Monday, October 19, 2009

Nike Women's (Half) Marathon- Enduring More Than Just The Mileage

As promised- here is my recap of the Nike Women's Marathon. Fasten your seat belts- this one was quite the roller coaster!!

On Thursday before the race, Hubby took me downtown to Union Square in SF to pick up my packet. I wanted to get there as the doors opened so we didn't have to wait in line BUT, little did we know, there was a conference going on, and the city was preparing for Obama's visit to the St. Francis Drake Hotel. It was a circus downtown! We finally got to Union Square and saw huge groups of people protesting as the President arrived. Hubby even got some pictures and sent them to CNN's ireport!

We did have to stand in a pretty long line at the "expotique" but once the Nike folks opened the door, it moved right along. I got inside, got my number, and walked around the expo for a bit. I have a Nike+ system (although I've abandoned it for my new Garmn 305- yet to be named) and Nike+ users got a few perks. As a member, I had to test out some shoes and vote for a "power song" and then I was entered into a drawing for some diamond earrings from Tiffany's! At the shoe testing area, they also analyzed my gait, telling me that I severely overpronate on my left foot (you think? Let's talk about all of my problems due to my left foot). I also was told to NEVER buy the shoes that I was testing out as they'd make my problems worse. Hmmm..ok, thanks.

That night, Safeway was also sponsoring Ladies' Night at the expo so there were snacks and drinks. These guys were blending margaritas powered by the stationary bikes! It was kind of cool. I also got my iPod engraved for free with 'Run Like A Girl". I was pretty excited! After the expo, hubby and I went to Niketown (as there were NO retailers at the expo) and he bought me the race hoodie that I wanted! What a guy! Before heading home, we decided to grab some dinner at CPK. I haven't eaten there in ages and it was delicious.

On Friday, I had an appointment with my podiatrist. I know it was stupid to wait until two days before a race to see her but, 1) I was in denial that anything was wrong with me and 2) I kept forgetting to call for an appointment. Anyway, I went to see her and explained that when I ran the San Jose 1/2 Marathon, I felt like I was running on broken glass sometimes or, that the bone under my big toe was going to come through the skin at other times. She then asked if I was training for something and I half-mumbled that I was running the Nike Marathon in two days. She wasn't very happy with me but said that if I wanted to do it, it would hurt, a lot. I also could end up with a stress fracture in my sesamoids (Google them!). She did fix up the orthotic in my left shoe and prescribed me some 600 mg ibuprofen to take a few times a day. She wished me luck and told me that the next option for me would probably be custom orthotics. Great.

Saturday, hubby and I just sat around the house and I iced my foot. I took my medicine and tried to relax before the race. Tried is the operative word because I basically couldn't calm down. I was so worried about hurting my foot that I considered not doing the race at all. Then I thought about maybe just running the half marathon but I worried that the race organizers would not give me my medal or finishers t-shirt or that I'd get a DNF (did not finish) since I'd be on the half-marathon course with a full marathon bib. I was so stressed out, in fact, that I did not sleep at all the night before the race. Well, maybe I got 20 minutes but, seriously, that was it.

At midnight, I got up (because trying to sleep was making me angry) and I started messing around on my computer. I noticed that one of my twitter buddies, @bicoastalie (or Julianne) was supposed to run the full marathon but had been issued a half marathon number. I quickly tweeted her and told her that I would switch bibs with her. Then, I talked to hubby and told him I wasn't going to run the full marathon but that I'd try the half. He thought that was a good idea.

I tried to go back to bed but then I just decided to get up at 4:30 AM. I got dressed and sprayed some biofreeze on my foot. I toasted a bagel and the proceeded to freak out again. Hubby got up and I told him I needed to call my mom for a pep talk. Luckily, mom lives in another timezone so it wasn't 5:00 AM at her house. Mom told me that I should try the half and if my foot started hurting, I should stop. She said she'd buy me a Tiffany's necklace (the race medal for Nike) if it meant that much to me. I felt a little better after talking to her and decided that the half was all I could take today. If the race organizers wouldn't "let me" finish the half, then so be it.

Hubby and poochie drove me to Union Square and dropped me off. I walked up to the starting area and was FLOORED at the number of people I saw there. It was PACKED. I don't think I've ever seen that many people at the starting line of a race before. I made my way to my designated starting area and then realized I had twenty minutes before the race began so I started walking around to take everthing in. While I was wandering, I got a text message from...Julianne! She got her race number corrected but still had her old one- for the half marathon. I met up with her (and met her for the first time!) and she was sweet enough to give me the number. I was so relived because I knew that no one would make a fuss since I had the appropriate bib on- even if it wasn't my number!

Finally, the race was about to begin and I went back to my corral. I met a really nice lady named Mary who was walking the race. We chatted a little bit and it turned out that she lives a block from Tom Brady's (the quarterback for the New England Patriots) parents! I told her my hubby would be jealous! We made our way to the starting line and Mary wished me a good race and off I went!

Even though I "said" (on Twitter and Facebook anyway) that I was going to walk the half marathon, I started running, while still promising myself that I would pull back or walk if my foot started to hurt. We made our way from Union Square out to the Embarcadero. These first six or so miles were flat and I felt great! I did, however, have to weave in and out of so many people who were walking four or more people across. I agree with another racer who said, as we made our way up a hill, "Come on everyone, let's be courteous. Walkers to the right, runners to the left!" No one really listened though. Hmph.

After running past Crissy Field, I came to the first of many big hills. This hill is not new to me- I've run it many times but today, I decided to take it easy. I walked up part of the hill and then ran the rest. I probably would have had to do that anyway, considering, again, all of the walkers on the course. Then, unlike the SF Marathon course, the hill just kept going- there was NO BREAK anywhere. Along this portion of the course, there were so many cute signs that said things like, "Laugh Like A Girl." I took a picture of the sign that said, "Shop Like A Girl."

So, to add to the weirdness of this entire race experience, I also had to stop and use the bathroom. I have NEVER stopped in a race to use the bathroom- not even in the SF Full Marathon. Anyway, I stopped and got in line for a port-a-potty. The strange thing was that even though there was a line, other people kept walking in front of me! Eventually, I was in and out of the bathroom and ready to finish the race.

The uphill portion of the course finally ended and I approached a long, steep, downhill segment. We passed the Cliff House restaurant and there was a huge video screen showing the runners. I was like twelve feet tall! At the mile 10 marker, I called hubby to let him know he could make his way to the finish line as I'd be done soon.

Following the treacherous uphills and long, steep, downhills, the course made it's way into Golden Gate Park where volunteers were holding signs with motivational comments about why the race belonged to us. One said, "Because you gave up sleeping in on the weekends" and another said, "Because you've nursed countless blisters." I wanted to see one that said, "Because you have sesamoiditis and running this race might leave you with a debilitating foot problem but you said, 'To hell with it' and ran anyway!"

The full marathoners and half marathoners split up in Golden Gate Park and the half marathoners approached our last mile. Mile thirteen was deemed "the Chocolate Mile" because volunteers were passing out Ghiradelli squares to the racers. I was kind of underwhelmed- come on, if you name something "the Chocolate Mile," we should get something cooler than one lousy Ghiradelli square, but I digress.

Knowing that this was my last mile, I kicked it into gear and started sprinting towards the finish line. As I approached, though, I noticed that everyone was just...standing there. There was a huge backlog of runners trying to get their Tiffany boxes from the tuxedoed firefighters and the line extended past the finish timing mat, on to the course. I had to step around the line so I could officially finish and then get into the line to get my medal! I took a quick picture of one of the firemen but another racer stepped in the way. Oh well- I didn't think they were THAT hot...I'm married, go figure.

I made my way down the finishing chute and got my half marathon finisher's shirt. It's a really cute dri-fit Nike shirt! Then, I got some cereal from a volunteer, a bottle of water, my foil blanket (you know how I love those) and a reusable shopping bag with the marathon logo on it. I called hubby and he was waiting for me outside the finish area. We met up and he gave me a BIG hug and kiss. A photographer saw us and asked if she could take a picture of hubby putting my necklace on me. It was pretty cute- hopefully the pictures are good!

We headed home and I called my parents, letting them know that my meltdown was over and I'd finished the race and I felt great. Mom was happy to hear that but told me that I NEED to take a break and get my feet issues sorted out before I race again. I agreed with her.

Hubby and I got home and I took my ice bath. Today, it was strangely colder than usual and it was hard to stay in! After showering, we got some food and then, it was off to bed for me. I slept for a few hours and then woke up for dinner. Tonight, I dined on a vanilla cupcake and it was damn good!

After all of the stress I put myself through, I'm happy that I completed the half marathon and earned my Tiffany's necklace. Now, I am going to take a few weeks off from running and look into custom orthotics. I am hoping to race in the Kaiser Half Marathon on Superbowl Sunday with hubby. As for my actual second full marathon, we'll see...I may only be a half marathon girl.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

So Much To Say...

I will try to put together a Nike Women's Marathon recap tomorrow...there's A LOT to report on! For now though, enjoy a pic of me with my "medal" (TIFFANY'S NECKLACE!!). Until then...

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Ready to run!

It's race week!!! On Sunday, I'll be running marathon #2, the Nike Women's Marathon here in SF. Training could not have been any worse! As I've mentioned a few times, I've had shoe issues, injuries, and illness to work through. Nonetheless, I'm extremely excited for the race and am planning to really enjoy myself on the course.

Tomorrow, I'm going to the Nike Expotique to get my race number and timing chip. I also am planning to buy this hoodie! On Friday, I'm headed to the podiatrist to see if she can at least fix me up enough to get through the race.

Cross your fingers- the next time I blog will be my Nike race report!!

Monday, October 5, 2009

I Owe You Big Time- San Jose Rock and Roll 1/2 Marathon Report

For several months, I've been trying to muster up the energy to blog about my continued marathon training. Clearly, I have not succeeded- until today!

Since the SF Marathon at the end of July, I've been on a modified training program to prepare for the Nike Women's Marathon and the San Jose Rock 'n Roll Half Marathon. My runs have NOT been great and I've been really worried about my messed up feet. I know that I have a Morton's Nueroma (Morty, as I like to call him) and I've been struggling to find running shoes that work for me. I even had to scrap a twenty mile run because my shoes were causing me to have Achilles pain. Finally, though, I think I'm on the right track with the stability shoes and orthotics combo that I'm working with right now!

Now- on the SJ RnR! Hubby trained for this race with me- the first half that he's run. We were really excited to run this course as we knew that it was fast and, even better, FLAT! No crazy hills here!

On Saturday, we drove down to San Jose and checked into our hotel. We stayed at the Marriott downtown, which is connected to the Convention Center where to Expo was and, literally, was a block or two away from the start and finish lines. We went into the Expo and got our race numbers, t-shirts, and goodie bags. The race t-shirt is a technical running shirt- I love it! The rest of the Expo was decent, although there weren't very many booths. I guess the economy is impacting everything!

We grabbed some lunch at Gordon Biersch (our first time eating there! YUM!) and then walked around San Jose. It was a pretty nice day but I, as usual, was really cold so I made hubby continuously cross the streets when we approached shade. Finally, we came upon the San Jose City Hall that was bathed in sun! I made hubby stop and take several pictures just so I could warm up!

After heading out to an outlet mall for a few hours, we ordered pizza for dinner and then it was off to bed to get a good night's sleep before the race! We woke up on Sunday, feeling excited and ready to run. I then realised that I'd forgotten my body glide, which is something I use on my feet to prevent blisters. I decided to substitute deodorant (because it provides a barrier from moisture) and, in the end, it worked! Anyway, I was also excited because my fuel of choice, Sports Beans, now comes in an easy open, resealable pouch. I couldn't wait to try it out on the course!

Hubby and I made our way to the starting line and looked for our corral. Argh- there were so many people trying to get in, there was a line! I don't think everyone actually got into the corral before the race started- they were just herded onto the course after the gun went off. Other than that, it was a really smooth start. We did the usual dance of weaving between people, trying to establish a good pace and get around people walking four or five across- ugh.

We'd set a goal of finishing in two and a half hours and had the mile times on wristbands to keep us on track. At the first mile marker, we were pretty much on track. We stopped for a few minutes to stretch and then moved on. At around miles three, hubby had to stop and use the port-a-potty and told me to keep running. So I did...and I didn't see him again until the finish. AH! This happened to us in Phoenix and it did not end well. This set me up for major anxiety for the rest of the race.

I kept a great pace for several miles and then, it happened. No, not Morty- my neuroma. He didn't show up today. I actually developed a new injury. I had an incredible pain in the ball of my left foot, under my big toe. It literally felt like someone was stabbing me in the bottom of my foot. The pain wasn't persistent- it came and went- but it was intense. A few times, I slowed to a walk but it actually made the pain worse. More motivation to keep running, I guess!

Eventually, I found myself at mile marker 12! I was really excited because I was on pace to finish right at two and a half hours. I teared up a litte thinking about getting a Personal Record (PR). I was brought back to earth, though, when a saw a really young girl on the sidelines, being worked on by paramedics! She was wearing a sports bra and shorts so I assume she was a race participant. I never found out what happened to her but I hope she's ok!

Due to my hyped up emotional state and my foot pain, I decided to get the race over with as soon as possible and sprinted my last 1.1 mile. I crossed the finish line two minutes UNDER my goal. I was ecstatic...and tired! Suddenly, I remembered that hubby was still out on the course so I pretended like I couldn't hear the race officials directing finishers to different stations (water, medal, etc). I walked over to a barricade by some spectators and tried to blend in while I waited for hubby. Luckily, I didn't have to wait long and I watched hubby finish his first serious race just a few minutes later! I was so proud of him!

We then moved through the requisite stations, getting water, medals, a banana, and posing for a photo. We stretched a little and then walked (slowly) back to our hotel. After a quick ice bath and shower, we packed up and headed out.

After the race, we spent the afternoon in Palo Alto, eating at P.F. Chang's (NOM NOM) and getting cupcakes at Sprinkles!! The day was deemed perfect when hubby said, "So which race are we doing next?"

So, as my post-race bliss continues, I start to look forward to the Nike Women's Marathon in two weeks. I know it will be challenging due to all of my injury woes but, really, I'm just hoping to finish. I REALLY want a Tiffany's necklace (that's the race medal)...what? At least I'm honest.