Wednesday, May 25, 2011

All it Takes is All You've Got

Warning: LONG POST! Only for me for historical purposes and future races. Do not torture yourself by reading it! Unless, of course, you like pain or to hear about other people's. lol
If you are a runner then you have to know a little bit about math. Math never was my favorite subject, but I did learn a few things. One being that when something is divided by two you get half of what you were dividing. And so I naturally assume that the same principle would apply to running. Mainly that running a half marathon requires only half the training and that you can technically can get prepared for it in half the time. It also stands to reason that it would only take half the mental strength as a full and hopefully be only half as painful.

Grade: FI have run several half marathons and have always really enjoyed the distance. To me it really seems like half the pain, half the emotions, half the nerves, half the training, half the recovery, half the mental stability as a full. Maybe even less. I have actually really loved all of my half marathons.

Until now.

I signed up to run the OGDEN MARATHON nine months ago, just two weeks after I ran the Top of Utah full marathon when I was still in lala land and high on the adrenaline. At the time I had no idea my IT (iliotibial) bands were going to start screaming at me for several months preventing me from running it. I was just so excited to run Ogden! I kept hoping that I would be able to get in the training and they would heal and I could still do it, but in February when I had to start the training, I knew deep down that I should not do the full. My IT bands were feeling much better, but I was also feeling strongly that my body was not up to doing more than one marathon a year. I didn't want to have healed it only to injure it again. I just knew that it wasn't in the cards for May. Those calculations were 100% on.

Grade: A+So, I decided I would do the half instead and put my focus on that. I ran the Ogden half a few years ago and absolutely loved the course and was looking forward to this run for a long time. I was well trained for it and ready to go. The Saturday before, my training schedule called for a 12 miler and so I followed the plan. At mile 8.5 into that run, my knees started to ache and then my left one seriously flared up. My IT band again. Instead of stopping, I was determined to get in those 12 miles and I ran through the pain. A big no-no. But I did the math and decided I could make it 4.5 more.

Grade: F-In case you didn't catch that, it should say, "I decided I could make it 3.5 more." Just testing to see what grade you got in math. =) By mile 10 I was seriously limping as I ran. Now that is a pretty sight, let me tell you! At 11.5 I was no longer able to run as my knee started to give out on me. I used to be so good at listening to my body and obeying it, but lately I have been more determined to just suck it up and run through the pain. Not smart! All that does is increase the injury. I took it easy the rest of the week, just walking with zero running, rolling it out with my foam roller a lot, and taking Celebrex hoping it would heal by the starting gun. I even started on Glucosamine Chondroitin.

The marathon was scheduled for the 21st but I also had been invited to go to Park City with some high school friends for that weekend. I knew I wouldn't get much sleep in Park City, but didn't want to miss it either. I decided to go and just force myself to go to bed at a decent hour on Friday night. I had real good intentions. We left on Thursday morning and had so much fun that we all stayed up until 3:30 a.m.! Come Friday night I knew I had to get some sleep or I would never be able to function, let alone run a half marathon. I ended up getting to bed at midnight and back up at 4:00 a.m. I never sleep much on race day eve anyway, so I felt I would be okay. Besides once the adrenaline started kicking in, I knew I would be fine.

I drove to the starting line of the half because of the fact that I was in Park City and also because I was running the half with a full bib because they refuse to let you transfer from race to race. That is one of my pet peeves about marathon's, especially ones that you have to sign up for NINE months in advance! Who knows what is going to happen in that amount of time? When I arrived I saw that I was surrounded by others doing the same thing. I talked to some about getting on the bus and they said the organizers didn't check their bibs. One of them also said they thought our chips would activate and count us for the half. Another said we would be disqualified or be a DNF or DNS. I personally didn't care either way. I just wanted to run it!

I got in line for the porta potties but realized I would never be done before the gun and so I just got in line for the race. I wasn't as nervous as I usually am for some reason. Probably due to lack of sleep and my zombie-ish-ness. The gun went off and I remember thinking as I started to run that I wasn't feeling it today. My lungs were feeling heavy and my calves were cramping from step one. But, about a mile and a half into it, I started to feel good. Real good! That lasted for another half mile when my left IT band started to scream LOUDLY! I was NOT prepared for that, and I immediately knew from the severity of the pain that came on so strong and fast, that it wasn't going to go away. I was more than discouraged, but, I kept running and turned on my iPod and tried to zone out in the music. It didn't work. I had to stop and stretch and after that I felt a bit better for about 10 steps. So I stopped and stretched it again. And again. And again. And again. I could only go about a quarter of a mile each time before it became so bad I didn't know what else to do.

Mile TWO! Really?

That has never happened to me in the history of my running career. NEVER! Not even on a training run. I would expect it at mile eight or nine maybe, but not TWO! The stretching just was not helping. About mile four my knee almost gave out on me. I was so frustrated! Every time I stopped to stretch, I watched so many runners pass me by. I hated that! I knew my time was going down the drain and fast. I was really hoping for a new PR on this race and all those hopes were going down the mountain along with the very full and rapid river. About mile five, it sunk in that I was going to have to finish this race with this pain because it was not going away, or... quit. I knew I couldn't quit, and so once I decided to stick it out, the emotions started to surface. I have never become emotional in a race (with the exception of mile 21-24 of my marathon) until now.

I felt desperate and wasn't sure what to do. All I knew was I didn't want to run another 8 miles like that. Deep down I knew I shouldn't be running with that kind of pain because it was probably doing a lot of damage with each step I took. I was really wishing I had a knee band or brace. At the mile six aid station I asked them if it was also a first aid stop. It wasn't, but they had some Corban and so I had them wrap my knee. They used the entire roll and a lot of my time! As soon as I started to run, I knew it was not going to be a solution but more of a problem. I stopped and unwrapped it as fast as I could and re-wrapped it much different and tighter. I am sure it was a sight seeing me trying to bite half of it off with my teeth in order to shorten it. I started to run and could tell I got it a little too tight. It was seriously cutting off my circulation! I stopped again and re-wrapped it a little looser this time. The third time was the charm. Even though I knew it was still too tight, I didn't care because it gave me some relief! That pressure was really helping. Either that or it stopped the blood flow so it numbed it! I didn't care. I just was grateful I could run without limping as bad. It was still painful and I didn't push it, but was just so relieved it wasn't getting worse. It gave me hope I could do the next 7 miles.

Even though I was feeling very disappointed because I was still unable to run at my usual pace, the beauty of that course was spectacular! My surroundings had me in awe. I felt the greatest little moments of pure joy. There is no way unless you have experienced it, to describe the feeling of running in God's splendor with hundreds of other runners all trying to reach the same goal. I have felt a runner's high before, but this was beyond that. I felt so ALIVE! And I felt so grateful I could RUN! Albeit, like a cripple, but I could still run! The weather was absolutely perfect and I wanted to just burst. The freeing feeling of running was never stronger for me and even though I had to hold back, it felt so good to be running that race. Or maybe it was just the euphoria I was feeling that the pain wasn't as torturous as before. Whatever it was, I soaked it all in and just smiled and cherished each moment!

Those moments are rare, but when they come, all the early morning runs in the snow, rain , hail, and sleet are worth it. All the dogs chasing me with vampire teeth and all the moments of wanting to quit due to pure exhaustion are worth it. All the sore and aching muscles and all the torturous hill runs are worth it.
The good news is by mile 9 or so, I was feeling like I would be able to go those 3 miles without being lifted off the street in a stretcher. I had run the course before and unlike the Top of Utah Marathon (WHY I did that one for my first marathon I will NEVER know!) I was looking forward to the miles ahead because I knew how gorgeous the scenery was. No hills, to speak of, and lots of great cheering crowds. By mile 11.5, I decided to push it and add some speed. I knew whatever happened at that point, that I could handle it for a mile and a half. When I got about 50 yards from the finish line, I took off on a full boar sprint! I was shocked and amazed that after what a horrible run I had, that I finished strong.
I was happy I was done. But not just half as happy as when I finished the full. Mathematically speaking, I would say I was more than half as happy. I won't get into fractions, or I will lose, actually I will lose me. I never did like fractions. But this I do get... a half a marathon may give you as much satisfaction as a full when you give it all you've got. And all it takes IS all you've got. That I do know. Running is like that. I have learned so much about myself from this simple sport than I could have any other way. I am stronger than I knew. I am weaker than I knew. I am tougher than I knew. I am more emotional than I knew. I am more competitive than I knew. I am more stubborn than I knew. I am more grateful than I knew. I am more determined than I knew. And I am better at math than I knew! Who knew? ☺
I crossed the finish line with a time of 2:11! I was SHOCKED! Truly shocked. I had my running app going on my phone, but for some reason my fully charged battery died about mile 6. I had ZERO idea what my time or pace was. I only knew I watched people pass me instead of me passing them from mile 2 to mile 11.5. I honestly thought I was going to be around 2:50 or even 3:00. I felt like I had run with tar filled legs. My PR for a half is 2:02. I was wanting to set a new PR and was hoping for a sub 2:00, (thanks Jen for putting that into my head!) So instead of being happy and ecstatic that I did so well considering the circumstances, I was completely BUMMED! Mainly because I knew that had my STUPID IT BAND cooperated (at least beyond mile TWO!) I could have set that PR! Sooooooooo frustrating! And I knew that if I had not ran that extra 3.5 miles on my training run, I probably would have fared much better.

Luckily Dave was there to set me straight and keep me focused on the fact that even with the problems, I still got a great time. I still am having a hard time grasping and knowing that it could have been my best race EVER. Once again... that's running. I have to also focus on the fact that it could have been much worse too. I could have been peeled off the street and carried off in a stretcher and not finished. And the bottom line is, I was still able to feel a love for this sport even though it doesn't always turn out perfectly. It RARELY turns out perfectly. In fact, does anyone know if it has ever turned out perfectly? You have to be a little crazy to be a runner. THAT I do know.

As far as my official time, my name showed up with the FULL results with a made up time. They have my time as 4:42 for the full. Interesting. I guess they somehow predicted from my 13.1 miles what my 26.2 would be. I guess I'd give them a A- for that. I'm just glad I wasn't a DNS or DNF.

Final Grade: A+ Citizenship grade: U (for Unsatisfactory IT Band behavior!)

Buses lining up dropping off runners Bon-fires to keep warm
Waiting for the start
The infamous PORTA POTTIES!
A runner's best friend or worst enemy!

Waiting for the start

Approximately 2400 runners!

There is one huge half mile hill at the beginning and I loved the signs after we climbed the hill.
Helicopter shots. Can you see me down there waving?

Soldiers at the aid stations

Soldiers at the aid stations
Runner's stretching... (at least I think that is what the guy on the far right is doing!) I also spent a lot of time doing this. Not something I am used to.

Check out that river and waterfall! This is the most gorgeous scenery of any run I've experienced.

You can see why Runner's World ranked this marathon as one of the top 10 in the nation!

Since the run was ran on the day of the RAPTURE, these signs were my favorite! My phone battery died and so I couldn't get pix of the real signs. I found these on line so I wouldn't forget.
The finish line. I'm not in this photo. No one that came to support me actually saw me cross it. =(
Happy to be done and still standing!
My "tourniquet" replaced by ice.

My boys and Dave came to support me. My mom did too, but I didn't find her until after and I had no camera.

I waited for Jen to finish the full. My running buds Heather and Jen.

I was honestly afraid after this experience that my knees were going to prevent me from running any more long distance races again. It's been a few days now and I am about to sign up for my next half marathon in July. Did I mention runners are crazy?

If not, I probably don't have to...

"Running is a mental sport...and we're all insane!"Learn to run when feeling the pain: then push harder.
"In running, it doesn't matter whether you come in first, in the middle of the pack, or last. You can say 'I have finished.' There is a lot of satisfaction in that"~~~~~
Pain is only temporary,
Pride is forever,
Pain passes with time and Time passes,
therefore Pain is just a strain on the Brain without Refrain,
and that's why Cross Country runners are Insane.


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