Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Back At It!

I haven't blogged in so long. Guess I was having a pity party for myself while recovering from my injury. However, I read a blog this morning from a woman in the running group who ran the New Orleans Marathon this past Sunday. It was inspiring. I went back and read about my own marathon, and couldn't help but tear up. I still can't believe I did that. And I still want to do it again.

I have been able to run again, and it is a blessing. January 9 was my follow-up, and Dr. J told me the bone had healed. He showed me on the x-ray where my bone has a new little bump from the fracture. I could've jumped from joy! He gave me a return-to-running plan, and told me I wouldn't be ready to run the Tom King Half Marathon I was signed up for on March 9, but could be ready for a half the end of April. That was a bummer, as I was really looking forward to the Tom King Half, but quickly shook that off as I realized he was right. The last thing I want to do is push it and get injured again. I emailed the Tom King race director and changed my half to a 5K.

The return-to-running plan was painfully slow. Not the pace, but having to walk/run for so long when all I wanted to do was run! I followed it exactly for a couple weeks, then decided since I felt just fine, I would change one of the walk/runs, to a low mileage run during the week. I would do a 3 mile run one week, then a four the next, and so on. I was feeling great. A couple weeks ago, I did a 6 mile run with the running group, then the next day, went to a park with the family, and thought I would try my own speed work. I had decided I wanted to race the upcoming 5K. My goal is to place in the top 5 of my age group. The only other 5K I have done was the Tom King one in 2011, with a time of 28:34. It was my very first race, and began my running addiction. Based on last year's top 5 in my age group, I need to finish around 26:xx. Back to trying my own speed work...I did a mile warm-up, then ran a 1/4 mile fast, 1/4 mile slow, repeat for a mile. I ran hard and I ran fast. And then I hurt. My left leg really started to bother me again. I thought it was that familiar pain of the stress fracture. Had I fractured it again?? Gah!

I decided to take a week or two off running, as hard as it was. I had another follow-up Feb. 9, and figured Dr. J would be upset and tell me I had done it again. While not running, I went back to the rec center, back to the elliptical and bike, and back to weights. After about a week, my leg started to feel a little better. The day before the appointment, about 9 days off of running, I went for a walk/run for 3 miles. Leg felt great! I went to the appointmet, had an x-ray taken, and Dr. J informed me I was just fine. Phew! He said he highly doubts I will get a stress fracture again - figured the pain was from the speed work, and was most likely my quads hurting. I had had a bone density scan done last month, and he said I was above normal - very strong bones. He told me not to panic if I feel that ache - only worry if I can't tolerate any impact. Such great news - I wanted to go for a run right away!

So now, I'm running again, and doing it without worrying about my leg. The biggest thing Dr. J told me was not to add too much too soon. He said to focus on getting my mileage back up (10% rule), then I can add speed work and hills (hard to avoid hills...we do live in TN!). That fire has been lit again, and I'm loving it! I want to run, run, run, and sign up for races and be a bigger part of the running community. I'm going to be smart about it though. Running injuries suck.

On a side note, at dinner the other night, Charlotte says, "Mom, you love to run, right? Well, I have an idea. Since you love to run, and Mother's Day is coming up, let's go on a family run!"

Sounds like the perfect way to spend Mother's Day!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Coming Up Short

The running group is doing a mileage challenge next year. Out of curiousity, I tallied my 2012 miles last night.

Sixty-nine miles short of 1,000. 69 miles short!! Argh!

Thanks a lot, stupid injury. Thanks a lot.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Love THAT Feeling

So, it just goes to show you what I know...the pain in my leg was not from a quadricep strain. Noooo...a femoral stress fracture. That never even entered my mind, but maybe I did kind of know? As one of the doctors was bending my leg back and forth, asking over and over "Does this hurt? How about this? Does this?", I started to feel like an idiot because I was having a hard time explaining exactly where the pain was. I gave a little laugh and said, "It's almost like it's my bone."


I heard the first doctor confer with the main doctor outside my door after I had had an x-ray and "stress fracture" came up often. Wow - that just sounded so serious. I liked the sound of "quad strain" better. Dr. Johnson came in and had me hop on my right leg. Not a problem. Right leg is fine. Now hop on the left...came down on it after one hop and wanted to scream. He said that little test is a huge indicator of a stress fracture. I was sent on to have a bone scan done the next day, and there it was on the computer screen that I snuck a peak at. Crap.

Of course, running is out for several weeks. I was starting to get frustrated and depressed the second week of no running, but after confirmation of a significant injury, I just have to accept it and find something else for now. It is what it is. Pretty much the only way for a stress fx to heal, is time and no impact. I've been vocal about how much running means to me, and being away from it for this long now really does make me see how much my mental health depends on it! I so miss that time to challenge myself, work up a sweat, breathe in, breathe out, focus, clear my head, get the blood and muscles moving, take count of my blessings, be out in nature, bond with other runners. Yes, I've been down lately. But I'm already tired of myself being down.

Yesterday, I rallied the troops (the family), and we had a Triple F (Forced Family Fun) adventure on our bikes. The girls were not happy being told that's what we were going to do, but I knew once we got out there, they would love it. They did. We drove out to Crockett Park and rode the trails on what was a beautiful, mild-weather day. Charlotte sang while riding, and Paige chattered non-stop. I listened to them, but would also drift off to my "happy place" - not the same feeling I have while running, but I was just so thrilled to be out moving. That afternoon, I decided it was up to me to keep that feeling going.

This morning, I drove out to the rec center. Found out for just $3, I get to use everything in the Fitness Center. Gyms aren't really my thing...I belonged to an all-women's gym right after college, then again for several months when I lived in Memphis while a flight attendant. I would just rather be outside. Can't stand having tvs on everywhere. It's so stuffy. But, I'm limited right now to what I can do, so I am now going to a gym again. And I loved it! I did 30 minutes on one of those sit-down bikes (didn't really care for it, but it was a good warm-up), then 30 minutes on an elliptical. That was more of a workout, and I did enjoy it. I started to get that feeling...the blood was pumping, the heart was working, sweat was pouring. I still hate the tvs and that I'm indoors, but I was feeling good. I didn't want to leave just yet, so I decided to lift some weights for my arms. Something else I haven't done since my 20's! Felt good!!

I can't wait to be out running again, but I'm so glad I have found a place and things to do to keep me active and...sane. When I run, I don't do anything but run - this is actually giving me an opportunity to focus on other areas, and become stronger all around. I go for a follow-up Jan. 9. I hope - pray - the fracture will be healed by then and I can slowly start back, but I need to be prepared if it isn't. I just need to make sure I always have a way to get that feeling.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thankful For A New Decade

Might as well put it out there...I am 40 now. *gulp*

Oh, I don't see it as something to be upset about - I have great visions for my forties. This is going to be an exciting decade (although, I am a bit nervous that in less than four years, I will have a teenager in the house...), however it isn't starting out like I had hoped for. Seems I have a quadricep strain, which has stopped my running momentum dead in it's tracks. And I need my running.

I can't blame the strain on my marathon, although I think that made it worse. I do remember my left quad starting to feel strange (not hurting, yet an aggravating feeling) about a week or two before the marathon. I'm so ignorant about running injuries - I just assumed it was another minor ache and pain from all the training. Maybe even a symptom of "taper madness". The quad would start off bothering me for about a quarter of a mile, then I guess the muscles warmed up and I didn't have any problems. Same thing in the marathon. Didn't even bother me during the race. After the race...oh, yea. But, my legs basically hurt all over, so again, I didn't think it was a "running injury". If I had, I would have done everything to start treating the strain - RICE. When we got home from FL, a day after the race, it hurt so bad, both legs, to stand up, walk, going up and down the stairs killed...ugh. I knew I needed to rest and not run for at least a week. I tried slowly walking outside after a couple days - it hurt, but I figured I needed to do it.

After a week of rest, my right leg feels completely normal, and honestly, my left doesn't hurt too much to go up and down the stairs or walk around anymore. However, I tried going for a slow run on Monday, and wow - couldn't do it. Left quad hurt. I didn't push it, and it really made me sad. I haven't gone to a doctor for an official diagnosis, but I did my research online and I'm sure that is what's wrong. I went out yesterday and bought a compression sleeve for my thigh. Wore it around for a couple hours yesterday, and it felt good, but I know it's still too soon to run. All the articles I read about quad strains, say NOT to run until you have no pain in your quad. It could take up to 6 weeks. Oh, I hope not!! I so badly wanted to run the Turkey Trot today with the family, and I can't help but worry that my racing plans for next Spring are in jeopardy.

The worst part is not having my outlet - my free therapy. A friend passed away Monday night from breast cancer. It was a gorgeous day Tuesday, and all I wanted to do was get outside and run, and have that outlet to clear my head, reflect on my blessings. It was a hard day. I just need to be patient and know that resting is the only thing that is going to heal the strain.

It is Thanksgiving today, and even though I remind myself every day to be thankful for what is in my life, it's a day to put it out there. I'm so thankful for what running has brought to my life - therefore, I will find the patience and the discipline to let the injury heal. I'm thankful for a new decade to love my family and friends, and live life to the fullest.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

26.2 - The Marathon

On May 26 of this year, still hyped up after an exciting and PR setting half marathon, I sat down at my computer, took a deep breath, and registered for the Pensacola Marathon. The Full freakin' marathon. Then I teared up, and thought, "Oh shit...what have I done?"

I focused on the goal of running the full like I had never focused on anything before. I didn't want to fail at it. I bought Hal Higdon's Marathon: Ultimate Training Guide, and let every word sink in. Shortly after signing up, we made our move back to Tennessee. It was now going to be back to running hill after hill. After hill. But I could not have been happier to move back. I decided on Higdon's Novice I marathon training plan, and on July 8, my journey began.

I was unbelievable to me how fast the weeks flew by. I had printed out the training plan, and run after run, week after week, I would mark off the training runs. Two weeks done, five weeks, ten...The weekly mileage got longer, the runs got harder, but I never lost my focus - which is weird for me. I have usually always lost my focus! haha! It did help that I joined the local running group. I always thought running alone was the best, but it really is inspiring and motivating to run with other people. I had some runs where I started to fade, but whoever I was running with seemed to always pick me back up and edge me on. I love how you and the person you run with can be complete strangers at the beginning, but at the end, you seem to have formed a connection. I'm so grateful to those I ran with.

I think another factor in making the weeks seem to fly by, was running in races along the way. What a great time for fun! During the training period, I ran: the Franklin Classic 10K (first 10K - such fun!), the Air Force Half Marathon (well...most of it. Long story - not my fault. Would have been nice to have someone direct the lead pack so we wouldn't have gotten lost, but anyway...I did that race mainly to reunite with a friend I hadn't seen in 30+ years, and it was amazing!), the Women's Half Marathon 5K (with Paige!! So proud of my baby and what she accomplished!), the Murfreesboro Half Marathon (beautiful race - LOVED it and can't wait to do it again next year), and The Wounded Warrior Project 8K (meaningful race, gorgeous route - but killer hills). Wow - now that I see all the races, I can't believe what I have become...I'm truly addicted, aren't I?

Nothing compares to the experience of running "The Full" though.

The time had finally arrived. The four of us drove down to Florida Friday morning. Hung out with Mom and Dad that night, and then with Ray's family Saturday morning.  Mom and Dad had so graciously agreed to have the girls stay the night with them that night, and bring them to Pensacola the next morning for the marathon. The girls are such troopers and would have been fine staying in our hotel room, but I know I wouldn't be fine! I didn't want to be a stressed-out mess in front of them.

Upon arriving in Pensacola, Ray and I headed to the expo to pick up my packet. The full and half packet pickups were separated, and I couldn't get over that I was in it for the full. The nerves started to set in.

We checked into our hotel, then headed out to drive the route.  Wow...that was eye-opening. I was going to run that far? And did you see those hills?? Crap. I'm not going to lie - doing that sort of psyched me out. I just kept telling myself that no matter what, I was going to get through it. Running, walking, crawling, whatever. We finally headed to dinner and met up with my dear friend, Lisa, who was running her second half, and her family. Dinner was another major stressor! I ended up making reservations at three different restaurants because I couldn't make up my mind what I wanted to eat! I just wanted somewhat bland, normal food so I wouldn't have an upset tummy the next day. Macaroni Grille is where we finally ate, and I had a decent meal of roasted chicken, asparagus and potatoes. And tons of water. Back at the hotel room, I ate a Clif Bar before I went to bed - just one last chance to get some carbs in me. After laying out my running outfit, my gadgets, and nutrition for the next day, I started to relax a little. Ray turned off the lights at 9. I think I got a couple good hours of sleep, but after getting up around 1:30 to use the bathroom, my mind was running the rest of the night.

The alarm finally went off at 4:50. I remember stretching and saying, "I'm not ready...." - I was excited though. Ray lay in bed for a while longer, while I basically ran around in circles getting ready. I drank some Nuun (the caffeineted ice tea flavor), and ate a large wheat bagel with peanut butter. I sat down and stretched for a few minutes - tried to wrap my head around the long run I was about to go on. I had put together a bag for Ray on things I thought I may need along the route - body glide, a Clif Bar, an extra Honey Stinger Gel, and some Nuun - and made sure he had that. We headed downstairs, where we met up with Lisa!

The start line was just a couple blocks from our hotel so we walked over. When we stepped outside, we were surprised by the winds and how chilly it was - low 50's. The temp felt great, but the wind sucked. I remember feeling a little bit nervous, but I love the start of races - so exciting!! We stood with Ray for a while, then they called the runners to line up. I gave Ray a kiss, and got a bit teary - nerves, fear, and I think I wanted him there with me the whole way. I stood with Lisa for a few minutes, saw our old boss from our restaurants days, then I saw the pace group I wanted to follow. The 4:30 pace group. I don't know why, but I decided 4:30 sounded like a great finishing time. I knew in order to do so, I would need to keep at a 10:16 pace. I wasn't sure I could do that, but I was going to try to just keep them in front of my the entire race and see how close I got.

I didn't introdue myself to the pace group leaders who were surrounded by other runners, but I did end up talking to some very nice women next to me. One had been running 20 years, but this was her first marathon, and the other woman, had only been running 9 months and this was her first as well. They were so friendly, and it took the nervous edge off to have them to talk to. As the horn went off to start, we all gave each other a high-five and off we went! I waved to Ray and told myself, "this is it!!"

The full and half runners all took off together, so it was a bit congested in the beginning. We basically did a big square and I got to see Ray as we came back around - so cool! The pace group did start out fast, but I was pumped up, so I was right there with them. The route started to take us along the bay. Beautiful, but I was focused on the pace group and what was ahead. There was a big hill at mile 2, but it never worried me since it was so early in the race. I made it up no problem. Mom had mentioned they would be around the 2.5 mile mark, so I kept a look out for them, and sure enough - they were there!! The girls saw me and started jumping up and down, and waving their amazing signs they had made that night. Oh, it made me so happy!! I wanted to stop and hug them, but it was right after an aid station, so I had a huge crowd behind me - had to keep on keeping on.

There was a long gradual incline up to Scenic Highway, but then it seemed to flatten out. I still had the pace group right ahead of me, but I started to wonder about the pace they were keeping. It was around 9:50 - something that is not a problem for me on shorter runs, but duh...this is a marathon! I started to back off, but still keep sight of them. At this point on, the wind from the bay became more of a breeze. At mile 3, I heard a thud and looked over to see one of the women bunched up in the pace group had taken a hard fall. My heart hurt for her. The group helped her up, and I heard her trying to laugh it off, but from the way it sounded, I knew she had to be hurt. It also made me realize I needed to watch out for hazards in the road. Ugh.

Around 5.5 miles, the full and the half split up. Huge moment. People were there cheering, runners were yelling "Good luck, Marathoners", and I couldn't help but let out a squeal as I followed the full marathon sign. A runner next to me made a comment, and I told him this was all new to me - he said it was for him too. I loved knowing I wasn't the only one out there doing this for the first time. The next two miles or so were flat with no spectators. There were young marines standing along the route - there I suppose to watch for anyone needing help. So many of us told them thank-you or gave high-fives. An hour and sixteen minutes into the race, the lead marathoner came running down the road in the other direction. Amazing.

At this point, I was still feeling great. We got back out onto the road, where spectators had started to gather again. At the mile 8 aid station, I made the decision to go ahead and use the port-a-potty since there was no one in line. This is when I discovered a new challenge for me here in my first marathon...something that screams "well, of course this would happen to YOU, Mandy!". My...umm...monthly visitor made a surprise appearance. Mmmhmmm. Yep. "You are kidding me." I was stunned for a few seconds, then decided there was no way I was going to let that stop me. But I needed a plan...Long story short - after texting back and forth from the road with Mom, then calling, trying to calmly talk about tampons while having other runners around me, I got a text back that Ray was at mile 11 and had me "covered". Mile 11 came, and there was Ray flagging me down. Bless his heart...he was trying so hard to not let anyone see what he was going to hand me, but I just laughed and told him it didn't matter. He's my hero.

So...after that whole fiasco, I seemed to get a second wind. I had lost the pace group, and just decided not to care. I slowed my pace to around 10:20-10:40 and began to really have fun. My energy felt great - at this point, I had taken gels around mile 4.5, mile 8, then again at mile 13. I was switching between water and Nuun (Ray was great at giving me a bottle of prepared Nuun at mile 11!), and just drinking when thirsty. I high-fived all the Marines along the route, and thanked all the volunteers and police watching traffic. It was at mile 16 I saw Mom and Dad. Dad caught sight of me and started waving a sign, and Mom was busy snapping pictures. I just can't described how much it meant to have them out there - an instant rush of energy. I think this is the point where I asked Dad, "Am I almost there?!" I was starting to get tired. For me, they picked the perfect spot - I needed that rush of energy from seeing them because I had the worst hill ever just up ahead. Ugh...what a beast.

My legs were starting to feel tired, but I put my head down, took smaller strides (MUCH smaller), and made it up the hill running. And kept running! Not far up ahead, I could make out Ray and the girls. The sight almost made me cry - there were Paige and Charlotte holding their signs and high-fiving all the other runners. I was soooo proud!! I just know it gave those runners just as much of a rush as it did me - almost every runner that passed, made their way over to get a high-five. Ray told me later, that they had been in that spot for 45 minutes with the girls doing that. Love. As I came up on them, I did quickly stop and give them a hug and kiss.

I got a boost of energy at that stop, and carried on, but was definitely beginning to feel it. At mile 20, we faced another big, daunting hill. However, at the base of this hill was a high school marching band's drum line. Omg, they were amazing and perfectly placed!! I gave them the "rock on" sign and they cheered as I trudged up the hill. Again, I made it up running, but did have to walk at the top to get a drink. Only a drink though - I wasn't ready to walk yet. I remember telling myself that I only had two more 5Ks to go...the real race begins at mile 20 and I knew that...just keep those feet moving. I saw Ray briefly - he had parked by the side of the road and asked if I needed anything. I told him I was fine and had to keep going. I love him so much - every single time I saw him, he would pump his fist and tell me how great I was doing with so much enthusiasm. It's was the best feeling knowing he had my back, and wanted me to succeed.

Another hill at mile 22. Good grief. Ray was at the top of it again, asking what I needed. I stopped to fill my bottle up with Nuun, and told him I was really tired. He told me I was in the homestretch and sent me on my way. I looked at my watch - honestly, this was the very first time I looked at the time - and saw I had been running for 4:09. My brain wasn't working that well, but I did figure that there was no way I was going to finish at 4:30 - and that was just fine with me. This is the point where I noticed so many runners now walking...stumbling...working out cramps. I just had absolutely no desire to quit or really walk. Sure, I was exhausted, but more than anything, I was ready to be done and I wasn't going to be DONE until I crossed that finish line. And the quickest way to the finish line was to keep on running. I have no clue what my pace was at this time - probably somewhere around 11:00. I was dragging.

Mile 23 gave me another little boost of energy - one more 5K to go! A man on the side of the road yelled "Go 145!! Looking good!". 145 - that's me!! Woohoo! The Marines and police started offering more words of encouragement, and each time they did, I felt more and more inspired to continue on. Ray had parked again at mile 24, asking if I needed anything. Part of me wanted to climb into the car, but I waved him off and told him I was fine. I passed a great group of kids, all dressed in Superman garb, who gave high-fives - they were fun! After that, we were running along the bay again, and the winds had picked up dramatically. I had my hat nearly blown off several times. Headwinds plus exhausted legs equal one helluva battle to keep going. I had a moment where I thought I was going to drop - I looked at my watch and saw 24.88 miles. I told myself I could walk until 25 miles - there was no way I was going to walk the last 1.2 miles. So, I started walking. Problem is, after running for that long, walking HURTS! I ran again.

The route made it's way into historic downtown Pensacola - I knew the end was near. The finish line, the finish line, the finish line...it's all I could think about - just get me to the finish line, legs! I was surprised to see Ray and the girls standing at the road - they went wild! A man across the street started clapping and yelled, "You're doing great! Finish strong!" I gave the girls a high-five and told Ray, "I'm going to keep going!" I soon ran up on a police officer directing traffic who looked at me and said, "You go around that corner, and you'll see the finish line - keep going." There were several families standing at the corner cheering, yelling my name, and a rush of adrenaline came over me. I looked over and saw my dad standing near an arch leading to the finishing chute lined with flags. I ran over and held out my hand,giving him a high five - "I'm going to do this!!", I told him.

It's so hard to describe how amazing it was running those last few feet towards the finish line. Total strangers were calling my name and cheering. I was so exhausted, yet so amazed that I was actually about to complete a marathon - something that just never seemed possible to me. I never even dreamed about it, because I never thought someone like me would ever attempt something like this. A marathon!! All the pain and exhaustion seemed to fade in an instant and I threw my arms up and cheered - I DID IT! 4:48:38


It's Thursday now, and I am still on a runner's high. My quads killed me the first couple days after the race, but I'm much better now. I can't wait to start running again. Everyone tells me you never forget your first, and I never will. I remember every face, and every word of encouragement. I'm so grateful for those people, my family, the cloud cover that day, and for my body holding up through all the beating it has taken.  I want to do it again.


Monday, September 3, 2012

Franklin Classic 10k

The first race of the fall season is in the books!

The Franklin Classic was a fun, well organized race. I drove there with my neighbor, Corey, and quickly found a place to park next to some of the amazing historic houses of Franklin. I love that town. For days, the forecast called for rain (courtesy of Isaac), and we were nervous about the skies opening, but they never did, and the cloud cover was definitely a blessing. The humidity was ridiculous, but it's one of those things you have to grin and bear around here.

I went into this thinking of it as just a training run. I would just keep a nice pace, and told Ray I would try to finish in about an hour. I have just been running so slow in this weather - I wasn't expecting much. While waiting for the race to start, I talked to a woman in the running group. She asked me what my goal was....uhhh...She decided since I finished my last half in under 2 hours, I should be able to finish in 52 minutes. Wow. I laughed and started negotiating my goal with her...58? 54? No...55? Okay, 55 minutes.

As usual, I took off too fast. I looked at my watch at one point and saw 8:18 - felt okay at that point, but knew I couldn't keep that up. After the first mile, I started to get what felt like shin splints in my right leg. It hurt and slowed me down. Got a little sad watching what felt like everyone pass me by. But up came some hills, and those same people that passed by me, were now either shuffling or walking. For some reason, going up those hills, the pain in my leg worked it's way out. I started to really pick up the pace around mile 4. I just felt great and decided to push it. At mile 5, I told myself to go all out, and I did end up sprinting hard when the finish line came into view. According to my watch, I finished with 6.27 miles in 55:16. I've never run a 10k, so I guess that's my PB! I think I have it in me to run a faster 10k, but I'm happy with what I ran on such a hilly course, on a humid day, and deciding to make a last minute goal.

Love starting out my day with a race....

*Official Race Results*
55:14 - Meh...
Age Group: 19/85 - now, I just think that's cool. Don't know why...it was neat to see my name up near the top.
Overall: 418 out of apprx. 3500.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Week 8

A couple of "firsts" this week - the first time I ever ran over 13.1 miles, and the highest weekly mileage ever: 29.1 miles. Can't leave off that .1.

The week started off with a simple 3 mile run on Monday. Then I had to think ahead...my long run for the week was 15 miles. I wanted to do it on Saturday, when I would be able to get out at 6am and avoid the heat. However, I have a 10k race on Monday - would I want to run 15 on Saturday and have tired legs on Monday? So, I thought about running the long distance on Wednesday. The biggest issue, was the heat. Due to getting the girls off to school, then driving out to the park, I wouldn't be able to start until about 9 - when the sun is up and blazing hot. I decided to go for Wednesday. And I learned my lesson.

I woke up that morning feeling pretty eager about the run, curious to see how I could handle my longest distance to date. I made several mistakes that day. For one, I assumed I could run it like my last half marathon. I ran that in under 2 hours - I knew I would be a little slower due to the heat, but I still saw myself finishing at just over 2 hours. So, I started out pretty fast, right around a 9:10 pace and held that for several miles.

The first 6 miles of the run was in the shade...not bad. I was feeling good. Stopped at 5 miles to take some chews (my big order of gels is not in yet!!), and drink. After mile 6, I was in the sun and it was 84 degrees. Things started to go downhill. I started to slow down, but I told myself that was fine. It was good to slow down, and I knew that I really should be running around a 9:30-9:45 pace (honestly, what did I know? I've never run that far!). I think I stopped around mile 9 for more chews, and at mile 10 I came across my half-frozen water bottle I had set out on my way to the park.

This is when I started having horrible battles in my head on whether to quit or not. I began to realize how freaking hot it was outside and how tired my legs were. All I could think about was laying down and drinking cold water. I began to stop every mile to drink, and it was hell having to start back up again. I reached my car around mile 12 to grab a nuun out of the cooler. I sat there for several seconds debating on finishing up, but Hal Higdon kept ringing in my ears, "You can vary the schedule all you want, but don't skip the long runs!" (I'm paraphrasing.) I knew I had to finish. I've talked before about having to battle that nagging little voice that tells you to quit - I've never had a battle like this. I was in such a bad frame of mind...my legs were killing me, my feet were incredibly sore, my mind was nothing but negative thoughts - it wasn't pretty.

I kept going though. I would run (shuffle) a mile, then allow myself to stop and drink, and walk for a few feet. Then, I would convince myself to run again and just make it to the next mile. I thought I would never reach 15, but I did. 2:36. Ugh. After reaching my car, I grabbed my chocolate milk, and sat in the shade to stretch. I was soaked in sweat, and quite possibly, overheated. Stretching hurt. Walking hurt. Climbing into my car hurt. I began to get really sad and full of doubt...how in hell am I going to make it another 11.2? Should I just go ahead and cancel? I am anxious about the marathon, but I'm not going to quit. I realize how stupid it was to run that far in that kind of heat and humidity when I've never done it before. It's NOT going to be that hot during the race. I made it through the 15, and went on to run 4.34 on Friday, and 6.67 today (I know...wacky distances, but it all evens out!). My next crazy long distance, I will definitely run on a Saturday EARLY, EARLY and with the group, so I can learn from them.

I'm not going to let that horrible run cloud my thoughts on running and the race. I'm once again eager to see how I can handle my next super long distance - 16 miles in two weeks. It did suck though. : )