Right now I am sitting on the couch eating pepperoni and trying to figure out how I can tape my feet up for my photo shoot this afternoon, pretty shoes and a feet full of blisters is not going to be fun… or sexy. I however am so proud and grateful for my fucked up feet. This weekend I ran (and finished) my first ever half marathon! WHAT?!
This time last year I was still struggling with being tired all the time (and juggling home, school, internship, food and exercise). It is hard to believe. My training sucked I think the most I ever logged was probably like 6; maybe 7 one day I forgot to set my app and ran for a super long time. I figured that is close to a half and with some encouragement from some friends I committed.
I was super worried about fueling my body, so I turned to the only resource I have for stuff like that; Womack Nutrition Clinic. I am sad to admit my experience getting ahold of them was less than stellar. I called about 2 weeks prior to my race and left a voice mail, 3 days later I got a call back but unfortunately I was in the middle of a kettle bell class so I couldn’t talk (I always answer NC numbers b/c I am terrified it is the school calling about one of the minions). She said to call her back at the number on my caller ID at 2:30 so I did, except the number was the hospital switchboard. So I did what any sane individual would do, I called the NUT office. This is where I begin to get angry, I don’t think there is an option to actually speak with someone so I left a message. I waited a few days and no call so I left another message, waited a few days and by now folks it is getting down to the wire… guess what?! No message. So I called again and instead of being like I have a few questions please return my call, I said listen I am running a half in 2 days and don’t know how to fuel my body PLEASE GET BACK TO ME. Guess what?! They didn’t get back to me.
While I was awaiting my call from my trusted NUT (can I mention that I DESPERATELY miss JOY?!!!) I researched online. There isn’t a ton of info about distance running nutrition and WLS patients. I couldn’t really find many published articles and most of the information I found was from other WLS patients and their trial and errors or “normal” people who say it is totally cool to carb load before a race, go big or go home right?! (did I mention my bought of reactive hypoglycemia yet?!).
What I ended up doing was DRINKING, DRINKING, DRINKING, all week long (sorry folks not the good stuff, just water, coconut water and a powered zero… AAANNNNNNDDDD maybe a few decaf iced coffees of which I made at home so they are totes healthy right?! On Thursday I started adding in some more carbs (I tried to make healthy choices and fun choices… hello apple pie bagel and peanut butter!). On Friday I didn’t really count anything I just drank and ate- I made sure to mix my carbs with protein and felt pretty well. Saturday morning I was torn- I usually gobble up a protein bar before a run (well ok, I usually eat 1/2 and the other half gets consumed after). But the bars I had this week (Quest) have some fiber in them and I really didn’t want to encourage intestinal issues. I decided to go with a food I haven’t eaten yet, I made a bowl of oatmeal with my lactaid milk, then I added in 1 TBS of PB2 and cut up a banana. I was able to eat a little less than half but I felt pretty good- I did this about 2 hours before the race. Then when I pulled in to go check in I ate 2 pieces of turkey lunch meat, I brought almonds to eat with it but I was super full still from breakfast and had to force myself to eat the turkey. I brought my camelback with water and a protein bar but decided that I didn’t want that as a distraction (especially since we had something like 5 or 6 water stations set up along the trail.
For the first half I only stopped running at the water stations- I hit a wall nearly at mile 6 because the turn around point was further than I thought it was and felt like I was going to have to run all the way to the beach or something crazy like that! But it turns out we stopped right before the “top secret mountains” as the minions call them! I stopped for a while there and drank some gaterade (still debating if I should skip the gaterade next time and just do the H2O b/c I started to feel a little too sugary). I felt pretty good and ran with a group of girls training for the MCM we did rounds of rung 4 walk 2 and I felt renewed. They started doing some speed work so I was eventually left behind but I kept my pace up pretty well and continued to do the run 4 walk 2. Around mile 8 had a moment of I can’t do this, I have never ran this far, but a group of girls drove by wearing a horse mask ringing a cattle bell so I felt better and kept it up. At mile 11 I noticed that my knee was popping with every step but it didn’t hurt, my feet on the other hand were KILLING me. I wanted to quit, the water cooler was out of water at that station and only had giant bottles of water- I didn’t want to waste an entire bottle but I needed a drink so I opened one up took a drink and chipmunked a mouthful of water for later and kept going (this was when I could see the barracks at the end of the road I WAS ALMOST IN THE HOME STRETCH!!! So I decided to keep going- why quit now when I was so close.
At mile 12 I imagined my feet bloody and bruised and the Firework came on, and I started to cry a little- I am special, I am doing this, I may be all alone but I have me and I worth it, I need to finish this for me. (I know I am lame… but whateves). Then I got to the end of the street ready to turn down my last stretch of hard road before the finish line at the water. I can’t remember what song came on because I didn’t even hear it, I knew my kids were waiting for me at the finish. I had to finish strong for them, so I booked it. That last little over a mile was nearly as fast as my first 6.
As I turned off the hard road and onto the gravel of the park where the finish was I saw 6 kids- 3 were screaming my name and 3 were screaming Mommy. I lost it- I somehow found my “super sonic blast” and ran, then greeted me and ran with me to the finish. I was holding back tears because dude I was in front of people I didn’t want to cry like a giant baby, but by holding back everyone I think thought something was super wrong with me. I hugged the kids and went to sit down on the playground, after I sat down I looked at the clock 2:58. Not great but not too shabby if I say so myself!
The oldest minion was amazing, he didn’t leave my side for probably the first 20 minutes after I got done. And honestly when I finally stopped running I listened to my body (didn’t have to try to shard, b/c she was screaming) I had nearly pushed myself too far and needed food. Bless the hearts of the volunteers (and my friends who were there) within minutes I had friends running to get me some protein food- I ended up eating a bag of something with cashews and a half of a pb and banana sandwich. I stopped the cold sweats and the worlds stopped spinning a few min after I devoured that and then all was well.
I had a great experience, I feel so blessed that I have been given this new chance. A year ago a half-marathon was not even a dream really, it was kind of one of those maybe someday… but now I have went from not being able to run even 30 seconds to running a half (and not really walking that much at all!). I feel like this run really healed me, I had a lot of time alone with my body since I didn’t run with a partner that I knew- yeah there were 6 of us who were in the same area for the entire run but in the beginning I was ahead of them by a bit and by the end they were ahead of me by a bit. So I didn’t chit chat or anything. I feel like some of the fractured pieces of me began healing Saturday- from all of those times when I gave up before I even started because I didn’t want to look silly or was afraid everyone would stare at me, all of those pieces where I said I hated what I had become and even those pieces of shame about having surgery. I feel like I am slowly knitting myself back together. I was always a whole person, I just didn’t recognize it all of the time.
Around mile 11 I was saying this is my last half- no way am I doing this again- even my arms were tired! But waking up yesterday feeling great (except these darn feet) I can see maybe a free more halfs in my future.