hartford marathon

Post Marathon Ick

“There will be days you don’t think you can run a marathon.

There will be a lifetime of knowing you have.”

Unknown

Life post marathon has been slightly less than riveting.  I have been experiencing what some (including Adam) have dubbed post marathon ick.  My body has developed a cross between mono and the flu with the result being pure general discomfort, associated nausea, and exhaustion despite sleeping most hours of the day.  Yesterday, I didn’t even feel well enough to check my email (gasp!) let alone blog.  Luckily, I think I am on the mend.

I have still not had my post marathon epiphany.  I think it’s because I didn’t feel like I conquered the distance the way I did with the half.  I knew I could have  run it better- especially if I had stretched my IT bands better the week before.  The back- to-back boot camp sessions the Monday before definitely left my legs fatigued, but I can still say I don’t regret having done it.  It was great mental prep, and I was still able to finish.

That being said, I am already trying to sort out what marathon to run next.  Initially, I didn’t want to ever think about pursuing that type of torture again.  Through more than half of the run, I was telling Adam it was my first and last.  However, just a couple days out from finishing, I have noticed that I’m not sore.  The only thing that bothered me afterward was my IT bands- which are already much better thanks to my trusty foam roller.  This absolutely tells me I could have run harder.

Despite not having a major life changing moment, actually completing a marathon has dramatically changed my perspective on a few things. First and foremost, it has lit a fire under my you-know-what.  Initially, I viewed the marathon as an end point.  It was my last big goal before some much need rest.  However, now that I did it (and know I can do better) I am already scheming for my next big race.  I knew I would want another challenge, but never imagined it would be another marathon- not in a million years.  Instead of being an endpoint, my first marathon has become a spring-board to a world of endless possibilities. After all, even though it may have been torture for 5 hrs, it didn’t kill me.  Truthfully, it didn’t even make me that sore.  I was in far worse shape post 1000 rep boot camp than I was after the marathon, so why not keep at it?

It took 26.2 miles to make me realize and appreciate just how driven I am.  I made it through 5+ hours of absolute suck- in spite of the pain, tears, and exhaustion.  I set a goal that took months of dedication and training to achieve, and I accomplished it.  Sure, it wasn’t my best running day- but I have my whole life ahead of me.  Even Adam took over 5 hrs to finish his first marathon.  I wanted to make a difference, and I did.  I raised money and awareness for a cause I believe in, and that makes finishing so much more meaningful.  I don’t know that I could have pushed myself as hard as I did if I wasn’t constantly reminding myself of the physical and emotional anguish that the victims of domestic violence endure on a daily basis.  My discomfort during the race was nothing in comparison to what these women go through; and it was a small price to pay to show them I care.  That is why I plan on continuing to run in honor of victims of abuse and continuing the Running for the Color Purple Campaign. 🙂

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Believing and Becoming

“If you can imagine it, you can achieve it; if you can believe it, you can become it.”

William Arthur Ward

Today, I became a Marathoner.  I successfully completely the Hartford Marathon in a respectable 5:12 (recap to follow- likely tomorrow).  Because I’m sure everyone has been extremely worried about whether survived (ok maybe just my mom- don’t worry I called her when I finished!) I figured I would post a quick update and allow you all to get back to your relaxing weekends! lol

I was not a huge fan of the course, but I did enjoy the spectators.  The signs were hilarious, sporting phrases like “You’re running further than many people will drive today”, “Keep it up CRAZIES”, “Free high fives” (And YES I took advantage whenever one was offered!), and “Any day started with a run is a good day”.  I hope some one posts pictures so I can share them! I especially appreciated the signs around the water stations that read “You are doing great”, “You look strong”, and “Keep it up”.  I was also touched by one group who held up “Believe in yourself- We do” and “You can do this!”.  Oh- and I HAVE to give a shout out to the people playing music, dancing, and passing out walnut bread- You guys rocked! I totally wanted to ditch the race and hang with you instead!!!

It was clear it would not be a good running day for me from the start.  I don’t know whether it was because my legs were still fatigued from boot camp (thanks Mike :-p) or I just haven’t been stretching well; but they started hurt from step one and continued the ENTIRE WAY.  I pushed through by reminding myself why I was there, who I was running for, and that “every step is a victory”.  I think before my next big race I may have “If I look tired, remind me why I’m here” printed on the back of my shirt for added motivation.  I only stopped to walk briefly a few times past the halfway point.  Adam was with me the whole way, despite the fact that I finally asked him to stop walking next to me while I was running.  (He replied “Oh” and proceeded to jog at a painfully slow pace- that I’m sure looked slower on him than me, but made me feel pathetic none-the-less) 

The important thing is that we FINISHED side by side- despite struggling the whole way (Adam was pretty miserable too despite his experienced history of marathon running).

So that is my “brief” update.  I will have more to report tomorrow.  Thanks everyone for your AMAZING support!

BTW anyone who has a chance, please check out The Everyday Warrior’s blog.  She has signed up for a Tough Mudder to raise money for the Wounded Warrior Project, and needs our help!  She is in the running for sponsorship and needs our votes!!! Please take a moment to read her post and vote!

Have a great night!

Pre-Marathon Jitters

“I must not fear.
Fear is the mind-killer.
Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.
I will face my fear.
I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
Where the fear has gone there will be nothing.
Only I will remain.”
Frank Herbert

Maybe jitters is an understatement… In truth, I am down right scared shitless terrified. The whole taper/rest thing hasn’t helped AT ALL!  How am I supposed to deal with all this stress without out running myself to the point of exhaustion, I mean really?  I think I am most frightened of not being able to finish- and the psychological devastation that would go with it.  I am only slightly less concerned about having to walk a significant portion; and my final lingering fear is the projection of being in some serious physical and mental torture for 5+ hours.

I find it slightly ironic (maybe even poetic) that I anticipate finsihing the marathon at around 5 and a half hours (body permitting!)- which is approximately one hour for every year I was with my abuser.  I keep reminding myself that 5+ hours of physical pain is a drop in the bucket in comparison to the years of abuse I endured.  Mentally, I know I have to strength to do; however, I am keeping my fingers crossed that my body and IT bands hold up for me.

As an added insurance policy, I just ordered a pair of compression tights from amazon.com.  I have had such great luck with my compression sleeves (even helping with my knee pain in a pinch!) that I hoped it might help with my IT band issues- which reared their ugly head during the Diva Half.  Any amount of reduction is the discomfort while running 26.2 miles is well worth the money spent in my opinion!  Plus, the product reviews looked really promising.

There are a few things that I will have going for me on race day (that I continually remind myself of).  First, I’ll have Adam with me, who- as far as I’m concerned- gets the BOYFRIEND OF THE YEAR AWARD for signing up to do this with me, ultra runner or not.  Just having someone there who supports and cares about me is something I know will make a HUGE difference.  Plus, I always push a little harder when we are running together.  What’s more Adam absolutely believes I am ready and can do this, and that almost makes me believe it too.  Second, I have a higher purpose for this run.  For once- hold your breath people- it’s not about the bling or racing swag. Instead, it’s about paying tribute to all those women and victims of violence who have suffered at the hand of an abuser.  It’s about taking a stand for those individuals and myself to say we are strong and we are going to do something about this.

I am happy to say the Running for the Color Purple Campaign is gaining momentum, and the money is starting to come in!  The campaign has gotten some publicity on the Channel 8 blog and with the Citizen’s News in my town.  I am beyond thrilled to be bring awareness to this cause, and my passion for it is what will help me push through the tough points when I am beyond fatigued and miserable.  Afterall, what wouldn’t you endure if it could mean changing or even saving someone else’s life?

Meds I may need by Saturday!

Coming Out and New Arrivals

“I am here for a purpose and that purpose is to grow into a mountain, not to shrink to a grain of sand. Henceforth will I apply ALL my efforts to become the highest mountain of all and I will strain my potential until it cries for mercy. “
Og Mandino

After a lot of careful consideration and back and forth, I have officially come out.  Not in the Lady Gaga themed gay pride sense (although I did think the youtube video was pretty awesome- I could only wish to be that fabulous).  Rather, I have opened up about my blog to my coworkers and Facebook friends. Initially, when I started this blog, I had intended on keeping it to myself.  I wanted to provide a voice for those victims who were unable to speak up for themselves and let them know they are not alone.  I also wanted to help raise awareness about domestic violence.  While I was open with many of my coworkers about what I had been through, I found the topic of domestic abuse tends to make people uncomfortable.  Several of them knew that I had started a blog, but I had never offered to let any of them read it.  The only people in my life who had read The Running Thriver up til now were a few close family members and friends.

However, as I have gotten more involved in the fight against domestic abuse- especially with the launching of the Running for the Color Purple Campaign- I have felt that sharing my blog is the right thing to do.  If I can’t be completely open about this big part of my life and educate the people I interact with on a daily basis than 1) how can I expect to educate anyone else, and 2) how can I encourage other victims to speak up and not be ashamed?  While I am not at all embarrassed about what I have been through, I have been a little reluctant to “spring” this information on people- in particular Adam’s family and friends.

At the end of the day, though, I care more about speaking up and raising awareness than I do about not bringing attention to myself.  Plus, I would have found it difficult to ask so many people to donate to this cause without explaining why it is so important to me.

In other news, I bought my first pair of non-vibram running shoes in a LONG TIME.  With the Diva Half and Hartford Marathon being on pavement, and my continued difficulty getting accustomed to running on pavement in my Vibrams, I figured it might be wise to hold off on a barefoot marathon for a while longer.  Adam helped me pick out a pair with more cushioning in the toe box so they would be more comfortable for my new running style.  I also got my first pair of real running socks and some pink gloves (on clearance!) for when the weather gets cooler. One week until the Diva Half and less than 3 until the Hartford Marathon!!!

My new shoes- There are even paisley on the inside!!!

On the Edge

“We all have a comfort zone where everything feels safe and familiar. We tend to not want to venture beyond it, however if we allow ourselves to stay there we will not be challenged, experience personal growth, or learn new and exciting things. In other words, we would stagnate.”

It’s taken me a little while to get to posting.  Besides the usual being super busy, I just wasn’t sure what to write about.  I have been really on-edge lately, and that has really been bugging me.  Wednesday we leave for California and my first Tough Mudder.  As excited as I am about getting away and finishing my first obstacle race, I am also equally stressed.   I have been pushing myself way outside my comfort zone recently, and this will be another HUGE step.  I know I can finish, but I am terrified of a few of the obstacles- specifically the electric shock and under water tunnels.  Being underwater makes me claustrophobic.  I even hyper-ventilate when I snorkel.  I am a little worried that going into a dark tunnel, underwater is going to give me a panic attack.  On the bright side, I know that Adam will be there to look out for me; and that is a huge relief!  Just knowing he’s there gives me that little boost to push myself a little firther than I would have otherwise.

It is so easy for me to get frustrated with myself for being worn out and stressed, while completely overlooking all the progress I have made recently.  I have been more social- spending time not only with my own friends, but with Adam’s.  I have let my guard down and really enjoyed the company of new people in my life.  I also have tried knee boarding for the first time, and even picked it up quickly!  I didn’t think about falling or hurting myself; I just went for it.  Adam and his friends were all impressed- they told told me I looked like a professional. lol  I think that was a little gracious.  They were also all very supportive of my marathon training. It meant a lot to me, since a few of them are marathon and obstacle race veterans!

Tonight I have Boot Camp Session #3, and tomorrow the plan is for a 17 mile run (GPS watch permitting).  I have my new hot pink compression sleeves to try out.  🙂  I am hoping to squeeze in a morning Boot Camp Session before we fly out Wednesday too!  Saturday will be the first of the three big races milestones (Tough Mudder, Diva Half Marathon, and Hartford Marathon) I have planned for the fall.  I feel like everything is starting to happen so quickly now!!!  I am looking forward to getting through all of it and taking a much need break. lol

As far as my missing tapeworm post- it was about how all this training has turned me into the “hungry catepillar” (complete with picture!) and what a chore eating all day has become.  I am always hungry!  If I don’t eat every 2 hours, I get light-headed and my stomach growls loudly like it has a mind of its own.  Training and eating have taken over my life!!! I don’t even want to look at food anymore.  There’s no fun in eating.   It’s become a challenge to shovel in protein wherever I can get it, as frequently as possible; because despite stuffing my face all day everyday, I still seem to be losing weight.  lol

Anyway, there are far worse things I could be plagued with than binge eating and still losing pounds.  I hope everyone takes a step outside his/her comfort zone this week!!!  Thank you for reading!  Questions and comments are always welcome. 🙂

Here's the proof!

It gets harder before it gets easier…

“You have a choice. You can throw in the towel, or you can use it to wipe the sweat off of your face.
–Gatorade

borrowed from Pushinspire

This morning I was little discouraged by my marathon training…or current lack there of.  It’s not like I’m sitting on the couch eating potato chips, but I also haven’t logged any significant mileage in a couple weeks.  I desperately want to be out there running 20 miles; however, my body, unfortunately, has had other ideas. That being said, I understand all to well that injuries and setbacks are a part of running, and I’ve been extremely lucky that this is the first issue I’ve had since my return to running many months ago.

Initially, I thought running in Vibrams had cured all my running issues, and that the only limitation to my future running would be my own determination.  It wasn’t until recently that I found out that is not exactly the case.  In the defense of my VFF, I have been still using regular running shoes for pavement and gravel; so many of my longest runs have not been “barefoot”.  Plus, I increased my mileage way too quickly on my last long run.  Now that I am re-familiarized with the perils of over-training, I will return to running a wiser endurance junkie. 😉

Happily, I have taken this hiatus from lengthy runs as a chance to work on some cross training and general conditioning- which is especially important now that the NorCal Tough Mudder is coming up fast.  I am pretty confident I will be able to finish, even if I don’t complete every obstacle successfully.  I am also confident about being able to complete the Diva Half Marathon.  What I am terrified about is my body limiting my ability to run the full marathon 2 weeks after.  I’m worried that running 13.1 miles on pavement is going to aggravate my IT bands, and that 2 weeks won’t be enough time to recover before the Hartford Marathon.  I am also scared that I won’t be able to get my mileage up any further beforehand due to my IT band issues.  Finally, my greatest dread is that I will continue to be plagued by the chronic knee pain and joint issues that have stifled my running for so long.  Now that I have tasted the freedom of running without the obstacle of chronic joint pain- I never want to go back.

The good news– since I started running in my VFF, I have have been pain free (minus the current IT band issue- which, thankfully, has been okay on the last few runs)!  Not just without joint pain while running- pain-free in general.  Before, my knee caps popped out-of-place when I walked, and I always had knee and hip pain.  I had it my whole life, so I didn’t know any better.  Now, the only pain I have is in my muscles!  It’s been truly liberating.  It’s something to remember when I feel like I’m not making enough progress.  I have come SO far.  I had dreams of running a half marathon one day, but NEVER believed a full marathon would be attainable.  That was something only super-fit, athletic people could  do in my mind- not someone with a host joint issues.  Besides, I had numerous ortho docs tell me all the reasons I couldn’t and shouldn’t run. I always viewed running as something I loved, but also as extremely damaging to my body.  Look at me now!  I have 4 hours of extremely slow running (without walking!) under my belt with plans for my first marathon in less than 2 months!  What a difference a year can make in a life. 🙂

As an added insurance plan, I have a foam roller to stretch my IT bands in the mail… along with a new box of Clif Bloks. 🙂  What a crazy journey this has been- and it isn’t even over yet!  Whatever happens come October I know one thing for sure- I will make it across that finish line even if I have to crawl!

One thing that has kept me motivated and inspired has been following other running bloggers.  Below I’ve listed some of my current favorites.  As always, thanks for reading!  Comments and Feedback are always welcome and appreciated (you can also email at runningthriver@gmail.com).  Feel free to repost any material from my blog, but please give credit back to this site. 🙂

PushInspire

Marathon Sweetheart

The Primal Challenge

Experience Life With Me

I Run Long

Runwithdesire

Happy Trails Everyone!!!

“I am woman! I am invincible! I am pooped!”


“I am woman!  I am invincible!  I am pooped!”

  ~Author Unknown

The amazing view on my run today.

Today I continued my quest toward running a full marathon!  I figured it would be a good day for a long run because I have not run much this week and will be working the next two days without a lot of other opportunity to get mileage in.  Earlier this week I had attempted a light, fast paced run; but my body was not cooperating, and I ended up at the gym instead.  I was a little disappointed, but got some solace in the fact that I survived 15-whole-minutes on the stair climber- which I hate more even more than push ups (and that is saying a lot!).

None-the-less, I wanted to make up for my less than par workout and gain some ground.  I got up early and straightened up the house a little before setting out.  It was still cool and looked like it was shaping up to be a beautiful day.  I headed over to the Bridle Trail, a relatively flat, gravel path not far from my house.  I had not been there in several months, and thought it would be a nice change in scenery.  The trail runs through the woods, so it stays well shaded and keeps the temperature significantly cooler than running on the road.  I was actually a little chilly when I started, but quickly warmed up as I settled into my pace.  I chose my beat up asics over my vibrams because I don’t like running over gravel (or pavement) in toe shoes.

Not long into my run, I was greeted by another runner with a happily meandering chocolate lab in toe.  His companion lagged behind him enough to keep me company for a while before he wandered off again with his owner.  I made a mental note to start bringing my lab, Penny, out on more of my short runs.  (I used to run with her regularly; however, now that she is getting older, her endurance is not what it used to be. )

I had set the timer on my phone (which I use as an ipod) to alarm after an hour and forty-five minutes figuring I would just turn around and run back.  I hoped to be able to cover at least 15 miles in that amount of time.  For most of the way out I felt terrific.  I soaked in the beautiful views and wondered why anyone would run on the road when they could have a much more peaceful and splendid backdrop.  I was so absorbed in my surroundings that it felt like no effort at all, and I started to think that running a marathon would not be that difficult.  I frequently joke to Adam that “running on a flat surface is easy. I could run forever it’s flat.”

I was just beginning to believe my jest was true when I brushed my hand across my leg and realized I couldn’t feel it.  In fact, I could not feel anything from the small of my back down.  I wondered if this was what an epidural felt like.  Like any other endurance athlete (and I use that term loosely), I figured that if I ignored it long enough, it would just go away.  Besides, I wasn’t having any pain.  I tuned it out and kept going, but it didn’t go away.  Instead, it got worse.  Then my back and legs started to hurt.  I looked at the time.  I had only been running an hour!  This was disheartening.  I wondered if my asics were a bad choice.  Yet, I kept running because it was not just about the mileage- it was about training my body to keep going when it didn’t want to.  I knew I would have to get used to this feeling if I was going to get through over 26 miles.

By the time I was ready to turn around and head back, it was becoming increasingly more difficult to move my legs.  I was afraid to stop and walk, convinced that I would not be able to get my body to run again.  I began to doubt my ability to complete this task, and kicked myself for adding an additional 15 minutes each way.  At times, I was distracted by butterflies and bright yellow birds who seemed to follow me along with curiosity.  There were also a wide variety of wild flowers in white, purple, and yellows abutting the tree line.  I tried to concentrate on the scenery: a lovely pond, tall fields, small cottages.  However, my legs were aching and numb.  I didn’t think it was right that they could be both at the same time.  I kept plodding and hoping the time would go by quickly.

When I finally reached a stretch of the trail I remembered from early in my run I was elated- only to be crushed again by the long stretch before the next familiar site.  I thought it was funny how quickly I went from feeling like I could run forever to feeling like I had been running forever.  I dreaded the idea of doing this for over 5 hours and began to question why I ever thought it would be a good idea.  Maybe I was capable of running 10 or 15 K thanks to my vibrams, but this was starting to seem insane.

Then, before I knew it, I was back at the 2 mile mark.  I remembered how I used to struggle to run from my car to this spot and back when I was first breaking in my toe shoes.  Now it seemed like such a small distance!  Over and over in my head I chanted “TWO MORE MILES, JUST TWO MORE MILES!!!!”  I kept pushing; my body kept trying to quit.  I wanted to finish running, not walking.  I continued to drag myself until the sites became more familiar; and, finally,  I knew I was almost there.  I dragged myself all the way back to the car, and a funny thing happened.  I didn’t die.  I didn’t fall over.  I didn’t even throw up!  Instead I drove myself home and tried to stretch- until my lap was filled with a very happy lab and bulldog.

it got a little muddy

another view from the trail