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!