Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Tonight, I'm sleeping with Batman!

The bad news is that I didn’t get a PR and that I got a gash to the head right before the start of today’s race.  The good news is, tonight, I’m sleeping with Batman!

Today we ran the Museum of Aviation’s Half-Marathon for the sixth year in a row.  We have run it every year since we moved here.  It was my very first ever half-marathon, so I’m a bit nostalgic about the race.  It wasn’t pretty, but I even did it the year I was going through chemo.  We usually have a big gaggle of friends from our Crazy Joes team and it’s loads of fun seeing everyone out on the course.  Invariably, we have one or two people doing their first half or full marathon.  Being the consummate cheerleader, running them in or cheering at the finish line is my favorite part of the race.   This year, I got to run in my fellow BC buddy Jane as she ran her first half, on her birthday nonetheless!

Being that the race is in January, it is almost always cold.  I don’t mind; I enjoy running in the cold.  This year was no different.  The temps were in the twenties when we started and rose to the low thirties when we finished.  No biggie.  That’s what trash bags are for.  I actually wore mine longer than normal, keeping it until mile four because I decided to leave my jacket behind (more on that later). 

In addition to the unusually cold temps we’ve been having, we’ve also been having a lot of rain this winter.  So much so in fact, the road on the back side of the run course got washed out.  That’s a lot of rain!  Because of the washed out road, the race officials had to reroute the course.  Instead of making a loop of the base, we did an out and back.  This is bad.  Not only did it make the course a bit boring <Boo!>, but also the marathon course is normally a Boston Marathon qualifier.  The new course could not be certified, therefore, no Boston qualifying.  Double Boo!

This morning dawned cold and windy, just how windy we were soon to find out.  I dragged Joe out of bed at 0500 to come with me to volunteer for packet pickup.  I did my stint passing out packets with smiles and words of encouragement.  We then posed for the Team Crazy Joes pre-race picture that, as Team Mom, I always cajole, nay guilt everyone into doing.  And then, it was almost go time.

I went to put something in my bag that was stowed under one of the jets on display (Only at a military race do you stow your bags under a jet, right?).   As I stood up, I whacked my head on the nose of the jet.  I whacked it so hard and as hardheaded as I am, my eyes started watering and I saw stars for a second.  Being the medical professional that I am, I immediately started a self-assessment.  I knew the date, time, where I was and all those general orientation questions.  I was not dizzy or nauseated, but I did have a headache, go figure.  Alrighty then.  I said a little prayer that I didn’t begin vomiting or have a seizure on the course and it was go time. 

Joe received a set of Batman jammies from his Endurance Nation teammate and secret Santa Shannon for Christmas.  He was subsequently tripe-dog dared to wear them for a race.  Joe will do just about anything for a good, so it was game on.  Since he’s been plagued with heel pain from his plantar fasciitis, he knew there was no way he would PR.  Instead, he said he would pace me.  Yay!  Not only would I be running with Joe but I’d be running with Batman.   How lucky can a girl get? 

Before the race, I told Joe that I’d really like to try for a PR.  I’d have to run about 8:45s to get a PR, something that I knew I could easily do for a 5K and could do on the treadmill, but was unsure if I could sustain on an outside run.  Turns out, I couldn’t.

I did fine on the first three miles.  And even mile four wasn’t too bad, but then we hit the WIND!  Joe doesn’t think the wind was that bad, but he must have been running in a different wind than the rest of us.  Everyone else that I spoke with after the race spoke of the same wind to which I refer.  At mile nine, the leg cramps hit, but rather than admit it to Joe, I kept running, just slower than I had been.  Our buddy Jerry passed us on mile ten.  There aren’t many people that I don’t mind passing me in a race but he’s one that it didn’t bother me.  I tried to step it up on the final mile and was cheered to see our friend Josh (who graciously took my water bottle) and heard several others cheering me on.  As I rounded the corner for the last push to the finish, I did a lot of self-motivating talk and scanned the finish line for my Brownies who were volunteering at the finish line.  As I crossed the finish line, I was engulfed in a sea of little faces pushing water, tissues, hugs and a medal at me, all of them talking at once.  What a rewarding way to end a race!  Poor Joe.  I don’t think anyone but Josie even noticed that he crossed just a second behind me, his Batman cape fluttering in the wind. 

As with any race, I goofed up some things, but I was happy with other things.  I goofed up by not starting to eat my bananas a few days before the race to ward off cramps.  I should have done more outside running than I have to prepare myself for running in the wind.  I did fuel and hydrate well during the race, but after running more than a dozen other half-marathons; I think I’ve figured out my system there.  I was appropriately dressed; I am a freak in that I really don’t mind running in the cold.  And, after running this race for five years previous, I finally ran up the hill on mile ten.  THAT was a huge milestone for me!

I would have loved to have gotten a PR, but after thinking long and hard about why I don’t push myself just that little bit more, I shared my theory to Joe.  I think I’m afraid to push myself from fear of injury and fear of a full-blown asthma attack.  I’ve had so many injuries in the past few years that I’m now more timid during races and in training.  I don’t want to backslide.  Prudence over folly I say.

I am always short of breath for several days after any half-marathon I run.  In fact, I started coughing within minutes of crossing the finish line.  I had used my inhaler before the race and had to do so again shortly after the race.  After we got home I coughed almost non-stop for two hours before my lungs started to settle down.  Talk about an abdominal workout on top of a cardio workout! 

A couple of years ago, I asked my pulmonologist about my shortness of breath after races and he laughed and told me that he’d probably feel the same way.   Even though the shortness of breath and coughing are a nuisance, I can deal with both if I can continue to race.  I’m afraid if I push myself even more, I’ll throw myself into a full-blown asthma attack out on the course and wind up in the hospital.  I love to run, but that’s not a cost that I’m willing to pay.  I feel a bit wimpy saying that, like I should be able to “handle” or “control” my asthma better, but I guess with age comes wisdom, right?

All I know is… tonight; I’m sleeping with Batman! :0)

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