sciatica

Race Recap ~ Women’s Half Marathon 2012

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Today was my second half-marathon and I still can’t believe I did it, again. What a great day it’s been, starting at 3:55 this morning when I crawled out of my nice warm bed to start the day.  I had the alarm set for 4:00am but woke up before. And a funny note, I set two alarms because I have a fear of one not working or something that would cause me to be drastically late. And I do not like to rush before an event.

When I woke up this morning, my first thought was that there was no way at all I was going to finish this half-marathon. I felt like I was absolutely crazy for even trying it. but I quickly pushed those thoughts aside and got ready.

If you follow me on Facebook or Twitter, you may have seen the picture of the Nike shirt I bought yesterday…. If you didn’t see it, here it is…. When I saw it, I had to buy it.

 

nike awesomeness

 

I had every intention of wearing it, but when I was getting ready this morning, I decided I should wear my Women’s Half tech shirt because it was super comfortable and nice and loose. I wanted to be as comfortable as possible. I had an English muffin with peanut butter for breakfast which was nice and filling.

Hubby and I were out the door by 5:15am to head to downtown St. Petersburg and we got there in plenty of time. We parked and walked a short distance to the start line. it was still very dark and it was cold and windy. This seems to be theme for all races I’ve run – cold and windy. But I will take that any day over hot and humid.

 

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After a quick stop at the port-a-potty, a banana, and some water, we headed to the start line and I made my way to corral 5. When I signed up for this, I estimated my time at 3:15 which put me in the last corral. I’m fine with starting in the last corral, I won’t get in anyone’s way.

 

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I made it to corral 5 with about 10 minutes to spare before we heard the National Anthem. I snapped this picture of the pretty palm trees lining the street. Despite how dreary and gloomy it was, it was still so pretty. I really like downtown St. Petersburg.

 

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Before we knew it, it was GO time! It took just a couple minutes to get to the start line after everyone else took off running. I forgot to start my Garmin but decided I would make up for it along the way. I figured out that I didn’t start it until about an 1/8th of a mile in.

 

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I started off walking and would run when I felt like it. I did not want to do anything to hurt myself or push too hard. Originally I had a goal of beating my time from my first half, but when I started dealing with my sciatica and I thought this would be out of the question, it became all about being able to finish it, if I was going to do it at all.

The first couple miles took us north and along North Shore Blvd. towards Coffee Pot Bayou. I love that neighborhood. It is so pretty. When I grow up, I want to live there. It was fun to be there again, as it was the same route as Day 3 of the 3-Day just a few weeks ago. It was also about this time that I saw the first runners pass us by… So so far ahead of me and I was so impressed by them.

 

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I get so emotional when I do an event like this. More than once, I found myself crying. I don’t know why I do that. SO many emotions go into something like this. And today was no exception. For me, it’s all mental. The first couple of miles those thoughts of not being able to finish kept popping in my head and I was starting to believe them. Once we finally crossed over the bridge over Coffee Pot Bayou, something clicked and I felt really really good. I was running and walking and it was fun to pass some of the other runners and everyone just seemed in really good spirits.

When I hit Mile 4, I texted hubby to let him know. He seemed impressed, which boosted my self-esteem even more and I kept plugging along with a little more spring in my step.

Miles 6 and 7 took us back the way we came along North Shore and we passed by the Vinoy again. I knew the Pier was coming up and quite honestly, I was dreading it. It’s a long stretch out and back and it was so windy. I knew once I got to the end and turned around it would be a little better with the wind at my back, but it seemed to take forever.

 

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When I hit Mile 8 as I headed back out the pier, I texted hubby again to let him know where I was. He asked how I was doing and I told him I felt fine and that I was really warm. I was thankful that I did not wear layers as I almost did. I would have been miserable if I had.

Heading south again after leaving the pier, the course took us very close to the finish line and then west towards downtown and Tropicana Field. It seemed like I was doing really good with my time, all things considered. This was also where I switched to all walking. I could not run anymore. I was tired and I felt like pushing myself to run would not be good, and I was okay with that decision.

Miles 9 and 10 took us north again and around Mirror Lake. It was here that I saw the funniest sign of the day. I wish I had taken a photo of it. It said “Run like it’s Black Friday at Wal-Mart”. HA! I told the guy holding it how awesome it was.

We looped back around and headed to Tropicana Field, hitting Mile 11 just before we turned in the parking lot. The course actually took us into Tropicana Field. I thought it was very cool but I did not like walking on the artificial turf.

 

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Leaving Tropicana Field we finally headed back in the other direction. It was about this time that I was ready to be done. SO ready. The closer I was getting to the finish line, the farther away it felt. When I hit Mile 12, I texted hubby. My exact text read “12 – last effing mile”. I knew he would be amused, but I meant it. Mile 12 was the longest. When I finally took the last turn and saw the Finish Line, I was so excited. I already knew I was going to be about 25 minutes off my previous time. I could hear the cheering as I neared the finish line and I kept my eyes open for hubby who I knew would be somewhere nearby. These are my favorite photos of the day, as I made my way to the finish line. I was bummed that I didn’t run the last little bit, but I just didn’t have it in me.

 

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My official time was 3:27:11. My Garmin was just a couple minutes off. After crossing the finish line, I rounded the corner where I gladly accepted a bottle of water and my medal. I was so excited about that medal! A couple pictures were taken, and then I saw hubby. We laughed about my Mile 12 text and then he took a couple pictures of me with my medal. Have I mentioned how much I love that medal? It’s so Florida!

 

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I am so glad that hubby was able to make it out there today. He thought I was crazy for doing this but he was also there to support me and cheer me on. Seeing him at the finish line made me smile and getting that hug and kiss afterwards made me feel special. He’s so good at making me feel special, and I know he was proud of me. Thank you, honey, for being there for me….

 

WHM results screenshot crop

 

At this point, my legs were tight and my feet hurt, but I wasn’t in pain. Thank goodness! I was also HUNGRY. I already knew what I wanted and it didn’t surprise hubby at all. Off to Hooters we went! It was a nice lunch and the ice cold beer was so good.

 

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Prior to today, I wondered if I would enjoy my second half-marathon as much as I did my first. I wondered if it would have the same effect on me or if I would feel different about it this time around. I can say now, that without a doubt, I enjoyed it just as much as the first. I laughed, cried, thought about everything and anything, sang along to my music, and knew that there were so many people thinking about how I was doing. I thought about how in February, I ran the Gasparilla 5+3K and how just last week, I did my first mud run, the Pretty Muddy. I thought about how I would be able to say that I’ve done not just one, but two half-marathons in one year. I thought about how not too long ago I could hardly move and that I would more than likely not be able to do the very thing I was out there doing. I was determined (stubborn) and fought to make it happen. I am so proud of myself for not giving up. I t doesn’t matter that it took me longer this time or that I had to walk more than run. All that matters is I finished it. That is the best feeling ever.

When I got home, I soaked in a hot Epsom salt bath – twice – and made myself comfy on the couch. I’m still sore and I expect I will be for a few days. Hopefully by Thanksgiving morning, I’ll be ready to do the Turkey Trot 5K Fun Run, which will be my last event of the year. I think….

 

Did you participate in the Women’s Half this year? What was your favorite part?

Holy Half-Marathon!

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Two weeks from tomorrow, on Sunday November 18, I will be doing my second half-marathon – the Women’s Half Marathon in St. Petersburg. Yesterday morning, as I was running 3.11 miles at the park, I realized that I am so not prepared. Dealing with my sciatica right when I was supposed to start training for the half was not the plan. However, I did run most of the 5K yesterday and that was a first since my injury.

On one hand, I am so happy to be where I am now, considering 11 weeks ago I could hardly even walk, let alone think about running. And while I have not been consistent with any sort of training, I am able to move without pain.

On the other hand, I think I am INSANE for even attempting a half-marathon right now. How am I going to complete it? Am I going to hurt myself? Will I get so caught up in the moment and the adrenaline that I push myself harder than I should? What if I can’t finish in the 4-hour time limit? These are all the things running through my mind right now.

If I use the nifty calculator on McMillan Running, it tells me based on my 5K time from yesterday morning of 45:25, that I should be able to complete a half-marathon in 3:30:17. When I ran the Rock N’ Roll Half, I did it in 3:11:33. My goal in signing up for a second half-marathon was to beat my first time. Now my goal is to just finish.

Thursday night I got my confirmation email. That’s exciting. The minute I crossed the finish line at the Rock N’ Roll Half Marathon in February, I wanted to do another. Was it easy? NO. Did I enjoy every single hard minute of it? YES. I want to enjoy this again:

 

RnR Half 1     RnR Half 2

 

I can’t wait to go to the expo. I can’t wait to pick up my bib, my timing tag, and my t-shirt. There is such a rush in that.

Did I mention the medal? I want that medal. I want to add it to the other two I have, and add my bib to the box of race memorabilia I have for the year.

 

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(Source: http://womenshalf.competitor.com/stpetersburg)

 

And then there’s the course…. It’s in downtown St. Pete just like the Rock N’ Roll Half (except the start and finish are together and the course is the opposite). That course was beautiful. I love downtown St. Petersburg. The views along the water are amazing.

 

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(Source: http://womenshalf.competitor.com/stpetersburg)

 

So, yes. I might be insane. I know I’m nervous and scared and excited all at the same time. But damn, I want to do it. I hope, hope, hope I can get to the finish line before the 4-hour mark. Finishing is my goal. Anything better than that will be icing on the cake.

 

Have you ever run a race totally unprepared?

My introduction to Peak Wellness

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Recently, I was contacted by Chris Kelly with Peak Wellness to discuss a partnership… I would receive personal training in exchange for recognition and discussion on my blog. I know that several of the Tampa Bay Lady Bloggers have worked with Chris, so I was very excited to hear from him for this opportunity.

Let’s face it…. I need help in this department. I need some direction with training and working out, now more-so than ever since my sciatica. Ever since then, I’ve had this nagging thought in the back of my mind that I am going to be terrified to start working out again for fear of hurting myself. That is a very scary thought, after all the pain I was in AND all the progress I’ve made since then.

And while I was super excited at the thought of personal training in exchange for talking about here on my little blog, what made me even happier was the personal touch that Chris had when he emailed me. He had read my blog, feels I am a role model for my readers, he is aware of my injury, and would talk to my physical therapist if needed. I was sold. I have been very happy with my physical therapist, he has helped me a lot since that first visit, and it immediately made me comfortable that Chris would talk to him. I expressed as much to Chris, letting him know that I do not want to do anything to undo the progress I’ve made. He also pointed out to me that he does post-rehab for runners suffering from different injuries.

So, Chris and I set up a time to meet, and this past Tuesday I went to the Plaza Fitness Center in the Bank of America building in downtown Tampa. Chris has a gym in Lakeland and is in Tampa two days a week. The fitness center is located in the basement of the building. It is a very nice facility – very clean, plenty of amenities, filled with state of the art equipment. I’ve driven past the Bank of America building countless times… Who knew there was such a nice gym in the basement!

 

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Chris and I talked about my injury and where I’m at with it, my goals, and more. He took a genuine interest in me and my concerns. I’m no stranger to gyms and trainers, and they are not all like that.

My goals…. Honestly, I am still holding out hope that I can somehow participate in the Women’s Half Marathon in November. Pre-sciatica I wasn’t going to ever be able to run the whole thing anyway, if I have to walk more of it than run it, than that’s what I have to do. Chris is aware of my desire to be able to do this and while he thinks it’s a bit of a lofty goal, it’s not totally out of the question. The next several weeks will really determine how much of a reality that will be. With just 7 weeks until the race, I have my work cut out for me. Short-term goal would be able to participate in the half, long-term goal is to get this body of mine back in shape and stronger.

This injury is currently my biggest challenge right now as far as my health and fitness go. I want to be out there walking and running and training, and that came to a screeching halt to the day I felt that pain down the back of my leg. It’s been a huge setback and has absolutely kept me from getting to where I had hoped to be for the race.

After Chris and I spoke at length about this, he put me through a movement screening to see my range of motion, flexibility, and more. It was very obvious that my left side is much weaker than my right side, which of course I attribute to my sciatica. Surprising to me, was Chris’s feeling that the sciatica may have been a result of weakness. For a long time, my only working-out has been walking or running – no strength training. I openly admitted to Chris that I am certain I don’t run properly, it’s not easy for me. All this works together in how my body responds.

After the movement screening, Chris showed me several things I can do to help with my calves. He asked me if I’ve ever foam rolled and of course the answer was no. We joked about how I’ve heard people talk about it, that’s it’s great afterwards, but it really hurts while you’re doing it. He showed me a modification I can do with a tennis ball to help loosen up the sore spots and knots. It’s amazing how something as simple as a tennis ball can help you pinpoint those spots and help to work them out.

I think I made it pretty clear to Chris that I am not opposed to hard work to get back in shape. I welcome his interest in helping me, and designing a program specific to my needs. We will meet once or twice a week to make sure I am doing everything right and to discuss any concerns I have. I am very much excited about the opportunity to have this training and guidance. My weight will always be an issue for me, and while what I’m eating goes a long way to help that, I want to have a stronger body, one that will not be prone to injury. And that is where Chris and Peak Wellness comes in. Between the one-on-one training, the personalized program, and the online community that my friend Steph is in charge of, I have every chance to succeed at this. So, I am VERY happy to be a Peak Wellness Community Ambassador!

 

PW CA

 

 

There are several ways you can find out more about Peak Wellness:

Website:   http://peakwellnessonline.com/

Twitter: @PeakWellness1

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/peakwellnessonline

Not too bad for a Monday…

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I never like Monday’s, but I have to admit today wasn’t too bad. How was your day?

My morning started at the orthopedist for a follow-up since starting physical therapy over two weeks ago. Knowing this office gets crazy busy, I had set an early appointment in hopes of beating the rush as the day goes on. Wrong. I sat in the waiting room for 15 minutes and when they called me back, I waited another 40 minutes in the exam room. I was so irritated. My time is just as valuable as everyone else’s. I was bored so I took a picture. Even the picture is boring…

 

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Despite my irritation over waiting forever for the doctor to see me, the appointment went well. When he finally came in, we discussed what I’ve been doing since he last saw me. I told him I was very happy with the physical therapist, he is so nice and helpful and I feel like it’s helped a lot. He had me walk normally, walk on my tip toes, and checked my reflexes. The last time I was in there, I had major weakness in my left calf and it was impossible to walk on my tip toes (left foot), I couldn’t sit still, and I had bad pain shooting down my leg. He was very pleased when I told him today that I had very little pain, it was more of a discomfort and was not constant. I have no numbness and the little bit of tingling I have is in my left calf and it’s only noticeable if I touch my leg. I gave him the letter from the physical therapist recommending that I continue with physical therapy for now.

 

 

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The doctor agreed that I should continue with physical therapy and for right now, an MRI is not a necessity. He wants to see me back in 2-3 weeks to see where I’m at then, but he feels there is substantial improvement. I am really hoping I can knock the rest of this out before I go back. I just do not want to go through the hassle of an MRI that may not give a clear answer and then end up doing more of what we’re already doing. One other option is a nerve study. Fortunately, the epidural steroid injections were not discussed today.

After I got home from work and I made another batch of pumpkin fluff (perfect for my sweet tooth at night without the guilt!), I decided to hit the treadmill for the first time in over 3 weeks. At the direction of the physical therapist, I get to start walking again, 1/4 mile a day. This is nothing and I almost have to laugh at it because I am used to walking 3, 4, 5, 6 miles like it’s nothing. But, for now it’s all I am allowed to do until we see how I handle it. I certainly don’t want to take 1 step forward and 3 back as is typical in my world. So, I started with a set of 15 of my lumbar extensions that I’ve been doing every day….

 

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Source: www.spineuniverse.com

 

After 15 of these (these feel SO good, by the way….), I walked 1/4 mile on the treadmill at 3.0 MPH. I felt no pain and I don’t feel like I struggled to get it done. If anything, walking on the treadmill forced me to walk in a more regular fashion and I really focused on not limping.

 

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After finishing up my mini-walk, I did another set of lumbar extensions. I am pretty happy about doing it and not feeling any pain. I am determined to continue to do what I need to do to fix this. Being stubborn pays off sometimes.

Tonight I’m making shrimp and zucchini for dinner. Hubby will be happy, he loves shrimp. He could eat it every single day and never get tired of it. It’s a super easy dish to make and full of flavor.

Have you been to physical therapy for an injury before? What was your experience with it?

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