Monday, November 26, 2012

Half Marathon Blues

Hi everyone! It’s been over two weeks since the half marathon and I think I am finally ready to talk about it. About everything that is going on in my head. And where I am going from here.
First, I really need to reiterate (in case you didn’t watch my post-half vlog) that I am very happy to have completed my first half marathon. I am super proud of myself for spending 4+ months training and preparing for something I never thought possible and then going out and doing it. I had never really experienced anything of that magnitude (re: intense training culminating with a gigantic, 27K+, event) so from start to finish the whole experience was quiet surreal. It is something I will never forget.
That being said- I’m pissed and disappointed and defeated and sad. I worked really, really hard. I put in the time and the effort. I was committed to this 100%. And to suffer through an injury just a few weeks before the half, followed by getting sick the week of, well that just was not what I had planned.
I had worked so hard; chiropractor, massage therapy, yoga, acupuncture, vitamins, juicing, ice baths, rest, etc to get myself healthy for the half and I really thought I was. Until I was in it and realized I wasn’t.
Until I had to watch everything I had worked towards crumble around me.
Until I had to accept that I wasn’t going to run for 13.1 miles. That my ‘running’ would feel like I was in molasses and that me walking was actually a faster pace than my body would let me ‘run’. It was a complete mind-fuck- excuse my French.
Every runner has bad days, that’s just life. But no one expects it to happen on the big day, the only day that counts.
I completed a half marathon- that is something I am proud of.
I did it in 03:07 and that is something I am not.
I didn’t have a number in my head I was trying to achieve or beat. This would be the benchmarking race. I just wanted to run and enjoy myself which I tried like hell to do.
I didn’t have a number in my head BUT I most certainly did not think it would take me over 3 hours to complete a half marathon. My 12 mile time was 02:20 so no, I didn’t ever think it would take 47 minutes longer to complete an additional 1.1 miles.
My mile pace for the half was a 14:17 min/mile. I have never, ever run at a 14:17 pace. Even my slowest long runs when I was first starting out were sub-13 min/mile pace. Before I started running I was walking 5Ks at a 12:50 pace. So, yeah- 14:17 wasn’t even a number that crossed my mind.
And as I type this out I feel foolish even talking about these feelings but I just want you to know where I am right now and how that day changed things for me.
After the half I got much, much sicker than I had been. I was a mess. I wasn’t really sore from the half. Just sick. And very tired. So I spent a few days sleeping, trying to get healthy.
Then when I finally felt better the only thing I felt was pissed. I was so mad at my performance and my injury and I just wanted redemption.  I wanted another chance to prove to myself that I could run the half I trained for, the half I expected to run.
I even thought about signing up for another half right away.
But I wasn’t even sure if I could actually run. So first I needed to test out the leg. And that is what I set out to do 6 days after the half. Run. Just to see how I felt.
And it was disastrous. I got about 2.5 miles from home and I was in a world of hurt. I was experiencing the same issue I was on the day of the half, just worse. I couldn’t run. I could not force my left leg to move. It felt sluggish, restricted. And on that day- painful.
And so there I was 2.5 miles from home. Pissed. Angry. Defeated. And 2.5 miles from home. I had to walk back alone with my thoughts which, trust me, weren’t pretty.
I wasn’t pissed that this injury was probably worse than I had thought. I wasn’t pissed that it meant rest and that it could possibly mean having to cancel/change future plans. I was pissed that I had all these emotions inside that I didn’t have an outlet for. I couldn’t run to redeem myself. But worse than that was that I couldn’t run period. Running has become so cathartic for me that not having it in my life has left me an emotional mess.
This took some time to work through.
But now I am back. And I have a plan. And a new focus. And I am ready to pick up the pieces and move on from the half.
I am 7 weeks out from the 3M Half Marathon which I am not sure I will be ready for in time. But I am easing back into running. I have set up a new training schedule focusing just on getting ready for this half. The next few weeks I will be easing back into training. Slow, easy runs only. No intervals or tempo runs- just running at a comfortable pace. I am hoping that I am ready to ease back in. I ran 4 miles last Thursday at the Turkey Trot and felt really good. No pain. I kept it slow and it worked out well. Tomorrow I start off my training schedule with a 3 mile run. We’ll see how it goes.
Another thing I really want to focus on over the next couple of months is my cross-training. Not only do I need to build strength back up in my leg I also need to focus on building core strength. What I’ve decided to do is supplement my running with barre classes. There is a studio near my home in San Antonio that offers Smart Barre classes. Here is the class description from their website in case you aren’t familiar with the Barre classes:
“Smart Barre practices concentrated movements that function as deep sculpting tools to strengthen and lengthen muscles. As a total body workout, this class fuses principles of ballet, Pilates, and yoga to target body areas in which women struggle- the core, hips, thighs, seat and arms. A traditional ballet barre is used to help maintain balance and provide resistance, however, you will not need a tutu in this class to achieve the long, lean look of a dancer. In addition to the barre, light weights, a playground ball, and a cushy mat are used. An efficient, upbeat workout, you will find it a “smart” use of time.”
I went to my first class last Saturday and thoroughly enjoyed it. It’s tough, don’t get me wrong, but it is just what I need. Not only am I trying to improve my running I am also trying to tone up and lose a few pounds. I have Paul’s Officer Candidate School graduation in January and I want to look good for it. It’s a formal event which I will need to dress up for so I want to feel comfortable in whatever I wear.
I am also going to ride my bike (I may even ride to/from Barre class on Saturday mornings) and take Nia, Journey Dance and yoga classes whenever I can as well as continue with my weekly Thai Yoga therapy.
So that’s my plan for now. I hope to be able to get back into the swing of things with my running/training but if my body isn’t ready for it I will wait. But even if I can’t run I vow to continue my cross training. My end goal is to be strong and healthy and there are many avenues that can get me there. I have to remember that.
"We may train or peak for a certain race, but running is a lifetime sport."  ~Alberto Salazar
11/22/2012- Before the start of the Turkey Trot 4-Miler

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Half Marathon Recap Video

I will have you know that in this video I refrained from cursing. The video is rated PG. But I did cry. Alot. Sorry. And at one point my voice gets quite shrill. Again, sorry. If after reading this you don't want to watch- I totally understand. ;)

Also, a couple things I forget to say in the video- thanks Mom and Dad! I wish you could have been here. I miss you and can't wait to have you be there for the Philly Marathon in 2013!

And Happy Veterans Day to all of the men and women serving or who have served as well as their families. I am so thankful for your service.

And a big thank you to Paul for being both a member of our armed services as well as my biggest fan and supporter through this whole half marathon training. Love you babe!

As for the race- well, today...

I made sure to thank every Vet and Active military member I came upon.

And high five anybody that had an outstretched arm.

And wave and smile and thank the spectators.

And laugh at all of the amazing signs.

And ask people who could barely walk if they wanted to lean on me for support.

And enjoy every hot, sweaty, painful minute of it. The good and the bad.

Because any day that I can put one foot in front of the other for 13.1 miles makes even the bad times good.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Another Update

I know I said I probably wouldn’t write again before the half but I just had to share some good news with you. My appointment with the chiropractor went swimmingly well and I could not be happier. He told me that my injury (sprained sacroiliac joint, which is the joint between the pelvis and sacrum) was already healed. Yay! Something he estimated 2-3 weeks to heal took only 9 days. That makes me so incredibly happy. I had been feeling really good the day of and was hoping he would have some positive feedback for me- I think that’s about as good as it gets.
While I was there he did make some other adjustments helping to put me back into correct alignment. He made adjustments to my first rib (left side) and second rib (right side)- which was a weird feeling, both my tibias, my left knee cap, my left ankle, pretty much every bone in my left foot, and some back, hip and neck adjustments. Nothing major, just tweaks. He didn’t see any underlying acute injuries or any muscle issues that could affect my run on Sunday. Actually he told me that I was going to kill it Sunday. I definitely appreciated his vote of confidence.
While I was there he asked if I wanted some acupuncture to help with my cold. I, of course, said yes. I had never had acupuncture before but have always been open to the idea. My chiro, Dr. Root, considers himself a minimalist acupuncturist- his goal is to be as effective as possible with the fewest needles possible. So for my cold problem he only needed 6 needles to treat me. I didn’t mind them one bit. It was actually quite relaxing. I almost fell asleep in his office. It was nice.
I left the appointment feeling uber confident in my physical health and recovery from this stupid cold and knowing that I will, in fact, kill it on Sunday J
This morning I woke up feeling pretty great leg/hip wise and with just some slight congestion lingering from the cold. I used the Neti pot, which helped tremendously, before I headed to the gym for my last run before the half. I only wanted to run a couple of miles, just enough to test out my leg, and I am happy to report it went really, really well. 2 miles in 23 minutes. 2 comfortable, pain free, super happy miles. At one point when ‘Gonna Fly Now’ (from the Rocky soundtrack, trust me- you know this song) came on I started to run faster and envisioned myself running across the finish line. I even worked on trying to smile while sprinting- I have to get ready for the cameras.
Yesterday was a great day and I am super excited to have received great news from Dr. Root. The run this morning was just what I needed to give me a little more reassurance in my health and training. I know I am ready but I definitely needed to quiet those little voices in the back of my mind trying to psyche me out. I can’t wait to see Tricia today for Thai Yoga therapy, which really is like the best thing ever, and then take a nice warm Epsom salt bath after. Such a great way to ease into what I hope to be a super relaxing few days leading up to the moment I have been waiting for.

“It has never been, and never will be easy work! But the road that is built in hope is more pleasant to the traveler than the road built in despair, even though they both lead to the same destination.” ~ Marion Zimmer Bradley

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Updates and Plans

If you follow me on Twitter or the book of faces then you know I am currently battling a cold. Of course, right? That’s how it goes. I’m doing everything in my power to get my leg/hip healthy for the half and just as I am starting to almost feel 100% I get sick. Just my luck.
Thankfully, it’s not much of a cold. I have some congestion and a bit of sneezing/coughing here and there but nothing major. No fever. No sore throat. (KNOCK ON WOOD) Nothing that is making nervous about Sunday’s run. I take pretty good care of myself and I think that has helped me build up a strong immune system but of course that doesn’t mean I was just going to sit back and do nothing about this cold.
I started taking Echinacea and vitamin C, using the Neti pot, doing Sun Salutations on top of my normal vitamins/herbal regimen. Oh, and also started drinking a juice concoction of carrots, beets, garlic and ginger.  Then I reached out to friends for suggestions of additional natural remedies and I received some great responses. Jaime suggested I use Elderberry instead of Echinacea, Angel suggested Zinc, and Tricia suggested some Miso –ginger soup. So I hit up Whole Foods and grabbed all of the above. I got home yesterday and took all of my vitamins and supplements and then made some miso broth with ginger, garlic, turmeric, and cayenne. That was my dinner. I didn’t have much of an appetite and was feeling exhausted so after dinner I did some quick cleanup in the kitchen and headed to bed. At 7p.
By 8p I was asleep.
I slept pretty well except for waking up a couple of times to use the bathroom. I consumed so much liquid yesterday I am surprised my bladder didn’t explode.  
I woke up a bit congested but overall feeling ok. I used the Neti pot, did a yoga DVD and some Sun Salutations, as well as some crunches on the stability ball. I saw on the news that Barack Obama was President. I am thankful it wasn’t as close as predicted and that the election came to a close last night. I was a bit nervous that we might have another 2000 fiasco on our hands.
Today I go back to the chiropractor and am hopeful he will be pleased with the progress I’ve made so far. He told me it would take about 2-3 weeks to heal but that I should still be able to run and that the running wouldn’t affect my recovery. I am positive that both of those statements are true and that not only will my body feel great come Sunday but also that I will have no issues afterwards and I’ll heal up nicely.
Tomorrow is my last run before the half and I am planning on doing a couple miles on the treadmill. Although I typically shy away from the treadmill I thought it might be the best way to get in an easy run with no worries of tripping or unnecessary stress on my body from hills and uneven pavement. Tomorrow evening is my last Thai Yoga therapy session before the half and I know that between Dr. Root (my chiropractor) and Tricia my body will be aligned, adjusted, energized and fully ready to go on Sunday.
Friday morning will be the same as today; yoga and some core exercises. Friday night you will find me at home, relaxing. I plan on making a nice pasta dinner and catching up on some TV.
Saturday morning I plan on doing some yoga and meditation before meeting my friend Debra, who is also running the half, for a walk to help release some of that nervous energy we both will be feeling. After we are going to drive the half marathon route to get a preview of what lies ahead for us the next day. Then at 10am I am meeting Cassy and Mando, who ran the full marathon with Paul last year and are running the half this year,  to hit up the expo. I am excited to spend a couple hours exploring the expo and checking out all of the vendors. Last year’s expo was awesome so I have high hopes for this year’s. I certainly don’t need any more running stuff but I am pretty sure I will still end up buying some while there.
After the expo I am not 100% sure what I will end up doing. I will need to do some grocery shopping and I plan on being in bed early. I want to go and see Skyfall so if I can squeeze in an afternoon showing that’s what I’ll do.
The half marathon is just 4 days away. I can’t believe it. I don’t think I have been this excited about anything since my wedding day. Almost 17 weeks of training has led me to this point and I feel ready. I am happy and grateful and nervous and excited and thrilled and even a little bit sad. I, of course, wish Paul was here to celebrate with me at the finish. But, like my friend Patty reminded me this morning, this is just my first- not my only. There will be plenty more in the future and hopefully someday Paul and I will be able to run them together.
I am not sure if I will write again before the half but I want you to know I will be thinking of you throughout the run. I have the best cheering squad ever. I am one lucky girl. And I need you to know how much your support means to me. Thank you. For your kind and reassuring words. For being my rocks and my guideposts along this adventure. There aren’t words to adequately express my gratitude. You are the reason I am who I am. For that I am forever grateful.  I love you all so very much!
“Tisn't life that matters! 'Tis the courage you bring to it.”~ Sir Hugh Walpole

Monday, November 5, 2012

So Many Thoughts

I had a lot of things on my mind this morning during my run. Here’s a snapshot of what goes on in my mind when I run. Or at least what is going on in my mind while I run just six days before the half marathon.
My injury- I am still not back to 100%. My five mile run on Saturday and my 3 mile run this morning both weren’t great. They weren’t bad either. They were just ok. I am able to run. I am just still feeling some residual soreness. The doctor says that this injury is not caused from running and that running won’t affect my recovery time but it doesn’t make running feel good. This weird pain (pain really isn’t the right word to describe it, maybe tightness or restriction- ugh I don’t know, nothing accurately describes this weirdness) in my hip/thigh/pelvis area is still there. It’s not bad and it isn’t preventing me from running but just the fact that I can feel it when I run freaks me out. I think it just makes me nervous that I am going to run up a hill during the half and have it seize up like it has twice already. But I have been continually reminding myself that when I take it slowly and run at an easy pace I am ok. I just can’t push myself too hard.
The half marathon-as you all know my half marathon is this Sunday, 11/11. I am beyond excited for it. I am now in week 17 of training which is really crazy when I think back on it. I can’t believe I even decided to do this. It was kind of a whim. When we got the news that Paul was picked up for the Navy and that he would be going away to OCS I decided to run the half. I thought the training would help me keep focused on something while he was gone. It would provide me a healthy outlet and distraction and help me to work towards a goal I never thought possible. Now as I sit here just 6 days before the half I have some really strong thoughts that keep swimming through my mind.
I am not racing against you
I am not racing against the clock
I am not racing against myself
I am not racing- period, end of sentence
I am just a girl on a mission. A mission to prove to herself that she can achieve any goal, no matter how big or small, by setting a plan, dedicating time/energy/resources to it, and staying focused. My only goal is to finish that half marathon happy. I want to go out there and have fun. I want to run each mile without concern about my pace, the time elapsed or how I am doing compared to other people I know. I just want to listen to some good music, smile at the other runners and give them words of encouragement when I can and enjoy the crowds. I want to finish with a huge (non-forced) smile on my face, although more than likely I will finish crying tears of joy, and I want to look back on that race as one of the best days of my life.
I don’t care that you are faster than me. I don’t care that my time will be ‘slow’ or that there will be marathoners finishing at the same time I do. On Sunday, I vow to only care about me and the beauty of running for fun.
Expectations- BUT, in order to do this I need to set my expectations aside. I never set a time goal for the half and I still haven’t. However, when I registered the form did ask for an estimated completion time. Based off some website’s half marathon time calculator thing where I put in my 5K pace and it tells me what I should expect for a half marathon I put down 2:30. That is not a realistic goal for me though. That’s an 11:27 min/mile pace. More than likely I will be above a 12 min/mile pace, which I am 100% ok with. But even thinking that I might be able to run at a 12 min/mile pace is still putting ideas in my head. Maybe I can come in at 2:45. Maybe less. Is that possible? Ahhhhh (that’s me screaming) enough already! It doesn’t matter. Just run, Dacia. That’s all that matters. 2:30, 2:45, 3:45- they are just numbers. They mean nothing. Crossing the finish line is the only thing that holds any real significance. And even so I would still say that just attempting to do this is what matters most.
The plan- not to be confused with my expectations or goals. Even though I keep reiterating how I just want to focus on the run and not the time I still need a plan. A way to make this half marathon enjoyable and achievable. So here it is. It’s quite simple.
Mile 1- Run the first mile slowly.  I know this will be difficult trying not to get swept up in the crowd but my goal is to start off slow. Ease into it. Let my body warm up and the jitters subside. Be comfortable. This might be the slowest mile I run.
Mile 2- step it up a bit. Keep it easy but work towards finding my rhythm. Normally I can fall into my groove during mile 2. The pace I settle into is usually the pace I will keep for the duration of my long runs.
Miles 3-9: maintain easy comfortable pace. Stay in my rhythm and focus on the crowds, the music and the people around me. Really enjoy the race.
Miles 10-13: slowly start to increase my pace. Just a little bit faster with each mile. The strategy I am sticking to is running a fast 5K after a slow 10 mile warm-up run. BUT if come mile 10, 11 or 12 I just can’t push harder then I won’t.  I will only go as fast as I can comfortably maintain.
The last tenth- 13-13.1: SPRINT!!! The finish is uphill and around a bend. Quite evil in my opinion. But I do plan on sprinting across that finish line come hell or high water.
My running- what I hope for as a runner is to have endurance like Forrest Gump (or Scott Jurek, if you would prefer a comparison to an actual person) but I am not too concerned with speed. Yes, I would like to progress as a runner and maybe shave a minute or two off my mile times but ultimately I just want to be able to run, preferably for increasingly longer distances. As my training continues I will still do intervals and hills and tempo runs to help me both with speed and endurance. But I know that I will only want to continue running as long as it is still fun for me. I feel that this half marathon will be great and it will propel me forward into my training for the duathlon (Dec 8), my next half marathon (Jan 13- birthday present to myself) and the Austin marathon (Feb 17) which is why I continually remind myself of the importance of enjoying this half marathon, not racing it.
I don’t want to cross the finish line puking, or in pain, or injured, or miserable.
I don’t want to cross the finish line cursing myself, or others, or running.
I want to cross that finish line happy, proud, full of confidence and love. Ready to take on the next adventure.  And more than likely ready for a beer or four.
"I tell our runners to divide the race into thirds. Run the first part with your head, the middle part with your personality, and the last part with your heart." ~Mike Fanelli