Monday, October 1, 2012

your body knows, even if you don't.

 I've been a runner for 3 years.  After Goofy last January I took some time off to recover (this can be quite dangerous) mentally and physically.  I never really got back into it, but tried in the spring and ran 1 5k event in my hometown and then did a Relay event in May.  Then work/school took over my life.  I didn't expect to get much exercise in due to a very intense summer that I had planned, and then I injured myself in late June, so that really put the nail in my summer running coffin.

My fitness this summer amounted to Friday night soccer games with a league I joined with my boyfriend.  Very recreational and fun, be we play hard.  I aggravated my quad injury every Friday and spent the week recovering until the next game.  A few Saturdays I could barely walk.

Now that soccer is over, school is over and life is calmer, I have started running again.  Very small goals to start.  I considered doing couch to 5k, but wanted to see where I was at first - and it turns out I could run a mile without stopping on the first outing, so I'm building on that.

The amazing part:  My body instinctively returned to "my happy pace" of 10:20-30.  This isn't my race pace or my marathon pace or my any race pace (which can be faster or slower depending), it's just my comfy pace where I feel like I could go forever (I can't, never could).  I really never thought I could just fall back into that, but for whatever reason, my body knows that's a good pace for me to use going on a run.  

It's only been a few weeks back, and after 1.5 miles I still need to take walking breaks, and the longer I'm out there, the more frequent the walking breaks are - and that's fine.  I'm just happy to be logging the miles at any speed.  I just giggle when I look at the Garmin after I resume running speed and see that familiar 10:22 on my pace line.  

My body remembers. It knows what it has to do - and I'm so glad it reminds ME...cuz sometimes I need all the help I can get.  Never give up!  :)

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Thank you, Jesus!

I'm not a Christian, heck, I don't even have a religion, but I know why athletes, musicians, actors and other "winners" all get to a microphone and thank Jesus and their mothers.

I have never felt so grateful in my whole life than on Sunday, October 16, 2011.  I wanted to hug a million people and kiss babies and maybe even thank MY mother, who wasn't even there for the big day.  Accomplishing something you hadn't even dared to dream of accomplishing is an amazing thing, and makes you realize how many people helped you get there.  Sure *I* did it, but it's hard not to think that people who believed in me, didn't laugh when I told them I was going to run a marathon, who came to the race, who sent well wishes via text/facebook/twitter, handed me a blue-raspberry coolatta in the middle of the course - so many people.

So here's how it went:

Alarm went off at 5:10am.  John got out of bed.  at 5:30, John came back and woke me up.  He made my protein shake for me, cuz he's awesome like that.  I drank up and got dressed, started stretching.  We were in the car by 6:00am.  I ate a peanut butter sandwich on whole wheat and drank 20 oz of diet coke on the ride.  We parked in a garage about a 10 minute walk from the start, and arrived to the starting area around 6:45 for an 8am start. It was in the low 50s outside, so we found a spot indoors to stretch and warm-up.  Then we found gear check, dropped off our stuff and got in line for the bathroom.  I was the last person in line for the indoor bathroom, and we ran outside to hear them playing the national anthem.  JUST IN TIME.  :)

We jumped into the starting crowd somewhere near the back.  no pace corrals.  only about 1000 marathoners and maybe 2000 half marathoners.  We ran together for the first 3 miles or so and then they turned off.

Our race course is advertised as fast and flat, with 2/3 of the field Qualifying for Boston.  John and I were not concerned with the qualifying standards, but we really counted on the FLAT part, which was fairly accurate. The course features a double loop.  We didn't get lapped until our mile 9 or 10 (their mile 19 or 20).  We were hoping we'd avoid getting lapped, but c'est la vie.

We ran the first half in 2:30, which I thought was pretty good.  It was faster than our half time in August, and I thought would be a decent start to running a 5:30 marathon.  Neither of us struggled during the first half  - we walked the water stations as planned, and we walked 2 hills.  After the halfway mark, John's family greeted us at mile 14+.  They resupplied us with Gu, Gatorade for John and a blue-raspberry Coolatta for me.  I think I also ate some chips.  They held signs that said "Goofy or Bust".  I was so happy to see them, but we had to keep going.  That was our longest mile - 20 minutes - so I guess we stopped for about 5 minutes with them.

We made the last turnaround on the loop and were on the "homestretch" at mile 17.5, when my quad started cramping. and my foot.  and my calf.. sort of.  All on my left side.  ugh.  I stretched some, which of course tripped up my hamstring a bit, ate another Gu packet (I was Gu-ing every 2-3 miles up to this point) and vowed to Gu every 1.5-2.5 miles the rest of the way - and did.  At the next water stop I filled my Coolatta cup with multiple cups of water and gatorade and drank that.  The cramping eased up with the upped electrolyte intake.  AMEN.

Around mile 20 John started to run out of gas.  our walking breaks became more frequent, but we soldiered on.  At mile 25 he told me that I should just go on ahead and run for it if I "had it", but I didn't come 25 miles with him to leave him to shuffle alone.  We weren't racing, we'd already missed all our goal times, and our biggest goal was to do it together.  He hadn't left me when I was cramping, so we ran 1/4 miles at a time, and then as we were a 1/2 mile from the finish we picked it up.  My sisters and nieces and nephew were at the 50 yd mark to finish which gave me a huge boost and then the sister with the camera took some pics and then ran to the finish line to catch me.  At this point I pushed ahead and left John and beat him by 3 seconds. LOL  His family was right beyond the finish line waiting with hugs and gatorade.  I accepted my space blanket and bottle of water from the race volunteer, assured them I was good and met up with our fans.  John wasn't aware they were right there, so I had to call him over.  We drank gatorade and accepted hugs and kisses over the fence, posed for pictures and ate protein bars.

I'm so proud of us.  I'm so proud of me.  3 years ago I was morbidly obese.  Not just fat, but "wicked fat".  Now I'm a marathon runner.  Two days later, the pain is fading, and I'm thinking about the next run.  We've got a 5k on Sunday and we're talking Goofy strategies.  Life is amazing!!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

What will I learn this weekend?

This weekend I make my marathon debut.  I don't expect it to be pretty.  I've been going between fear, ambivalence and all out panic for a few weeks now.  I've been trying to deny it, overcome it, work through it, ignore it... and the problem is, I don't know what "it" is that I'm battling.

In August I started suffering from insomnia.  I thought it was due to a stressful event.  Event occurred.  it's more than 2 months later.  I still ain't sleeping right.  I'm not running right.  I'm not excited.  I'm terrified.

But I'm preparing.  I'm trying to carb-load like a good marathoner.... well except that thanks to my RNY I have this tiny little pouch for a stomach.  I can't eat a lot at any given meal, and I have an extra hard time with carbs that can occasionally cause me instestinal pain that lands me in the ER hooked up to morphine.  This has happened twice.  Once was a few hours after eating a soft pretzel.  The second time... no real immediately preceeding food, do we're not really sure why it happened.    Needless to say, with no known culprit, I just don't know what to do about carb-loading.  I'm adding an extra serving of carbs every day this week.  maybe 2 extra servings on Friday or Saturday.

I had my first Annie's mac n' cheese since my surgery.  I love white cheddar.  I used to eat a box of this stuff in a sitting, with hot dogs!  I ate about 1/3 of my whole wheat Annie's shells n' cheddar last night.  a little weird tasting, but trying to get more nutritional bang for my buck with the whole wheat pasta.  go me.

I was advised today not to try the full marathon on Sunday.  With so many physical concerns (lack of sleep, nutrition issues and another pesky ailment that remains a mystery and requires further testing), I can see why it was suggested I do something I'm more confident in and run the half marathon. i'm afraid and exhausted, and no one is holding a gun to my head to run this marathon. 

And yet, I still plan to run it.  or die trying.  ok...that's a little dramatic. but I'd rather saddle up to the start line and see how far I go, risking a DNF or an 8 hour time than to not try.  I surprise myself a lot, so I might just do better than I fear.  Adrenaline does a lot for a person.  Family members on the course with blue-raspberry coolattas from Dunkin Donuts can do a lot for a person.

I can't wait to see what race report I get to write when this is done. I know I'm gonna learn a lot about running, about myself, and about my boyfriend who gets to watch this marathon up close and personal.  Wish us luck!!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

2 years of running is *some* preparation, I guess!

So yes, I survived the RnR Providence Half Marathon.  It was drizzling at the start and rained/poured on and off the whole damn way.  I had a great fear of blisters, but finished with only 1, and a few weeks later, none of my toenails have fallen off, so I guess it went alright.
My sister and I before heading out to the race.

My plan on race day to was to stick with my boyfriend, if I could.  He had never run a Half, but had been running and playing soccer pretty regularly all summer, so I thought he'd fare better on the course.  Turns out we were probably both going to finish around the same time no matter what we did.  there were times when I just wanted to charge ahead faster than him, but I'm pretty sure that would have left me walking a lot more towards the end and he would have caught up.  So I just stuck with him and we stopped for stretching when we needed it, walked all the water stops and plugged along best we could.  I enjoyed all the bands that dared to come out and play in the rain along the course.  I made sure they knew I enjoyed them by clapping and cheering for them, singing along and dancing my way past them.

I think this was in the first 4-6 miles.  Not really sure.

The course was well designed, most of it familiar from the half I ran in Providence in May.  Of course, there weren't all those puddles the first time around.  *sigh*  I guess we all have to learn to run in the rain.  Even pouring rain.  No thunder though, so it was safe.

My sister finished in 2:25ish, which is awesome.  Her first half, crap weather, and she goes sub 2:30.  Very proud!  Of course, she left us at mile 1 when we were warmed up enough to stop and stretch. LOL  We didn't see her again until a turn-around at Mile 11, and of course, at the end with a beer!

John and I finished in 2:43 (i think).  Nothing to write home about for me, but it's his PR for now!  His last "long" run was 9 miles - in June.  so I'm super proud of him too!

We finished! We're smiling! We're SOAKED.
We met up with my family afterwards, told them to go home and get out of the rain, and the three runners got our free beer and enjoyed the Sugar Ray concert in the continuing rain.  This was very helpful as it was time to stretch and deal with my calf muscle that kept cramping the last mile. OMG PAIN.  dancing around in the rain, eating and drinking was good for the body.  When we finally got to the car and rung out our clothes, it was safe to drive home without fear of massive cramping. 

I hope next year there is no rain.  Though, I'm not sure I'm interested in running long distance in the summer.  I just don't like it.  The rain was actually preferable.

The very BEST part of the race... getting ourselves back on track for marathon training.  October 16, here I come!!!!!!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

totally unprepared.

I think my last "long" run was on July 4th, a 10K.  I ran a 10K last night as a training run for my 4th Half Marathon, which is SUNDAY.  Yup, since my last half on May 1, the longest I've run is a 10k.  Not frequently, not regularly, not nothing.

I do not like running in the summer.  I don't like the heat, I don't like the humidity and my asthma doesn't like it either.  I am trying out using Singulair to treat my exercise induced asthma on these awful days, but it's really hard to determine what's causing my misery when it's hot, humid AND i'm completely out of racing form.

The good news (for my running) is that we're on the down side of summer, so things will cool off soon.  The Rock N Roll Half is supposed to be the mid-point of my marathon training, and it's almost become a relaunch.  Whatever, gotta get it done.  After this weekend, I'm heading into previously untravelled experiences runningwise, letting the weekend long runs start drifting upwards of 13.1 miles. 

Well, I'll let you know how it goes on Sunday.  I'm hoping to run more than I walk, and enjoy the scenery and the music of the first Providence Rock and Roll Half Marathon.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

it's like riding a bike!

which is why we call it riding a bike. 

One of the things about my boyfriend that initially attracted me to him was that he was a really active person.  He plays soccer and rides a bike.  Mostly, he is a fan of mountain biking, but he genuinely enjoys any kind of bike ride.  I, on the other hand, have always been a swimmer, and as an adult, a walker (and now runner and walker).  I had a bike as a kid, but once I was old enough to ride my bike off my street, I was bored with my bike since I couldn't ride it back ONTO my street ( I grew up on a steep hill).

So he's taken up the challenge of running now, and we've double-dared each other to complete the Goofy Challenge this coming January!  We have run some races together already, and I really like training together.  It means a lot to me that he's jumped into this running thing.  We can talk about training runs, shoes, race strategy, aches, pains... running is a language few other people in my life speak.

And then he goes on a bike ride.  The writing is on the wall.  Must ride bike. I even WANT to ride a bike. People seem so happy riding along the rail trail.  So one day, a few weeks ago (a month?) we put a helmet on me, he adjusts his mountain bike for me, he gets on another of his bikes and away we go.  I don't know how to change gears.  i'm petrified as the first thing we do is go down a hill. and OMG, my lady parts HURT.  We finally get off the road and onto the smooth, straight rail trail and pedal along. Our destination was breakfast in town, 2 miles away.  By the time we got there, I feel sexually assaulted by this bike. My legs feel fine, so I focus on that.  The ride home was not any more comfortable, and that hill I started out going down... I had to walk the bike back up.  Not fun, but at least I didn't have to sit on that torture device anymore.

We decide that getting me some padded bike shorts is a smart idea for "next time".  I'm petrified to have to do that again. 

Then, a gift arrives.  Boyfriend's sister shows up at a family function with a bike!  She's got a new one, and just had a baby anyway, so I can use this one while I'm figuring out what I want to do.  This bike is for a GIRL.  it's got a girl's seat, a comfort seat, and while the bike is a bit too small for me (she's 5'1, I'm 5'6), it's still heaps better for me than that men's racing mountain bike.  I test it out and fly down the driveway, thrilled with the wind in my hair and not feeling anything on my butt.

So, this past Saturday, my no longer fat butt gets on this bike for a ride with my sweetie.  He gets on his torture machine, and I get on my cruiser-ish loaner with my bike shorts and some borrowed gloves.  I'm upset that the helmet doesn't match my outfit, but alas... We ride 7 miles down the bike path and stop to get a cold drink before returning home.  Yes, my butt hurts a little, and my lady parts are numb, but I don't feel like a victim.  we enjoy our drinks, and head back to town for lunch.  My legs are starting to get quite tired, and I'm worried I won't make it back home on the bike...especially with that stupid hill.  But the gears on this bike are MUCH easier to change.  With some grit and not a few reminders to myself that "I ran a damn half marathon THREE times, I can get up this stupid hill!!", I made it.  I'm sure it wasn't pretty, but it was pedaled.  We made it home, cracked open some cold beers and enjoyed the thrill of my victory.

I like riding a bike.  I fantasize about getting my own someday!  After Goofy though... one thing at a time.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Harvard Pilgrim 10k, Foxboro MA. my personal Everest.

I ran this race last year, it's appeal is that it finishes on the 50 yard

line at the New England Patriot's field, Gillette Stadium. It was very hot
and humid last year, and even though I'd run a half marathon the month
before, I found this 10K to the hardest race I've ever run due to the

I had hoped the weather would be kind this year, and all forecasts pointed
to my redemption this year. My training has been.... um.... well, lacking
this last month, but I was still hoping to match my time from last year,
at the very least.

Then the forecast changed, as it does in New England. We awoke to 70s and
90% humidity. that was 2 hours before race time. Then the sun broke
through. I stopped checking the weather and kept drinking water.

The race began in the shopping center this year. Loved hearing that the
start line was next to Old Navy and Victoria's secret. Running AND a mall?

So I lined up in the unrealistic 9 minute corall with my friend who was in
town hoping for a sub 60. I had tossed that idea out the window with my
poor training, and with the humidity (and my asthma) just hoped to "do my
thing" whatever that was meant to be. I lost her right at the beginning,
and wondered if my boyfriend, who had carefully taped his ankle and started
with the 12 minute pack would catch up to me. I ran/walked most of the
course, taking advantage of the few patches of shade, every water station
and making the spectators cheer for me along the way. The course is mostly
flat with a few small rollers, but the sun was brutal with very little
shade to be found.

At the last water station, when we turn into the access road to the stadium
a lot of young men (a local track team perhaps?) was manning the station
and they were splashing folks who requested it "say 'splash' once for on
cup, say it twice for many", so as i approached i yelled "splash splash
splash" and got a wave of water thrown at me. it felt DAMN good. I had no
idea how long I'd been running, but I was hot. I wore my Garmin, but I
purposely never looked at the timer. I occasionally glanced at my pace
when I was walking, just to make sure I was not going too slow, as I decided
along the way I was hoping for a 12 minute pace average. Then with about
.4 to go a splash of water hit me in the back, and my boyfriend greeted me.
He had just sprinted his way to catch up to me. We ran to the finish
together, which was perfect since I liked having someone to chat with and
distract me from the misery of the conditions. We agreed that this was one
race worth NOT sprinting to the finish because we wanted to enjoy running
through the inflatable helmet onto the football field and across the fifty
yard line. No sense in rushing through that! This was his first 10K (and
longest race yet), so a PR for him, and for me, a PW!! (personal worst).
I will conquer this course someday, but yesterday was not the day to die trying. My friend did not make her sub 60, which would have been a PR by 4 or 5 minutes for her, and I tried to explain to her that we can't PR every time, and that conditions such as weather, course terrain and a million other factors are going to effect us! By the end of the day, she had become pretty pleased with her effort, but it does suck to be disappointed and frustrated with things beyond our control.

My official results:

Div Guntime Nettime Pace Name
F3039 1:14:32 1:13:12 11:47 Sue Doucet

garmin link:
and a photo of me pre-race... my headband was chosen to match my plan for the race.


After the race we grabbed some food and spent the afternoon soaking in the sun at my mom's pool. No better way to spend a post-race day, as far as I'm concerned.

I recommend this race to everyone! Great chance to finish a race, on an NFL field with your face up on the jumbo-tron!