Sunday, February 27, 2011

Off to a good stop

My plans to run a marathon a month got off to a great start only to be brought to a halt shortly after the first race.

What I knew about Waco Texas was limited to Dr. Pepper and the Branch Davidian compound.

When I arrived for the marathon I found out that it's really a nice city with quite a lot of charm. It's still Texas so, by default, I'm not fond of it but as is usual for most cities I visit, I discovered that it's the people that really make a city and Waco has some GREAT people. The Miracle Match marathon in Waco supports an organization that finds bone marrow donor matches for people who are suffering from cancer and need a bone marrow transplant to save their lives. The marathon had about 400 runners which gave it a wonderful friendly feel. As an example of this, with 15 minutes to go until the start no body was lined up. They were all gathered around in a park next to the starting line. With 5 minutes until the start the race director was walking around the start getting her picture taken with different groups of out-of-town runners. Eventual she made her way up on stage and had her daughters sing the national anthem and then we were off.

The marathon is billed as the toughest marathon in Texas and it lived up to this billing. The elevation profile showed that the first half of the course was an incline so I thought that would be the hardest part. It wasn't. I barely noticed the incline of the first 13 miles.

The second half of the course is an overall decline but it's a very bumpy decline. It's much like a roller-coaster, up and down, up and down, straight up and straight down! I tried to run up the hills and walk down because the downhills were so steep I was afraid of injury. At one point, however, I was struggling so hard to get up a hill that I determined that I could walk and keep the same pace as I did when I was trying to run. I actually passed a guy who was trying to run while I was walking up this monster. He quickly learned the lesson I began walking with me.

Eventually I made it back down to the river and wound around it until I reached the bridge which held the finish on the other side. I had bonked hard with about 1 mile to go so I was really struggling until I saw the clock. It was still under 4 hours. 3:58 but still under 4. I sprinted as hard as I could with my hill-tortured quads, and made it across the line in 3:59:40. I was elated with that time. It was a brutal course.

It was a good weekend for all of us. My buddy finished just behind me in the marathon and my son broke 2 hours in the half. The post race party was fantastic with plenty of food, beer and wonderful people.

January marathon done. Confidence high.

I took it easy the week after the marathon mostly because I was beat up but also because Oklahoma City received the gift of massive amounts of snow.

The following weekend I decided to go run with my running club marathon training group. The roads were still ice and snow covered and I had searched for Yak-Traks but couldn't find a store in the city that had any in stock. My bullet-proof attitude told me not to worry, that I could run on ice and snow. No problem.

I made 4 miles before my right knee began giving me pain. This was not surprising because I've battled that knee since before Christmas. I knew it wasn't anything serious but I decided to stop running and walk back just to be safe. So I let my buddy go on to the turn around and I cut the course short and started walking back to the start. Somewhere with about 1 mile to go my buddy caught up to me and I decided that I would run with him for that last mile. I made it maybe 1/4 mile before I hit a sheet of ice with no snow on it and took my annual fall. My right leg slipped and crumpled under the rest of my flailing body as I slid across the intersection we were running through. I think I even screamed. When I fall, I do it all-out!

I got myself up and discovered that nothing was any worse than before and continued walking back. No more running for me, I got it, if only 1 fall too late.

Once back at the start and after the expected teasing about my ability to fall every year we have this ice run, we all headed over to Starbucks for some post-run coffee. This is when my right foot let me know that it was PISSED! My arch cramped and felt like it was going to snap. I tried to walk it out but it didn't go away. Once safely seated with coffee in hand the arch relaxed and I didn't feel it again while seated. Once I got up to leave, however, it let me know that it was still there and I had to limp back to my car.

I've never had problem with my Plantar Fascia so I really thought this was just a cramp brought on by the shuffling stride I was forced to take while running on the ice. I also wondered if it wasn't a bruise caused by my orthotics and the rough footing. Whatever it was, I'm still not able to run 3 weeks later.

Last weekend was the Austin marathon and I was forced to defer my entry until next year. I missed my planned February marathon. I'm one behind already for 2011. Needless to say I was not the happiest of people last weekend. I did go to Austin to support my friend who were running and we all had a good time but it was very hard to be at surrounded by 20,000 runners knowing that I was not one of them that weekend.

So here I sit feeling lazy and fat. I'm losing fitness every second and I have a whole year of plans that need to be rearranged. The one bright spot is that my foot hasn't hurt now for 3 days and I'm feeling confident I will be back to running in a week. I'll have to start slow and build some easy miles but at least I'll be running again.

Thanks for listening