Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Memphis Marathon

So the weekend after Thanksgiving I flew to Memphis for the St. Jude Marathon and to visit family and friends. I had bought my plane ticket and my entry to the marathon before I injured my hip and started limping around everywhere. Because of my injury, I did not train at all and doubted that I would be able to participate.

But, when I picked up my packet at the race expo the night before the race, I asked if I could do the half marathon instead of the full marathon. They said that I could, that both marathons had the same 8 am start time, and if I didn't want to do the full marathon then I could just veer off and finish after 13.1 miles. So, I decided that I could do the half if I alternated between walking and running.

I was happy that I could still participate in the event because otherwise I would have just moped around that morning and felt that one element of the trip had been missed. This marathon was smaller than the Baltimore marathon, had more facilities, and the staff seemed more accommodating. Also the course was much flatter. Plus it was great to run on familiar streets where I had grown up.

On the morning of the race it was very cold and they had a wave start, so I went to the back corral, for the 12 minute mile pace I think. With the corral start we did not cross the starting line until about 20 or 30 minutes after the race had begun. It was nice because the course was full but not too crowded this way.

I was able to run about 2 or 3 miles before my hip started to really hurt. Then I walked until it stopped hurting and then started running again. I did the whole race this way and finished in about 2 hours 50 or 55 minutes. When I say "run", I mean more of a shambling jog. I could not lift my feet up too far or run too fast because if I did, the impact killed my hip. I'm sure you have seen people running this way before, I have seen them... old, injured people. Because of my run/walk approach I kept passing the same people again and again. I don't think they knew I was injured, they probably just thought I was strange. Even with the difficulties I experienced, I had a great time doing the race.

I will probably sign up for the Memphis marathon again next year, hopefully by then I will be in better shape. For two days after the marathon I was limping and hobbling around to the point where people commented on it. Then, I felt a little better than before. Since then, my hip is feeling a little better each day. I think I am going to wait until it feels completely healed before I start running again.

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Wednesday, November 18, 2009


For the past two weeks I've been contending with my first ever running injury. I have been running for ten years and have never been seriously injured until now. After the marathon, I took two weeks off, partly because I got very sick with what was probably swine flu. Then I started training again since I had signed up for the Memphis Marathon Dec. 5. The week that I started training, I noticed that my hip had started to hurt when I ran. I've had other pains that I have run through and they would go away, but this time when I went for a ten mile run, I was in a lot of pain that evening. Since then I've had an ongoing pain in my left hip to the point where I am limping when I walk sometimes.

I stopped training to see if things would improve, but if there was any improvement, it was slow. I just went to the doctor today and I have pulled a muscle by my hip, the hip flexor. I have to take naproxen and rest. I don't see how I will be able to do the Memphis Marathon at this rate. But if I can't it will be ok, because I will still have a chance to see my family and friends. I still haven't totally ruled it out, but it is a long shot.

This week I started working out on the elliptical because it is driving me crazy not to exercise. I never realized how much I would miss running until I couldn't run. I am hoping my hip injury will heal very soon. I am also questioning whether I want to continue doing marathons or not at this point.

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Friday, October 16, 2009

Baltimore Marathon

Last Saturday, Oct. 10, I ran in the Baltimore Marathon which was my first marathon. I finished in 4 hours and 28 minutes which was about what I expected based on my training runs. It was a lot of fun to participate, and an adrenaline rush. I guess that is why I have started signing up for all these running events.

I started the marathon late, which may not surprise some people who know the difficulties I have getting places on time. I had ordered breakfast from the room service card the night before, which let you order it at a certain time. I ordered it to be delivered at 6, which I'm sure all the other marathon runners in the hotel did too, so of course it was late and got there around 6:40. By the time my mom and I checked out of the hotel and walked the mile to the marathon start, it was 7:50. I went looking for the bag check. That was a mistake because the bag check was probably 1/2 mile away from the starting line. By the time I had checked my bag the marathon had started! There were some other late runners also running for the starting line through the crowd, so I followed them.

When I finally crossed the starting line it was just me as everyone else had already gone, it was kind of funny because everyone was still cheering, and kind of ironic. I saw my mom and waved at her but she didn't see me with everything else that was going on. Later, it turned out that my start time was 5 minutes later than my chip time, but thanks to the chip time it was no big deal.

I think starting late really took the pressure off during the race. For one thing, hardly anyone passed me the whole time. In the beginning, I caught up to the other runners and kind of settled into the whole thing. I noticed that some people started walking really early on, like around 4 or 5 miles in. I think I was around a 10 minute mile pace for the early part of the race. It had turned out to be a really nice day, and I was enjoying running through all the parts of Baltimore which were completely new to me, as I've only visited the Inner Harbor and Little Italy before.

My mom was able to see me at a couple of points where the course doubled back through downtown so that was great. Also, the other runners were all really cheerful and many neighborhood residents had come out and were cheering so that lifted my mood even more. About at the 10 mile mark, it started to seem that I had been running for a long time. Still, I was continually passing people since I had started from dead last in the pack.

Around the 13 mile mark, the course became clogged with participants from the half marathon, most of whom were walking. There were also some large hills on the course, which I had tried to prepare for with hill training, but there were a lot of big hills. Trying to run uphill after 13 miles while weaving around numerous walkers was probably the most difficult part of the race. After a while I got used to that too. Near the end of the race the course looped around a lake which was nice, and I realized I was at mile 20. Then we ran thorough a great neighborhood where everyone was dancing in the street to R&B and I ended up dancing with and high fiving a cool lady, and I saw a guy dressed in a tiger suit dancing on the roof of a car to a boombox blasting Eye of the Tiger. That really perked up my spirits. Right after that I saw my mom again, and my friends Mike and Amy who were coming out for the end of the marathon. I said hey but did not stop because by that time I felt like I really had some momentum going.

After mile 21, I felt like I was set for the rest of the race. So I just ran as fast as I wanted to. I did 8 and 9 minute miles to the end and I felt great. Then it was over. They had run out of silver blankets when I got to the corral at the end, and I didn't want their bagels. I collected my medal and got my bag out of the bag check. Then I called my mom and my friends. It turned out they were stuck in traffic and I had to walk a mile to meet them. I met them at the Hilton where we were staying that night. I had to wait a while for them to get there, so I checked in. Then we all went for lunch at the Cheesecake Factory, where I had a beer and a great time hanging out with everyone.

After lunch I took a nap and then we went out in Fells Point because it was Saturday night. Maybe I should not have overdone it like that, because I was fine on Sunday, but then on Monday I became extremely ill with the flu. Since then I've been laid low with fever and chills and today is the first day that I've had the energy to post.

Anyway, I am already planning to do another marathon. I've signed up for the Memphis marathon on December 5. I feel like I went too easy on my pace for this marathon and I could have a faster time if I started out with a faster overall pace. At the end I still had a lot of energy. I do need to get some new running shoes though, because the ones I have now give me huge blisters on the soles of my feet. I'm looking forward to the one in Memphis because my family and friends live there so it is a good reason to go and visit between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

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Sunday, September 27, 2009

Marathon Training

After a long time of neglecting this blog, I am going to try to turn it into a running blog again. This summer I've been getting more enthusiastic about running and have run in several events, including a 10 miler, 5k, and sprint triathlon. Then I became more ambitious and signed up for the Baltimore Marathon, hoping it would motivate me to step my running up to the next level. I only had about a month to train after I decided to sign up, so I immediately started doing long runs. The training has been pretty tiring.

Also, although I have been hoping to lose weight by running so much more, I have gained several pounds. I think it is because of the increased amount of carbs the training program requires. Also, trying to eat less was not working for me at all, because on days I did not eat enough I could barely make it through the runs and was forced to run very slow. So given the choice of running strong and gaining a few pounds or weighing less and possibly not doing well with the training plan, I chose to gain. Hopefully I will lose the weight after the marathon. From the reading I did online, the long runs change the way your body stores glycogen and often does result in weight gain.

My longest run was 23 miles, a week ago. Now I am starting the tapering period before the marathon so I did 15 miles today. The 23 miler was really hard. It took me 4 hours and 50 minutes and I had to force myself to run the last 7 miles by a sheer effort of will. The good thing is that I know I can do that for the marathon now. Running at that distance seems to be a mental thing as much as a physical thing.

The other thing is that I've been doing my runs alone as I usually do. It has been kind of nice to zone out and see what there is to see outside. I preferred running at night, especially in August, because it was much cooler and I didn't have to worry about the sun beating down. At night I felt like a wild animal running around, because after running an hour or two it cleared my mind and I really wasn't thinking of anything.

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