Tag Archives: Marin County Marathon

Marin Marathon Recap – Part 5

One of the main reasons I write a blog is to journalize things that I want to remember. This week’s marathon, my first one, was definitely a significant event in my life so indulge me while I break up this recap of the experience into multiple posts to record every detail that I can remember.

Last one!

I am overwhelmed by the amount of support I received during this experience. Not only from my family, friends and people in my real life, but also from my friends on:

Twitter: People like MsV1959: She gave me so much support and encouragement. She’s amazing, and an inspiration to me (despite being a Dodger fan – LOL). She also introduced me to my new coach, Speedy Sasquatch, who I’m so excited to work with.

Daily Mile: See how awesome these people are?!

I have not met most of these people in real life, but they motivate, teach and inspire me every day. For every weirdo there is on the Internet, there’s about 500 good people, quality people.

I am so appreciative of all the well wishes and congratulations. Every single one meant so much to me. You all believed in me more than I believed in myself.

There are a few who’s words had special meaning to me, for a number of reasons. I want to capture them here so I can remember them whenever I need some encouragement.

Before the race, when I was really nervous:

* “Be strong! You can do it!”

* “Girl….you are an inspiration to me. I remember our talks in the restroom at work and you saying that you’re not sure about how far you can run. I have run five half marathons and several 10Ks yet have not had the courage to run a full marathon. You have come a long way in such a short time. Just remember that….focus on your drive and strength and you will run this marathon and achieve what most people have not. You go, girl!”

* “Just think, one mile down is closer to the finish.”

* “You got it!! Your race will be LEGENDARY!! Enjoy it ;)”

* “I have a feeling you’re going to have an amazing race!”

During the race, as I was dying:

* Half The Way There* by Three O’Clock…you got this! ♫ http://blip.fm/~p9al7

* “You’re almost there!! Eye of the tiger!!!”

* “Stretch.. ease up..and get some fluids in you.. you can DO IT!!!”

* “Run, Run!! Don’t give up! I would’ve though, but you shouldn’t!”

And after the race, when it was all said and done:

* “No one said it’s easy! but you did it!”

* “Try not to beat yourself over on what ifs. I did that. Congrats again! :-)”

* “Relish it!! You earned it!! Hard work got you to that finish line!”

* “Congratz!!! Now onwards to triathlon!!!!”

* “All the struggles makes it that much more of a rewarding finish.”

* “Less than 1% of Americans can do it! Makes you an Elite Athlete!!”

And my two ultimate favorites:

* From my colleague who’s a marathoner himself:

* From my favorite cousin, Chip:

Marin Marathon Recap – Part 4

One of the main reasons I write a blog is to journalize things that I want to remember. This week’s marathon, my first one, was definitely a significant event in my life so indulge me while I break up this recap of the experience into multiple posts to record every detail that I can remember.

Recovery

“Marathon recovery begins the minute you cross the finish line.”
(At least that’s what ActiveTrainer.com tells me.)

After the Finish Line
As soon as I crossed the Finish Line, I walked straight to the Medical Tent that was just a few feet away. The lady working the tent had all of her gear packed up and ready to go but she told me, “There’s still a few cots out if you want to use them.” Oh okay. I just ran 26.2 miles and was out in the hot sun for just under 6 hours…you’d think she’d be a little more helpful.

Luckily, other than my feet and calves, the rest of me held up pretty well. And my friends, Tina and Yvette were there.

They manage to find an apple, a pear (they ran out of bananas and oranges) and a couple of peanut butter sandwiches. Surprisingly, my stomach was fine and I wolfed down a sandwich immediately. In addition to the medal (photo below), when we crossed the Finish Line we were handed a reusable water bottle filled with cold water. I give them props for that – that was cool.

All I wanted to do was take my shoes off but I knew I had to keep moving. So I stayed in the shaded tent and just walked in circles. When I felt a little cooled down I did some light stretching. Yvette helped me to “shimmy” the muscles in my legs, which really helped. After about 45 minutes we decided it was time to go. I told Yvette, “I’m going to stiffen up anyways so we may as well get home so I can shower and get cleaned up.”

On the way home I had to make a bathroom stop at the Chevron on Van Ness and Mission. For those of you who know the area, you know it ain’t exactly the best part of town. When I walked into the store area a guy standing by the door looked me up and down and said, “Did you just run a marathon or something?” I said yes and he started to high five me. LOL

The Ice Bath
Once I got home, I slowly made my way up the 4 steps to my front door. All I wanted was an ice bath. While I completely believe in the value of the ice bath, I also think they should be classified as cruel and unusual punishment. I filled the tub with cold water and dumped an entire bag of ice in it. I took a deep breathe and got in. It is at this point that a runner finds out if they have chafing. How you ask? Because as soon as water touches your skin you feel the burn!

I held my breathe, eyes squeezed shut, and sunk my body into the tub. Then assessed the situation. No chafing! The Body Glide and Vaseline came through! Then I inspected my feet. No blisters and all 10 toenails! Yay! Better than I hoped! Other than a sunburn, I came out of the experience pretty unscathed! Funny thing is, the ice bath wasn’t cold enough for me. I would have gotten another bag of ice to throw in, but honestly, I just didn’t want to move.

After the bath I ate. I warmed up that second dish of the salmon/spinach crepe and diced potatoes. I couldn’t eat a lot of it, but I ate what I could and saved the rest for later.

Then I spent the rest of the afternoon and evening lying in bed with my feet propped up on some pillows. My cousin Toni told me I should lie on the floor with my legs up against a wall, but again, that would require me to move.

No Sleep
That evening I got a measley 4 hours of sleep. My body stiffened up pretty bad. It hurt to stay still, but it also hurt to move. I couldn’t sleep. I tried to get out of bed at about 4 am to use the restroom. It took me 30 minutes to do so. Then the sitting down and standing up from the toilet was a whole ‘nother effort in itself.  When I made it back to bed I kinda just flopped my body down on it. Over the covers and all. Every muscle hurt.

The Day After
Later that morning I forced myself to go out for a 20 minute walk. I had to walk down the 4 steps backwards, holding on to the porch railing for dear life. I got some strange looks from the neighbors who were out. Oh and that 20 minutes took me to the end of the block and back. But it helped, it really did. I came back in the house and did a little more stretching.

Food was another issue. I had only stocked enough food for previous evening. I wasn’t about to cook anything and I had nothing to eat in my house. My car has a manual transmission and I didn’t trust my legs with the clutch. So I had 2 options — pizza or chinese — the only 2 delivery options. I opted for Chinese. The place that delivers has somewhat healthy dishes, I just had to order enough for 2-3 days to meet the minimum charge. Other than the occasional PF Chang’s, I never eat Chinese food, so this was a treat for me. I enjoyed every bite of it, which is a good thing ’causel I ate it for 2 1/2 straight days.

That afternoon I forced myself out for another walk. This time I ran into a neighbor who’s a trainer. He had no idea what I’d recently did, but took one look at me and asked, “What did you do? You have profound lactic acid build-up in your legs.” I was amazed. I told him I had just ran a marathon the day before and asked him, “How can you tell about my legs?!” He said that the shape of my legs (quads) was not normal, and I was doing the right thing by walking. So what did I do? As soon as I crawled (yes crawled up the steps) at the front door, I stood in front of the mirror for a good 15 minutes trying to see what he saw. LOL

That night I doused my legs in sesame oil (advice from my yoga teacher) and wore my compression socks to sleep.

Two Days Later
I still wasn’t getting a good night’s sleep, but I felt much improved the next morning. I could stand up without feeling like my legs were going to give out at any given moment.

I walked again, then later that day drove to Danville (about an hour away) to see my sports massage therapist.

(Side note: On the drive out there I found out just how much you use your quads when driving a stick shift. It hurt every time I had to press the clutch.)

Heather, my sports massage therapist, is worth the trip. She works with professional athletes, members of the Nike Running Club, triathletes, etc. She normally practices trigger point massages which are not for the faint-hearted. They hurt really bad but always works things out. I had mentally geared myself up for the pain, but she told me that she wasn’t going to do a trigger point massage on me. She knew I was too sore. Instead, she did what Yvette did – “shimmied” my muscles to loosen them up – only a bit more intensely. She also spent a lot of time on my feet. She said I was in really good shape compared to other people she’s worked on. I thought it was just calves, quads and feet that needed work. That is until she pressed this one spot on my hip and I thought I was going to cry. It hurt so bad and I didn’t even know it. She said it was my gluteus minimum and I needed to roll, roll and roll some more. She also found some tightness in my peroneus longus (or the tendon that runs down the side of the leg near the ankle). Nothing major but something that needs to be stretched out.

The massage left me feeling so much better. That evening I was able to do more stretching and I followed the same sesame oil + compression socks ritual as the previous night.

Since the race, I hoped, and waited, for a really good long nap. But as luck would have it, I didn’t even get a good night’s sleep. Finally, around 7 pm on Tuesday (when the Giants game started), I finally got the nap I wanted. At 10 pm (when the game ended), I dragged myself from the couch to my bed but found myself in the disappointing predicament of being unable to sleep. I was so tired and wanted to sleep so bad, but my body wasn’t letting it happen. I was due back at work the next day and had to get a good night’s sleep so…I popped an Ambien. I was able to get a full almost 9 hours of sleep. I woke up on Wednesday finally feeling rested.

Wednesday
By Wednesday, I was finally feeling a little back to normal. I could walk instead of waddle. It was easier to sit down and stand up. I went back to work but made sure I got up to walk around the office every hour or so.

I also got a foot massage from the massage therapist that comes to our office every week to provide chair massages, which has really helped me. I finally feel like my feet aren’t so tired anymore.

Overall I’m really happy (and so thankful) that I came out of this experience in one piece. While I’m sore, I have no pain – not the injury kind. I still don’t feel 100% but I’ll get there soon enough.

The one thing I will have to work on is my eating. I allowed myself to pig out for the first two days after the race – chips and salsa, the aforementioned Chinese food, Pop Chips, chocolate. But now that I’m done with marathon training, I need to scale back my calorie intake. I’m meeting with my nutritionist today to discuss this.

Tomorrow I’ll be writing my last final post about this marathon experience, and its the post that means the most to me…stay tuned!

Marin Marathon Recap – Part 3

One of the main reasons I write a blog is to journalize things that I want to remember. This week’s marathon, my first one, was definitely a significant event in my life so indulge me while I break up this recap of the experience into multiple posts to record every detail that I can remember.

“No road is too long for him who advances slowly and does not hurry, and no attainment is beyond reach with patience.” – Jean de La Bruyère

Miles 14-26.2

We last left off when I was at Mile 13. Actually, it was more like I was just about to start Mile 13. I was at the aid station, where I stopped for a minute or so to drink some water, stretch a little and ask them how long the loop was. The loop I’m referring to was in the Las Galinas Sanitation District. The portion that we were at was a gated off bird sanctuary. I was told it was a 2 mile loop and we’d exit at that same starting point.

So off I went, pass the gate and into this area that I thought was going to be really awesome. I was wrong. I have titled this area of the race, “The Land of Desolation.”

The terrain was trail; i.e., gravel. All gravel. And lots of dry tall weeds. It was dry, arid, and deserted. There was no one in front of me or behind me. I was alone, just me and the bugs that kept flying around. Running on the gravel really hurt. My quads were starting it hurt, and the instability made it worse. It made my feet start to hurt as well. But beyond that, the fact that I was completely alone got to me mentally. If it wasn’t for the orange arrows, I would not have known where to go. No volunteers out there. This is where I started to fall apart.

About a mile into this area my left calf started to hurt. I panicked. In m 5 yrs of running, and 1.5 years of racing, I’ve never experienced cramping (just a side stitch once or twice). I knew it was because I was dehydrated, so I drank more Cytomax. I tried to stop and stretch but I felt my body start to stiffen so I had to keep moving. I dropped into a walk / run.

After what seemed like forever, I came out of the loop and back at the aid station. There I drank about 4 cups of water and heed. I had been afraid of drinking heed because I’d never had it before and didn’t know how my stomach would react, but now that I was cramping, I knew I didn’t have enough Cytomax to last me for the last 11 miles (the loop was 2 miles).

I continued on. Being back on the road was a little easier. For Miles 15-17 I ran/walk. I could run for a little bit before my left calf cramped up again. So that’s what I did. I tried to run through the downhills and flat portions and walk up the hills. It was along this area (again by the side of the freeway) that I met Loan.

Loan was a Daily Mile friend. We’d corresponded quite a bit about this race so it was great to meet her out there on the course. We walked/ran together for a bit. Then I cramped up again so she went on ahead of me. I also met 2 other girls, Helen and Courtney. They were suffering like me. Helen was dying from hunger and heat, and Courtney was cramping in her knees and hips. It was her first marathon too, and like me, was done after “The Land of Desolation.” For the few miles we ran/walked with each other and took turns passing it each.

For me, it became a game of, “just run to that next light pole, stop sign, tree. That’s how I pulled myself along. My goal became to make it to the aid station at Mile 19 because they had orange slices. The 3 of us got there at about the same time, along with the 5:00 hour pacer. I ate about 4 slices of oranges, had about 3 cups of fluids and then continued on.

I met up with the 5:00 hr pacer. He was running alone and also really tired. The pacers were supposed to be in teams and split the course with a partner. His partner never showed so he had to run the whole thing. We pushed me along until we got to gravel again. My feet hurt so bad, I couldn’t make myself run on it. But he coached me through it. He told me, “We have 1 hour to make the 5-hour mark and 7 miles to go.” Can we do it?” I told him, “No. That would mean less than a 10-minute mile and I would be challenged to do that on a good day.” He had to make the time so I told him to go on ahead, which he did.

I continued on with the walk/run method. When I got to the end of this gravel portion, I came out to a hotel parking lot which sort of looked familiar. No one was there to direct us. At this point, the 4-hour mark, all volunteer course directors had left. We were essentially abandoned out there. There were all these cones and orange tags out there so I just followed it along. And then I found myself back at the Mile 19 aid station again. I had run in a circle. I panicked and broke into tears. I asked the old man playing the guitar there where I was supposed to go. He had no clue. The 6:00 hour pace group rolled around. I cried, “I cannot run this mile again.” Well the 5:00 pacer had done the same thing as me. He took me by the arm and said, “Let’s go, we’ll figure this out.” We back tracked our route until we found the orange arrows. We got back on track, crossing a bridge and more parking lots. He asked me if I was okay and I said yes, then sent him on his way.

I walked back through the back yards (more gravel), came upon another aid station, drank more and then continued on an uphill. I was back in the residential area. As I noted, all the cones were removed, the roads were completely open. I had to walk/run on the side walks. This area was more or less flat. Someone who worked with the race came by on a moped and asked me if I was “Naomi.” I said yes and he goes, “Your friend is waiting for you.” I just looked at him waiting for what else he had to say. He didn’t say anything else so I just said, “Well tell her I’m trying to get there as fast as I can.” I asked him where she was and he said, “2 more rest stops.” And then drove off.

(I should mention that at this point my iPhone was about to die so I turned it off. I had my iPod shuffle on, but wasn’t even listening to the music anymore).

Eventually came around to where the bikers were. At this point, there were no sidewalks so I walked on the side in the brush. This is also where Helen, Courtney and I met up again and decided to stay with each other for the rest of the way.

We came upon the Mile 22 rest stop where one lady remained manning. But wait. As I got closer, I realized it was my friend Tina! She was there to support me and had nothing to do with the race. I asked her what she was doing. She said when she drove up the volunteers asked her if she would just take over. She said, “Ummm, okay” and the volunteers all left. Yup, how’s that for you?

She filled us up with fluids and gels. I had also run out of GU so I took a few Hammer gels with me. As we started to move on, someone called my name. It was Yvette. She was really worried about me so she had someone bring her to find us.

So from Mile 22 on it was me, Courtney and Yvette (Helen felt like she could still push forward so we sent her on her way). Also, from this point on, it was all uphill. Yes, the last 4 miles were rolling hills, but mostly uphill. I couldn’t run/walk at this point. Both calves were now severely cramping. Every time I tried to run, my calf muscles would contract into the tightest knots. So we walked. We walked the last 4 torturous miles.

I’ve always said that walking is harder than running and it is. Its harder on the feet. My feet swelled and was in so much pain. But we just put our head and pushed. My goal for this first marathon was to finish. I had no time goals. So while I was dying to just stop, I was not going have a DNF.

I had joked that I needed to beat Valerie Bertinelli’s time at Boston, but she kicked my butt. Blew on by me. And you know what, I didn’t even care. All I cared about was finishing. Another 6:00 pacer met up with us and the 4 of us continued on. I was sure we were the last ones on the course. I kept updating the group with our pace (from my Garmin). I knew that if we kept up our walking pace of a 16ish min/mile, we’d come in under 6 hours.

We passed by the 25 Mile marker and I remembered what I had thought about when I saw it the first time out. Then the moped guy came out again and told us that the Finish was just around a few bends. He told us, “just follow the cones.”

Well it was a good thing Yvette was with us because the Finish Line was completely different from the Start Line. It was through this small gate, down a trail hill. If she wasn’t with us (having run the 10K), we would have had no idea where it was.

Yvette ran ahead to she could take photos of us coming across the line. Once we entered the gates, I looked at the pacer, and Courtney and said, “Let’s go.” So we ran as much as we could all the way down. It was trail and gravel, and hurt like hell, but I kept going. My calves were tightening and contracting, but I knew I had less than 385 yards to go.

As we ran along the beach, people who were out enjoying the day stood up to clap and cheer us on. The ONLY crowd support we ever had, but I so appreciated them. Soon we entered the Finish chute (which was on grass). I pushed and pushed and finally, FINALLY crossed the Finish Line.

The official clock read 6:02 but I do not believe that for a second. With how hokey this race turned out, I honestly don’t know how they got that time. There were no sensors at the start or anywhere along the course. The only sensor I saw was at the Finish Line. My Garmin said 5:51:02 and that’s what I’m going with. Of the 77 marathoners, I finished 76. Its the lowest I’ve ever finished in any race. And you know what? It doesn’t even bother me.

Some of the experienced marathoners who ran this course told me that it was a really, really tough course, even for them. So I’m proud that I was able to finish it on my first time out. I finished, that’s all that matters.

Check out the elevation at the end of the course:

In tomorrow’s post, I’ll recap my recovery process.