Saturday, May 26, 2012

Wounded.

I’m a week out from the Cleveland Half Marathon, and I’m still in the process of healing. Yes, I have wounds from this one. Some of these wounds are disgusting, painful, emotional, and downright foolish. With each wound, inevitably, there’s a lesson:

Wound #1: My big toe. The toe I suspected was bruised during the race last weekend was much worse off. I took off my toe nail polish Sunday night to check out the damage to discover it was JACKED UP. I had no clue initially what I did, trimmed it down a bit with some nail clippers, and hoped it’d be okay in a few days. I don’t typically lose toe nails, so I was worrying about what to expect. It ended up getting SUPER infected. It got to the point where I could hardly tie my running shoes because my toe was so swollen! After a few days of antibacterial ointment, it seems like it’s getting better and I won’t be losing the nail. But OWWWW did it hurt! What’s the lesson from this one? Toe nails need to be kept SHORT. I get busy and forget about them often. However, if a toe nail is too long and is rubbing up against your shoe when you’re pounding on a hard surface, you’re setting yourself up for a painful situation. Don’t neglect your toes!

Wound #2: My quads. I can’t remember the last time I ran a race when my quads felt so terrible for days following. It wasn’t until Thursday that I felt back to myself! Between the pain of my toe and my sore quads, any attempt I made at running was more like galloping. I can only imagine how ridiculous I looked. What’s the lesson from this one? On race day, make time to warm up/cool down and STRETCH! I had no time to warm up before the race and was frantic trying to get to the start line. At the end of the race, I was so sick that I booked it to the restroom. I did no cool down at all, and ended up walking at least 3 miles post-race with no stretching. STUPIDITY!  I give credit for my quad pain to the decent sized hill that crept up around mile 10. I lost some time on it, so I pushed really hard on the downhill to make up for the lost seconds. I have enough running experience at this point and KNOW I should have stretched after the race. I was just too caught up with my intestinal issues, and once those were resolved I was caught up in the excitement of the race atmosphere. I’ve paid for it—ALL WEEK.

Wound #3: My back. My upper back was SO sore when I woke up Monday morning. I believe it was from keeping my head down to avoid the severe intensity of the sun. Not only was this bad for my back, but especially bad for my breathing. Gas exchange doesn’t occur as efficiently with your head down, so it’s always important to look forward while you’re running. This can be tricky, especially when you’re running on an uneven surface. The CLE course was covered with potholes in certain areas, so I suppose it was partially wise that I ran with my head down to prevent tripping and injury. Regardless, what’s my lesson with this one? On a sunny day, run with sunglasses or a hat to keep the sun out of your eyes. In addition to keeping your head up, it helps relieve stress from squinting. Stress wastes energy, so anything you can do to remove stress during a race will buy you time (and a more enjoyable experience!)

Wound #4: Dehydration. I was so dehydrated from the beginning of the race, and I think this is primarily from not properly hydrating the days prior. I was outside all day Saturday and ate dinner outside both Friday night and Saturday night. What’s my lesson here? I should have stayed in cool locations the days leading up to the race to prevent excessive dehydration. I drank plenty of water and Gatorade, but that wasn’t enough. Not only was I dehydrated during the race, I was dehydrated days following.

Wound #5: Negativity. I was feeling bummed about some personal issues before the race, feeling pretty negative throughout the race, and have been feeling the post-race blues all week. I’ve been so fixated on the things about the race that were disappointing and out of my control. There are a few lessons that come with this one, and the first is simple: you have to ROLL with the punches. Race performance is not entirely reliant on how well you’ve prepared or your ability. Some variables, like the weather and race atmosphere, are completely out of your control. If you don’t adjust your goals accordingly, you’re setting yourself up for being disappointed. This leads into my second lesson, which deals with goals. Be careful with goals. When goals are super ambitious, it’s important to recognize you may not reach them as you hoped. I have had difficulty having pride in my finish time, although I know it’s a great time, because I wanted to do much better. It’s been hard for me to reflect and move on, and I’ve felt pretty bummed all week. I think 1:35 would have been a realistic goal for me considering I haven’t been training, this is the first long distance race I’ve run this year, and the heat. Breaking  1:30 was a stretch, and I shouldn’t have banked on it. I’ll get there, I know it!  As I’ve said over and over again, goals require patience—and so you have to give yourself time to get to where you want to go! My third lesson, is to let negative thoughts GO, especially during a race. I can’t think of a mile where I was loving the moment, and I was really bound by negative thoughts. Running should be freeing and exhilarating, not cumbersome. It’s an opportunity to let go of the stress of the real world and share an experience with 1,000s of other people. There is no reason at all why you shouldn’t be doing anything but one thing- HAVING FUN! That is the reason I love running anyway! J My fourth and final lesson with regards to negativity, outside of running, is to remove people from your life that bring you down. Life is short, and people that surround you should only lift you higher. If they don’t, let them go and move on.

I’m in the works of planning out my fall marathon situation, and it’s looking like I’m in for the Tow Path Marathon! My friend and training buddy Jen will be running the Marine Corps this fall. She’s a great motivator for me, in addition to being a strong runner, so I’m really looking forward to training with her again!

As my past experiences have proven, my wounds will heal and I will come out a stronger runner and person accordingly. I can’t wait to get into great shape and to begin marathon training again. It’s bound to be a great 18 weeks!!
CLE HOT 1/2 Marathon - 1:34:54, 7:14min/mi

Post-race (should be stretching and cooling down hahaaaaa!)

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