Boston Marathon explosions

I am fine, FYI. If you were following me in the race, you didn’t get updates because I dropped out. In the wake of what has happened since, that freaked some people out.

I caught a bus back to the finish and had just walked out of the area to meet a friend when the explosions happened. We didn’t hear anything in the noise and crowd. When we went to get on the subway, it was being evacuated.

Things are crazy now. We walked away from there as fast as possible. Everyone is holed up in bars and restaurants waiting to find out what’s going on and waiting for the subway to open and waiting for the lockdown to end. But the more news that comes out the worse it sounds. They found more devices and there’s a number of injuries.

It’s chaos and a tragedy and unbelievable someone would do this at a race like this.

More later. I’m OK. Not everyone is, though. Let’s all hope for the best.

Time to Go! (and Follow Me)

Tomorrow is going to be a shitshow. Just to be clear. Somewhere between 3:05 and laying down on the side of the road is where I’ll be. You can follow all the exciting progress at www.baa.org or if you want text messages (because I guess we can’t do smoke signals) just text RUNNER to 345678.

My Bib # is: 8694 and I go off at 10 a.m. – some time after Rachel picks me up at 6:20 in exchange for a Starbucks latte.

 
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What Should I Wear for Boston?

I’m about to shower and head to the airport and get into Boston at midnight tonight. When I booked the ticket, I thought ‘oh, getting in at 12:50 a.m. won’t be bad, that’s like 9:50 on the West Coast.’ But, then I realized by the time I get to the hotel, it’ll be like 1:30 a.m. Sunday morning and then I have to be ready to be on East Coast time by Monday morning. Clearly, I thought this through.

My foot is actually better since the cortisone shot. It’s not hurting anymore. But, when I ran 4.2 miles yesterday, with a fast mile in the middle, everything else started hurting. My left hamstring feels like it’s ripping out of my ass. My right IT band is pulling on my knee. The whole rest of the day yesterday it felt like I’d run a really hard race at that pace, not one mile at that pace. Another 22 miles on top of that is going to be interesting.

The really important question, though, is what to wear for the BOSTON MARATHON on Monday? I need opinions.

Originally, I planned to wear my new Nike shorts that I bought last month. But, the first time I wore them was the track workout where I hurt my foot. So, they have bad juju. If I wear those shorts, then I’ll also wear the new Northface race tanktop I bought on my shopping spree last week (which is bright yellow – not white like it looks in this picture).

My planned, new race outfit.
My planned, new race outfit.

However, I have bad feelings about these shorts, because obviously they caused my foot injury. So, the other day, I bought some new Oiselle shorts when I was checking out a new running store. Everyone keeps raving about Oiselle, but the first time I picked up cute long-sleeve shirt, it was $76! I just set it back down and backed away slowly. But, these shorts were regular priced ($44). Only problem is they’re bright orange, so I’m not going to wear a bright yellow tanktop with bright orange shorts. I’m not ridiculous. If I wear the new Oiselle shorts, then I’ll wear one of these older white tanktops I’ve worn billions of times — which is why they’re not really that white anymore.

The shorts are actually completely orange, they just look all splotchy, because they're wet. I think.
The shorts are actually completely orange, they just look all splotchy, because they’re wet. I think.

Thoughts? Suggestions? I’m taking both outfits and will just decide there.

I will also, obviously, be wearing gloves, but I haven’t decided between the super fancy running gloves, which if I get too hot I’ll have to shove into my sports bra, and a regular cheap pair of cotton ones that I can just dump at some point in the race.

Fancy running gloves.
Fancy running gloves.

And, just in case you thought I had something figured out, I also haven’t decided which shoes to race in. I was originally going to race in my Nike Lunaracers, because they’re awesome, but they’re also the shoes I was wearing during the track workout where my foot started hurting. So, again, bad juju — also they may have actually contributed to my foot hurting. I’ve been wearing my Mizuno Precisions for all my Alter-G running, because they’re the loosest of my shoes and didn’t rub my toe joint. So, I know they work, but they’re kind of heavy and not race shoes. I could also wear my Saucony Virratas, which I know I like, but I haven’t been running in them, so I think they could hurt my legs.

Agh. Thoughts?

Stuffing all these into one carry-on was interesting.
Stuffing all these into one carry-on was interesting.

Clearly I am super ready for this shit.

Expectations: Guess What I Will Run at Boston (and WIN)

I started out training for Boston around Thanksgiving — officially 20 weeks with Coach Mario — with the goal of 3:07-08. Since I ran the Oakland Marathon in 3:26 on sort of a ‘see what happens’ plan and then followed more or less the same plan, but with like faster paces and harder work, to run the Chicago Marathon in 3:17, I figured training for REAL would make 3:08ish a very solid goal.

Training was good. I killed it a lot, like all of January and February. I ran a 1:27:52 at the Kaiser Half Marathon. I started to think maybe more like a 3:04/05 would be possible.

Then, four weeks ago, I hurt my foot. I had four or five days of doing nothing really (during which I was supposed to get in my only real long runs), then a week of water running and Alter-G, then I got sick, then another few weeks of water running and Alter-Ging and biking and trying to run a couple times. It’s been hit or miss. I’ve gotten some work in, but not as much as planned obviously and almost nothing long, but still more training on the aggregate than my previous marathons.

Tuesday, I got the cortisone shot in my foot. The foot is starting to feel better, but running doesn’t feel so good now. It feels like something lots of people hate to do.

So, how fast am I going to run on Monday at the Boston Marathon? I have no fucking idea.

I’m not sure what kind of expectations to go in with. I’m pretty sure I’m still relatively fit. If my foot doesn’t hurt, I want to think I should be good. But, there’s a pretty decent probability the last six miles will suck. Of course, the last six miles will probably suck whether or not my foot hurts.

Here’s the fun part: Guess what time I will run and win two pairs of injinji socks!

Sports toe socks. My sister would be so excited.
Sports toe socks. My sister would be so excited.

Post your guesses in the comments. Whoever is closest I will send these two pairs (one low and one calf-high) of injinji socks to — the trendy thing right now in socks. [Side note: I was given a few pairs when I was visiting a PR company, unrelated to this blog, just because I am awesome. I’ve worn the ankle-high pair of socks a few times — though obviously I’m not running much right now — and they seem pretty good and comfortable. I mean they’re socks; I have no strong opinion. But, since everyone’s been raving about them lately, I figured I’d giveaway a couple of the unused pairs. Yay, free stuff!]

So, feel free to guess what you think will be most accurate. If you want to guess 3:35:40, I won’t feel bad. Maybe you’ll be more right than I am, though I hope you’re not, I hope you’re WRONG!

Pre-Race Shopping

Before big races, almost exclusive of what kind of taper or training I’m doing, I tend to get even lazier than I naturally am, having to work up the energy for the most minimal of workouts, and even more ambitious in my plans for what I’ll do just as soon as this episode of Law and Order: SVU finishes — the plans generally involve major life changes, fellowships, books, TV pilots. Also, I tend to go shopping.

Usually when I go shopping it’s because I like buying some fancy new thing for a race – because I already have race shorts and strong opinions about what you wear when you run fast. Buying something new for a race makes me feel special and important, just like any good woman in commercials. But, there’s also an part of it that’s just about the act of going to the mall. It’s where I go when I’m bored or stressed or anxious or bored or simply, in some way, want to feel the anonymity of being one of millions of people around the country also trying to solve their problems through purchase. The day Floyd died, after I finally got up off the couch, I put on a sweatshirt to go with my sweatpants and a huge pair of sunglasses, so I wouldn’t look crazy from all the crying, and went to the mall. (While at Kohl’s, in that outfit – complete with sunglasses indoors, a woman started quizzing me about if she could wear such-and-such pair of pants or if they were just for teenagers. Lady, no you shouldn’t wear them, but there aren’t really laws about this kind of thing unfortunately, and what about how I look suggests that I work here or that you should be asking me stuff?)

So, like usual, this week I have wanted to go shopping — looking for that undefined thing that I know I’m looking for, but can’t put my finger on. Shockingly, I’ve been having no luck. I don’t believe in trying things on and I have no patience, so I’ve walked in and out of stores, pronouncing everything ugly and sucky in a under a minute. I even walked in and out of Barnes and Noble. Twice.

Finally, I bought this new race tanktop from Northface:

It's FINE.
It’s FINE.

And, it’s ok (it may even be totally great for racing), but it’s not exciting and it just didn’t quell my pre-race shopping needs. Instead, I went to Target and bought nude heels. Which, obviously, I’m totally going to use for Boston.

Race shoes.
Race shoes.

And, now, tomorrow Steve heads off on some big trip and, then, Saturday I head to Boston. And, hopefully, by then, the cortisone shot will have fully taken effect — it’s sort of working so far? I dunno — and I’ll stop feeling antsy, or just a little antsy, and I’ll be ready to race Monday morning and then I will start drinking. Hmm, maybe I can go shopping in Boston…

Cortisone Shots: Why I Got One

(Edit Note: OK, so what I wrote yesterday about why women who qualify should get their elite license clearly hit a nerve because it got six or seven times the usual readership and people were quite worked up elsewhere on the internets. To be clear: I am not calling out anyone specifically. Like I said, there are plenty of individual reasons not to upgrade, but on the aggregate when far fewer women make that choice there’s a problem. At some other point I will perhaps expand on why, if triathlon was really done the way I want, we should have amateur, elite amateur, and professional categories. But since triathlon’s not run the way I want,  we gotta do the best with what we got.)

UPDATE: I wrote this post about how the cortisone shot worked out for me at Boston and after.

This morning, all other things aside, I got a cortisone shot in my foot. It looked just like this:

It won't hurt at all.
It won’t hurt at all.

Actually, I didn’t even notice the needle that much because the doctor had sprayed stuff to freeze my foot and numb it.

There are lots of reasons not to get cortisone shots. And, at first, it seemed that my toe joint was getting better with regular anti-inflammatories and ice, so I wasn’t worried and wasn’t going to get the shot. But, after running on it last week, it simply stopped getting better. It seemed that I had badly inflamed one spot and it just kept hurting. The doctor thought a cortisone shot would bring the inflammation down enough to make the pain go away. Since I’m planning on running Boston either way, it would be better if it didn’t hurt when I did that.

But, if you start reading about cortisone shots, there are lots of problems. They don’t solve the initial cause of the pain, so often that problem comes back. And, that will likely be the case for me. It seems that I also have a small bone spur at the base of my toe that rubs when it bends or pushes off, so that’s causing the inflammation and I may eventually have to get it filed down or whatever it is you do with a bone spur.

Lots of times people get cortisone shots for things that aren’t really things cortisone shots will fix. Cortisone is just a steroidal anti-inflammatory, so no, it’s not going to fix a tear or muscle problem.

There can also be side effects, like increased stiffness or pain or possible infection at the injection point. And, the doctor did tell me that I would likely have more pain and swelling for a couple days. That also means that often you can’t do activity or are supposed to let it rest for a couple days, which is typically counter-productive to why you got the shot in the first place.

The biggest side effect, though, is that by masking the pain people are able to ignore the cues their body is giving them and can do worse damage. I was assured this was not the case for my problem, since I was getting the shot in a toe joint and not in a tendon or ligament — which really doesn’t sound like a good idea. You can also only get so many cortisone shots, because it can damage the ability of the cartilage to grow.

So, all that makes it sound like not a great idea. Yet, I got the shot.

Largely, many of the issues and problems sounded like they weren’t going to be problems for my specific injury. I can’t do long-term damage; it’s just going to hurt like a mother. And, because the main source of my pain is the inflammation, the shot may bring that down enough to help fix the overall issue.

But, mostly, I got the shot because it’s sort of a last resort. I’m going to line-up at the start of the race on Monday pretty much no matter what at this point. The main hindrance to finishing well is going to be how much it hurts. If we can get it not to hurt enough, then I can race, rest for a good amount of time after (since I don’t have anything else on my schedule), and possibly fix the underlying bone spur problem.

At least that’s the plan. Plan B was: hope. That’s still our back-up solution right now.

Have you ever got a cortisone shot? Tell me it worked out great.

Things I Have Tried to Get My Foot to Stop Hurting

My foot was getting consistently better every week and I wasn’t too worried that it would be ok in time for Boston. I was mostly worried about fitness. But, since Monday, it’s been sore and not getting better. I don’t know why. I’m frustrated and mystified, obviously, but with nine days until the race, I mostly just want it to stop hurting in time.

Here are things I’ve tried now:

  • Resting
  • No running (Alter-G and water running)
  • Icing
  • Anti-inflammatory cream
  • Anti-inflammatory pills
  • Super intense anti-inflammatory Flector patches (I really thought these were going to make a big difference but they haven’t so far, so I’m starting to doubt that the problem is inflammation)
  • Hot lasers

I’m sure there are plenty of things left to try? Just to get it to stop hurting enough for a little over three hours of running.

Tapering: The Art of Doing Less

It is officially taper time, defined as the time before a race when you do less stuff. Of course, it’s hard to do less than nothing, so I don’t know if I’m really tapering like a pro right now. Ideally, a race taper does a couple things:

  • Gives you a break somewhere between five days and two weeks before a peak race.
  • Reduces your training volume, generally, by half.
  • Keeps a handful of short, intense efforts in the training to get the blood flowing.
  • Lets you rest and ‘sharpen the sword.’

‘Sharpen the sword’ is Steve’s phrase, not mine. It means fine-tuning. It also implies getting by on less than ideal fitness, as in ‘I’m going to do this triathlon with only a handful of times in the pool to sharpen the sword.’

That’s pretty much my motto. I’m going to rest and get my foot better and hit the start line at Boston sharp as, well, a sword.

Today’s Boston Photo Challenge is also #taper, so here is my photo. This is what a taper should look like:

OK, actually that's from Mexico last year. But, fun fact, all-inclusive resorts usually give you as many drinks as you want in tiny little cups, but if you ask them just to fill up a bike water bottle they'll do it. And, then you don't have to go back-and-forth from the beach every 20 minutes.
OK, actually that’s from Mexico last year. But, fun fact, all-inclusive resorts usually give you as many drinks as you want in tiny little cups, but they’ll fill up your bike water bottle with margarita if you ask. And, then you don’t have to go back-and-forth from the beach every 20 minutes.

I’m letting you know that’s what it should look like, because a lot of people do this wrong. For some reason, most athletes hate tapers, because it involves time off of training and, generally, a feeling of restlessness and inadequacy. These people are stupid. Taper is just shorthand for having more free time. Are you really so Type A you can’t deal with free time? Let me give you some pointers:

Step 1: Buy a TV
Step 2: Turn it on.
Alternative Step 1: Pick up a book.

If you’re like super ambitious, then you can always do laundry too or make a doctor’s appointment. Or, you can do my laundry and make my doctor’s appointments, because I’m busy watching TV.

During tapers, I typically: 1. Watch TV, 2. Work, 3. Read (sometimes I do all three of those at the same time and it goes badly), or 4. Shop. Actually, usually, I just talk a lot about how shocked I am that I ever get more stuff done with less time, because where did all the free time go? I also start obsessively reading all the details about the upcoming race and judging everyone on the internets and moaning about how I ran such-and-such loop 30″ slower than I did two weeks ago, I’m going to do terrible, because I’m slow and I suck and I’m never going to be as good as what’s-her-name and everyone online is better than me, etc, etc.

And, then I go back to drinking wine and watching TV. Actually, I do that always, not just during tapers.

Two Weeks Until Boston?

Today — after the weekend of accidental vomiting, many hours of Law and Order, and a futile trip to Target, which was apparently closed for some holiday — I did my first run outside.

I actually ran three miles on a treadmill last weekend and it went ok, but there was lots of soreness afterwards. So, when I ran three miles on the treadmill yesterday with no pain, the plan for today was: 30′ of running outside + 1:30 of running on the Alter-G with 2 x 30′ efforts. Very smart, very exciting, very last hard workout before Boston.

I even had a new super-cute tanktop from Old Navy, which I bought at their SALE when Target was closed. That’s what you get Target. This was the last picture of me being cute and optimistic today:

Yes, I am wearing skinny jeans. Don't worry. It doesn't happen often.
Yes, I am wearing skinny jeans. Don’t worry. It doesn’t happen often.

I thought running outside after two-and-a-half weeks of not moving anywhere during my workouts (besides my bike ride Saturday) would be so exciting that it would just sweep me along in a wave of sea breeze and lilacs. It didn’t. It turns out running at 100% body weight is heavier than running at 85% or 90%. I felt fat and slow and wheezy. Every minor uphill I became convinced I was the heaviest person to ever take up running.

I also became mildly convinced that, since I was running on a heavily trafficked path, someone would see me gasping and shuffling and it would ruin their image of me. How could I do that to them. It would shatter their world view. Of course, no one saw me or they did and they didn’t care, and I had to get over my bad self.

Then, I got back to Body Image after 45′ to run on the Alter-G and it went even farther and faster downhill.

My foot started hurting each footfall on the Alter-G, which doesn’t even make any sense. How can it not hurt at 100% body weight outside, but hurt at 75% body weight on the Alter-G? How??

It’ll go away, I told myself. Lately, it’s taken 10′-15′ to warm-up and then my foot stops hurting. But, it never did. I started the 30′ at 7:05 pace and moved the body weight slowly up to 85% and it hurt. I dropped it back down to 80% body weight and it hurt. I ran faster and it hurt. When I started the 30′ at 6:45 pace, I made it 10′ before I declared defeat. Really I probably should have before, but I didn’t want to. I wanted to get my one last hard workout in. I wanted the pain to go away. I wanted to feel confident with Boston two weeks from today.

But, none of those things happened. So, instead I cried a little and I pity-ate half an order of hotdog and garlic fries. I’ve been pity eating a lot. This does not help, in case you were wondering.

At this point, the only thing to do is continue to rest my foot and ice it and take anti-inflammatories and hope really hard. I really wish I hadn’t used up our Flector patches, because I’m pretty sure those things would zap the fucking inflammation right out of my foot. And, I’ll get through Boston, I’m pretty sure — with a little wishful thinking and mental toughness (at least that’s been getting some good training lately). And, the last ten miles will probably be painful as hell. And, I’ll probably deal with it. Probably.

How to Throw Up While Biking

Yesterday, I went for my first ride over two hours in like seven or eight months. That occurred to me about two hours into it, when I still had an hour-and-a-half left — and well after I had thrown up and been drugged up and stopped at bathrooms three times because so much snot was coming out of my face I couldn’t even see straight.

I’ve been sick, like I said, which is fine, but I’ve been taking a lot of drugs at night to be able to sleep. Not that it’s been working well. And, so, Friday night, I took some Robitussin, then it didn’t work, so I took some Nyquil, then I was still awake and coughing, so I took some more Robitussin and maybe a sleeping pill. It’s unclear. I broke out in drug sweats during the night and felt like my stomach was tearing, then I sort of hallucinated some in the morning, though that is a bit normal when I’m by myself (Steve was at a race). I tend to hallucinate/dream that people are breaking in and that I have to wake up but I can’t.

When I did wake up, I was dizzy and light-headed and woozy. I probably wouldn’t have gone for a ride right then, but Ilyce was coming over — a fact I think she regrets now.

We headed out. She dropped me. I coughed and coughed and then I went to spit over my shoulder, like everyone does on the bike and like I had already done a handful of times, but instead I threw up. Over my shoulder. While continuing to bike.

Bizarrely, I didn’t stop at this point. Ilyce was waiting for me. And, then she had to ride hard for an interval and I had to cling to her wheel, which for a bit probably masked the fact that I was still dizzy. After I sucked for quite some time, she went on and I stopped at every public bathroom I passed to blow my nose a few times. The last hour was possibly the slowest I have ever ridden. And, I have ridden capital S Slow. But, if you continue moving forward, you eventually finish. So there. Boston ready.