Wednesday, December 24, 2014

The spontaneously semi planned finish of a marathon or ultra in all 50 States

me in 2002
I have been debating how to write this for a week or so now because I like to talk about the entire trip that I was on during a run but I decided to make this post just about my unexpected journey in finishing a marathon or ultra in all 50 states...then I will post only about our Hawaii trip.

For those that don't know me in 2002 that photo in the Nebraska sweatshirt was me! I had finally kicked a 3 pack a day smoking habit but had not began the other part of healthier living yet.  It wasn't until shortly after my birthday at the end of February 2003 when I saw myself next to a couple friends and I was twice there size that I decided enough was enough.  I lost about 90 plus pounds by watching what I was eating and I started exercising and lifting weights. I found losing was the easy part....keeping it off was much harder!! I had also learned this once before in 1998 when I lost about 80 pounds but immediately gained it back plus a few more.  I was not going to let this happen again so I decided that I needed to come up with different goals to keep me motivated and working out. I started biking and swimming and attempting to run. Boy do I remember the first time I ran a complete mile without having to stop and walk once!!! Heck I remember when I ran my first TWO BLOCKS without having to stop and walk!! I always enjoyed swimming and had done some century bike rides in the past....long past but I had done them....so I started researching triathlons. I discovered there was events called sprint triathlons....these were only about a half mile swim, 12 mile bike and a 5K run....sure I can do this!!! I ran into an old friend from school days at the local gym and convinced her we both could do these- she was already a runner and swam but wasnt into biking yet. Soon we were signed up for every sprint triathlon in 2004 that was within reasonable driving distance. Our first one wasn't as "easy" as we expected and even being swimmers throughout our lifetime, myself even certified in SCUBA...we both panicked in the water and doggy paddled, side stroked and laughed and cussed the entire way until we finished that swim!! We exited the water laughing and cussing about that was not what we expected as we casually walked to the transition area to get out our bikes for a "short" 12 mile ride....we then said to each other - opps we are in a race...lets get to our bikes. After the bikes it was off to the 5K run...wow that was weird...we had never trained to run after biking and learned that day we need to do this more often. We did finish and I tell this story because this was the beginning of my "obsession" some may call it?
By the end of 2004 I was running my first Half marathon with my friend Ginny Sturgill...we did the Columbus Marathon as a relay...I did the first half and she did the second half. I believe my longest run was maybe 2 9 milers....I will never forget the last several miles of this run when I would stop at the water stops...I felt if I stopped I would not be able to start going again and so eventually I just had to keep on shufflin to get done. Oh my did it hurt when I was done and then I had to wait for 2 hours for Ginny to finish. After that half marathon I never would have dreamed I would do any distance longer then that!!!  When the 2004 season ended we were already looking at goals for the next year....we had to bump it up a knotch so we continued with some sprint distance but also jumped into the Olympic Distance and did 3 of those that year. By 2005 we were ready to try the 70.3 triathlon distance...this was 1.2 mile swim 56 mile bike and 13.1 mile run. Throughout the past couple years we met folks doing this crazy distance and were just in awe....and those that were doing FULL distance of 140.6 miles well that was just beyond reach!!! We signed up for a half in September of that year and low and behold we did it!!! Shortly after my left shoulder ended up having problems with swimming so I finally had it checked and I had tore my bicep tendon and labral tendon so I had to have surgery....the doctor put in 4 anchors and found a large bone spur that was shaved down and also pulled the ball/socket back together. This recovery sucked but I had it done in November so I had the winter off to recover. During the recovery all I could do is work on my schedule of what I wanted to do the next year.
2007 rolls around and I decide we are ready to attempt a FULL IRONMAN!!! 2.4 miles swim 112 miles of biking then a full marathon 26.2 miles of running!!! I had never even done a marathon until this!!! We signed up for Ironman Louisville because it was the first year and it was fairly close. About 2.5 weeks before the event I had some bleeding in a place that was not pleasant and had it looked at from a friend sister that was a nurse at urgent care.  It was a saddle sore that was bleeding and they gave me some ointment...however the next morning I awoke to the area being the size of my fist! I immediatly went to my female doctor and he had to lance it and stick some drainage tubes and sent me home with some antibiotics....the next morning I could not get my right leg to move out of the bed and was immediately admitted to the hospital and placed in isolation - I had MRSA Staph infection.....I was hooked up on IV's - nobody could come in without a gown and mask, they would change the medicine in the IV's every couple hours as they did not know what drugs would work for the strain I had so they kept changing them until the results came back 2-3 days later and they kept pumping me with those antibiotics.  That was scary!!!! I was released the Saturday before Ironman Louisville....8 days before. I had 2 other friends doing the event and I took my stuff and promised my folks and Doctor that I would not do the event.....however I told myself and my folks the day before that if I can sit on my bike I will attempt it.  And so I did - This was my first ever marathon too!!! I had about 1 mile left to go in the run (walk) and they came and took my chip- I was out of time...they told me I could continue or I could get in the truck and I said there is no way I will quit....there was a group of about 10 others around me....all had their chips taken but all of us decided to keep truckin. I finished the event about 30 minutes too late for an "official" finish but they did give me a finisher medal...I knew I wasn't an "Ironman" yet even though I finished the distance I did not finish in the allocated time so it kinda didn't count.  I did the best I could and when you do the best you can you have to be thrilled with that!
2008 comes along and it was time for redemption....I did the American Triple T which is a local event that consist of 4 events...friday night is a super small sprint tri saturday AM is an Olympic distance tri Saturday Afternoon at 3pm is another Olympic distance Tri and Sunday is a Half Ironman....all in the hills of the Little Smokies! I also did a couple other Half Ironman Triathlon and then complete Ironman Florida! My first official finish of a Ironman as well as my first official finish in a marathon since it was at the end of the event!
2009 I decide I am going to do Louisville again and this time I was doing it with Janus Charities...a Charity group that you were able to chose the charity you would like to fundraise for and if you were one of the top 5 fundraiser they would also give your charity moneys!! I chose one close to heart...the Steven A Hunter Foundation http://www.stevenshopefund.org/ With the help of the community I raised $14,000 good enough for 4th place and Janus graciously gave an additional $4,000 to the fund! Beside Ironman Louisville I did do two stand alone marathons for the first time this year...I did Myrtle Beach in Feb of the year and also was selected in the lottery for the Nike Womens Marathon in San Francisco. I stated seeing info about ultra running and boy I wanted to try this!!! 50 Miles or 100 Miles!!! Wouldnt that be freaking cool!!!! After the Nike marathon I was having lots of pain in my left knee. I am the type that will not see a Doctor unless conditions interfere with my daily living and it was getting to become an issue. I had the knee scoped in December of 2009 and they found that 3 of the 4 compartments were pretty much bone on bone so he performed 3 microfractures,,,,this is where they drill holes in the area to try to get new cartilage to grow. Recovery was very frustrating, I biked pretty much immediately with the seat high and eventually started on the AMT and EFX. After months I was trying to run but the pain in the patella was excruciating - We tried an unloader brace but eventually was told if I continue to run then I would most likely need a new knee within a couple years. I ended up going to  other doctors for other opinions with the same outcome. After Doc 3 the very next day was the drawing for the NYC marathon and I had entered!! Of course I did get selected.  2010 was a recovery year but I was determined to get back. I did some triathlons, sprint, olympic and even a half, I also did one half marathon and I did walk the NYC marathon. In 2011 my right foot which was the opposite side of the knee was causing issues, issues to were I would have to crawl to the bathroom at night, finally that was diagnosed as Tarsel Tunnel, surgery was suppose to happen but the chance of fixing the issue was only 50% chance and it would require 1 month in a cast and 2 months in a boot and I was going to come back no matter what any doctor told me!!! I had seen people running without one of their legs, I was reading about folks running long distances the day after chemo-was I going to let these doctors tell me I can't do something?? There are no guarantees....I may need a new knee but heck I may not even be here in 2 years to have to have one!!! By 2011 I saw one last Doctor....he looked over all my MRI's, surgery photos etc and he said "I will not tell you NOT to run and I do NOT see a new knee within the next 2 years but I will say if you run you should try to keep it to a couple times a week and only about 3-4 miles each time." That's all I needed to hear and by the end of the week I had found my first 50 mile run that I was going to attempt!!! It was called Labor Of Love in Henderson NV. It had a 24 hour time limit!! I could do this!!! I did buy trip insurance just in case case.  I had put on about 20 pounds of the 90 I had lost in 2003 and I decided to get serious about getting that off and so I did...I took off that 20 plus another 15 and believe it or not the tarsel tunnel got better!!! Or I just adjusted to the pain???  I leaned how to block the pain in my knee and at times it would swell and even bruise where the bones would rub.
I knew I needed to sign up for events to keep me running longer distances so that I could train for the 50 miler, I also knew if I didnt sign up for events then I would not stay out there by myself running these long distance in the cold of the winter. That winter fortunately was very mild but I did do my first 50K in January of 2012, a COLD nighttime marathon also in January in Indianapolis, and 3 other full marathons leading up to the 50 miler. On April 21st I did my first 50 mile run!!!  I had also learned that if you do a marathon distance or more in at least 10 states you qualify for the 50 States Marathon Club. I had done 5 marathons including the ironman's in 2008 and 2009 and just the first half of 2012 I had now done a 50K 4 marathons and a 50 miler and all were in different states so I actually was qualified for the 50 states club!!! I then decided cool....I think I can do a marathon in all 50 states by the time I am 50........I was 44 so I had 6 years to do 40 more states....I stared researching my last state at this time...and I found one that happened the weekend of my birthday called Cowtown in TX...I also found that on my 50th Birthday it would be ON my birthday. Well.....things didn't happen that way.  By the end of 2012 I had learned of another group called Marathon Maniacs
http://marathonmaniacs.com/
I also learned about double marathons/ultras where you do a marathon or ultra on one day and do another the very next day!!! FUN STUFF -  I had finished 3 50K's TWO 50 Milers...I got into the oldest 50 miler in the US called JFK50 (named for John F Kennedy) http://www.jfk50mile.org/History/Default.aspx and 10 marathons - Crazy as it sounded I waited by my computer on the day that the Umstead 100 mile ultra marathon registration opened because they sell out in a matter of minutes......It was meant to be because I got in!!! It was schedule for April 6 2013 so I now had my 2013 mostly planned starting it off with a 50 miler on the island of St Croix in the US Virgin Islands. That winter was not as forgiving as the winter before so I did do a lot more traveling to the southern states for double marathon training for the Umstead 100 miler. I was meeting the same folks at each event and truly formed a new edition to family....my running family! I finsihed Umstead 100 and I was on top of the world. It hurt and it hurt bad but I wanted more. I discovered a company called Mainly Marathons http://mainlymarathons.com/ This company is owned by an amazing man named Clint Burleson. He puts on series of marathons on consecutive days in adjoining states....Now I thought this is cool and major crazy!!! So I signed up for the one called Center of the Nations....here I could knock off 5 states out west in 5 days! It is here where I honestly can say family ties were made. I met the most amazing people and made the best friendships that continue today.The 5 in 5 days was nothing like I expected....I never once went to bed or woke up thinking damn I have to go run another marathon...instead I woke up with a WHOO HOOO I GET to go run with all my new friends. My 2013 ended with 21 marathons, 4 50K's 3 50 milers and 1 100 miler. I thought to myself what in the world can I do in 2014.....I then started to see how my states were adding up and discovered that I could finish in June of 2015 if all went as planned. I would do CO/KS together with mainly marathons in the spring of 2015 and then finish in Kona in June of 2015......again....it didn't happen this way.
I was having trouble with my right shoulder this time and it came to a point where I could no longer get my clothes on and off comfortably so off I had to go to the Doctor....damn...now the right bicep tendon is torn and I had to have 2 anchors put in.....as I told the Doc lets schedule it right away because in 3.5 weeks I have a series of 6 marathons in 7 days and then I have a lot more on tap for the rest of the year. The look on his face was priceless but he knows me well. I said it is perfect timing since I do have 3.5 weeks until my next event so I will have that time to start recovering.
 I did have to wear the sling and power walk the majority of the 6 marathons but I finished them. These 6 were in the New England States and my son Tanner got to travel along....he got to meet all my friends I run all over the place with and after that week he finally "got it" he realized why mom runs so much and saw how much fun we all have.  He was learning about the marathon maniacs and started asking me questions about things he was hearing like how many "stars" do I have.....stars is a way the marathon maniacs credit folks for different accomplishments....I told I knew I had 8 because last time I logged in it showed 8 but I didn't know when I got them- I never really pay attention to those details...I just sign up for events and have a great time and complete them.
He started checking my stats because folks were talking about 10 stars...this is the highest level you can achieve as a maniac. So during the traveling he started counting up the different states I had done and the period of time they were done in and found that if I did 32 states in 365 days I would reach 10 stars....he then discovered that if I finish the Storm the Dam in Kansas that would get me to my 10th star! I get asked all the time how many marathons or ultras I have done and I can honestly say I don't know unless I look on my results page where they are all listed and count them up. I didn't know which state was number what until I had 5 left...then I knew what state I was on. I know I will know what number 99 and 100 will be when that time comes and it will probably be next summer. It is not a "goal" and it will happen when it happens. I could get it done a lot faster if I wanted to back out of some 24 hour events and ultras but I would much rather enjoy the events then chase numbers. In looking I have done 81 marathons distances up to one 100 miler....with 76 of these being from January 2012 through December 2014.

For many years my cousin Maggi Apel and her husband Matt were stationed in Colorado Springs and out their window was a view of Pikes Peak - I would always admire those photos and I knew of the Pikes Peak marathon well before the days of me even thinking of running but I always though how cool would it be to climb that mountain and one day I will!! I then read a couple places that it is considered one of the toughest marathons in the World but I thought yeah right...they are just saying that...kinda like Warrior Dash and Spartan races are the "toughest" races in the world - I knew Pikes Peak Marathon usually sold out fast and it really wasn't on my radar for my 50 states journey but one evening before going to bed I made the mistake of checking my face book one last time and I read my friends Scott Sunday's post that Pikes Peak was still open however it was 98% full!! I had a qualifying time and I ran downstairs without any thought and accidentally signed up! Oh - and I do NOT recommend Pikes Peak for someone chasing their 50 states as your Colorado Marathons -Ok...so now I have CO scheduled so I won't be doing the CO/KS together in spring of 2015 so I need to find a Kansas marathon. This I did and my friend Heather Waugh and I drove 12 hours to do Storm the Dam Marathon!!!  I was still recovering from my shoulder surgery and could not use my right arm...this was a muddy mess of a race where we had to pull ourselves up several mud slopes...at one point I wondered how in the world I would finish the second loop with my right arm- then I would remind myself if I didn't finish this I wouldn't get the 10th star and I also knew that I would be as smart as I possible could be when I am running and try to really listen to my body to not do more damage- I pulled through and I did finish!! I don't know whether it was from this event or not but after I returned home my shoulder was still hurting so he did a test by injecting dye and a MRI and found the rotator cuff was now torn.....IT is STILL torn because Im not doing that surgery again until I HAVE TO!

So now back to the states......I now had all states scheduled or completed except for Hawaii...I didnt wanna wait until June now and I really wanted my son to be able to go who is a Junior at University of Cincinnati so which Hawaii can I do???? HONOLULU!!! It is December 14th and his finals are the week before so if he could take any early he could go!!! I signed up and waited to book flight for awhile for him to check with professors and he decided he could not go...(of course he never checked cause at that age they kinda know it all) I went ahead and booked and I was going to finish state 50 with just my running friends. 2 and half weeks before I was heading to OK ad AR for a double and stayed with him at his apartment, the night before he tells me that his finals are over and he can go! WOW I was thrilled but also nervous with airfare that close and would the same flight be available- To my pleasant surprise his airfare was $20 less then mine and we got on all the same flights. My folks then decided they would get him the ticket as a Christmas Present....it actually feels like a present to us both!!
I had another friend Jim Collins that was finishing his second time around the 50 states in Honolulu and also my great friend Troy and Cathie Johnson who have ran 221 marathons together- I was a little concerned because I hadn't ran in about 3 weeks...I have been fighting some depression due to the conditions with my back and hip (NO IT'S NOT FROM RUNNING!) I have had physical therapy, several injection one to the sciatica and one to the SI at this point with no relief and even though I do feel much better and less pain when I run - it is hard to get myself out there on a typical day to do it because I get into this poor me mode.
The weather for the race was actually perfect....it was a light rain most of the day with some heavier rains sporadically and light winds with a few gusts but nothing unbearable. I think without the rain and winds it would have been tough with the heat. Cathie, Troy and I ran the entire run together and had a blast!!! I had taken a surfing lesson the friday before the event and Chris my surfing instructor was waiting for me at mile 20 with a stella in a plastic bottle for me to take along with me.
 Tanner was waiting at the finish with my 50 states finisher shirt and it was so cool seeing how big of a smile he had!!! It really didnt feel any different then any other events? Im not sure if it is because it was kinda an unplanned goal and one that finished much faster then when I started thinking it out? I just know I'm ready for the New Years Eve and New Years Day Double Double Event.  Through out this blog are different write ups about most of the states I have been to - I usually type fast, nor do I prof read so read at your own risk. It is more for me to recollect later and for my son if he choses to.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

"Don’t be discouraged. It’s often the last key in the bunch that opens the lock"

This is going to be a lot of ramblings as my mind is just a mess and can't seem to grasp all this pain. I have never felt so weak, so "un tough" in my life. Somethings gotta give and soon.
Tuesday while shopping for the First Day of Winter Half/Full/50K that I am hosting on December 21st with my mom the pain was so bad I was just trying to lean into the shopping cart to get the pressure off whatever is pinching whichever nerve that is being pinched and would just break into tears. I am at a loss? I hate to wake up because I know as soon as I step out of the bed the numbness in the toes and the right side of my anterior side of my leg will be pins and needles and my lower hip/glute area will be unbearable pain for the next 6 or so hours until I have enough pain meds in me to finally take a little of the edge off.
Today's appointment was to do EMG's to make sure there is no permanent nerve damage- I asked if any of this could be related to the tarsel tunnel that was diagnosed in 2011 and he said that nerve issue run down not up so my hopes of that were shot down. The tarsel tunnel is still there and has not advanced (even though the doctors wanted to do surgery on that years ago I refused because it is only a 50% chance of fixing the issue with 3 months in a cast and boot) I do not feel the kind of pain like I use to from the tarsel tunnel  but the kind of pain and pins and needles I face and have been facing for quite sometime is something I have never experienced and do not wish it upon anyone.  We did find during the EMG's that there is no permanent nerve damage that shows up so that is something that I will take as a positive.
After the EMGs we discussed what can we try next? He seems to feel this is a back issue and not a hip issue even though there is stuff wrong with both parts as reported on the MRI's but he explained a hip issues will not lead to the pins and needles that I have felt for 24/7 for the past 8 plus weeks now or the pain that is beyond words that I feel in my hip and glute.  We have tried a shot in the sciatica....did nothing.....two weeks later we tried a shot into the SI joint.....again nothing. So discussing what's next aside from there is nothing else he can try we chose to try an injection into the L4. Injections are done on Wednesdays and we leave next Wednesday for Hawaii where I will finish my achievement of running a marathon/ultra in all 50 states!! So the injection will have to be for the Wednesday I return. My biggest worry is how in the world am I going to function while I am not running and enjoy my time with my son. The pain pills don't take the edge off until I have had 2-3 during the day and I can get into a position on the couch and the pain level drops to where I don't wanna cry. The worse part about pain like this is it can be so easy to get addicted to pain killers due to the unbearable pain that is felt and people take and take the pain pills just to get a smidge of relief. We did decide to jump up to a stronger medication to have with me in Hawaii but I try to not take anything until I am into tears....which lately has not been often.  He also feels the tear that is next to the L4 where the spinal stenosis is is most likely the culprit....he knows how I feel about surgery and it scares the hell out of me. I don't have time to be down for back surgery! I don't want someone cutting on my back and my spine! What if they slip and I get paralyzed? So many thoughts but also what are the odds of it working.....I want 90 percent or above but don't think I will even get that. So far I have tried to just brush off that option and the look I got today about what is the next step I could tell that a referral to a surgeon was probably next if the L4 injection gives no relief. So when I asked what is next and that I really can't imagine surgery on my back and I got the look I said I pretty much have to learn to live with it? There is no way I can live with this pain so I pray and pray that the L4 injection will help on December 17th!!! If it doesn't I guess I will have to consider what to do next.
I know I have said over and over that I want to take off 15 ish pounds that I have put on in the past 2 years-I get depressed with all that's going on and then eat crap and then feel worse for doing it. I also justify that I am healthy because who can go run a marathon every Saturday and Sunday and not be fit...which is true but I also feel better in my other clothes...I feel better when my shirts fit a little different. I then justify that I am still 85 pounds lighter then I was in 2002...but now I have to tell myself - Before surgery is even an option you MUST try to take off 15 pounds and see if it relieves any of the pressure that is on whatever nerve that is causing so much pain.  The doctor does not see an issue with my weight and did not recommend that I need to lose weight but when I gave him my thoughts and analogy of weight on a nerve etc I then asked if he thought it would relieve any pressure and he said it is possible - anything's possible...so I think I really need to try this as an option as well....and if I tell myself doing so could lighten up the pain a bit it is worth the try!!
The reality is nothing can fix what is wrong with my body but we just need to find something to take the pain away.  I do not have an injury that can be fixed. I have degenerative disc disease, spinal stenosis, arthritis and conditions that can not be reversed. What we are looking for is what is causing the pinched nerve that is keeping my foot,calf and outer anterior area numb.....what can help relieve the pain that causes tears multiple times a day in my hip, back and glute area. What can allow me to get into my car without having to crawl into it. How can I lift my leg without tears to put on my shoes and socks.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Arkansas / Oklahoma Double......States 48 and 49

The Wednesday before the run I had the shot in the SI Joint....again - it was
 not as painful as I expected however it didn't help either. I drove to Cincinnati on Thursday to stay with my son and he and I were going to get some Christmas shopping done and go to dinner as soon as he got out of class. While we were at dinner he said to me...."what day do you leave for Hawaii" and I told him Wednesday December 10th and he then informed me that he thinks his finals are finished on Tuesday so he would be able to go.  I was so excited but also had to remind him that "I TOLD YOU SO" all through the summer before classes even began, and if they were not over by then if he simply emailed the professors and asked to take them earlier odds were favorable. I didn't harp on that point but I did have to make it. So now Im thinking - not quite 3 weeks out....how much is airfare going to be! I was pleasantly surprised that his ticket was actually about $20 less then
 mine.  I was able to book all the same flights but our seats are just close, I
am hoping someone will trade with us.  He will have to drive to Columbus right after class on that Tuesday and we will fly out early am on Wednesday.
Now to this weekend, i stayed at Tanner's apartment and he said he would get up and drive me to the airport Friday morning...yes it meant leaving his apartment at 4:15 am! He wanted to have my car for the weekend too and it would save on airport parking cost. I flew into Springfield MO and had a 2 hour drive to Cotter AR.  The weather all week had been calling for pretty much 100% chance of rain. On race morning the weather then started to look like it would hold off until around noon or 1:00pm.
The start and finish was about a mile apart and the run took place on a road that travels along the White River- It was cloudy to start but temps were in the high 40's and windy. It was an out and back twice- I made it to the half way mark and then the rains came. It got windier and I was getting cold.  I passed an aid station and asked one of the volunteers if they had an extra trash bag and the guy working the station was wearing one and gave that one to me. The volunteers were great and aid stations were nicely placed but there wasnt any type of crowd support except for the aid stations....and no beer stations! It continued to rain and the winds would kick in and I was glad to have that trash bag! I hadn't been running much and knew I was doing a double so didnt want to go to hard but also wanted to get done at a decent time so I could make the 4 hour drive and get to packet pick up for Rt 66 before it closed at 6pm.  I also thought if I go faster I will get dry quicker but then I would remind myself I was driving for 4 hours so wouldn't be able to stretch and after the run on Sunday I would be flying home that night.  My hamstring,hip, glute on the right side would get a little tight so I would try to kick it up to stretch it out, as I did this my toes, calf and anterior tibialus would immediately turn to pins and needles. I hate this!!! So onward I would run so that I could wake it up. There was about 4 miles left and the rain had stopped and you could see a little bit of sunshine behind the clouds so I ditched the garbage bag....I jinxed that one!!! Within 10-15 minutes the rain and winds came back stronger then ever.  I started to run 2 utilities poles to 1 utility pole until I got it done. I got on the shuttle right away and got back to the starting line and grabbed some dry clothes. They said the shower was just around the corner and I had a few extra minutes to spare to grab a quick one but I went around the corner to 5-6 different doors and never found the shower. I found a restroom off the gym and changed into something dry. They had some pizza and sandwiches so I grabbed a bite to eat and took it with me and off I headed to Tulsa.
The drive to Tulsa was in the pouring rain...it rained so hard at times it was hard to see out the front windshield.  My clothes were drenched so I decided to crack the windows in the car and turn the heat on high and full blast and placed my wet clothes on the dashboard to dry. I thought I can deal with the smell to get them dry because I could only imagine what they would smell like after being in my suitcase until Sunday night!
I made it to the pack pick up in plenty of time, stopped and got my marathon maniac corner wrist band as there was a special tent for maniacs and 50 staters at this event.  I then stopped over at the 50 states booth to see Clyde, Kelly, Steve and some others.  I didn't stay long because I was so ready for a shower and just wanted to stretch my legs.
The start of the race was walking distance from the hotel and this race again finished at a different location then the start.  This race didnt start until 8am so it was nice to be able to rest a little bit extra.
Weather forecast was calling for rain again here all week but it looked like it was going to totally stay
away for the day! It was however cloudy and the humidity was 90 percent! I was hot and thankful that I brought a singlet to wear.
In the beginning of the race I come upon a guy running in the lampshade from A Christmas Story...I ran ahead and jumped off to the side to get his photo...this was awesome!! I guess he has been running it the past couple years.  I knew by mile 4 this run was going to be a blast when I came upon the first aid station with amazing jello shots....I grabbed two and they were strong but in a tasty way.  Wasn't long after and I saw some folks out in their front yards with red solo cups, I have learned that when folks are in their front yard drinking from a red solo cup during a marathon this typically means they have beer somewhere....I have also learned if you ask they love to share it with runners!! I got my first can of Miller Light here and found that even though running with a can of beer still foams off the top it is not near as heady as a bottle...After 2 shots and a beer I could feel a buzz already, I am sure it was due to the high humidity levels and some dehydration going on. I was also hurting some from yesterday's run so I was glad to see up ahead another jello shot station!! They also had cherry bombs here. I drank a cherry bomb and grabbed 2 more jello-shots. I wanted a spare because I didn't know what the second half of the course was going to bring. I had a jello-shot and stuck the other in my pocket and ran on. About a mile or so later I came upon a guy who was really struggling and trying to do some stretching....so I stopped and said...you look like you need a jello-shot? He said yes I do...so I grabbed my spare out of my pocket and told him I took an extra at the last station for emergencies and I think this is an emergency....he agreed and thanked me as he ate the shot.
Up ahead were some other folks drinking from their red solo cups and I stopped and said "where is the cooler?" One of they guys pointed to another and they acted surprised by what I asked and then I had to say in plain terms..."where is the beer?" The girls then giggled and said on the back of the truck...would you like one and I answers please!! Here I got a bottle of Coors light....this is when I made the realization about drinking and running from a bottle verses drinking and running from a can.
The humidity and wetness did cause my arms to start chaffing and the Vaseline was not doing the trick. I had brought my marathon maniacs head buff and finally had the bright idea to pull that on the arm that was feeling the worse and tuck it under my bra for an instant sleeve!! It helped!!!
I never remember what mile is what and heck anymore I don't even wear my Garmin...but it was really cool when we got to the Rt 66 sign!  On the second half there were quite a few folks set up with beer stations and I would just drink the baby cup instead of asking for a full one...by now I was feeling a good buzz and it was helping the time go by much faster. At a blue moon station I ran into my friend Dennis and we chatted for awhile - he was on a run walk ratio and I was on my own run walk ratio- the whenever I feel like running I ran when I didnt I walked. The foot and areas with pins and needles tend to be prevalent when I walk but I also wasn't able to run as much as I hoped. Before I knew it the sign to take the Center of the Universe detour was in front of me...signs counting it down...400 Feet...200 feet ahead then the turn sign. It was only .30 miles extra to take it and you received a little coin and a nice big glass of ice cold beer from a beer wagon at that turn around.  After the detour there was just about a mile to go. The hotels offered 3pm check outs for runners which was amazing!! However, being an 8am start time and having ran a 5:10 the day before and all the pains I have been in and was in I really worried about making it back to the hotel in time...plus we had to find the race shuttle to get us back.  I finished and was honestly shocked that I finished in 5:49. Not a good time but considering the circumstances I wasn't expecting that. I did go through the finish line quickly and headed to the marathon maniac area to get my maniac medal...i didnt go into the special area because the shuttle was there ready to go and I really wanted to be able to shower before heading to the airport.  It all worked out perfect, got the hotel, showered headed to the airport and had plenty of time to grab a wonderful buffalo chicken sandwich and boarded to Atlanta then onto Cincinnati. I arrived at 11:30pm and Tanner came over and picked me up...he surprised me with my favorite Beach Club from Jimmy Johns.  We got back to his apartment and stayed up talking for an hour or so and I needed to get a count on my race I am hosting on Dec 21st so that I could call and order the age group awards and stop and pick them up at the amish place on the way home the next morning.
I can't believe that I have now finished 49 States!!! Plus DC....plus US Virgin Islands - I still don't know how many total marathons/ultras I have ran without looking though. 2.5 weeks and all 50 will be done! WOW!!!




Tuesday, November 18, 2014

All Trials until we can find some relief

I was going to wait to type something until after tomorrow's procedure but decided to go ahead and update now and can do again tomorrow. Last Wednesday I had a spinal epidural into my sciatica to see if that could help relieve any of this consistent pain in the back,hip and glutes and numbness of the foot and that sometimes goes into the calf, achilles and shin area.  The injection actually was not too bad....I had a 10mg valium an hour before which really didnt do much but was to help with the anxiety, I got into the surgery room and they had me on the table on my back and rubbed that red shit all over my back. An xray tech had to line up the xray machine and the Doctor injected the needle (which I am glad I didnt see!!) into the middle of my lower back and then on into the sciatica nerve. I felt a small tingle as it hit the nerve and the procedure was done before I knew it.  The next morning I still had pain in the my lower hip and my foot was still numb and tingling but I did manage to put my shoes and socks on without crying for the first time in a couple of weeks. I also did not have to crawl into the car but had a shot of pain that goes down my leg into my foot when I did sit. I was kinda excited even though my pain level was only down a couple levels it was down...progress??? No....the next am I did put my shoes and socks on without a tear but had to crawl into my car with a big ouch scream when I turn myself to sit. Now it's been almost a week.....I am sleeping with socks on for only less thing to have to do in the mornings and my hip,back,leg foot hurts when I put my socks on but I am still not crying....sometimes I want to but I am not going to allow myself back to that point!!
Today I went back to the Doc for more options.  With so many things on the MRI's and paper it's kinda going to be trial and see what works. I trust my Doctor Terry with my life so what ever he recommends I will do. He doesnt just read the MRI papers, he looks at the actual MRI screens and watches for other issues the radiologist may have missed etc. He does still feel like treating the back before moving to the hip due to the foot still being asleep and the achilles and calf having the pins and needles and cold feeling. So tomorrow now I will go in with the same routine but this time he will go into the spine and find the sacrialic joint and inject there....I know that this is going to hurt! I asked him how bad it is going to hurt and he kinda looked up at me with hesitation trying to come up with a comforting answer and I just started to laugh and said it's gonna hurt like hell isn't it. He giggled too and of course told me some say its not bad some say it hurts....After that injection I will be running White River AR Marathon on Saturday and then Rt 66 Marathon in OK on Sunday....I will say again...once I start running I do feel better - it's all the other times I wanna crawl in a hole! So after the injection we will see if that helps at all but also will do EMGS on my nerves on Dec 4th. I really should be a study patient for some new Doctor out there!!!

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Chickamaugua Battlefield Marathon - Georgia - State 47!

Getting closer to finishing all 50 States.....kinda surreal as it was not really a goal but became one when I started wanting to run long distance events and needed marathons for training. This is going to be short and to the point so I dont forget to write a little something about the event. The drive to Fort Oglethorpe Georgia was only about 6 ish hours so wasn't a bad drive at all.  I arrived and went to the church for packet pickup and found a panera bread to grab a bagel for Breakfast. I had totally forgotten to pack and gels and at the expo the place selling gu said there would be plenty on the course so I didn't purchase any. I did however grab an extra cinnamon raisin bagel at a grocery and put a couple pieces in a small zip lock baggie to pack in my waist belt as an in case case and was glad I did....there was no gel on the course but there was bananas and some sort of strange liquid product in a packet a little larger then Gu's- I can not for the life of me remember what they were but I do know they were not that good...the texture was kinda applesaucy and were a company I had never heard of. The first time I tried one it was a quick taste and that was it....I stuck with my 3 tiny bagel pieces I had packed and a small little banana from another place. I found myself later getting a little hungry and sucked one down as fast as possible so it didnt touch my tongue. Now back to the beginning.....I decided to drive because the shuttles from the race to the hotels did not return until 1:30 and the hotel only offered late check out until 1:00. With the event starting at 7:30am I knew it would depend on the traffic if I would make it back to shower or not before having to drive back home 6ish hours.  I thought if I left the hotel early enough I could get a decent parking spot so that would give me a better chance of getting back in time but the traffic getting to the race was unreal. This isnt a huge event either...maybe a couple hundred for all the distances but the traffic on the main road leading to the battlefield was bumper to bumper and not moving. Folks were sneaking around and trying to pull in front, typically in traffic I will let folks in but when there is only so many free parking spot near the race site Wait your Damn turn!! After not moving for almost 30 minutes I saw a church across the street where lots of folks were pulling into park so I switched lanes and headed that way. It cost $5 to park and was about a half mile or so walk to the start of the race but the church allowed you to stay warm inside and use their potties!! Totally worth the $5!!! I ran into my friend
Larry Wasson and George Boxley at the church. Larry and I walked over to the start together and it wasnt long after the cannon fired and off we went.  This was a 2 loop course for the marathon with a couple loops around other areas but was very easy to follow.  It ran on the roads mostly inside the battlefield and their were monuments representing different states and generals and such that fought the battle.  There was so much history and it was a beautiful place.  The weather started out chilly but soon the sun was out full and became a super pleasant day for 26.2 miles!!  I know there were many times where I would look out across the battlefield seeing the cannons and all and just try to imagine what took place in that exact location I was running.  I started searching the monuments for as many OHIO ones that I could find and took photos of about 5 that I found. I never was a history buff or did I listen in school much when it came to history but I had never heard of the Chickmaugua battle....even though the State of Ohio was involved I don't know if maybe we were not taught about it because it is further to the South or if I just wasnt paying attention.
I havent been running with my Garmin now for quite some time - I knew what time it was but wasnt calculating pace or anything like that. When I finished I had about 15 minutes to get to the hotel and take a shower before heading home so the choice was do I grab some pizza and soup and kick back and enjoy the food and the park afterwards or do I hurry and try to get to my room for a shower before driving home....I chose to eat first.  I walked back to the car and got to the hotel at 1:06....I walked up the steps to my room on the 2nd floor hoping the card would work but nope it was invalid.....so I headed to the lobby where the lady from the night before that checked me in was and I proceeded to the public restroom with towel and a change of clothes. The reason I bring this up is because she said they were doing something new by extending the check out to 1pm and I showed her where the shuttles don't even return until 1:30? She didnt seem to get it. I also told her a lot of hotels will have one room open for runners to shower - she didnt seem to get what i was saying about that either. So I went into the restroom and started running the water, washing my face, and other body parts in the sink.....I took my hair out of the pony tail and it was wet from sweat so I loved that when I brushed it out and it was wet it had the look of just being washed :) I packed my nasty clothes in a bag and walked on out with my towel draped over my shoulder....yes I was trying to have an attitude like you goofball...wouldnt you rather want someone to shower in a dirty room then in your hotel lobby sink ha. When I was walking out she asked how was your run? And I smiled and said it was great and I wanted to say and so was my shower in your sink but I didnt- ha



Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Running Conditions NOT Running Injuries

We all have "conditions" that cause pain during running just like we do in everyday life, this is why I call these pain conditions, not injuries. Shit happens and shit happens because it's life NOT because we went running. We can get knee pain, foot pain, back pain, hip pain, breaks and sprains just by getting off the couch and walking across the room.  It is very hard for a runner to have these conditions and be able to talk about it because the general response we get is - oh you did that running, or see what running does to you, you shouldn't run so much.
I have been having some hip/hamstring and right side of the body issues now for a couple years. I recall right before Umstead being so worried that right hamstring and hip area was going to cause me major issues while running the 100 miler when in fact it never bothered me once, it was my left IT Band that acted up. Maybe the hamstring and hip did hurt but the pain for the IT Band was more intense therefore I didnt feel the other? I always say - if something hurts keep going cause it won't be long and something else will hurt more so you will forget about that pain.
About a month ago I posted about my hip MRI results, I went ahead and had a shot in the bursa sac with no relief but refused to have the intravenous injection because I knew it wouldn't fix the issues but just hopefully relieve some pain. I want to be fixed!
The pain became more intense - I tried making an appointment with the Physical Therapist only to never have the receptionist call to set it up....now after 4 calls and still no appointment I am frustrated with that approach and no longer even trust that company to work on me.
Several weeks ago I had a lumbar MRI - Here are those results:
FINDINGS:
Moderate degenerative facet arthritis at L4-L5 with grade 1 or mild degenerative
anterolisthesis be is edematous signal changes within the posterior elements of
L4 and L5 associated with the moderate facet arthritis. Combination of
hypertrophic facet arthritis thickening of the ligamentum flavum posterior disc
osteophytic ridging with a posterior annular tear and degenerative listhesis
contribute towards moderate spinal canal narrowing and moderate flattening of
the lateral recesses the neural foramina are mild to moderately narrowed.
At L5-S1 is mild underlying congenital spinal canal narrowing with mild to
degenerative disc disease with mild flattening of the thecal sac and lateral
recesses. No large focal disc herniation.
 IMPRESSION:
 Moderate degenerative disc disease.
 Moderate facet arthritis most apparent at L4-L5.
 Underlying congenital spinal canal stenosis.
 No compression fractures and no pathological marrow replacement
  degenerative marrow edema.
 Moderate narrowing of the spinal canal at L4-L5 and 5/1. Some flattening of the
lateral recesses
So now we have lots more "conditions" but not really sure what approach to take or if it is the back, the hip or both are causing all this pain and numbing down my right leg. My right foot has not totally returned to "normal" (no pins and needles) since Marine Corp Marathon which was 10 days ago.
I still honestly feel better when I am running but I have gotten myself in this sort of depression and I don't feel like going out for a run....I don't feel like being in town running where locals people honk, freaky guys wolf whistle and all the construction going on and dust flying everywhere.  I don't know if its a "runners high" that makes me feel less pain while I run or if my analogy is correct when I think I feel better when I run due to having constant turnover of my legs which alleviates that constant pressure that is placed on the nerves that are being pinched by something when I sit, stand, lay or walk?
On Sunday my friend Tiffany went and we ran out at Earl Thomas Conley park where I am putting on the First Day Of Winter Half/Full/50K on December 21st and we ran 8 miles...it felt fantastic! At one point I stopped to walk for a few and immediately my right foot started feeling the pins and needles so we started to run again and within a few seconds I felt better. I also felt good being away from the cars, the horns, the chatter, the rubber neckers and sorts.
Today I had another appointment with another Dr. I agreed we would do the spinal epidural injection to see if that would help relieve some pain. I trust this Dr. a lot and respect his opinions and options so that makes me more comfortable going into this procedure. I will have this done next Weds afternoon, I asked how long I would have to wait to run and he said about 24 hours then asked, do you honestly think you would listen if I told you differently. He knows I am going to do it anyways, but I think also if it was to be so detrimental that I not run he does know I would listen....(I think I would?) The good thing is that weekend I have decided against Bills Badass 50K so am going to take it easy, then have the double with Arkansas and Oklahoma the following weekend.
This weekend is Georgia for Chickamaugua Battlefield marathon, I would have had Georgia done except for last year the 100K got cancelled about 12 miles into it due to a blizzard. I have heard great things about Chickamaugua and am looking forward to running in a new place.....my escape from reality!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Marine Corp Marathon 2014


A couple of days before leaving for DC my mom and I found my fathers Marine Dog Tags from when he was in the Marine Reserve from 1961-1968 or 1969. He went through Basic Training but they never called him back in to do his weekend warrior things or anything else. Kinda lost in the shuffle.  Good thing because

Geoff was born in 1966 and me in 1968 so who knows if we would be here today and he married to mom if things were different. Anyways...I put his dog tags on my Umstead 100 necklace I always wear but they clanked with each other too much and I knew that would drive me insane...so I found a simple ball chain necklace in my drawer and wore only his dog tag for the run.  I left Saturday morning to drive 8 ish hours and stayed with my friend Nicole and her husband Brett. Another friend of hers from high school was running Sarah
and she and her fiance Albert were staying as well. We had a couple beers and headed to this awesome place for sandwiches. I got to bed early because I knew i would be tossing and turning and even though the race does not start until 7:55am in order to get parking or even take the metro you must leave early. Albert stayed in bed and took the metro over later, we left shortly after 5am and where they are in the service we were able to park on the base and was a short walk to the start. We hung out in the car for a couple hours just resting then headed through security and stopped off for a quick potty trip and got into the start line right as the hand cycles were starting. There were about a dozen paratroopers jumping and in one group they were several jumping with the flag! Then the ospreys did a fly over and they were amazing! I already felt myself starting to get emotional just
watching our flags being flown in the sky.
 I knew I wouldnt be able to keep up with Nicole and Brett but Sarah and I stayed together for a couple miles.
I kept hearing BEAT THE BRIDGE...you must be at the bridge which is mile 20 by a certain time. They said typically in order to beat the bridge you must be able to hold a 14 min mile or less for the first 20 miles, however those that start in the back of the race and this race does not have timed corrals will be a little less then that due to the amount of time it takes to get to the start.  I really wasnt worried about not beating the bridge and we started in the back of the race, taking us I believe about 10 minutes to get to the start line.
 I dont remember what mile we were on but I came across my friend and hero Steve Bozeman. I met Steve at JFK50 two years ago and got to see him again last year. This is one amazing man and athlete.  Not only a running of marathons and ultras he has done the Double Ironman (4.8 mile swim 224 mile bike and 52.4 mile run 16 times) After meeting him at JFK in 2012 I thought someday I really wanna try a Double Ironman! He has also received two Purple Hearts for combat wounds as well as 18 Air Medals for meritorious achievement and is as humble as they come! I knew it was him from the back and came upon him and got to say hello...I decided to run ahead a little and stand to the side to get a photo of he and his friend as they ran with the flags. Funny too how the word facebook has become part of our daily conversations...he said facebook me with that one Jennifer :)
Sarah dropped off a little while after that to catch up with me a couple miles later. I had just dropped to either a 3 to 1 run walk or a 2 to 1 walk ratio and we got to run together for a little bit but it became a little too much for her. This was her 4th marathon and had not done one since last year. The temperature was super warm and sunny for the time of the year and I think that played a toll on many. Reading the FB post on the marine marathon page there has been so much talk about how hard the course was and how many people didnt get the times that they had planned or wanted. I kinda found it comical as I don't think I have ever had a time goal or time plan at hand...I just go out have fun and take it as it comes!  If I worried myself with a time goal I would be totally stressed out and not having fun!
I came upon what is known as the Blue Mile...here are signs of fallen soldiers with their photos and memorial - then there are folks lines up holding the American Flag and seeing all this I started to hyperventilate and my emotions were taking over. I found myself looking to the right into the river just to get my barring's back but had to keep looking away. It is so sad to see all those young soldiers photos that gave their life in order for me to have freedom.
As we came into a park area and onto that running trail to the right was the river. There was a lady and her male friend making screwdrivers but they just offered a drink...I took a swig and didnt care about cooties or anything...heck there was enough vodka in that to kill off any germs.  Just ahead a house boat came driving by and the man was holding up a sign that said KICK ASS! This was awesome!!! There were a lot of great signs on this trail and reading them kept me entertained for the entire time. There was a fire boat I believe is what they are called- it was putting on a great water show spitting water out in all directions.  I don't recall seeing one of these in person before and I found it pretty darn cool.  I am terrible when it
comes to remembering what mile was what during these events but I know it was super hot out there and I found myself cramping, I usually don't cramp during runs and I even took a small water from some folks handing them out and refilling at the aid stations so that I had water on me most of the time. I also recall after I BEAT THE BRIDGE my entire right leg and side went totally numb....this really scared me with all the hip,back and foot issues happening with it and running seems to be the only time I am not feeling pain. It scared me to where it has me questioning if I really cant feel the pain while I am running or if I have merely just taught myself how to ignore the pain with my "running highs"  It took a couple minutes of rubbing and mind games to get the feeling back and I just continued on with a slog and walk. My foot never really recovered and still today is totally pins and needles. My calves seized up after the run and I tried to drink as much as I could to rehydrate myself. I got in line for a jacket and met up with Nicole and Brett and shortly after Sarah and Albert found us and we headed back to Nicoles. I took an amazing shower and Nicole had a glass of cold chocolate milk waiting for me when I got out. That was the best chocolate milk in my life and was so needed! I got on the road and headed home. I did have to drive without my shoes on as my feet continued to try to cramp up if I wore them.  I had a super weekend and decided to get into the lottery again in hopes to
get in next year!
I am suppose to do Marshall Marathon this weekend but am considering taking a rest as I don't want to risk not finishing my 50 states. The next weekend is Georgia, one week off then AR and OK double and then Hawaii Dec 14th.  I also have other events in the midst but the most important right now are these 4. I had a lumbar MRI done yesterday and the results from that came in today so am waiting to hear from my Doctor about putting together the back/spine issues with the Hip MRI results as well as the tarsal tunnel syndrome from 2011. And for any haters out there....THESE ISSUES ARE NOT DUE TO RUNNING....SHIT HAPPENS!!!