Sunday, March 20, 2011

Team Ortho Lucky 7 Half Marathon

I may be healed but I am not trained.


Before I made the decision to have a hysterectomy I had planned on completing the UMTR Ultra Gnarly Bandit Series. 4 - 100 mile ultra marathons in the Midwest. Well, once the hysterectomy became a reality I realized I +may+ not be ready for Zumbro 100 in April (you think?).

I came up with another plan. The Team Ortho Monster Series. A 10K, Half Marathon, Marathon, Duathalon and another Half Marathon. I ran the 10K Polar Dash in January the second race was yesterday. Participants could either run a 7K or 21K (Half Marathon). I opted for the Lucky Half Marathon. I had a quick thought of pinning a tag to my back stating that I was only 7 weeks post op as a reason for my suckage.

My surgeon gave me his blessing to resume running two weeks ago. With 6 weeks off and a major surgery I knew running might be difficult..but I thought my body would catch on quickly. My running has been on a hiking trail under a few feet of snow. Lots of hills, lots of slow running. Well, not lots..nothing over 10 miles. I ran 10 miles last week. This run was partly on the trail with Topaz and it was so cold and slippery and tough on the trail that I ran the remaining miles on my treadmill. With an hour of driving and changing (rest) inbetween. This does not a half marathon make, I know if I didn't before.

As I have mentioned before, I really like the Team Ortho races. Except that I had to make a 4 hour round trip to packet pickup on Friday. That was the pits-rush hour and all.

Saturday morning it was 21F, a big moon hovering in the sky as I drove toward Minneapolis. As I neared Minneapolis the sky became cloudy and it was snowing. I was so glad I decided to wear long pants, gloves, ear band, light jacket and long sleeved thin top. I haven't run in shorts yet this year. It was windy too.

Race organization was excellent. Free parking at the Ford Plant. As I neared the plant volunteers were flagging cars in, directing up to parking slots. Awesome. I headed out a few minutes before race time and bumped into Monica. I first met Monica while working for Berkley, and later, at FANS 24 Hour Run. Now I see Monica regularly at races. Cool.

We chit chatted and waited for the GO. My plan was to go SLOW, a full two minutes per mile slower than usual, including 1 minute walk after each mile. I stayed true to this plan the whole race and then even added a few minutes. Egads.

I was cautious and maybe a little nervous at the beginning, wondering if I really was healed. I really didn't worry about the training. It didn't occur to me that surgery and 6 weeks off would really make that much of a difference.

I just trotted along the course, listening to conversation around me, noticing that I was running with a group of people that I haven't been running with lately. It reminded me of when I first began to run races. Many near me were running their first halfs, it was cool to listen to their excitement and future racing plans.

At 5 miles I saw the front leaders coming back, man, they were hauling ass and were running uphill. The course was hilly, mostly downhill on the way out with the wind in our face and mostly uphill on the way back with the wind at our backs. I ate a gel here, a few glasses of power ade and trudged along, making sure to walk a full minute after each mile. I was running 10 minute miles and was OK with that, although I was a bit miffed that a 10 minute mile wasn't feeling all that easy.

At 8 miles I began to get dizzy. It kind of freaked me out. I was running up a hill, stitches on both sides, and became dizzy. I slowed to a walk and heard this gasping. Is that me? I turned down my music and sure enough, I was gasping and wheezing. I was quite perturbed at myself. Why do I have side stitches, why am I dizzy and why am I gasping for air. Hello I'm running an 11 minute mile at this point. Hello you just had surgery and haven't run for 6 weeks. Bla bla bla. On and on I went. At the top of the hill I sat on a curb. Really! I've never sat down during a race on the curb. What the hell. There was an aid table near so I got up and grabbed a gel and some drink, feeling a bit better.

I began to run again, slowly, like real slow. 11 minute miles now. Up hill I ran, falling in back of the 2 hour pace team. I kept having contradictory thoughts. Oh my god, catch them, you have not had to train for a half marathon in 10 years..oh, no, wait, this isn't about catching anyone, it's about getting the distance in. How can this be so hard? It's a freaking half marathon...

I couldn't believe the difficulty I was having. I was really struggling. Its not like speed comes naturally to me anyhow. Normally I am running 60-80 miles per week and work hard for every bit of speed I can muster. My fast twitch muscles like to rest and I coerce them out of their rest weekly. Not now. They are in hibernation mode.

Finally I came up on mile 12, knowing that the end was near and just so thankful that I could at least run a half marathon at 7 weeks post op. It was difficult, I was fed up with myself for struggling so, but in the end I did reach the goal I had set upon myself. I ran the distance.. in 2:17 .. I have a starting point .. even if I feel as though I am starting over..

I tried not to think about Chippewa 50K next month, Ice Age 50 Mile in May and Bighorn 100 in June. I wasn't thinking positively enough to be thinking about future races.

After the race I was handed a bag of food and received so much schwagg for this race, it's kind of over the top.

I do love that I don't have to stand in a mob of people for my shirt, medal, food. ALL of the food is in a paper bag, handed to you. Very nifty.

Today Topaz and I headed off to the trail for a run. There is still 14" of snow and ice on the trail. Yes, I stuck a ruler into the snow and measured. I am hoping that there is at least a few inches less when I measure tomorrow! I ran 8 miles and felt tightness but no pain. If this snow doesn't melt soon I'll have to leave Topaz at home and get some road miles in. He'll be devastated but I'll be devastated if I can't finish Chippewa 50K! I'll need to run 20 next weekend and 25 before my Zumbro 100 shift. We'll see.

So the good news is that I am healed. I may not be well trained but I am well healed. The training will come.

And dear blogger, where is the spell check?


SteveQ said...

I was out there, but I didn't think to look for you, being so soon after surgery. Good to know you're starting up again!

Robin said...

I think you did amazing!

Olga said...

It's all about the first step!!! said...

I have really enjoyed your site. Keep up the good work

Julie B said...

I would have looked for you too, Steve, had I known you were out there. There weren't too many spectators.

Robin, thanks. I appreciate that.

Hey Olga, I'm taking those first steps all over again and that is OK, isn't it. At least I'm taking them!