Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Tendon Sick

Here's a terrific development from my moment of achievement two weeks ago.  The extra wear and tear of thirteen miles seems to have somehow injured my achilles tendon.  Now whenever I do anything the slightest bit physical - like say, dig up a garden, I get an intense pain in my achilles tendon.  We're talking about pain that would be akin to someone kicking me in the achilles tendon with a sledge hammer.  I realize that one cannot kick with a sledgehammer, but that's how it feels.  I looked it up on webmd.  It sounds like achilles tendinitis.  It's common for middle aged men, who have recently increased their running distance. So my great achievement has really just become a friendly reminder of how old I am.  Great.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

It Is Finished

I successfully ran 13.1 miles this past Sunday at the Lincoln Marathon.  This is longer than I ever thought I could run, and my body continues to remind me that it was a horrible idea.  Here is my review of the weekend.

THE PRE-RACE:

I went up before the race with other people from Goodwill who were also running the race.  Pre-race activities go like this.  First you get your bib and chip and everything.  Then you go to a spaghetti feed.  I picked up my stuff without incident, then proceeded to wait for others from our party to show in the lobby of Embassy Suites.  As I age, I become less and less patient with big groups - as it relates to planning.  The best number to make plans with with is 6.  After that, everyone should just go their own way.  The Goodwill Running Club does not subscribe to this point of view.  So about 10 of us attempted to eat at the Spaghetti dinner.  That meant splitting up, which I immediately thought was awesome.  While everyone tried to clear out seats near each other, I splintered off and sat with some strangers.  They were very nice, and didn't talk to me.  But the Goodwill Running Club was nice enough to find an extra seat for me, so I was called back into the fray.  The fray turned out to be okay, however, as I was a sat next to the siblings of my co-worker's wife.  I didn't know them from a hill of beans, and it was nice getting to know them a little.  Except they kept eating.  They had two full plates of pasta and salad.  I believe we sat there for 2 hours.  I did have two bomb pops while I was waiting. 




We then went back to the hotel.  It was an old Holidome, so it had a swimming pool and putt putt golf.  It felt like the sort of hotel I stayed at when I was a kid, except that this time I was drinking.  I also scored a free beer, because the bartender didn't know how to ring anything up.  I went to bed at about 10pm. 

At 5:30 I woke up and did some stretching.  I also ate this power bar thing and drank some water.  Super nervous.  Convinced we were going to get there late. 

THE RACE:
We got to the race just as they were telling everyone to line up.  This made me very nervous, but it turns out they tell you to line up for a long time.  So we took some pictures.  Everyone from Goodwill had a blue shirt except for me.  Mine was too small.  It really accentuated my boobs, while not forgetting about my gut.  I had to fight not to wear it, as many in the Goodwill running club felt that it would be okay to wear it "just for pictures." I felt like the prospect of pictures was exactly why wearing it was a bad idea.  They didn't seem to understand.  But I had to foresight to leave it in Omaha.



There were about 6,000 people in the race, so even though the gun went off promptly at 7am, we didn't actually start for another 20 minutes.  This was really fun.  Sitting in a crowd of nervous people, full of anxiety, making small talk, asking about shirts.  Then we finally started running.  I was so nervous I had forgotten to cue up my chosen audio for the run: the local New Orleans broadcast of the Super Bowl.  I clumsily started it up while running, and set out to find my pace.



The funny thing about running with 6,000 other people is that you can literally be passing people throughout the race, and still be one of the real losers of the race.  It was crazy.  I passed so many people.  For the first 8 miles, I was constantly running by people.  I kept checking myself to make sure I wasn't running too fast, but it seemed like everything was okay.  The route of the race takes you through mostly city streets, but for a large stretch, it goes on a narrow path along a highway.  This made the passing much more difficult, but also took my mind off the fact that I had been running 7 miles, and still had 6 to go. 

Now might be a opportune time to discuss a segment of the runners that appear to only be on the course to discourage.  This is the subset who go back and forth between running and walking.  You pass them while they are walking, and moments later they pass you when they decide to run.  This is not fair.  If you are going to run, then run.  But once you have started walking, you should have to stay that way.  This is particularly frustrating when you are about to pass someone, and they start running along side you.  Sometimes faster than you.  Many people did this to me.  And I wanted to kill them all.  I also wanted to kill the people on the narrow path, who saw fit to run in large groups.  I'm all for togetherness while running (really I'm not), but it seems like there are some times where single file just makes sense.  Everyone else I loved.  There was just a really good feeling oozing all around.

So at about mile 9, I started to fade.  I had run 10 miles in the past but the prospect of having 4 more to go, made this part of the race the most trying.  It was also mostly uphill.  Chelsey and Chuck had showed up at about mile 5, and I was desperately looking for them again to give me some encouragement.  I was told that the encouragement would make a big difference, but thought it might just stir up rage for someone like me.  Not at all the case.  The constant cheering from the crowd really helped.  Complete strangers yelling "Come on Green!" (I was wearing a Green shirt) somehow made the tough times less tough.  But seeing Chuck and Chelsey were certainly the high points.  I knew I would see them again at about mile 10 or 11, and I was just holding on until them.  Finally I saw them.  I remember asking them where I was, and one of them saying mile 11.  This was of great relief to me, as I knew I had two more miles in me, but wasn't sure about three.

I basically held on the rest of the way.  Chuck showed up again at about mile 12 (Chelsey was using the restroom), and Memorial Stadium was within view.  It seemed like it took forever to get inside the stadium (as marathon runners passed me - mind you), but I made it out onto the field, and ran to the 50 yard line.



I got my medal and I was done.

THE POST-RACE

Completely exhausted, and packed under the stadium with about 4,000 other exhausted people.  I grabbed some water, and attempted to find some fruit.  There was a huge line to the fruit (and oatmeal - who want oatmeal after a run?) so I just walked around.  I found another Goodwill runner and waited around for like an hour and a half to organize a picture of all of us.  I would just like to say again how much I hate big groups.

We finally left the stadium, and Chuck took us to the hotel.  I showered up, and Chelsey and I headed downtown to get some food.  The place we went to served Abita, which was a nice treat, but neither of us felt all that great.  Me because I was physically dead tired, her because she was also sleepy dead tired.  Downtown Lincoln is just lovely by the way.  Just lovely.  Chelsey drove us home after we ate, and I laid around the rest of the day.  My thighs were worthless for the next two days.

So that's the story.  I really enjoyed the running.  I hope I keep it up, but I'm nervous that the absence of a race will keep me from doing so.  I guess I will always have this race though.  I ran 13.1 miles at a rate of 10:58 per mile.  Which is really miserably slow.  But almost a minute better than when I started running miles in January.  It's pretty cool to think that I could barely run two miles back then.  And it's cool to think that I never have to do this again if I don't want.