31 October 2010

Triumph in the Rain!

Race day! I WILL be STRONG!

The sun shone beautifully for all of 30 minutes.

I did it! I actually did it! 13.1 miles through torrential rain, sunshine and sprinkles I walked/jogged all around Portland; from downtown, out towards the industrial district, across to Barbur and Terwilliger, back downtown. Not only did I meet my goal - to beat the police car that marks the time limit herding walkers towards the finish line - but I beat it by 17 minutes and change. On top of that, I wasn't last in my age group. I finished strong, able to sprint the last three blocks. My legs could have continued - at a slower pace - but my feet, oh, my poor, poor feet, they wish I would have stopped after mile 4. As revenge for ignoring the throbbing burning sensation in my toes, the two pinky toes developed nice blisters, but the right index toe can only be described as horrifyingly disgusting. It really did not like walking for such a distance, especially in shoes that sloshed half the time.

Why, yes! I will pass you on the left!

Overall, I'm quite pleased. It felt great to be the one passing others, to feel strong and capable. To consider this time last year I could barely walk a mile, the distance I've traveled figuratively is mind-boggling. So thank you Dr. Keenen, Lisa, Mom, Damon, and my Foot Traffic University training group for your part in getting me to this milestone. Up next, the 5k Jingle Bell Run for Arthritis on Dec. 5th. I think it's time to back off from the distance goals - at least until I find a better pair of shoes; my new goal is doing a 5k in 30 minutes or under.

Proudly showing off my finishers medal!

Poor, poor toesies!

20 October 2010

Pride & Glory

Tonight. I decided that...

Nut Case!

I have been training for a half marathon since the end of July. Not very well mind you, but at least halfheartedly training for a half. I only made it to about half of the group runs/walks. I've only logged about half the miles I should have. I've been plagued with feet issues from shoes that are just a smidge too small and toes that are just freaky weird (thanks, Dad!). But my determination to complete the race was 100%. Even though my preparation has been halfhearted (or half-witted) it has been my primary focus. I have skipped social engagements, gotten woefully behind in homework, all so that I could hit the pavement, trails and gym as often as possible.

Last Saturday was our final group walk/run before the race. Once again, I took a wrong turn and got lost, making up my own course as I went, keeping an eye on my fancy watch to gauge when to turn around to hit the mileage I wanted. My pace was easy as I was testing out new shoes, I only put in about 4 miles. I headed home determined to get some yard work done before the rains hit later in the week. So it wasn’t until the afternoon that I got around to showering, after which I started to trim my toenails. As I was clipping away my toenail on my right second toe started to move around and then lifted, flapping like a loose sail in the wind. Disgusting! I started poking around the toenail on the left foot and it too was lifting but had not separated from my toe as much. With a bad case of turf toe losing the toenails was inevitable but so gross. I wasn’t sure what to do, I was freaked out. Bandaging them up I decided to ignore them.

I knew loosing the toenails would happen eventually, but was hoping it wouldn’t be until after the race. But I couldn’t pretend there wasn’t a problem, I couldn’t just leave them bandaged until after the event. I had to call my podiatrist and see what was going on. But with that call came fear and apprehension that I may not be able to do the race. “What if Fitzy says it’s a bad idea? What if he tells me I’ll be doing much more damage if I continue with my plans?” It was then that I realized how much my ego and pride were invested in this little venture.

Doing this race was not just a personal goal, like a New Year’s resolution, this was a declaration. A triumphant return to my life. A demarcation of the official end of the recovery season from surgery. I had completed the flat half marathon on July 4, 2005 - it was the last race I did before inflicting the final injury to my back that led to the surgery. It seemed poetic justice to do another half marathon to signal my return. I have been focused on making this statement for the last three and a half months. I had been almost bragging about it in the last few weeks. I was feeling pretty proud of my accomplishment and it wasn’t even reality yet. I wasn’t sure if I could take the humiliation of backing out. Would my recovery be less true? No. Did it mean I hadn’t accomplished anything? No. It would mean that my pride would take a hit; it would not have the crowning glory I had planned. And that was almost more painful than my toes.

On Monday the doc trimmed off the old toenails to reveal teeny misshapen new ones underneath and gave me the go-ahead for the race. I exhaled relief, and signed with resignation; what can I say? I’m complicated. But I started to think about my priorities, about pride and the Biblical view of pride. I was starting to get uncomfortable. Then Tuesday came. I had my one year follow-up with the spine surgeon. He was impressed that I was doing a half marathon, but also admonished me to walk most of it, that a half should really be the cap for my distances; and then he checked that I wasn’t doing anything really crazy like bungee jumping or skydiving. I may be a nut, but I'm not stupid. I guess doing lots of halfs are not in my future, even with a bionic back. But that wasn’t going to stop me from doing this half. But Wednesday hit like a semi-truck. As I was getting ready for the day a muscle down my neck started spasming. I ignored it with the logic it would work itself out. But as I was driving to work, to see my blind spot I had to turn my whole body – not good. Thankfully my chiropractor was able to fit me in at lunch. I still had to support my head with my hands to lean my head back, but I could at least turn side to side which was a major improvement.

So despite banged up toes, warnings from the spinal surgeon, and a neck that is out of whack, come Sunday I am tackling a half-marathon. Yes, I am a nut case! But one who is going to “Run Like Hell” for 13.1 miles and feed my pride and make my statement!