Monday, May 02, 2011

Two Years In the Making

Remember last year, when I had all these fitness goals?

Then, remember how I sprained BOTH of my ankles and none of them happened?


Well yesterday, after two years of training, over training, falling, healing, 2 X-Rays, 1 MRI, 8 physical therapy sessions and countless miles logged,  I finally completed my first Broad Street Run.

I found out last month that I have disc degeneration and arthritis  in my lower back, an awesome hip injury and some weird residual ankle hernia.  Last year, I had said I wanted to finish the 10 miler in less than 1:50.  This year, given my multiple injuries, I was hoping to finish in 2 hours. 

It was basically the best day for a race. No wind, nice cool temps. The trick to this race is to not sprint out of the gate. The myth is that it’s all downhill. Its not. The overall gradient of the race is downhill, but there are definitely hills. So I went out, found a nice pace and settled into it.  Seconds before I crossed the starting line, I realized I had to pee. Like, bad.  I tried to ignore it and kept on. I figured if it got bad, I could stop at a porta potty. Or just piss my pants.

I saw the first bunch of porta potties and the line was like 20 people deep so I skipped it.  Checked my time at the first mile mark but realized I had no idea what time I started so I made a mental note and checked in again at miles 3,4, and 5.  I had my Gu at mile 4. The first 5 miles were cake and I was running nice, steady 10 minute miles.  I passed 3 sets of porta potties all with crazy lines (don’t these people care about their times?!)

At mile 6, I got a high five from the Governor. I was still feeling pretty great. Still having to pee. I saw lots of funny signs running through Center City: ”Running Takes Balls. Other Sports Just Play With Them” and “Not Too Late To Buy a SEPTA Token”

At mile 6.5, I saw a lady doing Zumba alone on a corner. Bizarre and hilarious.

The mile 7 marker was just outside my house. I looked for Andrew (and Ginny) but they weren’t there. He probably thought he missed me. How sweet of him to think I’m that fast. I was still feeling really strong and it kind of surprised me.

At mile 8, I started to get tired and I could feel myself dragging a bit but I was running through my neighborhood so I just kept looking around for people I knew. And thinking about how nice it was that I didn’t have to stop for lights and worry about some jackass running me over.

At mile 8.5 someone had “Eye of the Tiger” blaring.  My back was starting to ache a bit. I slowed to a quick speed walk  for a few seconds to drink some water. Then I picked it back up.

Right after that was a little hill that I run all the time. I promised myself that I’d sprint it and I did. Then the fatigue really set in.

At mile 9, I slowed to a fast walk for another few seconds to drink more water.   This was probably the most challenging part mentally and physically. My back was really hurting and I wanted to walk. My main goal was to not walk.  I spent half a mile debating whether I should walk for a bit.  I dug deep and told myself that walking for a bit wasn’t going to make my back feel better, and that it was just a mile more. (I have a crazy high tolerance for pain. Most people in my condition would have been in enough pain to walk at mile 7.  I am insane/crazy/determined. You decide.)

At 9.5 miles, the crowd got rowdy. All the cheering really pumped me up and I picked up my race pace again (about 10 minute miles). We crossed through the Navy Yard gates and people around me started to sprint. I knew the finish was still 1/4 mile away so I held strong until I could actually see the finish line. Then I picked it up and gave it every last thing I had. It was a total blur, the crowds were yelling, the announcers were yelling, and I couldn’t feel my legs. I just ran as fast as I could (in between two people, sorry!) and crossed the finish line.

The first thing I said was “Thank Fucking God.” Then I realized I had an ENORMOUS (seriously painful) blister on my toe.  Then I realized that at some point between mile 7 and the finish line, I didn’t have to pee anymore (I never did find a porta potty without a line and at some point I realized I cared more about my time than peeing). Then I was surprised that I wasn’t throwing up or on a stretcher. I survived unscathed except for a blister.

I finished in 1:48 and some change. Two minutes less than last year’s goal.  Considering my injuries, I’d say its a pretty damn good time for my first stab at this race. 

Broad Street1 Yay! I’m alive!

I’m glad I spent all of last week walking and taking it easy. My legs felt fresh and my body rested.  I can say for sure now that I don’t really have any interest in racing half marathons or any distance above 10 miles. I think its a good distance for me to be competitive and not put any excessive stress on my already ailing body.  Call me crazy, but I would really like to be able to walk when I’m 50.

Now that I know what the race entails, I think I can train smarter next year, and really utilize cross training and swimming to build strength without the impact of running 4 days a week. 

Overall, it was a really fun race. Lots of distractions and things happening to keep my mind busy and my legs moving.  Also, everything about it was so aweseomely Philly: the people cheering (lots of them drunk), the insane amount of high fives I received from random people, the music (everything from the Rocky theme song, to marching bands to one random shirtless dude with a drum set outside his house) the encouragement of strangers, the cowbells, the fact that  the “sprinklers” were just open fire hydrants with things jammed in them to make them spray upwards. I basically spent the entire 10 miles people watching, laughing and holding my pee.

And then I celebrated:

broadstreet2 The only thing I wanted more than a beer was some meat.

Now, I need to go lay in an ice bath and fix those gross tan lines.