Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Sea Wheeze: A Footnote

It has been brought to my attention--by the two people who actually ran the race with me, no less--that my last post didn't really have anything good to say about the Sea Wheeze.  While grueling, the experience was not without its positives.

1. I had the courage to start
At first, the idea to do a half-marathon was ludicrous, then tempting, but when I signed up, it became a reality.  It was a crazy idea, but I'm pretty impressed with myself for even agreeing to do it in the first place.  Facing such a long path towards doing a half-marathon was daunting, but despite all the reasons I shouldn't do it, I still decided to give it a try; I'm not sure that there are a lot of people in my same position that would have made the same decision.  And that's pretty awesome.

2. I surprised myself
I didn't realize how strong I was until I dragged myself 13.1 miles and across that finish line.  Though I wanted to many, many times, I didn't give up, and I was pleasantly surprised by my own determination, moxie, stubbornness, and grit. Mind blown--in a good way.

3. I Finished.
I ran a little and walked the rest of 13.1 miles in a day and lived to tell the tale. I didn't finish in the top anything, but I did finish, and they gave me a medal to prove how badass a feat it really is. How many people do you know who have actually done a half marathon? Because I have. Put that in your pipe and smoke it.

4.  I may actually like running someday.
It was only for a little while, and it wasn't something that I did particularly well, but I could see how people can actually like this whole running thing.  I think given time, practice, and a better fitness level, it could actually be--dare I say--fun?

So there you have it--a few good things that came out of the Sea Wheeze!

Monday, January 14, 2013

Sea Wheeze: The End and the Aftermath

I've struggled with how to put this last bit into words.  See, in general, I consider myself to be a positive person, but my experience with the race at the end was really awful, and I want my account to be as honest as possible.  So, sorry in advance for the doom and gloom.


By the time we hit Stanley Park, we were only walking. My feet hurt, my back hurt, and it was all I could do not to throw myself down on the ground and sob. Uncontrollably.  For the rest of my life.

I sat on a bench at one point to adjust my sock; getting back up from that bench was one of the hardest things I did all day. We stopped at an aid station to get a bandage on the bottom of my foot for an emerging blister, and I desperately wished that the cot I sat on was the finish line. I stopped talking to Mr. Goodlaff because I was afraid if I said anything it would be something I'd regret. I was really, really angry. At myself, at him, at the course, at my feet, at the patronizing bastards at the cheer stations (in retrospect, I recognize they were trying to be helpful and inspiring), at everything.  I wanted so badly to give up.

But I didn't. And it wasn't because "I knew deep down I could do it" or "fall down seven times, stand up eight." I won't lie and give you schmaltzy crap about sunshine and rainbows and triumph and perseverance.

The fact is this: I didn't quit because I didn't want to be that girl. I didn't want to admit to myself that I was certifiably insane it wasn't the smartest move signing up for a half marathon when I couldn't even run half a mile. I didn't want it to be proven as fact that I was vastly out of shape for this. I didn't want to be the cautionary tale that they wheel out on a golf cart, everyone looking at you with pitying eyes, shaking their heads and saying later, she never should have tried. I did not want to have come that far and not cross that damn finish line.

I spent miles trapped in my own head, frustrated with myself, with our lack of training, with the world, and the only thing that kept me going, besides my overwhelming fear of failure, was the grim thought that anyone who doubted me, anyone who'd said I shouldn't do it or didn't have to finish the whole thing, would be proven wrong by the medal I would wear around my neck. Petty, but oddly comforting.

We walked so long that my feet were numb. I vaguely recognized that they were in pain, but ignored it. There were still people behind us;  I checked all the time.  We pressed on.

There's a joke I've heard that anyone can run 26 miles--it's the last .2 that gets you.  Well, 13 miles is nothing.  It's the last tenth of a mile that's a real bitch.  Around every corner, I thought we were almost done.  And after every corner, there was one more corner, and one more corner, and it seemed like it would never end.  Before the race, Mr. Goodlaff and I had talked about triumphantly running--sprinting, even--to the finish line.  I came around the last corner before the finish line, turned to him, and said (trying to hold back tears), "I can't do it.  I've got nothing left." 

It took every ounce of mettle and stubbornness I had to make it those last 100 yards.  When we crossed the finish line, they were starting to pack it in--it had been just over four hours by that point. Mr. Goodlaff and I clasped hands and passed under the watermelon for the second time that day, and this time, a lovely girl handed me a medal; she asked if we wanted our picture taken, and we (I hope, given my mood at that point) politely declined.

We walked a few yards, were each given a bottle of water and a juice box of coconut water (nastiest thing ever--I'd rather eat the goo again), and found an obliging curb to sit down on. 

Sweet, sweet pavement! I stretched out my legs, loosened the laces on my shoes, gulped down the water (spit out the coconut water), and tried, for the five millionth time that day, not to cry. We sat there, pathetic and triumphant.  A few short minutes later our relaxation was disrupted by some teenage boys doing race cleanup, sweeping up the trash in the streets.  Now, I know we were in their way, being perched on the street curb they were assigned to and all, but they swept and swept, getting closer and closer to us until their brooms were barely two feet away from where we were flopped.  Clearly they (and their brooms) did not understand that we had just accomplished something major. The looked at us with annoyance and dismay, so we took the obvious hint and got out of their way

Before heading back to the hotel, LK, Mr. Goodlaff, and I took an opportunity for photos by the Olympic cauldron:

Because that's how the athletes do it...

Maybe you remember the kerfuffle about McKayla Maroney's face at the medal ceremony (she was the Olympic gymnast who should have won gold but fell on her butt and won silver instead)? Well, McKayla was not impressed by our performance--neither were we...

Photo ops done, we headed back to our hotel and flopped on the bed.  I've never been more thankful for a bed in my life. 

It was when I got up from the bed that the trouble started. My left foot hurt.  A lot. I took a shower and my left foot still hurt. I had to hobble from the shower to the bed and the bed to the chair.  It was excruciating. 

There was ice, lots of ice. Mr. Goodlaff hobbled out to get us lunch--he had massive blisters on the bottom of his feet.  There was more ice.  We were supposed to go to a concert that was priority access for runners, but I couldn't walk. Still more ice.  LK came up to our room and we ordered room service because any other restaurant would have involved walking (you see where this is going, right?).  Through the night, ice.

The next morning my foot got better and then worse.  I iced my foot in the car on the way home, and about an hour away from Seattle, decided I should go to urgent care to make sure nothing was broken.  The nurse looked at my foot, told me it was probably a strain, and if it didn't get better in a week or so to come back in. 


It didn't get better. A few days in, I asked Mr. Goodlaff to get me crutches because crawling around our apartment was becoming undignified. If you ever find yourself in need of crutches, head to Goodwill--tons of them, and very cheap!  Also, crutches are deathtraps--crawling would have been safer.

I went to a different doctor for my check up and he said it wasn't broken. He told me I had probably torn or sprained my foot, and gave me the diagnosis: I had Plantar Fasciitis. I was to do stretches, and wear inserts, and it would get better.

I sort of did and it has.

I haven't run since the Sea Wheeze, and I'm off of half-marathons for the time being.  I think it was a bit extreme to go from never having been a runner to trying to do 13.1 miles in a few hours without having put in the proper training. I was Barney in that episode of How I Met Your Mother when he tells Marshall that you don't train for a marathon--you just go out and start running it.  He does and deals with the consequences. I did too.

I am willing to try again someday, but for now, I'm putting the training wheels back on.  Until I can run, and I mean really, really run a 5k continuously, without stopping, I'm not going to attempt a half-marathon again. 


Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Sea Wheeze: The Middle

Before I get going, I should give a shout-out to LK, who took pretty much all of these pictures.  She ran with her phone and was able to take these shots--I wasn't willing to carry mine with me. 

Finally after waiting an eternity, we crossed the start line and took off running.

I was a gazelle!  We were passing people!  We were running!  We were awesome! That lasted for about five minutes before I felt like I was going to die Mr. Goodlaff and I decided to save our energy for the other 13 miles and slowed to a brisk walk, and LK took off like a little bunny rabbit, jogging off into the crowd in front of us. 

We kept up a mix of alternating walking and running for the first few miles, and I obsessively looked over my shoulder to make sure that we were not last.  We crossed over a bridge, wound our way through Vancouver's Chinatown, and hoofed over to the port.  Right before we hit our first water/aid station, we were cheered on by paddleboarders in the harbor:

And serenaded by a gospel choir singing "Let the Sun Shine In":

Once we hit our first aid station, I gulped down a cloudy glass of what tasted like extremely watered down lemonade but was actually a cup of electrolytes.  I've never in my life been so glad for any liquid beverage as I was that day.  The magical electrolytes were an instant jolt of energy, as was the half a banana that the volunteers offered to me.  I was rejuvenated!  Onward we went.

We curled around city streets, climbed a hill, and began heading up what I now know is called the Burrard Bridge, but right then, I had a much different name for it.  Let's call it, for the sake of any young eyes out there, the Bridge of Death.  Throw a few expletives of your choice in there and you have a pretty close approximation of what I actually called it.  At this point, I was cranky.  I was tired, I was pissed off, and I was climbing a hill.  We were about 8 kilometers in (what does that even mean? Silly Canadians and their silly kilometers!), and I wanted to cry. 

Actually, I wanted more electrolytes.

Mr. Goodlaff and I came down the bridge hill and met LK, who was about to head back over the bridge.  She gave us the good news that another hill was in our future.  Perfect. Then she took this picture:

Mr. Goodlaff was just being funny. Well, mostly.

So, up the hill of death we went, past cheering crowds and awesome signs--"You've got the eye of the tiger--and legs of Gisele" and "You are 2 legit 2 quit".  We passed a group of Beliebers (Justin Bieber fans), who for some unknown reason, got up early to cheer on half-marathoners.  I guess they have to keep their lungs conditioned for when they can actually scream for Justin Beiber.

The aid station at the bottom of the hill was kind enough to fill my water bottle, give me more electrolytes, and pass another half banana my way.

And, even though I knew it was coming, I wasn't ready to cross back over the Bridge of Death.  I  ate a packet of goo, which is a specially formulated, runny Jello-like substance that is supposed to help you keep your energy up if you can force it down, which I did. 

We kept on trucking, finally getting to the edge of Stanley Park, which Mr. Goodlaff and I had toured a few months before. Unfortunately we knew what we were in for.  Even the drag queens cheering for us couldn't quite lift my spirits.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Sea Wheeze: We Begin

There's not much that I can say about my half marathon other than this:  Thank God it's over. 

I'm not even remotely only halfway kidding. 

I had a lot of big goals when I agreed to do the Lululemon Sea Wheeze Half-Marathon.  I was going to run. every. day.  I was going to be swift and strong and ready.  I was going to train, and it was going to be awesome. 

To be fair, we did train. We just didn't train nearly enough.  A lot happened between January and August, and not a lot of it was running.  For several months, Mr. Goodlaff and I did really well.  We walked every day, then we started running.  Then it was raining, then I got sick, then we got busy with work, then it rained some more, and I got sick again, and, well....you get the idea.  By the time we hit July, we sort of gave up and went with the mantra of "it will be what it will be." (Not a good mantra, incidentally.)

With the lack of proper preparation going into the race, I only had two goals for the race:
1. Finish
2. Don't come in last place

As you can see, my hopes were high.

Mr. Goodlaff and I headed up to Vancouver late Friday morning, and checked into our hotel (the Four Seasons--we are so classy!) a few hours later.  After meeting up with LK and some initial confusion regarding the location of package pickup, we finally made it to the convention center to check in and get our race gear.

The minute we stepped foot in the convention center, I knew we were in for it.  The place was filled to the brim with fit, skinny people who had been intense runners since the day they were born.  I felt an internal wave of deep, dark despair, but then someone handed me a free lime-flavored popsicle, and the panic slightly ebbed. We got our bags and our free flip flops, and headed out to find somewhere to carb up for the next day's race.

That night, I laid out all my gear and checked over it twice:


Somehow I managed to get a decent amount of sleep before our alarm went off at an un-Godly hour. After a light breakfast of  a banana and a trail mix bar that was one part gravel, one part cardboard, we headed out to our corral--that's marathon code for a group of people that go as fast (or in our case as slow) as you do.  Our corral was the last one.  Corral 8--the corral for everyone else.

We met up with LK and did a bit of stretching, but mostly we just stood around, waiting for our turn to start. It took a long time. We took photos to keep ourselves amused:

We were so far back from the start/finish line that we couldn't even hear what was going on.  The speakers literally did not come as far back as we were, which was a little demoralizing--apparently only fast runners get speakers.  We heard snippets of cheers and announcements as they bounced off the buildings around us, but for at least a half hour, we were not even in range to see or hear what was going on at the giant watermelon rainbow that marked the start line.

Finally, we got close enough where starting was a possibility.  It was then that we put on our game faces, because it was finally go time.