Friday, October 24, 2008

Tibial Stress Fracture

"You ran a marathon on that?" My newly introduced orthopedic surgeon pointed at a film and looked questioningly at me.

"Yes," I demurred.

"And you finished it?" He sought clarification.

"Yes." I reined in the satisfied smile.

Earlier that morning, my regular doctor called to inform me my MRI results were in. I had a confirmed tibial stress fracture. He passed on the referral to the orthopod.

I can't really say I'm surprised. It didn't initially feel like it does now, which is very bone-oriented. Vince explained, "Your body knows about the stress fracture before you do, and sends signals to the other muscles to tighten up to protect it." That seemed accurate. My initial complaint seemed more soft-tissue related, and I'd dismissed the possibility of a stress fracture several times.

Vince thinks I may only need to rest a total of 4-6 weeks. I'm already two weeks into it. The doctor, of course, was a bit more cautious, suggesting three months of rest. He's not a runner. I'm pretty sure he's never run a day in his life. I really feel safe saying that.

My doctor suggested a cast as a means of comfort and pain control. I asked him if it would help me heal any faster. He said it wouldn't. I re-iterated that it hurt to walk with every step, and just wanted to be sure I wasn't doing additional damage by walking on it. With the emphasis on necessary walking only, he said, no, I wasn't doing any additional damage or prolonging the injury. We skipped the cast.

He offered pain medication, which I also skipped. I intend to mask nothing in the process of the healing. Pain is an important guide. I will be listening carefully.

Monday, October 13, 2008

It Really Was Hot Out There!

Went to check the weather report from yesterday at, and this was what was officially recorded for yesterday in Chicago (race day). It really was quite warm.

I did not rest very well last night (race hormones I guess), but I'm up and headed back home today. I have two serious blisters on my left foot, and my calves and quads are predictably sore. All in all, though, I've felt worse after marathons.

But, I am still quite happy--now even more so seeing how hot it actually was. It made for a tough finish!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

2008 Chicago Marathon Post Race Report

It was a beautiful morning, if an absurdly long walk to the Endurance Pavilion and back to the starting corrals. I discovered that the 3:50 pace group would only be in Seeded Corrals, not in Open Seeding, and therefore never saw them post-line-up.

But I did sit down at the start line, in close proximity to the front of the open seeding, next to Dave from Boston. Dave ran a 3:40 in New York 12 years back, and was looking for a finish time anywhere between 3:30 and 4:00. We hit it off pretty quickly, and we made it together through mile 15. Dave dropped back at this point, and I never saw him again. But, I still want to offer much thanks to him for running those very fun 15 miles with me. Thanks, Dave!

Within the first half mile, it was clear my Garmin would be of little use. With so many long tunnel "under bridge" runs, it was simply not able to keep track or calculate the elapsed distance. Fortunately, from watching the video repeatedly, this was not unexpected. My plan was to watch the elapsed time, and follow the mile markers.

We did a marvelous job of this, never getting more than 15-20 seconds ahead or behind the goal time at any mile marker, hitting many of them dead-on. I was quite pleased with my discipline of setting and maintaining this pace. Dave and I crossed the half marathon line in exactly 1:55:00 according to my watch. Perfect! We high-fived.

By 18 miles, I'd been on my own for awhile. And I was feeling great. I told myself at this point that this was "my race," and I expected to reach my goal of 3:50:59 or better. I was pleased with how relaxed I felt, and how much Gatorade I was able to take in, and how well the nutrition and electrolyte plan was going. (I'd taken a Hammergel at 0, 5, 10, and 15 miles, and electrolytes a couple of times.)

At mile 22, my target time was 3:12:59. I crossed it exactly on target. But shortly after this point, I started to feel dizzy... not nauseated, no GI issues, just dizzy and a little overheated. I realized at this point, I was at risk of passing out. I slowed to a walk and drank two full cups of Gatorade. I told myself I could walk as long as I truly needed to walk, but I'd just given up my BQ. My physical endeavor was over. It was hot and very sunny. But, I still had a lot of work to do.

But the catch was--I told myself--as soon as I started running, I would no longer look at my pace or elapsed time. I would only focus on running. I had 4 miles to go, and I would just put one foot in front of the other until I crossed the finish line. And, although it was brutal, and a gritty effort, I did just that. I never walked again. In fact, as an internal measure, I don't recall being passed by anyone once I started running again a little after the 22 mile point. I forced myself not to give up, remembering "quitting is forever." This was an important psychological lift for me. Running the next four miles will be burned into my memory longer than any other part of this race, and something on which I will draw for many years to come. The last four miles were very hard.

Although I didn't BQ, and missed it by 3 mintues, 14 seconds, I believe that I ran a very good race. I'm proud of my effort, probably more so the last 4 miles of sheer mental determination than I am of the previous 22. I have no regrets; I left nothing on the course.

I have many people to whom I owe gratitude, you know who you are. I owe so much thanks to the dozens of people who have encouraged me so much these past few months. Even though I crossed the finish line alone, I didn't get here alone. And to everyone who took even the smallest part of this race, Thank You!:

God (for giving me the health and ability)
My family (for letting me train and travel here)
Vince (for coaching me these last 13 months, what a difference you've made!)
Rick (for just everything; pushing me encouraging me and everything else)
Bonnie (my bff, for believing in me)
Twitterville (all of you guys have been so inspiring and awesome!)
Jesse (you deserve a special mention from Twitter)
Dave (for running a great first 15 miles with me today)
And many other people I did not name, but who have encouraged me so much along the way!

This was definitely my best marathon ever!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

'Twas the Night Before Chicago

So, here I sit in my hotel room at the Palmer House Hilton in a perfect condition before the race: Bored. This is a good thing. Other than a wonderful visit with my friend and former co-worker, Molly, I've done absolutely nothing today.

My racing gear has been checked and double-checked. My bib is pinned. My gear bag to check is packed and marked. Other than essential self-care between now and the race, there is nothing left to do.

I'm spending my time resting, browsing on my laptop, watching DVDs, reading Lance Armstrong's WAR and eating. Which is a most excellent way to prepare for a marathon.

With regard to tomorrow's race, how ready am I? What's on my mind?

#1: The heat. Molly and I went out at lunch, and we sat outside. It was a lovely day for a picnic, but too warm to run a marathon. The weather reports converge on 75 F at Noon, and vary between partly and mostly sunny. This will be my biggest enemy, and one that I'll do everything I can to outwit it. I will be running as conservatively as possible, looking for even splits. I will not hold back; I've already finished marathons. If I blow up due to the heat, I blow up. I'm going out there to do my best with the goal of qualifying.

#2: How perfect this whole trip has been. It's just been surreal. From the parking spot next to the stairs in the airport garage, getting upgraded to first class, flight on time, hotel reservation intact, bed comfy. I couldn't have wished for things to align better.

#3: I feel pretty.. uh, 'darn'.. good! Seriously. I've trained my butt off for this. I've never worked harder for anything in my life, and I feel as ready as I can be. Weather aside, I am well-prepared for this, mentally and physically. Bring it!

#4: My lower left leg. Since the massage therapist hit something wrong two and a half weeks ago, there's been a problem with my lower left leg, below the calf and behind my shin bone. It's been a moderate nuisance; and egg-shaped sized pain that expands and wraps around the leg below my calf. But, in training, it has not slowed me down, and I fully expect to be able to withstand anything it brings me during the race. I'm pretty good at handling pain. Several of you have asked about this, and it is on my mind.

#5: GI distress. This has been an erstwhile problem of mine during training, and has not left me without a nudge or two today (since Thursday, really). However, I've done everything possible to control this through diet and eliminating disturbances (e.g., caffeine). I'm hoping this won't be a problem.

#6: I'm ready to move on. Seriously. Boston is not supposed to be easy; and, it sure hasn't been. But I really want this. I have other dreams to chase, but I absolutely MUST have this one first. I'm hoping I just remember how important it is to me when I want to quit at mile 20, and can't remember why I thought running another marathon was such a splendid idea.

I'll be turning in fairly early, nothing more than another DVD or two and another meal planned. I will spend some time visualizing the race and preparing mentally for what is to come.

I'll be at the endurance pavilion immediately post-race, and depending on how I feel, either heading back to my hotel or onto the post-race party until 4 PM. I always think that cold beer after a marathon sounds really good.. until I've just finished running a marathon, and then mostly it's about not puking.

Thanks to everyone who has been cheering me on! I've received so many well-wishes, and I'm deeply appreciative and grateful. I can only promise one thing tomorrow: I'm going to do my best!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Chicago Heat Wave!

No break on the weather in sight. Here's the current hour-by-hour forecast for Chicago on Sunday.

Hoping for more cloudy than sunny!

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Goal was to keep miles 3,4,5 and 7,8,9 at race pace, rest relaxed. As it turns out, my overall pace ended up being 8:47 (about race pace anyway).

Felt relaxed and strong, this was a good run, even though it was solo.

But, I did run out of water, and it got totally dark when I was still 3 miles out. Don't want to repeat that.

Route:--Elev. Avg:747 ft
Location:Jackson, MOElev. Gain:-3 ft
Date:10/04/08Up/Downhill: [+492/-495]
Time:05:30 PMDifficulty:3.3 / 5.0
 72 F temp; 61% humidity
 72 F heat index; winds SE 7

Distance: 12.01 miles
Speed:6.8 mph
Pace:8' 47 /mi
Elevation (ft)
Pace (min/mile)
MilePace (min/mile)Speed (mph)Elevation
actual+/- avgactual+/- avg
19' 00+0' 136.7-0.20 ft
28' 45-0' 026.8+0.0-20 ft
39' 34+0' 476.3-0.6+13 ft
48' 35-0' 127.0+0.2-7 ft
58' 30-0' 177.0+0.20 ft
69' 11+0' 246.5-0.3-23 ft
78' 38-0' 096.9+0.1+16 ft
88' 32-0' 157.0+0.2+6 ft
98' 33-0' 147.0+0.2-7 ft
109' 04+0' 176.6-0.2+14 ft
119' 10+0' 236.5-0.3+7 ft
128' 51+0' 046.8-0.1-3 ft
end********** ft
Versus average of 8' 47 min/mile
** Insufficient data to calculate this split

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