Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Indianapolis marathon

First.  It has been a long time since I had the chance to write a blog post.  To update in a nutshell:  1) I do not know if I had mastitis or not, but it went away with a lot of nursing, hot showers, and tylenol to keep my fever down.  2) Thank you to the people who provided midwife suggestions in the comments on my last blog post.  I've done a lot of investigating since I last wrote, and aside from the one midwife that someone suggested, there are apparently no other midwives in St. Louis.  Not even Certified Nurse Midwives.  The tough anti-midwifery laws (that were only repealed in 2008) have left their mark on this state.  If you are a midwife, please come to Missouri.  We need you.

Now, cutting to the chase.  The whole family went to Indianapolis over weekend, and I ran the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon.  It was my 10th marathon overall, and my second one since giving birth to William.  I ran Indianapolis in 2008 and had a major PR that day-- 3:37:49.  Things are a bit different now!  Not only do I have a little child to take care of, but throughout the course of this training, we moved to Missouri and I started working full time.  I've managed to do all of the long runs on the weekends, but since we moved to St. Louis, I have barely been able to run during the week.  In fact, I have never, ever trained so poorly or done so little preparation for a marathon.  I'm not even sure if I hit 40 miles/week during peak training.  I messed up the timing and did my one and only 20-miler 4 weeks out instead of 3-weeks out.  For two of my long runs (a 15 miler in July and a recent 18 miler), I ran through fever and mastitis.

On Friday night before the marathon, we stayed with the MeyPfans.  It was great to catch up with the MeyPfan clan, and William loved hanging out with Bryn, Shay, and Liam (and playing with all their toys).  Will stayed up way past his bedtime.  It was kind of difficult to get him settled down for the night, and once we finally did, he did this sleep-cry thing, wherein he fitfully tossed and turned and would utter a small wail in his sleep about every 20 minutes or so.  He tends to do this when he is either sleeping in a different place or teething (or in this case, both).  I finally brought him to bed with me, where he romped around and cried for a while, and then eventually passed out with his head on my neck (one of his favorite sleeping positions) where he snored loudly.  I do not think I slept at all the whole night long.

On Saturday, we got up at an ungodly early hour to head downtown, where I still needed to pick up my packet.  It was ridiculously cold out. I vowed I would never run a marathon in November again.

During the first mile, I forced myself to keep it in check and run very nice and easy.  I got to the Mile 1 marker in exactly 10:00, I thought, geez, maybe I have taken it too slow.  So I picked it up to about 9:00 minute pace and stayed there for a while.  Around mile 5 I caught up with the 4-hour pace group and thought I would stay with them.  I've never run with a pace group before, so I thought it might be fun.  Four hours hadn't been my goal.  I actually didn't even have a goal, other than finishing.

It turns out that I did not like running with a pace group.  There were a lot of runners in that group and I actually found it really hard to maneuver, especially at water stops.  We were all running so close together that people were clipping my heels or bumping my elbows from time to time.  I don't know, everybody else seemed to be having fun, so that's great.  I just found myself getting claustrophobic.  Plus, a lot of people in that group were all teched out-- meaning, lots of GPS units, heart rate monitors, etc., and there seemed to be a constant stream of buzzing/beeping from dozens of peoples units.  I've got nothing against units-- I've run with various units in the past (though nothing that beeped).  This time, either because I didn't care or was unprepared, I was old-schooling it with just my ancient Ironman watch (the same one I had with me for a year out in the forest in Nicaragua).

Even though I had told myself not to get cocky and pass the 4 hour pace group, I passed them within a few miles and felt a lot better to have more space.  I stayed right off the front of the pace group, running right around 9:06 pace for many miles.  My cheering squad was at Mile 11-- Rob, Will, and Rob's parents.  I veered off the course just slightly so that I could kiss Will (all bundled up in his snowsuit).  He had a little bit of snot on his face, but I didn't care.  He smiled, and that was great.

Melissa @ mile 11

My ugliest marathon to date: red shirt, orange gloves, maroon headband, pink on my shoes. And what is up with my face in this picture? It looks like I just got my wisdom teeth removed or something.

I was still feeling pretty good at this time, but my stomach was kind of weird and I couldn't really eat or drink gatorade at the water stops.  I knew that this was a bad sign.  The only thing I could sort of choke down was Sharkies, so as I ran past the family, I asked Rob if he had brought any more of those with him.  He had.  I kept running and Rob caught up with me in a little bit to hand off the Sharkies.

Mile 14 kind of looped back around where Mile 11 had been, so I got to see the family again.  William was still smiling in his snowsuit.  Rob jumped in and ran with me for maybe a quarter mile.  I gave him my gloves when he broke away this time.  My fingers were freezing and I didn't really want to run bare-handed, but gloves seemed to be making it worse.  Whenever I'd grab water from one of the aid stations, water would slosh out of the cup and get all over my gloves.  No gloves seemed better than cold, wet gloves, though neither was ideal.

The crazies started to creep in around Mile 18.  I couldn't even eat Sharkies at this point, and gatorade was out of the question.  Nothing sweet.  I ate some pretzels, but I didn't enjoy them.  I could hear the 4-hour pace group behind me and I thought, just keep them from passing you until mile 20.  I was feeling worse and worse but still managing to maintain pace.  If my fingers would not have been so frozen, I think I would have fished out my cell phone to call my mom and have her read me the paper or something, just to give me something to focus on.

I saw Rob again at mile 22.  He was on his bike, alone this time.  The family had taken William indoors.  Rob rode alongside me, saying encouraging things.  I couldn't say much back because I didn't feel good.  I kept reminding myself that this is not as hard as giving birth.  Instead of giving in to that terrifying abyss of craziness, I tried to think things like "This isn't so bad."

My pace dropped.  I ran a 9:40.  Rob was still riding alongside me.  "The 4-hour pace group is going to catch me," I said.  He kept telling me that I was doing great.  He said that just up ahead there was a woman from our running club in Urbana.  I really do not know her very well, but I have talked to her a couple of times.  She is some kind of phenomenal ultra-runner; in fact, I couldn't even believe that she was doing a road marathon and that she was doing it at roughly my pace.  Rob told me that I could catch her.  I really doubted that I could, but I figured, why not give it a try.  What's the worst that could happen?  I kept my eye on her, and my next mile was a 9:30.  I could tell I was getting closer.  My next mile was 9:06.  And the 4-hour pace group still hadn't caught me!  I was getting closer and closer.  I didn't care whether or not I finished in 4 hours, I just focused on catching up to Tracy.

It was hard, oh my god, it was hard.  I dug deeper than I thought possible.  Rob stayed nearby on his bike, saying something encouraging to me every little bit.  Finally, I think about mile 25, I caught up to Tracy.  When I got there, I realized she was running with another woman from the club too, Kelly.  I hadn't recognized her in a stocking cap.  It was great to catch up to the two of them, but I couldn't mince words.  It was taking every ounce of my being to keep going at this pace.

And there was mile 26.  I rounded the corner and gave it everything I got, into the finishing straight.  3:59:49.  Under 4 hours by a nose.  Over 20 minutes slower than the last time I ran it, but who cares.  It wasn't the fastest marathon I've ever run, but this was by far, the gutsiest.  I had no idea I had it in me, to dig that deep for really, no apparent reason.  But I really gave it my everything, left with absolutely nothing in the tank.

I shuffled through the finishing zone, completely repulsed by all the food.  Somebody handed me a water bottle, so I took that, but really, all I wanted was to get to Rob and get the heck out of there.

By the time we got back to our car, I was freezing, and I couldn't stop shaking.  My teeth were chattering so loudly that I couldn't talk.  We went back to Rob's aunt and uncle's house, and I really was not in the mood to make small talk or pleasantries; my lips were blue, and I was feeling awful.  I took a shower and tried to convince myself that it made me feel better.  I sat on the couch and watched Will romp around.  The world was spinning though, and I felt all kinds of nauseous.  Like, oh my god I'm having a flashback to hyperemesis kind of nauseous.  I realized that I hadn't even drank anything since I crossed the finish line, so I tried to take little sips of water.

I kept feeling worse and worse and was finally like, okay people, I need to go.  The strangest thing was, even though all other food seemed repugnant, the one thing I wanted was a vegan chili cheese dog-- a weird thing I had eaten at some vegan restauarant with Rob and one of his cousins in Chicago years ago.  When I told Rob that a vegan chili cheese dog was what I wanted to eat, he looked a little pale, like, how on earth am I going to find this?  We piled into the car and drove to a Whole Foods, which I swear was about a half hour away.  I couldn't even get out of the car when we got there, so I stayed with Will while Rob went in and foraged for my survival.  He came back out with a gigantic container of vegan chili.  And I thought, of course! I always eat vegetarian chili after a marathon.

By this point I felt even more terrible, and eating was the last, absolute last thing I could fathom doing.  Which is strange, you know, because I can pretty much always eat.  I gingerly took a spoonful of the chili broth and it stayed down.  Waited a couple minutes and took another spoonful.  I couldn't eat any of the beans or tomatoes or peppers.  Just the broth.  And just one spoonful at a time.  It was slow going, and a time or two I really thought it was going to come back up.  But eventually, I started to come back to life.  I could speak again.  I could eat a couple spoonfuls at a time, with some of the beans.  At last I was feeling much better.

We visited Aimee and Brett and the kids for a while, and I had perked up enough to have a good time.  The car ride back to St. Louis was long and somewhat miserable, but we made it.  My next marathon-- Marathon #11-- will probably be the St. Louis Marathon this April.  Logistically, it will be much easier (right in my own town!), and this time, I think I will not wait for 3 hours after I finish to eat or drink anything.

Thanks for reading!


Rixa said...

Congrats on the marathon! It's still such a huge thing in my mind...not sure if I'll ever work up to a full marathon.

Anonymous said...

CONGRATULATIONS!!! and thanks for writing -- i've been wishing i knew the details ... you know how we are here!! Great job ... i felt like i was running with you to catch up to your friends!! so happy your 'cheering section' was there for you -- especially so Robbie could be close to you. lots of love, auntie

Anonymous said...

Great job! Congratulations on finishing under 4 hours. We've very proud of you and very happy we could be there for your fan support.
We love you,
Bruce & Barb

Anonymous said...

OH MY GOSH!! I am exhausted! Just reading your blog made me tired. You should be so proud of what you accomplished,being a mommy, a full time working 'person', and a wife, AND of course moving to a new home.
As always, love reading your blogs.


Anonymous said...

BLESS YOU MY LOVELY~~~~ You amaze me ', RUN LISSIE RUN"~~~~~~ could you hear me yelling that ?? I kept waiting for that PHONE CALL, and 'worrying' as only a mama can do~~~ I am sooo thankful for ROB cheering and rooting you on.. and so happy the relatives were near enough to 'help watch' Will~~~ he's a trooper~~~ thanks for the FANTASTIC blog, like my friend Pat said, I was EXHAUSTED and NEEDED A DRINK by the time I finished reading it~~~ you're a survivor~~~ take it easy NOW, give you legs a 'rest'~~~ luv you , luv you, mama