Life as we know it

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My novel, aka, my Madison Half Marathon

The condensed version: I FINISHED!! I ran a pretty good race and finished in 2:38:28. I felt good the whole way and didn’t really struggle too much until just after mile 10. My time ended up maybe a bit slower than I expected, but it was pretty humid. I was just glad my knee didn’t fail me and that it didn’t rain.

A shorter, though still pretty long, version, is in the post below this one. I tried to condense it down, but I didn’t really succeed in making it short.

The really long version:
Two things were concerning me leading up to this race: All the activities I had planned the day before and my knee, which had been giving me pain in the last week. I’m happy to say niether of those things had an effect on my race.

The weather had been in doubt and while it wasn’t ideal because of the humidity, it was just about perfect. We awoke to a fog and a temp of about 55. Rain was predicted but it was looking like it would be after the race. I took a little too long eating my oatmeal and started to worry a bit as we didn’t leave the house when we were aiming to leave. I was worried about parking, but it didn’t end up being a problem. Doug was worried because apparently I didn’t tell him that the full marathon started at 7 and my race didn’t start until 7:12. Oops. He thought I was starting at 7 and wondering why I wasn’t freaking out!


Doug thought it would be cute to take a picture of me waiting for the portapotty.

We got to the parking garage and headed out to meet my mom and dad who came up from Rockton to watch. My sister and her husband came too, but I didn’t get to see them before the race. I got in the long porta potty line, but luckily it moved quickly. I heard the gun for the full marathon start and then it was finally almost my turn! We took a few pictures and I headed off to the chute to wait for the start.

Allie had been sick the last few days, but was good for race day!

Our family before Mama headed to the starting chute. I made it!

I got a little choked up while I was waiting for the start. Not because I was nervous. I was really confident. I got choked up just because it took me so long to get to that starting line. I overcame injury, unemployment, childbirth and then the longer journey than I expected back to running. But I finally made it. And I enjoyed it.

It took about a minute and a half after the gun before I even moved with how tightly we were packed in there. But soon I was running. I had gotten my feet and knee adjusted on Thursday and it was at the moment I started to run that I happily found out my knee didn’t hurt! While I did feel a few twinges in the first few miles, my knee wasn’t a factor at all.

The race started around the capital square and then headed out with a downhill down West Washington Avenue. For some reason they had barricades there that were way too close together and it was like we all just stopped at the same time as we crammed through there. Finally we were out of the barricades and running. I felt good the first mile. My goal is always to not go out too fast, but of course I did. Maybe not as fast as I could have though, my first mile split was 11:17.

Miles 2 to about 3.5 were along Gorham Street and had several uphill and downhill stretches. I felt really good through here and was running comfortably. The hills weren’t a factor at all at that point. I started searching for my family members because we’d talked about a few possibilities for them to see me but we hadn’t decided anything. I hit 5K in just over 36 minutes, so I was off to a good though maybe a bit fast start, averaging under 12 minute miles. Mile 2 and 3 were 11:41.

After 3.5 the course turned to head up into the north side into Maple Bluff, the ritzy part of town. Thats where the governor’s mansion is, though I have no idea if I passed it or not. On Monday Doug, Allie and I drove up there today and found the mansion, and I’m still not sure if the route passed it. I was zoned out. I also didn’t realize we were running along Lake Mendota for awhile either. I checked the map and we did pass the governor’s mansion.

The race went about a mile up Fordem Avenue, a pretty industrial area, before turning into a subdivision in Maple Bluff and then the crowd was gone. It got pretty boring here, but I was still running well. I stopped for a quick water at mile 4. I kept going and stopped at the next water stop around 5.5 and ate my fruit snacks and had more water. Mile 4: 11:33, mile 5: 11:45.

After this stop I was still feeling good but my body wanted to stop. We were still in the Maple Bluff subdivision and my body was tired. I think the humidity was taking more out of me than I knew. But I also knew I could keep going. I was sure that my family would be right around mile 6.5 coming out of Tenney Park, which crossed under mile 3.5. It was the certainty of seeing them that kept me running the entire stretch from 5.5 to 7. I was so happy when I finally saw them. Doug was on a bridge looking down at me and snapped a picture as I ran by. Or he tried. He accidentally pressed the off button instead of the shutter! Bummer, that would have been a great picture. I waved and kept running, wondering where Allie was. Well, Allie was with my sister Jeni and her husband Dave on the other side of the bridge. I stopped for a second and gave Allie a hug and a kiss. That might be my favorite part of the race after finishing. mile 6: 11:52, mile 7: 11:28.

I kept running until just past mile 7. I stopped for a bit but then decided I should run more until I got to a water stop, which didn’t end up being too far away. I got to the water and kept going. After Tenney Park the course went back across the isthmus over toward Lake Monona. We turned and headed down the Lake Monona loop. This stretch got kind of hard. I wasn’t expecting to see my family. I think I had a walk break somewhere before mile 8. Then I decided to run and keep running for at least a mile. I guess I’d slowed down or something but it got better again and I was cruising. I was nearing mile 9 and I wanted water but didn’t want to stop because I’d come to an area of spectators and was getting motivated again. So I passed the water stop and started down the bike path by Lake Monona. Mile 8: 12:07

I’d talked with my family about going between mile 9 and 10 to see me. As I got down through Law Park by Monona Terrace I saw my mom, but she didn’t see me! I shouted at her and finally got her attention as I was almost past her. She was bummed she didn’t get a picture. So no pictures actually on the course! She told me later she was watching but then some people came in her way and were talking about where to put their chairs and such and distracted her right as I came by. Mile 9: 11:32

I wanted to get to mile 10 before I stopped again, but I had gotten really pumped here and was flying. I looked at my garmin and my pace was 11:05 or something crazy like that. I decided to walk a bit. I was taking a lot of walk breaks, but it didn’t bother me. I still felt good. I knew it would get harder as I passed mile 10. I ran 10, 11, and sort of 12 (ran 10 and walked the last 2) before the race. It gets harder and harder past 10 miles!

So I walked a little bit after mile 9 and started running again. I passed mile 10 and decided I had to keep running until I hit another water stop. Of course I was wishing the water stop was at mile 10! It was a bit further down the bike path. I took two glasses and realized I should have my other pack of fruit snacks. I was walking and my stomach started feeling funny. I don’t know if it was because I hadn’t eaten yet or because I was eating. This was my longest walk break of the race, it was at least 5 minutes. I ate my fruit snacks, drank my water and then I had a cramp or something weird in my shoulder. Finally I decided to run again, slow, and my shoulder pain went away. Mile 10: 11:59, mile 11: 14:04.

I should mention here that I think the humidity was really starting to get to me at that point as well. Every time I stopped it took me longer to catch my breath than usual.

My recollection gets a little blurry here. I think I ran more than I was walking after that long break. My biggest complaint on the last half of the race was that my feet hurt. I remember passing mile 11 and thinking that I had less than a half an hour to go. Mile 11 was mostly running, I think, and felt OK, but it was hard.  And 12 was more of the same. Mile 12: 11:54

Here was where I started thinking about my strategy for the finish. No matter how hard the last couple miles were, I wanted to finish running strong. I decided to take a walk break with a mile and a quarter to go. I wanted to run the last mile. We were on a neighborhood street and crossed a little grassy patch back to West Wash and mile 12 and I started running again. But there was the problem of that little hill up West Wash in the last mile. It was such a nice downhill to start the race, but going up at the end wasn’t so nice. I started running and probably made it about halfway up before I had to stop again. Mile 13: 12:51.

About to turn the corner to the finish!

I reached the top of the hill and saw the 26 marker. I realized I only had .2 left! I started running again into the chute leading to the finish. The crowd was getting bigger heading back onto the square. I summoned all my remaining energy and ran. It felt so long! As I turned off West Wash onto the square I felt so speedy and got the adrenaline push I needed. First I saw Jeni snap a picture. Then a few seconds later I saw Doug, Allie and Dave as I was almost past them. Then I turned the last corner and saw the finish! I was running hard and felt the emotions of my long journey finally coming to an end. If I hadn’t been running and breathing so hard I would have been crying. I was choked up, which made it even harder to breathe. I saw my mom and right after that I saw the timing mats and the finish line banner and held my hands up high as I crossed them! I made it! A volunteer handed me my medal and I headed for the food.

I grabbed as much food as I could and gave it to my mom to hold. As I was walking my hamstring got really sore and mom and I headed over to a bench where I stretched a little and took my shoes off and put on my flip flops. I was so excited. We gathered all my family members and took pictures as I ate a little of the food I’d grabbed and then lost my appetite. About 20 minutes after I finished, the rain started. Great timing! We headed home victorious.

Exhausted and trying to stuff my face before my appetite went away.

Me and Jeni.

Family picture. This is why I run.

Allie examining my medal. She thought it was pretty cool.

Showing my medal to Allie.

Me and my baby. She was getting pretty tired and cranky by this time, hence the sour face.

Me and Mom.

My official time is 2:38:28. Its right where I expected, though maybe a few minutes slower. Its not my worst time though. And if this experience is like three years ago, I’ll keep training and improve my time in the next race. I love running because of the infinite possibility for improvement. So now I will recover a bit and then set out for my next goal.


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My half marathon: The short (though still pretty long) version

Background
Two things were concerning me leading up to this race: All the activities I had planned the day before (a graduation and a wedding an hour away from home) and my knee, which had been giving me pain in the last week. I’m happy to say niether of those things had an effect on my race.

The weather had been in doubt and while it wasn’t ideal because of the humidity, it was just about perfect. We awoke to a fog and a temp of about 55. Rain was predicted but it was looking like it would be after the race.

The race
I got a little choked up while I was waiting for the start. Not because I was nervous. I was really confident. I got choked up just because it took me so long to get to that starting line. It took about a minute and a half after the gun before I even moved with how tightly we were packed in there. But soon I was running. I had gotten my feet and knee adjusted on Thursday and it was at the moment I started to run that I happily found out my knee didn’t hurt! While I did feel a few twinges in the first few miles, my knee wasn’t a factor at all.

Mile 1: We headed around the square and downhill on West Washington Avenue. For some reason they had barricades there that were way too close together and it was like we all just stopped at the same time as we crammed through there. I felt good the first mile. My goal is always to not go out too fast, but of course I did. Maybe not as fast as I could have though, my first mile split was 11:17.

Miles 2-3.5: Miles 2 to about 3.5 were along Gorham Street and had several uphill and downhill stretches. I felt really good through here and was running comfortably. The hills weren’t a factor at all at that point. I hit 5K in just over 36 minutes, so I was off to a good though maybe a bit fast start, averaging under 12 minute miles. Mile 2 and 3 were 11:41.
 
Miles 3.5-7: The race went about a mile up through a pretty industrial area, before turning into a subdivision in Maple Bluff, the ritzy area of town and home of the governor’s mansion. I had to check later and found that yes we did run past the governor’s mansion. I was zoned out and didn’t really notice my surroundings. I stopped for a quick water at mile 4. I kept going and stopped at the next water stop around 5.5 and ate my fruit snacks and had more water. Mile 4: 11:33, mile 5: 11:45.

After this stop I was still feeling good but my body wanted to stop. We were still in the Maple Bluff subdivision and my body was tired. I think the humidity was taking more out of me than I knew. But I also knew I could keep going. I was sure that my family would be right around mile 6.5 coming out of Tenney Park, which crossed under mile 3.5. It was the certainty of seeing them that kept me running the entire stretch from 5.5 to 7. I was so happy when I finally saw them. Doug was on a bridge looking down at me as I ran by. I waved and kept running, wondering where Allie was. Well, Allie was with my sister Jeni and her husband Dave on the other side of the bridge. I stopped for a second and gave Allie a hug and a kiss. That might be my favorite part of the race after finishing. mile 6: 11:52, mile 7: 11:28.

Mile 7-10: This stretch got kind of hard. I wasn’t expecting to see my family. I think I had a walk break somewhere before mile 8. Then I decided to run and keep running for at least a mile. I guess I’d slowed down or something but it got better again and I was cruising. Mile 8: 12:07, mile 9: 11:32, mile 10: 11:59.

I saw my mom after mile 9, but she didn’t see me until I was almost past. I wanted to get to mile 10 before I stopped again, but I had gotten really pumped through mile 9 and was flying. I looked at my garmin and my pace was 11:05 or something crazy like that. I decided to walk a bit. I was taking a lot of walk breaks, but it didn’t bother me. So I walked a little bit after mile 9 and started running again. I passed mile 10 and decided I had to keep running until I hit another water stop, which was a bit further down the bike path.

Mile 10-12.9: After the water stop past mile 10, I was walking and my stomach started feeling funny. I don’t know if it was because I hadn’t eaten yet or because I was eating. This was my longest walk break of the race, it was at least 5 minutes. I ate my fruit snacks, drank my water and then I had a cramp or something weird in my shoulder. Finally I decided to run again, slow, and my shoulder pain went away.

My recollection gets a little blurry here. I think I ran more than I was walking after that long break. I remember passing mile 11 and thinking that I had less than a half an hour to go. Mile 11 was mostly running, I think, and felt OK, but it was hard. I think 12 was more of the same. Mile 11: 14:04, Mile 12: 11:54.
I decided to take a walk break with a mile and a quarter to go. I wanted to run the last mile. We were on a neighborhood street and crossed a little grassy patch back to West Wash and mile 12 and I started running again. But there was the problem of that little hill up West Wash in the last mile. I started running and probably made it about halfway up before I had to stop again. Mile 13: 12:51.

Mile 12.9-13.1: I reached the top of the hill and saw the 26 marker. I realized I only had .2 left! I started running again into the chute leading to the finish. I summoned all my remaining energy and ran. As I turned off West Wash onto the square I got the adrenaline push I needed. First I saw Jeni snap a picture. Then a few seconds later I saw Doug, Allie and Dave as I was almost past them. Then I turned the last corner and saw the finish! I was running hard and felt the emotions of my long journey finally coming to an end. If I hadn’t been running and breathing so hard I would have been crying. I was choked up, which made it even harder to breathe. I saw my mom and right after that I saw the timing mats and the finish line banner and held my hands up high as I crossed them! I made it! A volunteer handed me my medal and I headed for the food.

My official time is 2:38:28. I think it might have been a bit faster if it hadn’t been so humid.


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The most heartbreaking experience

We’re lucky that we got through 19 months without a really major illness. We’re not so lucky right now. Our poor baby is still sick and its the most heartbreaking experience.

She’s slept a lot with this bug. When she’s been awake, she’s been in a decent mood for the most part. But this morning she was so uncomfortable and cried a lot. She finally kept food down today, so thats good. But she still has plenty of recovery. She’s still sitting around on Mama and Dada a lot. She’s cuddly. We love her cuddles but hate the reason for them.

Tomorrow we were all supposed to go to my sister Jocelyn’s high school graduation and then Grandma and Grandpa were going to baby sit while Doug and I went to a wedding reception. Now I’m going by myself while Dada stays home with Allie. I don’t know if I’ll end up going to the wedding. We just really hope that she’s well enough by Sunday morning to go to my race! We’ll all be so sad if Allie and Dada have to miss it.

We did turn a corner today though. So I’m going to be optimistic and say that she will be better. Both so they can go to the race and also so our hearts can stop breaking!


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Knees are tricky

I’ve had my fair share of shin splints, achilles tendonitis and ankle problems. One thing I have been blessed NOT to have is knee problems. Well, I must confess I have had a little knee issue for awhile that seems to go away as fast as it comes on.

So of course it figures that this issue would decide to arrive the week before my half. When I was rehabbing my stress fracture in spring and summer 2009, I ended up with runner’s knee because of the exercises I was doing. I was pregnant and my joints were all loosey goosey. I did a little PT for that, but stopped since I stopped running. So in my training I’ve occasionally gotten a knee pain that feels like the runner’s knee. But it always goes away. I first felt it Saturday and it continued every run this week.

I decided to ask my chiropractor about it. He examined me and said the problem, at least part of it, was in my feet. So he adjusted my feet in addition to the knee, and I also go the electronic stim therapy on it. I’m not running another step until the race starts Sunday, but so far it seems like the adjustment helped. I’d been having some pain walking down stairs too and I haven’t had any of that pain since.

I wish the race was tomorrow! I’m getting really antsy for it. I just want to run. And I didn’t even taper. How would I be right now if I was in taper madness? Anyway, hopefully the knee’s all good!


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I made it!

With my 2 miles run this morning, my training is done. My next run is THE run. Race day. I’ve been waiting a long time for this. Its a bit surreal to think about: I made it! It took three years since my last half to get to my next one, but I’ve made it!

In late October 2008, I decided I too could run a full marathon. Doug and I were on our way to Detroit for the weekend and I read “A Race Like No Other,” which chronicled the 2007 New York Marathon. It was barely a few days later that I got hurt. A month after that I found out it was a stress fracture. I resigned myself to spending the winter recovering, but determined to get back on the road and race in spring 2009. That didn’t happen as I found out about my pregnancy two days after being cleared to run again. I think that was actually a blessing in disguise. The pelvic stress fracture is a long recovery and I don’t know that I was really that confident to run much even after my doctor cleared me. I did run a bit that spring and summer, but I couldn’t maintain it.

Oct. 30, 2009, I gave birth to my beautiful daughter and told anyone who would listen about my plans to get back to running and run the Madison half in spring 2010. A couple months, a new job and a bout with shin splints later, I decided 2010 wouldn’t be my year after all. Dealing with injury made me paranoid. I settled on the CIM relay with my dear Mama friends knowing that it was a very attainable distance to mark my comeback and then continue on to the half. It was a fantastic trip and an even better confidence-building race. Winter was tough with a lot of treadmill running, but I made it through and now I’m reaping the reward.

I always say that what I love the most about running is the infinite possibility for improvement. I can keep getting faster or running farther or getting stronger. This goal took me a year longer to achieve than I thought it would, but that doesn’t diminish it any less. I’ve improved by leaps and bounds and I’ll continue to improve! I’ve come back from injury, childbirth, coordinating work and life, dealing with my weight, injuries and my health, to finally achieve the goal that I set right after I ran my last half in 2008. I know I’ll be setting a brand new goal right after finishing this one. And I’ll reach this goal sharing it with my dear family and especially my darling little Allie. This is pretty sweet.


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Under the weather

Allie is sick. We had to bring her home from daycare this morning because she spiked a fever and then threw up. It certainly did seem to match the weather, as it was rainy all day. I wasn’t sure if she really was sick or had a bad day, but suffice it to say the poor kid is sick.

She never does this for very long:

 And until tonight, I’ve never seen her do this:

Dada brought Allie and I home right before lunch and then went back to work. Allie went straight to bed and Mama did some thorough house cleaning. My downstairs is cleaner than its been in quite sometime, though I admit there’s still plenty that should be done. I thought I’d have two hours, maybe three. Turned out I had 5! And that might have been more, but I decided to wake her up and see if she’d eat. We tried some apple sauce, but it didn’t stay down. So we sent Dada to the grocery store for some pedialyte and spent a majority of the evening on the couch. She did perk up a bit right before bed, but she did go down easily. Dada will have sick baby duty tomorrow. We really hope whatever it is passes quick because we have a busy weekend planned!