28 September 2009

The Last Big Run

This weekend we had our last major run before the real deal.  We were told to treat this past Saturday as if it were race day, and I was always an obedient child. I ate carbs and stayed hydrated throughout the week. I ate a good amount 12 hours before the run and had toast and coffee Saturday morning. I wore almost exactly what I plan to wear race day, minus the Team in Training jersey and possibly new sneakers. I added my camera to my water belt for the first time, and strapped my iPod to my arm. I was as outfitted as I cared to be and even more than that, I felt ready. I wasn't sore or tense or worried. Even as I drove to the start, and saw the earlier runners already going, I never got nervous. I was ready. 

Danie at the start.

After check-in, we got our detailed directions and headed up a long, curving hill. If I had to guess, I'd say it went for at least a half mile. Sure it was along the Pacific, but it was too foggy to actually see the ocean. Sure there were people cheering us on, but they were already halfway up the hill and they didn't have any further to go did they? I also had my iPod on my forearm, staring at me with its stopwatch face. In hindsight, watching the clock watch me was a mistake.

My pace-mates and I stretched at what we thought was the top of the hill, and kept going. Unfortunately we were still heading "up." There's a mentality that comes with hills. There's the I think I can option, which is tilting the head down, shortening the strides, and plugging along. That's my default setting. But occasionally there is the inclination to glance upward. And once that's done - once one sees the top - it cannot be unseen. That triggers the next mind game., which I played Saturday morning.

It's further than I thought. Is it worth the effort? Will I get to come down this hill? Do I want to go down this hill? Those people are walking. You are not those people. I think I can do it. Of course  you can do it, but we're still in the first mile.We don't know what's still ahead. We don't even have a determined distance. Walk quickly to the top and recover on the flats. Fine.

The flats came, but didn't stay. We were quickly heading down. We went down further than we had gone up. We passed fancy houses and people walking pampered Puggles and still we descended. I was relieved at first, nervous as we went and worried by the time we hit the water stop at 3 miles. I ate three pretzel rods, took two sips of water and turned around. It had taken me 40 minutes to go three miles and in case you're paying attention, that's slower than I did in my first / last race. More importantly, it's slower than I want to go on race day. We were running parts of the actual course, so it was a verified simulation.

We were diverted halfway up and sent to run up a different street. We ended up back where we started, heading down hill #1 and back along the ocean. We dipped into Golden Gate Park and I took a break at mile 6.

Danie at mile 6. Sweaty.

I was getting to the point where I was going to have to decide my mileage for the day. I could have gone all the way to 22 if I had decided to lose my mind. I had decided against going the full 13, because that would steal all my race day thunder. I could have gone 12, and set a new bar, but 11 was familiar. And I had nothing to prove.  I actually thought to go ten, but I missed the turnaround and probably went close to twelve anyway.

The left side of my left shin started complaining sometime after mile six. It took a break and started screaming about a mile from the end. This shin and I have a history, and I was not in the mood to coddle. I kept going and I dared it to come up with a legitimate injury. My shoes are correct. My form is proper. My legs are strong. I talked to a physical therapist about the offending shin and she said it's probably the tissue is not adapting as quickly as the rest of my body. I will not be sidelined by a rogue batch of muscle. I didn't run hard, but I didn't stop either. I finished my run.

Danie at the finish. It was a sweaty, sweaty, affair. 

The running, slowing, and stopping took me 2:29. I'm okay with that. I ran more than half of the actual race course. And I've run the other half before. It seems only this half has the hills.  So I'm sure I'll make up a lot of that time.

And for the record, I rewarded my shin for not completely failing. I fashioned an ice pack before leaving training. I also iced it at home and again on Sunday. It feels fine today. To be safe, I will be doing more work on leg muscles leading up to the race. Just to keep all parts in tip top shape. 

Reminder: I'm running in the Nike Women's Marathon as a fundraiser to fight Leukemia & Lymphoma. Please support me by donating here. The donation deadline is October 1st.

Thank you!

18 September 2009

First Race, #Fail

I've had my first race, and while it wasn't as bad as it could be, it was pretty bad. I'm not pleased with how I did, but the results are documented and will just have to stand.

I had been really excited for this race. I had planned to skip it, but one of my donors suggested I do it and signed up to do it with me. Having run 11 miles four days before, I was hoping to just focus
on my time for the 3.5 miles. I came home from work, drank a lot of water, was successful with a new recipe, and ate dinner with Jesse a little after 5. That ruined everything.

I had the Spanish rice I made and a turkey burger on wheat with smoked Gouda. I didn't eat a lot, and I thought it would be on its way to being digested by the time the race started at 6:45. I changed, posed for a picture, and was on my way.

It took a really long time to get to the parking area and if I would have been late if I hadn't planned on being really early. I fought the traffic. I found a relatively close parking spot. I filled out the back of my bib. Everything was ready and everything else started to catch up to me. I had to pee.

I spotted a bathroom that wasn't portable and I cut through a field to get to it. The grass was wet, which was refreshing until I got halfway through and plodded into a deep and muddy puddle. My proper running shoes are full of holes that allow both air (and water) access to my feet. I walked another mile to the starting line, squelching the entire way with mud drying on the side of my pants.

Once at the start, I couldn't find my co-workers. I was told to look for green shirts. I saw plenty of green shirts. There were 5,000 runners from I don't know how many companies. Naturally a few of them decided to wear green shirts. I was destined to run alone. But I was still excited. I pinned my bib to my shirt. I pinned my keys to my pants and I was - well - not really off to anywhere. I started near the back, and we all had to cross the same starting point to activate our timing chips. After that, there was shuffling as the modest people in the back moved forward, and the ambitious people fell back. I focused on my thoughts.

I'm in a race. I'm running in a real race. I'm probably not going fast enough to improve my time. Why are there people walking in front of me? Why are there people sprinting past me? When am I going to get past these nerves to the easy breathing? Why does my chest feel tight? Take deep breaths. Go a little faster. I don't think I can go any faster. Of course I can go faster, I'm not even out of breath. I may not be comfortable running with all these people. How am I going to do Nike if I can't handle 5,000 people? There's a turn coming that'll help us spread out, and then I'll be able to focus on my speed. Is that the time? It could not have taken me that long to run a mile. Oh Danie. That's the time since the race started. It took you a while to cross the start. How long? You're going too slowly. Something is wrong. Go faster. I can't breathe. How can I not breathe? The wind is against me. No that's not it.

Everything unraveled.

I had to burp. I had a ball of air at the bottom of my chest / top of my stomach. I couldn't breathe around it. I couldn't get it to surface. It was just there. I tried short shallow breathes. I tried deep, concentrated breaths. I tried to gag. I'm sure my fellow runners thought I was gross. I tried pushing my stomach.

I have to walk. I'm walking. My first race is 3.5 miles long and I'm walking. I I ran 11 miles on Saturday and I can't run two today. Couldn't resist the burger could you? Stupid. You deserve what you get. Run, you idiot.

I resumed the race. I got a little burp out. I ( temporarily) felt better. I got a pain on my side. I decided I was either going to rupture something or get my burps. I felt I deserved both. So I kept running. Nothing ruptured. And just before the end of the second mile, I started burping. I felt great for the last mile and a half. I went faster but the damage had already been done. I would have needed to sprint to make up the time. And I just didn't know if I could maintain that.

I was the 1077th woman to finish. It took me 37:46 I found my co-workers and the idea was to treat ourselves to the pizza party. But one whiff and I wanted to vomit. So I hung my head and went home.

October will be better.

Reminder: I'm running in the Nike Women's Marathon as a fundraiser to fight Leukemia & Lymphoma. Please support me by donating here. The donation deadline is October 1st.

Thank you!

14 September 2009

A Special Note...

Dear Anonymous Donor:

I know you're here somewhere, and I want to thank you. Your donation (as you probably noticed) brought me to my fundraising goal. It's kind of like the end of one part of my training. The race is four weeks and four days away and I'm ready. I've learned a lot about running, achieving and what it takes to meet goals. I hope I've shown you (and all my other donors) more about myself, and maybe inspired you a bit.

Thanks again.

I hit my fundraising goal over the weekend. It was a shock to me, I assure you. I mean it was a goal, and I intended to hit it. But I got there in what some would call "one fell swoop" via one donation. I was shopping when I got the email and I got all excited in the mall. It's a great feeling.

Also great - I ran 11 miles on Saturday. I know. That just happened. I'm not saying it was pretty, but I did it. You can what that taught me here.

And just because I've reached my goal, doesn't mean the LLS has done the same. So feel free to keep donating. I mean I am going to keep running.

10 September 2009

A Proper Pint

Baskin Robbins is treating me to a proper pint, I think. I got a few gift certificates in the mail today. I don't know how much a pint of their ice cream costs, but I'll be affronted if these gift certificates don't cover it. Still, our conflict is not exactly resolved.

The letter thanked me for my feedback, and I was promised that it would get to the proper people. But there was no explanation of why a pint does not translate to 16 ounces in the state of California. It's almost as if it's a given, and if someone does know why, they didn't tell Kathryn in customer relations.

I'm pleased with the timely response, and with the fact that I'll get a proper pint just for asking. Now all I need is someone who can answer my question.
Please support me as I raise money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (and train for a half marathon) by donating here: http://tr.im/n6F7

~ Danie D.
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