Sunday, April 27, 2014

Race Recap: The Martian Marathon

Ok, so when I left you all, I was barely into my training for the Martian Marathon. I had decided to run a marathon after my father-in-law was diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease. I linked up with Team Fox, the fundraising arm of the Michael J. Fox Foundation and got to work!

My mom decided to fly in to witness my first marathon, and my friend joined me to run the half marathon.  By the afternoon of Friday, April 11, we had collected everyone, and headed to Dearborn for the Expo. I'll admit, I had low expectations. The previous two races I'd done in Michigan had very tiny, very underwhelming Expos. I got a laugh right away when we pulled into the parking lot and were greeted by many inflatable Martians. 

Maybe Eric isn't feeling confident about his race...

I was overall very impressed by the Expo. Everything ran smoothly and was easy, and there were plenty of booths with useful gear. I actually picked up a new medal hanger, and was happy that they had the 26.2 stickers available. I also bought a pint glass. I've come to the decision that every race should offer pint glasses.

Got my bib!  And made a new friend...

The next morning, I rousted us all out of bed at about 4 a.m.  The Marathon would step off at 7:15, and there was a parking lot immediately next to the start and finish lines that would close at 6:30. Supposedly this lot was only for marathoners, and I do wish someone would have checked bib numbers and controlled the lot a bit better. Parking quickly started to be outside of the lines, and I believe cars were still pulling in as we ran off. 

Quick pre-race Island Boost, wrapped in my husband's Army woobie!

The weather was perfect. The low was 44, no clouds and no wind. The start line was fairly informal, made of a banner on PVC piping, but hey, as long as the timing mats work, who cares? After the National Anthem, we were off!

The race started up a slight hill and then turned through some neighborhood streets. I quickly dropped into the thin back of the pack, which was my intent. I was hoping to conserve energy and told myself to go slow. The path took us down briefly onto Hines Drive, a long, winding road through park area. But the Marathon quickly broke off and weaved through neighborhoods. The path was well marked and well stocked with volunteers and inflatable Martians scattered around. I'm sure some people weren't thrilled with this section, but I didn't mind. It reminded me of my training runs. There were a few hills thrown in, but nothing too crazy, and one or two families came out to cheer. 

I finished the first 8 miles feeling really strong. At Mile 9, two things happened. First, the paths of all the races merged again. We were dumped back onto Hines Drive. Second, I had only run a short bit when bikes passed me, and the drivers announced they were the Half Marathon leader escorts. What??  Yup...  the leaders of the Half were 4 miles in... I was 9.5 miles in, and here came these two skinny high school kids just plain flying by me. Yikes. 

The path goes down Hines Drive and then doubles back. For a little bit, this was fun. I saw most of the half marathoners, and all the marathoners come back. The real benefit to this was that there was almost no crowd support at this race, so the double-back allowed us to cheer for each other. 

At about Mile 14, I was still feeling OK, but also feeling very warm, and very, very sweaty. I'd trained outside, which meant training in snow storms, the Polar Vortex, and -22 degree wind chills. The weather had warmed a bit, but top training temp was about 50. The high on race day was 71. Sunny, cloudless, and approaching 70 was kicking my butt!  I began chatting with another runner who was using the Galloway method. She was doing 4 minutes of running, 1 minute of walking, and I began to notice she was catching me on each run. At around Mile 15.5, I decided to join her.  Despite being in shorts and a tank top, I was HOT, I could feel the sun and the salty sweat on my face. AND, she was keeping the same pace as me with presumably less effort. 

I said hi to my new running partner, Denise, and off we went. We were on the slower side, but I didn't care, I just wanted to finish.  At around Mile 18, we picked up another girl, Erika, who had fallen out.

At about Mile 23, we got off Hines Drive and headed into a wooded path, and then the campus of U of M - Dearborn. Hines was pretty, but I couldn't have been happier to get off! It was getting very boring, and had a slight tilt that was annoying my legs. 

That last bit was miserable. I was so tired, and so ready to be done, but by the time I saw the Mile 24 sign, I knew I would finish. I had to. When we reached a half mile left, Denise wanted to walk again, but I had the adrenaline to finish. We thanked each other and spread out on different paces. 

The finish was great. You rounded a corner with about .4 miles left and could almost see the end. You could see Martians, and finally a crowd. There was a left turn ahead and just before the turn was Mile 26.  At the corner, I saw my mom and ran over to give her a giant hug. I won't lie, I almost started crying right then and there!  She tried to run alongside me toward the finish, but couldn't quite keep up in her ballet flats :)  

The finish corrals were a bit too thin for my taste. I had to duck around cones to pass some Half Marathoners who were walking, but couldn't go too far to the right because the Kids' 1 Mile was finishing. As I neared the finish line, I could see my husband, and there was a volunteer right at the finish line who told us slow pokes, "Great job!! Marathoner!!!"  I crossed the finish line in pure joy, grabbed a water, which was the only thing I could have from the finish line grub, and burst into tears. Marathoner.

Crossing the finish line!


Overall, it was a very good race. It was a bit amateur, but overall well-run, and the volunteers were very friendly. The Expo was well-run and I enjoyed the Martian theme. My friend loved the course, but I don't think I'd do the Marathon again. It was just too long to be on Hines Drive and too far a distance for the out and back. Also, the course wasn't conducive to crowds, and I really missed having crowd support.  Given the heat, they could have used more water stops. They were every 2 - 2.5 miles, and one was out of cups when I got there.  I'd also like to see them change the finish. The Kid's Marathon was finishing at the same finish line at the same time, so my marathoner picture has me off to one side, with two kids and one of the kid's Dad featured more prominently. Call me a jerk, but I just ran a f*cking MARATHON and I should have a picture that's centered on me. 

All else aside, I'd recommend this race. There are some things to fix, but you won't regret running it. 

Walking toward my husband after finishing!

As for me, I ran a marathon! I finished in 5:17. Not the best time, I know, but I don't care. I did it. And with every step, I knew I was running for a bigger cause. To date, I've raised $3,802 for the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research.  If you would like to donate, you may do so here: Team Fox  100% of your donation will go directly toward grants and research aimed at better treatments and a cure. I am proud to be a marathoner and proud of what I did to support my father-in-law. 

Another successful outing with my running buddy!

Friday, April 25, 2014

Where Did I Go???

Where have I been??  I know. I know. I'll explain.

For reasons that I'll explain shortly, I haven't posted in 3 months. I basically let you all know I was going to run a marathon and then vanished. A few days ago, I checked my stats, and I was still getting pretty reasonable hits, so I decided I'd give it a try again.

So where was I?

It all started months ago...  although if we're being honest, it started years ago. I've always had my problem weight around my mid-section, and figured my balanced approach to working out should make some type of dent. Maybe not abs, since I'm not a diet maniac, but a difference. I've chronicled this here.. I don't just run, since I know your body will eventually adapt, and when I say I weight train, I don't do it like most girls. The smallest dumbbell we own is 20 pounds, and I my husband regularly pushes me to add more weight to our 45 pound barbell.   Plus, we eat gluten-free, mostly Paleo, which is not to say my diet is better than yours, but is to say that there is mostly whole food in this house. We eat clean, not processed junk.

Cue a few months ago, the "Why haven't I lost weight??" whining started. Dear Husband would explains to me that I shouldn't want to "lose weight".  "Ok! Wrong vernacular, we don't even own a scale, but I should see a change, I should have lost some of this (grabbing own belly fat)" Dear Husband then explains how it takes time to notice a difference. "Just keep at it!"  "But I've been working out for 6 months."  "It takes time!" "But I've been working out for 7 months." At a year, Dear Husband finally wouldn't argue, but giving me a puzzled expression and saying, "Hmmm.." doesn't help either.

Ok, so, can't lose weight despite exercise and eating right. But I'm exhausted. "Go to bed earlier." No, I'm exhausted. "Well, you ARE training for a marathon." No, I'm EXHAUSTED. Had to will myself out the door to run, didn't have energy for the dog, didn't want to even think about cooking dinner, and cleaning it or doing anything after dinner? Forget it. In fact, I was worthless after 7 or 8 pm. We have a dog and two cats... we working on their bedtime routines, but they often give us several wake-ups. But, Dear Husband would get a good night's sleep and tell me how wonderful he felt. I'd get a "good" night's sleep and be well, exhausted. And that's if I got it! I couldn't fall asleep as well as when I first went gluten-free, couldn't stay asleep, and if I woke up at my regular wake-up time, I couldn't sleep in.

And my mood?  Well, it was fun. Those little stressful things were big stressful things, and I couldn't handle the stress. I'd rage to myself over what just happened. And if I wasn't raging, I was down, down down.

Cue a sudden interest in random blog posts about thyroid issues and adrenal fatigue. All the symptoms were clicking. Exhausted? That's me. Can't lose weight or gaining weight, especially around the belly? That's me. Stressed, anxious, moody? That's me! Feeling depressed? Me.  Irregular periods? Me! (On the pill, it was coming 5-7 days early. And I've ALWAYS been regular.)

I went to the doctor, who first spent a solid 20 minutes trying to convince me that nothing was wrong with my thyroid, all these little issues were just other things. I'd lose weight if I didn't snack after dinner and didn't have fruit after 4 pm, and besides, I shouldn't worry about weight anyway. AND! Training for a marathon was a perfect way to maintain my weight. I should take something for sleep and then I wouldn't be tired. And she could prescribe something for being depressed.    

I almost stormed out, but convinced her to at least do bloodwork and discuss things after that.  Upon my return, she started the same, doubtful path, but kept looking at my bloodwork. Gee... nothing's wrong. At all. So why am I like this? Suddenly, I become a puzzle to her. She asks lots of random questions. Finally, I say, "Well, could it be adrenal fatigue?"   With a funny smile, she admits that, as a traditional internist, she's not really supposed to diagnose that, but it's exactly what she was thinking.

Normally, she'd need to send me to a functional medicine or holistic doctor. To her credit, she gave me some natural ideas, rather than the costs associated with a whole different doc. I'm taking Vitamin D supplements (along with my fish oil and B-complex) because it was the one thing low in my bloodwork. She suggested an adrenal supplement called Adrenogen from Metagenics.  I know several people from the Paleo world suggest the GAIA Herbs Adrenal Support, but for now, I'm going to follow my doc. We've gone very strict Paleo, though, it's summer... I'm still going have a few drinks!  And, where some people say to cut out exercise, I'm trying not to. I've got more races already paid for, and I enjoy working out. I am going to try to add meditation to my day. I've added holy basil/licorice root tea to my daily routine, and am consciously adding more healthy fats, which I've probably lacked for a while.

I can only guess that my life over the last 4 years had a big part in this... (DH deployment #2, move apartments, lose job, plan wedding, DH comes home, wedding moved at last moment due to Hurricane, Honeymoon canceled due to training, Training, move to Michigan, find (miserable) temp job, find good job, lose good job, hunt for job, find job, daily life). I've always thought I handle stress well, but I'm also a *feeler*. I feel the mood of the room, the mood of another person, and I mean I feel it internally. If you're stressed, I am. If you're upset, I feel it, and I'm unsettled at my core. My husband had even previously suggested stress as a reason I wasn't losing weight, but stress does so much more than that.

I'm hopeful I can get this sorted out and feel like me again. I'm hopeful, not going to lie, that I can tone up and shed some of this body fat before September because we finally booked our Honeymoon!!!  I need to keep working out for me. I think there are probably plenty of you out there just like me, so I'm going to try to be back and keep you all posted on running, eating right, and dealing with Adrenal Fatigue.

Oh, and in case you were wondering...  I'm officially a Marathoner!!!

Are you dealing with, or have you dealt with Adrenal Fatigue? What helped you? Have you ever tried meditation? How do you relieve stress?