I was excited to get a call today from "Front Door" (which is how it's programmed into my phone) that UPS was there to drop off a package for me. I was thrilled to see my box of goodies when I arrived home. I've opened all of the packages, read all of the directions for the GPS unit and both cameras, and am now anxiously watching the minutes go by as the batteries charge. I've even already set up the clock on the video camera, since it can charge while you use the unit.
Great timing. I leave tomorrow morning for a day trip to Arizona, so I'll get to check out how the GPS unit works outside of California.
I'm not sure what I was expecting of myself this past weekend. I stopped training for the marathon when my dad was diagnosed with cancer, having logged fewer than 50 miles in total during the six weeks leading up to the marathon, with my longest run standing at a paltry 12 miles. My IT band had been bugging me so much so that I had often worn my IT support brace to bed and to work. The week prior to the race, I hadn't been able to sleep well. It doesn't take a runner to know that this seemed to amount to a recipe for disaster, and I probably would be wise not to have high expectations come race day.
Similar story, different year.
Two years ago, I was in good shape and ready to compete, but I injured myself at around mile 10 by attacking the downhill too hard. By mile 12, every step I took on my left side sent shooting pain through my left hamstring, buttocks, and lower back. I had no ibuprofen, and the aid station wouldn't give any out. My coach rubbed some Icy Hot on my hamstring at around mile 21, which helped before my sweat carried it away. I missed my "easy goal time" (as opposed to my stretch goal time and expected goal time) by 50 seconds, and I sobbed to the finish, watching the clock tick past what I had worked for 16 weeks to accomplish.
Last year, I had great race support because Jeremy is an experienced marathon runner, but I knew that I had under trained and was pretty badly injured. I discovered during last year's training that my prior year's injury had not healed. My lower back was still very sore, and I had only gotten up to 16 miles in training before my MRI showed that I should refocus my attention away from running and on developing core strength. I found a fellow runner who was also suffering from an injury, and we hobbled along together during the race, even stopping to help other runners who looked to be doing damage to themselves. We broke off, as she decided to run a half marathon. I had actually been feeling pretty good last year, and I considered trying to make my "easy goal time" from the prior year, but I purposely decided to slow down to minimize my chance of injury. I was relatively unscathed, getting away with just a knee MRI following that race.
So, you'd think I would have learned this year that I am human and have physical limits. But, as I lined up at the starting line, and we were asked to think about why we were there running and who we were running for, I couldn't help but to shed tears and reflect on the fact that this will very likely be the last birthday my dad would have. This would very likely be the last opportunity for me to really kick *** and dominate a race and finally beat my "easy goal time" and tell my dad about it. Carol Lewis kicked things off and told us to look around and hug others after we reflected. (This is the Nike Women's Marathon, after all.) I was in no mood to hug or be hugged. I was in the mood to run. I was in the mood to kick ***.
My race mirrored my training. I started off really strong. I had been disciplined about my form and my speed, and I was running strong - perhaps too strong. During the race, I was banking time, and I thought that this was my year. At around mile 18, I started wanting to take a few more breaks. I was hungry, and the last thing I wanted was to work my jaw and chew on an energy bar or a gelatinous chunk of electrolytes. My legs were feeling the strain of having under-trained. At mile 22, I started to realize that I was letting my goal slip away. I picked up the pace a bit, thinking about my dad and thinking that as bad as I was feeling at that moment, my dad has felt worse just trying to get out of bed or to take a few steps down the hall. At mile 23, I swore at the mini-hill that carried me back to the ocean's edge. By mile 24, I needed to stop for a bit, and Jeremy rubbed my legs. They were weak and wobbly. I was crying from disappointment in myself that I didn't have the internal fortitude to ignore the intense physical pain I was feeling in my hamstrings and quads. By mile 25, I was doing the survivor shuffle to the finish. With each step, I tried to console myself. I knew my parents would be proud of me for crossing the finish line. I knew that I had under-trained, but given the circumstances, spending time with my family far outweighed spending time running. And, with the minimal preparation I had done, I had actually run a good race and didn't seem to have caused permanent injury. So, as I approached the finish line and Carol Lewis read out my name, I sped up just a bit to finish in under 4:33.
So, the marathon drama will continue until I'm satisfied with my race day performance, with the next chapter quite possibly happening in Napa during the first weekend in March.
It feels like I'm always busy, and the next three months won't be any exception. I am an adventurer with an insane amount of energy and an odd ability to multi-task. By day, I write investment opinions about stocks. (I know - you're not yet convinced about my adventuresome spirit.) My job has me traveling to all parts of the US, meeting with investors to share my ideas and meeting with companies to get smarter about industries on which I focus. Outside of my day job, I teach an online finance course, manage my real estate investments, travel for fun, and train for marathons. Recently, my dad was diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer, so my new list of hobbies, unfortunately, includes making trips to the hospital.
Interestingly, my dad was likely suffering from CLL, a type of blood cancer, for some time, though we had no idea. He's now been diagnosed with Richter's Transformation, an aggressive form of cancer that occurs in about 5% of CLL cases. My dad's first sign of illness was when he didn't quite feel right during his daily workouts, which at the age of 71 included hundreds of sit ups, push ups, and pull ups, followed by a 2.6 mile run and 30-60 minutes of elliptical training. I think that my active lifestyle is a product of my upbringing. As a child, my dad used to take me on runs with him and quiz me with math problems along the way. For my third birthday, my treat was to go for a 3 mile run along San Francisco's Marina Green! As an adult, I now run regularly as a means of stress management, a way to meet people, and an excuse to indulge in the delights my husband cooks for me - I've got to carbo load, right? This Sunday, I will be running my third Nike Women's Marathon, an event that benefits The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, the type of cancer from which my dad will die. And, this Sunday also marks my dad's 72nd birthday. So, while I completely stopped training when I learned of my dad's diagnosis, I will be running for him that day. I've promised my husband not to strain myself to the point of injury (yes, he has a reason to be concern based on some of my previous behavior). But, I recently read that no matter how much cancer treatment hurts, cancer feels worse. No matter how much I hurt while out there climbing the hills of San Francisco and struggling at mile 23, my dad feels worse, and that will get me through this Sunday's race. I don't expect to finish with a fabulous time. My IT band is causing me some knee pain. I'm distracted. I'm still nursing a back injury from two years ago. But, I expect to finish.
And with the race behind me, I will be able to focus on other things, like trips up to my condo in Tahoe, a work-related visit or two to New York City, a (third) wedding celebration in Washington DC, my honeymoon to Japan and Vietnam, and a trip to Hawaii. That list just describes the flurry of activity that's already been booked.
So, check in periodically over the next few months to read what's been happening in my life. I'll also add photos and video clips so you can get a feel for some of what I'm experiencing. With the Sony GPS system I'll be using, you'll even be able to see the exact location of where all of the drama is taking place.
I'm spending the next months in San Francisco, NYC, Washington DC, Hawaii, Tahoe, Japan, and Vietnam, and I?ll remember exactly where each incident occurred, thanks to the Sony GPS system. Read about my adventures and get a peek of my experiences.