I’ve been quiet for a while!! Work has been busy, life hectic and, I’m not going to lie – training somewhat non-existent. But!! That’s about to change. Time to get back on the wagon before it gets so far away that I can’t catch it.
I’ve got three races under my belt so far this season. Two half-marathons and one Sprint Triathlon and they’ve been met with mixed success. I’m having to learn how to work with this new, slightly broken, body. My gait has changed and certain muscles have weakened since by battle with Vestibular Neuritis and its been a “fun” little game trying to get back to full strength.
The good news: Failure is becoming motivating. The motto of “embrace the suck” is pretty much the name of the game but at this point it causes as much laughter at myself as it does frustration.
Here’s how things have gone so far….
Race #1: The “HELP ME!!!” Half Marathon really called the Winnipeg Police Service Half-Marathon
It’s a nice day in May. A little windy but not too shabby. Which is impressive for Winnipeg where you never really can predict what the weather will do in this crazy Canadian city.
I’m running with a friend from work. He’s faster than me but not enough for me to worry about it. I should be able to pace him fairly well. I tell him that I am not going to miss my goal of under 2 hours by 26 seconds again because that would just suck. We’re off and running at a steady 5:21/km . I’m feeling good and we are joking a bit about how work is going to hurt the next day.
And then it hits. The attack of the IT Band. Barely 10 km in and I can feel the pain creeping up in to my knee. I mentally tell my body to piss off because I do not have time for this and there is a long damned way to go. I let my running buddy run ahead so I don’t screw up his time and I push as best I can.
I grunt in frustration.
I text my best friend who is out with an injury and she tells me to “EMBRACE THE SUCK!!”
I walk. I run. I cry. Damn does it hurt. About mile 11, a woman runs along side me as I am dragging myself up a small incline. She puts her hand on my back and tells me I’m ok. And I cry some more out of pure frustration. Just after mile 12 I see a guy sitting on the ground with the medics around him and I tell myself “THAT WILL NOT BE ME”. At mile 13 the end is in sight but I can no longer bend my knee at all. I’m barely jogging and even that .1 seems insurmountable. A man runs along side me, put his hand on my arm and pulls me along with him. He keeps pulling me until I tell him that “I’ve got it. I’m good.” Runners are truly amazing and supportive people.
I crossed the finish line at 2 hours 5 minutes… well, I DID say I didn’t want to miss the 2 hour mark by 26 seconds.
I embraced the suck.
Race #2: The Triathlon that Hates Me really called the Triple Threat Triathlon in Birds Hill Park.
So, one rarely expects their first tri of the year to be fantabulous but this race seems to be out to get me. Last year I dubbed it “the race from hell” because everything that could possibly go wrong, went wrong and this year wasn’t leaps and bounds better.
The disorientation from the vestibular neuritis kicked me in the butt in the swim and I had to stop more than once to try to reorient myself. It was a crummy swim. My sense of panic was high because of the disorientation and I just couldn’t seem to get myself back under control.
Now, my goal is always to beat my best friend, Sandra. She is fantastic and about as competitive as me. In theory, her long legs should allow her to kick my butt. Our athletic therapist has said that she is like a gazelle and I’m like a bulldog (woof?). And, while I’d much prefer to be compared to the long, lean, graceful gazelle (especially considering I’m a dancer), the bulldog seems about right some days (although I hope I’m not as short and stumpy as that implies) .
Imagine my surprise as I come in to transition, annoyed with myself for screwing up the swim so badly, and find the Gazelle still getting herself ready for the bike! ALL IS NOT LOST!!! I manage to get out of transition mere seconds behind her and now the race is on!! I hit that bike course like…well…a bulldog. I pulled away from her and used every ounce of my being to make sure she didn’t catch me. One loop done and as I’m heading out for the second I pass her on her way in. Panic sets in that she’s going to catch me and I hammer down convinced that every athlete coming up behind me is her.
Back in to transition, rack the bike, still don’t see the Gazelle. Start running. Now, I should mention that I have Raynaud’s Disease as well. It’s a lovely little circulatory issue that causes my toes and fingers to go numb. Usually this happens when I’m cold but I’ve noticed lately that hard bike rides or strenuous runs can bring it on as well. And, it rears it’s ugly little head and for the first kilometer my toes are completely numb. I wiggle them, I shake them, I curse them, all while trying to maintain a reasonable speed. EXCEPT!!! That courtesy of the neuritis, I am under trained. The under training begins to show and the knee aches slightly but I am quickly distracted from the IT Band issue by the horrible cramping in my left quad… oh crap. It’s two kilometers in to the 5k run and I’ve cramped up. This is a first for me. It sucks. I don’t recommend it. I stop, massage, run. Stop, massage, run. Bear down and grunt in pain and aim for that finish line!!
Failure comes in that I was a little slower than the year before when it was the race from hell but…. I still manage to beat the Gazelle.
Race #3: The “Singing in the Rain” Half Marathon really called the Manitoba Marathon
It was rainy. It was cold. It was like 15 degrees cooler than it should have been on a June day. It was a nasty start. I was supposed to meet Sandra, who will now forever be called “The Gazelle”, and her husband before the start of our waves. He was going to start in wave 1 and she was seeding herself in to wave 2. Unfortunately, that never happened. I waited for almost an hour to catch the shuttle to the starting point, had to sprint to drop off my bag and wave 1 was underway before I was anywhere close to settled. I managed to get in to my wave and find a pace bunny with just minutes to spare. I happily followed the 1:55 pace bunny (who I am convinced was going slightly faster than that pace). I wondered if I would ever find The Gazelle.
At the earlier part of the race, we passed the cemetery where my Dad is buried. It was Father’s Day and I felt the emotion starting to build up. I waved at my Dad as I ran past and asked him to help get me through a race where I probably shouldn’t, according to the athletic therapist, have been running.
I got a fun little game going with another runner in the 1:55 pack. He may not have been playing but I certainly was. I would run past him and settle myself in to a spot, only to have him come racing up and past me, so, I would race up past him and the game continued for quite some time. Somewhere a long the lines, the 1:55 pack moved a little further away and I heard another runner comment that they were definitely faster than the 1:55 pace. I didn’t care. I had my goal and I was going to, hopefully, get there.
The first 10k flew by, which was a nice surprise, and I was still pain free. I heard a voice call my name and I turned to see The Gazelle beside me on the course. I had caught up to her and was comfortably moving past. We chatted for a minute about meeting up at the end and I continued at my pace… and then the pain began again. Luckily, when the twinges began it was at about the 15km mark. I did have to pull over and adjust my IT band strap and allowed myself short, less than 1 minute, periods of walking to try to deal with the pain. I was always trying to be aware of my time. I didn’t want to miss my goal time by 26 seconds…again… the last 2 km were excruciating and I wondered if I had lost my goal time. I hadn’t seen the 2-hour pace bunny pass me but I had been distracted by the pain. My pace was dropping and I was worried about the time but I kept pushing. I told myself that I would be able to deal with the pain later and just to keep on moving.
As I came around the corner and in to the stadium I made the decision to just give’er! The my watch and the timer indicated that my goal was in sight and I raced for that finish line with every ounce of my being.
I cried but this time from the incredible emotion that comes from meeting your goal. 1:59:08. That’s under 2 hours and I will happily take it. I’m sure my Dad was with me as I struggled through the end and it was fitting that I made that goal on Father’s Day.
And, now it’s onwards and upwards. Time for a new half marathon goal and to get ready for the Hecla Triathlon….and maybe to let that IT Band heal a little.