Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Week 18 - Marathon Complete!

I can't believe it's over!! I RAN THE MARATHON SUNDAY. Ran it, and finished, and survived! It was touch and go for a while. I almost didn't make it to the start line. But, first let me review Marathon Week.

My last 2 weekday runs were bittersweet. I will not miss waking up at 4:30 a.m. and going to run in the cold, dark. But, I will miss seeing the sun rise, my boats, the ducks, the lake and the skyline. I skipped my Wednesday run of 3 miles - this week was really light on running and meant to just keep loose before Sunday. Jenny and I attended the pawsta dinner at PAWS Wednesday night. It was great to see the dogs we've helped through our fundraising. The team, comprised of 200 runners, is on track to raise more than $130,000 for homeless dogs and cats. Amazing. Armed with that inspiration and motivation, I couldn't wait for the weekend. Jenny and I went to the expo at McCormick Place Friday afternoon to pick up our marathon packets. Of course we shopped and I spent even more $$ on running apparel - this was all marathon stuff though so it was worth it. I even found running socks with turtles on them! lol. We spotted the women's Olympic gold medal winner - no surprise she's a tiny thing. The anticipation of the big day was driving me crazy at this point - I couldn't wait for Sunday!!

Saturday I took it easy - slept in. Did a few things around the house and really just wanted to lie low and stay in the house to avoid any possible mishaps before Sunday morning. I was getting ready to eat lunch and all excited thinking about Sunday morning and literally saying outloud as I jumped around with Bailey on my way into the living room I can't wait to run the marathon and BAM - jammed the middle toe on my right foot into a chair. I swear I thought I broke my toe. I couldn't believe it. I have the worst luck in the entire world. And of course couple bad luck with being a major klutz and there you have it... I iced my toe right away - thank goodness for the corn niblets - watching it turn black and blue. I kept testing it and walking gingerly around the house - unable to put all my weight on my foot. Unreal. I couldn't believe I might not be able to run. I was in shock. Each hour that went by looked more and more grim. The toe was absolutely killing me and looking worse. I frantically tried to think of any friends that may have a shot of cortisone I could borrow. When I realized how silly that was I wondered outloud if it would be possible to have the toe amputated in time for the race... Coming to my senses, at one point Saturday evening I decided I would dress and start the race and just see how far I could get - at least run a mile so I could say I ran in the marathon. A few hours later, I resolved to not only start the race but I would finish it no matter what happened. I didn't care how much pain I was going to be in - I was going to finish this damn thing!!! Oh yeah, my horoscope for Saturday: You're tempted to run wild and free, but don't forget to take safety precautions. D'oh. The sad thing is I read this horoscope in the morning, cut it out of the Tribune and laughed and laughed ... about 2 hours later BAM.

Sunday morning I got ready - safety pinned 6 packs of goo to my skirt, taped up my bum toe and headed out. On the way to the race, all of a sudden I thought I can't believe I'm going to go run a marathon. I don't know what I thought I was doing for the last 4 and a half months but it all of a sudden dawned on me. :-)

The Race
Jenny and I started and ran the entire race together. After the first mile, my bum toe went numb so it didn't bother me too much. The heat was killer though. One of the shirts I bought at the expo says 26.2 - To Hell And Back... that about sums it up. I took 6 salt capsules over the course of the 5 hours of running and that probably saved me. We all know humidity is my kryponite and I think the salt kept that nasty heat exhaustion at bay.

There were so many fans - about 1.3 million estimated to watch the race - it really carried me through the mileage. Jenny wrote my name on my shirt, which a lot of runners do. So, many people cheered for me it was funny... I should've had her write my phone number on it too! The signage along the way was too funny. My favorite sign right at the start: Don't poop in your pants. Thankfully we had relatively uneventful bathroom breaks - 3 in total - that took about 15 - 20 minutes. The Boys Town and China Town neighborhoods were awesome. Gay guys dressed in drag, wearing heels while handing out water almost gave me a stomach cramp from laughing so hard. Great people watching. I saw many of my superfans who came out to cheer us on. It was so helpful to see friends along the route. Miles 15 - 20 were the most difficult for me. The highlight of that portion of the route was how great people were in the neighborhoods - bringing hoses from their homes to water us down as we ran by. Did I mention how freaking hot it was??? One guy had his hose a little too strong - it was like silkwood. It hurt. I thought to myself - what the hell have I gotten myself into??? lol.

Once I hit mile 20 I knew I would finish running this thing so I started getting really emotional. I had to keep from bawling the rest of the way. Everything I saw made me want to cry. I kept it in check until I finished - I was worried if I started to cry while running I would just break down and not be able to finish. I was hanging on by a thread and had to just stay focused and keep putting one foot in front of the other. I was in so much pain the last 10 miles of the race, that it was sheer determination to finish. It's all a mental exercise in endurance.

After I crossed the finish line and got my medal I cried a little but not as much as I felt like I wanted to. I didn't want to become a complete babbling mess so I just made my way to the PAWS tent to get stretched out by a physical therapist - another benefit of running on a charity team!

I walked home and the soreness in my legs really started. Sunday night I couldn't even move my legs - I have never been in so much pain in my entire life!! I don't know what I thought would happen; but this was so much worse than I could have imagined. Not to mention my poor toe, which felt like it was going to fall off my foot. I was in so much pain I couldn't even sleep Sunday night. I literally could not lift my feet up to walk - I had to shuffle to get to the bathroom and back to bed. And I was doing a lot of that trip - thanks to 6 packs of goo! Monday was a little better - at least I could walk enough to get around but going up and down the curb to walk the dog was like torture. I still can't believe how painful the aftermath was!

I still can't believe I ran a marathon - the reality of that accomplishment is just starting to set it. I guess it is pretty awesome that I did it and did it relatively well. A quick trip to the podiatrist and I'm on the road to recovery. I may even sign up for another one. I have to make sure my kneecaps return to normal first - I think I left my right one at mile 18. I'm so thankful to have gone through this journey with my sister Jenny - it would definitely not have been the same or nearly as successful without her. I'm also very thankful for my friends and family who kept me motivated.

I ran 381 miles over 4.5 months ... all for 26.2 miles in 5.5 hours Sunday, October 12, 2008. I'm pretty amazed by that.

Some of my favorite memories from this journey:

  • Icy hot

  • Kung Foo Yoga Man

  • Viagra

  • Dick shorts

  • 10-mile training runs... my best two runs of the year

  • Running on the beach in Mexico

  • Popping blisters - okay not really fun but oddly entertaining

  • Body glide

  • My favorite running store

  • Baked potatoes

  • Bailey humping my arm

  • Chocolate goo

  • Saturday morning long runs

  • Massage therapy

  • The 2nd stall in the women's bathroom at the east end of McCormick Place

  • Corn niblets

  • "You're doing what???"

  • Snooze button

  • Running in the rain

  • Industrial-strength running bras

  • A sign at the race: This is your victory lap

  • Another sign at the race: Leave the person you were before this behind you

  • My superfans

  • Crossing that finish line

Monday, October 6, 2008

Week 17 Complete!

Fans! Less than one week to go before the big day. Week 17 is history and I'm officially in Marathon Week! This past week was one of tapering - letting our bodies recover and store up energy for 26.2 miles. Our long run Saturday was only 8 miles and we ran the last 2 on the actual marathon course leading to the finish. Pretty cool to run that stretch. I'll have to remember that when I'm actually running down Michigan Avenue Sunday. I've been here and successfully run this before!

This week I'm focused on not getting my toes stepped on by anyone on the bus or train... Trying my best not to stub my toe in the house - don't laugh - I did it 2 years ago and broke a toe... Steering clear of anyone coughing or sneezing... Trying to get good sleep and eat well... I made a trip to the chiropractor today after work to get aligned and for a quick sports massage for my sore legs. I made sure the massage therapist did not do a deep tissue massage as I'm too close to marathon day to take that kind of beating on my muscles. She did do some kind of torture kneading of my skin to break up something to do with my muscles. She also man-handled the hell out of my ass. Not sure what that has to do with my sore legs but I supposed it's all connected. It felt good so what the heck.

I encourage you to check out the official Bank of America Marathon web site. The course map is pretty cool - just look at how far Turtle will be plodding all over this city! And finally, a neat gadget so you can sign up for updates on where I am during the race. I hope they don't send you an update when I'm taking a dump in Lincoln Park.

My bib number: 34147

If you plan on watching the race, let me know where you will be so I can try and look for you!

A recap of Week 17:
  • Monday - rest
  • Tuesday - couldn't get up early so I switched with my rest day Friday
  • Wednesday - 6 miles
  • Thursday - 4 miles
  • Friday - 3 miles
  • Saturday - 8 miles
  • Sunday - cross training (walking)
I'll try and check in with you before Sunday for final pre-race details. Thank you for the donations this past week. Getting closer to my P.A.W.S. goal!

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Week 16 Complete - 2 weeks to go!!

Turtle rebounded this week. It was tough coming back from that dreadful 20-mile training run last Sunday, but what choice do I have?? I've been training for 4 months and only have 2 weeks to go until the big day. I just have to try and keep getting out for my runs and keep the aches and pains in check. I went back to the icy hot for my right leg - hip area. I have some weird arthritis-like pain in my right hip area - probably my IT band... it doesn't hurt after running a few miles so it must loosen up and after a long run it tightens up like nobody's business. It's not horribly painful... just makes me hobble around like a little old lady if I've been sedentary for an hour or so. Motrin is my new best friend.

I am running out of appetizing carbs that I can eat in large quantities. The rice is okay but not very substantive. I kind of got off the baked potatoes but guess I could try those again. Short of just tearing through an entire loaf of bread I'm out of ideas. Cereal is a given in my daily diet so I don't think that's anything worthwhile for all this running. After reading a tip in a marathon training book, I tried chocolate milk as a recovery drink after long runs. It's so yummy I started 'recovering' every morning - until I read how many fat grams is in one little bottle and that was the end of that. I've lost 12 lbs. since starting this journey and I hope to lose a few more by the end of this. Anyway back to the carbs - seriously I need some ideas people!! A personal chef would have really been helpful these past few months. I'll have to remember that for next year if I do this again. :-)

A recap of Week 16:
  • Monday - rest day
  • Tuesday - 5 miles (I ran my old route along the river and on the way back saw the man - Kung Foo Yoga dude. He was winding down on his mat by the river.)
  • Wednesday - 8 miles (the last time I have to run 8 miles at the ass-crack of dawn in the middle of the week!!)
  • Thursday - couldn't get out of bed so this turned into a rest day
  • Friday - 4 miles (I made up for Thursday!)
  • Saturday - 12 miles (I tried some electrolyte tablets that seemed to really help my stamina. Jenny and I ran 10.5 minute miles in a low amount of humidity)
  • Sunday - cross training (walking)
Peace out people! Until next week. Oh - fans... 2 more weeks of training = 2 more weeks to donate to PAWS. I still have $200 to get to the minimum or they yank me at the start line. Okay they may still let me run but I won't have access to those special porta-potties. Come on; donate!!!!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Week 15 - blaaaaaaaaaah

Ugh. What a week. It started out well enough. I spotted a new boat in the harbor - Perseverance II. I'll have to consult the archives, but I believe I saw a Perseverance I earlier in training. It's been tougher and tougher to get up at the ass-crack of dawn to run. It's pitch black outside and the sun doesn't rise until after 6 a.m. now. I feel like I'm up in the middle of the night and just jogging around the neighborhood for the heck of it. I couldn't get up Thursday morning and as I hit snooze for the 10th time told myself I would run after work. Well, the financial market craziness made work very busy towards the end of the week so I never got my 5 mile run in. Oh well, with the economic world crashing a little 5-mile run seemed rather insignificant.

My long run this week - 20 miles - was on Sunday. Jenny and I ran in the Ready To Run, which is not a race but rather a training run -- the last long run before the marathon. So we joined 5,000 other people to run from one end of the lakefront to the other end. They started us in waves of about 50 people - according to pace. I thought I would have a great run - I was ready for it. While walking Bailey at 5 a.m. I found a dollar on the sidewalk so I thought the mo-jo was flowing. Then the thing I hate most in the entire world started rolling into the city - HUMIDITY. It's my kryptonite. I just cannot run in humidity. The race started out well enough - I take that back. Jenny had to go to the bathroom before the run started. I didn't really have to go but figured what the heck I may as well while we're in line. Big mistake. I walked into the porta-potty and walked right back out. What I saw in that toilet will scar me for the rest of my life. Just thinking about it makes me want to vomit.

I knew I would have a tough day when I got to about mile 4 and could really feel the heat suffocating me. I was having flashbacks to the awful 16-mile run about a month ago. I tried to just focus on completing a whopping 20 miles. Besides the heat, the run itself was good otherwise - pretty scenery, lots of people on the path, a lot of gravel instead of asphalt... We cruised through the water stops at a brisk walk so the overall pace of our run seemed faster but we were running just under 11-minute miles like in our Saturday runs. I made it to mile 10 and it really didn't seem that bad. I knew the heat was taking a toll on me but the actual mileage was going by pretty quick. The run officials had yellow flags out for caution due to the heat and I could see people starting to wilt. The fog was so thick you could barely see the buildings downtown. Thick, nasty humid air.

I hit a "wall" around mile 12 and made Jenny go on without me. I had to walk up a hill by the museum campus. I got up and running again and cruised by the Bears tailgaters along Soldiers Field. The smell of that barbecue was torture. I prayed for someone to throw me a porkchop but no luck.

Jenny waited for me at the next water stop but I had to send her ahead again as I walked through a stretch of shade. I figured I may as well prolong my time out of the sun as long as possible! I ran through the stretches in the sun and made it to the water stop at mile 14. I still thought I could do this thing and ate my last packet of goo. It didn't seem to be giving me energy like it normally did but it was keeping me up on my feet. People were dropping left and right. One girl was having a mental breakdown and I passed her, very slowly, but at least I was passing someone. I had a running conversation with myself in my head after mile 15 to just keep going that I could do it. I made it mile 16 and still thought I could do it - this part of the course was my territory - we ran this stretch every Saturday! I was still feeling pretty sick from the heat and noticed from mile 14 on that I had stopped sweating and was actually getting the chills. Because I literally was shivering like I was cold I thought it best to swing by the medical tent at the water stop at mile 16 to have my temperature taken. I was having flashbacks to the handout in the run packet that described heat exhaustion, heat stroke and death. The death paragraph was rather shocking - I guess that was the point. Something about 1 in 10,000 runners die in these long distance runs. I thought this is not the time to turn up in those odds so to the medical tent I went! As soon as I got there and sat down on a cot I started crying. I had a total meltdown - literally. I was so sick and shaky I couldn't even hardly talk. They put an ice pack on the back of my neck and that helped after about 5 minutes. It took the girls 10 minutes to figure out how to use the thermometer so I don't know what my temperature was when I first got there. I'm sure I was cooking. The ice cooled me down right away though. After about 15 minutes I felt totally fine and was itching to get out of there so I could finish the last 4 miles but they wouldn't let me go. They said with those symptoms of heat exhaustion I was done. I was so mad. I wasn't mad at them - they were just keeping me from turning into the 1 in 10,000. I was so disappointed I couldn't finish and wouldn't finish the last long run of the training program.

I had to wait forever for a medical transport to the finish line - when it finally came it was slow going as we picked up runners along the way. One poor girl was puking in the grass and someone had called an ambulance for her. It was like some kind of warped pilgrimage of hot, sweaty people who had all lost their minds. They had changed the race flags to Red for caution, extreme conditions. Ya think??

By the time I got to the finish the run was almost over. The volunteer dropped me off and I had to walk around the corner of the cultural center to the finish line. I was hoping Jenny was waiting somewhere by the finish line and didn't leave thinking I already got a ride back to the car. This was the best part of the day: I walk around the corner and now I'm on the course again and about 10 yards from the finish line. People start cheering for me like I'm actually finishing the run. lol. I'm just strolling along like I could give a shit. Didn't they think if I was really finishing legitimately I could muster the strength to run the last 10 yards?? Nope, I just sauntered across. The photographer got into position to snap my picture and I tried to wave him off to no avail. God bless there was Jenny waiting on the other side of the finish line clapping saying "you did it, you did it!". I was like yeah - I just got dropped off by the medical truck. There was a resounding groan by the crowd and the clapping stopped. lol. Oh well. What can I do? I had a meltdown people!!

I'm praying for 30 degrees and snow for October 12.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Week 14 Complete!

Another week complete. Whew. I kind of veered off the training schedule but hopefully it won't negatively impact my program. All week I gimped around - still sore from the 18-miler the previous weekend - so I think the rest was much needed. I did make a trip to my favorite running store to get my new - and last - pair of running shoes. I went with a Saucony and am a little nervous because it's a different shoe than the other 2 pairs I've tried in the last 5 months. So far so good - they have a nice cushion and I haven't grown any new blisters... I took my training south to the Sunshine state to visit my biggest fans - my parental units. The Units and I went to the USF vs. Kansas football game Friday night and it was hands-down the best football game I've ever seen in person. So exciting. The Bulls won in the last 2 seconds with a 43-yard field goal by a freshman kicker in his first college game. I love college football - so much more exciting and refreshing than the NFL... The heat in Florida was suffocating so unfortunately I wasn't able to do my semi-long run on Saturday. Just way too hot outside to run. So, after a nice weekend break it's back to the grind in Chicago.

A review of the last week:
Monday - rest day (still sore, sore, sore!!)
Tuesday - 5 miles
Wednesday - 8 miles
Thursday - xx (couldn't get myself to do it - traveled to Florida)
Friday - 6 miles (on a treadmill at my Dad's gym)
Saturday - xx (skipped the 14-miler. Finally feeling like my legs are back to normal)
Sunday - cross training (airport - does that count??)

I received a donation for PAWS from a fan at work - thank you Kamilah! I'm halfway to my fundraising goal so I'm hoping in these last 3 weeks I can raise another $300 to make it! Thanks to everyone who have supported the cause. The dogs need us!

Have a great week everyone... I have the BIG 20-miler this Sunday. I'm pretty confident Jenny and I will do it.... I just hope I can walk afterward. :-))

Monday, September 8, 2008

Week 13 Complete!

What a tough week to get through. The Republican convention gave me an ulcer. Too much tv and internet surfing caused major sleep deprivation. I barely made it through my runs. I did switch to running in the evening because I stayed up way too late at night to get up early. Jenny and I did surpass another huge milestone in Week 13 - 18 miles on Saturday. That's so insane I still can't believe it. We ran for 3 hours, 12 minutes. Unreal. The weather conditions were much more favorable than when we did the 16 miles so we actually ran it in less time this weekend. My legs were hurting pretty bad after about mile 14 but otherwise it really wasn't that difficult. I had to goo-up 3 times so that helped keep my energy level up. I thought I had solved the blister problem earlier in the week - baby powder in my socks - but they were back Saturday. Sigh. My poor feet will never be the same after this.

After the 18-miler, I basically crashed for the rest of the weekend. Saturday I spent the entire day and evening on the couch. My legs hurt so bad I could hardly walk. And my groin pull or strain cropped up again so I had to go to the corn niblets. Icing your groin isn't a particularly wonderful feeling. After sleeping as still as a log all night Saturday, I could barely get out of bed Sunday morning. It was like I had legs made out of wood. Every step or twist and turn and I moaned "aghhhh" "ohhhhhhhh" "ughhhhhhhh" "&#$&*". I've read you can take an ice bath to help the legs recover after such a long run but the thought of getting in my bathtub full of ice and cold water doesn't really appeal to me. I don't care how bad my legs hurt. I'll stick to the corn niblets.

A recap of Week 13:
  • Monday - rest day
  • Tuesday - 4 miles
  • Wednesday - 7 miles (the wind was so bad from the Gustav storm front it was like running in place along the lakefront)
  • Thursday - 5 miles (had to do it on the treadmill due to thunderstorms)
  • Friday - rest day
  • Saturday - 18 miles
  • Sunday - cross training (walking - like the tin man - for 40 minutes)
This upcoming week, Turtle's taking the training to the Sunshine state. Heading out Thursday evening for a USF game Friday night. Go Bulls!

I can't get into politics on this blog but people who know me know where I stand. All I can ask is that everyone does his/her homework and know where the candidates stand on all the issues. Don't vote based on gender, race, who you like or tells the best jokes... read your newspaper, research online, visit the candidates' web sites, talk to other people. This is perhaps the most important election of our generation. Make your vote count.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Week 12 Complete - 6 weeks to go!

This was a tough week. I couldn't bring myself to wake up on time Tuesday morning so I completely missed my run. As I hit snooze for 1.5 hours, I told myself I would run after work instead of 5 a.m. in the pitch dark. After work, I ended up falling asleep on the couch for 4 hours. I then had a difficult time falling asleep for real so I only got a few hours of sleep before the alarm started going off Wednesday morning. I only snoozed for an hour this time and somehow managed to get up to walk Bailey. The whole time I kept saying to myself screw this I'm going back upstairs and going to back to bed until I have to get ready for work- I'll really run after work this time. I remembered I had something to do in the evening so I had to run before work. Ugh. I was SO miserable trying to get dressed and ready to go I was almost crying. I told myself if you go run 7 miles you can buy a new Coach bag. lol. This training program is costing me a small fortune!!!!!!! I did run the 7 miles and did go to the Coach store after work but didn't buy a bag. I would have but remembered I have yet another pair of running shoes to buy before the big day in 6 weeks so I have to prioritize.

I did have a nice treat Friday - rest day - when my dear friend Heather came into the city with her baby Tommy. We had a nice lunch and walked around Millennium Park. Gorgeous weather in Chicago these days. Better enjoy it while we can! Saturday's short run of 12 miles was pretty uneventful. Only 7 girls ran in the pace group - holiday weekend and the short distance probably kept most to do it on their own. It was pretty humid but not as high of a temperature as the previous Saturday. I was prepared this time and washed my legs and arms off at each water stop. No goosebumps or swollen fingers this time! One funny thing did happen - at the last water stop before the final stretch the girls couldn't stop laughing. A little butterfly had perched on the top of my hat and was holding on for dear life for the last mile... I was feeling pretty great so I took off from the pace group and hauled ass the last 2 miles home. Ran like an 8-minute mile the last mile. I really wish I would've jumped up a pace group because I do not want to run an 11-minute pace marathon but oh well. We'll see how it shakes out in October. Oh yeah, and the butterfly was still on the top of my head. At the finish spot, I looked at my reflection in a car window and sure enough the little guy was just hanging out on top of my sweaty Nike hat flapping his wings. lol. Guess he just wanted to hitch a ride. It finally flew away before I got back home.

A recap of Week 12:
  • Monday - rest day
  • Tuesday - xx (couldn't wake up)
  • Wednesday - 7 miles (the Democratic National Convention is killing my sleep schedule - can't not watch though!)
  • Thursday - 5 miles (notice how that Thursday mileage increased?? - more of that to come next week)
  • Friday - rest day
  • Saturday - 12 short glorious miles
  • Sunday - cross-train (cleaning, walking)
I recently received a generous donation for P.A.W.S. from my good friend Fannini - you go girl! Her motto is 'keep hope alive' and I think that's fitting for my next 6 weeks. Keep the donations coming - I still need more than $300 to meet my goal. Have a great week everyone! :-)))