the memories and these pretty little martian friends.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Twinkie pics

I shoulda worn the StormTrooper onesie... :)
Why yes, I WOULD like a Twinkie mid-run... :D

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

What worked, what didn't

My wretched PF has been with me over 3 months at this point. I still notice it, but the intensity is way down, to the point that it's a nagging annoyance more than a serious injury. I tried pretty much everything short of dry needling. Here is what worked and what didn't:

Definitely helped
time/rest :(
Prescription strength NSAIDs
KT tape (helped with pain management, didn't cure anything)
different gait when running

Probably helped
Different shoes

Didn't make a difference either way
athletic tape
rolling (it's good for mobility though, so everyone should do it)
reflexology (although it felt good)
menthol rub, any topical cream
night boot

Made it worse
foot strengthening exercises (I might try them again once the pain is fully gone)

I still haven't decided about my spring races. In the "dealing with it" process (known as the grieving process for serious issues, of which this is not...), I'm still deeply enmeshed in DENIAL :D

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Guess who's back, back again

April 1 is always the date of the Twinkie Run in Ann Arbor. It's run by Ann Arbor Active against ALS, a smaller organization that also sponsors the Electric Bolt run in the summer. I've done it the past 2 years, and it's just fun, completely irreverent. Eat a Twinkie, then start running? I don't even like Twinkies and it's still fun and funny.

It's a cheap race - $17 ahead of time, $22 last minute. The weather was good, and I just wanted to do it. I had low low low expectations. I wanted to finish and I wanted to have fun. Obviously I wore my tutu... It was cool, so I wore the rainbow striped tights as well, and received compliments the whole time on my outfit lol Several people asked if they could post my photo on their facebook pages, so I might have a picture to add here at some point. Had I thought about it, I probably would have worn my StormTrooper onesie. I swear one of these days, it's getting worn in a race!!!!

I didn't start right at the front of the line, I went a moderate pace and watched runner after runner pass me. That's ok. It was my first event post-injury and I just wanted to finish. For what it's worth, I did eat the second Twinkie mid-way. You gotta eat the Twinkies!!! Otherwise, it's just another 5k, which are a dime a dozen.

My final time was 30:37, which was faster than I had expected. When they posted the results, I thought a realistic placement would be 10th-12th. I was 10th in my age group, out of 44. It's my worst placement at this particular race, and that's ok. I felt good about the race and about my foot. Although I met someone for dinner an hour after I finished running who immediately asked "Why are you limping?" I wasn't!!!!! Denial is my coping mechanism :D

The one problem was that I wore the Hokas with thick socks and the right foot still rubbed a blister in the same spot! I need to experiment with Vaseline or BodyGlide on the next few runs.
No pint glass for me this time (top 3)
I didn't buy a shirt - orange isn't my color