Sunday, November 17, 2013

The Big day!

I was a nervous wreck the morning of the race, and was awake at 4:30 am...since I knew I was not going back to sleep I got up and starting prepping for the race...water, snacks, watch, breakfast, etc etc..

Up and out the door at 5:30 am, I headed out to get to the parking location and get the shuttle into Palos Verdes. I was at the event space about 45 minutes early and got a chance to again eat, and get situated. By the time it was run time, my nervous energy was anxious to get it started already! I hugged my sister and headed into the starting lineup.

Thankfully, I did not really look at the course too hard before I signed up, as I had no idea what lay ahead. We set out for 1 .5 miles south before turning back north to the real challengin course that would take us through Lunada Bay and Rancho Palos Verdes Estates...and a roller coaster of a run.

The hills were one after the other, winding through the residential streets with amazing ocean views and mansions but still,  one hill after another....crazy challenging.

I knew on most of the hills, it was best to not run all the way up each and instead save my energy for the peak and hitting them faster so I was not burning out early. I watched many a person try to run the hills only to be passed by me after we reached the top. 

Mile 7, I was dying to go to the bathroom and thankfully they had a random port-a-potty on a corner, I ran up to it only to have to wait for the person inside to come out- he was clearly in no hurry. I lost some time but hoped to make it up at some point later. The advice I was given earlier was still ringing in my ears- 'just enjoy the race, and forget about the time - anything is a personal record'. Great advice and I had no idea how hard of a course this hilly run would be for my first half so I just decided to enjoy the views and get there when I get there...I wanted to enjoy my hard work and finish feeling strong.

By mile 9, I was feeling the challenge in my body, and already digging deep to keep going....these hills were hard and my asthma meds were working for me but also racing my heart rate. When I saw the mile 10 sign, I was so happy and telling myself- " You got this! Only 3 miles left, you ran these easily during your weekly runs!" 

Mile 11, I was feeling great knowing I only had 2 miles left and when I got to mile 12- I was elated....until I turned the corner and saw just past the sign....the highest, steepest hill all day lay ahead just after the heart sank. I was tired and had no idea how on earth I was going to tackle that hill when my goal had been to kill the last mile fast. I decided to walk most of that killer hill and not waste my energy trying to run up it. A lot of people around me decided the same, but even walking that hill was challenging. one guy got out his iphone & used the level app to see the degree angle on the hill- people were shocked how steep it was.

Once I was nearly at the top, I started to run, as most of the remainder of the race was downhill, with only one incline before the final decent to the finish line. I was tired, but ready to get this race finished. The last bit downhill was all adrenaline pushing me. Apparently a couple people collapsed near the finish straightaway so I ended up running through a fire truck and 2 ambulances - just trying to concentrate on my finish ahead.

I was so elated when I hit the home stretch, I did it! It was amazing...I was so excited to run through that gateway and stop...I was tired and thrilled but had to get the timer off my shoe and get some more water. I hugged my sister and  described the last hill, she said many people were talking about it when they ran into the finish. She said the ambulences were for a couple people that passed out right after one another on the decent down.

The adrenaline was gone now, and suddenly, I was unable to catch my breath, it was frightening. I took off all my gear and walked away from my sister, trying to get it together. My breath was short and not in my lungs, it felt like I was hyperventilating. I looked over at the ambulances thinking I might need them too in a moment, as I might very well pass out. I could feel my lungs were clear, so the inhaler was useless, I decided I needed to calm down and deep breathe though my nose. I had to try to get a deep breath in my lungs and slow my heart. All the asthma meds I took before the run may very well have helped me but also working against me at this point. 

A lifetime of asthma teaches you when not to panic and when you need to ask for help....I was trying to help myself, but fearing I might have pushed myself too hard having just been so sick. My sister noticed a woman running in after me, into her husbands arms then quickly passing out with him catching her before she hit the ground. 

I was in my own world, trying to catch my breath and calm my body down..a few moments later and the deep nasal breaths made the difference...I was finally feeling good, and finally soaking up the moment. I did it!

Wow..I really did it.

All the training really paid off. I was so happy, it was done and I could rest and take it in...I ran a crazy roller coaster and did what I never thought I was ever capable of doing! Wow.

All the good runs, bad runs, hard days, and longs runs- it all adds up. Amazing.

I am taking the rest of November to get totally well before I pick up the training again in December for my next half marathon next Feb..the one that was originally going to be my first...who knew it could all happen so much faster..I am excited to take on the next one, I can worry about time and pace next time...the first one is showing yourself  you can do it! And now I know , I really can!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Last run before the race!

Yesterday was my last pre-race run and I ran 3.5 miles. I included more hills and slopes in my run as to mimic the conditions of what I shall face...though the unknown is always more scary in our head.

While techincally, still recovering from bronchitis, I still require my inhaler more than once a day and definitely before I run. I am also running a full minute slower than my typical pace but am chalking it up to still getting my strength back. Yes, I run and cough a lot, and feel my lungs are not what they were PRE-sicknes but I am on the mend and for that I am grateful...and despite my Dr's best advice, I am taking on this run as scheduled..but with a new approach.

I no longer care about my time. As many have said- any finish time at this point is a personal record! I think it is amazing I am even doing this at all and am excited to get the FIRST ONE in my back pocket...the next one can be about timing...Can you believe I am saying anything about a NEXT one? CRAZY!

My original goal was prepping for the Austin Half marathon in Feb 2014...and instead I progressed so far in a few months that I was able to move the goal date up. Clearly I am more capable than I gave myself credit for originally...but I also got more with this endeavor, like a new enthusiasm for running, for my health, and for life...I committed to a schedule, to a run group, to learning, and to failing and learning...or perhaps that should read to falling and learning, as I did both.

I never imagined me capable physically before for such an event, always thinking I was too challenged with asthma. Always, per my Doctor's words, that these were the lungs I was given, and these knee and hip issues were genetic misfortunes but the cards I am dealt none the less. Big *sigh* here if you believe in others telling you what you cannot do....but as for me- not so much!

Now, I know I can do it- though given the current circumstances I know it will also not be an easy race...but anything worthwhile is not easy...and I think if I am patient with myself, I can complete the 13.1 miles and celebrate this challenge as conquored. I am not running again this week til my Saturday run so all I have time to do is dream about it! I am so very excited to share the outcome of this journey soon..but make no mistake, it is certainly NOT my last race.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Fighting the good fight

Um, yea. I am on day 3 of antibiotics and apparently they are not wonder pills! I am still feeling sick. Though better than I felt a few days ago. None the less, to my doctor's dismay, I was not skipping my last long run before the race next week. Though I admit I was moving slow and not excited to run.

So I got up had some coffee, ate half a bagel and headed out. At about 3/4 of a mile from home I realize I forgot my water bottle on the counter..and now that I thnk of it, I forgot my watch too...wait...feels like I need a bathroom as well...ugh!!!

I turn and head back home- it's feeling like a hot day ahead so I know I cannot do without. Today is my last run through before game day so I need all the things I plan to use in this rehearsal. I get home, get what I need and head back out. My day is not starting off great as I am already an hour behind schedule and feeling sluggish ...but clearly determined.

Around mile 4-5 I am feeling soooo tired. I just want to go home. I try to get lost in the tunes but my mind is working overtime telling me "the body is unwell- what are you doin?" "Cut this run short and rest!" " do you wanna pass out? How 'Bout we stop soon?" " you really think in this kinda shape you are going to be able to run 13.1 miles?"  " I think you should skip next week and just do your original plan to run in Feb!"

I have to push back...I argue with myself. " I can do this! I have been running for months! You are just tired because you have been sick, and your monthly cycle means you are running on low estrogen!" 
" you will be stronger next week in every way!" " chill out, I am only running 8 miles today" " enjoy the 1 min walks- see I am taking it easy?!"

Finally, rounding home- the last half mile was excruciating...I was hot, tired and I just wanted to go get back on the sofa and rest.

I did it though...8 miles (technically 9.5 miles if you count the initial run and return) 

Maybe not the best thing I have done but I have been training during this whole illness anyways...and this time- I have antibiotics in my system helping me push onward.

Nearly there...I am terrified..but excited to try.

Now back to bed.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Closing in on the goal

I am not gonna lie- the last 3 weeks have probably been the worst in my training- not the distances but the additional road blocks and obstacles. The mental toll they are taking as I approach the starting line in about a week, has affected me more than I would like to admit.

Today, after 3 weeks of fighting this bug, and it sinking deeper into my chest, I went to the Dr and started antibiotics. Clearly, the virus was not running it's course and leaving and instead making a home in my lungs- no bueno.  The prognosis: bronchitis. Z-pack meds and I should be feeling better in 5 days, just in time for the race. My bruised and scraped knees are improved from the fall and I know in my heart I am on the mend- finally.

I was only able to do one 3 mile run this week and skipped my run this morning for time in the Dr office instead. I am hoping the long run this Saturday- 8 miles, come easier than the last few long runs. I am counting on having a stronger week as I lead up to race day next Saturday.

I reached out to an online friend who founded RUNspiration- a wonderfully inspiring site for runners in need of positive vibes and stries for advice as she noted her half marathon anniversary. Instead of offering her experience- she did one better and reached out to the RUNspiration community and asked them to offer advice to this first time half marathoner...a few minutes later and there were nearly 200 comments from all over the country offering sage advice and positive words. 

This is exactly what I needed. It really made me feel like I got this- that all that noise in my head is just noise. After I checked back on the comments today, there are now over 400 wonderful words of advice.

Some of my favorites included: 
"don't forget to smile, and take it all in. When it gets tough, look around and and use the support from everyone cheering you on."
"You got this, you trained for this, 13.1 is attainable"
"Run your own race, not the with the person next to you"
"It's a mind game- one foot in front of the other"
"You go girl"
"It's automatically a personal record- don't worry about your time, enjoy the race, the people, and be prepared to sign up for the next one- they are addicting"
"Trust your training, don't worry about being passed or passing others. Just run your best. And after you finish, soak it up- you did it! And stretch stretch stretch some more!"

I will be rereading this post just before the race! 

I am living in hope and trust in the work I have done to date.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Digging Deep

I have to say I was already feeling intense trepidation before my run today. My last run where I fell and hurt my knees (& ego), really took a toll on my positive outlook. The viral bronchitis setback also has had me wondering if I would lose all of my recent gains as I struggled to just do a few miles, so I was scared before heading out today.

I used my inhaler and set out to do a minimum of 6 miles but hoping for more. The first 3 miles were tough but I was determined to keep going to 4 miles and turn around. I was experimenting with walking less and seeing how I feel...but my running pace was still slower than my norm, I was clearly still battling the effects of being sick the last 2 weeks. It's hard not to feel disappointed when you have been stronger, faster and in better shape not so long ago but now it feels so very far away. And running in general feels like its all uphill.

With all that though, I completed 8 miles...My knees are sore, as was the bottom of one foot- I seem to limp quite a bit after my run all Sunday.

So here I am- vacillating between pushing myself to do the Malibu Half this next weekend or giving myself an additional week and doing the PV Half ....I feel like right now, given my long run performance, either is going to be tough...I am still coughing and tired when I had hoped I would be approaching the race strong and more confident. Thank god for endorphins- they keep me pushing, and numb the pain when I hit the wall around mile 8. I was grateful to stop at 8 this weekend...just ready to rest my body instead of pushing onward.

Maybe this November race will be less about a good time and more about just finishing- that was my original goal, right?... Perhaps, Austin can be my race about personal bests....perhaps I need to lay off myself and just congratulate myself for the effort...many people do not even try. Even if I come in DFL (dead f'ng last) I will have completed something I never even dreamed I was capable of doing.
I need to find some more encouraging words to help me get to the finish line this month and just be happy with how far I have come. It's about setting a goal and completing's too easy to compare myself to others- I need to remember the race is with myself and no one else.

"It's not about how fast I get there, it's not about what's waiting on the other side.... its the climb!"

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Being tested: Road kill and illness

Today's run was almost as bad as it gets...minus getting hit by a car or something.

It was my last day in October to run a 5k...Since there was no time to run an actual race. My friend and I decide to go to the US Road website. You can run your own virtual 5k, 10k or half - register for free and post your results. You can see how you stack up against other runners across the country. Not a traditional way to run a race but worked with my schedule this month. You can actually pay & receive a medal but really- who wants a medal for racing alone? But if you are all about the swag, then I suppose this is another way to get some.

This month my schedule was filled- I had traveled, had lots of early am meetings, longer mileage and I also got sick. Last week, a fever, asthma and general malaise had me home in bed for 2 days only to be left this week with a lingering cough and continuing asthma. I was so determined to hit my 12 miler last weekend, that I ran while not completely in the pink again. I felt pretty good after that run so I assumed I was on an upswing and getting out of the illness.

But while I feel better, I have been very tired and the cough has gotten worse..I laid off running this week til this morning. I knew this run would not only be my only chance to run the virtual 5k for my yearly goal of a race-a-month but also determine if I am well enough to run in 2 weeks for Malibu Half.

This run was HORRIBLE!!!!

It was dark when I set out- but I took my asthma meds and was feeling good. I set off, running through my mind how I can do the course with little interruption or need to hit a stop light, wait for cars, or hit any high hills. I wanted a clean run but right out of the gate- my lungs were on fire and I was hacking like a 20 year smoker. I knew this run was not going to be a personal best but I kept going.About a mile running in the dark, I had to get back on the sidewalk, and as I was running up an incline, my toe caught an electrical metal, square man-hole and I went down- fast and hard! Perfect faceplant! I was so caught off guard I had little time to try to stop myself. Thankfully I was wearing thick supports on both knees and had on a long sleeve shirt (which was so long it went down past my hands, to keep me warm.) All this protected my body from major damage - My knees were still skinned and sore but not to the extent they could have been and my hands were protected by the shirt so I only had the soreness from the fall on my body instead of a road rash and blood.

I picked myself up and started to run again but I was hurting and hit the timer pause button while I got myself together to see if I could even continue. Being stubborn, I hit the run button again and set out to finish. Slower but hoping I might be able to pull it off at the end- nearing mile 2, a shoelace comes undone and I must stop once again to deal- off goes the timer. But mentally I am thinking.."Seriously??? Are you kidding me?? This run has already mentally screwed me over!"  BUT I sucked it up and tied it, hoping no more obstacles were in my future and continued on- coughing and hacking. I was feeling like I had just started running for the first time in my life after giving up cigarettes..Mental games continued: "How do I rebound from this? How do I push on when my lungs are just not on the same page??? How will I run in less than 2 weeks in Malibu when I still am on the mend?"   I stopped and walked after mile 2 for a little bit but did not stop the clock..I just needed to get home and figure out my game plan for my half run. I knew I needed to give myself some time to's all I can do now.

I completed the run of 3 miles in 31:44 - not horrible but much longer than my best run. After the mileage, I walked home the rest of the way and felt the soreness in my knees start...All I could do was admit to myself that Malibu in not in my near future and I would need to lose that registration money, postopone the half run another week and just do the Palos Verdes Half Marathon..a harder course but one that buys me another week of lung recovery and time to get my mental game back.

Fingers crossed I do not have to lose out on PV too and I am completely recovered when the race gets here. I can't help but feel disappointed and worried, this illness makes me lose some time in what I have worked so hard for this year on race day.

Now off to Walgreens for some Mucinex!  (insert deep sigh here)

Sunday, October 27, 2013

12 miles!

Holy cr@p! I ran 12 miles!!!!
And while still recovering from a virus! Yes, I realize not the smartest decision to stick to my training plan while still recouping- BUT none the less amazing to myself.

I got up Saturday morning and under a cloudy sky, I decided to eat breakfast, fuel up and have some coffee & see how I feel about a run...the week behind me was all fatigue, fever and asthma. I knew sticking to my training plan was a dicey idea but I thought- either Sat or Sunday I hoped to do the 12 miles long planned. I used my inhaler, grabbed my water and snacks and headed out.

I decided my goal was to run at least 10 miles but running was harder than I planned and I was feeling like my body was not at its best. I knew this was the virus hanging on so I decided to run as much as I can and as slow as needed. I was thinking as I was in the first few miles that this run might be only a 5-6 mile run...but as I got to 4 miles, I knew that meant 4 back so I was at least at 8 miles so somewhere between 4 and 5 miles I realized I was pushing it and turned I got back in my home area, I was already past 8 miles so I knew I could push myself to 10...and I did. At 10 miles, I thought, it's only one more extra mile out and back to get to my long awaited 12 miles so I decided after going back & forth mentally to quit or keep just dig deep for the last 2 miles. I was hoping I did not fall short and give out at 11 miles- so still jogging between a 11;30 to 12:00 pace due to my body's fatigue, I toughed it out like never before. To make sure I was not pushing myself too hard- I took 1 minute walk breaks every 10 minutes and walked a few extra times at the end of the run to catch my breath.

I ran and extended into my other neighborhoods, waiting to hear my audio prompt that I hit 12 miles. I never wanted a run to end more than that moment and when my iPhone announced 12 miles I stopped, caught my breath and walked the rest of the way home. I was never so tired and proud in my whole life! Also the amazing thing- no knee pain, it had come and left, no hip pain, no foot pain...I pushed past it for the first time ever! Amazing- how you can push past the point when you think you can't go any can push yourself a little farther and still again.  I felt like I might cry, emotions were right at the surface, when I was nearly maxed out but pushed on..and now I see tears in my future at my half finish line! 

I am still feeling like I need some time to recoup further, so in spite of a strenuous run- I might still skip Malibu and do the PV half instead so I can be 100% plus when it's Half Marathon D-day! 

Now I know I can do this 13.1 mile run but am still scared at how hard I will have to push myself to complete it. I am excited though to hit that finish line. 

View from the Hermosa Beach green belt path.