Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Limping to the start line - Amsterdam! (and 2012 racing/travel review)

2012 has been a bit of a disaster for my favorite hobby, but I've had a lot of fun along the way.  

To pick up where I left off after Berlin  - In December of 2011, I visited my dad and ran the Las Cruces, NM half marathon during a freak cold snap.  It was much colder in New Mexico than in Chicago.  The race was amazingly fun (and small).  The other runners were so friendly.  Many of them came from HOURS away and across the state just to run it.  We are so lucky to have so many in our back yard!  This was the morning of the race.  Straight out of a ricola commercial!

This was also the first time I've had a parent come to one of my races.  Dad was very supportive but completely bored by all the running.  He sat in his van during the race and read a philosophy book, but did come out to watch me run across the finish line and took me out for some green chile enchiladas afterwards. It was fun to introduce him to my my favorite sport.  And I PR'd at this one, despite the high altitude -  2 hours even.  After I came home, I signed up for the October Amsterdam Marathon with several other CARA-based friends.  I am so lucky to have friends that like to travel as much as I do. 

We started 2012 with the March beer mile.  Our very own home-track beer mile was featured in Runners World later in September.  I was mentioned in the article as the last place finisher.  In a beer mile.  You can see me in the front row among much more serious contenders:

In May, while training for the Brooklyn half marathon, I took a nasty fall during a run and thought I broke my arm.  The hospital was pretty suprised that I did not break it, because I fell in such a  precarious way.  And look at my arm bone - isn't it cool?!

I healed up enough to run the Brooklyn half.  I have some good friends in New York so I combined it with a visit.  After the race, one of my friends met me at the finish line in Coney Island so that we could eat hot dogs and ride the Cyclone.  It was a crazy good time!  I love destination halves.  They are a great way to see a city and not be completely destroyed for the next week.  I saw a lot of traditional Brooklyn culture during the race, which I loved.  My plantar faciitis in my right foot was really terrible after this race - a sign of what was to come..

After Brooklyn, I went back to Michigan to meet my new niece!

In June, I ran the Ragnar relay from Madison, WI to Chicago with 10 friends.  A few of them were the crowd from Berlin and a few others.  Ragnar is a series of 200 mile relay races across the country.  There were hundreds and hundreds of teams doing the same.  We leapfrogged in two vans over 37 hours.  I ran three legs that totaled 20 miles.  We slept in a field, ate pizza in a small town, listened to a lot of bad yet good music, got to know eachother really well.  It was amazing and one of my favorite 2012 memories.  I was a bit afraid to do it, but I'd do it over again anytime. 

It was all county roads and state parks.  I was lucky enough to have mostly parks.  We had to just look at maps and figure it out, nobody followed you in a car.  Sometimes it was just me, the heat (it was upper 80s all weekend) and crickets.   Hello, Wisconsin!

My van spent the night before the relay in a hotel overlooking the WI capitol and had a few too many beers. But we sucked it up and ran just fine the next morning, that's just how talented we are.  During my downtime of that weekend, my foot started to hurt terribly.  Sometimes I had to just stay standing to keep my foot stretched out, or it would curl up like some foot-binding victim.  The first half mile of every stretch was really bad.  It was during Ragnar that I knew something very wrong was going on with my foot and I would need to go to a doctor soon.  But I ran all three legs at exactly the pace I had promised the team.  

In early July, during one of the hottest days I can remember, I met Bart Yasso, who wrote one of my favorite books about running + travel. 

July got hotter and my foot got worse.  I really don't mind running in the heat, though.  I needed to start putting in the miles for Amsterdam (top photo).  I had some lovely sunrise bikram-style runs along the lake.  My friends and I started running in the suburbs for variety (and to review races for CARA).  I started going to physical therapy twice a week for the injury.  Here I am at the Waterfall Glen 10 mile trail race.  It was a beautiful course, and I had a blast. At this point in the summer, I was considering dropping out of the marathon and doing the Amsterdam half, instead.  Luckily they have a half marathon the same day.  Two other members of our party were also going to run the half.  I was still feeling kind of sad and pouty and mopey about my injury, though, and was stubborn about dropping out.  

I spent most of the Waterfall Glen race thinking about that decision.  Somewhere around mile 8, I knew in my heart a marathon wasn't going to be in the cards this year.  But I smiled anyway and managed to take a great race pic for once!

I dropped out of the marathon, took three weeks off running entirely, grieved it a little bit, kept going to PT, started wearing a foot brace every night and started to focus my attention and excitement for the Amsterdam Half.  13.1 is my favorite distance anyhow, 10 miles or 13.1 is perfect for me.  I do love marathons, though.  I will do another one next year.  They aren't pretty but something about them gets addicting and they are extremely satisfying to do.  I won't philosophize about them here, but the 4 that I have done were very meaningful and I'll be proud of them forever.  So anyhow, goodbye marathon 2012. 

This is how I felt taking three weeks off:

August - Here I am at another suburban race, the DeKalb corn classic!  This one had the best t-shirt I've seen in awhile.  I can't stop wearing it.  Seagull of the corn with Kim and Jen:

I love our big breakfasts after races like this.  I spent the rest of the summer enjoying food as only I do.. Here are some xiao long bao I had with Jen:

And the best dish I've had in recent memory at NEXT with Brian:

I leave for Amsterdam October 17.  I'll spend a night in Edam, 4 days in Amsterdam with friends, then on to MOROCCO for 11 days, then one final gluttonous day and night in Paris.  

May I just make it to the start line.  Most runners get injured at some time or another.  Plantar Faciitis is a really stubborn injury with no guaranteed beginning, middle or end.  But I'm hopeful!  I can still run 5Ks, 10Ks (I've really come to appreciate a good 10K this year) and do 13.1 next month but each run comes with the price of limping and icing the next morning.  I just can't put in the miles required for a full marathon at this time.  I'll still have fun even if I'm not going to break any personal records this year.  I do have the PT's blessing and am not causing further injury to myself.  I've discovered this year that also love bodypump, pilates and spinning as alternate ways to stay in shape.  But there's nothing like running races.  If anything, I appreciate them more after this summer.

See you in AMSTERDAM!