Monday, September 26, 2011

Marathon Oasis de Montréal - race report :)

“Victory is sweetest when you've known defeat.”
Malcolm S. Forbes 

After twice having to drop down to the half-marathon, yesterday I finally did it and became a full-fledged marathoner. Here's how my day went...

I started with the breakfast of champions.
I actually managed to sleep relatively well the night before. I believe I remained pretty much in denial until I was actually on the bridge. This probably helped me get breakfast down too. 

I then got down to the business of preparing. A little body glide here, some diaper rash cream there, an anti-inflammatory cream on the foot...thank goodness I had put second skin on the blister-sensitive areas of my toes the night before. Once I'm sure I have done everything I can to be comfortable and that I have everything I need, we are off.

Waiting for the metro, which took us to Île Ste-Hélène, which is where we get to the bridge.
The ride in was extremely smooth. We had bought our metro tickets the night before, so no waiting in line.

Ran into a DailyMile friend, Claire, on the island.

These port-a-potties were actually on the bridge - so one last time before heading for the start.

And we're off - Claire and I started the race together and stayed not too far from each other throughout.

Note that we are wearing sleeveless tops - the forecast was for high humidity and 25°C/77°F (BUT, the expected "feels like" temp was 31°C/88°F) so we knew it might get very warm.

No pictures yet of the first 38Km - but, here's how it went. From the start, the foot felt a little tight, as it always does, but the longer I went, the better it felt. I could tell that my walk breaks were good for stretching the foot too. Overall, the foot actually behaved quite well. A bit of tightness once in a while, but nothing unbearable. Of course, that could be because of the unexpected extreme pain I was feeling in my left knee. You know the joke about if you want to get rid of pain in your foot, hit your finger with a hammer :) Yeah. The knee hurt quite a bit and probably made the foot seem pretty mild in comparison. My guess is that I was unconsciously compensating for the right foot pain, which led to pain in the opposite knee. Classic. The first 19K were quite smooth, but I was getting little pokes of pain in the left knee once in a while. By 20K, I realized the pain was becoming more constant and worsening. Of course, this worried me as I still had more than half the distance to go. This is where mental toughness comes in, mixed in with a little wisdom :). At this point I was easily on target for a 4h55m-5h marathon, but I decided to let that go and not even think about time. I was still pretty much able to maintain a 5/1 ratio, but I walked through more water points as I had to refill my bottles quite often. 

By 30K, I made the decision to take the anti-inflammatory that I had brought along just in case. I knew that I had to be careful and keep drinking water regularly, but I went ahead. Although I definitely continued to feel pain, I did manage to keep going. Basically, after a walk break, it was really hard to get the legs running again, but once I was running, I would be "relatively" okay for anywhere between 3 to 5 minutes, usually closer to 4 minutes, before the pain became less bearable and I would take another walk break, along with another sip of water. Then I'd start the whole thing over again.

At 38K, there was a group of DailyMile friends who had converged to encourage us, and my little sister and my god-daughter were there with them. This was so encouraging and to be honest, I was really glad that when I went by there, I was on a running stretch :) Here are a few pics taken by Sylvie when I came by.
I know, so classy :)

Big happy to see them.

And I'm off - note the pompoms they had!

Here I am at 39K - Happy to see Uber H waiting to run with me :)

We walked up the crazy hill and then we ran for a while, then walked a bit and then near 41K, I tried to run and got a major stab in the knee, so I walked a little more. 

"Oh well" 

But then the finish line was approaching and there was no way I was going to walk it in. So I just got the adrenaline going and pushed off...

Woohoo - arms up, big smile...I was so excited!

Running it in with a smile and tears in my eyes :)

I'll take it with a smile :)

I am a marathoner in this picture :)
With my little sister and my god-daughter, note the pretty flowers they gave me! 
It was wonderful to have them there with me.

 With Uber H, my bro and my Super SIL who all ran the half - we had just finished a group hug, with happy tears from everyone. I'm so lucky to have such great support from my family!

We could actually take a shower on the premises - so this is post shower, eating a snack and texting family...yes, I was happy :)

One final picture in front of the Olympic Stadium!

My thoughts: Yes, I would have preferred to not have to deal with knee pain, but I realize that this is also part of the experience. There are risks involved in running a marathon. There were tons of runners hobbling by 30K, some stopping to stretch, some limping along or walking most of the rest of the way. Dealing with the unexpected is part of what makes running a marathon exceptional. The good thing, is that the high humidity did not affect me, I felt fine and I gather that because I ended up walking more, I was actually not worn out by the end and I never saw the wall. 

I'm excited by the fact that I know I can do better if I'm not in pain and I aim to try. Yes, right after crossing the finish line, I knew I wanted to try at least one more time with more experience and training.

My Super SIL will be celebrating her 50th birthday in 2013 and she would love to run the Marathon de Paris with her family. So, that may be my next attempt. Two years from now in cool would that be :)

Thanks to each and every one of you for your support and encouragement throughout this journey. I thought of you all as I took it all in and G I thought of you particularly as I smiled at photographers and thanked the spectators. Thank you for sharing your experience with me and for making this an even more wonderful experience, despite the fact that it was not perfect.


Sunday, September 25, 2011

I am a Marathoner!

The finish line is right there and I am celebrating!


Race report soon...Cheers!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Thank you!

“Nothing has turned out as we expected! It never does. Life's under no obligation to give us what we expect. We take what we get and are thankful it's no worse than it is.”
Author unknown

Bloggers are wonderful people! I am so grateful to all of you for taking the time to share your experience. This morning, I woke up to the most lovely and touching "letter" from G...I definitely shed a few tears while reading her wise and loving words of encouragement.

Many of you told me to beware of NSAIDs...though some of you believed I should go ahead and take one. As it stands, the forecast if for warm and humid, which means I will quite likely skip the NSAID (though I may carry one with me just in case). 

Most of you feel that I should go ahead and run, considering I've done the training. That's definitely the direction I was leaning. Meg mentioned going through this exact same dilemma (although it wasn't her first marathon) and I liked her goals. So here are my new goals.

A) Finish the marathon within a reasonable time (5 hours would have me doing a happy dance).
B) Walk a little more if I have to and try and make the cut-off of 5:45.
C) Simply stop if it becomes unbearable and too risky...Anne mentioned not being able to run for six months after running a marathon with an injury. I'd prefer not to have that happen.

Jill is the queen of foot pain, and she felt that if running didn't make it worse, then I should try. I mean if Jill thinks I should go ahead, that's reassuring. 

Even Johann, our long distance hero, thinks I should go ahead. Now, if you read Johann's blog or if you've gotten some of his comments, you know he leans more on the cautious side, so again, reassuring.

Almost everyone mentioned taking it extra easy during my last week of taper, which I did. I ran a 5K on Wednesday and will run a short and relaxed 3K on Saturday just to keep the muscles loose. 

Now, I just have to avoid catching Uber H's cold (he's a high school teacher, which makes colds inevitable for him)!! Plus, there's one going around and so far this week, I've had two kids spend their therapy session blowing their noses!! Yikes!! I've been abusing hand sanitizer :)  

On the plus side, a close friend of mine is currently taking massage and other similar courses right now. Today, she did a combination of Polarity, Shiatsu, and Reflexology. This involved getting the energy flowing throughout my body, a very complete massage of every single part of each foot, and stretching of my back muscles. It felt great and she will redo the foot massage on Saturday. How lucky am I! 

So, YES, I will be on Jacques Cartier Bridge at 8:30am on Sunday morning, wearing bib #212 :)

Once again, a great big THANK YOU to each and every one of you for your advice, encouragement and support! Here's hoping that by Sunday afternoon, I will have become a marathoner. But, let me tell you right now, that if for some reason it doesn't happen, I'll be okay and I'll just try again.


Sunday, September 18, 2011

You tell me! ...and I've created a monster ;)

“Courage is the art of being the only one who knows you're scared to death.”
Earl Wilson 

Before I talk about me :) ...let me tell you about my little sister, Iz, who participated in the Energizer Night Race 5K yesterday. She's totally addicted to running and racing. I loved being there to cheer her on!

Iz and her new BFF the Energizer bunny :)

Now, about me :) I'll tell you what I think, but I'd really like to hear your opinion. Many of you have lots of running, and most specifically, marathon experience. What would you do? 

This week, I was able to complete all the runs on my training schedule, with today being the longest at 80 minutes (or 11.5K). All week, I've been taking an anti-inflammatory and either icing or heating my foot accordingly. The pain remains quite mild, but constant. Running has not worsened the injury, but the degree of improvement has become quite minimal. Today's run went like this: First 10 minutes were painful enough that I felt I had to mildly alter my form (very minimally); after that, the muscles seemed to be warming up and there was only lingering tightness; my form was back to feeling normal; mild pain remained barely there throughout the run and I felt no compensatory pain (on my last two runs my left knee would start hurting near the end - not this time). So I got home, iced, and now my foot feels fine. It actually feels a bit better than it did before I ran. Although it seems to tighten up whenever I sit for too long, it loosens up quickly and I can walk normally without pain. That's where things are at.

My thoughts: 
I can make the final decision on race day morning. I still have one more week to go.
This week is full on taper and I have only a few very short runs planned.
I can take an anti-inflammatory on race day.
If running makes the pain go away, then I'm probably not worsening it when I run.
BUT, What if I end up with too much pain and have to stop running.
It's already bad enough to run a marathon, it might be crazy to try and run a first marathon with an injury, no matter how minor.
I go back and forth thinking that yes I can do it, and it would be stupid to do it...sigh.

Important information :
This marathon has a cut-off time of 5:45, so I can't just walk it in if I'm in pain.
This is extremely important to me, because I don't want to not finish on time! I'd prefer my first marathon to not be DNF if possible.

My goals:
A) Ideally, I would finish in close to 5 hours. I would be thrilled if I could do this!
B) I'd be happy to just finish with a smile on my face (even if it's forced).
C) I'd be satisfied with coming in right at the cut-off of 5:45.

Is this all taper madness and normal fears, or am I being smart and logically cautious?

Feeling fine after today's run :)

Thanks for sharing your experience!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

5K race report - my little sister's first race!

"Success is not the result of spontaneous combustion. You must first set yourself on fire.”
Fred Shero
Before I begin, let me say that we all took the time to think of the significance of running a race on 9/11...our thoughts were with the many victims and their families, as well as with all our friends from the U.S.

Congratulations to my little sister, Iz, on a great first race. She was definitely on fire! This was a family event, well attended by many members of the "Lacets Rouges". That's the Red Shoelaces for those who don't understand French. 
Here we are before the start, check out our shoelaces :)

Everything was perfect. The weather was beautiful, the organisation excellent, the company couldn't have been better, and Iz was in great form. Plus, her kids were there to greet her at the finish line. 

During our pre-race family dinner last night...
...Uber H asked Iz what she hoped her time would be for her first 5K. "What would make you really happy, what would be okay, and what would you be disappointed in?" were his exact words. Iz considered this seriously and then responded with, "35 min I'd be thrilled; 37 min I'd be happy; 40 min I'd be disappointed, because I ran it in 39 min in training." 

She did it!!! 34m31s...with negative splits to boot!

Everyone did great, my niece ran her 5K in 24m24s, she's a natural! My Super SIL and my brother both got  amazing PRs on the 10K. Following a post-race massage, we then all went and enjoyed the spaghetti lunch that was included with this awesome race.
We've got our red "Lacets Rouges" t-shirts on and we're ready for lunch!

My foot: Although I actually felt mild irritation in my foot throughout the 5K, I don't feel that running made it any worse. I iced when I got home and will be taking an anti-inflammatory this week and maybe even into next week to make sure that everything continues to heal well. I biked instead of ran this week and got some acupuncture treatments from Iz.  
It definitely feels better.

At this point, I don't plan on turning back. After looking back on my training schedule, up until last week's 32K, I had only missed one run. Plus, I rocked that 32K! I am ready for this marathon and I will be on the starting line in two weeks. I do hope that the foot continues to improve at the rate that it has been improving. There is only very mild and totally bearable pain left, but I know that ideally, I would be completely pain-free at the start of the marathon. It only makes sense...but, after reading blogs for the last two years, I know that that is not always the all. So, the plan remains! :) 


Sunday, September 4, 2011

32K (20 miles) - Check!

"Life is not about how fast you run or how high you climb but how well you bounce." 
Vivian Komori

Solution: Let me tell you that I found a solution to the bra chafing below the breasts. On my long run today, I lathered on some "Ihle's paste" usually used for diaper rash. This worked wonderfully, no chafing and the skin was soft as a baby's bottom after my run, even with some crazy rain :) It's a very thick paste and you basically have to wipe it off your fingers with a paper towel, because it doesn't wash off easily. But, I tried it earlier this week for the first time and it washes off the bra in the machine and it gets pretty much absorbed into the skin during the run. Perfect!

Health update: This weeks running went really well, but the lungs were giving me a hard time and so after meeting with my pulmonary specialist on Friday, I am back on prednisone for 10 days. Things have not gone so well since I tried to go off Xolair...and it has become clear that I must stay on it (I get two injections every four weeks). I started back up again in July and hopefully it'll eventually get me back on track and keep me off prednisone. For those of you who don't know, on top of my asthma, I was also dealing with vasculitic hives and we figured out that the Xolair was keeping that in check too, as I had  two outbreaks during the Xolair-break. So Xolair stays, perhaps forever. 

32Km today: It started out perfectly. There were severe storm warnings and heavy rain warnings, but when I left the house at 7:15am this morning, it was perfect running weather. I ran the first 17K by myself, with no music and just enjoyed the scenery and the feeling of strength in my body. Uber H then joined me for the next 15K, well at least that was the plan.
Here I am at 20K, I've actually put on my ice necklace at this point, because the heat was rising.
In case you don't know about the ice necklace, it's a scarf that I put ice-cubes into and wrap around my neck. It works wonders keeping me cool in the heat!

At 24K, the downpour was excessive and the thunder and lightning were getting a little closer. more need for the ice necklace.
C'est la vie!

We ended up pausing under an overpass for about a minute, but it seemed to get a BIT better, so we took off again. By the time we came by our house we were at 27K and the rain was almost stopped, but Uber H decided to call it a day, he was getting an achy back. I continued by myself and stayed in the neighborhood in case it started to storm again. So far, I was still feeling great.

Then when I reached 30Km, I got a strange cramp in my right foot and it hurt when I pushed off. I ran in the last two K non-stop as the pain was bearable and I decided it was best to finish as soon as possible. 

I did it!

Umm yeah, that was supposed to be 3 and 2 for 32, not 23 :) Oops!

I am super proud of my pace...32K at 7:02m/Km. For me, that is really good! 

I've been icing like crazy, even took an ice bath...and I hope that the foot is all better real soon. I used to get very panicky when I would feel pain on a run, because it would invariably turn into an injury. However, over this training cycle, although I have felt some pain in different parts of my body on my very long runs. Ice and rest always did the job and so far, I have never felt any pain in the same body part twice in a row. For example, when I ran my 30K, I felt pain in my right knee at the end. Today, no pain AT ALL in the knees, but some foot pain at the end. Other times I felt hip pain or a different kind of foot pain (more like a tightness under the foot - this is not at all that type of pain). This new pain feels more like a cramp and I get little darts of pain when I push of, even when walking. So ice and rest the next two days and then we'll take it from there. I feel hopeful that all will be good and that I'll be back out there soon. Even if I have to take it a little easier.

The Plan: The next two weeks are moderate on the training schedule, then there is full on taper week, and then it'll be September 25th and I will be at the start for the Montreal Marathon and will, hopefully, become a marathoner before the day is over (much before it's over :)).

Good luck to everyone racing this weekend!! Lots of cool races and I can't wait to read all about it.