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!

Visitation of a Mom-mee & Denver Gorilla Run 5.7K @ 0:44:30

31 10 2008

You know – It’s nice when your Mom comes to visit in the middle of a year that can be categorized as “OH CRAP!!” followed by one of the following statements:

“The race is … this weekend?”
“Oh my … uh … better make travel arrangments.”
“I’m flying out at what hour again?”
“Um … are you free to Bailey sit?”
“Injury, smingery … there’s a finish line to get to.”
“You’re flying in … when? … Tomorrow … ooh … uh?”

The last one, of course, was directed at my Mom! The house is a complete and total disaster as I’m going through absolutely everyting while I’m writing this book I’ve been working on. Fortunately, this year has been so chaotic and strange that it didn’t bother her that her younger daughter was finally trying to get some control of things.

Mom’s a good egg … stays at a local hotel (which just *happens* to have a Starbucks located conveniently between my house and ‘hers’) and uses my computer (complete with trac ball located on the left) for her business e-mails. She came out to watch her younger nutcase racewalk the Denver Gorilla Run for the second time.

The thing about my Mom is that she’s got a pretty awesome sense of humor and wanting to make the world a better place. This event is for the mountain gorillas. Jackie and I did it last year. She’s always pink (the baby gorilla I’m holding is part of her costume) for Breast Cancer. I usually take on the rest of the cancers. Mom was a pediatric oncology nurse, so I tend to have a soft spot for kids. Last year, I raced for St. Jude Hospital during the Bolder Boulder and San Diego Rock and Roll Marathon. This year, I added it to my gorilla. Once a really good photo comes in, I’ll send it along to the hospital as I think the kids will get a kick out of it.

Last year there were just over 300 of us. This year there were over 700 representing 25 states. Denver was the largest gorilla run to date. First go, you pay in excess of $100 and get the gorilla costume. After that, you’re a returning gorilla. People go completely nuts with their costumes. I got the purple tutu last year (and it was fun to get through SFO security). This year was a bit harried.

Friday, when Mom was checking her e-mail, and wanting to toss my trac ball as far as she could until she got the hang of it, I was up in the attic looking for my skin. I’d put the body (which has a rubbarized chest) in one box and the head was missing (which has a rubbarized face). “Hey Mom – I can’t find my head!” Just what every parent would like to hear coming from the attic of their daughter’s apartment! It turned out it was in the box with my fairy wand, reindeer ears, bunny ears, cat ears … you get the point. Mom was needing a smidge bit of help with the computer and over her shoulders were these black furry arms! 🙂 giggle!

I got the costume put together and all was right with the world. We met up with some friends over at … I’m NOT going to say the name of the place as I’ve got it wrong in my head — NY Pizza is the largest part of the sign. It is fairly small and comfortable. Had a great time swapping stories. Great group: Scott & Q from the running club, Val from pilates … she’s also a Rocky Mountain Road Runner and has been in that pack of fast runners with Scott & Q, Joan from the museum and Jackie from just about everything else!

The race starts outside of the Wyncoop Brewery – owned/formerly owned by Denver Mayor John Higgenlooper (sp). We got there seriously early as I still needed to check in and we wanted to find parking. Thank GOD Mom is who she is as we were in that parking lot helping people with their costumes from around 8:45 to start time! Jackie’s mom came out as did Lynn & Lou. KristEn came out of Wyoming.

The thing about this event ( is that people seriously go to town creating costumes. I was in “slammed” mode, so I only added a pink feather boa from Jackie and added the white flower. My gorilla is the Cute Girl gorilla … and does curtsey for photos, at bystanders and as a thanks to the cops holding traffic back. “Sane” is not a word to describe me, hu?

The costume contest was fun. KristEn had a tall pink Marge Simpson wig on from Jackie and next year will have her costume together. Jackie had her black 40 DD bra on that usually has her iPod speakers in the styrofoam “boobies”. Jackie’s mom has a series of health issues, so we had to get her seated in one place. Lou, Lynn and Mom all hung out with her through the event.

The thing about my Mom is we’re a lot alike. She was trying to take photos (will post when I get them) of the costumes and floated around talking with just about every gorilla there! When KristEn, Jackie and I got off stage, we were off to the side talking with Gorllas Next Door (based on Hugh Heffner’s show). The guy in the group was a card. A mention was “Hey – where’s your mom?” Um … I did have to laugh because I realized she was all in black – but that blonde hair made her easy to spot … that and our trademark laugh!

We wandered with each other for a little before the race started. She was marveling at the costumes. “Ok Liz’ard … you are going to take it easy, right?” I said I was planning on it, but started to warm up my shins a little. No stretching, just  a little standing shin warm-up. “Yeah – I’m here for fun!” I think we both knew that probably as soon as I got going, all bets were off, but …

The course wanders out toward the running path along the Platte River. 700+ gorillas running/skating/cycling/scooting/walking w/one tutu & boa clad racewalker must be a sight. There was another event at the same time for diabetes. The really nice thing was that there were people out there who actually knew what it was that I was doing!

Last year, I remember feeling pretty sick wearing that head and trying to be able to see. My glasses are propped out on the outside and the only way to be timed is to be wearing the gorilla head and costume when the course monitors take photos! Seriously! At around mile 1, Jackie cut across me and, I found out later, she didn’t know she had. I figured we’d meet up again as she jogs and hops around. I got up to the place where we met last year – around mid-way – and I was doing fine. I carry my own Clif-Aid/Water Cocktail … especially due to my recent hydration issues. I just kept going. I thought I’d see KristEn’s Marge Simpson wig when I double backed on the folks behind me, but I didn’t.

From a race standpoint, I felt pretty good. I couldn’t see … much less hear … my watch so I was trucking along at a pace I could handle as I was overheating in a gorilla suit. As I got off the last bridge, I saw the Marge Simpson wig … and a couple of gorillas … sitting on the side. I cocked my head and was told it did look like “What the fuaaah?” KristEn and her friend started the race 20 minutes late and sat down to watch everyone come in. That’s this race. If you’re not worried about time or anything – you can go a few blocks, cheer folks, and come in when you want! It’s a true fundraiser.

I couldn’t see the finish line, but knew it was by the Icehouse sign. This guy who had been playing leapfrog with me kept saying “You’re doing great, Walker, but you need to pump your arms harder and higher. Move your feet farther apart …” Again … “What the fuaaah?” I wasn’t chaninging my walking style for some guy I’d never met. I kept doing what I was doing and told him “I like my form, but thanks!” AND BEAT HIM IN THE LAST 200 METERS!!!

Lynn had never seen me come across the line. Mom said she didn’t quite recognize me except when she saw the purple tutu. I could hear them, but my visuals were pretty bad and I was really overheating. I got across the line and RIPPED off the head. I got a great hug from the tall (and handsome) guy in rollar blades and a San Jose Shark’s costume. The “advice” giver came in and was in bad shape. “I couldn’t catch up to you in the end.” I smiled and said “I racewalk … not powerwalk.” I don’t know if it was Lynn or Mom who said “Lizzy racewalks 1/2 marathons and marathons and just finished one in 2:40.” I love my crew.

Of course, after slamming some post race go-go juice that was in the RMRR backpack Mom was toting & removing my race number, I was back out on the course looking for my team. I was surprised Jackie wasn’t right behind me, but I had a feeling she was waiting around for KristEn. I was cheering all the gorillas saying “AIM FOR THE ICE HOUSE SIGN!!!” As you can see of the post-race photo of the four of us, the start/finish sign was pretty bloody low!

I couldn’t believe how far back Jackie was. I walked pretty fast about a mile back and asked a walking can of Gorilla Brew where she was. “She’s about 1/4 mile back singing 100 bottles of beer on the wall.” Um … ok. She’s one to cheer everyone in so it didn’t surprise me at all. 

We did finally see each other and it was a real relief! “Where’s KristEn…” When I told her, she laughed, but she had been waiting. She could easily have finished this race in under an hour and next year it’s “Every gorilla for herself!” I grabbed her Gorilla Baby for a photo and ended up carrying it in.

We grabbed KristEn and did the last bit … Jackie is more of a jogger — and she wanted to run in. I’m an old sprinter, so what the heck! We got to a stop sign and I started to *run*. Lynn and Mom were, again, at that finish and I kept pushing the pace a little harder to get Jackie in. It was fun actually and I like running little bits here and there. I’d have to say it was a bit awkward running in a tutu, boa and carrying a pink gorilla baby … but whatever.

It appears that Lyn has already started figuring out how she’s going to modify her Gorilla to accommodate her oxygen tank … and KristEn will be coming out of Wyoming again.  What started out as Cancer Sux Gorilla Girls of Super Velvet (Jackie) and Wonder Zsa-Zsa (me) will be at least four! If Mom’s knee would hold up, I could see her coming out to play too! There was post race food, but Lyn and Mom said that there were announcements about what a zoo (pardon the pun) it was. Jackie and KristEn went up after Jackie dropped her mom off and said it was really packed. Mom and I took off.

One of the biggest concerns for Mom (and everyone else) was the fact that I’d gone through another spate of not eating. It’s been just a forgetful thing on this go around and I nearly passed out at the museum. As you can see, Mom’s pretty trim by nature and I’m the family Viking. No problem really – but we did have the “eating” discussion. Mom and I had our Thursday dinner at the Cheesecake Factory and thought we’d never eat again as the portions were so huge. Friday night was dinner with friends at the pizza place where part of our portions were sent home. Saturday was a late lunch … all this gorilla wanted was corned beef – which kills me every time, but we went to the New York Deli where she had a rare roast beef sandwich. The funny thing is what happens post-Church. I pick her up after Church and it’s “where now?” Last year it was a trip to Bonnie Brae Ice Cream and a walk in the drizzle around the neighborhood there. This year it was helping a lady find her car in the parking lot and then going to Cherry Creek Maul … and realizing I was getting dehydrated and having a HUGE fresh squeezed lemonade.

Sunday came a little too fast. Mom and I didn’t do a ton of tourist things, but we did have a good time. Life was real – not manufactured. I’m hoping she comes out for next year’s Gorilla race … I know I’ll be there!

More photos when they arrive!

Next Race: RMRR 9 Mile Trophy Series