Monthly Archives: October 2009

26.2 Miles…What Could Possibly Go Wrong

I’m really not an impulse shopper.  In fact I’m not much of a shopper at all.  I hate the process of shopping, and I feel guilty spending money unless I absolutely need something.  When I set out to the expo last weekend I had two goals: pick up bib and get taped up. But…I came across a really cute booth called One More Mile, looked at probably every single item they had, and finally bought something for myself (it’s something I need for my winter runs, so I reasoned that it was acceptable purchase)runningcheaperpunishmentovalchaseovalREDO

Well I love it so much that I’ve been kicking myself for not getting something for my best friend who is also a runner, and a really good one too.  So out of caution that she might read this I won’t disclose what I just bought her, but if you’re a runner, or you know a runner, Christmas is coming up and this place has some really cute gifts.


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Race Report: Marine Corps Marathon 10K

RR: I spent the night before my race out late, at a horse show, and didn’t get into bed until around 1 a.m.  Big difference from my marathon in May where I was in bed by 10 p.m. And just like almost every other runner, I had quite the restless sleep.  Nevertheless when my alarm when off at 5:30 a.m. my adrenaline kicked in, I threw on my race clothes and warmed up by running uphill to the metro.  I have to say that one of my favorite parts of this day was my metro ride – a trip I usually hate because I’m prone to motion sickness.  What a sight to jump into a metro car at 6 a.m. on a Sunday that is filled with runners.  And boy did we have fun.  Sat next to a guy who had come up all the way from Orlando to run his first 26.2.  Met some women who do this race every year.  And everyone had questions about my legs.  Oh, did I mention?  I was taped up – all bondage-esque, the day before at the expo with KT Kinesio Tape.  The stress fracturkttapees in both tibias may be healing, but they cause a great deal of pain.  But somehow, and don’t ask me how because I have no idea, this Japanese chiropractic technique does wonders to my legs.  It may look a little strange, but it works so what do I care.

Arrived at the Mall to a sea of runners; stretching, huddling together (did I mention it felt 10 degrees cooler in DC than in N. Bethesda?)  The lines for the porta pottys (sp?) were ridiculous, and after wasting ten minutes just standing in line and not moving any closer I decided my time would be better spent stretching.  So I checked my bag, found a bench, and entered into a very meditative state of stretching that I always seem to go into before a race or a horse show.  And then the next thing I knew it was time to begin.

I positioned myself near the 50:00 sign.  In truth my goal was to make it in under an hour.  Before my injury I was shooting for an 8:40 or so mile.  But many things have changed in the past few months, and in all honesty I really wasn’t even sure I’d ever really run again – at least not like I had.  My body had been going through so much, and my mind had become so used to defeat from the pain, that I figured I’d just see if I could make it under 60:00 and maybe that’d be it for my running career.  Luckily, that wasn’t the case.

6.2 miles went pretty darn fast.  I spent the first two in what I like to refer to as “equitation flat class mode”.  In a show ring, in a flat class, you have to fight to be seen by the judges.  Not only are you trying to look pretty and have your horse move well, but you need to cut in and out, strategize from halfway around the ring, to figure out how to position yourself.  I was always great at this.  And I always won those classes.  I find that the first 2-3 miles in any race are quite similar.  You have to maneuver around the slower runners, cut in between two others, jump over a pothole.  I don’t know why, but I have so much fun doing this.  And it’s great too because usually these are the worse miles in my long runs.


The course was ok.  Personally, I think the 26.2 is much more beautiful.  This was kind of blah but it goes by quickly.  At about 3-4 miles I came up a hill and saw a man, military although I can’t remember which branch, running with a prosthetic…and running at about my pace.  A guy in front of me turns around and says to me, “well there’s really no complaining now, is there.”  And that was it for me.  No complaining about my shins.  There’s no room for that in this world.  If this man can run, then there’s absolutely no question about my capabilities.  I lengthened my stride and moved on.

There were more moments like this.  But they’re personal and I’ll keep them to myself.  But I will say that one of the reasons I enjoy running is because I find it to be a mental battle.  I compete against myself.  I fight my mind.  It’s a very cleansing experience.  My last mile was probably the hardest.  I resisted all urges to check my Nike+ the whole race.  I know that it is never completely accurate.  Coming through the last stretch, with all the marines lined up, shouting and giving high fives – well that was pretty cool.  I knew I was close.  Just one more turn…And then I turned.  Maybe that was my fault for not reading up on the course more ahead of time.  But who knows, maybe if I knew that giant (because that’s what it seemed to me) hill was going to be there I would have been dreading it and then not have enjoyed the race.  Either way, just when I thought I had given my last burst of energy I was now going to have to double it.  A man next to me, military I presume but out of uniform, transformed into drill sergeant and began yelling at his girlfriend.  Yelling is totally not the right word here, because it was very endearing and motivating and he was only filled with good intentions.  I could tell from his tone.  But apparently his girlfriend wasn’t having any of it.  She was having a tough time getting up the hill and told him to stop.  So I turned to him and told him he could bark at me.  And he did.  And what a difference that made.  I needed that extra little boost.  I don’t think I could take that from anyone I knew, but for some reason a stranger acting like a drill sergeant made my legs start to move faster and I left the couple in the dust (or I like to think I did at least). 

I crossed the finish line and entered what I like to call runners daze.  It’s a drunk-like/amnesia type of state.  I usually just wander around as people hand me water and bananas and such.  I thought a marine offered me clam chowder, which I really wasn’t in the mood for after a run, but I accepted anyway.  Turns out he said “chow” and it was a bag full of nutritious food.  My daze usually stops shortly after I find Pete.  I don’t know why I go into this state but I do.  I always laugh about it later, but at the time I don’t really notice.  I found Pete about 20 min later, with his video camera and tripod in hand.  He gave me a hug and started asking me questions (he missed me crossing the finish line unfortunately).  A few minutes into my ramble about the race I realize the camera is on and he’s been shooting me the whole time.  Great.  I probably look like a crazy person, sweating, bright red with more and more freckles starting to come out, darting my eyes everywhere.  I have yet to see the tape. Thanks Pete.mcmsweat

My chip time was 54:13.  I ran an 8:44 mile.  I got my PR.  My previous best had been a little over 57:00, so I’m obviously thrilled.  What’s even better is when I put it all into perspective: For someone who has been battling multiple stress fractures and debilitating shin splints for months (not to mention tendonitis in both calves due to these injuries) and hasn’t really trained that hard for this (I’ve been running about 2x a week for a few weeks. 20 min here.  a few miles there. Hardly anything) and then to go and run like this, well it shows that I can do this.  I can do Pittsburgh in May.  After all, there is no complaining anymore.

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Stress Fractures – posted on 8.20.09

August 20, 2009 by aamatth

Ok, giving this another shot here…I’m still fluxuating on what this blog will focus on, but today I’m going with running.  Quick little background for all 0 of you reading this, while training for a marathon in mid-June I began experiencing intense pain in both of my lower legs.  After a few weeks of continuing to run through this mind-blowing pain I eventually was forced to seek immediate medical attention when I could no longer walk.  Turns out I’ve got multiple stress fractures in both tibias, along with tendinitis and a calf strain.  And so for the past 5 weeks I’ve abstained from running – which has been another battle in its own since running has created a discipline that keeps me “on track” and has been a constant in my life for 3 years.  So I’ve taken up pilates, swimming, and extended my cycling workouts.  And I’ve actually started to enjoy my new routines, especially (and most surprisingly) the swimming.  But needless to say, it’s been 5 weeks and I’m ready to return to my training.

I’ve run slightly here and there the past 2 weeks (3 minutes to 6 minutes at a time, no more than10 minutes total) but that even hurts tremendously a few hours later.  I saw two doctors yesterday, did more x-rays, and was informed my bones have not yet healed and I’ll be sidelined for a few more weeks.

Moral of the story: if it hurts, STOP!

The other moral: It’s also not the end of the world.  And I’ve picked up another activity that I enjoy.

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Pittsburgh Half Marathon

marathon2So shame on me for never finishing this…but this was supposed to be my Race Report from the Pittsburgh Half Marathon in May 2009.  I’m currently training for the full that will be on May 2, 2010.  Since I didn’t finish writing this I’ll go ahead and give away the ending: I ran in 2:08:00  It was awesome.  So here goes:

RR – Alarm went off at 5:28am.  We were out the door at 5:50, arrived a little after 6.  Ate half a bowel of Cheerios at the house, plus two breakfast bars in the car.  Also had a Tangerine 2x caffeine PowerGel.  Got dropped at the convention center and stood in line for what seemed like forever for the Portopotty.  I didn’t even have to go but I didn’t want to miss my chance.  I think it was the right decision after I saw the lines by the starting line.  It was chilly and overcast and I didn’t want my legs to freeze up on me so I took a walk around.  Lots of tents.  Even more people.  Eventually I made my way to bag check, but not before I drank some water, pinned by bib, and warmed my body up with my fleece.  Up until that point I had been taking everything in like a tourist.  But once my bag was gone it was time to focus.  I found a hollowed out doorway to an office


Post-race meal: Eat 'N Park

building, pulled up a flimsy police baracade and began my routine of stretches.  Of course I completely forgot that I would be stretching on concrete and was unable to work out my hip flexor, but I made do.  My next goal was to find my pace team.  With all my recent injuries I decided I would be happy to break 2:30:00.  But the night before at the expo I dared to dream and signed up with a 2:20 pace team.  Amazingly, without my glasses, I was able to spot my pace leader about 20 yards away.  And directly in my line of vision was P.  He stayed with me for a few minutes as I got situated with my team and then left to find his spot at the starting gate.  The next 20 minutes are so are a total blur.  I was in full on focus mode and trying to memorize what my team members looked like.  Then I heard the gun.  Got my armband Nike+ ready and waited for my turn.

The first mile started off really slow.  There were so many people it was hard to move around and everyone bumped into each other.  But I welcomed the slow pace.  That would all change by mile 3.


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What I’m doing

So I started another blog a little while ago, but have decided to revamp everything and really focus on my running.  so here goes nothing.  I’m going to post a few things I’ve already written that I think are relevant and then something recent.

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