Mishmash.

So apparently not running is not just hard on me, but on my blog posting as well.

Um.

I’ve been doing PT now for a little more than a week, and I’ve definitely seen improvement in the pain in my knee. My ITB is still super tight, but the rest and stretching and heat and ice seems to be helping it.

Thank goodness.

I still haven’t attempted a run. I’ve been pain free since Thursday morning. And though I am completely OBSESSED with the WANTING to go out for a run, I’ve forced myself not to. Because I want to heal.

So instead I’ve been swimming. Which, truthfully, I enjoy. It’s not the elation of a good strong run, but it’s a good substitute because I can push really hard and feel the burn in my lungs and muscles. Only without the pain running has given me in the past month.

I also tried a Barre class at a local studio Sunday night. Which was NOT the dance class I thought it was.

It was about an hour of Core Hell.

Pushups. Planks. Thigh and butt and hamstring kicks. Lower ab work. Oblique work.

Now see here. The abs I have? I got them from my long runs. At the end of a run, when you’re tired, and your form is suffering, apparently THEN is when you feel the core work.

I’ve never done a plank. The last crunch I did was in high school – back when they called them situps.

I totally SUCKED at them. And they hurt. A LOT.

(Especially yesterday. Ow!)

But. I’m going back on Saturday morning. Because now it’s my personal challenge to get BETTER at this damn class.

And I have some hope that when I DO get back to running, it will be better because I’ve got a stronger core.

Or something.

Other than that? I’ve been hanging out with my kid. Who is RAPIDLY becoming my Favoritest Person Ever.

I’m not sure what happened last week, but all of a sudden, he’s starting to CREATE things with legos and sticks and other toys. He’ll line up his stuffed animals and call it a “traffic jam.” He’ll built a log loader truck out of legos (and seriously, it LOOKS like a log loader truck!)

He’s currently obsessed with airplanes, and so before bed every night I pretend I’m his copilot. And he orders Jeff to stay in the other room (in the COACH, Daddy!) while he and I go to the cockpit and fly the plane.

And he’s really starting to grasp the concept of time, too.

Like today, when he woke up and asked me where his daddy was. When I told him that Daddy was at the gym and then at work, he stopped for a minute and said:

So it’s a school day?

I mean, I know all parents think their kids are brilliant.

It’s just that my kid IS brilliant. ūüôā

Now, of course, on the flip side… the focus on play and learning means he doesn’t want to stop what he’s doing. Like ever.

Which means he doesn’t want to eat.

It also means he doesn’t want to stop and use the bathroom.

(Okay, so maybe not THAT brilliant.)

But I love watching how he gets so focused on something new and immerses himself in it. I love the obsession, the way he can be in the moment, FULLY in the moment, without really thinking.

I wish I could be like that.

Therefore I love spending time with him.

It’s a nice reminder – that sometimes it’s okay to stop thinking for a moment and just be.

Anniversary.

I’m awful with dates. I don’t know why, but I just have some sort of mental block where I don’t connect dates to things.

I forget birthdays and holidays and anniversaries.

Within a couple days of the date, I’ll remember. But on the day of? I forget.

So this past Saturday came and went like any other weekend day.

I remembered Monday night, when I was driving home and Aaron Copeland’s piece Appalachian Spring came onto the classical channel*. Which reminds me of high school – my indoor first color guard show ended with Appalachian Spring.

Which then reminded me of living with my aunt and uncle when my parents moved to New York.

And all of a sudden, I remembered. It was a year ago my aunt died.

And I’m not sure how I feel about missing the first anniversary of my aunt’s passing.

Part of me thinks that she would want it that way. Then I wonder if I’m just justifying my inability to remember days and make myself feel better about missing an Important Date.

I suspect that she would tell me that it’s really no big deal, that she knows how busy we are, and that she’s thankful that I spent time thinking about her at all.

Because man, my aunt was awesome like that.

Growing up, she and my mother were really close. We lived in the same town, we had weekly dinners and spent all holidays together.

Since my cousin Amy was only 2 years younger than me, I was there a lot.

My aunt, to me, represented freedom. The chaos of her house contrasted sharply with my mom’s obsessively neat and clean house. I mean, Amy could keep her door shut and never put ANY of her clothes or toys away!

So when my parents moved to New York when I was a sophomore in high school, I stayed with her and my uncle for the rest of the school year. And she told me that her only rule was that I needed to be home by 10pm on weekdays and 11pm on weekends.

For a girl who had a limited social life because her parents “didn’t like” for her to go out? The freedom was dizzying.

I loved every moment of living in her house.

And Judy was always feeding us. That was how she showed her love. Always, if you showed up at her house unannounced, there was plenty of food to go around.

She once had enough food to feed the football team one night, when my cousin brought them all home. Completely unannounced.

I’m not even kidding.

It became the joke – whenever we visited them on vacation, we’d go out to dinner, then come back and she’d “fix us a snack.” Literally as soon as we got home. Even though we were all stuffed from dinner.

But the thing is:

Some of my favorite memories of her were in the kitchen – she wearing her apron and bustling around the cramped space, me sitting at the kitchen table.

It was there I told her that I STILL felt guilty about Amy’s suicide, even 10 years after it happened. And how I felt like I should have done more.

It was in that kitchen where she looked up from the chopping or stirring or bustling she was doing at the time, and she told me that they had found Amy’s diary after her death. And in every journal entry Amy wrote that she wanted to die.

Every day. Every entry.

It was in that kitchen where she told me that she was so angry with Amy for making other people feel like it was THEIR fault when it was something Amy wanted. And that it wasn’t my fault, not at all.

There was so much more I wish I had told her.

I wish we had TALKED more.

Like the day she and I spent at the beach on the Cape, reading, just the two of us a number of years ago. Where I so very much wanted to tell her that Jeff and I were having problems trying to have a baby. But again, I didn’t want to burden her with our fear, when she had gone through so much. So I didn’t say anything.

I wish I had told her how much she meant to me.

I wish I had told her how much she anchored me in my childhood, knowing that I had a my godmother, another mother, who loved me because I was me and didn’t try to make me into someone else.

I survived my childhood, in part, because of her love. And I got through Amy’s suicide mostly because of her love.

She was one of my favorite people in my family.

And even though I forgot to remember the date, the ache of her passing isn’t any less.

Nor my love for her.

_______________

* Yes, I’m a classical music nerd. I love listening to it on the way home from work; it brings me to my center and calms me down. And in the case of Appalachian Spring, it reminds me of times past.

Illiotibial Band Friction Syndrome.

Met with a physical therapist this morning, who confirmed what Dr. Google told me last week.

Illiotibial band friction syndrome is essentially a tendonitis of the band on the side of your thigh – the tendon that connects your hip to the tibia.¬† It’s caused by overuse, mostly in runners – so much so that it’s also known as “runner’s knee.”

That’s what I have.

The good news is that mine is relatively mild. I had NO pain last week, and this week the worst of the pain was on Tuesday after my failed run. It’s pretty much faded at this point, too.

So the PT told me that maybe my ITBS was mild enough that I’d have to abstain from running for a couple of weeks, instead of months.

Weeks.

[Bracing self]

Okay,¬† so I overdid. All I did from May to October was RUN. I didn’t stretch. I didn’t do strength training. I just ran, because it’s what I only had time for.

Well. That’s what I told myself, anyway.

Except that apparently it was sort of like the running equivalent of eating only brownies for a month. And now I’m paying for it.

Irony: I run my first marathon in October, all in the hopes of showing how far I’ve come since LAST November. It’s awesome. And then I get injured.

And now I likely won’t run at all THIS November. You know, when I could actually USE it.

Ha.

The thing is, I HAVE come really a long way from last year. I hit rock bottom in the winter, and have been climbing up out of it since then.

If this happened last May? I’d probably be a neurotic mess. And maybe, okay, yeah, I AM a bit of a neurotic mess right now.

But I haven’t run nearly at all in the past three weeks, and I haven’t killed anyone yet.

That’s pretty good, right?

Anyway. The plan.

I won’t even THINK about running for a couple of weeks. I’m thinking December before I even attempt a run.

In the next two weeks, I’ll do physical therapy twice a week and a daily regimen of heat, stretching, exercise, then ice.

I will also keep doing yoga twice or three times a week, and swim for the other two days.

I have a plan and a treatment schedule. And maybe I’ll only be out for a couple of weeks.

I can handle it.

I think.

It Didn’t.

A mile into this morning’s run, I knew I wasn’t going to make the 4 miles. My knee was tight and hot.

Two miles in, I was walking – and in tears.

I spent six months focused on training so that I could finish a marathon.

And I did.

But I can’t run now, when I need it the most. This month, of all months.

It’s not the end of the world. I know this. All things equal, this is a minor injury to my knee which rest will most definitely cure. I can swim and do yoga in the meantime.

Gah.

 

 

 

 

Confession.

I first started running seriously two years ago to lose weight. My friend D, who had run a half marathon, told me that if she could do it, anyone could.

So in November 2009, I had enough of being overweight and unhappy. I signed up for weight watchers online… and signed up for a half marathon in Middlebury, VT.

The fear of having to run 13.1 miles consecutively is what got me out of bed during that winter. I was terrified of the distance, scared I wouldn’t be able to do it.

Then I ran 13.1 miles. And I wanted to better my time, so when I got home, I signed up for ANOTHER half. In Summer 2010, I ran something like 15 races. And in October 2010, I ran another half marathon.

I had a rough fall and winter with running last year. In November last year, I lost a lot. A (very) early pregnancy and my godmother suddenly to heart disease.

In retrospect, I can say that I was probably depressed last winter. But I just couldn’t get out of bed to run. It was too hard.

Signing up for the Marine Corps Marathon on Mother’s Day this past year kick started my running again. Because, again, there was the panic that I would have to run 26.2 miles consecutively and I wasn’t certain I could.

(To be honest, I’m STILL gobsmacked that I ran 26.2 miles all at once. I really DID that?)

Over the past few months, though, running has become something more to me. It’s my therapy, a way for me to work out my anger and fear. It’s a way for my OCD chick to feel like she has SOME control over her life, because the older I get the more I realize just how little control we DO have over things.

Running, for me, is the great emotional equalizer.

It’s a way for me to celebrate the strength of my body and my mind while acknowledging that there’s a lot of shit that scares me.

And so, these past two weeks since the Marine Corps Marathon, where I haven’t been able to run, are KILLING me.

(Because seriously? It’s only been TWO WEEKS. It feels like eons. Ages. Millennia. Billions of trillions of lightyears.)

I’m living the old adage that you know what you’ve lost only when it’s gone.

I didn’t realize just how much running helped me cope with my worries. I didn’t realize just how many worries I HAD until I couldn’t run anymore.

I mean, really, I sat and read the ENTIRE Grand Jury report on Jerry Sandusky. And then I spent the night tossing and turning, planning in great detail what I would have done if Victim 2 had been my son Lucky. (And I’ll tell you, castration was part of the plan.)

Clearly I have issues.

But I’ll tell you something. I went to my running coach last week, who promptly dug into my hips, noting that they were really tight (OMFG that hurt), which was causing pressure on my ITB and therefore knee. I went away with stretching and self-massage homework, which I have done religiously.

I even went to two Bikram Yoga classes this weekend in the hopes that I can loosen up the tight in my legs so that I can run again.

I have not had any knee pain since last Tuesday when I tried to run. My ITB has loosened up quite a bit from the foam rolling and stretching.

So.

I will be attempting a 4 mile run tomorrow.

Please, please, PLEASE let it go okay.

I really, really need it.

Perspectives.

Mea Culpa.

As some readers pointed out on yesterday’s post, I had my¬†facts wrong.

Fact: Jerry Sandusky retired from Penn State in 1999, but retained all access to the facilities for his work with Second Mile. Therefore in 2002, he had no real authorization over Sandusky.

Also fact: in 2002, when Joe Paterno learned in 2002 that his then-assistant Jerry Sandusky had been seen sexually assaulting a child in the football team’s showers, he directed the witness to go to the athletic director, and the police were never contacted.

________________________

I am not a journalist. I’m just a mom and a blogger.

But I do like to approach blogging THOUGHTFULLY. Yesterday’s post was from the gut, a product of a sleepless night of worrying how I was going to protect my completely sports-obsessed son from people like Jerry Sandusky. I didn’t write the post for me… I wanted to share it.¬†So I shared my post with¬†my friends¬†on Facebook. Who then shared with their friends. And so on and so forth.

Wow.

The internet is a really big place, as it turns out.

So I’ve spent the past 24 hours looking at this from a bunch of different perspectives. Because it is my responsibility, as a blogger, to understand that there are perspectives out there which differ from my own.

So.

From the Penn State student perspective, there’s a LOT of media sensationalizing. Joe Pa looks like a convenient scapegoat; there were a NUMBER of people that dropped the ball, including Mike McQueary, Tim Curley, and Gary Shultz. That’s true.

From Joe Paterno’s perspective, he had no authority over Sandusky, and he reported¬†what he knew to¬†his boss¬†as soon as he heard about it. Maybe he didn’t KNOW how far it had gone, maybe he should have done more. But maybe he didn’t know.

________________________

I don’t know.

No matter how I think about it, I can’t rid myself of the unease whenever I think of the people who didn’t do anything to help that poor 10 year old boy back in 2002.

Apparently I can really only see through my own worldview, the lenses of my own experience.

I see a 10 year old boy abused by a guy who took advantage of his position of power. And I see a bunch of other guys that did NOTHING to stop him.

And because they didn’t stop him, I see more victims, and more pain, and more abuse.

This isn’t about football . (Though I will confess that in my more illogical moments, I have acknowledged a thought that I do not want my son to play football.)

It’s about doing the right thing, and making sure that you are aware of others and your impact of actions – or nonactions, as this case shows – on someone else. It’s taking RESPONSIBILITY and helping people who aren’t in a position to help themselves.

There were a number of people who could have helped that kid; and no one stepped up. Maybe they didn’t really know. But I have a really hard time imagining that’s the truth. I think they DID know, and they were too afraid of challenging the status quo. So they let a little boy who deserved SO MUCH MORE fall along the wayside.

And it breaks my heart.

So maybe I DID generalize in my last post. Maybe the facts will show that Joe Pa didn’t know the extent of the abuse, and he was scapegoated, and should have been able to finish out his tenure at Penn State without being sacked.¬†Maybe the students of Penn State are¬†RIGHT to protest his firing, because it wasn’t the right decision. Maybe McQueary should have gone instead.

But at the end of the day, all I’m left with is the fact that those men – all of them – were in a position of power. Where it should have been their responsibility to help that little boy. And for reasons unknown, no one did anything.

And that’s not okay in my book.

An Open Letter.

Dear Penn State Students:

It’s hard for me to admit¬†that I’m removed from my college years. Because honestly, in my head, I was an undergrad maybe 5 years¬†ago.

In real life, okay, yeah, it was 15.

But. In college, I was pretty involved with the athletic department at my college. You don’t play in one of the best marching bands in the country without¬†being into the football team. We were no Penn State – just a little Division 1-AA team – but that didn’t bother us.¬†We showed up at 7am on the practice fields on Saturday mornings, we sat in the stands and played our fight song, we partied after the games.

And we rallied. We rallied against the administration when they wanted to raise our annual student fees. We staged sit ins.

We raged against the machine; fought for our own empowerment, free speech, the power to CHOOSE the lives we wanted to live.

Thing is.

I’ve been following the story about Jerry Sandusky and what he did to countless young boys. And I’ve read about Joe Paterno’s limited involvement in the case. His non action.

And I GET that he’s had 46 years at Penn State and countless winning seasons. He’s coached generations of students. He’s a lynchpin at Penn State.

But¬† I have to admit, when I¬†read a story like this, I can’t really understand.

Because. Back in 2002, Joe Paterno got a call from a graduate assistant, who actually witnessed Jerry Sandusky having anal intercourse with a 10 year old boy.

And Joe didn’t fire Jerry Sandusky. He didn’t even report it to the POLICE. He, instead, called his boss, and reported that someone had reported that Jerry was “fondling or doing something of a sexual nature to¬†a boy.”

Because, you know, it makes it less of a crime.

His inaction? Made it so that more boys were abused.

At the very best, he turned a blind eye to a man who hurt a lot of people.

At the very worst, he aided and abetted a predator.

I know it’s hard to imagine that the administration at Penn State is doing the right thing here by firing him instead of letting him retire at the end of the season. They are the Bad Guys, the folks who want to charge you more money and enforce rules over how you live your life while at the university. I get it.

But too, I know this.

There will be a day, in the not-too-distant future. Where you’ll remember your college days as if it were only a couple of years ago. And you’ll read some news story about a guy who abused kids somewhere else, and where someone who had the power to stop him did nothing.

And you’ll go into your own kid’s room – the one who’s completely sports-obsessed. And you’ll kiss his cheek while he sleeps and feel a deep-seated rage against a person who takes advantage of a child. Because, as you watch your son sleep, you realize you have the capacity to kill someone who would hurt him.

And you’ll leave his room, and start a halting conversation with your spouse about age-appropriate ways to teach your kid how to ask for help when someone he trusts does something which makes him uncomfortable.

And your heart will break when you think of the other little boys who were not so lucky.

And then you’ll think back to the rioting you did in support of Joe Paterno back when you were in college.

And you’ll finally understand.

Injuries and Alternatives.

So apparently my knee isn’t actually going to allow me to run in the coming few days.

I attempted a 4 mile run yesterday. It was a GORGEOUS morning, and I felt SO good in the first half mile or so.

But then, at a little under a mile… the stabbing pain was back.

Gah.

Dr. Google tells me that it’s likely ITBS, or illiotibial band syndrome. Only thing you can do with ITBS is REST it. Activities that require ANY bending of the knee (past 30 degrees) with weight on it aggravates it.

Rest, Ice, Elevation, Advil.

In hindsight, during the month of October, in my right leg I felt tightness and pain in my thigh as I ran, especially on longer distance runs. But I just assumed that it was quad tightness and was totally normal.

Oops.

I’m trying to look at this as a lesson learned. I got lazy with the stretching, mostly because after a 3-4 hour run I didn’t want to spend an additional 15-20 minutes stretching. Boo on me.

Apparently I *DO* need to stretch after a run.

Fine.

Lesson learned.

But, see. It’s November. A year ago, a bunch things sort of fell apart for me, life-wise, in November.

And running is my primary form of coping with shit. It’s my therapy. My Zen.

So what now?

I’m thinking that I’m going to try and hit the pool tomorrow morning. If I show up at 5, when the gym opens, I can get a full HOUR of lap swim in and still get home in enough time to get stuff done in the morning before daycare dropoff.

And I’m hoping that scissor kicks won’t hurt me, since you’re supposed to keep your knee straight and use inner thigh muscles.

Swimming isn’t running, but it’s good exercise. And I will admit that going back and forth in a pool, focused only on breathing, is a very different sort of zen. But still zen.

I’m also planning on purchasing a 10 day unlimited yoga pass to a bikram yoga studio near my work.

I love bikram yoga – because it’s done in a hot room. It’s the same 26 poses over and over, and so incorporates stretching but you can avoid the poses which would aggravate knee injuries.

That’s at least the current plan for the next two weeks. And on Thursday I’m seeing the coach of my running clinic for a sports massage in the hopes that he can dig out the knots which will make it so that the inflammation goes down.

And so I’m hoping this will be a blip in my running. If I take care of myself now, maybe by the end of the month, I’ll be able to get back to easy morning runs.

We’ll see though.

Aftermath.

When I asked the coach of my running clinic how long I should wait until I ran again, he told me I should take a FULL week off. Which meant NO RUNNING – rest, etc.

The first few days, yeah, that made sense to me. I couldn’t go down the stairs without a sideway limp.

But by Wednesday, the worst of the muscle pain had worn off. And I wanted to get back to my routine. I saw runners and was jealous that they could get out there and run and I couldn’t. I had a really hard time reading the “back¬†to it!”¬†posts from friends who had run the MCM with me.

Combined with a ridiculously stressful week at work, by Friday I was out of my mind. I decided that I’d go out and run Saturday. I didn’t CARE how much my knee hurt.

Because, uh, the tweak to my knee at mile 23? Hadn’t really gone away.

All last week, I couldn’t get through the day without SOME form of pain in my right leg… and a corresponding limp.

And on Saturday morning when I limped to the bathroom to get my running gear, Charlie Brown told me he felt really strongly that I shouldn’t run, that if I wasn’t careful I’d really hurt myself.

(I hate when he’s right.)

So I reluctantly skipped my runs this past weekend too.

But.

I got a sports massage on Saturday. And she spent a really good amount of time on my whole right leg, which was one big knot from the quads all the way down to my toes. She spent a long time working on the area around my knee.

And as of last night, the pain in the knee was GONE. It had moved into a knot at the bottom of my quad. Which I rolled and iced and stretched and took advil.

And this morning, I feel nearly new.

So I think I might attempt a run tomorrow morning. Nice and easy, no pace goals; just a 4 mile shakeout to get the blood flowing and my legs working again.

I’ve always¬†considered¬†myself one of those runners that needs a race in order to get motivated to get up and run every day. The fear that I wouldn’t be able to finish a marathon, certainly, is what got me out of bed most mornings over the past 6 months. I never thought I’d be the kind of person who would be counting the days until her next run if she didn’t have anything on her race schedule… especially in November, when it’s cold and dark.

But as it turns out, that’s not the case. Somewhere along the line during my training cycle this year, running became my love. I don’t NEED a race to train for.

I can just run because I love it.

(Now, I DO have goals for this, next, and the year after that.¬†Ha!-¬†I’m not THAT Zen. Another post for another day.)

I Did It.

I am a marathoner.

It’s totally surreal.

I ran a marathon on Sunday.

But yes. Race report.

We left for DC early Friday morning. My uncle picked us up from the airport and we headed to my cousin’s place. The day was pretty uneventful, but we did get over to the expo on Friday afternoon so I could pick up my bib and race packets.

(And oh MY Lucky LOVED riding the Metro!)

I had never been to an event this big, so the expo sort of shocked me. It was a trade show! But for runners!

I got myself a long sleeved technical zip neck that had the Marine Corps Marathon insignia on it. But that was pretty much it.

Saturday was a nutty day. The weather was crappy – rain, freezing rain, and snow. We spent the day trying to catch up with friends, then my cousin had a baby shower. My uncle and Charlie Brown stayed home in the afternoon and made a batch of marinara sauce for a pasta dinner.

(And as an aside? My cousin’s husband bought Dreamfields pasta, which apparently is a low-carb option. Ha!)

The big stress of the day for me was figuring out what the hell I’d wear the next morning at the race. The race start was supposed to be in the 20s, and it was only going to warm up into the high 40s during the race. I had a t-shirt and a pair of capri running tights. So I decided to wear my running hoodie over the shirt, even though I usually only wear it when the weather is below 30. I figured I could shed it later in the race¬†if need be.

After dinner, I headed to my blogger friend Kate’s house. I had never actually, you know, MET her before, but being internet friends, I wasn’t worried. She and her husband were fantastic in helping with the pre-race jitters – we just hung out and chatted until I was pleasantly sleepy at 10:30.

I slept REALLY well, probably because the room was quiet and dark and I wasn’t sharing a bed with Lucky like I had the night before.

But I was WIDE awake at 4am.

Had my bagel with cream cheese and then headed to the race start to meet my friend LJ at the hospitality suite.

And then we walked the mile to the start.

Kate had given me a hat and a throwaway fleece, so I was actually pretty comfortable as we walked to the start. When we were waiting my feet went numb, but the rest of me was okay.

And it was shocking how quickly the time came for the start. All of a sudden, it seemed, we were off.

I had really expected a lot of shuffling and pushing and trying to find a decent pace from the get go, but I was pleasantly surprised to find that I didn’t have that issue. I couldn’t feel my feet, but otherwise LJ and I found a pace pretty easily. And by mile 3, my feet were warm and I felt pretty good. On the hill I just decided to find a good pace on my own and left LJ to her own pace. Which, in retrospect, probably meant I was going too fast.

It’s interesting to note that I didn’t spend much time looking at my garmin at ALL for pace. So I can’t really tell you how fast or slow I went consistently. I know that early on I saw a 9 minute mile and thought “Crap, slow it down, Serenity!”

By this time I was warming up. I had shed my gloves, my hat, and rolled up the sleeves of my shirt. So when I took a portapotty break at mile 5 or so I moved my race bib to the t shirt underneath, took off my sweatshirt and tied it around my waist.

The hill at mile 6 or 7 took my completely by surprise. I was starting to feel some tiredness in my legs at this point, and all of a sudden we take a turn and there’s this MASSIVE hill in front of me. Crap. I ran/walked it, honestly – knew that I didn’t want to attack it because I had 19-20 more miles to go.

Got to see my family around mile 8 or so, and gave Lucky and Charlie Brown a kiss and handed off my sweatshirt. Then I was off.

Immediately I was COLD. Mostly I wished that I had something for my hands, which felt like frozen claws. Kept shaking them to try and warm them up to no avail.

I think it was about mile 11 that I decided to DO something about it. People were shedding clothes everywhere, and I kept passing discarded gloves. I was miserable with my hands being so cold… so I grabbed someone’s discarded gloves around mile 10 or 11. Oh YEAH. I wore someone else’s manky gloves.

But man, it was INSTANT relief. Felt SO MUCH better.

The race route got crowded with spectators around the Lincoln Monument at mile 11 or so, but then we kept going onto a pretty, but QUIET, area. There were no spectators and really it was just runners.

Crossed the half marathon point at around 2:18, still feeling pretty decent.

It was around mile 15 when things started to fall apart. I started feeling nauseated, really nauseated. A few times I was pretty sure I was going to throw up, so I’d stop and find a relatively quiet place and gag.¬† No puke though.

LJ passed me, gave me a HUGE hug and said “you GOT this.” And I was like, uh, no, I don’t. I’m going to puke. I ran with her for a couple of steps, but had to peel off again.

And of COURSE this is where there were a TON of spectators, right?

Worse was the thought that I had missed my family. Thought I was going to see them around mile 15, but by mile 16 I figured I had passed them already.

And then we got to the mall and hit mile 17. And I saw Charlie Brown and Lucky, and stopped, and hugged them, and nearly started crying. I felt SO sick. I didn’t think I could do this.

But what choice did I have?

I went back out on the road. And I figured that, well, if there ever was a time where I needed my music, now was the time. So I put my iPod on.

And something happened as I started listening. Eminem came on, and I got energy back. And all of a sudden I was running again, and I felt GOOD.

When I saw my family again at mile 19, I gave them a HUGE hug and a triumphant smile and then ran away.

That good feeling lasted all the way to the bridge at mile 21 or so. Then I started getting SORE. So I ran and walked and ran and walked.

That was the rest of my race, really. Stopped here and there to stretch out my hamstrings. At mile 23 my knee started really hurting – a knifing pain on the outside of my kneecap – the place that’s been twingy for a while.

Run, run, run, walk, walk, stretch. Rinse, repeat.

And then I saw Key Bridge, and decided that it was time to run for good. I was worried about The Hill – but it was short and quick and not even a blip on my radar at that point. I just wanted to FINISH.

And damned if I didn’t have enough in the tank to sprint, just a bit, to the finish. Raised my arms and got in under the 5 hour mark.

My official time was 4:54:46.

And I was SPENT. I’ve never done a big race like this, but I spent the next 45 minutes on my feet, being herded with the crowd. I got a space blanket. And as I waited in line to get my medal, Iwo Jima in the background, it all hit me, and I started sobbing. I got a handshake from the nicest Marine EVER and my medal, then got my picture taken.

Then stood in line to get water, gatorade, a banana, and a box of food. As the line spit me out into the crowd of people, I just kept shuffling forward, hoping that I’d see my family.

And then Charlie Brown stepped out. And I stepped into his arms and gave him a huge hug. And my sister unwrapped my banana, which took me literally 20 minutes to eat.

But after I ate, and drank, I felt energy returning, and I was able to walk with them to the hotel and get my stuff. I was sore, my knee is STILL twingy, but the soreness is wearing off and I can’t wait to get back out and run again.

It’s still shocking to me that I ran a marathon.

Seriously, I can’t wrap my brain around it.

And I’m considering another. Not next year, given the level of commitment (especially on Charlie Brown’s part!) to a training program. Next year I want to focus on getting faster at shorter distances. I’d like to break a 26 minute 5k, a 55 minute 10k, and a 2:00 half marathon.

But maybe I’ll run the Chicago Marathon in 2013.

Because I can actually run a marathon. I proved it on Sunday.

So freaking cool.