Sunday, October 21, 2012

Oh, How the Mighty Have Fallen

“Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired, and success achieved.” Helen Keller

On October 7, 2012 I finished my first marathon and was on top of the world. Today, 14 days later I have yet to run even a block. It's not from not wanting to, believe me, it's because I can't.

A few days after the marathon, my right knee starting hurting. Not the achy pain I'm accustomed to, but a sharp stabbing pain with almost every step. I freaked... NO! Not again! This can't happen again! But it had...and now I had to deal with my second real injury of running.

After my first 15k, I couldn't walk for a week because I sprained the bottom of my foot (overuse). I was in a boot for a week, and could barely put pressure on it. I waited it out, and it got better, and now that distance doesn't hurt.

Now, here we go again. This marathon was my first, and my body rebelled. It just doesn't seem to like new long distances. Something always gives, and this time it was my knee. Doesn't look like anything is "damaged" and it's probably from overuse, again! I've had knee issues since I started running so it wasn't a surprise.

When I first started running, I had some discomfort in that same knee, so I went to a specialist to get some help. He took X-rays, and gave me a 5 minute exam. I was told that my knee doesn't track right, and this "specialist" informed me I shouldn't run, my body isn't made for running; no other advice.
That was his advice?!

So my adversity to specialists is understandable. This time I'm going through a different route that involves "Agressively doing Conservative Therapy," ultrasound, electro-stimulation, and ice with my PT officeI am comfortable with this, since we are making these decisions together and working towards a solution, and they want me to get out there running again. If it doesn't work, we can go onto the more aggressive options.

So for now, I rest and wait ....but I hate waiting... It needs to get better now, I need to run....

Which really brings me to the heart of my blog. Injuries suck!! I mean really suck. You can't do what you want to do, and the pain and discomfort constantly reminds you of that. You poke and prod at yourself every few minute to see if a miraculous recovery has happened. You wake up in the morning and lay there for a minute trying to feel if the ache is there before you get out of bed, which determines how crabby you are for the day. It consumes you, while you wait and hope and wait some more, while everyone around you continues to run. You aren't mad at them, you just wish you could join them.

 I never realized how much I truly need and want running. I like the way it makes me feel, I like the way it makes me look, but most of all I like the friends I have made because of running.

They have put up with my whining and crying and understand how I feel. They don't patronize me, they support me. They give advice (wanted or not), but they do it all because they want me to get back out there. They want me to run and be back to my old self, because this one is pretty crabby.

So in the meantime, while I recover and wait, I plan. I plan for the new running gear I want, I plan for the next big race, I plan for the amazing trip to Colorado I am taking with my Facebook friends, and I plan on how that next marathon will feel with the changes to my training that will take place.

NOT RUNNING is definitely NOT the plan....

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

The experience of a First Time Marathoner

"When You Cross the Finish Line, No Matter How Slow or Fast, It Will Change Your Life Forever" -Dick Beardsley (Spirit of the Marathon movie)

It's Saturday morning, I said goodbye to my boys, who wish me good luck, and my husband Bruce and I make the trek to Chicago. Why my husband insisted on driving is beyond me? I think between parking costs and traffic, this was not the most frugal choice. However, since I've already rushed him out the door an hour early, I let him has his way on this.

After some travel time and a shuttle bus, we reach the expo to pick up the packets. Bruce notices that Caolan and I are not in the same corral like we were supposed to so I begin to panic. I go to the customer service, get a new bib for me and suddenly freak out that everyone that is supposed to track me won't be able to. Okay breath, out of my control now. (This panic would consume me all night and the next morning). 

The expo itself is overwhelming. Vendors are lined up everywhere either selling their products or trying to get you to sign up for a race. I want it all, but end up with just a bottle of coconut water, a shirt for a friend, and my race magnets. (Hubby doesn't like stickers on cars).

We move on to the wall that has every runner listed. Of course since my last name starts with a W, I'm crawling along the floor looking for my name. Finally! 

Before we leave, I'm able to meet up with a Facebook Friend, Brooke, who is running with a friend as well. We chat for a few minutes and part ways. As we leave, I think about how every time I meet someone from our Women Who Run the World Group, my world gets a little smaller and cozier. I like that!

We make it to the hotel room, and relax a bit. It's still early and Caolan has not yet arrived. I worry some more about the bib change and hope it all works out. 

Caolan arrives at the hotel, obviously exhausted as she flops on the bed. She quickly discovers that it crinkles with every movement. Yeah, I picked a high class hotel. They have to cover their mattresses in plastic. The only reassurance is that there are no bedbugs!

The next morning, we wake up before the alarm rings. I eat just a bit, just so Caolan and hubby don't yell at me. I hate eating before I run, it just doesn't settle for me. What I really wanted was coffee, but that was not to be either, since the coffee maker didn't work well, and we only managed about a cup between the two of us. I'm STILL freaking out that no one will be able to track me, so I send out some quick texts and Facebook posts with Caolan's bib #, just to make sure. 

Hubby and I discuss briefly where he will try and be, and he reassures me that it's okay if I don't see him. We've spectated the Chicago Marathon before and both know how hard it's going to be! I kiss him goodbye, and he says he'll see me at the end. That man is such a trooper and I love him! I know it will be a long cold day for him as well, but he puts on a good game!

Now, I am a person that is always early to everything. So when Caolan needed to use the porto-potties, I glanced at my watch. The lines were long and we were already cutting it close. They close the corrals at 7:45, so I lean over to Caolan and tell her that this is NOT how I usually do things as I feel the panic set in. We finally find some empty ones, do our business, RUN to the corrals, jumping a fence along the way, and finally booking it up to corral K. At this point I'm thinking "Great! All that work and worry to change my bib to the same corral, and it did not make a damn bit of difference." Panic again! Then we wait, take a photo, and the nerves are building. What was I thinking?! Okay, breath. Here we go!

Finally we start! OMG! We are starting a marathon! The people on the side are cheering and it's so amazing that I am giddy thinking of it. Then we go into the tunnel under the first bridge. What I saw, was something I never would have thought of, nor ever want to see again. It's one of those deep dark secrets of marathoning I guess. Men were LINED UP facing the wall peeing. I about died. I think I said out-loud, "That's so not fair!"

As we made the first few miles through Downtown, I had one mission, to find my husband! Around mile two, I began looking for him, and again worrying that I wouldn't see him. Finally, on the OPPOSITE side of the street there he was standing alone, looking for me. I screamed at him something to the effect of "I LOVE YOU HONEY! I"ll see you later!" 

A bit further along, I was lucky enough to see my friends, Beth, Allie, and Aubrey standing there as well. I screamed at them, they held up the sign they made just for me. Sadly, I couldn't read it, and Caolan made a mention of that I had good eyes to see them before they saw me. 
My sign from Beth, Allie, and Aubrey!

My sign from Beth, Allie, and Aubrey!

The miles just started ticking by. I never looked at my watch. I just went by feel and the occasional, "Slow Down" by Caolan. She reminded me that if I ran this smart, all the people that were passing me now, would be walking by the end. We enjoyed these miles. We read the signs, laughed at the costumes and took in all that the Chicago Marathon had to offer. When we past the people with the Bloody Mary bar near Lincoln Park, I mentioned that was so not far. Caolan's response, "They don't deserve it, they didn't work for it!" As we kept going, I even cheered and waved as people shouted "Go, Sandra!!!" Yeah, I had my name on my shirt! I was taking every advantage that I could!

We passed the half way point, but sadly I didn't see hubby again. At this point we were back in downtown and there were so many people, 5-6 rows deep! This was the only time I looked at my watch, and I was only about 7 minutes ahead of my half marathon PR. WOW! This was going well. I knew the hardest was yet to come, but I was happy with the moment. 

About mile 15, things got rough. I didn't tell Caolan, but my knee was hurting something awful! There was pain with each step, but I wasn't stopping. We got quiet at this point, I knew she was watching and gauging me, and I think at one point she tried to make me laugh by reminding me that this was supposed to be fun! I think I cursed at her in my head at this point! This was not fun right now. This was hard and it hurt, how was I going to last 11 more miles. It might as well have been a million! I tried to listen to my music, it annoyed me even more, so I stopped. We were still moving away from downtown, and that pissed me off even more. 

Around mile 20, the cramps began in the calves. you know, that tingle you feel right before a full blown cramp. Caolan had been carrying HEED for me, but I knew if it didn't do something more soon, this was not going to go well. I had to walk. It sucked and I was pissed at myself for having to walk. I quickly downed some Gatorade, and laughed when Caolan mentioned how fast my walking was. I call it my "Walking with a purpose" walk. I needed to keep moving fast and not loose my pace. 30 seconds later, I began running again. We did the walk break again 2 more times, then some ladies on the street screamed at me "Sandra! You've got this keep going!" (At this point I was no longer cheering back, but giving the obligatory thumbs up or wave). However, it gave me what I needed to start running, and I never stopped. It might not have been fast, but I was going to run the rest. 

As we finished the last few miles, I noticed more and more people walking, just like Caolan promised. We ran past the free beer and jello shots being offered. Caolan stayed just a couple steps ahead, and I knew she was pushing me, and again I cursed her for it, because my legs were not happy with the quicker pace. 

Then we got to the last turn, the one I've been dreading since we started. THAT hill at the end, which now looks like a mountain. Now, this hill has kicked my ass before, but it was not going to win this time. With as much strength and determination as I could pull together I chugged up the hill to the top. I made it to the top and began heading downhill and the corner. Suddenly, I saw what I was looking for, the word FINISH! I don't know how many people were cheering, what they were saying and I really didn't even know where Caolan was at that point, but it didn't matter...I ran as fast as I could to that Finish line, and before I could cross it, I began to bawl and shake. Caolan came up beside me, and hugged me and held me as we walked along the finisher chute. 

The crying wasn't from being tired or cold. It was because I did something that I said NEVER to. I would NEVER do that, I could NEVER do that, and now I say I WILL NEVER STOP!  

After a bit of a confusing rendezvous with Bruce, and a celebratory dinner, that included the most well earned Bloody Marys, I slipped into bed, the day swirling around my head. My phone was lighting up with texts, phone calls, and Facebook with well wishes and congratulations! 

The next morning as Caolan left she said to me, "I hope it sinks in, what you've actually done." I'm not sure I entirely know what that means. I understand how special running a marathon is, but I've never thought that ME running the marathon was anything special. I'm not special. I'm a mom, a wife, a daughter, a teacher, and finally I'm learning to be Sandra as well! Who knows the adventures that await....

"When You Cross the Finish Line, No Matter How Slow or Fast, It Will Change Your Life Forever" -Dick Beardsley (Spirit of the Marathon movie)

Sunday, September 30, 2012

The Evolution of Insanity!

Yesterday I was inspired by a fellow Facebook friend that blogging is not as hard as it looks. With The Chicago Marathon only a week away, I thought I would try to fill you in on my history as a runner. 

I started with literally running from one street light to another. Maybe 100 yards at a time? Who knows, it felt like forever. My first 5k was a HOT July 4th run in around 90 degrees. My friend Jim, lovingly captured me perfectly at this time (about .1 left of the race). I thought I would die!

My first Race! 5k, July 4, 2010. It was NOT pretty!
As you can see one was not enough, and so it began! These two ladies here are my inspiration for running. They got me started, cheered me on, and oftentimes ran with me as I huffed and puffed during each race!
McHenry River Run. My sister in law, Dawn, and Tracy.
The two ladies who inspired me to start running!
July 2010
McHenry River Run. Wasn't even an official race.
 It was only 3 miles.
July 2010

Although this quote from this picture was from later on in my running it was from only my third race! Love the knee brace and cotton that I am still wearing!  LOVELY!
My claim to fame. I made it into the Women's Running Magazine!
Rally for Autism
 August 2010

Hog Jog 5k. Warming up! Well, getting a good picture anyway!
August 2010

Jubilee Days 5k race in my hometown.
September 2010
I really thought this race would kill. I had never run 6.2 miles before, let alone half of it on the trail. It was an out and back, so by mile 4, I knew I was last and cried my way through the last few miles. The cool thing though was that everyone at the finish line cheered just for me!

10k run. I came in dead last at this race! This one almost killed me!
September 2010

My first BIG race! The Chicago Hot Chocolate 15k! I trained hard for this one. I made it 7 miles before I walked for the first time. Dawn was amazing. She was my personal trainer at the gym and she choose to run with me! What an amazing experience!

Hot Chocolate 15k, 2010. Dawn was my first trainer. I would have
never finished without her.
November 2010
The result from my first 15K, I sprained the bottom of my
foot and couldn't walk on it for a week! Ended up in the
Acute Care for it!
November 2010
I did the hard races, so I thought I would do a Mud Run! Don't knock it until you try it!  So much fun!

We were the cutest girls out there!
Warrior Dash Florida, January 2011

This is what I do on a girl's weekend in Florida!
5k Warrior Dash, Florida with my sister in law, Dawn!
January 2011
Ugly shirt race! It rained and was so cold! I don't plan on doing anymore Saint Patrick Day runs!

The Ugly shirt race! St. Patrick's Day
March 2011

Techno Trot 5k. My feet barely get off the ground!
April 2011
Yep! I took the plunge! Did my first half marathon! It was cold and wet! Seems to be a theme for my Spring races! Finished right around 2:30 I think?!
Our running crew! Wisconsin Half
May 2011
My first 13.1 miles! Wisconsin Half Marathon
I finish and ran the whole thing!
May 2011
My running buddies, Jenna and Alana at the 8k Splish Splash!
May 2011
8k Splish Splash! Ran this one with my friend, Jenna!
May 2011

Story of my running career, all my friends are finished and
waiting for me! 5k for a school benefit.
June 2011
Danskin Dualthon. I was a spectator here, but included it
anyway! Something I have no interest in doing!
June 2011
Second Anniversary of my first race!
July 4, 2011
Rally for Autism! Did this 5k two years in a row.
August 2011
This is Beth, before she became a speed demon and left
me in the dust!
August 2011
5k Warrior Dash Wisconsin! Let's get Muddy!
September 2011

What Fun!

Dirty Fun!
Sepetember 2011

5k Corn Maze. Friends and co-workers!
 It's awesome having friends to run with.
October, 2011

My friend's daughter, Aubrey. She stayed with me on this
one for 7 miles, then I told her to go on!
November 2011
This is my second 15K Hot Chocolate. I really thought
I was going to die here!
November 2011
Once wasn't enough! Had to try again on the half! Second time was better! Around 2:15, I just know I took off 16 minutes!

2nd Half Marathon, May 2012. Why do we always seem to
run in cold, wet conditions. Oh yeah, we live in the midwest!
Wisconsin Half Marathon, May 2012. The 2nd time was
 awesome and we took 15 minutes off our time!
This was the hottest and longest race ever! First inaugural Women's Half! While we certainly looked cute, I thought I was going to fall over. Way too hot and dangerous that day. I finished! That was all that mattered!
Women's Half Marathon, June 2012. It was so hot! They
gave this one a red flag during the race. Needless to say
no PR and LOTS of walking. But we were cute!

No caption needed! Women's Half, June 2012

So with that, I have brought you up to speed! There's been some races in there, but my goal this summer has been to train hard and finish my first marathon! I can't wait! Breath and enjoy the inSANity!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

The Doubt Demon....My first Blog

As I sit here and think about all my friends running Boston this weekend, excited for their experience and ready to cheer them on, I am once again plagued by the Doubt Demon that likes to slither up into my brain and take over.

"You'll never be able run a marathon! Look at your friends running, they are REAL runners. You're NOT a real runner!" It will whisper and echo throughout my head.

"Why not? I can train, I know what to do, I love to run..." I respond with as much conviction as I can.

Then that nasty creature starts to spill all it's horrible "truths" to me...You're not fast! You're not strong! You're old! You won't commit to the training, and on and on it will go.

I know that on days like this running will become almost impossible for me. Too often the poison of this demon sabotages my strength and will. I know that this weekend of running will suck, and to make matters worse my schedule makes it easier for no running to happen.

I try to shift my thoughts...

Three weeks from today, I will run a half marathon. I know I am stronger than last year! I can feel it throughout my body. We ran 10 miles last weekend, and I never really felt like I needed to slow down, stop, or walk. Was it a fast pace compared to my Boston qualifying friends. Certainly not! But it was MY pace, My rhythm, My confidence shining throughout my whole body and soul.....

Since I am not able to get out for a run today, that demon might be here for a bit, speaking it's poison to me, filling my head with doubt about my passion for running. However, I know for a fact that my mind will be quiet when I run. I know that soon I will shut it up and push it out as the ground moves beneath my feet... Until the next time it crawls back in....