Was is Worth It?

Since returning to the land of the living, I’ve been asked several times “Was is worth it?”  Sometimes the question is well intentioned, sometimes there’s a hint of sarcasm behind it, but at the base of the question, there is a genuine curiosity if running a marathon was worth the health problems that came with it.

My sweet friend Nicole from Masters to Marathons made this for me while I was sick.  I LOVE IT!

My sweet friend Nicole from Masters2Marathons made this for me while I was sick. I LOVE IT!

A bit of background for context first.  Three weeks ago (approximately a week before Rock-n-Roll New Orleans) I started to feel sick.  I spent basically the entire week before the marathon trying to get rid of whatever bug I had picked up.  By the Saturday before the marathon I felt about 85-90%.  Sunday, race day, I woke up with a bit of a sore throat but otherwise felt fine; thankful I had dodged the bullet on being sick race day.  Monday, after the marathon, I felt like I had been hit by a truck and then got progressively worse throughout the week.  By that Thursday it hurt to breathe and I was coughing up green stuff.  {TMI? Sorry.}  I drug myself to the doctor, got a lecture, a shot in the butt and the diagnosis of bronchitis and sinusitis.

I was put on two medicines but the damage had already been done to my system.  I spent the next four days (Friday-Monday) in my jammies, coughing so hard at times that it made me throw up.  I had zero energy, couldn’t really talk (no voice) and didn’t have much of an appetite. I lost weight which is always a concern since my BMI is an underweight figure.  Probably the funniest side effect of being sick is that I {still three weeks later} sound like a man.

My doctor confirmed that if I hadn’t run the marathon, I would not have gotten sick like this.  Since I ran the marathon with a compromised immune system, it gave free range for whatever viruses I had in me take me down for the count.

When answering the question, “Was it worth it?”, I take into account the fact that these people don’t run; I have yet to be asked by another runner if it was worth it.  Non-runners don’t understand the effort that goes into preparing for a marathon.  To them, this is just like any other race I run.  They don’t realize that I registered for it 9 months ago.  Or that I dedicated 4 months of my life preparing for it.  Four months of “I’m sorry I can’t {insert fun event}, I have to run”, 16 weeks of sore muscles & body aches, 112 days of mental battles and questioning my ability if I could actually do it.  Not to mention the amount of money that went into shoes, clothes, fuel, etc.  No to them, this is just a race.

To me, it’s much more.  This marathon was a test of not only physical endurance but also overcoming that annoying voice in my head that still tells me “You’re not a real runner.  You’re just putting on a good charade.”  Running is so much more mental than physical.  If I had decided not to run the race due to health reasons (which would have been the smart thing) I would have felt completely defeated.  Like that little voice inside me won.  “See I told you you’re not a real runner.”  If I hadn’t ran that day, Rock-n-Roll New Orleans would have always been the race that got the best of me.  I would have always wondered what if…  I know myself and I know I would have a very hard time forgiving myself.

All of that is what flies through my head when they ask me if it was worth it.  But I know they wouldn’t understand, so I just simply say, “Yes. Yes, it was worth it.”

The marathon was two weeks ago and I finally feel like I’m on the upside of this crud.  I’m still coughing and having sinus issues but I was able last week for the first time in 10 days to do something physical.  I went for a 2 mile run on Wednesday and then a 3 mile run on Thursday.  Both runs were slower than normal and exhausting.  Saturday I went for a 5 mile run with walk intervals and felt pretty good; although my pace (with the walk intervals figured into it) was 2.5 minutes slower than usual.  It’s going to take me awhile to get back to where I was but I’m ok with that.  All things considered, I would not hesitate to run the marathon again.

Don’t forget to enter my Huma Energy Gel giveaway – contest closes tomorrow at midnight!

Question:  Have you ever ignored physical symptoms just to compete in an event? Was is worth it to you?

Just for the record, I don’t advocate running while sick or injured.  It’s a personal decision and one that should be made with care.

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Womans Half Marathon Recap

I can’t believe it’s Friday already – woooohoooo!! Tomorrow I’m running a Christmas 10k where I’ll be rocking a slightly tacky festive Christmas outfit.  I was sick earlier this week but I feel 100% better and ready to tackle this weekend.  Y’all know that we only have 11 days until Christmas, right?  I hate to admit this, but I haven’t really started shopping… whoops.  I think I do my best under pressure.

This past Sunday I ran my final 1/2 marathon of 2012; the Womans Half Marathon in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, which I ran in memory of my Aunt Kathy.  Even with feeling horrible during the race, this was one of my favorite 1/2’s to date!

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Those little white lines on the sign are actually the runners’ names.

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Let me start from the beginning.  Saturday, my friend Lorena and I drove to Baton Rouge, LA, which is typically a 2 1/2 hour drive.  We hit some major road work and then I missed a couple exits once in Baton Rogue, so almost 4 hours later  hours later we finally made it to the expo right before it closed.  We picked up our bibs and freebies – this race had a ton – and then went in search of food.

Swaaaag! Awesome shirt, super cute gym bag, pink headband and FREE race pictures!

Swaaaag! Awesome shirt, super cute gym bag, pink headband and FREE race pictures!

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We ended up at a local place called Sammy’s Grill which looked super cute.  I ordered an avocado BLT on wheat and a side of onion rings completely oblivious to the fact that hose darn onion rings would come back to haunt me.  Unfortunately what I ordered wasn’t really good but it got the job done.

A few hours later I started not feeling great and vowed to the onion ring God that I would never eat another one if I just felt better.  Apparently I’m masochistic; I know my body can’t handle food like that any more.  I laid out my stuff for the next morning and just kind of vegged out for the rest of the night.

Bright and early the next morning my alarm went off.  I love race mornings, there’s just something magical about them; I feed off of the excitement and anticipation.  I was not, however, in love with this race morning.  I woke up feeling even worse than I did the night before.  I tried to eat my usual pre-race Kashi cereal but only got 1/2 way through the bowl before I couldn’t eat anymore.  Strike one.

My RBFs (running best friends) and I hopped in the car to drive to the start and luckily Lorena had some Pepto Bismal tablets; I took two.  They didn’t kick in immediately so by the time we got to the race, I had to make a mad dash to the portopotties.  Bleh.  Fortunately, the Pepto kicked in before we had to start running.

Yikes!

Yikes!

Love you Aunt Kathy!

Love you Aunt Kathy!

The starting area was downtown Baton Rouge and had some really awesome sights.  I snapped some pictures but the pictures from the race photographers are so much better so I’m sharing those instead.109141-245-002f109141-245-003f109141-245-001f

A few minutes after 7am we crossed the starting line and embarked on the 13.1 mile journey ahead of us.  To add to the fun, it was 96% humidity and almost 70*s at the start.

Can you spot me? Hint - bottom, left.

Can you spot me? Hint – bottom, left.

I planned to give this race my best but wasn’t really looking for a PR since I hadn’t trained for it at all.  Prior to the race, 10 miles was the furthest distance I’d run since the Marine Corps Marathon in October.  The first few miles snaked through downtown Baton Rogue; this portion of the race was just ok.  We were treated to some lovely (please note the sarcasm) odors along the route.  Hey, it was downtown, what do you expect….  I looked down at my Garmin and noticed my pace was right around 9:15 which made me happy because it felt effortless.

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Taken in the first mile.

Somewhere around mile 3 I noticed some stiffness in my knee and foot.  Strike 2….I decided my body hated me.  I panicked a bit thinking that I was going to be in some horrible pain by the end of the race, but fortunately that didn’t happen.

After another few miles the course took us out of downtown Baton Rouge and looped us around the LSU campus.  Seriously, this was the most beautiful, scenic race course I’ve ever run.  It was gorgeous! We ran by huge, historic houses that lined a lake where countless large white birds,  geese maybe??, were enjoying a leisurely float.  That scenery lasted for several lovely miles.  I noticed around mile 7ish that my blood sugar was getting low so at I decided to risk my stomach issues and take the Honey Stingers gel.  It went down without a problem – whew.

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Strike 3 came after mile 9.  At this point in the race I felt like crud again, the Pepto had worn off but I still had 4 miles to go.  I walked through a water stop, grabbed some water and started running again.  A few short strides later I ended up doing something I’ve never done during a race…..I threw up. UGH!  Luckily I didn’t really have anything in my body other than water and Honey Stingers gel so it wasn’t a huge, ‘look at her, she’s throwing up’ type deal.  I don’t think anyone except the two girls in the closest proximity to me even realized what happened.  (Sorry ladies…) It was still embarrassing nonetheless.  And the worst part was that I had already passed the water station so I had to wait until the next one to get the taste out of my mouth.  (Sorry, TMI, I know…)

After that bit, all I wanted to do was finish.  I didn’t have enough energy to pick up the pace so I did my best to just maintain.  I remember coming into the finisher’s chute and the announcer saying something about “smile, don’t look so serious” over the loudspeaker and all I could think to myself was, “lady, I’m going to puke all over you if you don’t shut it”.  I got my medal & finisher’s picture, grabbed a bottle of water & 1/2 a bagel and promptly found a patch of grass to die on.

Bleh.  Please take this picture fast so I can die.

Bleh. Please take this picture fast so I can die.

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Bllllllliiiiiing

Yep, that's me being a bit dramatic. To justify it, I did get the chills really bad after I finished.  I blame the fever.

Yep, that’s me being a bit dramatic. To justify it, I did get the chills really bad after I finished.  I blame my actions on the fever.

My final chip time was 2:04:29; almost a 3 minute PR.  All things considered, not too shabby.  Stacey and Lorena both  got stellar PRs of their own!!

Ok, I know I did a great job of making this race sound miserable but the actual event itself was phenomenal.  It was so much fun running an almost all woman’s race (there were handful of men) and you can tell that this event was put together with lots of thought and care for the runners.  However, all the great swag, the awesome course,  and shiny new bling can’t compare to the feeling that I got from running in memory of my aunt Kathy.  It makes my heart happy knowing that at least a small portion of the race proceeds go to help cancer patients and survivors. I think this would have made Kathy incredibly proud and I can’t wait to run it again next year! (Sans flu symptoms.)

Question:  Have you ever run a race sick? Or gotten sick on the race course?

MCM Training Recap: Week 15

For some reason I had the hardest time writing this post.  I don’t know if it was because I didn’t feel like I had a lot to report due to the reduced miles, or if my reluctance to write this post reflects the fact that  by writing it, I’m actually acknowledging the fact that I’m officially in my last week of training and will be running a marathon in 6 days.  Either way, this post was hard to write (hopefully not hard for you to read).

Like I said a minute ago, I had reduced miles this week.  Only 24 miles to be exact.  A year ago I would have died laughing at the idea of me complaining about only running 24 miles but now that I’ve been running in between 30-40 miles for the past few months that number seems foreign.  So how did it break down?  Well, Monday was a short 3 mile run with strides.  This was the day after I ran the Gulf Coast 1/2 Marathon in Mandeville, LA, and it was nice to shake the legs out.  The professional race pics from the 1/2 are finally up so I thought I’d share one with you.  Proof that I did actually run the 1/2 and not just douse myself with water and steal a medal. 😛

It’s like Where’s Waldo? I’m even wearing a striped shirt….

Cheeeeezzzzzze

Wednesday was another short 4 mile marathon pacing session. Boring.

By Thursday I was beyond ready to move and I knew I’d get the chance during the 7 miles of speed work that was on the calendar.  However, I spent the first 4 miles feeling sick to my stomach and wishing I could hurl.  It was bizarre but I pushed through it (after stopping several times) and got the speed work done at a faster pace then was on the plan.  I think I just wanted to be done.  I was worried I was getting sick but I’ve felt fine ever since.  I guess it was just one of those freak runs.

And then finally it was time for my final “long” run.  It was 10 easy miles .  I got up at 4am to meet a couple of my running girls.  It was a chilly morning (temp was 53* – don’t judge, I live in MS) but it was absolutely gorgeous.  The stars were out for the first hour and then I got to see a gorgeous sunrise.  It was strange stopping after 10 miles.  My body was confused and then I had all this pent up energy the rest of the day.  Grrrrr….

Random big fish right before the sunrise.

These girls stuck out the entire training with me! ❤ Stacey (L) is running the MCM and Lorena (M) trained even though she’s not running the race.

So now I get to play the waiting game.  I have 3 easy runs totaling 10 miles before next Sunday.  I guess my legs will be good and rested but I question if they’ll remember how to run or not.  Either way, functioning legs or not, I will be running the Marine Corps Marathon in memory of my brother.

Question:  What is your favorite time of day to workout? Do you ever get to see amazing sunrises or sunsets?

MCM Training: Week 8’s Epic Fail

Woo-hoo, I’m ½ way there! This week reached the ½ way mark in my training plan which means I’m on the downside of training.  It also mean that I’m now tackling my hardest training runs.  I’m sure these next 8 weeks are going to fly by like nobody’s business – eek!

 

Now, onto week 8’s training recap which I have dubbed as an epic fail.  I wish I had some fun, exciting training news to pass on this week but unfortunately this is the first week where I wasn’t able to get all of my scheduled training runs in.  I supposed to run 25 miles this week but only managed 19.67 miles.

 

Seeing the empty spots on my training calendar makes me want to cry but both Mother Nature and my body had different plans for me.  While the Coast was battling Hurricane Isaac outside, my body was having its own internal battle.  If you remember from week 7’s recap, I felt horribly sick on my 15 miler but hoped that it would go away with some rest.  Well the flu symptoms went away about midweek but then I started coughing up green stuff – yuck! (TMI? Sorry…) If it doesn’t clear out by Tuesday, I guess I’m going to have to go to the doctor.  I’m not a big fan of meds (I normally let stuff run its course) but I can’t afford to lose any more training miles.  Each run I miss is going to make running the marathon in the time I want much harder.

So the breakdown for my runs this week.  Monday was a time trial so it was only 1 mile.  I was able to run it in 7:57 (with a fever) but felt like death after.  Tuesday I knew Isaac would keep me inside for the next few days so I tried to get in 4 miles.  After 2.5 miles of alternating wind, rain, and intense heat I gave up and sulked home.  On Wednesday, Isaac was in full force.  I did nothing. Nada. Zilch.  Not even yoga.  By Thursday afternoon I was going stir crazy and needed to do something.  My friend Stacey was brave enough to navigate the closed/flooded streets to meet me at my house.  It was still raining on and off but nothing to terrible until 3.75 miles into the run when the sky decided to open up and rain so hard we couldn’t see.  We were just a little bit away from my house so we made a break for it and ended up with 4.17 total miles.  (And I wonder why I’m still sick…) And the pièce de résistance for the week was Saturday’s long run.  I went to bed a 9:30 knowing I had to get up at 4am but by 1:00 I still hadn’t been able to fall asleep.  I sent my running girls a message letting them know I most likely wasn’t going to make it.  When my alarm went off at 4 I was already semi-awake so I figured what the heck, it’s only 12 miles (delusional thinking) and I would be upset with myself if I didn’t run it.  I already had my stuff laid out from the night before so I just packed some Kleenex and cough drops.  Long story short, the run was terrible.

 I missed posting my goals last week, so here they are for this week:

I’m so glad that today starts week 9 and I can officially put week 8’s epic fail behind me.  Only 55 days left and I’m ready to tackle this beast! Oorah.  Make sure to come back for Wednesday’s post, I have a giveaway coming up that I want you win!

Week 7 Training Recap, a Winner, & Isaac

This week’s training went really well until Saturday.  I’ll get into that a bit more in a minute, but first I want to announce the winner of my What is True Beauty shoe lace giveaway.  The winner was selected using Random.org and was comment #5 from Emily, the Blogging Runner.  Congrats Emily, make sure to check your inbox for an e-mail from me!  If you didn’t win the shoelace giveaway, don’t worry, I have another giveaway coming up very soon!

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Training this week went fairly well until Saturday which was a 15 miler.  All week I’ve been feeling just kind of bleh, like you do before your body revolts and gets sick.  I’ve been hydrating like crazy, taking my vitamins and thought that I had kicked whatever was in my system.  Friday night I felt fine, even got to have a dinner date with my two best friends, but Saturday when I woke up, I just felt crummy.  I was only able to get a little less than 6 hours of sleep so I didn’t really put too much thought into how I was feeling. I ate my standard pre-run meal (Kashi cereal and skim milk), chewed a couple Tums, took a Tylenol and headed off to meet the girls.

It was about 4 miles into the run was when I noticed I really wasn’t feeling well.  That crummy feeling I mentioned earlier had turned into the ‘if I stop, I think I may throw up’ feeling.  Now this is probably where a rational person would have bid adieu to her running girls and headed back to the car satisfied with getting 8 miles in.  Nope, Gina, the bright person I am, decided to stick it out…Afterall, I didn’t want to look at my training plan and see a incomplete run.  Totally irrational thinking!!  During the run, I had chillbumps (the temps were in the 80s), horrible GI cramps, trouble getting a deep breath and my body just plain ached.  At mile 11, I remember rounding the corner and being able to see the ending point just over the Ocean Springs bridge.  I knew it was just a few more miles and I’d be back at my car which would take me to a shower and my bed.  I just had to cross this bridge first…

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Obviously, I survived the run and was able to check off the miles on my training plan.  Even with all the walk breaks I still managed an 11:10 pace which doesn’t include a few times where I paused my Garmin to let the stars stop spinning.  I took my temp when I got home and discovered a low-grade fever. Brilliant, Gina.  I woke up Sunday with my throat feeling like it was engulfed in flames.  Oy.

Now onto Isaac…. Right now everyone on the Gulf Coast is talking about him and trying to figure out what exactly his plans are for us.  We know that he’s going to become a hurricane and, thanks to the lack of agreement in hurricane models, we’re not exactly sure where he’s going.  Right now we’re still inside the “cone of uncertainty” (yes, that’s really what it’s called) but he keeps moving closer to the west.  I’m really, selfishly, hoping that he keeps going west but even if he does, we’re on the bad side of the hurricane and are going to get some really nasty weather.   What’s even worse, is Isaac is projected to make landfall on the 7th anniversary of when Hurricane Katrina ravaged our beautiful Coast.  Mother Nature sure has a sick sense of humor sometimes.  Even without another hurricane coming our way, this time of year is always hard for the people of the Gulf Coast.  We’re reminded of lost love ones, pets, homes and what total devestation can look like. I worry about this storm triggering some people’s PTSD.  Please say a prayer that this Isaac diminishes drastically or at least doesn’t get any worse than he already is.  I know that God can do anything, to include making Isaac go away.

Question:  What do you do when life throws you a curve ball like illness or a hurricane during training?  Do you roll with the punches or do you foolishly try to conquer it?