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

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.

HOWEVER!

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.

Sweet Sixteen

Yesterday’s long run of 16 miles went as well as I could have possibly hoped.  It was a CHILLY 40 degrees when I left the house, and I actually broke out the long-sleeved tech gear!  I’ve been waiting to do that since like March.  Such a welcome relief from the summer!

I took off from the house at about 7:15.  I planned to do the 16 in a series of four different four-mile out-and-backs.  Before I left, I staged myself a little oasis on my front porch:  A towel, a cooler of Cytomax, a couple of GUs, Body Glide…you know.  The essentials.

I did the first four miles and was back at my driveway but still felt great and didn’t feel like I needed a drink or anything, so I ran right by my driveway and on to the next four.  At the end of that four, again, I still felt really good and didn’t want to stop, but I knew I’d probably have to before I could complete another four, so I changed it up a bit.  I ran a road that loops back behind some corn fields behind our house for another two miles and made my first pit stop at 10 miles (only the second time I’ve ever been able to run 10 miles with no walk breaks!).

I spent approximately 4 minutes at my house drinking, GUing, peeing, and stretching and took back off.  It is SO HARD for me to get moving again once I’ve stopped!  But I kept plugging along.  I did have to stop by the house once more to get a drink again.  By that time the sun was out in full force and I was working up a good sweat because, remember, I’m in long sleeves.

I finished the 16 miles with a total time of 3:00:50, an average 11:18 pace.  Not breaking any land speed records, but I’ll take it!

Splits:

Mile 1 – 10:26
Mile 2 – 10:36
Mile 3 – 10:35
Mile 4 – 10:45
Mile 5 – 10:43
Mile 6 – 10:38
Mile 7 – 10:59
Mile 8 – 11:06
Mile 9 – 11:00
Mile 10 – 10:59
Mile 11 – 14:49  <—This is where I stopped off at the house.  I never stop my watch for breaks.
Mile 12 – 11:12
Mile 13 – 11:49
Mile 14 – 12:04  <—A walk/drink break of about 1-1/2 minutes was split between miles 13 and 14.
Mile 15 – 11:46
Mile 16 – 11:19

A few thoughts about the run!

Mint Chocolate GU – YUM!

Cytomax – Does not taste good after a Mint Chocolate GU.  You know how orange juice tastes after brushing your teeth?  Yeah.  It’s something like that.

CEP compression socks – I wore these while running this week.  They did help keep my legs warm, and my calves feel awesome today.  But they rubbed hot spots on both pinkie toes.  Not full-blown blisters, but I’m afraid they would have been if I had run many more miles in them.  I think I’ll put some Body Glide on my toes and try them again for my 18-miler.

Ice bath – BRRRRRRRRRR!!!!!  But I really do think it helped, as my muscles are not sore today!  At all!

Knee – While running I noticed a few times that I had a twinge of pain in my right knee kind of right beside/behind the medial patella.  It came and went.  Uphill, downhill, flat, it didn’t matter.  Nothing exacerbated it any more than anything else.  It wasn’t severe, just annoying.  And it really didn’t bother me much last night.  Now this morning, it’s pretty sore. I’ve taken ibuprofen and iced it, but there is definite point tenderness to it.  It almost feels like I’ve hit it on something, but I know I haven’t.  It’s not bruised, red, warm, or swollen.  It doesn’t hurt when I’m just sitting still.  It does hurt with walking.  When I stand on my right leg I can squat and rise without pain, but nonweightbearing knee bends are painful.  I can also elicit the pain just by pressing on the medial border of the kneecap.  It’s weird.  Thoughts?

Three Things Thursday

1.   I am starvin’ like Marvin these days!
My marathon training is only just beginning and my mileage is already where it was in the final weeks of my half-marathon training when I noticed an increase in appetite.  If it’s like this at 20 miles a week, HOLY CRAP, what’s it gonna be like at 40?!  I’m keeping my calories in check and doing a good job of avoiding the junk and instead going for the more filling raw fruits and veggies and such.  But I would really love to bury my face in a chocolate cake the size of my house.
2.   I was a little concerned about some shin pain that showed up after Saturday’s ten miles.  It hung around all weekend.  I attributed it to my shoes’ mileage and hoped that replacing them would do the trick.  I wore the new ones for a short three miles Tuesday night, and my right shin was pretty angry at me afterwards.  I iced it then took a warm shower and some ibuprofen and it was fine.  Then I ran five miles in the new shoes again last night with no discomfort whatsoever.  Hopefully Tuesday’s pain was a little residual inflammation from the weekend and won’t show back up.
3.  I woke up this morning and my contact lens was gone.  Just like completely not in my eye and I couldn’t find it on my pillow.  I’ve had it slip before, but I could always feel it riding high on my eyeball or feel it stuck to the back of my eyelid or something, but this one is just GONE.  Weird.

I Hear You, Legs. Loud and Clear.

After ending last week’s running on a high note with a good five-miler, I was eager to bang out my 11 miles on Sunday. Long story short, I didn’t quite make it. At 9 miles it was in the mid 70s with a humidity high enough to make it feel like I was wearing a steaming-hot turban. I was hot, soaked, and parched, so I called it a day. Yes, I fell two miles short of my goal; and, no, I didn’t finish it any faster than I did last fall. (Well, 11 seconds faster…) But I don’t consider it an EPIC fail because according to my log last fall’s 9 miler was done at 40 degrees–a much more suitable running temperature for me. I’m just kind of getting concerned now because I’ve only got one more long run before the half on the 24th. I WILL get in 12 miles next Saturday if I have to get up before dawn to make it happen!

I’m trying to play it smart today and listen to my body. I’m in Knoxville visiting my sister. I’m not familiar with the area and don’t know any good places to run. And she’s not a runner, so she doesn’t know the hot spots either. But she said that she had seen lots of people running on a street not far from her apartment complex. I set out this morning to put in five miles on that street. Well, actually it was a concrete sidewalk beside the street. In less than two miles, I had this going on:

Left knee: “I’m not so sure about this concrete stuff.”
Right knee: “Yeah, me neither. This doesn’t feel like it does at home.”
Me: “Shut up, you’ll be fine. It’s just five miles.”
Right knee: “Oh yeah? You think so? Take this!”
Me: “Ouch! Stop that!”
Left knee: “And how about a little of THIS?”
Me: Silence. (I’m hoping if I ignore them they’ll go away.)
Right SHIN: “You knees are amateurs. If you want her to quit, THIS is how you do it.”

They won. I didn’t figure it was worth risking an injury just to one-up my body for today.