The marathon that wasn’t

I has a sad.

Remember when I said I wasn’t running the Lakefront Marathon (or Madison Mini or Brewers Mini) anymore?

Well, back in August I didn’t realize just how hard this weekend would be for me. I thought that, after two months of knowing the marathon wasn’t going to happen, that I would be over it by now. But this wave of emotion took me by surprise. I mean, I knew this weekend would be bittersweet for me, but I’ve missed races before due to injury and figured I would have a twinge of pain, but would be able to get through it without much thought.

So much energy and hope was focused on training for and running this race. I know it would have been hard. I know it would have been painful. I know it would have taken me FOREVER to finish. And I do realize it would have been even harder if my training stopped later than it did. I am lucky that I was taken out of training before the major marathon build-ups began (more than 13.1 miles). That fact doesn’t make this weekend any easier though.

Today was the race expo – one of my favorite things about big races. I love looking at all the gear, trying samples of different products, and experiencing all the excitement from having all those runners in one room. Everyone is happy – nervous – excited.

I experienced none of that.

In all, my first marathon race expo lasted less than 5 minutes. Here’s how it went:

  • Park car
  • Limp to MSOE’s Kern Center (expo location)
  • Get race packet
  • Limp to car
  • Cry
  • Head home

Throw in a teary call to my mom and you have my first marathon experience.

I’m not supposed to be on my feet for extended periods of time. Doctor’s orders are for me to be sitting or elevating my foot whenever possible. I may be off crutches, but I’m still not out of the woods. My doctor said right now it is critical I not do anything that could send me backwards again. Both he, my mom and a couple of close friends have told me NOT to head out to cheer for the race tomorrow (for my physical and mental well-being).

But some of my dearest friends are racing tomorrow. I want to be out there to support them. I want to show them all the love they’ve shown me.  I want to be out along the course to cheer for my friends who are racing for PRs. I just don’t know if I’m strong enough to do so. I hope they’ll understand if I don’t make it out. I’m trying to mend a broken heart, and a fucked up ankle.

An update.

About three weeks ago (after finally being cleared to workout), my ankle started getting worse, instead of better. It was swollen. It hurt like hell.

And there was a weird lump.

Turns out, I tore a muscle on the inside of my ankle, just above the joint. (Chances are, this tear happened back in July/August when the injury first developed. My doc thinks the tear got worse last month, and that’s why I had the increased swelling and pain).

Here’s the gross part:

That lump on my ankle? I later was told it was scar tissue, blood and other fluid pooling at my ankle. Awesome. Super sexy.

I was told that I couldn’t work out (again) and that I had to take it easy. That meant Kinesio tape, ankle brace, icing and anti-inflammatory meds. Of course, did I listen? (you know the answer).

Nope. I spent a good 12+ hours setting up, working and cleaning up at Paxton’s Pablove Fest that weekend. I was in charge of the merchandise tent, so I was able to sit down pretty often. But, not enough. The next morning, my ankle was even more swollen and painful. I wore my calf compression sleeve, the kinesio tape and my brace the next day. And it just kept getting worse. Don’t get me wrong – I wouldn’t have missed out on Paxton’s Pablove Fest for anything. NOTHING would have kept me away. NOTHING. Luckily, my doctor recognized how important it was for me to be there at the event, not only personally, but also to fulfill my commitments to Team Paxton.

That didn’t stop him from scolding me though.

That Monday at work, I was in so much pain – just sitting at my desk. I couldn’t take it any longer and called to get an earlier appointment at the doctor. They did x-rays, e-stim and ultrasound therapy. The x-rays confirmed there was no break (they wanted to make sure), but my doc said there was significant inflammation (duh) along with the aforementioned scar tissue and blood. The doctor said he knew I did what I needed to do that Saturday, but that now I needed to focus on my own health.

So, I’ve been on crutches for two weeks. I *just* got off them yesterday. I’ve worn my calf sleeves more in the past two weeks than in the last year! There’s been a lot of tape, ice, meds, resting, brace wearing and elevating. I’m finally in a place where I’m not in constant, horrible pain. Right now, it’s more like a really bad ache.

Baby Steps

I can begin walking today. The rules: nothing more than a half mile or so. SLOWLY. Must be flat. Short strides.

Today after work I took li’l Miss Beep for a short walk around our apartment complex (there are like a bajillion buildings and it’s fairly flat).

I guess this is what baby steps are all about.

Related: my new swimsuit, goggles and swim cap arrived today. I’m like Missy Franklin’s 13-years-older, overweight twin.

For those of you wondering, this is what my swimming gear entails:

I’ll head to the pool after work tomorrow!

DNSx3

And the award for most pissed off, in pain race photo goes to…

Did not start. Times three.

It was in the second half of a horrible half marathon last month that I began to wonder if something was wrong.

Horrible pain in the center of my left ankle, shooting up my leg.

Limping.

Hurting.

Mental anguish.

And now, more mental anguish.

Today one of my fears became reality.

  • I won’t be running the Lakefront Marathon.
  • I won’t be running the Madison Mini Marathon.
  • I won’t be running the Brewers Mini Marathon.

This was supposed to be my year. No injuries. Smart training. Life goals accomplished. Complete a marathon before I turn 30 in November. Run four half marathons plus Ragnar as training runs for the marathon.

First, I slipped on the ice and threw out my back. Then I nursed a strained quad muscle. And just as that injury was healed, my ankle decided to be a little bitch.

The day after the Chicago Rock N Roll Half Marathon, I went to see my doctor. I wasn’t having the normal post race pain. I was afraid it was serious. Perhaps a stress fracture. X-rays showed inflammation and the start of arthritis. Lovely, but something I could deal with. Doctor’s orders were to rest (i.e. NO RUNNING for two weeks), ice, brace, etc. As much as it killed me, I obliged.

I’ve been going stir crazy. Besides a few short walks with my dog I haven’t done ANYTHING since that race. Two weeks later, the pain is still there. Nothing had changed. Dr. H. referred me to an orthopedic specialist this week. I saw Dr. B. late this afternoon. After an exam and closer look at my x-rays from two weeks ago, Dr. B. concluded that inflammation, tendonitis and a tiny bone spur were to blame for the pain. Besides the tendonitis on the front of my ankle, the inflammation and bone spur are in the middle of my ankle. Like the exact middle/inside of my ankle. That’s why it doesn’t matter how I move or walk on it, it hurts. He also explained that repeated pressure (i.e. running) and inclines would continue to aggravate my ankle.

Dr. B. said the good news is, it isn’t serious. The bad news is, the recovery will take months.

  • Absolutely no running.
  • No walking, beyond normal, daily stuff until the pain is gone. Then, only short walks with short strides on flat surfaces, working up to walking longer distances on flat surfaces.
  • Ice daily.
  • Major anti-inflammatory meds for the next 3-4 weeks (or longer).
  • Continue to wear a brace daily.
  • Wear athletic shoes for the next 3 weeks (which means I’ll be rocking the dresses and running shoes look at work).
  • Stretching 3-4 times a day.

Yeah. It fucking sucks.

Dr. B. told me I could bike, as long as I use the heel of my left foot on the pedal.

I’m so lost right now. I’m heartbroken.

I’m going to have a pity party for a few days, including eating all the feelings. Yes. Even yours.

Then, I’m going to force myself to live with the cards I’ve been dealt. I’ll bike. I’ll swim. I’ll do upper body strength training.

But first, fuck you ankle.

I’ll be so stylish at work in my dresses and running shoes.

Race Report: Dances With Dirt – Devil’s Lake

” I realize that my participation in this event entails the risk of injury or even death.”

Perhaps, just perhaps, I should have paid closer attention to the Dances with Dirt waiver.

“I realize that the course for the (DWD) presents a number of potential dangers to me and I hereby assume the risk arising from all of them. I realize that I will be running on a variety of surfaces, some of them far less than perfect, including but not limited to roads, unimproved trails, mud, swamps, cliffs, lumpy fields covered with waist high grass and river crossings. The roads are open to motor vehicle traffic that has the right of way. I know that broken bones, reactions to poison ivy, insect bites and bruising are common occurrences in this extreme event and that I will be far into the wilderness away from medical support. I realize that the danger of injury and even death exists as well and I hereby assume all the risks that may be present on the (DWD) course.”

Let’s move on to the race info that was emailed out to participants the week before the race:

  • DWD is an adventurous trail run with difficult and stupid sections. Crying is acceptable.
  • IF YOU’VE RUN FOR 3 MINUTES WITHOUT SEEING A RIBBON OR FLAG, YOUR DECISION TO CONTINUE FORWARD IS MORONIC.
  • 10K Virgin voyage 2011 (first year)

What in the HELL did I get myself into? Read on.

It all started Friday night when Rochelle, Annie, Tracey, Matt, Marty and I drove up to meet Krista and Evan at Devil’s Head Resort in Merrimac. Rochelle, Annie and Tracey headed to the resort to check in and the rest of us set up camp.

Me and Krista, representing Dailymile while beering and camping

We headed into Baraboo for some good ol’ fashioned spaghetti and meatballs. The Mama Mia’s staff were so sweet and stayed open late just for us!

Then it was back to camp for more beer and this awesome campfire:

Why yes, that IS two citronella candles chillin’ on a smokey joe. Don’t judge. You’re just jealous you didn’t think of it first.

I woke up early enough to see my friends off to their races. Annie, Rochelle, Tracey, Krista and Marty all did the marathon. Evan and Matt did the half marathon… then there was me. The lone 10k-er.

I wasn’t really worried or all that nervous before the race. This was just a fun run on the trails while my friends ran a marathon. I’d finish and head back to camp for beer.

I headed to the start line just before 8 a.m. Then I heard the announcer say, “Oh hey 10k-ers. By the way, you’re going to wish you signed up for the half marathon. This is the most difficult 10k I’ve ever seen.”

Um. No.

What?

Then the race started. So I ran. Then we got to the ski hill. You know, the one we had to RUN UP.

I know. Who in the hell runs up a ski hill?

The race bottle-necked at the base of the hill, which was fine with me. “I’m good with this pace. Carry on,” I proclaimed to much laughter.

After the initial incline, the pack began to thin out. I couldn’t help but wonder what I had gotten myself into. It was HOT.

It doesn’t look steep, but trust me, it’s not fun.

When I reached the top of the hill, I was pretty excited. I was only a little slower than I had planned and it was uphill. Winning! Just do a 5k up here then I get to head back down! Wheeee!

I picked up speed and ran through the woods. I passed two or three people. Hells yeah. I’m doing this. I’m rocking this.

Oh fuck.

Yep. I fell. Hard. Forward.

I cut up my legs, arms and even got a hole in my summer running tights. Oh, and I landed right on my left thumb. But more on that later.

I shook it off and kept going.

Then, I came to what can only be described as a steep steep hill (yes, double steep) with shoulder-high grass where race organizers  probably sent someone the day before to stomp a path down the hill. So there was this tiny itty bitty path on this double steep hill and the only path was slippery grass mixed with fresh mud. You see where this is going, right?

I basically fell down this hill. For more than half a mile. Every few steps I would slip and slide down further on my ass. It got pretty comical. Step step step step BOOM slide. Repeat. I counted seven falls down the hill. I grabbed anything and everything to maintain my balance, including thorny bushes. I even got my hair stuck in a small tree while the rest of my body tried to fall down the hill. I took baby steps, sideways down the hill to maintain balance. I went so slow. Then I reached the bottom. Yay! Water stop! Yay! Catching up with the other slow people.

Confession: I don’t know these ladies or their names. But we commiserated at 3.5 miles into the 10k. Notice the smiles? Those were gone in about 60 seconds.

Why? The colored flags denoting the race path started sneaking…. up. Yes, UP. UP ANOTHER DAMN SKI HILL. This one was so much worse than the first.

The heat and humidity were starting to hit me and my asthma… hard. Every 5-10 steps I had to stop to catch my breath and pray I didn’t die. I sent the ladies pictured above along with a nice man named Mark on ahead. I was overly dramatic and told them to “Save yourselves. Leave me be. I’m gonna puke. It’s not going to be pretty. I’ll catch up later.”

And now we come to the part of the day where I completely lost about 30 minutes of my life. Seriously. Somehow it took me 30  minutes to go half a mile up a hill. And I don’t really remember any of it. I was dizzy. I was hallucinating. I’m pretty sure it was heat exhaustion. I drank some of my water. Took a couple sport beans. I dreamed of laying down and passing out. I know that I never let myself sit down or lay down, but I really don’t know what happened. But then I got to (what I thought was) the top of the ski hill! WINNING! Here’s what the look down was like.

I entered a wooded area. Yay! Shade! Less than a quarter mile later, this is what I saw:

I was only half way up the damn ski hill. I started sobbing. I couldn’t believe what a tease the course was. I thought I was at the top of the hill. I wasn’t even close. Luckily, it wasn’t nearly as steep, but it was still UP.

I struggled to the top and then started to feel a bit better. I did some jogging as I headed back in and out of the wooded areas and down the “easy” ski hill. I didn’t push my speed because I really didn’t want to pass out. I knew I was going to be the last person to finish the 10k so there really wasn’t any type of time goal. Just finish. And, #dontdie.

Eventually, I heard some music. I heard cheering. I knew I was getting close to the finish line. I stumbled through the finish line and was given my medal. No one cheered. I don’t think anyone even knew I was running the race because I looked like a stumbling drunk.

How badass is this? EXTREME 10k indeed!

One of the volunteers gave me an ice cold bottle of water. That water was heaven. She asked how I was doing. I think she could tell something was off. I told her I didn’t know if I was ok. She offered to walk me to the med tent but I said I could do it. I didn’t know if I needed it though. So I kind of wandered like a crazy person at the finish, drinking gatorade, water, whatever I could get my hands on.

I saw Matt. He said he and Evan were worried about me because they thought I was going to finish an hour earlier. Yeah, me too. He offered to get me things. I just sort of mumbled and started throwing down my ipod, garmin, spibelt and kicked off my shoes. I walked straight to the make-shift shower near the finish line and stood under the cool stream of water for 5-10 minutes. That was the most amazing ghetto shower I’ve ever taken. It cooled me off enough I didn’t need to go to the med tent. I washed off all my cuts and scrapes and scrubbed off the mud. Then I stumbled to the food table and sloppily ate half a chocolate muffin. omg. chocolate. muffin.

I changed, grabbed my chair and the beer and chilled at the finish line with Evan and Matt to await our friends’ arrival. Mmmm beer.

No amount of training could have adequately prepared me for this race. Based on previous trail runs, I expected to finish in about 2:05 with an ultimate goal of 1:50. My official time: 2:41:26.

Injuries: countless bruises, cuts, scrapes, thorns, sunburn, a bunch of busted blood vessels and a sprained thumb.

SPLITS: 21:55, 22:03, 19:33, 48:31, 32:10, 17:15*

*NOTE: these are incorrect, as when I practically crawled up the ski hill (2nd) my garmin kept jacking up with the satellites, so it said I did 5.85 mi when it was really 6.2. I’m sure the trees didn’t help, either.

Why do we do this to ourselves?

image

Due to some poor decision making on my part, I was feeling much less than 100% today.

Blame it on a wedding. Blame it on the free alcohol.  Blame it on the high heels. Blame it on the dancing. Blame it on the cowbell. Blame it on the singing and dancing on stage with The Love Monkeys.

Regardless of what to blame, I was kind of miserable today.

Then I tried to work out. I had to go so slowly because my toes/balls of my feet were so sore from last night. Remarkably my plantar fascia on my left foot held up beautifully. But the rest of my foot is in a lot of pain. Sooooo I decided I would try an ice soak. I started crying it hurt so bad.

Why do we do this to ourselves? Why do we make bad decisions? Why do we push ourselves so far?

Race Report: Starting (and finishing) my first half marathon

“The miracle isn’t that I finished. The miracle is that I had the courage to start.”
– John Bingham

It started out like any normal Sunday. Well, any normal Sunday where you get up at 4 a.m. to get ready and catch a bus at 5 a.m. to your first half marathon. You know, the usual. My first half marathon experience was nothing short of amazing. God spoke to me through Freddy Mercury, I never stopped to use the bathroom, I ran about 3 miles, I kept smiling and joking throughout and got to see almost every single teammate along the way. I am so grateful for this experience.

Me and Coach Anne – the cool kids in the back of the bus.

Team Challenge Wisconsin met for one last team cheer before the walkers nervously boarded our fancy bus to Napa. I was a ball of nerves. Yes, I’m smiling in the photos above, but my stomach was in knots. What had I done? Did I really sign up for this? What the hell was I thinking? Who in their right mind – at 249 lbs – would do a half marathon? I mean, really…

Well, I guess I’m that crazy fool.

Shortly after we boarded the bus, Dave, one of my teammates, said to me, “You look nervous.” Duh. Of course I was nervous. I had been dealing with an upset stomach all week leading up to this moment. Continue reading “Race Report: Starting (and finishing) my first half marathon”

I’m on the injured reserve


This is what happens when your Garmin is upset you can’t run for 2 weeks.

One week ago, I did a half marathon. All week long, I’ve been a lazy bum. I need to kick my butt in gear but I’ve been in so much pain with my left foot.

Went to the doc Friday afternoon and she said that since my foot felt better before the race, it probably wasn’t a stress fracture. Dr. H. thinks it’s one of the following – bad sprain, torn tendon or tendonitis. Lovely, eh? If it still hurts in 2 weeks, she’s sending me to an orthopedic specialist who’ll likely do a bone scan or ct scan. yay.

So, I can’t run or walk (everyday kind of walking is ok. Walking to work out is not) for 2 weeks. No elliptical either (not that I mind). Basically, anything that means I’m putting all my weight on my feet is out.

This basically leaves me with biking and swimming. I love biking and I love swimming. I just don’t have access to a pool. Sure, there’s a lake but with all the rain we’ve had lately, I’m pretty sure that’s the last place I want to be right now. If anyone has a pool I could swim laps in for free, lemme know. Or, if you know of a place I could use for a nominal fee, I’m all ears. I need to do cardio and I don’t want to only bike. Besides, the trail I usually use is all effed up because of the rain. (UPDATE: My friend Jane may have solved the pool access dilemma. Stay tuned).

Yes, I’m making excuses, but I’m just trying to air out my options. I’ll probably hit up yoga this week, even though that requires weight on my feet. I don’t know what else to do! At least with yoga, it’s not constant moving and pounding on my feet.

Also: I got a good foot/ankle brace now. Icing a few times a day and sucking down the ibuprofen.

Easy walk with the dogs turned – oh crap I may have just effed everything up

My parents said they would drive down to the eastside so we could take the three dogs for a walk at Lake Shore State Park (one of my absolute FAVORITE places to run/walk). We drove down to the parking by the lighthouse and headed out along the water to the park. Not even a quarter mile in I lost my footing on the sidewalk/grass (sort of missed the sidewalk) and rolled my BAD ankle, scraped up my arm a bit, got grass stains on my pants, and bruised my ego.

My parents gasped. I sat there in shock, not knowing if I should cry, scream, swear or crawl back to the car.

I was so scared that I completely messed up my left foot/ankle. I’m pretty sure I rolled it. Which, you know, is really awesome 7 days before you’re traveling to wine country to complete your first half marathon ever.

I sat on the ground for a while. My dad and another guy who saw me fall offered to help me up but I turned them down. I didn’t want to move. I didn’t want to know if I had just taken myself out of training for the final week. I didn’t want to know if I would still be able to do this race.

Honestly, I think there was a part of me that wouldn’t have minded being side-lined from the race. I’m already at the point where I am not going to be anywhere near my initial time goal, due to knee problems early in training and then this whole sprained foot business.

I moved my ankle and it hurt, but wasn’t excruciating. It was important I pick myself up and keep going. I knew that if I retreated back to the car, I would have a huge psychological barrier next weekend at the race.

I stood up and took a step. I’ll be honest. It hurt. A lot.

But I kept going. As I walked, it hurt but I was able to do it without too much pain. My ankle/foot is definitely weakened now. Although, maybe whatever I did will have knocked things back into place. Who knows.

All I know is I am in a lot of pain right now, so I wrapped it up and iced it for 20 minutes. I’m going to do that every hour til bed and hopefully things will be better in the morning.

Otherwise, I might really be sidelined for Napa. And I don’t think I can handle another blow. Please say a li’l prayer for my left foot/ankle. I can’t not do this race.