A Simple Running Log

March 30, 2012

Training for 3/30/12

Filed under: Uncategorized — aschmid3 @ 5:18 pm

It’s been an… interesting morning here.

I was supposed to be at our paper’s main office at 9:30 a.m. for a large group meeting with the vice president of human resources. So this morning, before I left for work, I just did my push-ups workout, a couple of minutes in the invisible chair and a lot of stretching.

I got to the main office right at 9:30 a.m. and hurried to the conference room, but on the way, one of the editors said I wasn’t supposed to be in that meeting. I still had to meet the HR woman though, so I was told to sit tight instead of heading back to my own office.

I logged on to a computer that wasn’t being used to work on an article while I waited. About 25 minutes later, people started trickling out of the conference room.

Every single one of them had been laid off.

Like pretty much every other company, ours has laid off some people over the last few years, but never any editors, reporters or copy editors. They’ve not been filling people’s positions as they’ve been leaving, but they had never before actually laid off any editorial staff.

Today, they axed two weekly papers’ editors, including mine, as well as a reporter at one of the other county weeklies, a photographer and two copy editors from the main office and some production and mail room employees.

Some of these people had worked for the company for 30 or 40 years. As they emerged from the conference room, some were pissed, some were upset, some were indifferent, some looked completely shocked and some almost relieved.

The rest of us had a hard time concentrating on our work after that. We had no idea what was coming when we were called in for our meeting.

We didn’t have to wait long. About a dozen of us were called in next. It turned out ours was the “good” meeting. We were the ones keeping our jobs. There would be some restructuring because now we’d have to do our jobs along with those of the people laid off.

All I was worried about was whether or not I still had my office. The main office is a much longer drive from my home. Yes, I’m that selfish.

The publisher said I’d still have my office. I’m just getting a new editor. This means that personally, this whole restructuring thing probably won’t affect me too much, since we’re already at the bare minimum for staffing in my office anyway. I’m used to covering everything and taking my own pictures.

So that’s that. Getting laid off would have been a hell of  a birthday present, huh?

In other news, I did in fact take my bike out for a very windy ride yesterday after work. I got in a lap around the 9.5-mile loop before the sun went down.

This weekend, my mom is having us over for dinner to celebrate both my birthday on Sunday and my dad’s birthday today. Happy birthday, Dad!

Sunday is the NASCAR race from Martinsville. The last time there was a race on my birthday was April 1, 2001, my 18th birthday. It was at Texas Motor Speedway, which is Bobby Labonte’s home track. He was driving the No. 18 car. I thought it was all a sign he was going to win the race.

Instead, he blew an engine on lap 149 and finished next to last, haha. So I’m not expecting any miracles this weekend just because it’s my birthday.

Though it would be nice.

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March 29, 2012

Training for 3/29/12

Filed under: Uncategorized — aschmid3 @ 2:45 pm

This morning I was going to ride my bike. But it was really windy outside again, and I was curious how my foot would handle a short run, so I took Pepper to the trail instead.

We didn’t make it far, haha. There was still a sharp enough pain on the outside of my foot near the base of my pinky toe that I stopped after about 30 running steps. There’s no sense in forcing it; it will only make it take longer to heal. I don’t want to just be able to tolerate the pain, I want it to be gone.

So we went home. By that time it was late enough I decided to just take a shower and go to work. I think I’ll take the bike out tonight after work. I need to do something. I’m starting to go a little nuts here.

March 28, 2012

Training for 3/28/12

Filed under: Uncategorized — aschmid3 @ 5:35 pm

This morning, I did my strength training — abs, push-ups, invisible chair-sitting, weights, barefoot exercises and stretching.

There’s no real movement on my foot today. It feels about the same as yesterday. Today I figured out hopping on just that foot doesn’t hurt at all, it’s still just pushing off it to walk or run forward that hurts. I’m pretty confident it’s an irritated tendon, because I can feel it reach back from the toe joint to the ankle area sometimes. I’ve been wrapping my foot and ankle in an ACE bandage the past few days to keep some pressure on it and keep down any swelling. I’ve thought about getting some more Aleve and doing a course of that to keep inflammation down as well, but I keep forgetting.

Oh, I forgot to mention yesterday, I got a Road ID in the mail Monday. I ordered it last week with a gift card and free shipping code I got at our Loop dinner the night before the Shamrock Marathon. I got one that basically looks like one of those plastic bands people wear to raise awareness for different causes, but it has a stainless steel plate that has my name, year I was born, city and state where I live, two emergency contact numbers and those people’s relation to me and medical information. It’s in case I drop like a fly in a race or on a training run, so if someone finds me, they know who I am and who to call. It’s a good idea, and it only wound up costing me 99 cents.

I also got in Monday’s mail my 8K T-shirt. I was supposed to get it at the expo the night before the 8K, but by the time I got there, they’d run out of my requested size. They took down my name and promised one would be mailed when they printed more. I’ve been promised race shirts in the mail twice before — one took seven months to arrive, and I’ve given up on the other one after a year and a half. So I was pretty shocked to see this one show up in 10 days. Just one more reason the organizers who put on Shamrock are awesome.

March 27, 2012

Training for 3/27/12

Filed under: Uncategorized — aschmid3 @ 1:58 pm

My foot is feeling better today. Not healed, just a lot better than it felt yesterday. The pain seems to be more contained to just the joint under the pinky toe, which makes sense, since that’s where I suspected the whole thing started anyway. I figure it will still be a few days before it feels well enough for a run again. Maybe longer. I don’t know.

Last night, I did the strength training I meant to do in the morning — abs, push-ups, invisible chair-sitting, weights and stretching. This morning, I just did some yoga. I thought about riding the bike, but it was cold and windy. Screw that.

I also ordered a pair of New Balance 890s yesterday. I had a Lady Footlocker gift card I’d gotten for Christmas, and the website was offering 20 percent off purchases, so they wound up not costing me very much at all. The only downside is they’re some of the ugliest shoes I’ve ever seen. All the decent-looking colors were sold out unless I wore a size 6 or 13. That’s what you get when you buy the discounted stuff though. Beggars can’t be choosers and all that.

Anyway, see for yourself:

Yikes. These aren’t even ugly in the “so ugly they look cool” kind of way. Yellow and pink is just not a good look for running shoes.

While it may be a few days before I can run again, I’ll probably have three brand new pairs of shoes to break in when I do get back on the road.

March 26, 2012

Training for 3/26/12

Filed under: Uncategorized — aschmid3 @ 3:18 pm

I think I’m going to take Clark’s advice and voluntarily amputate my right foot so I can replace it with a blade prosthetic.

This is the foot that had a weird, unnamed pain around the ankle area for a month and a half. It finally cleared up in time to run the 8K and marathon on back-to-back days last weekend. I was slow, but pain-free. I thought it was all behind me.

Well, that particular pain is. I haven’t felt anything in the back of the foot. Now it’s all moved forward!

See, my right pinky toe got pretty beat up during the marathon, enough so that I must have been walking funny on it for the next few days and didn’t really realize it. I didn’t run again until last Thursday. The toe felt fine, but when I ran, I could feel some pain kind of across the foot where the toe bones, phalanges, meet up with the metatarsals, the longer bones that run through the midfoot.

Just like what I was dealing with before, there has been no redness, no swelling, no bruising. I can press on all the bones as hard as I can and not feel any more pain than when I do the same to my good foot. It’s only when I stand on it and push off the front of the foot to take a step forward that I feel it.

I chalked it up to muscle soreness due to walking funny on that wonky pinky toe. Friday was a planned strength training day, so I didn’t run. By Saturday morning, I felt good, so I went out for an easy 7-miler.

I made it through the whole run, but I felt every step with that foot! Halfway through I was really wishing I’d skipped it, but by that point the quickest way home was to just finish the run, so I did. I didn’t do anything yesterday. This morning, it still hurts.

I can’t seem to find anything online that describes what I’m feeling. It just hurts. It doesn’t seem bone-related, more like sore tendons or something.

While there were a few races I wanted to run in the next several weeks, I’m not actually registered for anything until September, so I’m not fretting about missing training or a race. But I just want to run!

So I’m resting again. I think it’s time to admit my Minimuses are finally worn out. While my right foot is the only one in pain, my left one got the first blister I’ve ever gotten from those shoes and the first black toenail I’ve ever gotten in my life after the marathon.

The timing is as good as it could have been, I suppose. I’m expecting to get a pair of Minimus Zeroes for my birthday in six days. I’m wondering if that’s a good idea though. My current shoes have (well, had) a 4mm drop. The ones I’m getting in a few days have a 0mm drop, hence the name. I’m worrying that’s not going to be enough support for my feet based on all the trouble I’ve had with my right foot the past two months.

I am thinking about getting a pair of New Balance 890s, at least for longer runs. They just released the updated version so the first ones are on clearance. They’re closer to a typical neutral cushioned shoe, like what I wore before I got into the more minimalist shoes. But I’ve still got a couple of pairs of neutral shoes, one that hardly has any miles on it, and they feel like cinder blocks compared to what I’ve gotten used to running in. Plus, while I never had an injury due to those neutral shoes, I remember getting blisters in them so regularly I put moleskin on my feet before any long run or race.

I don’t know what to do! I really want the Zeroes, but now I’m worried they’re only going to make my right foot worse, or cause different problems, maybe even in both feet.

March 23, 2012

Training for 3/23/12

Filed under: Uncategorized — aschmid3 @ 2:43 pm

This morning I did some strength training — ab exercises, push-ups, invisible chair-sitting, weights, barefoot exercises and stretching. Naturally, it’s nice and sunny outside today, when I planned to just work out in our attic, but it’s supposed to rain all weekend, when I have two runs planned.

The professional race photographers at the Shamrock races this weekend posted their photos. I actually got some good ones in both races.

These are from the 8K. First, Erin, Chris and me before the start:

The rest are from the finish. Here I am trying to take pictures coming down the stretch:

Shockingly, most of my photos from this point turned out a little blurry.

Now, you can see Chris, me and Erin and doing a masterful triple Bangle pump right at the finishing mat:

Nailed it!

And finally, this was taken right after we crossed the line. I love it because the three of us look so thrilled, while the girl on the far left looks far less excited, haha.

Three happy faces, one sad panda.

I also got this picture from Erin, who took it while we were walking down the boardwalk after the 8K post-race party:

Chris, me, Mary Jane and Alice.

OK, now on to the marathon. Since most race photos are taken near the finish, I thought mine were going to be pretty gruesome. But some of them actually turned out well!

This first one was taken at mile 18. I think I was so miserable at this point because it was getting warm and I hadn’t yet thought to take off my arm warmers, duh.

"Ugh, why is it so HOT?"

The rest are from the final stretch to the finish line:

This last one might be my favorite race photo ever. It’s right after I crossed the line. You can clearly see the word “fuck” forming, haha. I will be forever grateful that they caught this special moment with such clarity.

Finally, this last picture was taken from Chris’ Facebook profile. It’s the three of us lounging in the sand with all of our finisher’s gear and Yuenglings. It’s one of my favorites from the whole weekend.

The payoff after months of training and a tough race.

March 22, 2012

Training for 3/22/12

Filed under: Uncategorized — aschmid3 @ 3:11 pm

This morning, I went for my first run post-marathon.

I was going to take Pepper to the trail, but I didn’t feel like driving out there and back, so we just did the 4.5-mile loop on the road that begins and ends at home. It was a warmish, muggy and very foggy morning.

I decided to time it. Pepper and I ran into a couple of other dogs, we pulled off to the shoulder and waited every time traffic approached since it was so foggy and of course there were the typical pee breaks and stick-finding mission. I didn’t pause the watch for any of that and we finished 4.5 miles in 35:06, average pace of 7:48/mile, so who knows how fast we were actually running.

I felt pretty good when we finished the run. There was no muscle soreness, but my right foot did bother me a little. It wasn’t related to whatever was wrong with it before the marathon though. When I ran the marathon, the pinky toe on that foot got a little beat up, and I guess I was walking funny on it the past few days, because that area of the foot was where the soreness was. It wasn’t anything worrisome.

I also got my first black toenail ever and my first blister from those shoes on my left foot during the marathon, so I think those shoes are finally worn out. Which is fine, because my birthday is less than a week and a half away, and I’ll be getting new ones. It will be hard to say goodbye to the original Minimuses though.

March 21, 2012

Training for 3/21/12

Filed under: Uncategorized — aschmid3 @ 6:56 pm

Not much to report today. I took another rest day, and just did some push-ups and ab exercises this morning. Clark and I went to Baltimore this morning to meet with a surgeon to talk about removing his colon. No decisions have been made, but Clark’s leaning toward the surgery. Without the colon, he’ll never have a completely normal, uh, digestive lifestyle again, but the medications don’t seem to be doing anything at all for him. The doctors still seem to think he should wait to see if the latest med they put him on will kick in before doing surgery.

March 20, 2012

Training for 3/20/12

Filed under: Uncategorized — aschmid3 @ 4:02 pm

Happy first day of spring! Don’t forget to get your free Italian ice from Rita’s today.

It’s another rest day for me. I did some more stretching and foam rolling. Other than a little residual soreness in my calves, I really feel pretty normal already. I think I’m going to hold off on any running until at least Thursday though, probably a short trail run. I ran that idea by Pepper this morning and he seemed OK with it.

The next race on my schedule is the April Fools Prediction Challenge on April 1 at Cape Henlopen State Park. They don’t tell you how long it will be or where the course goes, because it changes every year and the surprise as you’re running it is part of the fun, but I know last year was a little less than 5 miles. Maybe I’ll take Pepper with me.

Yesterday, one of my close friends said she’s signing up for the Army 10-Miler in October in D.C. She’s mostly terrified at this point, haha. I told her that was normal; her confidence will build as her miles do, and she’s got more than enough time to train for that distance. She was actually the person who invited me to run my first 5K with her in Aug. 2004, but I don’t think she’s run another race since. It would be fun to go cheer her on if possible, but I don’t think I want to run that one.

March 19, 2012

Shamrock weekend recap

Filed under: Uncategorized — aschmid3 @ 4:59 pm

Well, I did it! My foot held up for 31.2 miles and nearly five hours of running over two days this weekend. I successfully completed the TowneBank 8K on Saturday morning and the Yuengling Shamrock Marathon on Sunday, and I’m not regretting it today, which is the best part.

I will start with Friday. I left work around 4 p.m. and headed straight to Virginia Beach. I got to the expo around 8 p.m. and got my bibs for both races. I got my marathon race shirt, but they were out of my requested size in the 8K shirt, so I had to put down my name and eventually it will be mailed to me. I got a pack of Chomps for the marathon and a Clif Bar for breakfast before the race the next morning and headed to Ian’s house, where I was staying with Chris and Erin.

We all got to the house around 9 p.m. and settled in. Even though Ian wasn’t there this weekend, he had said there was a chance one of his friends would be staying there. This other guy wasn’t there when we got there, and he still wasn’t there when we went to bed after 11 p.m., so I figured he just wasn’t going to be there, and didn’t mention anything about it to Erin and Chris.

Erin and Chris slept on the couches in the living room, and I slept on a bed that had been left behind in an empty bedroom. So when this other guy did show up, at 2 a.m., piss drunk, he woke up the other two first, who had no idea who this guy was and why he was trying to get in the house.

We had locked the deadbolt, but the keys don’t open the deadbolt. So the guy was outside jiggling around with the lock and cussing a blue streak, which really freaked out Erin and Chris. Then he got in somehow, but went straight upstairs and started banging around. That’s when I woke up, and slowly realized what was going on. Then I thought of the other two in the living room.

When I went out in the living room, they were both lying completely still and silent, still with no clue what was going on! I asked if someone else was in the house. They said someone had come in, but he had gone back outside. I finally filled them in on the other house guest. Erin and I went outside, where he was smoking a cigarette, and introduced ourselves, and then we all went back to bed. I think we all had a tough time getting back to sleep after the “intruder,” haha. I feel bad I didn’t tell them he might be coming in, but I really thought he wasn’t going to be there when he hadn’t yet shown up at 11 p.m.

Anyway, later that morning, we all got up, dressed in our St. Patrick’s Day finest and headed in for the 8K. We got to Harris-Teeter, which had plenty of parking. Unfortunately, it also had a parking lot Nazi telling everyone who wasn’t there to shop to leave. It’s hard to argue you’re actually there to shop, and not run the race, when you’re dressed in green running clothes and wearing a bib that says “TowneBank 8K,” haha. We found some side street parking and walked to the start.

It was a little breezy, but an overcast, mild morning, good running weather. We positioned ourselves in the second corral.

Erin and Chris waiting in the corral for the start.

And we were off!

About to cross the starting line.

We took it very easy. Our goal was to not break a sweat, haha. We took in all the scenery and had a good 5-mile shakeout run for the marathon the next day.

This guy ran 5 miles in a full body sock, haha. I saw him after the race and he looked like he was about to drown in his own sweat.

Erin and Chris around mile 3 on the boardwalk.

The course made a loop and came back through the start line just after mile 4. Some poor shmuck thought that was the finish line and sprinted past us, and then looked really confused when everyone else was still running after he crossed it.

We turned the final corner to run the last six blocks or so to the finish on the boardwalk, and did a triple Bangle pump as we finished. I hope the race photographers caught that!

Approaching the real finish.

The King Neptune statue on the left is the final landmark before you hit the finish.

After the race, we caught up with the rest of our Loop friends and hung out at the post-race party. I had both of my allotted free Yuenglings, of course.

Erin, me and Chris right after finishing. Chris' tights definitely got a lot of attention!

Deirdre, far right, and Anna, far left, one of the daughters of one of the other Loop runners, jumped in for a picture with Drunk 1, 2 and 3.

I love all the volunteers who support races, but this guy was definitely one of my favorites!

From left, Josh and Jeff, a father and son who ran the race together, Deirdre, Chris and Erin and me with our first post-race Yuenglings of the weekend.

Erin, Deirdre, Mary Jane, me and Chris. MJ is holding the LoopRock event banner she made so we could find each other after the races.

Our final chip time was 47:56. Mission accomplished.

Erin, Chris and I had a nice big breakfast at IHOP after the race. Then I took a shower and went back to the expo, where I volunteered for the afternoon. I handed out half marathon bibs. Most of the other volunteers at the half marathon bib tables were all members of this professional women’s group, and a large chunk of the conversation was about who had experience with friends with benefits. It was fun to listen to, I must admit.

After the expo closed, I went to the restaurant where about 25 or 30 of us met for dinner. Mary Jane put a lot of work into organizing what we called LoopRock. She painted all these rocks for various awards, she made programs and she gave away door prizes. She even got RoadID to “sponsor” the event and got some gift cards and free shipping codes. I won one of the gift cards, so it looks like I have a RoadID in my future.

We went back to the house after dinner, got our stuff ready for the next morning and were in bed by 10:30 p.m.

The bars in Virginia Beach must close at 2 a.m., because, just like clockwork, the other houseguest showed up again just after 2. This time he had a girl with him, although apparently she was only dropping him off. However, she went upstairs with him for a little while, where there was a lot of banging around again. When she came back downstairs to leave, he said something to her like, “Geez, you sound like you think I’m trying to rape you.” That’s when Erin piped up and asked them to keep it down because we all had to get up soon. The girl left and the guy headed back upstairs, where there was yet more banging around. Then it finally got quiet again and we all got back to sleep.

We were up around 6:30 a.m. for the 8:30 start. We ate some breakfast at the house and headed back into Virginia Beach, parking on the same side street as the day before.

I had taped up my foot with KT Tape for the 8K the day before. I don’t know if it really made a difference, but my foot felt fine for the whole 5 miles and then for the rest of the day, so I retaped it for the marathon. A little extra support couldn’t hurt, and besides, I was really scared the day was going to be a repeat of Shamrock 2010, so it was a mental boost to feel that tape on my ankle.

Again, I started in the second corral with Erin and Chris, but this time Dierdre joined us. Considering I had run less than 75 miles total since Feb. 1, and my longest run in that time was a 9-miler, I really had no time goals or even a rough idea of what pace I was aiming for. I decided to just hang with them. They were all going for times between 3:50 and 4:00. I didn’t think I had that in me, but I figured if I burned out and had to walk the last six miles, so be it.

The race started right on time at 8:30 a.m. We took off at an easy pace; I think mile 1 was a 9:22 or so.

I felt really happy, like bursting-at-the-seams happy, to be running, especially running Shamrock. I look forward to it all winter, as it marks both the beginning of spring and the beginning of the racing season. I was so worried I wouldn’t get to run it this year because of the foot issues, and at one point had even decided to defer, so it just made me feel that much better to actually be running the marathon again.

The first seven miles flew by in a little over an hour. It’s so much fun running with friends. The three of them distracted me from worrying about my foot too much. It wasn’t hurting, but if I had been alone, I would have been waiting for it to start with every single step.

I took my first salt cap at 45 minutes, ate half my Chomps at an hour and took another salt cap at 1:30, which was about the eating and salt cap schedule I kept for the whole race.

At mile 9, I said, “Well, from here on out is officially the farthest I have run in almost two months.” Saying that out loud made the next 17 miles sound impossible and even a little stupid. Did I really think I could run this far on so little training? Who was I kidding? I pushed those thoughts out of my head and just concentrated on following Deirdre, Erin and Chris.

On the boardwalk between mile 10 and 11, I saw my favorite sign of the race: “No shitting your pants.” The guy holding it was yelling, “All right, who’s fightin’ it?” That made me laugh. Not long after that we saw Deirdre’s mom watching us from the balcony of their hotel, and we all waved. She gave us a big wave back.

We ran back through downtown Virginia Beach, back through the start area and on to where the half marathon had started, which was our halfway point. We crossed the halfway mat at 2:00 on the dot.

Deirdre was shooting for 3:50 and took off. We all wished her luck as she sped away from us. I could feel my calves tightening up and knew I wasn’t going to be able to keep up Chris and Erin’s pace much longer, so I let them slowly pull away as we ran toward Fort Story. I knew I’d run the first half too fast and was going to pay for it in the second, but I didn’t regret running those two hours with my friends.

As we ran toward Fort Story, the half marathon walkers were coming back toward the finish line. I saw one woman walking the half on crutches. I also saw the marathon leaders heading for the finish. I took a handful of gummi bears from some spectators. Through the whole second half, I ate or drank everything that was offered to me. Why not?

Right before we entered Fort Story, I saw the beer stop and decided I was going to enjoy my first in-race beer. I grabbed one of the cups, which only had about a shot’s worth of beer. It looked cheap, like the crap high school kids drink. Right as I was swallowing it I saw all the empty Busch cans in the trash. Yup, cheap! Oh well. I thanked them for the beer and went on my way.

Soon after that, we hit an aid station and the 16-mile marker and I took my first one-minute walk break. I decided I would walk through every aid station, which were about 1.5 miles apart.

Miles 16 to 19 were the lowest point of the race for me. The course was painfully boring, just a tree-lined road with no spectators. A lot of people were starting to hurt and there was a lot of dejected-looking walking going on. I concentrated on running to the next aid station. The 4:00 pace group passed me in that stretch.

At the mile 17.5 station, I dug out two ibuprofen I’d been carrying in the little pouch with my Chomps and salt caps. At dinner the night before, Jeff, one of the other runners, said a training partner took ibuprofen around mile 18 of long runs, and he tried it once and it really helped. I’ve never taken pain medication during a race or long run, and it’s not recommended as it can throw off electrolyte balance in your liver or something, but I needed all the help I could get at that point. I washed them down with some water and started running again.

Just before mile 19, we finally came upon a small group of enthusiastic spectators, which lifted my spirits. They called me out by name (since they were printed on our bibs) and cheered me on. I smiled back at them. Soon after, we made the turn into Fort Story and hit the 19-mile marker and another aid station, where I took an energy gel.

I don’t know if it was the ibuprofen, the gel, those spectators, the fact I knew I was now on the “back” of the second out-and-back of the course or what, but I got my second wind. It wasn’t as strong as the first wind, haha. But I was keeping a steady pace and picking people off again.

The next aid station was at mile 21. Some military personnel were handing out little cups of jelly beans. I took some of them, and then walked a bit through the aid station to drink water. I thought about how all I had left was the same distance I’d run the day before, and that helped.

We finally escaped Fort Story and were back on that road we’d run after halfway, this time heading for the finish line. I saw people heading toward Fort Story and thought about how they still had a solid 12 miles or so to go. That made me feel worse, haha.

I walked through one last aid station, just before mile 23, and resolved to run the rest of the way to the finish line. How hard could a 5K be, right?

Really freaking hard! The first mile wasn’t bad. My calves were screaming, but I was still keeping a decent pace and passing people. I skipped the mile 24.5 aid station but did stop a second to gulp another beer being offered by specators. It was Guiness that time. I kept running.

I passed the mile 25 marker. A little more than a mile to go. I can do this. My calves were getting tighter and tigher. My pace was slowing, but I was still running. I skipped the final aid station, around mile 25.5. I could hear cheering from the boardwalk, so I knew I was getting close.

As I ran toward the boardwalk, I passed a guy with the most painful-looking limp I have ever seen. I was so glad that was not me! My legs were screaming in pain, but it was a normal, glycogen-deprived pain caused by running a lot farther than they were conditioned for, not the kind caused by an injury that was going to set me back by months. I felt really bad for that guy.

I made the final turn onto the boardwalk. It was the exact same finishing stretch as in the 8K the day before, but it looked so much longer. My calves were really locking up at that point. I tried to run faster, but I just couldn’t.

The crowds got thicker as I got closer to the finish line. They were all yelling my name, cheering me on, but that damn finish line just never seemed to get closer! I willed myself to keep running, promised my legs they wouldn’t have to run anymore that day if they please, please, please just carried me a couple more blocks.

Finally, I passed King Neptune and crossed that finish line! The first thing I did was whip my hat off my sweat-soaked head. I felt a combination of relief and happiness, but also a pretty strong pain in my leg muscles. I was still walking, but I muttered a string of curse words.

I guess cussing at your legs under your breath after a marathon is a sign of distress because a medical volunteer rushed over to ask if I was OK. I assured her I was and walked through the chute to collect my medal, finisher’s hat and sweatshirt, water, Gatorade and food.

Oh — my time! I finished in 4:07:40. Five minutes slower than Shamrock a year ago, 25 minutes slower than Steamtown in October and the third-slowest marathon I’ve finished, but I was very pleased with myself for completing the Whale Challenge even after my training fell apart. I wanted to kiss my right foot. I never heard a peep from it the whole weekend.

No 2010 repeat. No weeks of sitting around, no physical therapy, no starting over from scratch in May. I can finally stop worrying about that.

Chris and Dierdre both ran 3:53, and Erin held on for a 3:59, which were big PRs for all of them. I was really happy for them!

Mary Jane ran a 4:10:05, missing qualifying for Boston for her age group by five seconds. She was pretty upbeat about it though. It was still a 17-minute PR for her, and she said she felt she’d run the race as hard as she could that day, so she had no regrets. Jen came in with a 4:42, a 50-second PR.

We found the rest of our group and soaked in the sun in our matching finisher’s sweatshirts while swapping race stories and drinking our Yuenglings.

Loopsters post-race in front of this year's sand sculpture.

Me, Erin and Chris. I would say all the housemates are in this pic, but we were missing one, haha. I'm sure he was still passed out from the night before when this was taken.

Deirdre, me, Erin and Chris. I can't thank these three enough for getting me through the first half! After I had that under my belt, I knew I was going to finish.

Deirdre, me, Alice, who came all the way from southern California, and Jen.

LBC representing! Deirdre, me and Jen. We were part of the group that refused to go to bed the night after Philly and wound up getting breakfast at an all-night diner at 3 a.m. We named ourselves the Loop Breakfast Club.

This next shot is for that stupid chiropractor who lectured me on why my Minimuses suck. Hundreds of miles and many races later, they got me through a second marathon, injury-free, unlike any of his adjustments. Eat that, idiot.

Finisher's medal, hat and sweatshirt, courtesy of the Minimuses that carried me there. Jerk.

I packed my car and headed home, both finisher’s medals from the Whale Challenge dangling from the rearview mirror.

Yes, they knocked against my knuckles every time I shifted, but I didn't mind.

All in all, this weekend was exactly what I needed. It was my first time back in the whole race atmosphere since November, and I had really missed it. I got my assurance that my foot really is healed, and that I really am still a runner. I’ve lost some of my speed and endurance, of course, but that’s going to come back. I feel so optimistic today.

The final stats:

TowneBank 8K:

  • Chip time: 47:56 (9:38/mile pace)
  • 184th/705 F 25-29
  • 916th/5,015 total women
  • 2,260th/8,078 total finishers

Yuengling Shamrock Marathon:

  • Chip time: 4:07:40 (9:27/mile pace)
  • 59th/255 F 25-29
  • 308th/1,359 total women
  • 1,118th/3,303 total finishers

Whale Challenge:

  • Total time: 4:55:35
  • 13th/74 women
  • 50th/191 total completers

I can expect a whale pin to commemorate finishing the Whale Challenge sometime in the next several weeks, along with the 8K T-shirt. And we formed a LoopRock marathon team, which, based on our top three marathon times combined, finished second in the corporate competition. I don’t know if we’ll all get a little extra award or just the three who turned in the winning times.

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