Monday, February 18, 2013

Marathon required mostly mental recovery

So I did run the Chicago marathon but was very disappointed with my performance. My back cramped at 9.5 miles and left me struggling. At several points along the way, I was in tears believing that all that training was for nothing since I couldn't imaging finishing.

Finally, at about 13 miles, I changed the plan. Instead of running 3 minutes and walking 1 minute, I reversed the process. I knew I was going to cut it close for getting a qualified finishing time (under 6:30 was required for that race), but I really had no other choice.

I finished in 6:15:03. I placed 15,734 among women, 35,823 overall, and 1,451 in my age group. It sounds a little better to know that 1,651 people finished after me, I guess. And many more didn't finish. After this experience, I certainly can empathize with their pain and disappointment. 

But the story of pain doesn't end as I crossed the finish line. Just steps past the finish line I heard the impossible news that I wouldn't get a medal. They ran out! At Chicago! I was amazed. I had fought through all that adversity and came in under the cut off time. I just couldn't believe there was no medal at the end.  After the shock and disbelief, I took solace in the fact that I got my 26.2 car magnet at the expo though. Honestly, that was what really what I wanted for an award. Can you believe I went through all that for a car magnet? Twisted, certainly. 

Just past the finish line, they had massage professionals, one of which rubbed my back for a few minutes and then it was fine. Damn! I wish I had stopped at a first aid tent at mile 11 to get that done! For the rest of the week, I was at a conference in Chicago and was pretty good physically. After my back cramp was released, I felt tired, but fine. Just emotionally drained, I guess.

When I got home from Chicago, I was greeted by my loving husband and kids. They made a paper medal for me (Ken got a pic of the actual medal off the web site). What a great idea!  I wore it to work the next day.

A few days later, I received my finisher medal in the mail. It was engraved with my name and finishing time; their attempt to make up for the major disappointment and their mistake. I remember wishing they had left off the finishing time. I put the medal in a drawer.

For the next 4+ months, I quit running. I didn't get out on the road at all. I went to a few circuit training classes, did yoga once or twice a week, and played 90 minutes of competitive volleyball on Sunday nights, but I didn't do much else. I've gained weight and lost fitness.

It took me over 4 months to get over my disappointing my marathon experience. I still believe my race should have gone so much better, but I decided that I needed to quit being embarrassed about it and just move on. Thank goodness I finally got tired of my sulking.

In mid-February, I hung up the Chicago marathon poster in my office. And I'm just now writing this long overdue blog post. But most importantly, I've started to run again. My first day on the road was great and I was amazed how easy it was. I ran about 3.5 miles at about an 11:40 pace. I walked occasionally, probably about a minute every 3 minutes. I was thrilled with that run!  

The next day I was sore, though. Very sore. I did yoga to try to loosen up and it helped somewhat. On Sunday I played volleyball, which was fine.  Today I ran again. Although I ran 3 miles at about the same pace as a few days ago, it was much more difficult. I struggled. I finally had mercy on myself and walked the last half mile home.

Despite being sore and tight, I'm very glad to be back out there. Even when I was struggling today, it felt good to be on the road. I have no new goals yet. I'm just easing back into the process of running. And trying to eat better. Getting back on the horse.  

If you see me on the road, give me a thumbs up. I am grateful for the encouragement and I'm motivated by all of you who are out there pounding the pavement.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Running the Chicago Marathon

Well, I'm going to give it a try.  I'm participating in the Chicago Marathon on October 7, 2012.  That's 26.2 miles - the full marathon.  They don't offer a half marathon distance. 

My plan is to run slowly until the group spreads out a bit.  Then I'll start alternating running with walking.  I'll run 3 minutes and then walk 1 minute and continue that process for as long as possible, hopefully until mile 17 or 18.  Then I'll just hang on by running as much as necessary to try to stay under a 15 minute mile.  I have to finish in 6 hours and 30 minutes or they will pull me off the course.  I'm hoping to come in at 6 hours so I stay sufficiently ahead of the truck, but it's possible I'll be picked up and have to post a "did not finish". 

As of today, I give myself a 60% chance of finishing within legal time requirements.  At various times throughout training, I figured my chances were below 50%, so I'm feeling a bit more confident.

I've had several injury issues throughout my training.  The biggest problem was a Piriformis muscle in my hip/buttox area.  Also, several surrounding hip muscles were impacted.  Because of this, I ran very little in June and July (key months for building base mileage for the October marathon).  I finally saw a sports medicine doctor, had physical therapy, and got medical massage.  After about 8 weeks, I was able to put in longer miles without the Periformis issue.  I had to ramp up mileage pretty quickly after that sideline and so I'm not as well prepared as I had planned to be by now.

My fastest half marathon is 2 hours and 25 minutes; about an 11 minute mile.  I hope to run 13-15 minute miles for the full marathon. 

Track My Progress
If I set it up correctly, my twitter account will be auto-updated while I'm running on Sunday morning.  Updates should occur as I cross the 10K (6.2 miles), halfway (13.1 miles) and 30K (18.64 miles) checkpoints, as well as the finish line. My twitter feed is on the right side of my blog, so you can check it even if you don't have a twitter account or you don't follow me on Twitter.  Ken will also get text messages at those intervals.

Wish me luck!  If all the stars align, I will be able to put that 26.2 magnet on my car.  What an accomplishment that would/will be!  

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Race for the Cure and marathon training

Val (age 14) and I ran the Race for the Cure 5Kyesterday.  The weather was beautiful, though a little warm for the run.  I didn't get a personal record (PR) but did well at 30:54 for the 3.1 miles.  I was the 14th survivor to pass the finish line.  Placing 14th sounds impressive when you consider there were 40,000+ participants.  However, I feel compelled to reveal that only 29 survivors were in the first wave of the run which is reserved for participants who pay an extra $5 for a timing chip.  So I was 14th out of 29.  Still . . . it's something to hang my pink visor on.

The best part of the race was the Facebook status my daughter posted along with a picture of us in front of the survivor trolly:
just ran with my mom in "Race for the cure" love you mom! im proud of u! and she got a rose for being a surviver of breast cancer :)
It means a lot that Val participated in this run to show her support for me. Although she is an excellent athlete, she does not run regularly; nor does she enjoy it. Competitive swimming is her primary sport.  She's also great at softball and volleyball but recently announced she will focus on just swimming and marching band in high school. 

Jason and Ken were at a baseball tournament during the race.  Val and I rushed home and were able to catch the second of Jason's three baseball games on Saturday.  Jason pitched that game, which was unusual since he usually plays third, first, or catcher.  He did very well pitching the first 3 or 4 innings and then switched places with the catcher.  His team won.  Overall in the tournament they won 4 games and lost 1.  Jason's team (Eastside Irish 11U) was pretty happy with that record this early in their season.

As for my sports, softball has just started, though Ken and I are not able to play every week due to our kids' schedules.  I played on Friday, though and our game ended in a tie.  Ken and I are not playing volleyball again until the fall.

My running has been slowing ramping up over the past few months.  I finally took the plunge and signed up for a full marathon.  In early October, I hope to be trained and ready to do the full 26.2 miles.  Currently, I'm running about 3 times per week, with two "short" runs (5-6 miles) and one long run on the weekend.  I'm up to 10 miles now in the long run.  To avoid injury, I'm increasing the long run by just 1 mile every two weeks.

Lymphedema is still causing my left hand to be slightly bigger than my right, though it's usually not very noticeable.  My left hand swells a bit more when I run in warm weather or when I do lots of work with my hands.  I wore the compression glove today for my 10 mile run, but I didn't wear it for the Race for the Cure since it was predicted to be about 60 degrees F when the race started.


Thursday, January 26, 2012

Article by David Haas re: exercise vs cancer

Fighting The Cancer Battle With Physical Fitness
Coping with cancer symptoms, and the side effects of cancer treatment, creates tremendous stress for cancer patients and their families and caregivers. Physical fitness provides amazing benefits for everyone affected by cancer.

But cancer patients, the men and women doing firsthand battle with an ugly disease, can benefit most from a fitness program. Whether they were just diagnosed with cancer, going through cancer treatment, or currently in remission, cancer patients should consider exercise in their treatment and recovery programs.

Years ago, most cancer patients were encouraged to rest and to limit their physical activities. This is still good medical advice, if physical movement causes pain, a rapid heart rate, or breathing difficulties. But research indicates that exercise is safe for most cancer patients. In fact, it can improve physical functioning, speed the recovery process, and generally perk up life.

Exercise Supports Cancer Patients In Many Ways

According to the American Cancer Society, exercise supports cancer treatment in numerous ways Regular exercise improves a cancer patient’s physical abilities and makes them less dependent on others. Physical fitness builds muscle, improves blood flow, builds stronger bones, and lowers the risk of heart disease and stroke.

Exercise helps cancer patients deal with the side effects of radiation, chemotherapy, and other cancer treatments. It lessens nausea and fatigue, improves appetite, and lowers the risk of depression and anxiety. Best of all, physical fitness boosts self-esteem and improves outlook, both of which are important to the recovery process.

Most Patients Can Exercise, Pending Doctor Approval

Many cancer patients wonder what kinds of exercise they can engage in, during the cancer treatment phase and into recovery. The experts recommend three main types of exercise: stretching and flexibility movements, aerobic exercise, and strength or resistance training. The best fitness program depends on numerous factors, including the cancer type, cancer stage, and treatment plan.

For example, weight lifting is not recommended for breast cancer patients, particularly after breast cancer surgery. And vigorous aerobic activity is impossible for asbestos cancer patients, who should talk to their mesothelioma doctor about exercise during treatment.

Most cancer patients can start a fitness program immediately after diagnosis, even if they were not active before. In fact, patients who were sedentary before cancer will derive tremendous benefits from exercise during cancer treatment and recovery. Doctor approval is important with any fitness program, and patients should start slowly and increase their workouts as their fitness level improves.

Article by Davis Haas,, twitter at @CancerAlliance

Monday, September 12, 2011

Bat Mitzvah

I was able to squeeze a run in after Valerie's volleyball game and before it was completely dark.  I ran/walked 3.34 miles in under 40 minutes.  Runkeeper clocked my miles at 12:22, 10:22, 11:52.  I felt like I was moving quite a bit faster in the first mile and I'm certain the mile 1 alert was at least .1 if not .2 miles off the actual distance, so that may account for some of the time discrepancy.

Val and I attended our first Bat Mitzvah this weekend.  Val's friend, Samantha, did an incredible job.  I can't imagine how much study and practice was required for preparation, quite a lot!  Congratulations, Sam!  I thought the service was fascinating and very well done.  And I was teaing up through much of it.  I was so proud of her.

I had a little trouble with the eating plan on Saturday because we had lunch served after the Mat Mitzvah service and it was certainly not low-carb based.  I would have LOVED the spred if I could have had all those carbs, though. Darn!  I somehow got out of there with 5 carbs left for the rest of the day, so it was a tough afternoon and evening.  I ended up just 3 carbs over budget by the end of the night, which is pretty good considering where I was at 1pm.

I'm on day 8 of the low carb diet and doing fine.  I'm down 4 pounds.  It's funny how I don't crave bread at all, but I really want to be able to eat more nuts and have wine with cheese and crackers.  Not yet.  I'll get through induction and then get those back into the diet in a few weeks.  I don't want to blow the diet head-start process I'm going through now.  This is not the type of diet that can be cheated.  It's all in or don't do it at all.  Just watching carbs doesn't have the impact I'm looking for right now.  I'll get to the "just watching carbs" stage later, though.

And then we'll have a wine and cheese and cracker party!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Feeling good about progress

Day 5 on the low carb diet.  I forgot to weigh in this morning, but I'm guessing I'm down a total of 3 pounds from Monday.  Yes, I know most of it is water.  But it's long-term water loss, it doesn't come back the next day.  And I feel like I'm making progress.

I love my carb manager iPhone app!  It has given me the information I needed to alter my previous low carb plan into something more healthy - and it should be more effective, too.  With less fat and more fiber, I should find it easier to drop these extra pounds.  This week, I've eaten limited quantities of raspberries, blackberries, cucumbers, V8, and tomatoes and quite a bit of lean meat, romaine and spinach salad.  I've also had less healthy things like cheese, nuts, steak, protein drinks, eggs and cottage cheese.  The balance in the food choices is a major improvement from my meat, cheese, and eggs focus during my 2004 low carb diet.  I had no idea how many calories I was getting from fat!  That couldn't have been good.  I hope the new plan is at least effective as before.

I did get that run in yesterday.  Runkeeper tracked me at 3.11 miles in 38:23.  That's sad if you know I ran that distance in under 30 minutes in May this year.  Ouch.  Oh well.  I haven't run much since May, probably just once a week or so.  These are the consequences.

Although I didn't plan to run today, the weather was just too perfect and I found myself at home alone for much of the evening.  So I laced up my shoes and headed out.  It felt pretty good to put in 5 miles in 60 minutes.  I walked most of the first mile to loosen up.  My mile splits were negative, so I must have gotten the hang of it out there.  Miles 2-5 were executed with a 2 minute run to 1 minute walk ratio.  Runkeeper clocked my splits at 16:14, 12:05, 11:45, 10:42, and 9:48.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Let's try this again

Wow, it's been such a long time since I updated this blog! I had to really think to remember my password.

I have no excuses, really. Just the usual busy summer things as well as too much going on at work. To be honest, I've also been having serious motivation issues with running. My fitness plan in early July lasted a little over a week and then crashed and burned. It must have been more of an idea than a plan since it didn't stick.

I'm slowly getting back into it now. It's amazing what a few months of running just once a week can do to my endurance! Bye, bye half marathon distance! Hello run/walk 3-5 miles at a time.

A lot has happened over the summer, so I won't even try to catch you up on all the happenings. I will share that I replaced my Blackberry with an iPhone 4, though. I don't know how I lived without the great apps, web browsing, and video support. I'm using a Runkeeper application to track and post my infrequent runs. Although I highly recommend the application, it has not always been accurate. If you want accuracy virtually all the time, stick with the Garmin watch.

My last few runs were 3.19 miles on 8/17, 3.39 on 8/26, 5.04 on 8/31, 3.5 on 9/4, and 3.02 on 9/5. I hope to add a run this afternoon/evening and I'll probably get soggy in the process since rain is expected all day. I'm also doing yoga once or twice a week.

In addition to trying to exercise more often, I've started a low carb diet again. The low carb approach has worked wonders for me in the past, but that was pre-cancer. Since my breast cancer surgery, I've been reluctant to use the low carb diet again because I didn't implement it in a very healthy way. However, I recently did some research and learned how to use the low carb approach while being more nutritionally sound. I also got an iPhone app (Carb Manager for 2.99) that helps me track my progress. The Carb Manager app focuses on tracking carbs, protein, and fat, however, it also tracks and graphs more comprehensive nutrition details compared to USDA daily recommended intake (vitamins, minerals, calories, sugar, etc.). Now that I know my daily fat/protein ratio, I have drastically changed my eating habits. I had no idea eggs were so fatty! Anyway, I'm down 2 pounds in just a few days and plan to keep it up for at least 2 weeks. At that point, I'll decide whether to extend the accelerated weight loss or slow it down by slowly adding the good carbs back into my diet.

Since I haven't been running as often, I'm behind on all my running and HR technology podcasts. The bright spot in this is that I'll have new-to-me episodes to listen to on all my runs for quite a while.