Friday, November 23, 2007

Let's Talk Turkey

First, let's talk about the saying that "you should always listen to your mother". On Wednesday night, before the race, my mom said to me, "What you are going to do if it rains in the morning?" I replied, "I guess I'll run". She then said, "But won't that be unhealthy and aren't you running to raise money for a cause promoting health?" You really can't argue with that.

On Wednesday morning at 5:30 AM, there was thunder and lightning in the distance. Doug logged on to to view the current radar map. The good news was that it was 64 or 65 degrees outside, and according to the website, the big green blob was to pass directly north and slightly south of the course.

So much for accurate weather forecasting. Crossing the bridge to the starting line, it started to drizzle ("I can do drizzle", I thought to myself ... "at least it's not cold"). Little beeps sounded as I crossed the start line (about 6 or 7 minutes after the gun time). Adrenaline rushing, feet pounding the pavement, runners with garbage bags over their heads, a walker with an umbrella, all united in the darkness before the dawn. But we never actually "saw" the dawn, because somewhere between mile 1 and mile 2, the heavens broke open. Thus began the downpour, which was to come and go for 11 of the 13 miles (intermittent downpours and drizzle).

Yes, it RAINED for MOST of the race.

At mile 2, I called Doug and said, "When you meet me at the finish line, can you bring me a change of clothes?"

Somewhere between mile 4 and 5, my shoes got soggy and started to slush.

Just when I would think it had stopped raining, it would start again ... but for the most part, I just had to laugh. Because it would have been way too easy to cry and call to be picked up. So like lemmings, we all moved forward. One of the runners in front of me raised up his hands in the air (out from under his garbage bag) and shouted "Thanks a lot Sonny, you couldn't have waited until after Thanksgiving?" <---- reference to GA Gov. Sonny Purdue who assembled everyone together in a united day of prayer for rain last week. Well, it was a hard one ... we needed the rain (and still do) so maybe spending the next few hours running/walking in the rain would be a small sacrifice to help fill the reservoirs. I'm fairly certain in that instant, I truly believed the rain would stop.

But it didn't.

The race itself was good (with the exception of soggy feet). It was like a chronicle of my almost 9 years in Atlanta. I ran by dozens of restaurants that Doug and I frequented, (and as I ran, it rained), past the Borders book store in Buckhead where we used to start or end our non-dates, past the MARTA stations I would take to the airport when I traveled for work(it was really raining hard here), past Lenox Mall where we visit Santa each year, past PRUMC, the very first church I attended in Atlanta(have I mentioned that it was raining?),
past Peachtree Christian, the church we attend each week and where we got married (the sun tried to break through the drizzle at this point), past the Peachtree club where we had our wedding reception(oh, and by the way, it rained on our wedding day), past the Fox theatre where I attended my first opera in Atlanta (and when Doug would go with me months later, we would smuggle in boxes of Junior mints), past Doug's apartment where he lived right before we got married, past the Capitol(the sun was trying to break through again by this point), and finally to Turner Field.

For the most part, I ran down the hills and walked up the two big hills, but as Doug said, "I finished strong". He said I had the "face" ... the moment I crested the last hill and started running around the corner, thinking the end would be in sight, I was determined to finish this thing as quickly as I could. So, slush, squish, splat, slush, squish, splat, I crossed the line ... to insanity. It wasn't a long trip, though - since I was already so close.

A couple of notes:
1) No tears this time ... I was way too determined. Haven't cried yet ... and it's already been 24 hours - always a good sign.
2) Doug and Dominic were able to watch me cross the finish line (that was so cool!) Doug brought the change of clothes and coffee. He should be sainted.
3) My mom allowed me to lay on her sofa for the entire day (after providing a Thanksgiving feast fit for royalty - turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, corn pudding, green bean casserole, homemade applesauce, coleslaw, homemade bread, minestrone soup and meatballs<--it's an Italian thing ... ). My small contribution was to bake an apple and a pumpkin pie (which I did on Wednesday). 4) I did take another ice bath, like I said, I'm insane, but they really do make a difference. 5) I feel pretty good today (Friday) just a little tired. 6) I completed my second "13 miles" and my first official half marathon!!!!!

Now I have to get ready for 16 miles next week.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Eight is Great!

I only did 8 miles on Saturday. It was fine ... it was good. I ran it in under 14 minutes a mile (ok, I know it isn't quite running). I played little mental games along the way ... you know, "I'll just run really, really fast until I get to that mailbox up ahead, then I'll take a break" ... then I would get to the mailbox, and say "OK, I'll keep running until I get to that crimson colored tree" ... and so forth. It was a decent run in all (although when I started it was 33 degrees outside ... and I was cold ... and trying to convince myself that running would keep me warm ... ).

In the end, I managed to run (not slog, not walk, but run) into the parking lot where the team was congregating ... I felt exhilarated. One of the coaches said, "Hey Lisa, how do you feel?" I said, "Not too bad, no tears this week!". He laughed ... it was all good.

I went home, stretched (no ice bath this week, it was really cold outside), ate, stretched some more, went to the chiropractor ... had a photo shoot at the house ... all good. No tears, none at all! I was on a roll!

Dominic was in bed asleep by 8pm. Doug said, "Do you want to watch a movie?" And then it happened ... after a positive, high energy day, feel good day, the "Blockbuster mailer" was opened and the DVD inserted into the player. Heavy sigh - can't quite remember when this movie was actually put into the movie "queue". Must remember to edit it soon.

Griffin and Phoenix.

I cried for most of the two hour duration - tissue after tissue after tissue, it was exhausting. As for the movie, it was a bittersweet love story (Dermot Mulroney and Amanda Peet). Think bittersweet "a la Ali Macgraw, Ryan O'Neal Love Story".

My only comment after it was over was, "I made it through an entire Saturday without sobbing until this movie, I can't believe that I cried through the entire thing! We're only renting comedies from now on."

I'm not making any commentary on the movie itself. Just know that it's a love story with a twist and if you have any even remotely emotional fiber in you, you will cry, it would be highly improbable not to.

Back to running. At some point on Saturday (before the movie), I realized that if I can just figure out how to do 3 - good 8 mile runs in a row, I'll just about have the marathon done. After 3 - 8's, it will only be 2.2 miles to go and that should be easy, um, relatively speaking.

I'm always open to suggestions.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Flashing Blue Lights

I only did 14 ... HA!!!!! I ONLY DID 14 MILES!!!!! OK, sure - it was hard, I was sore ... every bone, muscle, ligament, and tendon hurt - oh, and it hurt to breathe. But, I did it! Around mile 7, I was running alone (because no one runs as slowly as I do) and had just gotten to the turnaround point (which is about 1.8 miles from our house) and was greeted by Doug and Dominic, standing on in a parking lot holding a sign that said, "Go Mommy, We love you !" I cried (naturally), gave a few quick hugs, tried desperately not to think about getting in the car and having them take me home ... and then as I began running again, Dominic (in his newly acquired 5 year old wisdom) said, "Mommy, why did you run all the way up here? Why don't you just get in Daddy's car?" Sigh.

I replied, "Mommy is thinking that very same thing, but I have to run back now! Thanks for meeting me!"

So with renewed vigor, I ran back to the water stop (which would be mile 8 for me). Doug and Dominic showed up there again (bless them) ... more hugs, and then I was off, to run down a really big hill (which took me over 18 minutes to run up, but only about 7 minutes to run down). I was feeling good. The base of my left hamstring was a bit sore, but I still felt ok.

Fast forward (because if we stayed with Lisa running time, it would be another 15 mintues), to the next water stop (mile 10). The hamstring was a bit more sore and I was tired and running more slowly, but I still figured that I had "some" left in me. Yes, Jim, at this point, I took the Gel Goo ... a little sweet, had to take it in small doses, but it gave me a quick kick where it was needed.

One more water stop to go - I slowed down to a walk and tried to convince myself there wasn't much more to go ... by the time the discussion was over in my head - I was only .8 miles away from the end ... I kept thinking ... don't stop, don't stop, don't stop. But, because I am who I am, I stopped, and unfortunately realized it hurt more to walk than it did to run, so I started running again. I slogged up the last hill (about .2 miles away now) ... and heard footsteps behind me. Flashing blue lights? No, not yet ... hang with me, I'll get to that.

So, I'm slogging up the hill, I can actually see the parking lot to my car, and the footsteps get closer - they were those of the 20-something(I could be wrong) slender, gazelle visiting from a TNT group in San Francisco ... her legs were at least 5 feet long (give or take an inch) ... and she was doing 20 miles ... so, as she glided by, barely breathing ... she said, "Oh good, you're with TNT, is the stopping point up ahead?" I gasped for a breath and said, "Yes, just a straight shot" ... she said, "Great, thanks ... " but by then, she was already actually there.

I was greeted again by my mentor, Page, and my two team coaches, Yo & Chuck ... hugs and high fives all around ... as we climbed the last few yards to the stopping point. Then Barb, the mentor that was there for me for my 12 mile run provided moral support, hugs, and said ...
"hey, guess who else is here?" Yes, Doug and Dominic, made a third appearance ... more hugs and moral support! It was awesome ... I cried ... it could be a theme ... get ready for the Flashing Blue Lights ...

As I said, minutes ago (if you're still with me), I was sore - very sore ... Everyone there gave me advice - here it is and in this order.

1) Stretch
2) Hydrate (water and sports drink)
3) Ice bath (fill tub with about 8 inches of cold water, stay in running clothes, immerse, add a bucket of ice - stay there at least 8 - 10 minutes & enjoy a beer - which was graciously provided by mentor Barb)
4) Warm shower
5) Eat protein
6) Nap
7) Tell everyone that you "only did 14 today"

So I stretched, managed to somehow drive home (while Doug and Dominic went off in search of the perfect hamburger to bring me for lunch), and I decided to try the ice bath as horrible as it sounded because I figured I couldn't possibly be in any more pain. Here's the funny thing, as I made a few expletives when put my feet in, I realized soon that they were numb (and it was good Dominic was not in the house), but sitting there immersed in cold water really wasn't that bad - I couldn't feel anything after the first few seconds ... and quite frankly, I didn't have enough energy to actually get OUT of the tub, so sitting there for 10 minutes was not a problem. There was no way I could have gotten out sooner. Seriously. The bad news was that I didn't have any strength to open the beer.

The hamburger was good, and I did have the beer to wash it down (I had already hydrated with about 32 oz of water and somewhere close to 12 oz of sports drink). The nap was a bit short, because Doug was busy preparing the backyard for the Pirate Birthday Party and Dominic was in need of a playmate - but we played with things that did not require me to be on my feet (which were completely non-functional).

Fast forward again to about about 5pm Saturday evening (if you're still with me, I promise the end is in sight) ... I started to feel vaguely human and mobile again and forced myself to drive to Trader Joe's. I made some quick purchases (mentioned to the check out clerk that I had run 14 miles that day and felt huge waves of pride) and went to the Chinese restaurant across the street for take out (also mentioning to the host that I had run 14 miles ... I was on a roll). I'm only about 3 miles from home at this point. So I decide to take the same road home that I ran on that morning (but I was in the car and it was dark).

That's when the rush of emotion hit me. As I started down the street, I was thinking about how much my body hurt, and the fact that I had actually managed somehow to run 14 miles ... which took 3.5 hours, but still ... I did it ... and I cried (there's the theme) ... and here's the thing - like I said, it was dark, and I was on a familiar back road, and I wasn't thinking about driving, and I was crying (hard), and that's when I saw ...

The Flashing Blue Lights.

"Pull over at the next street ma'am" (love the bullhorn).

I came to a stop, rolled down the window, got out my driver's license and looked at the officer (tears streaming down my face). He said -

"Are you ok, ma'am?"

"No!", I sobbed, "I ran 14 miles this morning, and I'm so sore, and I had to go the grocery store, and get things ready for my son's birthday party tomorrow, and I still have so many things to do, and I have dinner here for my family, and I actually ran on this road this morning and I can't believe I actually was able to do the 14 miles ... but I'm training for this marathon because a good friend of mine has lymphoma and I'm trying to raise money and ..." (you need to insert alot of sobbing and gasping in between words because I was really over the edge at this point).

He said, "Can I have your license ma'am"?

After what seemed an eternity (and alot more crying), he came back to the car and said,

"Listen ma'am, this stays between us, everyone makes a mistake, and I sincerely believe you know these roads, so I'm not going to write you a ticket (since the stop sign was less than a mile from mile house) and I think you're doing a really good thing with this marathon for your friend, she will definitely be in my prayers, and I hope you get everything done for your son's birthday."

I was still sobbing as I choked out a sincere "Thanks" - and he said, "are you ok to drive home?"

I should have said, "no, but I could walk from here" - but I didn't ... and I kept crying, I don't know why and Doug met me in the garage, because I had been gone longer than expected (but laughed when I told him the story).

It was an exhausting day all around ...

But it makes a good story (and I did 14 miles!)

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

More is Less (I almost had it right last time)

Today is my son's 5th birthday (and yes, he did get legos as some of his presents - seriously, what did you expect?) - unfortunately, he is not feeling well (fever and cough) ... so he stayed home from preschool today and we have been watching movies and napping all day. (Just for the record, I'm going to do my training run when Doug returns home - in case anyone is keeping track.) ---> the Legos pictured are courtesy of Miss Heather and Mr. Erik (Great Job!!!! Thanks!!!!)

I'm hoping Dominic will be better by Sunday (which is the official day of his Pirate Party - 12 - 14 boys playing pirate in our back yard - Arrrr!!!!

Anyway, back to More is Less ... I almost had it right in Saturday's post ... here's the email the team received from our Head Trainer, Tommy Owens.

For anyone who has never done an endurance event - this seems like exactly the wisdom you need!

"Phoenix Team,

Congratulations on your commitment and progress in training for your event. As we reached the halfway point, and as the mileage increases, there are certain things that you should remember:.

** You will be experiencing some chronic fatigue. Fatigue is cumulative, and is to expected. To help manage this, be sure that you are training at the lowest level schedule. You will have a good event experience, no matter which level you choose. Close attention to diet and hydration will make you stronger, as well as recover better..

** Recovery from longer training takes time. That is why we are now showing more rest and recovery days and weeks in the schedule.

** Remember, many times “MORE IS LESS”. When determining your day's plan, always use this guideline: “IT'S NOT WHAT YOU COULD DO, BUT WHAT YOU SHOULD DO”.

It is normal and expected to feel some doubt, and concern at this point in training. Vince Lombardi said, “FATIGUE MAKES COWARDS OF US ALL.” We have all experienced these same feelings. I can assure you that you are progressing well. You will find that you will begin gaining more strength and confidence over the coming weeks. We are getting close to our goals.

Thanks you for your continued dedication, and please don't loose sight of the impact you are making in saving lives and finding cures for blood related cancers.

Congratulations on your progress, and best of luck as you continue your journey. You may have heard…the destination is nothing compared with journey, and the people we meet along the way will be the traveling companions of our memories forever.
Coach Tommy"

Saturday, November 3, 2007

More is not always better!

First, let me says thanks to those who commented last week (Barb & Jim) - And to those who commented either via email or in person. I thrive on the encouragement! Seriously.

Yes, I did eat a banana last night prior to going to bed. Good times. I also woke up 3 times because I was anxious (just guessing). When I got to the GTS meeting point, I was greeted with a hug (Thanks Barb!). My mentor, Page, offered to run with me this week (with me setting the pace) - it was a good run (yay!) ... and over before I knew it.

The weather was a bit cool (mid 50's), but good for running. We finished in about 1 hour and 10 minutes (a bit under my "normal" 14 minute pace) and we only did 8 miles. It's a bit hard to wrap myself around the fact that I can say "I ONLY ran EIGHT MILES". But I did and I can.

I've also decided that I'm going to run the Atlanta Half Marathon on Thanksgiving Day (The mileage fits in nicely with our training schedule and I really want to get a sense of how the larger races feel.) More on this in the next few weeks. But for now, I will be somewhere around a starting line around 7AM on Thanksgiving morning ... but I'm guessing I will be very Thankful by the end of the day.

So the 8 miles today was "easy" - no cramps, no breathing issues, no weather issues - just running. And, when I arrived home, my mom and Mack had come over to make breakfast for everyone ... eggs, sausage, bacon, country ham, cheese grits, toast, and English muffins ... much better than the day old bagels I usually eat. Thanks Mom!!!!!

Thanks again to everyone who has offered encouragement along the way. It is indeed the best type of fuel to keep me moving forward!