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Oakland Marathon Recap: Wild Joy and a Crash March 28, 2010

I’m lying on my bed. My stomach is in some kind of turmoil. I still don’t feel so good physically. But emotionally I feel great! We did it! *I* did it!

I don’t have energy to do anything but lie here so I’m just gonna do that; lie here and write out my marathon recap. Are ya ready for all the details? (if not, just skip this post!) (AT THIS POINT I STOPPED BLOGGING FOR SEVERAL HOURS)

Picking up the packet and chip at the Marathon Expo was big fun yesterday. It was great to meet up with the other penguins and feel all the buzzy excitement about the event. After the Expo I had about a million errands to run in preparation for my trip to Costa Rica! tomorrow!!! (I honestly can’t even fathom this right now) I came home, had a pasta dinner (carbo loading you know, but with Dreamfields low-glycemic linguine), then tried to go to bed. I was soooooo unsleepy and did not sleep until after midnight. :-(

Woke up at 6:30 by text from another penguin who was already at the starting line. I knew I had a looooong way to go. I was hoping to get down to cheer on my teammates in leg 1 and 2, but there were a lot of road closures going on. I made it to leg 2, and was able to cheer/meet up with/run with my two great pals Mary (Team Penguin) & Lisa Marie (Team Strong Mix). That made me so happy, to be alongside them for a block or two, offer up words of encouragement and love.  

OK then you’ll laugh. I still had a bunch of time before my own leg, so I asked my dear spouse to drive me home for a minute. I wanted to use my own bathroom. There was time. I’m kind of a wimp that way.  Then we headed down to the BART station so I could take the train to my relay start point. At this point it was about 10am and I felt like I’d been up and READY forever.

I got down to the relay point and it was so exciting. I felt great. I spent a bunch of time pacing around to warm up and before I knew it, Penguin #1 (Mary) was leaping out of nowhere to give me a hug, and then Penguin #3 (Michael-David) showed up around the corner and it was time to give him my BART card and get the ankle strap thingie with the chip (or so we thought, more on that later). He strapped  it on my ankle and I just took off. I was so high!

The first part of the run made me so happy. I had run this stretch many times before and I love it. A bunch of folks were out in lawn chairs, cheering us on and saying encouraging stuff. I felt fabulous. But after the first mile I got a little surprised because the route changed on me. We ran straight past the point where I usually turn off. This made me kind of nervous and concerned because suddenly I had NO IDEA where we were going, it was all unfamiliar, and worst, there were hardly ANY spectators/cheering people on this part. It just felt lonely and confusing.

Luckily, that only lasted a mile or so and I was back on familiar turf. At around mile 22 (aka MY mile 3, since I started at 19) I was feeling great. And I should remind myself that that was the length (almost) of my regular 5k. I felt so happy. We came into sight of the lake. The lake was full of even MORE people and I did good up until right past mile 23. Then I started feeling kind of sick to my stomach (I should’ve known, first sign of dehydration!). I had a few gulps of water at the water station but didn’t want too much because I was worried I’d throw up.

I thought, maybe this is the time for some Gu. I ripped open the vanilla Gu. OMG. I have not had anything that intensely sweet in… over a year. (it’s like sucking down cake frosting from a tube) I was like, oh NOOOOO I need water! I need it bad! But the water station was what felt like a lonng way away. I could not deal with this thick frosting feeling in my mouth. But I felt like I needed it.

Got to a water station around mile 24. Gulped a big cup of water. Started praying I’d feel better. I didn’t. Then my hands started tingling and actually going numb. OK, I started freaking. And started walking. I knew I had 2 miles left and I didn’t want to be coming in on a stretcher. So I powerwalked about 5 minutes and when I started feeling a bit better, I took a run, starting around 25. But I never felt super great after that point. I kept trying to gauge it. I wanted to have a strong finish for SURE, so I was trying to ration my energy.

At about a mile from the finish, I saw Penguin 1 (Kathy) who had been searching for me all over the lake!! (great runner, good Catholic, she was trying to attend a MASS in between her leg and mine!) This was the last uphill. I said to her, y’know, I’m not doing so hot. I ran a bit then said I have to walk. Then Penguin 2 (Mary) popped up! And finally Penguin 3! They were bringing me in!!!! This would’ve made me so emotional but at that point I realized I was having trouble breathing. My lungs were just seizing up, I was wheezing and I got a little panicky. Luckily (and miraculously?) Mary HAPPENED to have an inhaler in her pocket! so I used that. But I was feeling not so hot. So much for my strong finish. Then we rounded the bend and I knew it was like 3 blocks away. I gathered up all the adrenaline inside and sprinted in to the Finish. Then kinda collapsed.

One of the volunteer dudes gave us some bad news right after the finish. He told us that what we THOUGHT had been the race timing chip was actually the receipt, or the “other” part of the band. Which was INCREDIBLY irritating, since we had asked a race volunteer at the Expo to attach the chip to the ankle strap because we were SO worried about getting it wrong somehow. But voila, SHE got it wrong, and as a result, we had no split times. Which was really maddening, and not cool. Boo on race volunteers who Don’t Know What They’re Doing.

We blasted through the little post-race chute, got our medals (YAY), got our photos taken (YAY). I was like, I’m feeling kinda bad. I’m feeling kinda shaky. I had some PowerAde and a section of an orange, but I still did not feel so hot. I managed to get excited for the photo opps because yeah it felt so great to FINISH the thing, but I was aware underneath it all that I really, really wanted to get home, and like ASAP.

Michael-David had a sausage sandwich that looked really good at first but every time he offered me a bite my stomach got really alarmed. Part of me was like, “I need PROTEIN!” but then I couldn’t face it. So we went home.

Over the course of the next five hours, I just felt worse. And worse. And worse. And I wasn’t eating or drinking because I felt incredibly nauseated, my stomach was in absolute turmoil. I had started writing this recap but after about the first few paragraphs I couldn’t even do that. I tried to sleep. But I was in pain, and feeling shaky and cold and crazy.

FINALLY after many hours of this my husband brought me some chicken soup and said I had to try to eat it, that the salt would help restore me. I choked a bit down and actually it did help me feel better, a lot better. I went into the bathroom and weighed myself and saw that I had lost 5 lbs since that morning. I knew then that my problem really was all about dehydration.

I felt really stupid. I felt like I had not taken good care of myself or prepared well. I ate my breakfast (whole wheat Eng muffin with peanut butter, and coffee, yeah duh) at 7am. And then had nothing to eat or drink until that Gu at mile 23. In retrospect, yeah, that was super poor planning on my part. But every time I’d approached any station, I was like, “I don’t want to have to stop and pee!” or “I’m not hungry,” or whatever, so I kept passing it all up. Until it was too late.

I don’t know what was up with the asthma except that the allergies are super bad around here and I think with all the other stress, my lungs just freaked out. THAT was scary.

SO now it’s 8pm, I am just now starting to feel like maybe I’ll live. My blood glucose is 172. Which sucks.  I feel chagrined and embarrassed. I’m sad that I didn’t prepare well and thus did not have the great experience I wanted (all the way through). I’m mad that it’s 8pm and I have to leave for Costa Rica in 12 hours and I am NOT READY!

But on the other hand, it was a beautiful experience. I loved the community, the being out in my great city, the energy. I loved that I had zero orthopedic problems the whole time (foot/leg/hip/back). I loved a lot about it. But I’m just feeling sorta humbled now, and really tired. I’m really glad I did it, and so happy I finished, and I do feel proud.  Thanks everyone, for the fantastic support all along the way.

 

Team Penguin is Ready March 27, 2010

Words cannot even describe how excited I am. No matter what happens tomorrow, I think it’s gonna be a beautiful day.

 

10K and BEYOND! February 28, 2010


Lake Merritt stroll

Originally uploaded by TomLog

Yesterday was a big day! I decided to check out my entire marathon relay leg. I wanted to feel it from beginning to end. I had no expectations I would run the whole thing, in fact I was hoping for 60-40% at best. Normally I have to start at the beginning, then run for a period and then turn around to get to my car. But yesterday was a Saturday, and Mr. McBody was available to pick me up at the “finish line” so I could go all in one direction. I was psyched!

I was all in a quandary about how to pace myself for this run. I thought about possibly using one of the couch-to-K programs on my phone, so I could interval. But then I decided (big brave move!) to just interval intuitively; ie to run as long as I felt like it, then walk as long as I wanted to, etc. and just SEE what happened.

Previously, the longest I had run was 5 min run/2 min walk and that felt strenuous enough last week. But I wanted to see what I would do without that dinging in my ear.

So I took off. I walked fast for 2-3 minutes and then started running. I was about half a mile down the road, and jogging in place at a stop light, when this guy comes out of NOWHERE and leaps out at me. I was so freaked! And scared!

Guess what he was holding in his hand? My car keys. My only set of car keys in the world. They had flown out of my pocket while I was running, and I hadn’t heard (due to music in my ears) or felt a thing. He had seen this happen, had stopped his car in the middle of the road, and charged over to me before the light turned! After being totally scared of my wits, I was quickly thrilled by the kindness of humans.

I kept running. I ran for about 12 minutes, or the first mile, according to my Runkeeper app. That was pretty shocking and exciting for me – and more than double what I’d run consecutively, since last summer. So that was great. I only needed to walk for a minute before starting up again. So I decided that I’d try to run to each mile and then walk if I needed to. Which could also come in handy during the event itself since I am assuming there will be mile markers posted.

I got to the point where I normally turn around. I continued on to the lake and that was very exciting, because I’d never made it that far before. I’ve done so many runs on that lake and I love it – it makes me so happy to be out there in the community, and to see other people walking and running, from really old people to elite athletes. So I’m super psyched that my relay leg includes the lake.

I was running with a sheet of paper in my hand, with the road directions for the marathon. (but no map) I looked down at real quickly and saw “right on Grand Avenue.” So I turned right and started circling the lake counter-clockwise. So far so good. I was at about 3.5 miles then (5k!) and feeling okay.

When I was about halfway around the lake, I thought I’d take a peek at my directions. They didn’t make any sense to me. 14th St.? 19th St.? Lakeside? Suddenly I felt completely turned around and disoriented. And I realized I had run way past my last intersection.

Suddenly I was exhausted. What if I had run way beyond and I had just added like a mile to my 10K? I couldn’t bear the idea. I turned around and headed back to 14th St. I was so confused. I searched for my location on my phone’s GPS, and kept staring at the paper, and nothing made any sense to me. Finally I stood at the corner of 14th and Lakeside and burst into tears. “I don’t know where to go!!!!!!!!!!!!” The idea of going further away from the real path just seemed unacceptable. I knew I was close to the end but didn’t know which way to go. I was losing it BIG time.

Finally I backed up and studied it all again. I realized I had made a mistake when I got to the lake. The FIRST direction said “Turn left on Grand,” but I’d skipped down on the paper and read the wrong one. I had gone counterclockwise when I should have gone clockwise.
But there was NO WAY I was going to do it all over again so I got a grip and kept running. I found my way to 14th, then Lakeside, 19th, etc., until I was in the home stretch. Then I got a text-message ding from one of my relay partners from Team Penguin. She was just a few blocks away! At every intersection I jogged in place and texted, “I’m at Harrison now! Broadway! Telegraph!” until finally I was running the last 3 blocks to the finish. I was so elated. I imagined the finish line and the thousands of people and I was beside myself.

I know now that I can do this. When I got home I mapped my route, lost turns and all, and found that I’d run 6.69 miles. Which was MORE than a 10k! (a 10.6k, in fact) This idea in itself has been overwhelming to me. I ran almost 7 miles, with only a couple of walk breaks and a few stops for traffic lights. I can’t believe it.

It also woke me up to the sobering realization that the relay itself is going to be 12K! Yowzers. But I can do it. Yes I can.

 

Cue up the Rocky Music February 10, 2010

It’s so weird. Some days I feel like I can barely drag myself around the block. Other days… well, wooh!

I think I felt extra motivated after the half marathon 5k was over, and ready to turn to a new page, which is the marathon relay coming up at the end of March. I want to be ready. I want to be a strong contributor to my team.

So yesterday I drove down to the start of my relay leg. This is new for me, to actually be able to train ON the route of a running race. It was kind of cool. I parked my car at the intersection and already I could imagine the thousands of people who will be there too. My heart started pounding. I got all gadgeted up: first I put on my Bodybugg, which has been out of commission for a while because I couldn’t find my armband. Then I set my iPhone to the couch-to-10k app, week 5, day 1. This same workout totally killed me last week. It is supposed to be 70  minutes total, and I pooped out after 30, and felt totally defeated. Back in the saddle.

At first, my feet and ankle were really bothering me and I was worried. I was wearing new running shoes, which I feel like I really need. The soles of my old ones were SHOT and I think it’s not healthy to run on them because they’re all uneven. I had on my ankle brace. Something about the lacing had been messed up at the 5k and the top of my foot was really, really sore. But whatever. I had to do it.

There’s something very Pavlovian and addictive about the “couch-to” apps. They play some loud tone and a voice says, WALK NOW or RUN NOW. And do whatever it commands. I started with a 5 minute warmup. As I was walking (fast) I noticed what a beautiful route it is. It’s a wide, flat road called the Mandela Parkway. Which I love. There were some plum blossom trees already blooming, and some awesome graffiti art. (I didn’t take pics while running, I stopped and took them when I did the mileage with my car later) It made me so happy that I chose this leg of the marathon. It feels perfect for me.

It’s a really industrial, warehousey kind of neighborhood at first; a lot of trucks and industry. And you know what was amazing, I got like half a dozen thumbs-up and people waving at me. They seemed so happy to see me out there running. Did they know I was doing a marathon training, and that the marathon is going to be coming through this neighborhood? I don’t know. At any rate I was feeling very Rockyesque.

After about 15 minutes my feet stopped hurting. Everything just loosened up, got warm and lubed up and felt great. I got into a real groove. The intervals felt great: 2:30 run, then 2:30 walk, back and forth, 20 times. Every time I started feeling a little tired, cardio wise, the voice would say WALK NOW and I was so happy. Then every time my bones started hurting, it would say RUN NOW and I’d be happy all over again. It actually felt a lot better to run than to walk; it took pressure off my feet and just felt… relaxing. (I CAN’T BELIEVE I JUST WROTE THAT)

As I ran, I kept imagining doing this with hundreds/thousands of other people, and several times I got teared up. After a while I realized that I was in a completely different part of town. I could not believe I’d run that far. When the Voice told me I was “halfway” I pulled a U-turn and started heading back to my car. I couldn’t believe how far I’d gone.

My return trip took two minutes less than the trip out. Which was great. I got to my car and I felt like a million bucks. Then I got in and drove the route again to see my distance (which C210K doesn’t measure, and I didn’t want to run C210K AND Runkeeper simultaneously). My halfway point was at 2.9 miles. Which means… I ran 5.8 miles of intervals! In 70 68 minutes!!!!

I was a damn happy puppy after that. And it made me feel like, it IS going to be possible, I AM going to do this, and it’s gonna be great.

Here’s some pics along the way. Look at this cool metal person sculpture. It’s enormous, and there are two other half-people on the other side of the road. Everything just made me so happy. It was one of those great, great, great runs. I feel so lucky.

 

 
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