Wednesday, November 30, 2011

"Good News, Bad News"

When you're on the treadmill, walking sideways on an incline, and your PT stands across from you and says "Good News, Bad News" - you may want to flee for your life!

OK, so it's not that bad, really. I am being a bit over-dramatic. ;)

So he says that I need to start running regularly again so I can be somewhat ready for Goofy. He wants me to run twice before I see him again next week (which will be my last time to see him). He said it might hurt or be uncomfortable, but he needs to know how I feel during and after so he can help me deal with it. I assume that means via stretches or some strengthening exercises.

Then he went on to say that I still need to "take off" during January and February. He added that that doesn't mean I stop moving altogether, but that everything comes down a few notches. He said I didn't even necessarily need to stop running, but that the runs need to be very short distances and intensity. It sounded to me like I may be dealing with this for a few more months, depending on how quickly the IT band loosens and how well my body responds.

I admit that I'm apprehensive about running. My brain still remembers how badly it hurt during MCM! But I know that I need to get running again if I'm going to be able to attempt Goofy. I need to know what to expect, and what sort of techniques I will need to do to be able to cope.

I'm not all that upset about "taking off" for a couple of months because that was my plan anyway. And I know that 2012 will be a lighter year for training and racing anyway. If 2011 was "The Year of the Marathon", 2012 might just be "The Year of Recuperation!" :) 




Sunday, November 27, 2011

IT Band Recovery - Week 3

It's hard to believe this is just Week 3 of recovery. It's been 22 days since the Rock 'N Roll -Savannah weekend and exactly 4 weeks since I ran the marathon. It seems so much longer than that though. I'm starting to wonder if I'm ever going to recover from IT Band Syndrome. :(

Here is what recovery looked like this week:

Monday - 1:15 PT; 30 minute run (3/1 intervals); PT stretches and foam rolling
Tuesday - 1500 meter swim, PT stretches and foam rolling
Wednesday - 1:15 PT; PT stretches and foam rolling
Thursday - :60 Yoga Conditioning for Athletes; PT stretches and foam rolling
Friday - PT stretches and foam rolling
Saturday - :60 Yoga for the Warrior; PT stretches and foam rolling
Sunday - PT stretches and foam rolling 

It's been really hard to keep a positive attitude this week. My test run on Monday really disappointed me. After telling my PT Steve what the doctor had said about continuing to run through the pain and seeing the look on his face, I decided not to run again until the tweaks that I feel in my knees are completely gone. They creep up now mostly when I'm doing two particular stretches where I have to be down on my knees, and then when I'm driving or sitting. I have to admit, though, that I was really hoping it would be all gone by now. I have been so good with my stretching and foam rolling. I really thought that walking the half instead of pushing on to the full would have meant that my recovery would be mostly over by now. Apparently, that's not the case.

Goofy weekend is a mere six weeks away. I truly do not know how I'm going to be able to take part in it. I haven't run now (except this test run) in 4 weeks. I am going to try to get over to a gym and see about doing some elliptical and bike for the next few weeks to complement my swimming, but I'm not sure if that's too little, too late. I was going to try to sign up this weekend, but I'm just afraid to throw more money at this.

I'm just really, really sad. I am trying not to be... but it just overwhelms me at times and I start crying, like right now while I'm typing this! Today's sermon at church was on Lazarus - and this particular time through of hearing the story, my heart focused on how upset Mary and Martha were. Mary wept at Jesus' feet and cried out to Him that if He would only have come in time, her brother never would have died. But Jesus hadn't dawdled on His way there - His timing was perfect. I know that my running isn't a life or death matter - though it may feel like it to my heart and soul. But God's timing is perfect in this situation as well. I just can't see it now. I hope I will one day!





Saturday, November 26, 2011

Just in case you were wondering...

I am REALLY. REALLY. REALLY. REALLY.  REALLY. tired of stretching and rolling.

REALLY.

I mean it.

I am throwing in some yoga but just that and swimming is not doing it for me. I'm going nutso!!!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Another DNS

Today is Thanksgiving Day and I had my second-ever DNS ("Did Not Start"). Back in August I had signed up for the Atlanta Half Marathon, assuming that 2.5 weeks after running two full marathons I'd be ready for a hilly half marathon.

Yeah, I really was crazy, wasn't I? LOL

I mean, even if everything had gone perfectly (and whenever does it?!), did I really expect to be able to run a relatively challenging half marathon so soon? I guess it's not all that crazy, though, because my BFF did run it today - and much faster than I ever could, even well-rested. Oh well...

I really am feeling like a wuss. Like I don't have what it takes to be a real runner anymore. I'm afraid to sign up for ANY races because I find myself wondering if I'm ever going to be able to run again at all. I've always been able to set these goals for myself in running and have always reached them. Until now. And now I'm afraid to even try to set any goals. And that makes me feel like a wuss. I feel so disconnected from my running friends right now, even my BFF. I feel really, really alone - like I've lost my identity, like I don't belong with the runners but I don't belong with the non-runners, either. It's such a horrible feeling. 

But it's Thanksgiving Day. And I am thankful for all of my many blessings. And one day, I am sure I will look back on this time in my life and see it as a blessing as well. I'm trusting that this is all part of God's plan - and that it's all good!




Wednesday, November 23, 2011

"It won't hurt forever!"

Yesterday, I had a follow-up appointment with my sports medicine doctor. The PT suggested that I do a test run on Monday afternoon to see how it would feel to run again for the first time since the Marine Corps Marathon. Well, I guess I had run a little at Savannah, too, but I hadn't run at all since then. 16 days off from running. I was hoping for the best, and bracing for the worst. I guess I got somewhere in between. I did feel the tightness come on, and discomfort. I can't say it 'hurt' but it definitely didn't feel normal. I tried a 3/1 interval, and I did that for 30 minutes total. I rolled and stretched before and stretched afterward. Monday evening I was pretty sore. But then I woke up yesterday and felt fairly good.

I told all of this to the doctor, as well as recounted all of the details of MCM and Savannah. He checked out my knees thoroughly and declared there was no damage to them, which is great! He said it's still just the IT Bands and he's seeing a lot of that right now (must be marathon season, he said). We talked about my January plans for Goofy and he instructed me to keep on training (even though it will be painful), and then to take significant time off. When I asked him what "significant time" meant he replied, "January and February." I'm sure he could see my disappointment on my face. He told me I could continue to cross-train during that time. Then he said if it's not completely better by March I should see him again and we would try another round of physical therapy. He also gave me an anti-inflammatory gel to use on my knees daily and then before and after I run.

As he was leaving, he said, "It won't hurt forever!" I forced a smile and said, "It just seems that way!" He smiled and said, "You just need two things that runners aren't good at - patience and rest." Then he patted me on the shoulder and said goodbye.

I spoke to Steve, my PT, today during my session and told him what the doc said. He didn't seem too thrilled with his advice. I also told Steve that I can afford two more visits with him, so he suggested that we do one next week and one the following week. He is going to work on further developing my home program to hopefully get me ready for Goofy.

My current plan is to go on down there, prepared to run - like I did with Savannah. I will see how I'm feeling on the half marathon day. If I feel well enough to run/walk, then I will. Same goes for marathon day. I'm not sure about running right now... if it will make it worse or what. Since the doc said it was OK, and I have friends who have trained through while they are recovering from ITBS, I can assume it's safe. But I'm worried, still. I am thinking about joining a local discount gym that advertises $9 per month, and doing the elliptical there and the recumbent bike. And I'd still swim, of course. But is that sufficient for doing a half marathon and a full marathon??

Lots to think and pray about!!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

IT Band Recovery - Week 2

I forgot to post my update on Sunday so better late than never! Here is what my 2nd week of recovery looked like:

Monday - Physical Therapy; PT stretches/foam rolling
Tuesday - Wii Fit Plus Yoga; PT stretches/foam rolling
Wednesday - Physical Therapy; PT stretches/foam rolling
Thursday - 1500 meter swim; PT stretches/foam rolling; Sports Massage
Friday - Wii Fit Plus Yoga; PT stretches
Saturday - PT stretches
Sunday - Wii Fit Plus Yoga; PT stretches/foam rolling

I am seeing some progress in my flexibility. I can touch my toes easily now which is a nice feeling. And the stretches are starting to be relaxing, rather than an experience in torture with my legs shaking like they are going to fall off.

I got some yoga DVDs from the library so I will try a few out to see which ones I like the best. I don't think I will be able to stand the Wii Fit Plus 2-3 times a week forever! LOL


Friday, November 18, 2011

YEOUCH!!

Remember how I said that I got my first massage on Thursday afternoon?? Well, look what I woke up to yesterday morning?!?!
I can't even describe how bad this hurt! I bruise easily so maybe that's the reason for the black-and-blue-ness of my poor leg. I am planning to go back, so I will have to ask her if this was to be expected for the work she did on me. She did tell me that most people would be "jumping off the table" with the pressure she used. I hadn't known what to expect and so many people told me it would hurt so I just went with it (and visualized myself crossing the finish lines with a smile on my face during WDW Marathon Weekend! LOL). Maybe she needs to go easier on me next time?

It is feeling much better today, but I'm still taking today off from the foam roller until Sunday. I don't want to do any damage!

A brief update

I didn't realize it had been a week since I last posted! The last 7 days have been incredibly overwhelming for our family. We spent last Friday night in the ER with my 15 1/2 year old son. He was at band practice and had a grand mal seizure. It was his first seizure since October 2008, and last month he had been given the "all clear" because he had been one-year seizure-free off medication. And this seizure was the most intense one he has ever had. What made it more frightening was that we weren't there. He is OK, though. He is back on seizure meds and we have to go for an EEG soon.

You may remember (and if you don't, you can refresh your memory by reading my very first post on this blog) that one of the reasons I started running in the first place was because Austin had started having seizures. So here we go again... except this time I'm injured and I can't run. It's been so difficult. My son is handling everything so well, though, so I'm inspired by his courage and strength!

Recovery has gone well this week, but I will save the details on that front for my "recovery" post this weekend! LOL

Yesterday I had my first ever massage! Yeah, first ever! She was very surprised that I have been running for 3 years and never needed a massage. She said, "You must be very flexible and do lots of stretching." Yeah, not so much, huh? LOL I told her I've probably just been lucky - up until marathon training! ;) It really hurt, but I just focused on what it could mean for my running in the long term and tried to relax. She instructed me to drink plenty of water and take an epsom salt bath, and she really suggested that I come back a few times. I'm going to have to wait and see how I feel because today I am really sore (which she said I would be). I am very "tight" and this is just what happens I guess. I haven't done my PT stretches yet this morning, so I hope that helps! LOL

Next week I see the doctor again. If he releases me from PT, then I might add a massage once a week until I'm through with Goofy. I really can't afford much more PT, so I hope that I'm nearly done! :)

Friday, November 11, 2011

IT Band Recovery Update 11/11

This was a good week for recovery overall! I thought it would be funny to update you on my goings on in much the same way that I did for the training! :)

Monday - PT Stretches and Foam Rolling (Morning/Evening - plus extra rolling session after lunch)
Tuesday - 1000 meter swim; PT Stretches/Foam Rolling
Wednesday - Physical Therapy; PT Stretches/Foam Rolling
Thursday - PT Stretches/Foam Rolling
Friday - Physical Therapy; PT Stretches/Foam Rolling
Saturday - PT Stretches/Foam Rolling (planned)
Sunday - PT Stretches/Foam Rolling (planned)

That's a lot of stretching and foam rolling, isn't it? LOL It does seem to be making a bit of difference because yesterday I could touch my toes while I was standing and while I was sitting, without bending my knees!

Today my physical therapist joked when he was stretching me and said, "So, what race do you have this weekend?" When I said, "Well...." he just rolled his eyes. I told him that I signed up for a 5K but that I was going to walk it. He shook his head and said that that wasn't a very good idea, considering how much my knees still hurt last week while I was walking the Savannah Half. He said, "Your body needs rest. It needs at least 2 weeks of just resting and stretching!"

And he's right. I know that. He asked me what was my goal was: to just get running again, or to run the marathon at Disney in January. Of course, it's to run the marathon in January. So that will mean some sacrifices. I will miss tomorrow's 5K, even though it's for a great cause and I love it. I have already paid and they will use the money to buy gifts for children for Christmas - and that's awesome. I will miss running/walking through the lights, but I can do that next year. And I will also need to miss the Thanksgiving Day Half Marathon. It's not going to be smart to jump back into running with a hilly 13.1 miles. I was reading on the website that I can switch to the 5K, but I don't know if it's worth it to drive all the way downtown for that. I need to think about it. I really don't want any added pressure on myself.

He did give me the go-ahead to swim, so I will try to do that at least twice next week. I think that would be a good way to keep my cardio somewhat active while I recover.

And so I just wait and stretch. And roll. And wait. :(

Monday, November 7, 2011

Race Report: Rock N Roll Savannah Marathon and Half Marathon

I'm going to try to keep this race report positive, because really I think I did the right thing (though maybe the "right-er" thing would have been not to try it at all, but then I'm afraid I would have always wondered. At least now I know!). We left Friday morning and I was still uncertain about whether or not I would race. I was going to see how my knees felt at the Expo after having sat in the car for the drive down there. My knees did hurt after sitting in the car, but I could stretch it out fairly well. I walked around the Expo and it wasn't too bad. I picked up my number and I was still unsure, but I was leaning towards at least starting the race. I have to admit that part of that reason was that the race shirt was really cute and I hoped to be able to wear it! LOL

I laid out my race clothes and was horrified to realize that I had neglected to bring a pair of racing socks with me. I had an older pair of my racing style that had been relegated to the "everyday wear" pile and I decided to wear those. Probably not the best decision in hindsight. LOL When I got ready for bed I noticed that the blister that had developed after MCM had flared up again. I popped it with a pin and went to bed. The next morning when I got up and got ready, I coated my feet really well with Body Glide and hoped it would be enough.

Don't I look perky for someone facing certain failure? LOL

I am really glad I started this race for a number of reasons, but a big one is that The Penguin - MY Penguin- was there at the start counting down each of the corrals!! I wish I could have run over and given him a hug, but as you can see I was all the way over on the wrong side. I wanted to tell him "THANK YOU!" for the many ways he has changed my life! All I got was this picture... and it was just a profile. My Penguin is wearing the blue hat. To see him in person was worth the money! :)

I passed under the start line and began to do a short interval - didn't have it programmed into Garmin, was just going to go by how I felt. That lasted about a mile. My knees immediately started to bother me and I wasn't going to push it. I dropped back to a walk and decided to see how well I could manage the required pace of under 16:00 miles. I stayed to the far right side so I would keep out of everyone's way, and I was able to stick right around 14:45-15:15. In the end, my Garmin told me that I averaged 15:03, which is pretty good.

But the knees really bothered me. It was mostly the left knee that hurt the worst, which didn't surprise me because that's the one that had hurt the worst all week. My physical therapist worked on both of my knees on Thursday and told me that the left one felt like "knotted rope" but that the right one wasn't too bad. That mirrored the way I had been feeling. And in the race on Saturday, that knotted rope felt like I was knotting up even more.

At mile 6, I took the two tylenol that I had carried with me for the last half of the marathon (if I got that far). I decided to go ahead and take them and see if it helped any. During the next two miles, I also began to feel some aching on the top of my left foot, and I felt the blisters coming back on my right toes. By mile 8, nothing had changed. I started to do some serious praying for whether or not I should continue the marathon. I passed by a couple of medical tents but didn't really feel like I needed urgent assistance. I was just hurting. I felt the way I did during MCM at mile 15-16, but this was mile 8. I knew that couldn't be good. I knew I wanted to recover from my IT Band injury more than I wanted to become a Marathon Maniac. I also knew that I needed to decide by mile 11 when the full marathon course turned off.

I decided I would try to text Sherry to let her know that I was stopping at the half and that I would see her at the finish. I figured that if I could actually type out and send the message, then it was making a decision I could live with. It was easy and I felt good after sending it. I went on to send another text to my mom and my husband to let them know of my decision. Then I sent a text to Facebook to make it official to the whole world.

I can only try to describe the peace that I felt after making that decision. I thanked God for it, because it was truly a peace that can't come from within. I was getting lots of texts in reply to my FB status, but I was able to text back truthfully "No Worries... I am good with this decision." And I was. The harder part was yet to come.

When the full marathon course re-joined the half course, I felt a twinge of sadness and regret. I was watching those folks and wondering how they must be feeling. They were in their own lane and I felt embarrassed that I was wearing a marathon bib (different color from the half marathon bib) but I was in the half marathon lane. I wanted to put my hoodie back on (which I hadn't dumped because I never really broke a sweat) and hide my bib. When I saw the finish, I debated making a run for it so I could at least look like I had "run" the race but I decided not to. My blisters were really killing me by that point and I figured it wasn't worth it.

I got my half marathon medal - and it is beautiful. It says 'inaugural' on it and it's a heavy medal. I put it on and went to find a potty and a place to stretch and wait for my BFF. I felt so lonely out there all by myself. Hindsight being what it is, I should have gone to find the ROTE crowd cheering near the finish, but I didn't know where they were and I can't check the boards on my phone. I think I wouldn't have sunk into such a bad place had I had them to hug me and reassure me that I did the right thing for my body. But as it was, I just sat there all alone.

I texted my mom to check on my BFFs estimated finish time and learned that she was still 90 minutes from finishing. I couldn't stay there any longer, so I texted BFF that I would see her back at the hotel room and wished her the very best of luck for a strong finish! I started hobbling back to the room, but I stopped at the medical tent for some attention to my blisters first. That didn't help because the tent was packed with full marathoners getting attention and I felt like a wuss for needing help after just doing the half.

I didn't know where I was in relation to the hotel so I stopped an officer who gave me instructions. It felt like a really long way with my aching knees and my blistered toes! I called my mommy and whined for most of the walk back! LOL I got back into the room and hit the shower, determined to get over my pity party before my BFF returned. I wanted to be positive and excited for her wonderful accomplishment! I wasn't fully over it when she returned but I put on my best happy face and celebrated with her!

We decided to go do a little walking around later on in the afternoon so she could keep her muscles stretched. We stopped by a candy store where they make the candy right in front of you! He is making pralines in the picture below, which I didn't get. But I got a chocolate covered pretzel, and a "gopher" (sort of like a big turtle), and some chocolate Snickers bark. We had a little mexican food to tide us over until dinner, and hit the CVS for soda (no Pibb there, either! @@) and more junk food before heading back to the room.

By the time we got back from our walk, my knees were killing me again. We both ended up being completely exhausted in the evening and decided not to go back out for the ROTE dinner (which again in hindsight would have helped my spirits I'm sure). In fact, we didn't even make it through the DVD we had started. We slept a long 9 HOURS if you can believe that! LOL Thanks to the end of Daylight Savings we were up and ready to go early. I didn't feel horribly bad, which was encouraging to me. I did my PT stretches and foam rolling and my knees were doing OK.

We ate the free continental breakfast (yay waffle maker LOL) and retrieved the car from the parking garage on the next block (boo full hotel parking garage). Gassed up, grabbed a PIBB from the gas station, and headed home. The highway out of Savannah was filled with racers and their assorted magnets and stickers. Every time I saw a 26.2 sticker, I felt a twinge of sadness. I even thought to myself that maybe I should take my 26.2 sticker off and put a 13.1 sticker back on. Was I a faker because I didn't do the 26.2 this time?

I'll spare you the details of the revelation but it finally hit me that I was under spiritual attack. I had been at such peace with my decision to stop at the half, knowing that it was the best thing for my body. What was going on with me now? When did I get to the point where completing a half-marathon was a huge failure? Yes, I was disappointed and a little embarrassed - our local newspaper had run a front-page article on me and my BFF doing two marathons in a week. And I wasn't able to do it. Injuries happen, though... and I know I could have done it had I not been hurt. I probably could have done it even being hurt - my decision to stop, though, was based less on "could" but rather on "should". So where was my peace? Why was it gone? The answer was clear... and in my foolishness, when the negative feelings started running through my head, and when I could hear the, "You're such a failure" hitting me over and over again, instead of turning to God, I just wallowed in it. How stupid of me. I felt so much better once I realized what was going on, and asked God to protect me against the attacks. The rest of the ride home was very nice!

So there is the race report, and the tale of how I almost became a Marathon Maniac. In the end, I have only one true regret during this experience: in my attempt to become a Maniac, and my failure to complete the second marathon, I feel like I have lost the focus on how I did actually complete a full marathon. Just a week ago! And while experiencing probably the worst continual pain that I have ever endured! I AM a marathoner, even though it doesn't feel like it because of this week's race experience. If I had the choice to go back and pursue Maniac again, I'm not sure if I would. Knowing what I know now, I do not think I would do it. I would have liked the chance to savor the satisfaction of 26.2 for awhile, instead of having to accept the regret of not being able to do it again.

But I have learned a lot about myself, and my body, during this year and through this experience! I will be able to move forward with that knowledge and it will make me a stronger runner (and swimmer and biker) in the future! :) I will use that knowledge in the next 9 weeks as I recover from this IT Band injury and slowly regain my running ability so I can train for the Goofy Challenge in January!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Not quite a Maniac! :)

At around mile 8, I decided to complete the half marathon in Savannah yesterday, instead of the full marathon. So I didn't get my Marathon Maniac status, but I did hopefully prevent further damage to my IT bands and knees! I am now going to look forward to Goofy in January! I am thrilled to tell you that my BFF did finish the full marathon (and with an incredible pace, especially considering that she had done MCM only 6 days before) so she is an official Maniac!

Race report most likely tomorrow!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Recovery

The recovery from MCM is going fairly well, for all parts of me except the IT Bands. I am actually quite surprised at how good I feel after having just run a marathon a few days ago. I supposed that's because I was going so slowly during the whole thing - and walking the last 4 miles.

But my knees are still bothering me quite a bit. I got a foam roller on Tuesday when I went in to get my 26.2 sticker for my car, and I rolled for the first time yesterday. That was pure torture!! But it really helped... for a few hours. I still feel pain on my outer knee when I walk and when I extend my knee.

I'm not sure what I'm going to do about running Savannah on Saturday. I wish the race were next weekend. I think that I would have a good chance of being healed up enough to even walk that race if I just had an extra week. But I don't know if I will be able to do it in 2 days. I am still going to go down there and pick up my number. My BFF is going to be able to run, so if nothing else I can cheer her on.

I'm very sad right now and disappointed. But I don't want to risk further damage and extend my already long recovery time. I am going to talk to my PT about it today when I have my next appointment.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Race Report, Part 2: Marine Corps Marathon 2011 (The Race!)

To read the first part of this race report, click here!

Sunday morning my alarm was set for 3:45 AM so I could get up and do my PT exercises. We had to leave the house at 4:45 to get to the Metro for the train to the Pentagon. We had convinced my aunt to just drop us off at the Metro station rather than go with us and stand around shivering for 2 hours. It was just so utterly cold that there was no reason to be out there any longer than necessary.

Here is my cute outfit:

And here is what we looked like after bundling up for the 34 degree temps we would be battling:

We managed to get to the station in time for the first train, and there was hardly anyone there. From the pictures my uncle took a few hours later when they arrived to cheer, it's a good thing we didn't wait! I'd rather stand in the cold than deal with the stress of crowds and possibly being late.

We hit the porta-potties when we arrived because that's what we always do. And then we searched for some place to huddle and eat our breakfast. We went into a tent and there was a prayer service going on! It was fantastic! The preacher talked about being "Giant Slayers" like David, and when he was talking about the "giants" each of us faced he specifically called out knees and ankles, which is what my BFF and I have been battling the last couple of weeks! It was like a whisper from God. Prayer service ended and we returned to the porta-potty lines!

At last it was time to head to start line... we got lined up in the correct start area and then I looked over and found my aunt and uncle! Couldn't believe that we saw each other! This is what they were looking into... that little pink and blue glove in the air in the middle of the picture is me! LOL

I don't know how it's possible that he saw me at all! LOL But I'm so glad they got this picture! It was soon time to start the race and everything began very well. We knew the first 8 miles would be hilly, and they were, but it wasn't too bad. We train on hills so I wasn't too worried about it. We ran into Jenn from ROTE which was really great! Among all of those people out there, it was neat to run into her and her friend Eric! They took off to do their thing and we continued on.

At this point, my knees were twinging but it wasn't terrible. I figured it was from all the up and down hills. We walked up one pretty steep hill, and at the top, my BFF needed to hit the porta-potties. This was around mile 8 and it's where I made my critical error for this race. I stopped moving. I saw lots of people standing around stretching and figured I would do the same since the stretches seem to help my knees feel better (I guess by loosening up the IT Band). Well, the stopping caused everything to seize up and I felt my knees just start to lock. BFF was still in the line so I told her I was going to start walking again and would stay to the far right until she caught up with me. I was hoping that just walking would stretch everything back out again because in the previous 8 miles, the walk breaks had helped significantly. In fact, right before the porta-potty stop we had walked enough to where my knees felt quite good. Unfortunately the damage was done, and I just had to fight through it.

We saw my aunt and uncle at mile 10 and they snapped a few pictures. Here were are heading back on our way:
We continued on and honestly, sadly, I do not remember much about the course from this point on. I was focused on each step and trying to keep my form good to see if that could spare my knees a little. I kept encouraging my BFF to go ahead of me, since my pace was slowing dramatically, and her pace is much faster than mine even when I'm running all the way! Her ankle had started bothering her a few weeks ago and we suspect it's from changing her form to slow down enough to stay with me. :( We don't typically run together at races but had decided to for the marathons because it was such a long distance/time. She had considered going ahead and the halfway point, but ended up sticking it out with me. She learned that she could run her pace and then slow to a walk and I would catch up to her.

We saw my aunt and uncle again at mile 16. It was here that my aunt asked me if I needed to stop. I told her that I didn't. I was only 4 miles from Beating the Bridge and I figured if I could get across the bridge, then I could do it, even if I walked the rest of the way. Here we are on our way again after Mile 16:

I made a little calculation error about this time as well. I had it in my head that we had 4.5 hours to Beat the Bridge. I don't know why I thought that, because I knew that the bridge didn't open until around 1:15-1:30, but who knows how the brain works when it's tired! Regardless, I kept seeing the time posted at the mile markers and we were getting very close to 4.5 hours and we hadn't even reached the Gauntlet yet. And it really was starting to hurt MORE to begin to run after each walk break. SO I decided to just keep running instead of walking. I ran straight through from before the Gauntlet (which I never did actually SEE) until nearly the end of the bridge (because I thought to Beat the Bridge you had to be OVER it).

Finally I was almost over the bridge (which should be renamed the World's Longest Bridge) when I simply couldn't run any more. We came off the bridge walking, and I tried a couple more times to run but I just couldn't do it. It hurt way, way too much. I again encouraged my BFF to run on because her ankles were hurting her but it didn't feel different with running or walking - but running would get her done much faster! LOL But she stayed. I walked as fast as I could but my pace was diminishing quickly.

At mile 24, I heard someone call my name and I looked up and it was my friend Jill from ROTE (who had done the triathlon with me and BFF). I was so relieved to see her... I gave her a huge sweaty hug and nearly knocked her over! She is recovering from a stress fracture and I hope I didn't do more damage by holding onto her like that! She took our pic and sent us on our way.

I had been praying for strength the entire race but this is the point where I was just doing nothing but praying. It was hurting so much even to walk at this point, and any time I had to walk down hill it was absolutely excruciating. We were coming down what I think was an exit ramp and there was a guy with a mic and I remember him asking "Walkers, are you OK out there?" because I was hobbling so badly going down the hill.

At Mile 25 I started crying. BFF was mostly ahead of me at this point because I was walking so slowly. I didn't want her to see me crying, but I really didn't think I could go one more step. Sherry came back and told me that I couldn't stop with a mile and a half to go. I knew she was right, so I just prayed again! I started going again and before I knew it, we were at that turn. I have never in my life been so happy to have an uphill finish line! LOL It was so much easier to go uphill than downhill! Right before the turn, BFF called out, "You can't cross the finish line walking!! Come on!!" She should be very happy that she was out of arm's reach. I would have hated to slap her! LOL

See her impish grin... she knows she's been ornery!

I'm carrying my knee braces... picked them up from my aunt at mile 16 thinking I would put them on. But they wouldn't fit over my shoes and I wasn't going to sit down and take off my shoes at that point. So I carried them for 10 miles. @@ So helpful.

Here we go up the last hill to the finish line!

I crossed that finish line doing something between a hobble and a waddle... but I made it. I burst into tears and scared some of the waiting marines! They handed me an insulated wrap thing, but all I really wanted was my medal! Finally, we found the Marines with the medals!


And then we found the finisher photographer so we could get a picture in front of the incredible Iwo Jima Memorial!
My knees were absolutely dying by this point and I hobbled to the medical tent. A very nice marine wrapped up my knees (in the same cold bandage that I had bought at the expo the day before) and gave me ONE Tylenol. One?? Really?? LOLOL Anyway, she was very sweet and told me I could sit and rest as long as I needed. But I was freezing and I just wanted to go. I was also starving. So I hobbled back to BFF, since they wouldn't let her in the medical area with me, and we hobbled up the hill to the food line. They were out of gatorade and the bananas were gross-looking. The box of food they passed out was not my style, but I'm so picky that I can't fault them for that. We found my aunt and uncle and headed to the metro station. The line was so long but I guess it moved fairly quickly for that number of people!

We were home before long (with yummy milkshakes my uncle had acquired for us!!) and I broke a major training rule by taking a warm shower. I figured I had been freezing cold all day with ice on my knees for the previous hour at least, so I should be safe. And let me tell you that shower was awesome! I felt SO much better afterward. I was still hobbling and handling the steps at my aunt's house was rather painful, but just being warm was so great. My uncle is a cyclist and he suggested that we elevate our legs for at least 10 minutes to rid the legs of toxins. I laid down in front of the fireplace and plopped my feet up on their couch and ended up laying there for 30 minutes! LOL It felt SO good! We took the traditional race shirt pictures and rested for the remainder of the evening - which wasn't long considering it was after 4 PM by the time we got home! I slept very, very well that night, too!

And that's the story of how I became a marathon girl! :)

Race Report, Part 1: Marine Corps Marathon 2011 (Expo and Sightseeing)

I've had a few days to reflect and sort through my emotions about finishing my first ever marathon. Just like with my first half-marathon, it is sort of surreal - like I didn't really do it. But there are pictures of me, and the medal is hanging on my rack, so I guess I must have done it, huh??

Where should I begin?? Well, we arrived in DC on Thursday evening and found that the weather predictions had really taken a turn for the worse, but the bulk of the bad weather was still going to be on Saturday. Since the race was on Sunday, I wasn't terribly concerned yet. Friday morning, we had a scheduled tour at the White House and then we planned to go to the Expo before going to our scheduled Capital tour in the afternoon. My aunt took us to work with her and put us on the Metro for the White House. Our tour was at 7 AM (ACK) so we were up and in the line for the White House while it was still very dark and very cold. Thankfully my aunt lent us coats all weekend because neither my BFF nor I had packed for the unbelievably cold weather that came in.

After our White House tour, we were to head back to my aunt's work to pick up our purses, cameras, etc. since none of those things were allowed in the White House. My aunt called and suggested that we change our plans because the weather forecast was now calling for heavy rain and snow and brutal temps on Saturday, which was to have been our sightseeing day. So we picked up our stuff and headed over to Arlington Cemetery to pick up the Tourmobile.

Even though we were riding on the Tourmobile, we still had to do a lot of walking, and my right knee started to bother me. I was really aggravated and nervous, but I figured it had a lot to do with the fact that I had not done my PT stretches that morning since we had had to leave so early that morning. We knew we weren't going to get to do all of the sightseeing we had wanted to, but we made the best of it and hit the bulk of the highlights. There is just so much to do in DC, and no way to fit it all into 2 days - let alone 1. This was my BFF's first time in DC and I felt so bad that she didn't get to see all she wanted to see. But I think we both had a great time!


We got home pretty late, especially considering the early start we had had, and after a yummy dinner, we all hit the bed early!

Woke up on Saturday to see that the weather was all that they had promised it would be, and more! It was so brutally cold and pouring rain! My aunt was going to drive us over to the Expo and then we were going to hit Walmart to get some sweats to wear over our race clothes while waiting for the race to start Sunday morning. When we reached the downtown area, all of the major roads to the Expo were blocked off. We kept having the GPS recalculate, but each road it told us to take was closed. Finally we stopped and asked a police officer (who was manning one of the barricades) and he gave us a way to get around. When we arrived at the Expo the traffic was a mess! There were so many cars all trying to file around the Armory, and it was horrible! Finally, the two runners hopped out while my aunt tried to find a place to park. We got inside the main expo building only to find out that we would have to go back out in the rain to a tent outside to get our race numbers THEN come back inside to get our shirts. We had assumed it would all be in the tent and we'd just get that when we left to go home. While we waited for my aunt to get the car parked, we ran over to the KT Tape booth and got our problem areas (knees/ankle) attended to. I had forgotten to wear track pants because it was so cold out, so I wrapped myself up in the long rain coats we had borrowed from my aunt and I dropped my jeans right there in the middle of the expo! LOL She taped me up and I was all set! When my aunt had finally got the car parked and sloshed through the pouring rain and met up with us, we ran outside to get the bibs while she waited for us. Then we stood out in the pouring rain to get through security (again!) to get back into the Expo. It was such a crazy mess!

This Expo was worth all of the hassle, though! I think it was the best one I've ever been to. There was a lot of stuff that I'd never seen before and a lot of different types of things. Most expos seem to have the same merchandise just from different vendors. I picked up a pair of Injinji (did I spell that right?) socks - the kind with the separate toes. Hopefully that will help with the water blister issues I have. I also picked up some of these ice pack things, but they are wraps so they aren't bulky. It's hard to describe. I'll have to go dig them out of the suitcase (since I still haven't unpacked!) and get the name later. I got my shirt and hat that I wanted - I especially LOVE the shirt. I coveted a jacket but they were $80 and that's just unreal! I also saw some really cool compression/recovery capris but they were $150! LOL Yikes... running can be expensive!

From the Expo we headed to Walmart to get some more throw-away layers. The weather was getting increasingly nasty so we decided to go on back home and just rest up. We were going to go out for our traditional pre-race pizza, but it was so cold and nasty that we sent my poor uncle out in the weather to bring pizza home! LOL After dinner, we hit the bed early again so we could get up in plenty of time on Sunday morning!

The Race Report continues in this post...

Tuesday, November 1, 2011