Rain Run Recap – Better Late Than Never

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Decided that since this is a running blog, it would be good to actually write about some running. The problem is, although I have lots of time to write, I can’t actually do any running right now. I do, however, have some old races to recap, so I can at least write about that while I am laying here in bed, where I am trying to rest after a strenuous trip to the outlet mall to buy kids’ jeans, and Costco this morning.

(I am not even kidding – recovering from this surgery is no joke and while I am feeling better everyday, some days just the day to day stuff is very wearing).

Anyway, back at the end of January, I ran my first ever half-marathon – the Rain Run out in Redmond. I think the race billed itself as being in Woodinville because that’s where you ran to, but since it started and ended in Marymoor Park, I’m gonna say it was actually in Redmond.

It was an out and back course along the Sammammish River trail, which because of the early start was mostly, but not totally devoid of other traffic. As the race got later in the day, other traffic became more of an issue. But at the time when the race started it was mostly just racers on the trail.

This year the Rain Run didn’t live up to its name, as there was no rain. There was, however, ice fog. It was very cold that morning, I think about 25 degrees, and foggy. Later in the day the sun burned through the fog and it warmed up somewhat.

I thought it was a pretty well run race generally. They had the start and finish in a place where there were lots of restrooms and had also brought in porta-potties to address the runners needs, but as is always the case in these races there were still massive lines in the 15 minutes before the start because that is when everyone wants to go.

For various reasons having to do with pre-race stomach problems and subsequent dehydration, I decided to wait until the very last minute to make my last visit to the facilities, which contributed to a nearly 2 minute discrepancy between my chip time and my gun time. The race had started by the time I got out of the potty, and so I had to go tearing over to the start and ended up somewhere at the back of the pack. Not a great way to start a race, and not a good place for the middle of the pack runner to end up since you spend the first half of the race dodging bodies until you find your pace and an empty spot to run.

The race looped around in the grass to start and then headed over to the paced portion of the River trail. The trail is old converted rail bed so it is pretty much pancake flat except for a couple spots where you have to go over the River via a bridge.

The run out to the turnaround was therefore flat and mostly unmemorable. Once we hit the turnaround things got a bit more interesting. They had Gu and water at the two hydration stations. This was good because again owing to the aforementioned stomach issues, I was sort of dehydrated. I got a banana flavor Gu, which lasted me the whole race. I could barely eat because it was pretty gross tasting and because the cold gave it a texture a bit more like gum than Gu. And I ran through the stations meaning I wore more of the water than I drank, but whatever. I tried. Probably my fueling strategy needs improvement but it worked well enough given that my goal was just to finish, which I did.

Once I hit the turnaround, things got hard for a few miles. I wasn’t feeling overly fatigued but my ankle, which had been bothering me for a couple of weeks, really started bugging me. I tried walking a couple of times to see if it would let up (it did), but I was pretty determined that I wanted to finish in under a 10 minute pace, so I chose to ignore this little bit of biofeedback and continue running as best I could.

Around mile 9, the ankle finally went numb and stopped bothering me. Either that or the rest of my body drowned it out. My legs started feeling pretty much like lead by about mile 10 but I kept on chugging along. I felt like Dory from Finding Nemo, only instead of singing “just keep swimming,” it was “just keep running.”

As we neared Marymoor Park on the return it was necessary to cross over the River via a little pedestrian bridge that was also open to bikers. Remember how I said we had ice fog that morning? Well it came into play when a cyclist tried to pass me on a tight turn under that bridge and ended up losing traction and falling down right in front of me. I hopped over (it was that or trip and fall down myself), then ran about another 20 feet, then I felt like an ass so I went back to ask if he was okay. He was, so I ran the last mile and a half to the finish as fast as I could manage. In other words, still not that fast, but faster than I had been running before.

As I neared the finish I spotted my husband and kids holding up signs that said “Go Mom” and was suddenly overcome with emotion. I was proud of finishing my first half, glad it was over, and wondering when or if I would be able to do it again. It felt pretty darn good to cross that finish line.

After the finish line, there were cupcakes, stretching and some post race recapping with a friend of mine who also ran the race. Then I changed clothes and drove the half hour home in the car. By the time I got home my right ankle had completely seized up. The tendon pain I’d been having prior to the race became a full fledged case of tendinitis, which I am still dealing with somewhat. But oh well – it will heal, and it was worth it.

In the end, despite bike crashes, bathroom emergencies and lack of fueling and hydration, I finished the race in just under a 10 minute mile pace (9:56). My chip time was 2:10. I had been hoping to finish in under 2:15, so I was very pleased with that.

And now I am recovering from surgery. I am glad I pushed myself to run the race even though I had less training than was probably ideal (adding too many miles too quickly probably caused the tendinitis), and I look forward to running this race again next year!

Obeying the Letter if not the Spirit

I have continued my walking workouts and am finding every day feels a little better. I was told that until I was cleared by my doctor I should walk as much as possible, but to start out with no more than 15 minutes of leisurely walking. I was also told not to lift anything more than 10 pounds, and to try not to bend at the waist and do no core work since I still have stitches inside that are healing.

I guess you could say I am going by the letter if not the spirit of what I was told. What I took from all this is that after two weeks I could go to the gym as long as I limited my activities to:

Walking on the treadmill. Started out with “leisurely pace” on Monday (22 minute/mile) and graduated to “business-like pace” today (20 minute/mile). Before surgery my walking pace was about a 16 minute mile. I am keeping it slower so as to keep from feeling any strain in the core. I am starting with 15 minutes this week, and will increase 5 minutes each week or as I am able.

Upper body. Bicep curls, shoulder presses, triceps presses and shoulder openers using 5 lb. weights. These require minimal core engagement so they seem safe. Right now I am doing all upper body exercises while seated on a stability ball, to further protect the pelvic floor. I basically am doing the exercises recommended in this video with a couple of extras added in.

Hip bridges and pelvic tilts. I am being gentle with these, doing them mostly to get some relief for lower back discomfort (from sitting around), and to maintain flexibility in the hip flexors and some strength in the glutes.

Calf raises and foot/ankle stability exercises. These are important since I gave myself tendinitis of the posterior tibial tendon back in January and am rehabbing from that in addition to surgery. It is possible that the tendinitis, rather than the surgery recovery, will be the limiter of when I go back to running. So I will work on this in hopes that everything will be ready at the same time.

One of the things I have noticed is that recovering from this surgery is very individual. Some people heal quickly, others don’t. I think I will be toward the quicker end, as I’ve really had relatively little pain all along, and I was pretty strong to begin with. And it may also help that as a runner I’ve been very tuned in to my body. I notice when things aren’t feeling right and tend to pay attention.

I also notice that there is no set formula for returning to exercise. Some people are running marathons 6 weeks later, and others take months even to run a mile. Not sure what this will look like for me, but I’m hoping to be running again by summer.

I didn’t die!

On January 25, I ran my half marathon, and didn’t die. I gave myself tendinitis, but otherwise things went well. Looking forward to doing that again sometime.

February we took two family trips to go skiing – we went to Banff and skied at Sunshine Village (which was great) and for my birthday weekend we went to Mission Ridge, which is a little closer to home. Everyone in the family had a good time. And in spite of avalanches and snowstorms, none of us died.

And then it was March and my surgery date was upon me.  The closer I got to the big day, the more nervous I got and for a few days before I was trying to talk myself out of doing the surgery at all. But my husband kept reminding me that surgery would be better than not having surgery and then finding out I had cancer, so I had to be a big girl.

Then it was March 10 – the big day.  I had a 5am wake up, a shower with the weird soap they gave me and then my husband drove me to the hospital for a 6am check in, leaving my children in my auntie’s capable hands.

Actual surgery was at 7:30 but it takes an hour and a half for them to take you back to surgery. That time is spent getting you ready to go back and asking you repeatedly if you know what they plan to do. I had listened to my doctor at the preop appointment and done my research so I not only knew what the plan was, I also had a pretty good visual as far as what it would look like. Ew. I told my doctor to be careful in there and try not to kill me or anything, and then they gave me the Versed and wheeled me back to the OR. Seconds later the anaesthetic kicked in and I was out. 

Surgery was uneventful, so I hear.  I was out cold, so I don’t know anything other than what they told me – which is that they found all manner of problems (endometriosis, adenomyosis, Fallopian tubes adhered shut,  plus the fibroids and complex hyperplasia that we already knew about), but the surgery went well and was over in about an hour and a half. No sign of cancer, thank goodness.

The next thing I remember is waking up in my room at noon feeling queasy. The nausea stuck around for a while along with some dizziness whenever they adjusted my pain meds, but by the afternoon I started feeling better. At 5 they kicked me out of bed to take a walk around the floor, then my kids came for a visit. Then I slept until morning. They released me next day as soon as I proved to the nurses that I could still pee.

So my surgery is over and I didn’t die! Since then, for the last couple of weeks I’ve been on total pelvic rest, meaning I pretty much can’t do anything that involves the pelvis or the belly. No bending, lifting, twisting or running. Honestly, this directive has not been a problem since the first week I was pretty much flat on my back, and even last week I still didn’t have much energy.

During this whole ordeal I was fortunate to have my aunt and my dad here to help me with the kids and the housework that I would normally do, so that really helped me relax and recover. For the last few days I’ve been feeling better, so I’ve done a little bit of leisurely walking. I’m pretty tired after so I know that it will be a while before I will be ready to run. It’s more important right now to rest and recover. Running will still be there when my body is ready.

Today marked the end of 2 weeks of total rest, so I am starting back with more of my usual routine (still resting a lot though and going easy). I started back at the gym with 15 minutes of walking on the treadmill with 1% incline at a 2.3 mph pace. I felt little twinges near my incision when I tried to go faster, so I just backed it off to where I didn’t have any discomfort. After the walking was over I sat down for a little to rest (I was feeling a bit sore), then I went and worked on my ankle strength using the rocker board. A little light stretching and that was it for my first workout. If I feel up to it tomorrow I’ll try to go a bit faster, do a little more,  and see how I do.

Let the recovery begin!!