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March 2013

Race Recap: Oakland Half Marathon

IMG_1038It’s been a long time since I last posted, and so much has happened I’ve been wanting to blog about. But alas, lack of time. The biggest thing to happen recently was the culminating event for my last season of Team in Training – the Oakland Half Marathon.

I love the Oakland Running Festival. So far I have “race” in three out of the four years since it started. The first year I did the Marathon Team Relay, the next year I did the 5k, I skipped a year last year and this year I did the half marathon. I love this event so much. It brings me so much Oakland pride. The bling this year was so beautiful and yeah, someday I might join MizFitOnline in getting this image tattooed on my self.

I was happy because I was running this one “with” (I put in quotes because I knew they would finish way ahead of me) my beloved training buddy Lily, as well as with Junior. We went to the race expo the day before to pick up our packets and check out the gear. Always an exciting and fun time.

She IS.
She IS.
Kinda annoyed bc the LARGE was too small... :-(
Kinda annoyed bc the LARGE was too small… 😦
Stopped by to say hi to Oakland Mayor Jean Quan!
Stopped by to say hi to Oakland Mayor Jean Quan!

I also went to my TNT Inspiration lunch, where we got pumped up and remembered why were doing this. I raised over $1500 total for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. After the lunch, I went home and decorated my shirt with the names of my personal honorees.

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So this was my fourth half marathon. (!!!!!) And my second one this year! After coming in with a 3.04 finish time at the Tinkerbell Half, I set in my mind that I wanted to try to finish sub-three hours for this one.  I decided that I was going to try and keep up a good pace throughout and not stop at all (or much).

The half marathon had the latest start I’d ever had at a race – 9:15am. But we got there a lot earlier and were able to see both the start AND the finish of the 5k, and that was super fun. I got to cheer in my couch-t0-5k running buddy Mary, as well as Sofia and her brother James.

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We got to hang around and soak up the general excitement near the start/finish line, and that was cool. I just love the happy, excited energy and races.

ready to go!
ready to go!

We got all lined up and took off. I didn’t really see much of Lily & Junior during the race because, as I said, they are both a lot faster than me. But it was okay. I was pretty happy just running through my city.

Miles 1-8 were, as I had expected, pretty steady and not too hard. But by the time we got to 8-9 (my usual Achilles heel) I was starting to flag a bit, and wondering if I might get some much needed support. Here I got caught by the official race photographers, digging out my phone to text my friend Lisa Marie. I knew she lived nearby and I was hoping to get a glimpse of her for some much needed energy.

calling for help
calling for help


The next stretch was along the Mandela Parkway. It’s a long, potentially lonely stretch and luckily there was some good stuff to pick me up along the way. First, I was out of my mind happy to see Lisa Marie! She was standing on a corner and gave me a quick hug and an encouraging cheer. I SOOOO needed that!

Next, some cool stuff. A fire-shooting Trojan horse thing. It was blasting flames about 20 feet into the sky. I was pretty impressed by that, and had to stop a second to take a picture.

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IMG_1017Then, some cool spectators on this super nifty bicycle umbrella thingie. I don’t know what the heck it was, but what a great vantage point, huh?

THEN a wonderful neighbor lady with a bucket full of orange wedges. OH that made my day! I was very grateful.

IMG_1019Around mile 10 I was passed by my awesome racewalking coach Carolyn. “Is that Susan Ito?” she said, as she sped on by. Dude. I was “running.” She was “walking.” I tried to keep up with her. I tried to catch her. I just could not. DAMN. She’s good.

She was so fast I couldn’t even snap a picture of her swiveling little butt.

Finally we came up upon the lake, which I have run so many times. I thought about how I had had such a tough time on this stretch during the 2010 marathon relay. Lo and behold, I started feeling the same darn tingling in my hands, the same almost-nausea, the utter fatigue. The wall was starting to come up in my face. I had been pretty much running with the same group of people in this last part, and we started giving each other verbal encouragement. We were all going at the same pace and pretty much all gritting it out.

It was hard. Damn it was hard. But I had my eye on my watch and I really wanted to get there under my three hours. I just kept going.

I knew the final tenth of a mile was going to be up a little but not insigificant hill. WHYYYYYY? How cruel is that. You run 26 or 13 miles and then at the end, you have to chug up a hill to get to the finish.

Luckily for me, Junior was sitting on that hill (having finished about an hour ago!). She jumped up when she saw me and ran next to me. You got this mama! I started getting all crumbly and emotional. I am pretty sure I was crying. She held my hand. She might have even pulled me up the hill. When we got to the very final flat spot before the finish, I broke off and SPRINTED in. I was feeling so… RAWR. See?

finish lineThen it was over. I had a tiny little episode of almost-asthma. I was all wheezy for a minute. Then I got myself together and got my medal and found my peoples and found a bathroom (um, with NO TP. BOOOOO. So I had to run outside and find a copy of the Wall Street Journal, which I used instead. Haha) and then collapsed on the ground with our beautiful medals.

IMG_1021Then I found my buddy Estelle who had just completed her leg of the relay. How cool to see her there!

IMG_1027Then I saw my coach Al from Team in Training (“I knew you could do it!” he said) and I got some chocolate milk and my 13.1 Finishers’ Pin from the team manager at the TNT table.

IMG_1032 IMG_1033By then I was in a pretty jovial mood. I figured out that I had beat my PR by a whole bunch. My last PR was 3:04, and I finished this one in 2:49. Fifteen minutes! Woo hoooooo! Time to celebrate!

IMG_1036We gathered up our friends and family and headed over to Barney’s Burgers. I haven’t had a milkshake, in like, YEARS, but I was ready and felt very deserving. Lily and I split a Turkish coffee shake and enjoyed every last drop.

IMG_1042Junior, Josh (our housemate from last year who was back for a visit) and Juniorette enjoyed their Oreo coffee shake as well.

IMG_1044It was happy times. I was really happy to be doing this event surrounded by so many people I loved, in the city I love. I felt really happy with my time. I know that my struggle at the end had everything to do with how hard I pushed it.

After lunch, we headed back home. I took a much needed shower and spent the rest of the afternoon in bed with a gel pack on my butt/hip. Naptime.

IMG_1058I felt really proud of this one. Even though it was hard, I struggled a lot less than I did for the relay, half that distance, three years ago. I am definitely getting better.

My next half marathon is in June – the See Jane Run race which I will be doing with my friend Shannon. My goal for that one is to not break any speed records but instead to support her, to have FUN and to feel happy crossing that finish line. It doesn’t always have to be about pace. I am happy that I proved to myself I could break that three-hour mark. But next time, I’m in it for fun.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My First Colonoscopy (A Public Service Message)

The Worst Part

So, let me start this post with the disclaimer that Mr. McBody performs colonoscopies for a living. That is his job. And ever since I turned the ripe old age of 50, he has been bugging me. Incessently. He says that Everyone Needs to Have A Screening when they turn 50. Yeah, yeah, yeah, I said. I put it off.  And put it off. Over and over again.

But then I remembered what happened the last time he bugged me to get tested for something. He was Worried about my Health. As it turned out, he was correct in his worry. I had pre-diabetes. Then diabetes. He kind of knows his stuff.

He did not think there was anything wrong with me, but he has come home more times than I can count, to tell of people who came in, had their screen, in which Stuff Was Found. And either it was a great thing, because it was found Early, or it was an awful thing, because it was found Late. So many cautionary tales.

I was NOT looking forward to this (can ya tell?). But finally I bent to spousal pressure as well as good old common sense. I made an appointment with a lady doctor in his same practice. Whom I like and trust.

I was dreading this. (Oh, did I already say that? Silly me). I had had my share of Drinking Unpleasant Drinks for many a glucose tolerance test. On at least one occasion I drank it too fast (trying to get it over with) and ended up throwing up, and much sadness and despair ensued, because of course, I had to start all over again.

He came home with a freaking GALLON of stuff. As well as a smaller bottle, and some other good things to get me “clean as a whistle.” (do not read on if you are squeamish, or averse to TMI, because I’m gonna go there, albeit in language that is as coded as possible)

The first night (Sunday) I began to Prepare. Which meant drinking the first small bottle. This was not so bad because my Method (believe me, Method is KEY to this process) was to eat small amounts of Very Salty Food, and then guzzle the drink. It was both salty and sweet. I put it in a big glass of ice. I downed it. Subsequently, my hands and feet became SO VERY COLD I could barely feel them. I think this had to do with all of the blood rushing posthaste to my gut, thus leaving my poor extremities without a drop of circulation. It was shivery, but I went to bed with 3 pairs of socks and a couple of quilts. I managed.

Monday – the big DAY OF PREP (also known as a holiday, or President’s Day, to the rest of you. I hope you enjoyed it!!). I was to eat nothing but Clear Liquids all day. For those who do not know, clear liquids include chicken buillion, Jello, popsicles (NOT the fruit kind), and soda or tea or water. 

Mr. McBody had had his own colonoscopy a year or two before. He said that the Method he liked the best, was to take a sip of the Vile Stuff, and then follow it with a “chaser” of Crystal Light lemonade. I tried this Method for about one glass, or 8 ounces worth. It took me the better part of two hours.

He shook his head in utter dismay. “You have about 30 more of those glasses to go,” he said. I cried. He was exaggerating of course, but the truth was I had barely made a dent in the enormous gallon jug. The vile stuff, for those of you who are curious, is called “GoLightly” (hahahah) and tastes like thickened salt water. With an aftertaste I can’t even describe, it is so horrible.

I finished the 2nd glass. It was after noon. I was beginning to feel incredibly desperate. He informed me that the output of my body was supposed to look like “pee.” Believe me, it looked nothing remotely like that. 

I decided to attempt my own Method. I mixed the Vile Stuff with its own Crystal Light. Rendering it very sweet and salty and icky. But better than Just Salty. I chased it, not with more liquid (which I could not bear) but with a heaping spoonful of orange flavored Jello. Suddenly I was very, very grateful to the makers of Jello. (or, I think it is, Jell-O)

In this manner I managed to get down about 80% of the ENTIRE GINORMOUS JUG. But it took until about 2am to do so. Meanwhile, our dear Junior was calling frantically from across town. HER tummy was upset. VERY upset. (was she having sympathy pain? Or…?) 

It turned out that she had a gastrointestinal virus, coincidentally. Dear Mr. McBody, who has more tolerance of gastrointestinal distress than any human I know (thus his calling and profession) drove down there and offered her comfort in her many hours of distress. Between the two of us, what a pair.

I entered the Surgery Center at around 9:00am.  Everyone was extremely kind to me. All I remembered is the nurses repeating, “Your biggest job in here is to pass gas when it is done.” I was like, Huh?

Then I woke up. There was a terrible, awful, no-good pain right around my midsection. All around me, on other side of the curtain walls, people were merrily farting away. One guy was like, “I’m so good at this!” BRRRRRRPPPPPP. He was in pig heaven. But I was having trouble producing more than tiny little toots, and thus there was a ton of gas or air or whatever in my transverse colon, and it hurt like the DEVIL. I cried. My husband came in and said that this complication happens in about one out of a thousand people. It made me feel Special, and not in a good way.

Finally, I farted enough of the air out and I felt better. Mr. McBody took me out for a nice brunch since I felt like I hadn’t eaten anything solid or proper in a MONTH (it had only been about 36 hours). Then I went home to bed.

What I learned was that I had 3 benign polyps inside me. They were all removed. Then I felt gratitude to him for bugging me. Because polyps that are not removed, often grow into Bad Things, and then it is Too Late, and even worse things happen than having to drink icky Salt water. Those polyps are gone now.

I have to do this again in two years. (rather than the 10 years it would be had there been no polyps at all) I am stocking up on Crystal Light and Jell-O, and maybe I will take some classes at Farting School. 

All in all, I am grateful. I am glad to have had this Unfun test which I am quite sure prevented me from having even worse things take place.

SO: public service announcement. If you are 50 or close to it, GO GET A COLONOSCOPY. And: stock up on the Jell-O. You’ll thank me. 

That is all.

OH and PS. I have mysteriously dropped some previously stuck-on poundage since the Procedure. I wonder if this might have something to do with being Clean As A Whistle. In any case, I’m not complaining. 

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