Prediction? Pain.

It’s here.  On me like white on rice.  Like stink on a skunk.  Coming tomorrow morning at 7, whether I’m ready or not.

I’m not.

I ran 2.5 miles on Wednesday, and it was good and bad.  I shot out too fast at around a 9:30 pace, but it just felt so amazing to be out!  I can feel major improvement in my leg, so I blew imaginary kisses to Barb, my masseuse extraordinaire.  I tilted my chin up toward the sun (hiding behind a massively nasty rainy day) and thanked God for allowing me to get back out.  I prayed for the people in Boston and that 8-year old boy who just wanted to see his dad cross that finish line.  I soaked it up.

Still, things are not quite right with my leg and knee, and I was a little rusty.  Plus, my hamstring hurts now.  It’s like my entire left leg is a joke.  So I am scared.  I’m right to be scared…it’s my first marathon tomorrow!  But I’m petrified.  I am truly concerned that it won’t hold up for 26.2 miles.

If I have to use a Call a Friend lifeline on this race, I will be drunk by 2:00.  Mark my words. Hide the kids and change my blogging password.

I’m in the boat I swore I’d never be in–running a marathon hurt and setting myself up for full-blown injury.  This is exactly why I told myself for years not to attempt a marathon.  Too likely to get hurt…not good for the body…and if you get injured, you won’t be able to back off and let it go once you’ve put in the training…these are all thoughts Smart Angie told herself whenever she contemplated a marathon in years past.

There’s no looking back now, though, and Smart Angie can kiss it.  I’ll be out there with bells and heat wraps on, ready to try!  I’ll give everyone a great show at around 6:50 when I pull my pants down and rip that heat wrap off.  I’ll smile and try to control the thumping in my heart and the crush of men asking me out for a date once they see my spider-veined legs and my incontinence pad.

And though it sounds wrong, I’ll try not to think of TiffeeG at the start of the run.  Every time I do, and my mind starts to focus on what she’s been through, my legs start to run faster.  A huge swell of anger and love fills my heart, and I just want to sprint.  That can’t happen.  At least not until Mile 20+ (if I make it that far.)  By that point, a “sprint” would likely be a fast crawl, and I’ll take it.

Look what she gave me yesterday?  My new favorite shirt!

Image

The boys are set to spend the night with her.  I can’t wait to see their faces tomorrow.  I have two friends who are coming out just to cheer me on.  And HH is trying hard to come home for 24 hours, so there’s a SLIM chance that he will be there in the morning too!  I would be thrilled, but even if he doesn’t make it home until after the race, it’s wonderful.  I miss him terribly.  He should be glad he hasn’t been here the last few days, though.  I’ve been a peach.

A couple years old, but a favorite pic…

IMG_0369

I’m taking hydration and obsession to new heights.  If I don’t finish, it’s not for a lack of carb-loading/glycogen stores.  I’m topped off nicely.  Every time I think of the race, I go maul a carb.  Pasta for lunch yesterday (wanted a baked potato, but apparently there had been a “mishap” with the potato shipment at Jason’s Deli.)  Potato for dinner.

Ready to run!

fat

I’ve iced and rolled.

F*%$ing leg!  Look at that quad!  Does that look normal?  I don’t even think it looks right.  And I would love to see that fat on my inner thigh disappear, but trust me, that shit is going nowhere.

legroll

Honey Stingers, salt packets, fuel belt, etc.–check!  All that’s left is to run an easy few miles this morning to loosen up and then to pick up my race packet this afternoon.

It’s here.  And I owe you readers a big thank you.  Thanks for following this story.  Many of you have been readers since December.  Many of you have donated to the Spondylitis Association of America on my and TiffeeG’s behalf.  Thank you.  I’ve raised almost $2100, and nothing can take that away.  I’ve met new people through the blogging experience.  I’ve felt so much support.

Hopefully you now know a little about Ankylosing Spondylitis, so you can recognize some initial signs if it ever strikes you or someone you love.

Hopefully you have been entertained and hopefully not too grossed out by my stories.

Maybe you’ve been encouraged to run if you are able?  Don’t pay any attention to my potty overshares.  Run if you can!

I’ll give it all I have tomorrow, and if I have to quit I’ll try to turn it into a great story.

For you, TiffeeG!  I know you hate this picture because you have that baggy windbreaker on, but you look beautiful!

IMG_0237

Advertisements

Five Minutes in a Dark Room With a Woman Changed My Life (And Best Marathon Signs!)

I had my appointment with the sports massage therapist this morning, and yes, I’m going to go for the low-hanging fruit and liken it to a lesbian experience.  

She was a skinny little gal, but with firm-looking hands and pointy elbows.  I was scared at first, but soon I started planning a fall wedding.  She sized up my legs (my left is longer, but not significantly so), dug through the thigh chub and went to work.  She played some soft music, we got to talking, she got to going with the oil and I was in heaven.

She felt the problem immediately.  According to her, I had a huge teardrop-shaped area of adhesions, or scar tissue, along my quad and into my IT band.  Adhesions are common in runners–basically, it’s just scar tissue that forms from repetitive running.  The running causes micro tears in the muscle tissue, and the tears turn into adhesions, which is supposed to alert us to back off, which of course we ignore because we are runners and insist on running and don’t expect to run pain-free.

The adhesions are like knots.  They form in the soft tissue and they don’t stretch easily, making the area very tight and restricting blood flow.  Then the surrounding muscles become imbalanced, which creates tons of problems.  She said my IT band was very tight as well, and likely was pulling my knee a little out of whack and causing those twinges I’ve been feeling (I don’t feel like my knee is injured–it feels like it all originates from my quad, but I feel little twinges going down into the top of the knee.)  

I loved what she was doing..and then she explained that what she’d done so far was just  loosen things up a little and get the circulation going.  At that point, the courting phase was over and we were about to get into the thick of our relationship, and by that I mean she was going to start hurting me and using her sharp elbow to break up the tissue.

So we had our first fight.  I tried to tell myself that with pleasure comes pain.  I really liked her better when she was sweet-talking my leg, but I was committed to our session and so toughed it out.  Can we play some Kenny G please, and can I have a glass of wine to loosen up?  I’ve lost that lovin’ feeling.

I could feel the area of tissue literally boing and bounce away from her, and then she would move her elbow ever so slightly and dig back into it.  She said it was very stubborn.  I said I wanted out.

Eventually, she broke it all up, and she also worked on my gnarly plantar fasciitis-addled feet, my other leg and my back.  I ended up in a very happy place!  I told her that she was a saint and that I was going to sing her praises, and she told me that I won’t be singing that same song tomorrow when the soreness hits.  We parted as friends, and I am now a huge advocate for sports massages.

So the dream is still alive.  I am good to go for Saturday!!!!!!!!  Roll out the barrel and the bagels!  I’m going to try and walk tomorrow just to try to loosen things up, then I will go for an easy run on Wednesday to see how the leg feels.

Since I am so pumped up now and full of hope again, I shall post some favorite marathon cheering signs that I’ve found over the last few months.  Just the thought of being able to attempt the race has me in such great spirits, and these signs crack me up!  Who wouldn’t be motivated by the following?

reaper

source

paul-ryan-sign1

source

source

No One Made You Do This.

Finishing is Your Only Fucking Option

Free Nipple Massages at the finish line

If I ran it, By God, so can you.

Dad, did you pee your pants?

Namby Pamby

Your Inspiration

Don\'t Die Lisa

Beat Oprah

All the above non-source pics were taken from a hysterical blog which (along with more specific pic sources) can be found here

And the above pics sourced from here

source

It’s so hard to pick a favorite.  Six days until my near-death experience…yippee!!!!!!

Am I A Runner?

Thanks so much to the readers who left comments, sent me emails and messaged me on Facebook about my leg.  You are all awesome, and a good reminder of why, whether I race next Saturday or not, this training and blogging experience has been amazing and positive.  In particular, my friend Erin deserves a shout-out, because she sent a copy of my whiny post to all her marathoner friends and asked them to chime in with any advice.  As a result, I have an appointment on Monday morning with a sports massage therapist, which I am very excited about.  This lovely woman even offered to let me come to her house on Saturday morning, and she doesn’t even know me.  If I wasn’t taking off with the boys this afternoon to visit my parents for the weekend, I would have been at her door with flowers bright and early!

I continue to pursue the task of sitting around letting it rest with a vengeance.  I’ve perfected the routine of watching TV on the couch (leg elevated, of course) and started watching The Voice on demand.  I don’t usually watch much TV, but now I’m hooked on it and completely in love with the four coaches (Shakira included.)  I’ve finished a few books and now am juggling three–one left resting by the couch, one by my foam roller (I should give him a name…he’s like a boyfriend or something), and my bed.  I have to fill my time when I should be running!

I ice, slather cream and keep my fingers crossed (I don’t pray–God has more important things to deal with than my puny race dreams.)  It makes me think of my sister a lot, and that helps me to keep things in perspective.  I’m sad to think that months of effort will go for naught, but I know I will heal.  TiffeeG goes through treatments, shots, PT, and many other things all for the hope that she can string together a few great days, with no hope of complete healing in her future.  Every time I think of what AS is like, I stop complaining and wondering whether I will be able to use my training for this specific race.

Still, I admit that I want to run it.  Of course I do.  For me, for my sister…it’s kind of like an offering in my mind.  But if I’m not able to do it and do it to the best of my ability, or if getting through it will likely mean setting myself for months of rest because I pushed things too far, I will sit it out.  I know the people who have donated money will understand, and I know I will try again.  It’s just how I roll.

I have been meaning to write a lengthy post on what it means to define yourself as a runner, and I’m going to go ahead with it here.  People love to wonder what makes a runner.  When is someone a runner?  I think I wrote that question at the beginning of this blog experience, and answered that I “guessed” I was.  I felt like I shouldn’t be blogging unless I “was” a “real” runner.

I’ve heard people say that you are a runner if you put your shoes on and head out the door.  This is a very positive and inclusive statement, which isn’t wrong.  We runners want to encourage others to run–it’s one of the reasons I started this blog.  We want people to find the joy that we have discovered, and the process should be without judgment.  But I don’t think that everyone who heads out today like that is a runner.

I don’t mean that as a slight.  I just feel that people are searching for something by asking that question, and we shouldn’t ignore it.  If you’ve made a decision to start running and you do something like a Couch to 5k program, I am SO happy for you.  I hope you stick with it and run for many years!  But I doubt you’re a runner yet.

Is it speed?  I’ve seen runners (usually those blessed with some speed who get a little arrogant about it) define runners as people who can run faster than a certain pace and anyone else as (sniff!) a jogger.  Of course, that pace is usually pretty speedy.  This misses the point as well, at least in my opinion.  There are plenty of people who run religiously and race all the time that will never hit those paces.  Their bodies aren’t meant to.  Are we to exclude them?  

I did read once that if you can run 30 minutes, at least 3 times a week, under 10:00 per mile, than you are a runner and not a jogger.  The tone of this article, as I recall, was very positive, and maybe that’s why I kind of use that as a definition, but again, it’s not the whole picture.

Would it be so bad to be called “a jogger?”  No, but I think it just sounds so casual, and it turns people off.  And that gets to the heart of what makes a “runner” to me, and what I think people are looking for when they ask that question.

For a runner, running is a passion–not a way to lose weight or jumpstart/keep a healthier lifestyle, not a promise to a friend or a phase.  You are a runner when your heart calls you to run, whether your pace is in the 7s or the 10s.  When you devote yourself to your running because you are not complete without it, you are a runner.  Whether you race or just log miles on your own, on the treadmill or out in the rain with no specific training program, it doesn’t matter.  What matters is the feeling that running gives you.  

It becomes a part of your identity.  You may have just logged 10 miles early in the morning, but you drive by someone running, and you a) want to shout out encouragement, and b) want to go home and put your shoes back on and head out for some more.  You are a runner.

You overcome lazy feelings time and time again to head out because you know that peace is found during your runs, and you know you need that run to put your life back in order.  You are a runner.

When you forego that glass of wine with someone because you are planning to run the next morning and you really don’t want anything to compromise it, even though it’s just a normal run, you are a runner.

And yes, when you are hurt and all you can think about is getting back, not even to race but just to run and be a runner for life, you are a runner.  It’s not pace, and it’s not just time spent doing it.  It’s love mixed with a healthy dose of reverence and respect.  You don’t get it from a Couch to 5k program, but that’s not to put those people down.  They’re just not there yet, but every true runner hopes they’ll get there eventually and join the club.

To people who read this blog and might think about running, I have one thing to say.  Give it a good chance.  Break through that barrier of 3 miles.  The rewards come for those who get past that “I can only run 3 miles and I hate every minute of it” hurdle.  The joy is past that point, but so many people never get there.

To the runners, feel free to add comments or your own definition.  I love to hear from you!

I will keep you posted on my appointment with the therapist, and I thank you again for reading and giving encouragement and advice.  This RUNNER wishes you a happy weekend!

With my family after the Paris half marathon, 2012

Image

 

My Dog Is Fat and My Quad Is Toast

I took our new puppy Stella to the vet yesterday, since I’d never brought her back to have her stitches trimmed from her “lady” surgery.  The tech and vet said she’s fat.  Too fat for 7 months old.  It can strain the back, they said.

No more stealing food from Oscar’s bowl for her.  I have to take her down to 3/4 cup per day of dry food and (mon dieu!) cut back on her treats.  Poor chubby Stella!

Now on to the pressing issue.  I’ll try to joke about it, but really I’m near tears.  My quad is in all kinds of anguish right now, and I officially have to accept that I am injured.

It hurt last week, but I chalked it up to normal lingering soreness and pressed on, though cutting a little off my mileage.  Now it hurts to walk stairs and sometimes to put direct pressure on my leg.  It hurt with every step during my run Monday.  People, did I mention it hurts?  It’s certainly not gut-wrenching pain, but it’s “something’s wrong” pain, and there’s no mistaking it for anything else.

I thought at first based on the Facebook recommendation of a friend that it might be quad or patellar tendonitis, but after another run and a day or so, I really feel that it’s a quad muscle strain.  This is not good timing, since the marathon is only 10 days away.  Sure, it’s nothing like what my sister faces, and that fact is helping me keep things in perspective, but it is devastating on an ego/competitive/personal level.  Here’s what I’m doing for it:

I’m spending a lot of time on the couch.  I’m sprawled out a lot with a pillow under my leg a good portion of the day, book in hand and children on call to fetch me things.

I’m icing like a madwoman (again, with children on call to trade out my football- and baseball-shaped lunchbox icepacks.)  They like to yell, “Apply!” and then push the ice down on my skin to torture me.  Little do they know that every time they do that, I mentally knock off a few hundred dollars off the price of the car they will drive when they turn sixteen.  Max in particular will be lucky if we buy him a go-cart.

Image

I’m drinking.  It’s for resveratrol/antioxidant/medicinal purposes.

I’m slathering my prescription compound foot cream for my plantar fasciitis all over my thigh a few times a day.  It’s got NSAIDs and a medication in it that increases blood flow to the region.  Bring in the red blood cells!  Get to work, please, little globules of healing!  Mama ain’t got time for dat!

I’m rolling on my foam roller CONSTANTLY.  It’s practically earned a place in my bed next to my Kindle, my iPhone and my copy of Volume Two of Les Misérables that puts me into a near-coma every night when I try to read it.

I went to the running store and checked on my shoes.  They said the wear pattern was okay but that they were near the end of their cycle (I’ve put over 400 miles on them.)  While I’ve heard never to switch your shoes right before a race, I bought a new pair (same style) and may try them out if I can get running again.

I bought some KT tape (my PA friend recommended it, and I have some CrossFit friends who have used it for injuries.)  At $20 for 20 strips, I half expect a miracle to happen when I strap it on.  If I break five pieces of it, will it fix the injuries of five thousand?  Is this shit some sort of transdermal ‘roid application?

BTW, the dude says not to buy the cotton type…get the pro style.  It sticks better.  Just passin’ it on.  I probably wouldn’t have realized there were two types and bought the wrong one if not for the sweet, helpful and enthusiastic 20-year old who regularly runs 40-45mpw and thinks I must have done something specific to hurt myself because if everybody trains right like I have then this shouldn’t happen because we all can run that distance.

See ya at 40, dude.  If you’re still singing that same song, I’ll buy you a bottle of your favorite wine.

I’m skipping runs.  I bailed on yesterday and today’s runs, and I just don’t know what to do about Friday.  It’s my last long run (8 miles.)  Do I skip it entirely and try to maybe run a few miles on Sunday (which would mean almost a week off?)  Does that even makes sense with needing to run 26.2 next Saturday?  Do I try to run it on Friday but cut back my miles? I am seriously at a loss.  I don’t want to stop running entirely and start to lose my readiness, but I don’t want to keep trying to run and just retweaking it and not give it a chance to heal.  The running store guy says to skip it because it’s better to go in 10% undertrained but with a better healed muscle than to go in with a highly agitated tear and one more 8-miler under my belt.

I would welcome any advice!!!  At the worst, I can’t run the race, which will be so upsetting, but the second worst scenario is running it super slow just to finish but injuring myself even worse.  Then I’m unhappy with my effort and time and yet also unable to keep running.  It’s just sad to think about after all the work of the last few months and after as careful as I’ve been.  Compared to many marathon training programs, these have been bare-bones miles, and I made sure I was more than ready with my base mileage before even starting.  The thought of not running is awful, and so is the thought of gimping my way to the starting line and not being able to give it my best effort.

Holy shit, where’s the Tylenol?

Sorry to complain so much, but that is what’s on this maybemarathoner’s mind.  I will try to be more positive and just hope that things turn around lightning quick.  If you have any tips or suggestions, please let me know, as I am truly floundering here!

And in the meantime, today’s Work It Out Wednesday song is “Mirrors” by Justin Timberlake.  What a love song.  What a running beat, especially at the end when it just repeats…

Off to get up close and personal with a rigid foam roller.