Tuesday, January 21, 2014

I'm super bad now.

I had a goal. To run a marathon when I turned 40. Well, technically I did that, although I didn't finish. The story behind that is in the last post on this blog, ironically enough. It was a beautiful run, for about 14 miles. I pushed too hard, and the Lost Dutchman course was not an easy one. With the knee problems, I just couldn't take the hilly course. So I dropped out. I tried to play it off like it was no big deal, but I was ashamed, and angry at myself. And worried. What if I permanently hurt my knee, and the one thing I love to do and am fairly good at is gone forever?

After that I went and had some X-rays, and it turned out that my knee was fine. The issue was my weak hips, glutes, pretty much the entire upper-leg area. So I started a couple months of physical therapy, but it didn't take long to make their exercises part of my regular workout routine. I also registered for the PF Chang's Rock 'n Roll Marathon as soon as registration opened. No way I could let an incomplete stand. "DNF*"- hell no.

I had to get over some things too. First off, I had to get over myself, and comparing myself to others. I stopped using the website Daily Mile, because everyone's accomplishments and fast pace just made me feel bad. Rationally I KNOW, it's not about the time, everyone is different blah blah blah... but the only way I could let it go was to stop looking at it. It didn't help that I went from an 11-12 min/mile runner to 13-15 minutes (I walk/run). Pain really slows you down, and although I loathe competitiveness, I am a competitive person.

I also had to get over the race. In my mind, I felt a little like I was giving up by switching races. You're supposed to conquer the course you fail, right? Rock 'n Roll is a flatter course, and you have more time to finish. It took a long time to convince myself that 26.2 is 26.2 no matter where you run it, or how long it takes to run it.

I had some setbacks during training. Number one, it's ALWAYS difficult to train during the holidays. November and December are the worst, plus I also have TechPhx in November. I also began a new job right as I started training. That was a difficult transition, and I didn't do nearly the amount of running I should during the week. I was getting nervous, and doubt started to kick in. Plus I was still having alot of joint pain, and was generally frustrated with what seemed like non-progress.

The turning point came when a friend of mind said out loud what I was thinking to myself.

"Maybe you're just not meant to run a marathon."

Screw that. It was like a switch flipped in my head. Even though I still couldn't get the miles in during the week (I was doing only about 5 or 6 each week plus my long run), I was still hitting milestone distances. I hit 10, 12, 18, then boom- 20 miles. I forced myself to be slow, to save it for the race. For the most part I did. I was training roughly at a 5/15 ratio: 5 minutes walking, 15 minutes of running. For race day, my plan was to walk 5, run 20. I was ready. Walking around the expo after picking up my gear, I felt excited. Itching to get going. A complete turn around from a year ago.

The race itself was awesome. The half marathon is definitely more popular, and I enjoyed that the starting corrals were not crowded. I also reconfirmed that I am a city gal, because I love being in DT Phoenix (though I prefer other cities, but you work with what you have). My 5/20 plan went wrong from the start- I was feeling so good, I was running a 5/25 minute (5 min walk, 25 min run). This lasted pretty much through the half. After about mile 14, things became more difficult. Externally, internally... I will spare you the TMI. Plus, the second half has more of the inclines on the course, so the long stretches of a slight incline slowed me down.

By mile 20, I had given up on even a 5/20 plan. Just kept moving forward. I think my family knew my mood was changing, because they met up with me at mile 21 and walked with me a bit (yes, they could walk, even as I was running it was more of a determined shuffle). Bret and the girls went back to the car to go to the finish line, and my brother Andy kept walking with me. It was perfect timing, plus I had my own documentarian (is that a word? It is now!) with me!

The last few miles were tough. My hips to my toes were on fire with every step. The cops were getting anxious to open the roads again, so a van kept picking up us stragglers and bringing us forward a bit. How sad is that? Heh. There were probably a dozen of us at the end of the pack.
One had a bad knee injury, but he was determined to finish. One woman who I saw throughout the day kept yelling happily, "I'm 78!!" We were all doing way more walking than running. Mile 25 was incredible to see, and then soon after that, the Mill Avenue bridge. That was the home stretch, and there was my husband waiting for me, and he walked across the bridge with me. Then it became the finish corral, and both he and Andy moved off the course.

Oh, when I saw that finish line- I gave that last ounce I had left and pushed. I thought he was only taking a photo, but Andy got a great video of my finish. It was perfect, as well as the song that was playing too (hence the title of this post).

So that's that. I don't have a long bucket list, but this was one of the things on it. It's now two days later, and I'm finally moving a little more freely, and haven't taken any ibuprofen today. My calves are still pretty stiff, and I still feel a little off my axis, but I think by the end of the week I'll be ready to go take a jog. :)

I have to thank my husband and my girls for coming out, and Andy for sticking around to be here for this. Love you all so much. I also have to thank my friends for celebrating with me at dinner that night. Sorry I wasn't full of conversation. I'm surprised I didn't faceplant into my enchilada. And all the support online- wow. You are all great! I happen to know most of you in one way or another, so as silly as it sounds, I really feel like every "like" and comment was authentic and true. You are all wonderful, and Andy read me many of your comments and posts as I was finishing the last 5 miles. You all kept me going, I want you to know that.

So let's talk 2015.

*DNF= Did Not Finish