No Pain, No Gain… right?

No pain, no gain.  That little saying does not fit my style.  Actually, I think it is the philosophy of idiots who go a little overboard when it comes to fitness.  Two days after my first marathon (just last week), I experienced some pain.  Yep, my left foot just all of a sudden decided to kick in the pain (no pun intended).  There was absolutely no warning and when I woke up on that particular morning I felt back to normal.  My muscles appeared to be functioning properly again and I was ready to hit the pavement running.  Then that dang foot acted up.  It decided it didn’t want me to feel good anymore.  I tried to “show it” and go for a light jog.  That jog turned into a limp jog and then into a staggered walk.  Boy, was I irritated!  How could this happen right before my event?  Okay, Heidi, just breathe.  The pain will go away soon.  The next day I hopped on the treadmill and didn’t make 3 miles before I had to stop because the pain became too much.  I remembered an article that talked about pain that you could work through and pain that you should rest for.  Well, I couldn’t find that article so I had no idea what I should do.  Did I really need someone else telling me what I should do?  Yes, it appeared that I did so I e-mailed my running coach.

I already knew what she was going to say.  She gave me the advice that I didn’t want to hear.  She told me to RICE it.  For you non-athlete types, RICE stands for Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation.  Then she had to tell me to refrain from activity until the following week.  Are you kidding me?  So, there I was attempting to just go for a walk.  The pain was still there.  Then I started actually thinking like an intelligent person.  Why are you walking on it if it hurts?  Are you an idiot?  Do you want to stay home and miss the marathon because of your ego?  No.  Absolutely not.  Let me tell you, I had a relaxing Christmas Eve and Day.  I didn’t even do any cleaning because I figured that would count as “activity.”

So, come Sunday, I was feeling fine.  My foot was pretty much back to normal and I was ready to hit the pavement running with my buddies.  So, we met at 7:00 am (yes, we actually got to sleep in).  Well, when we stepped out of our cars we were sideswiped by the blistering winds.  The wind chill was below freezing and we looked at each other like we were crazy to even consider running in that weather.  We almost made the decision to go home, but then our egos kicked in (it appears that the ego sometimes causes problems) and we said that we had to run even if it wasn’t the full 12 miles.  So I suggested the route that would somewhat shelter us from the 16 mph winds and we were off.  Did we warm up?  Not really.  It took us about 3 miles before we came to our senses.  We were risking catching pneumonia 2 weeks before the marathon.  Therefore, we made the smart choice to turn around and managed to get 6 miles completed for the day without checking into the hospital.

Now tonight was all ours.  The temperature was perfect and we were all feeling great.  I thought about how awful those last 6 miles of our first marathon were and I decided to push it hard.  No pain, no gain?  Not quite.  I just worked harder than usual and had to breathe a little more and pump my legs a little faster.  There was no pain involved. Just a bit of intrinsic motivation to keep me going.  Seriously folks, you just have to listen to your body and it will tell you what you should and shouldn’t do.


26.2 Miles: The Story of a Very Long Training Run

I just realized that I have some pretty insane running buddies.  Okay, maybe I realized it awhile ago, but I chose to ignore the fact.  This weekend we were due for our longest training run ever: a joyous 20-miler.  Somehow I managed to get trapped into this Tri-2B-Tuff Challenge which involves 3 half or full marathons within a time span of 3-months.  Didn’t seem like a bad idea when I actually signed up until I realized that one of the runs was during the weekend of our 20-mile training run.  After running last month’s 1/2 marathon race and telling ourselves that we would run 3 more miles after the finish line to meet our 16-mile training run requirement, we knew that we would only be lying to ourselves and would never manage another 7 miles after crossing the finish line of a 13.1 mile race.  It just didn’t work out last month because when we got the finish line we were DONE.  Finish, after all, does mean DONE.  So, we knew that we couldn’t make that mistake again.  Therefore, the next suggestion was to sign up for the full marathon so we would be guaranteed no excuses for stopping too early.  Yeah, only problem is that we actually wouldn’t stop at the 20-mile mark because when you sign up for a race you have to FINISH it!  So, we discussed some more and decided that we would complete the entire race, but planned to run 20 miles and walk 6.2 miles.  I will let you know how that panned out at the end of my story.

It was another early morning (which we were used to) and it was a bit on the chilly side (which was actually perfect running weather… if you know Florida then you know that you don’t want to run races in the summer).  The four of us huddled together at the start hoping to get our blood flowing soon so we would warm up.  We discussed our strategy one more time and made sure that everyone knew that it was only a TRAINING run for us so who cares what the other people around us are doing.  We needed to ensure that each and every one of us would keep a nice and easy pace.  So, when the gun went off, we were off… but not quickly.  It always takes me about a mile to warm up and get my muscles adjusted to running.  By the time we reached mile 1, I was feeling great and felt like I could run all day (which was pretty much the plan).  We started warming up and the mist was actually a relief.  The overcast skies were refreshing because a warm, beady sun is not really as pleasant as it sounds when you are running for a long time.

We tried hard not to think about how many more miles we had to go.  Instead, we tried to think about how many miles we had completed.  We were delighted at mile 8 when the half-marathons got out of our way and headed back to the finish (okay, a part of us also wished that we could join them).  Since there were only 1300 marathoners running the race (yes, that is a low number in comparison to other races), we had the luxury of running without having to worry about weaving in and out of traffic.

Okay, we did have one issue with one very rude group of runners.  Actually, they were a runner/walker group which means that they run for about 5 minutes and then walk for 1 minute.  They have a very loud annoying alarm that goes off when it is time for them to run or walk.  So, us runners don’t usually have a problem with these groups. Whatever works for you to finish a race in your best time.  However, we do have a problem when these types decided to abruptly change their pace and walk without looking back or moving off to the side.   In this particular group, there were about 10 people.  Now, let me also mention that we were on a one-lane road.  So, when they decided to walk they spread themselves across the entire road and didn’t even look back to make sure they weren’t in anyone’s way.  Additionally, they were not considerate enough to scoot over if you needed to pass them.  On top of all that, if you managed to pass them, their annoying alarm would go off while you were in mid-pass and they would take off running nearly knocking you over.  Let’s just say that they didn’t like us very much by the end of the race because we were in no mood to play games and had no problem expressing our frustrations very loudly.  Fortunately, we finally lost them at mile 20.

The crowd grew really sparse at around mile 16 and we were actually eager to see people shouting from the sidelines.  The motivation was uplifting and we needed all the words of encouragement we could get.  I would have to say that our fastest mile was between mile 19 and 20 because of the run/walk group I just mentioned.  As I stated before, you would often be in passing mode when their alarm would go off and they would race ahead of you.  Well, this time I did not let them have their victory.  I raced as fast as I could to stay ahead of them.  I could not believe how good I felt at that moment.  I didn’t feel any pain and it actually felt good to run fast.  However, that didn’t last long.

We were mentally done at mile 20.  We knew that we didn’t want to get injured so we stopped to walk.  Yet, that didn’t quite work out.  It hurt more to walk then it did to run, so we basically jogged slowly.  Guess who passed us?  Yes, that annoying group.  I was just thankful that we didn’t see them again after that.  We were so ecstatic to make it to mile 20 because we knew that we were running the furthest that we had ever run in our lives… all of us, together.  It was a great feeling at that moment.  Then, at mile 21, that all changed.  The last 5 miles were the most grueling 5 miles I have ever run (jogged) in my life.  I felt like my feet and my legs were going to fall off.  I was certain that my toe nail had become detached from my toe.  The bottom of my feet were burning and my ankle was buckling with each step.  Pain shot up both of my legs and my lower back wasn’t happy with the constant slap of my feet on the pavement.  Basically, my body was shouting at me:  “What are you doing??  Stop right now!!”  Of course I couldn’t stop and I couldn’t even walk.  At around mile 23 I tried to walk again, but almost immediately started a slow jog that was similar to a speed walk, but maintained the running motion.  No offense to the other runners on the course, but I was kind of relieved to see that we weren’t the only ones stumbling over in pain.  Some runners had a limp in their stride, while other runners were hunched over like they might fall on their face.  I had been thinking about food up until mile 25.  At that point, I was instead thinking about vomiting on the side of the road.  Somehow I managed to maintain composure.  One of  our running buddies decided she had an extra burst of energy and she was running backwards shouting at us to keep going and pick up the pace.  Are you crazy woman??  I was dragging my feet trying to use all of my leftover energy to bring one foot in front of the other.  Then the turn came.  The turn that said we had to bring it into the stadium and finish 0.2 miles on the track.  The finish was in sight.  We brought ourselves together and surmised all of our effort to look halfway decent as we raised our arms in glory while we stumbled over the finish line.  That was the most emotional moment of the race.  We all had just finished our first marathon ever!

So, I practically crashed and burned on the grass all the while knowing that I probably wouldn’t be able to get back up, but I didn’t really care at that point.  When I finally did manage to stand back up, the wind was a blast of chilled air that brought unwanted goosebumps.  We decided to hightail it to the bathroom just so we could get some warmth for a minute.  I can’t believe that I ran 26.2 miles without having to pee and still didn’t have to go pee at that moment.  All I could think about now was eating and getting warm.  Somehow I managed to drive to the restaurant for a delicious juicy burger and then headed home for a nice, warm shower.  They say that warm water is the worst thing you can do after a long run, but I never follow that advice.  I am still awfully sore, but I think that the worst has passed.  We will see what tomorrow brings. And just think, we will be doing this all over again in 3 weeks.  Are we insane?  Maybe, but it sure does feel good when you cross that finish line and hang that medal on your wall.  I promise to relax next weekend and only run 12 miles.

Mad Dashes in the Chilly Night

I totally could have locked myself in the shower and stayed in there all night.  It’s too bad that our hot water dissipates just after 10 minutes, so my dream of a night filled with hot, scalding water was out of the question.  I guess I am probably better off because my husband wouldn’t have been too pleased with the water bill.

Yeah, I do live in Florida.  And yes, it is supposed to be the “oo la la” vacation spot for the weary traveler attempting to escape the throes of a bitter winter.  Sorry pal, you don’t want to come here right now… try further south (much further because I hear that Miami isn’t doing so hot either).  I laughed to myself as I stood out in the freezing air (yes, the thermostat on my car said that it was actually below freezing) and thought back to the Runner’s World article I had previously read.  Oh, it so valiantly discussed the type of running gear you might need in highlighted areas of the U.S.  I looked at the picture of the woman who was modeling running clothes for the “southeast” portion of the states (for those who are geographically illiterate:  this area includes Florida).  What was she wearing?  Oh, a sexy pair of capri running pants (for those of you who are fashion illiterate:  capris don’t cover the entire leg) and one thin long sleeve shirt.  I don’t recall seeing a hat or gloves on this woman.  The little note stated that this area experiences temperatures in the 40’s and 50’s during the winter months.  Ha Ha… so not funny to be standing out in the chilly 20’s.  Oh, and let’s not forget the wind chill folks.  Lets just say that there is more wind on the top of those bridges and my face will not forget it.

I don’t know if I should have been relieved or not when our running coach told us about our route for the night.  It involved a mad dash up and down a bridge, turn around and dash back up to the top, then come back down and go to the next bridge, make a mad dash up and over, turn around and come back up and then come back down.  Oh, and then do it ALL over again.  And when I say “mad dash” I mean “mad dash.”  We basically were instructed to sprint up the hills like we were being chased by a crazy person with a knife.  The only relief was the fact that the blood was flowing and the extremities were getting some warmth from the blistering wind.  Going up the long bridge seemed like an eternity even though I was pushing my body to the max limit.  Seriously, I thought that I could have passed out at any given moment and thoughts of a puking session were in my mind.  It’s that darn buddy again.  I feel the need to keep up no matter what the cost.  I even try hard to smoke her, but that doesn’t seem to happen because she doesn’t give up either.  🙂

Yep, I survived the cold and hilly conditions and am quite pleased (but only after the fact).  Now I can’t wait to sort of run a marathon this weekend.  Well, you see, we signed up for a marathon, but are calling it a “training run.”  We have to run 20 miles per our training schedule so we just decided to add on a 6.2 mile walk.  Not sure if we are smart or stupid.  I will let you know…

Walkin’ like an old lady…

I know, I know.  It has been awhile since my last blog.  Well, I have been crazy busy with life and all its adventures.  Some of the busy times have been a result of fundraising for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.  For some reason, I am having the worst luck trying to get folks to donate a few dollars all in good holiday spirit for a great cause.  Well, it doesn’t help when I have a wonderful proceeds night set up at the local smoothie cafe on the COLDEST night of the year thus far.  Yes, folks, it was colder than cold so who would want to even leave their house, let alone get a smoothie??  The chocolate party went well, thanks to those who showed up, but it would have been ideal to have a few more in attendance.  The holidays seem to get in the way of this fundraising.  Oh, and that wasn’t the end of my bad luck streak.  We were all set up and ready to stand outside of Publix when we show up just so they can tell us that we weren’t put on the calendar for that day (or any day for that matter).  So, we couldn’t tell St. Jude’s Hospital to get out of our spot…  One more attempt tomorrow.  We will be asking all of the drunk football fans during their little tailgate parties before the big football game (just don’t ask me who is playing against the Jaguars… I have to pretend to like football for a few hours so I guess I better figure out who is playing).  Please let this be a day for good luck!

So, it is kind of aggravating at times, but I try to remember that not everyone can give to every charity that is out there.  I definitely think helping people with cancer is a good cause (and I have a personal connection) but I also have a list of other valuable charities that are worth my attention.  There is only so much we can do.  Yet, I always have a dollar or two to spare to the nice, old man swinging his bell outside of the grocery store in hopes of helping those in need during the holiday season.  Instead of buying that extra fancy latte for one day, please use that money to help others (I have to tell myself the same thing because I do love lattes).

We aren’t just here to raise money and run.  It always becomes something more than that.  When we find out a friend on the team has just been diagnosed with breast cancer or another friend just lost a sister to cancer, we are there for them.  We know how much it means to them when we keep putting one foot in front of the other so that they may feel some relief.  Even if that means I have to walk like an old lady for the rest of the day because my body aches terribly… I may have to use a walker after the marathon, but that’s okay.  At least I don’t have to sit in a hospital bed with needles poking through my skin or over a toilet because I feel so sick to my stomach from all of the medication pumping through my body.

So, feel free to hand me a few dollars to donate to LLS the next time you see me or check out my website and donate $5 or $10 online.

I appreciate anything you can do, even if all you can do is say “Good luck on that marathon Heidi!”  Thanks.

Zoom Zoom

Wow… that was the fastest five miles I have ever ran!  Thanks to my running buddy, our fastest mile was 8:23.  I never thought of myself as fast, but that is freakin’ fast!  Now, there is no way I could keep up that pace for longer than 5 miles.  I was done at the end.

It’s funny because I almost didn’t go to training tonight.  As I got in the car and drove away from my house it started pouring.  Not just raining, but that wonderful Florida downpour we experience so often. However, I kept driving and kept hoping that it would subside.  Fortunately, it turned to a mere sprinkle and then to no precipitation at all.  It is kind of weird around here.  You can have totally different weather on one side of Jacksonville compared to the other side.  As I arrived, it was clear skies all along our running route.  So, you never know… don’t despair and don’t give up to soon.

So, I obviously wasn’t in the mood to run in a downpour, but I also just wasn’t really in the mood to run period.  Last week kind of took a toll on my poor body and I just wanted to take it easy and relax.  I didn’t even run at the gym yesterday.  I joined the world of the elliptical machines… that felt different, but kind of nice on the knees.  Since I was in “relaxation mode” I wanted to keep it that way for this evening’s run.

Then we start running… and we ran faster and then faster.  I think to myself “well, we can’t keep this up for too long,” but then the competitive streak in me steps in.  Well, I don’t want to be the one to back off.  It was obvious that my running buddy didn’t want to back off… so we played yet another game of pushing it to keep up with each other.  Once again she announced “oh, you can keep going when we get to the bridge because I think I will have to slow down.”  Well, do you think she slowed down?  No!  Did I slow down?  No!  We only went as fast as our little legs could go up that darn annoying hill.  It was zoom zoom down the bridge and then like we were finishing a race for the last mile.  Whoa!  And can you believe that we would have been even faster if we didn’t have 3 hills to climb?  Awesome. Just don’t ask me to do it again 🙂