The Aftermath

One week post-marathon and here I sit.  I have felt surprisingly good this week!  After the first couple of days anyway.  When I woke up Monday morning, the day after the race, I felt like I was coming down with something.  I felt nauseated, weak, and my throat kind of hurt.  I guess it was just exhaustion because that passed within a day or so.

My knee?  Good gosh, my knee… Monday was brutal.  I could feel a grinding behind my kneecap, and that was a first.  It’s always just been a pain.  I had never felt the grinding before.  It was incredibly painful.  I also had pain below the kneecap, in that soft spot that you hit to test your reflexes.  That was new too.  It all gradually improved and by Thursday I was walking without a limp.  It still isn’t pain free, but it’s MUCH better.

I still haven’t done much of anything.  I have taken this week to just relax and revel in my sloth.  I plan to add some light cross-training this week and then put the running shoes back on next weekend.  I’ve really enjoyed the break, but I’m ready to get moving again.

And those post-race blues I’ve heard so much about?  I’m still waiting on those!  No sign of ’em yet!

Las Vegas Rock n Roll Marathon Weekend Recap – The Race!

Okay!  So to pick up where I left off in my last post

I slept like a baby the night before the race.  I had my alarm set for 5:00 to be ready to leave the hotel room at 6:00 to be in my corral at 7:00.  I got up feeling pretty good.  M asked me if I was nervous, and I answered honestly.  No, I was not.  I wasn’t nervous; I wasn’t excited; I wasn’t really anything.  I had a few butterflies when we first got to Vegas, but after that there was really NOTHING.  I knew what had to be done, and I knew what I had to do to accomplish it.  I just had a very calm, matter-of-fact feeling.  Regarding the race, anyways.  I was excited as all get-out just to be in Vegas with friends!

I knew that the strip was going to be closed Sunday morning, so all along I had just been planning on walking to the start line at Mandalay Bay from our hotel, which was about a mile and a half away.  But as we were leaving D asked a taxi driver, “How close can you get us to the start line?”  He told us to hop in, so we did.  A few minutes and $12 later we were THERE.  Like RIGHT there.  He got us closer than I imagined he could.  Since we ended up riding rather than walking we got there earlier than I had planned.  We just hung out on the sidewalk right outside the corrals, people-watching, stretching, and eating my Clif bar breakfast.

Before I knew it, it was 7:00.  Only then did I stand up, strip off my throw-away clothes, and squeeze myself into my corral.  I wish I’d kept them on until I got closer to the start line.  It was another 25 minutes before I actually made it to the start, and I was FREEZING.  It was comfortable with my yoga pants and a sweatshirt on.  Not so much with a tech tee and shorts.

View in front of me from my corral

 I was in corral 16, but I think I actually ended up crossing with 18 because I hopped out of line to make one last stop at the portojohn.  And with that, I was off!

The first half of the race was basically an out-and-back of the strip with a loop at the farthest point.  Within NO time after starting, we were already seeing the wheelchair racers coming

back up the strip toward their finish.  Just a few minutes behind them were the fast cats.  It was cool to get to see them on the course!
I think Vegas has some sort of optical illusion effect to it.  The course is advertised as being flat and fast.  But from the very start, I felt like we were on an ever-so-slight downhill.  It didn’t FEEL like I was running downhill, but it did look like it.  I was thinking, “Ah, crap.  That means I’ll be on a steady uphill grade the entire way back.  The funny thing?  It looked the exact same way on the way back.
I took my phone with me on the course for two reasons.  First of all, I wanted to be able to keep in touch with my husband and friends to let them know where I was and whether or not I was still alive.  Yes, we could have signed them up for runner tracking, but that only tells you so much.  And secondly, I wanted to have a camera with me!  I took several pictures with it, but for most of them I didn’t stop so they ended up blurry and not even worth keeping.  I wish they had turned out better because I saw some cool stuff on the course!  There were lots of interesting characters running.  I saw Tarzan (running barefoot and wearing nothing but a loin cloth, and I think he was within the top 10 half-marathon finshers), Spongebob, Fred Flintstone, Big Bird, Cookie Monster, more Elvises than I could count, and lots of Santas.  Did I get good pictures of any of them?  Of course not.
I took my first walk break somewhere around mile 7-8.  I don’t remember where it was exactly, but it was the first GU station I came to.  I walked through the station long enough to suck down a GU and wash it down.  At that point I was right where I wanted to be.  I was trying to hold between an 11:00 and 11:30 easy pace, and I was doing just that.

How cruel to tease a bunch of marathoners with a bigger-than-life glass of beer!

 And that leads me to a question for you experts out there.  In theory, a flat course would be easier than a hilly one, right?  It just makes sense that that would be the case!  Flat = easy!  So WHY did it feel so taxing?  All of my training is done outside, and very, very little of that is on flat terrain.  I’m usually either going up a hill or coasting down one.  Is it because with a flat course you have to maintain a steady level of exertion without the breaks of a downhill?  I don’t know what the issue was, but by the time I came to the halfway point, some of the muscles in my hips and glutes were on FIRE, and that’s the only thing I could come up with.

When we were nearing the halfway point, back where we started at Mandalay Bay, I seriously wanted to slap some people in the crowd.  There they were at the half/full split and they’re yelling, “You’ve got this!  You’re almost there!”  Ummm…. excuse me, but not all of us are almost there.  Some of us were almost HALFWAY there.  It took a lot of will power at that point to veer right instead of staying straight and finishing with the other 19,000+ half-marathon finishers!  But alas, 5000+ of us made that right-hand turn and pushed on.
I had gotten a text from D telling me that he and M & C were there after the turn waiting for me.  It was nice to see them at that point! 

I slowed down to a walk and M walked with me for a minute, asking me how I was feeling and telling me, “You’ve got this!” and all other sorts of lies to make me feel good.
It was right after the halway point that we came to the first overpass bridge.  Holy moly!  I thought my glutes were on fire before!  I walked again up the rest of that hill, stopped and stepped up onto the sidewalk to stretch for a bit, and then coasted down the other side.   Ahhhhhhhhh…. that felt good.
After that, the scenery changed drastically.  No more big, pretty, elaborate casinos to look at.  No more spectator-lined streets.  There was the occasional band or cheer squad, but for the most part it was just me and the other runners on the back half of the course.  And it was nothing to look at.  The mountains were pretty in the background, but it wasn’t long before we turned and headed into what seemed to be a more industrial part of the city.  Lots of warehouse-type buildings and such.  Once I made it to the back half and I knew I was okay on time, I started walking through all the water stops.  I took my first really significant walk at around mile 18.  It was about there that my knee really started giving me some sass, so I walked a half-mile to appease it.  I honestly didn’t care about the time as long as it was under the 5:30 cutoff.  I was doing all sorts of math in my head:
“If I hit 20 miles at 4 hours that leaves me with an hour and a half to do 6.2 miles.  That’s just a little less than a 15 min/mile.  I can walk the rest of the way in at that pace!  But wait a minute, my Garmin is showing about 0.25 mile longer than the mile markers.  I need to jog on a little longer.”
Haha… yeah.  You can have some pretty strange dialogues with yourself when you run alone for that long.
At mile 22 I decided I’d given it what I had.  I walked it in from there.  I knew if I walked at a 15 min/mile pace I would finish with a few minutes to spare, and that was ALL I cared about!
When I got to mile 26, though, my pride got the best of me.  I couldn’t cross that finish line walking!  I picked it back up to a jog and crossed the finish line at 5:27:08.
I was in a pretty good deal of pain and was physically and mentally exhausted.  I grabbed some Cytomax and water and a Snickers bar and met up with everyone just right outside of the finish area.  After sitting and stretching for a few minutes we headed toward the beer garden and passed a tent where they were engraving people’s medals with their name and chip time.  I thought that sounded like a cool idea, but when I got up there I saw that it was $20 so I passed.  D ended up convincing me it was worth it.  I think his logic went something along the lines of, “Do you know how many $20 bills I just fed to a slot machine and have nothing to show for it?  At least you’ll have something to show for this $20!”  haha  Twisted logic, I know, but it worked.
Am I glad I did it?  Absolutely.
Will I do it again?  I believe my exact words at the finish line were, “Never again!”.  But I’d like to recant.  Instead of saying “Never,” I will say, “Not in the foreseeable future.”
For now, my immediate future holds at least a two-week hiatus from running.  I had my knee at a point that it didn’t hurt–not so much as even a twinge of pain–during the short runs of the last two weeks of taper, but I’m not sure what Sunday undid.  Monday was brutal, but I took today off work too and have mostly sat around alternating ice and heat.  It’s better than yesterday, but that’s not saying much.  If I can get it back to where it’s happy with four and five miles every other day or so, that’s where I will start and I will GRADUALLY build up my base from there.  There are some local half-marathons this spring that I would like to do, so hopefully I’ll be pain-free and PR ready by then!
Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go look at my medal again.
Here, I’ll show it to you again too.

Overall: 4720 out of 5154 · Division: 376 out of 419 · Gender: 1900 out of 2141

Gearing Up and Weighing In

No, that is not Emz’s treadmill reading from this morning!  That is my weight as of last night.  I hear all you guys talking about how much weight you have gained and lost during taper and the race, so I just want to see what happens with mine over the next three weeks!  Before beginning marathon training, mine hovered in the 128-133 range.  Since training began, it’s been more in the 133-138 range.  140 is my scary number.  I’ve come close a time or two, but I haven’t hit it yet!  I’m sure things will return more to normal once the race is behind me.

The race…

Up to this point, I’ve been filled with a mixture of fear, excitement, dread, and awe about my upcoming RnR Vegas marathon.  Now that it’s just a little over two weeks ago (gasp!!!) most of that mixture is gone.  Now I’m just left with a severe case of insomnia and butterflies.  (Okay, I can’t really blame the race for the insomnia.  That’s been going on for quite a while.  I thought the new mattress would help.  It has not.)

I asked for your opinions on my long runs last week, and I took the advice you gave.  I ran 15 miles on Sunday.  While there was much stretching and quite a bit of walking, I completed the 15 miles at well under the Vegas cutoff pace.  As things are now, I don’t care if it takes me every second of that 5:30 to finish.  I just want to finish, and if I have to stop and stretch 4,000 times during that 26.2 miles to get ‘er done, that’s exactly what I’ll do.  It held up pretty well during the 15 but I was hurting pretty badly afterwards.  I rested it Monday and Tuesday and by last night I was able to run 5 miles relatively pain free.  I’ve been experimenting more with a pain relief regimen, and I’ve come up with a combination that seems to be keeping me moving:  LOTS of foam rolling, ibuprofen (low doses several times a day), Biofreeze, elevation, and alternating ice and heat.  As I said I ran 5 last night, and it’s not killing me this morning, so that’s improvement.  It actually feels like I may be able to run again tonight.  If I can, this will be the first time I”ve been able to run two days in a row in WEEKS.

So since I took your advice and ran 15 last weekend, you know what that means…. 20 MILES THIS WEEKEND.  I think I’m almost as nervous about that as I am the race itself!

Three Things Thursday – Advice Needed

1.  I’ve seen so many posts recently by people already picking out their 2011 races.  SHEESH!  I know these things sell out fast these days, but I don’t even know what I want for dinner tonight and I’m expected to know where and how far I want to run a year from now?  But I guess I better get on it.  While I’m at it I guess I’ll go ahead and schedule 2012’s teeth cleanings and 2022’s mammogram.

2.  I have quit physical therapy.  After last Saturday’s attempt at a long run I knew that what they were doing just wasn’t cutting it and stopped everything they had told me to do.  I brought all this up at Monday’s appointment, and they basically told me that they didn’t have anything else to offer me.  They agreed that I should stop what they had started me on since it was making it worse and offered to continue the ultrasound therapy.  I’m not paying a $20 copay for 10 minutes worth of ultrasound, so I guess that’s that.  I have gone back to the very agressive IT band massages and extreme foam rolling, and on Tuesday night I ran 6 miles at a very tolerable pain level.  It was sore afterwards, but by today, after another couple of days of MY version of PT, it feels completely normal.  I didn’t run yesterday, so we will see what it feels like after I run this afternoon.

3.  This weekend is supposed to be my 20 miler.  I don’t feel like I have run enough lately to tackle 20 in two days.  My long runs in reverse order have been 2, 13.1, 14, and 18 with sporadic midweek runs as pain would allow.  Here’s where the advice comes in.  Should I suck it up and push for 20 and start my taper (even though I don’t even have high weekly mileage to really taper down from)?  Or should I shoot for 15 or 16 and go for 20 next week with a two-week taper?  Either way, I plan to continue babying the knee by keeping everything slow and on the least hilly routes I can find.

Emotional Roller Coaster

I love running.

I hate running.

I’m ready for Vegas.

I’ll never make it to the start line.

After last Saturday’s half marathon, I was feeling great.  The after effects of a new PR, no doubt.  But it didn’t take long for the pain to set in.  I expected it, so I wasn’t too worried about it.  The knee always hurts after a long run.  No surprise there.  In a way I thought it might be a good thing for the sports doc to see me when it’s painful.

So come Monday I went in for the MRI and followed up immediately with the Dr. Sports Dude for the results about an hour later.  The results were the best I could hope for.  Nothing was torn or ruptured or anything.  Nothing structurally wrong with the knee whatsoever.  He diagnosed it as IT band syndrome and gave me a prescription for PT and sent me on my merry way. 

I set up the appointment to begin PT the very next day.  The therapist said that in addition to my tight IT band, my inner quads muscle (the VMO for those familiar) was weak.  The tightness on the outside of the leg combined with the weakness on the inside of the leg is allowing the kneecap to be pulled out of alignment, thus causing my knee pain.  Her plan of action was to stretch the IT band, strengthen the VMO, and do ultrasound therapy on the knee.  And that’s what we’ve done three times this week, plus the at-home stuff she has told me to do on my own.  I’ve been a good little girl all week long.  I rested it (didn’t run a step), did all my stretches and exercises and then some, and have taken probably more anti-inflammatories than I’m supposed to.  And when I was there yesterday, they put Kinesio tape on it to help with my long run today.

My long run.

My 2.27-mile long run.

I’m a pretty tough cookie.  I’m pretty good at tuning out the pain.  But when it feels like your kneecap is being ripped through the skin with every bend of the leg… THAT’s kind of hard to ignore.  By mile 2, I knew that 15 wasn’t going to happen today, so I turned and headed a different direction instead of doing the out-and-back that I had planned.  A quarter of a mile later I was done.  It was unbearable.

So here I sit.  Typing this.  Still in my running clothes because I didn’t even have a chance to break a sweat in them.  Foot propped up on a foot stool because it hurts to sit with my leg bent and my foot on the floor.  An ice pack on my knee trying to dull the pain.  Wondering if I’ll ever see the finish line in Vegas.  Wondering if I’ll ever see the START line in Vegas.  Wondering if noon is too early to start drinking…

Back in the Saddle

I stuck to my guns and did NOT lace up and hit the pavement at all this week.  On one hand I felt like a fat, lazy sloth, and on the other hand I kind of enjoyed getting to come home from work, crack open a cold one and do whatever I dang well pleased all evening.  (There was a LOT of Guitar Hero playing going on around here this week.)

My knee hasn’t bothered me all week, but then again it never does except after I run.  I was really hoping that the week off would allow time for it to calm down.  The training plan called for 18 this weekend, but I just really didn’t know how far I’d be able to go having not run all week and not knowing how the knee would hold out.

Between the “taper,” the foam rolling, the stretching, the ibuprofen, the icing, the Domino’s Pacific Veggie on a Brooklyn-style crust for dinner last night, the Clif bar for breakfast, the GU Chomps, and the Cytomax SOMETHING worked!!!

There were a few tears again, but this time they were tears of celebration and praise.  (Yes, I’m a big ol’ sniveling, emotional crybaby.  What about it?)  I pulled off 18 miles this morning in 3:21:16 (an 11:11 pace)!  They weren’t pain free, but it was more of a nagging discomfort than a pain.  I’m sitting here on my couch icing right now, so we’ll see what tonight and tomorow bring.  I’m still gonna keep the appointment with the sports doctor Wednesday just to see if he can offer some advice because obviously something still isn’t right.  But I’m feeling a lot better about things than I have been.  After last week I was really scared this training had just come to a screeching halt.  But I have hope again.  Shoot, I’m EXCITED again.

Seven weeks to go!  I have a medal waiting for me in Vegas with my name on it!

Time Out

I’m putting myself in time out.  I’ve been a bad runner.  My body has been telling me, “I need a break,” and I didn’t listen.  Well, I SORTA listened.  I didn’t run my scheduled 5 miles Thursday, but I went ahead with my long run yesterday.

Can we say OUCH??????

I was able to squeeze out 11 (I was only scheduled for 12 anyway) before the pain just got the absolute best of me and I HAD to stop.  It’s not the outer knee/upper shin pain anymore.  I rolled the living crap out of my IT band.  It was super tight.  (Note to self:  Use foam roller as a PREVENTATIVE as it was intended and like you bought it for.)  The rolling seems to have fixed that.

But OMG… the kneecap pain.  The EXCRUCIATING kneecap pain.

I took a butt load of ibuprofen and iced it like crazy last night and it hurt even worse this morning.  I took more ibuprofen and iced again before church, and right now at nearly 6 pm, it is perfectly fine.

But I’m not making the same mistake I made last week.  Last week I was fine by Sunday night so I went ahead with my first two midweek runs.  I’m not doing that this week.

I don’t feel like I am truly INJURED.  If it was a true injury, actual anatomical damage, I don’t think OTC anti-inflammatories and ice would help.  I think something in there has just gotten a little angry.  So I am going to take some time and let my body do what I feel like it’s trying to do anyway:  heal.

I’m taking a week off.  I don’t want to jump back in tomorrow or Tuesday even though I’m pain-free and hit the reset button on any healing that’s taken place so far.

I hate to think of what I’ll lose this week, but I think it’s the smartest thing I can do for my marathon goals.

So I’m going to make the best of this week.  I’m going to work in the yard, clean my neglected house, maybe clean out my clos–  ….

Oh, who am I kidding???  I couldn’t even type that with a straight face!

I just rented the new Guitar Hero Warriors of Rock for five days.

Game on.

Unplanned Rest Day

I mentioned that my knee was sore after my 16 miles Saturday.  A little ibuprofen and by Sunday afternoon it was good as new.

Tuesday afternoon called for 4 miles.  It was cool and I was feeling good, so I decided to kind of push the tempo a bit and see what I could do.  The run was great!  I felt really good while running and set a new 4-mile personal best by quite a bit!  But then later that night that pain came back.  I had talked with a couple of folks and done some research on my own and thought it sounded like runner’s knee.  I bought a knee strap to wear for Wednesday’s 8 miles.  I couldn’t tell it helped whatsoever.  I kept stopping and adjusting it, loosening it, tightening it, raising it, lowering it… I couldn’t find that sweet spot to make it stop hurting.  But the pain still wasn’t bad so I kept going.

I’ve gotta say I didn’t have the postrun pain nearly as bad though.  So maybe the strap did do something.


Today, the outside of my knee (the same one) and upper half of my shin REALLY hurt.  Even when I’m just sitting still it’s just a dull pain with occasional stabbing pain.  Needless to say I will not be running the 5 miles that my schedule calls for tonight.  Instead I will be icing and massaging and stretching.

I called today to get an appointment with a sports doctor.  I called a couple of clinics, and the soonest any of their doctors can get me in is the 20th.  Maybe it’ll be better by then and I can cancel.  Or maybe I’ll have blown my leg completely out by then.  Who knows?  In the meantime I’m gonna just try to play it smart.  I’m hoping I’ll at least be able to get my long run in Saturday.  It’s a step-back week, so it’s only 12 miles.

Here’s hoping.