Tag Archives: mayor’s marathon

Post-Haste Post-Race Wrap-Up

It’s been over a month since the race, and I haven’t provided any sort of wrap-up commentary for the arguably climactic end to this journey. Not intentionally, mind you, but…well, it’s hard to explain.

13.1 miles! It’s a fantastic thought, and a pretty big deal, all things considered. The rush of accomplishment after your first endurance event whips through you so fast, and then…it leaves you barren. I’d say that since June 21st, I’ve been suffering from what I’ve deemed “post-race depression.” I can’t recreate the high I felt at the finish line, although I still seek it. And I haven’t been able to lace up my shoes and go for a run nor go to the gym since. I don’t even have the desire to do it. Something in me has been deflated, exhausted, depleted. I’m not sure what, but the days following the race have been ones that I never could’ve predicted, and never would’ve anticipated.

One day after the event, I wrote this in my journal:

June 22, 2008

Thank goodness my first half-marathon is behind me. I, at this point, have no desire to do that or anything similar ever again. I ran non-stop for two hours and forty minutes [note: my official time said something closer to 2:50, though]. I was terrified that if I stopped, my IT band wouldn’t let me start again. So every aid station was a drive-thru, and every urge to walk was something I had to fight. Especially on hills, when every single person seemed to be walking. I simply could not do a marathon with such a persistent, unpredictable injury. But truly, without that injury, maybe I could.

The half was more or less a miserable experience, though. After running for two hours straight, I was really losing my willpower. Really really. I couldn’t seem to put my mind anywhere that made it comfortable to keep running. But I knew that stopping might kill my chances of a successful finish, so I ran uncomfortably.

What a test. Considering how much I’ve gone through since I started training in February ([being let go], moving to San Francisco, IT band injury, [redacted], being unemployed, [redacted], getting a kidney stone, for starters), I don’t think it was particularly what I needed. My will is and has been tested in so many ways ever since 2008 started. Perhaps it wasn’t the best time for me and an endurance event. So, while I suppose I am indeed proud, I’ve got a lot more on my plate than self-aggrandizement right now.

Not the victorious attitude you expected, eh?

I have a different perspective on things now. But that was my most immediately documented reaction.

It’s hard to provide a truer post-race wrap-up than that. Especially when my memory of the event itself is quite piecemeal. I guess bullet points serve the purpose best, in these circumstances:

  • The excitement and build-up to the firing of the starter gun was amazing. Simply amazing. Such a huge mass of people, singing and jumping, then splashing through the puddles in the streets of Anchorage. It was an indescribable feeling.
  • Around Mile 4 or 5, I caught up to a former TNT teammate from Houston. I told her what mile we were on, and she said, “Really? I’m running really slow then!” and took off. I saw her intermittently throughout the race. She finished less than a second before me. We actually have photos where we’re both in the same frame.
  • Running through the woods after Mile 6 was gorgeous and frustrating, all at once. I felt like a magical forest creature bounding through the lush trees, hippity, hippity hopping, I’m free, I’m free! But not having any sort of proper trail to speak of was killer on the positioning of my body. With every step, I landed differently. It was hard to get a rhythm going at that point.
  • I wasn’t going to wear my water belt, but what a foolish move that would’ve been. Sometimes, those water stations can’t come soon enough. And having water on you is an absolute godsend.
  • Especially for all the Advil I took during the race. To prevent the IT band from rearing its ugly, painful head, of course. I took four throughout the course of the journey – two at the very beginning, and two about halfway through. I didn’t have enough room in the little pocket on my water belt (I carried my camera there), so I stuck the tube of Advil in my sports bra. Thank goodness for large breasts.
  • And then, curse those large breasts! I had no idea that the underside of my breast (the right one, in particular) would rub against my body so severely that it’d create a raw open wound! What a surprise to get in the shower after the race, soap up, and then squeal in agony!
  • One of the foods handed to us at the refreshment stations was oranges. I ate the orange and scraped the white rind with my teeth, just like my mom does. That kept me strangely calm and centered; a bit of normalcy in a chaotic situation.
  • People are incredibly friendly along the race trail. I met a lawyer, a woman who used to live in San Francisco but moved to Dallas “for love,” and someone from Detroit. It helps pass the time (and ease the strain) to be able to have panted conversations in the forest.
  • I didn’t listen to my iPod the entire time. Isn’t that amazing? Not even once. It stayed anchored to my jersey with the headphones nearly wrapping themselves around my neck for the entire race.
  • Around Mile 11, I thought I had had it. I felt like I was running in a haze, and I had to physically pull myself forward. And that was when both the sun and the beautiful view of the bay began. I couldn’t enjoy any of it. All I wanted was to finish.
  • At this point, I promised that if I could just make it through this race, I would go back to practicing Islam. Looks like I’ve got a promise to Allah to keep!
  • After the race, I took my first official ice bath. Sure, I’d used bags of ice to bring down the swelling before (while eating bagels and watching TV in the living room), but this was immersion. Wow. It actually felt wonderful.
  • I never want to experience the days after the race ever again. Whatever I can do in the future to avoid it, I will. Oh, the pain, the PAIN! The complete inability to walk normally. For at least a week! Oh, I don’t want to relive that. Ever.

Quite the emotional rollercoaster indeed. I didn’t want to sugar coat any of it, because there’s no reason to do that. And although it may sound like it, it wasn’t a negative overall experience, by any means. It was simply the running of an entire gamut of emotions – fear, gratitude, exhaustion, excitement, elation, depression – all in the course of one day and the weeks immediately following. For certain, I had a lot going on during the past few months – personally and professionally – and I think the half-marathon fell smack dab in the middle of the eye of the storm. But that’s what we call “living,” no?

I’m glad I did it, I’m glad my first endurance event is behind me, and I’m glad I am healthy enough to plan for future excursions. Such as the San Antonio Rock ‘n Roll Half-Marathon in November!

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Here We Are, Face to Face

This is it, guys.

Tomorrow I leave for Anchorage for my half-marathon.

I’m already crying, don’t worry. This is so emotional for me!

It’s hard for me to not to be a bit disappointed in myself. Five months ago, I set out to run a marathon to raise money and awareness for blood cancers. I was only able to meet half that goal, and it still stings a little that I failed to do what I set out to do.

But when I think about what it has taken for me to even get to this point, then I am very proud. Because what a ridiculous roller coaster these past few months have been for me since I began training in February:

I got the flu while traveling for work, and as a result, I began training two weeks late.

I ran a 10K – my very first race since high school!

However, I overtrained, and suffered from iliotibial band syndrome (one of the most painful “injuries” I’ve ever experienced), which would define my training endeavors for the rest of the season.

I battled iliotibial band syndrome, and found my workaround – swimming, spinning, and the elliptical machine.

I managed to run 10.5 miles without massive pain over a month and a half before my event, which included running over the Golden Gate Bridge!

I raised over $4,000 (and still have so many wonderful people to thank!) for blood cancer research.

I was hospitalized (for an afternoon) with a kidney stone due to dehydration less than a month before the race.

Did I fail to mention that I moved from Houston to San Francisco without a job? Oh yes, there was that, too.

I redefined who I was in terms of stamina, endurance, and self-worth. Over and over and over again.

    And yet, none of that compares to what those battling blood cancers have to deal with on a daily basis.

    ***

    So, while I might still carry residual disappointment about not being able to run the full marathon, that’s only when I look backwards and think about what I can’t and couldn’t do. What I’ve come to realize – right now – is that when I look ahead of me, there’s a lot that I have done and can do and will do for blood cancer research and myself.

    And I’ve done amazing, amazing things. Which makes me an amazing, amazing person. Backed by an amazing, amazing cause.

    Full speed ahead! Anchorage tomorrow! GO TEAM!

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    Homestretch, homestretch!

    I hope there's not a bear behind him.We’re down to less than a month before the race, and by golly, I’m getting excited. Alaska! Running! Doing good! Raising money! Helping people! What an adventure. I’m overloading on exclamation points, so you know I mean business.

    As far as my training is concerned, I’ve scaled my running back since the 10.5 mile run from the last post. When I was in Houston for the weekend a few weeks ago (one week after the 10.5 miler), I did a loop around Memorial Park (3 miles), and I was, more or less, pain-free. It was ridiculously muggy at 10:30 a.m., which I expected, but of course, that caused some discomfort in terms of breathing. Breathing is, as we know, quite essential to running!

    And since then, I’ve just been cross-training religiously, which includes a healthy mix of spinning, ellipticizing, and lifting. My IT band rarely, if ever, bothers me on a non-exercising basis, like walking around town in flat shoes, which is a huge step up from two months ago. It makes me happy to say those words, and have those words finally be the truth. For those of you suffering from IT band problems, know that there’s relief in sight – if you’re patient, willing to coddle to your body, and willing to do what it takes to build up that supporting cast of muscles in order to alleviate some of the stress on that band.

    What’s helped me a lot, in my opinion, has been my stretching routine. I stretch out very, very well before engaging in physical activity. And by “very, very well,” I mean that I dedicate at least half an hour, upwards to 45 minutes, just to stretching. No matter if I’m running, spinning, what have you. I stretch constantly, and I stretch for 30 seconds or more; often, I will hold each stretch for up to one minute. And I repeat them a few times. But hey, I do believe that a good stretching routine is the lynchpin of a successful workout program. I’ve believed that since my cheerleading and track days in high school, and it hasn’t failed me yet. I don’t quite comprehend not stretching profusely; to me, it’s essential.

    In short, I’m back to being positive about how things are going, and I’m really, really looking forward to June 21st. So I may not be running the full marathon, but you know, I will. All in good time.

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    Ain’t nothin’ gonna break my stride.

    Victorious!  Almost like "notorious," but funner.Yesterday, I decided something. I decided that if I’m gonna run a half-marathon in a month and a half, I needed to prove it to myself. Prove that no matter what the physical discrepancies that affect me, I can push through it without killing myself and just do it already.

    And yesterday, K-Mo and I? We did just that.

    She did 12.4 miles. I did 10.5 miles.

    I did it. I did it!

    That’s almost 80% of my race, and I did it.

    And now I know that, no matter what this IT band of mine does (stings, whines, prevents me from running for three or four weeks at a time), that I can rally back, through cross-training and watching how I treat it and being mindful of this syndrome, and that I have enough time to rally back and do that half-marathon up right. Okay, so a marathon isn’t in my immediate future. But you know what? I don’t have to rule it out entirely for the rest of the year. It’s just gonna take awhile, but I can do it.

    Yes, I am in pain today. IT bands aren’t quiet creatures, mind you. Ice and Advil are my friends, and, above all, “Rest, rest, rest” is my new mantra. But do I know that, between rest and cross-training, I’m going to be able to run again? Yes. Do I know that my body can handle 10 miles (or more) at a clip without too much damage? Yes. Am I doing the right thing? Now I know that yes, I am.

    Most importantly, have I regained my confidence to the degree that I know ain’t nothing’s gonna slow me down (oh no)? Oh yes. I’ve got to keep on movin’.

    I’m not healed. I’m not cured. But I am galvanized.

    If you’ll excuse a little break from repose for a moment, HELL FUCKING YEAH!

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    Here it goes, here it goes, here it goes again.

    Sigh.

    It’s been a real up and down, back and forth journey for me in terms of training for this marathon. Well, scratch that. Half-marathon.

    Recommitment time reared its ugly head, and I realized – I hadn’t been running. Not that I didn’t want to, but that my IT band simply wasn’t letting up on its painful grip on my knee. So, I recommitted. For the half-marathon. And kept cross-training like a fiend.

    Things seemingly looked to be improving. Where I was only able to run four minutes at a clip without the inevitable throb pulsing through my IT band, it increased to eight minutes, then twelve minutes, then eighteen minutes, then, magically, during my first run with my new team in San Francisco, an eye-popping six miles! With minimal discomfort! I was so proud! I believed I was on the road to recovery and in the right direction to finally, finally putting these issues behind me.

    Last Saturday, about twenty to twenty-five minutes into a fifty-five to sixty-five minute run, the IT band spoke up again, loud and clear. And it hasn’t ceased its siren song ever since. I’m not quite back to limping, but basic movements do bring me pain.

    I don’t know what to do, at this point. I was doing physical therapy, I was cross-training, I was patient. And all I feel like now is just tossing the whole thing to the side and forgetting I ever tried to run a marathon. Or a half-marathon. Or tried to do anything good for my body on behalf of other people at all.

    Hmmph.

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    Wanted: Better Knees & Functioning ITB

    You have no idea how stir crazy I’m going not being able to run.

    All those good feelings acquired by the endorphin production of running?  All gone.  Sure, I’ve been swimming, I’ve been spinning, but nothing beats a good foot pounding of the gravel trail.

    I’m edgy, I’m anxious, I’m nervous.  Coupled with the fact that I’m moving and trying to figure everything out before that happens, I am not very pleasant these days.

    My iliotibial band is still bothering me.  I stretch it, I roll it, but it’s still sensitive.  I think it’s beginning to affect my actual knee and the other muscles surrounding it.  This has gone on too long.

    Some days, it doesn’t bother me at all.  Some days, it feels sore.  Some days, other parts of my knee bother me.  But dammit, if I’m training for a marathon, this needs to improve soon!

    I’m going to attempt to walk the loop around Memorial Park today.  If I can stand it, I might try to run some of it.  I need to know what I’m up against here.  And I’m really tired of “pretending” that I’m training for a marathon here.

    The group runs are up to 10 miles now.  I couldn’t make the last one, so the last distance I’ve run was the 10K, at 6.2 miles.  I’m getting nervous.  The further behind I slip in my mileage, the less capable I am in completing that marathon in a healthy way.

    It doesn’t matter.  This isn’t happening.  I’m going to recover.  Mind over matter, and matter will come.

    I hope.

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    Ain’t good for me.


    As a result of my iliotibial band syndrome, I haven’t been running this week.  At all.  But that doesn’t mean I’ve been sitting on my butt at home!  On the contrary, I’ve been swimming instead!

    Thank goodness for cross-training workouts like swimming that allow me to continue to feel like I’m still training for this marathon instead of bowing out when injury strikes.  Not that I don’t feel a little bit worthless right now; after all, there’s still pain accompanying me when I walk, and I clearly won’t be joining my team on the eight-mile group run this weekend.

    But that’s okay.  Sometimes Fayza’s gotta do what Fayza’s gotta do to make it happen.

    Swimming, mind you, is not all fun and games like I hoped and thought it would be.  No, um, swimming is quite difficult, actually!  The stamina I’ve built up through running most certainly doesn’t translate directly into swimming endurance.  I’ll do a lap and feel like I’m pretty close to dying, or internally combusting, at the very least.  But each day, I notice my stamina improving, and that’s pretty remarkable in and of itself.

    I’m not solely planning on swimming, however.  I’m going to swim today, but I may shoot for something different tomorrow.  But next week for sure, I’ll be working some bikram yoga, spinning, and weight training back into my routine.  The yoga worries me because of all the sitting and stress on the knees (when your IT band is in pain, the smallest thing feels like a stress on the knees).  I went last Friday, and it did aggravate my knee, as I assumed it would.  What kinda sucks is that I just purchased ten bikram sessions, and I’m not sure if I’ll have the time to use all of them with this injury before I move at the end of the month.

    According to the sports medicine doctor I saw today, weight training and squats and things like that are a-okay, just as long as I keep my feet grounded and push through my heels, not the balls of my feet (pushing through the balls of the feet puts more pressure on the knees, as opposed to pushing through the heel, which engages the quads).

    At any rate, I never thought I’d say this, but I miss running.  This marathon has come to symbolize so much more than I ever thought it would, and I am learning so much about myself in the process.  And I ache to get back out on the trail again.

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    Bayou City Classic 10K Race Photos

    To view the photos, click here, and enter my jersey number: #1173.
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    Bayou City Classic 10K Race Results

    • 90th in my 25-29 year-old age group (my friend that registered me thought I was born in 1980; I’m really 28, not 27)
    • 1178th overall
    • First 5K time: 34:17
    • First 5K pace: 10:53
    • Second 5K time: 39:52
    • Second 5K pace: 12:52
    You can see where I really started to hurt in that second 5K.  Especially when you look at the runners that finished before me.  The person before me had a 37:46 initial 5K, and her pace was almost a full minute behind mine.  In fact, my first 5K pace matched the pace of the person who finished eight people before me.
    And then, the dreaded knee injury – which my coach has diagnosed, based on my description, as iliotibial band (ITB) syndrome, as suspected – slowed me down to an almost thirteen-minute mile.
    Sigh.  I’m going to work with my coach tomorrow at practice for some exercises and stretches to strengthen the ITB.
    Sigh.
    Even though I know I was injured, I still feel disappointed in those race results.  I know it was only practice, but I’m trying to be the best that I can be.
    At any rate, I’m going to bounce back from this.
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