Saturday, November 23, 2013

All I Want For My Birthday Is...

My birthday is coming up and there are only two things I wanted…. To spend time with people I love and strong ankles.

When my husband and I were running in Tennessee in October, I had a pretty bad ankle roll. Not a terribly uncommon thing for me, really. I grew up clumsy and did gymnastics, so I was an ankle rolling mess for most of my childhood. It hurt and I knew it had weakened my ankle, but I got through the rest of the run and lots of hiking, so I was feeling ok.

I ran a full marathon on roads in October and my ankle felt strong. I thought it was all healed up and I’d be ready to switch back to trail running for my trail marathon in December. So…. The weekend after the Indianapolis marathon I set out on a 10 mile run on a favorite trail with some great friends! And then…. You guessed it, HUGE ankle roll. The kind that pop when it happens and your eyes tear up. The gal behind me saw it and was a bit disturbed by how painful it looked. It hurt. But, we were halfway through a 10 mile loop trail. And I could run on it. I got through the rest of the run and it hurt, but not terribly. Then I stopped moving, and then it started to feel like it was swelling to the size of a cantaloupe. I came home and rested, elevated, and iced. I’ve been through ankle rolls a million times and I figured it would clear right up!

It didn’t.  After resting all day Sunday, the swelling hadn’t gone down and there was the added bonus of discoloration! Ruh roh. By Monday I took my still swollen and discolored ankle to the doc, got some x-rays and braced myself for bad news. Thankfully, there wasn’t any!!!! I could even run, only on roads, and I was given a set of ankle exercises that I needed to do to get back on the trails.

So, I’ve been running on roads only for a month now and DILIGENTLY doing my exercises. Today was the day. I was either going to get through the run with strong ankles or I was going to have another bad ankle roll and the trail marathon wasn’t going to happen. No pressure, right?

My friend who has a birthday two days before mine and I had planned the run, both of us wondering how it was going to go. She had been doing shorter faster distances and not a lot of long runs. I had been going long, but only on roads. 18 miles of trails was going to hurt, or be awesome.

The good news is….STRONG ANKLES FOR THE WIN! Even with a leaf and stick littered trail my ankles held up beautifully! I think these exercises need to be part of my life forever, because it turns out they work. The goal moving forward will be to not blow them off now that my ankle is stronger (dumb runners, we always do stuff like that). The trails were tiring but beautiful, and the company was delightful.

As I get older, I don’t really need THINGS for my birthday. What I want more is time with the people I love and doing things that I love to do. Those are the best presents anyone could ask for.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Awesome Race! And I Didn't Run a STEP!

I've made it clear I LOVE a good Fall race. That's why I ran the Indianapolis Marathon a couple weeks ago. But there's another race in Indianapolis in the Fall that has a special place in my heart. The Monumental Marathon. In 2008 I ran my first half marathon there and it was an amazing experience. SO amazing, that I went back the next year and ran my first full marathon. It was while training for that full marathon that I first got involved with my running group and met some of my favorite people EVER. This race makes me all squishy inside but I just wasn't feeling like I wanted to run it this year.

So what do you do? I thought about just going to cheer, but what about.....volunteering?

I've only really volunteered for one other road race. It was back when I was still running 5ks only and I wanted to help out with the local half marathon. I scheduled myself to volunteer as early as possible because I love mornings and I was excited to help out! I reported for duty and was disappointed to find out that my co-volunteers were all college kids that had been forced to volunteer by their sororities and fraternities. It was awful. At that point I NEVER thought I would volunteer for a race again. ever. ever.

Obviously I changed my mind. And I'm so glad I did. I signed up to volunteer from 8-11 at the finish line!!! I loved the idea of seeing the race from a completely different angle. I drove up that morning with a friend that was running the full. We met a few folks from the running group for photos hugs and merriment and then I headed to the volunteer check in to find out my duties.

Immediately I knew that this was going to be a much better experience than my previous race volunteering. Everyone was happy to be there, friendly, and fun. They had obviously CHOSEN to be there for the morning. Big sigh of relief. We were herded into a group and my group was told we would be handing out the space blankets right as the runners cross the finish line.

We waited there laughing and chatting. We were told to give anyone a blanket that wants it! Alrighty. The fun run kids came through and they were awesome. And then the 5K runners started coming through. We were giving out blankets to anyone that looked interested and were told by another volunteer leader that we needed to be stingier with them. Um... ok. We just shrugged our shoulders and kept on doing what we were doing. There were lots of kids running the 5k from local schools. They would cross in packs. Some were thrilled and some were annoyed by the whole situation. I put a blanket on one girl and told her she made that look easy! Her response was completely deadpan, "what's the big deal? I've done this before". Oh Ok......

The 5k runners poured through for a while longer and then we heard that the half marathoners were coming through. It was so cool to see the leaders come through the finish line. I've never witnessed the finish of a race and it was inspiring to say the least. BUT! Funny story... When the lead woman in the half marathon came through she hit the finish line ribbon and kept walking, holding it to her. She was then chased down by a volunteer who told her he needed it back because they use the same one for everyone.... Interesting? Who knew?

At about 2 hours the half marathoners started to pour in. I can't tell you how many times I said congratulations and good job. WOW! You think it's a big deal to finish your own race? Try watching thousands of people cross the finish line of their race. There was crying and barfing and hugging and collapsing and sky pointing and limping. I was lucky enough to see quite a few of my friends and tackle them with hugs and congratulations... oh and blankets, cause that was my job!

I also got to see the full marathon winners and holy crap!!!! These people LITERALLY run twice as fast as me, if not faster. How inspiring! I had lined myself up on the marathon finish side specifically so that I could see some extremely talented runners from my town cross the line. And they were amazing!!!

When my shift was over, I handed over my "credentials" and headed out for some coffee. My feet were freezing and soaking wet from the condensation that had accumulated on the blankets that were put out the night before. My gloves smelled like sweaty runner and armpits, and I had a bit of runner puke on my jacket. IT WAS THE BEST WAY TO SPEND A SATURDAY MORNING EVER!!!