Stadium Stampede 40:18 … for a 5k … with a bright lining

22 06 2009

I really didn’t want to do this race. I didn’t want to do it not because of anything more severe than being rather pissed off with myself. Since I have held myself to rather high standards – impossibly high standards at times  – I just didn’t want to further embarrass myself after the disaster of See Jane Run. I’m very serious about how I was feeling, and even wrote DMcG to use that nightmare as my ground zero to build the next schedule from.

I’ve had a lot of things on my mind and my most frustrating, as you can easily imagine, has been that I’m just not seeming to get over this damn knee thing and it’s affecting everything … because I’m letting it. That and other stupid stresses that I simply have problems accepting because they make not only  my life more difficult but are only short-term fixes … I know a lot about short-term fixes … with my walking, let’s face it, I’ve been short-term fixing myself for the past year.

I have spent a lot of time talking with Jack and Jake (friends who study sports psychology and interst in nutrition etc) … and it’s been rough some of the things that I’ve found out … and hidden behind, but I’m really done with it. Determining “mind virus’ ” and wiring, rewriting and restarting … fine and niffy … but that doesn’t stop the freaking pain that crawls up my leg at very inopportune times and the feeling like I’ve got a mountain of rocks building between my shoulders.

So – a bit of a chat with Da Coach … surprising him by promising that I’ll try another long judged race mid-kicking myself patter … he’s chosen October … ok … let’s get me there … dumping everything out of my schedule pushing toward my September –> January races … ok – that took care of “taking action” on myself …

However, I did say I’d do the Stadium Stampede even though I didn’t want to.

The thing is I get to see Lynn and Mike Mc as they are a part of Huff & Puff (the race is for St. Joseph’s Hospital). KristEn B. came out of Wyoming for her first ‘real’ 5k in years. When I got up, I realized that wearing black would be a huge mistake and, for some reason, I tossed my little rescue inhaler in my tinsy gig bag.

The course for the Stadium race goes up and around the Invesco football stadium, down to the bike path, one way out, over a bridge, back on the other side of the Platte (?) river, little up to the stadium, around the warning track of the stadium, up over the speed bump to the finish line and you’re done. It was fun last year, but I was in better shape … kinda … ignoring pain more.

Problems started when putting the chip on my shoe. There was only one zip tie and, honestly, I didn’t toss my spares in my tiny gig bag. Didn’t think of it. I ended up lacing the thing into my shoe thinking “I hope I have no problems at the end.” I saw friends and it was noticed I wasn’t wearing my usual water belt. It was hot, but I could use the water from the aid stations if necessary. I was going to just have fun and leave it there.

KristEn and I wandered about together as I explained, more or less, how the race worked. She knew I’d be there at the end cheering her in, so there was no problem. Since they were starting walkers and runners at the same time, I wiggled my way in right behind Darla and Becky. I’d seen Bob in the beginning so I didn’t think I needed to have my bib marked again for spotting … but fortunately Becky noticed that the spot had fallen off and the girls pointed out where I could get another …

Um … two problems and the race hadn’t even started … Relax … have fun … your friends are going to be in front of you … you’re here because you paid for it and to shake things out.

Yeah … right.

No matter what I told myself, KristEn said that I get this slightly glassy hard eyed look when I need to get to the line. She’s seen it at both the stair climbs and said it was probably there at the Gorilla Run, but I’m in full mask! I didn’t think about it … but I guess she’s right.

I’d not really warmed up well at all and that mountain between my shoulders hurt. But I was NOT going to stress it …

Race starts with that up-hill around the Invesco Field. Last year, the runners and walkers started separately, so I wasn’t surrounded by a bunch of fast runners. Becky and I waved at Darla’s back and got going. I started feeling a strange feeling in my chest and told Becky to get in front of me. I spent the first 1/3 of the race staring at her back then didn’t see her until an hour or so after the end.

Going up and around, I was getting strangely winded. It bothered me and I looked at my watch (which I’ve turned off the pacing beeping to pay more attention to what I’m doing) and I was starting out too fast. Ok … slow down …

A couple of kilometers in (yeah, I’ve got the watch set to ‘mark’ kilometers — whatever you think about Garmin’s, I do just about everything solo, so I need some sort of guidepost.) I was really not feeling right. Legs were behaving, shoulders loosening up, but I felt like I was either stomping down hard on my right (the bad one) or not being able to lift up the left properly … I’ve been complaining about this feeling since mid October, but even after seeing a chiropractor for a bit, it didn’t seem like it was getting better.

The real problem happened when I got a huge lung full of cottonwood tree fuzzies. OH MY GOSH! That blew my mind and I kept walking, but was hacking. Ok – so this is the third thing, right? I knew I had to keep moving forward because … uh … my inhaler thingie … it was in Mike Mc’s truck.

QUIT GLARING AT THIS POST!!! I’ve already been soundly reprimanded! I just don’t think about carrying it because although I’ve had “near” attacks, I’ve been able to get myself together. Also, when I was living with the asthma attacks previously, the only thing that truly worked to get me calmed down and breathing were the Asthmacort (sp) cortisone inhalers and I really don’t want to go down that road again …. anyway, I can’t get a ‘script for it.

One of the many things Jack, Jake and I have been working on when my head starts to take me down the road of mentally beating myself up for no particularly good reason are incantations. Yeah – an old thing, but it’s what we used to do when I was skating or we were all running and cycling. It really is just self talk to break the pattern of whatever is going on. There’s a simple one that I have been using when I’m stuck on a treadmill because it’s to freaking hot out or I just need to force myself to do some miles — which I always feel better after doing, but with the other distractions, I literally … uh … forget!

Spitting out cottonwood fluffies, having a guy trip over the chunk of sidewalk that bit me last year and grab on to my shoulder to keep from landing on his face, and having a small child – no fooling – stop dead ahead of me AGAIN … I let my mind click in to my couple of incantations and thought “just finish this pup and cheer in your friends, Lizzy!” Leg felt ok … incantation … still feeling like I’m a limping water buffalo … stronger incantation … shoulders feeling good … incantation … smiling … 😉

Feet kept propelling me along. Even though I felt like I was lopsided, I think my form was pretty good. I was able to relax a bit as I was starting to be able to breathe a bit better and I felt like I’d picked up speed. No land speed records this race … just getting through uninjured. Ok … I’m down with that.

4 kilometers down … incantation …

Deep breath in and it went NOWHERE. I felt like the brick that I’d been toting with my legs had come to rest on my chest. Oh CRAP! What is going on here? Keep calm … inhaler in Mike’s truck … since this is part of a hospital, there’s probably good med at the end … end this series of bad races with a trip to the med tent … Ok … just finish … you’ll be fine.

Up the little hill to the stadium … I knew *exactly* where I was going … fixate on that … across the street … mind the railroad tracks … CRAP! Another guy didn’t mind his feet and nearly took me out … hit the cop instead … He was Ok … I guess I’m getting back to being me on the race — yelled to make sure he was OK … he said he just wanted to catch up to me! 😉 Just try Runner Boy … I know where my finish line is and I want there … uh now.

Runner Boy caught up to me as I was hugging the edge going into the stadium. You go through the back driveway, around the field – or straight across if you see the line – and then up through the other driveway, hard right and you’re done. I hacked and smiled as he said “Caught you!” I smiled again … hacked … and said “Try again” and somehow sped up. I knew I was FAR slower than any other 5k I’ve done in a very long time, but I was really happy that my leg was feeling ok. I was very concerned about the fact that I was finding it harder and harder to breathe …

Yes, Sports Fans, I was headding head first into my first full blown asthma attack in a number of years and not exactly happy about it! 

I passed a gal who had been jog/walking ahead of me for most of the race at the last few feet of the race. That push that I just do as a matter of course probably started to put me over the edge. I quickly scanned to see if I could spot Becky and just gasped for air and hacked. Ok – I could handle this … Just keep standing …

The kid who was to clip off the chip just stared at my foot. I started hacking and said “Could you please untie it?” Very stupid look on his face as he said “Uh – why?” I felt my heart rate just jump – and I usually have it pretty high when I race so that says something and the ability to breathe became less and less. I found myself folding over toward the ground. If there had been 100’s of people – or even 10 coming in with me, I could understand he needed to get to the next person, but I was in distress. My Fathers’ Genes came through as I said “FINE – I’LL GET IT!” as I ripped the thing out of my shoelaces … hacking “OK – WHERE IS MED???” With an even more stupid look than before “Uh … I donno.” He pointed me over to his friend and I gripped his arm so hard I probably drew blood, but I was starting to have my vision tunnel. He pointed to an ambulance. So Bambi here – one shoe untied – started to stumble over.

When I got there, it was empty. I couldn’t believe it — third time I’ve gotten to an ambulance and it’s been unmanned … I guess God thinks I can handle things. I kicked off my shoes so I didn’t trip and remembered the Huff & Puff area where my friends filled up their oxygen tanks. If I could get there, I’d be closer to the inhaler and maybe someone could keep an eye on me while I tried to get my lungs together.

I started over and two women spotted me. One worked for the event who had seen me hula-hooping previously and the other had come in about 5 minutes before me. I was starting to recover, but was looking at my heart rate which was still entirely too high … damn HRM watches! I think it was because I was truly scared more than the attack itself. Once over at Huff & Puff, a wonderful gal – I have forgotten her name, but she had a knee brace – took charge of me. She gave me the Evil Eye when I said my inhaler was in Mike’s truck and after an issue with finding a pure air tank for me (which would have been too strange), she had a rescue inhaler and had to practically force  me to take puffs and hold them as deeply as I could.
I know that I got moving before I probably should, but I wanted to get my inhaler in my pocket and little bag out of Mike’s truck. I also wanted to scream, but didn’t have the air to do it. I felt weak, light headed and frustrated because my leg had behaved more or less, I’d behaved by taking it slowly, and now my lungs took this time not to behave. CRAP IN A BASKET! I was not interested in feeling sorry for myself, I just wanted to go hide and beat my head against one of the supports of the freeway! But – I couldn’t do that … I had friends still out on the course and I wanted to cheer them in.
I got back under the covering of the Huff & Puff booth, showed the nice Nurse Lady that I had my inhaler and even took a deeeeeeeep hit off it smiling and she laughed. I also saw my friend Mike Blanchard and wanted to see how he’d done. As Darla commented as the race started – many of us were walking wounded. Michael had a problem with his back, but I knew that wouldn’t get in his way (it didn’t. He won the thing like Darla did for the women). He said “Lis – you’ve got to check out these Massage folks!” His animation was what I needed and I wandered into the expo area with him. I said I’d had the first asthma attack in a long time, and like he did when he said “DNF is better than DQ if you’re injured!” he reminded me that with all the water, this was a nasty year for allergies and the cottonwood trees got him too. I don’t usually think about allergies because what I’m allergic to you rarely find being a complication in a race.
Splut, splut, squish! We walked across the sopping wet grass to the Exercise/Chiropractic/Chair Massage folks … it wasn’t Colorado School of Massage where people were starting to gather. Mike left me in their capable hands and wandered away.
I stood, squishing into the mud wearing my socks, in front of Dr. Joshua Doktor — Seriously, Dr. Dr. – who towered over me by at least 6 inches … which is saying something as I wasn’t sinking that badly into the mud! I’m used to the “sales pitches” that happen at expos … heck, I’ve hawked friends’ businesses or places I’ve worked for over the years … but there was something different here. We started talking, and I seriously got the feeling that this wasn’t just another chiropractor who was trying to grow his practice with athletes, but someone who actually understood athletes and the mindset. That’s been a problem with me and doctors … I’m not interested in fluff & buff, meds, short-term fixes, or maintenance for forever. I’m a lot more proactive than most patients and am willing to do the work necessary and go through the pain because I want to be FIXED thanque-very-much!
I took his card and said I’d think about it as my turn with the chair massage happened. The poor gal tried to get in to my shoulder and asked if they’d done the electro-check on my neck … nope. Well, Dr. Dr. was free when I was done as was the machine … OOOHHHHH machines, programs, gadgets, data! … and he explained what he was doing. After the first reading, his comment made me think there was something a bit amiss, but I was far more concerned not with the long black lines but the short red one.
Dr. Dr. – “Have you had a car accident?”
Lizzy – “Yup. 20 years ago last May.”
Dr. Dr. – “Nothing more recent?”
Lizzy – “uh … just stress.”
Dr. Dr. – “ummm…” (calling his partner over)
Lizzy – “Uh … when do you want to see me?”
Dr. Dr. – “Um … Tomorrow morning.”
Lizzy – “Should I bring my shoes?”
Dr. Dr. – “Yup.”
We laughed. I told him I was concerned about the red line and he said “You’re little red line is ‘good’ the big long black ones are the problem!”
So … It’s appearing that why I went to this race was to have a few things kicked in to gear …
1. Carry the damn inhaler … short race, long race … I’m under a lot of stress while off-loading the crap of my past and moving forward AND there’s a boatload of crap in the air … carry the damn inhaler!
2. It’s time to get things properly repaired. Standing in front of him, Dr. Dr. noticed things that surprised me. He and his partner are interested in athletes … normal people too, but athletes who are interested in being the best they can be … and since they’re growing their practice, they’ve got the right attitude … not the stuffy doctor one.
So – the race was slow. I felt like a lumbering ox. I checked off another of my fears – panic and asthma attack of sorts at a race. I got to hang out with Becky and Darla for a bit. Becky and I frequented the Coors tent (regular and diet … what the heck, free) However, I was bummed that I didn’t get to see Lynn, Mike or KristEn come in – but KristEn knew there had to be something off because I would have been there … so it’s great to have friends … and now I’m looking forward to tomorrow.
I guess this means that any way I look at it … I win.
PS: KristEn and I finally got a chance to hang out. It was good to be around someone since I still didn’t feel right and was hacking here and there. We went to Brooklyn’s, which is probably the only place down there. Actually, not too bad … still covered in Cottonwood tree fuzzies through the open door. One of the barflies was trying to hook one or the other of us up with the bartender – a nice guy, but I’ve gone out with bartender/proprietors and I’m in the market to get me where I want to be, thanks! As we were the last two cars out of the parking lot, there was a question that we wouldn’t get out. I took the lead and we got out just fine … Thanks KristEn!

Getting to Disney and the Expo Changes

24 01 2009

I’m so thankful for friends …

The fleet footed Scott K (aka: the Eagle) arrived to drag my sorry self to the airport at around 6 a.m. Scott was the only person in Colorado to know most of the extent of my injuries and being that he’s an Athlete, Best Bud, and owner of a Massage Envy … he is one of the handful of people I’ll listen to. He also seems to “get” my personality and that’s pretty cool.

Scott and I met at the running club and he was the reason why I decided to give up running … HA … blaming it on you in public!!! The story goes as thus: I showed up to help out at the Labor Day race that the Rocky Mountain Road Runners was doing the finish line of. I didn’t know anyone, but an older gal named Betsy L. befriended me nearly immediately along with Rosalie. Turned out Betsy’s John was an extremely tall and slim gentleman (and there are few people I can use that term for) who was going to be racewalking (what the heck is racewalking?) the event.

Betsy took me under her wing as we walked John to the start line. Lovely folks, probably the age of my parents. Beautiful day, new friends … maybe this running club thing wasn’t too bad. Off the runners went … then Off the walkers went … then Off Betsy and I went, trundling back to the finish line. She was asking the overweight me what I was wanting to do with the club and I said I was thinking about running again, but concerned with my being very competitive and years not being kind. She smiled.

We got to the finish just as the first folks were flying in. I was completely in shock! I think I moved that fast in high school. This extremely skinny guy in the same singlet as John came flying in … and I mean flying … I swore I wouldn’t have been surprised to have seen wings folding backward under his shirt!

Betsy: “Oh Lizzy – that’s one of the Road Runners. That’s Scott K. He’s our fastest male!”

Me: “Um … I think I’ll never run again!!!”

John later said to me “Oh you don’t have to run … you can racewalk…” and I smiled saying “Yeah … maybe …”

A couple of years later, that same fleet footed guy is one of my closest friends and a Chief (giggle – inside joke). He’s been able to explain timing and courses etc … and it’s been great. His quiet “um … I suppose so …” shows up when I ask if I’m doing something insane … Of course, I get to point out people I want him to blow right past and tease him that his 17 minute 5K’s are just too slow! 

When Scott came to get me, there was no way I could get my food bag down the stairs. I had a feeling it was a smidge over weight. I had a pang of guilt when he was standing at my door in a nice pair of khakis about ready to move my food bag … which I swore weighed more than he does. I could have sworn his eyes popped slightly out of his head before he adjusted to the weight and lugged my bag down the 2 flights of stairs … with me limping after him.

Chatting merrily to the airport, I realized how nice it was that he was as competitive as me. Concerned comments about not killing myself, reminders that I’m doing a half marathon followed directly by a full one, and use the med-tent if you need it peppered the conversation. (We’re both pretty adverse to med tents.) The checklist: Garmin, Shoes, Socks, Race Clothes, Phone, Stitch Ears, Hat … CHARGERS for BOTH the phone and Garmin … (giggle – another inside joke) Great tunes, guesses at how many pounds over the limit my food bag was, comments about how wretched the blue horse with red eyes at the Denver International Airport is and suddenly I was there …

I think Scott’s shocks were happy to have my 53 pound food bag leave the trunk. “Looking forward to seeing all the medals!!!” and I was off.

A fairly decent flight to Orlando marred only by the fact that when the plane landed, it landed left side -> right side -> middle. Ok … no problem … we were early. The cool thing was so was the rest of the Rocky Mountain Team in Training team, so I got to go on the Magical Mystery Bus with them and not wait in the insane line. I also saw Coach Rick – a great guy with amazing energy – and I leveled with him and the team about my injury load.

The Magical Mystery Bus is a “service” of Disney which allows for your luggage to be brought to your room (poor soul who had to move that 53 pound food bag — I’m sure there was some “speculation” about what was in there!) while the bus brings you to the resort. The bags, however, can take several hours from the time you land to get there – so it’s always advisable to pack snacks in the carry on race bag. This year’s carry on race bag was double. I had double the clothes and one set of slicks in there. Not a lot of room for snacks, but I ate well before I left.

The bus ride was not really remarkable. I was tired, sore and didn’t like having my legs cramped up in the seat. I just wanted to get to the resort and figure out the Goofy. I had a lot on my mind. We turned into the first resort stop: The Pop Culture … and this Pop Culture Historian was in heaven … I immediately called Kristin H. (my Boulder co-hort) to say “I’m staying at this funky place next year! Hands down! Unless it costs serious bank!”

By the time we got to the Coronado, however, I was in race mode. I am a fairly social hermit. When I go to races out of town, for the most part I might hook up with friends, but I’ve been told I’m strangely self reliant. I like getting myself squared away and comfortable. Comfortable means I know where my chip is, it’s been checked and my number is in my bag ready to be affixed to my clothes. I got checked in, found out our rooms were on the far side of the resort (the one place I *didn’t* check out before I’d left) and I was off.

This being the third year I’ve done this event representing Team in Training-Rocky Mountain, I’ve come to recognize people. There were Courtney and Michelle from Boulder and, at the Coronado Resort, I ran into one of the coaches of Team Puerto Rico (GO PUERTO RICO!!!!!) who helped me out the previous year! This event is getting familiar – so when we got to the Expo … I was really surprised!

We hooked up as a bit of a team and it was a trip to actually see how tiny a team Rocky Mountain was. That’s OK. Once we got to the Sports Arena area … well … as I say … ch-ch-cha-cha-changes:

The area which was the expo floor was completely given over to Number & Chip … and unlike previous years it was nearly empty! It still reminded me of Redwood High School self-scheduling with lining up under race and number class, but it was really wide open. The downer, however, was that unlike before where we were funneled through an area where the chips were checked (creating the obvious bottleneck situation), if I’d not run in to Coach Rick, I wouldn’t have had my chips checked!

The Goofy participants were in our own separate section. I met a terrific guy … of course forgot his name … who explained the change for the Goofy. Instead of our putting the wrist bands on, they were taking care of that. I left with two race numbers (orange for the 1/2 and blue for the full) and sporting an orange wrist band proving I was a “Goofy”.

We exited the number pick up area and continued over to Josten’s Arena — yeah – the high school ring people. HUGE!!! OMG! Ok – priority one is to get the tech shirts. They put the shirt pick up at the back and Goofy had their own section. It was then that I found out we were only getting one gear check bag. Um … ok … I asked for a second as they tend to rip and the gal in charge said “Oh don’t worry … they’ll have a few spare bags on race day …” I smiled and thought of Scott “Mr. Gear Check” who always has to check clothes because he’s so thin. His blue eyes would be turning red at this!

Note to self: Carry spare “gear check” bag to Disney World in 2010.

"My Sport is Your Sport's Punishment

Pre Race: "My Sport is Your Sport's Punishment

The expo was actually pretty nice. This was the first year I went ahead and bought myself a short sleeved tech shirt – really pretty dark blue and a few other things. Let’s face facts – I wasn’t sure if I’d ever make it through the event … then I saw a guy that I’d seen in several expos … The past couple of years, I’d stared at the framed finisher’s things. Last year, I looked at him and said “You know, I’m going to do it next year.” Little did I realize that he would actually remember me and said “So … I see you’re in.” pointing to my tell-tale (or tattle tale?) orange wristband. I bit the bullet – I ordered the artwork which will have duplicates of my medals in it … You only get First Times once per event!

I wandered about and took care of some business. I talked with the Polar rep about how to deal with my new heart rate monitor strap and, more importantly, to The Stick people about how to roll out my very painful calf. I found a shirt in sky blue … and a coaster saying “Some girls chase boys, I pass them” which made me think of my “twin sister” Linda. I was floating about solo and finished the expo in a couple of hours. It was time to go.

It was cool for Flordia … I hoped I’d remembered a pair of gloves. I also hoped I could actually find my hotel room because I really wanted a snack.

 I also wanted some time to myself … the enormity of just what I was doing … with a body that felt like it was maybe at 50% was really starting to hit me … hard.