Part II of II
As soon as I saw in the email I could also participate in the Half Marathon, I logged onto the RNRLV website. There was a 4 hour cut off for the Half Marathon, 1:40 for the Half of a Half. When walking in recovery I was easily walking well within the pace for the Half Marathon, I was straining a little for the pace required for the Half of a Half. A quick email to my doctor (yes he is amazing and will answer emails on a Sunday- I am spoiled) and a text to my PRS FIT co-coach, Coach and friend Rebecca Adamson and it was decided, literally just hours before the start…I was going to do the Half Marathon. My poor husband, just smiled and shook his head. I am an Idiot (really truly Idiots Running Club Member #41 aka Prom Queen).
I read the back of my membership card. The oath of the Idiots. Dumb thing, check. I planned to laugh, have fun, and not take the event too seriously. I decided, to have a blast. As a Coach for PRS FIT our philosophy is “Be Healthy, Train Smart, Have Fun”. So “Have Fun” was going to be my race plan. Plain and simple.
Pre-race fuel one hour prior to the start I had 1 scoop of GenUCAN protein with 8 oz of almond milk.
My husband and son drove me and dropped me at the location of the corrals. Let’s just say I am spoiled, he has connections and is able to get through the road blocks and drop me off right at the start. Did I mention I am spoiled?
I had plenty of time to hit the porta potty lines and get to my corral. In a last minute decision I decided to carry my phone with me. My apologies to anyone who I told I would not have my phone on me, it was truly a last minute decision. I had 2 athletes racing and wanted to keep up with runner tracking. Also, in the event my neck went on strike and I ended up in a med tent, I wanted to be able to call my husband.
In my corral 3 things started conversation with those around me:
1- My “Cancer Survivor” Bondi Band. I am a 12 time survivor. Every day is a victory. (This photo is from earlier this year)
2- The quote on the back of my shirt.
3- My Frankenstein scar on the back of my neck
I cannot count the number of people who asked if they could take pictures of the back of me (including my neck and shirt). A local news videographer did too, however, I didn’t make the highlight reel, oh well.
I was at the back of my corral and to the far right. I know the course well and was going with runner etiquette. I would hug the curb so as not to get run over and block those behind me. I also was able during conversation to warn the front of the corral behind me I was walking and my plan. I was afraid of hecklers, I received applause and complete support instead.
The first mile was the hardest as I felt like I was standing with my back to a massive wave as it surged against me. People were emerging on either side of me (even though I was hugging the curb). But once I made it past mile 1 I was in the clear and it was smooth sailing from here on out.
One thing about RNRLV that is so special is the crowds. WALLS of them. Cheering, the signs, the costumes, cow bells. I decided to give a high five everyone that wanted one. Later on this would turn out not to be my best idea.
I felt great. I kept checking my pace to keep it around the 16 minute pace. I knew this would reduce impact on my neck and was my comfort area. If I went any faster I would risk my neck acting up and ending up in a med tent calling my husband to get me.
At about mile 4.5 I realized I needed to check my phone to see the splits for my athletes. Tracking was only working on one of them, great. The one that was working, was telling me they were SMOKING the course, I needed to get my butt to the left lane at the the median (I was on the far right) because he was going to be passing on the other side any minute.
I was walking. Everyone was running. I didn’t want to be “that girl” and walk in front of people. I was using as much etiquette as possible in this race. I looked to my left, and as if I had magic powers, I had a clear path open completely from right to left. I took off and made it from right to left without running, and disturbing the oncoming runners. Whew.
I started scanning the runners on the other side. Saw friend Jorge surging by and screamed a cheer for him. Perfect timing. Still, I was searching. Then, I spotted the IRC shirt coming. BOOM! Perfect timing, it was Paul (you can find a photo of Paul in Recap Part I). Screamed a cheer, he looked up and saw me. Perfect timing again. Ok, now for me to charge on and finish this race and hope my other athlete (whose tracking was not working) was doing well.
That athlete was racing the full marathon for an amazing cause. She had been feeling under the weather, and the heavy hand of it started coming down on her, hard. She called me several times. Throughout the race I kept urging her on to finish for that cause. One foot in front of the other. (Teri Radke is a strong athlete and went on to fight tooth and nail and finish the marathon strong- that is her in the pink shirt below).
After turning around from downtown and heading back toward the finish around mile 9 the crowds were really getting rowdy in a good way. I was still giving out high fives. I had one person call me out “Cancer Survivor I got a high five for ya here!” She was smiling, I went over and she hit my hand like a baseball bat hitting a ball out of the park for the winning home run. At that moment I felt intense pain shoot from my arm straight through to my neck.
Etiquette aside, I now moved to the center to avoid high fives. It would have to be “thumbs up” from here on out.
Mile 11 my heart was moving to my throat. I was going to do this. I was going to finish. End this year on a high note.
Mile 12 The tears started welling up in my eyes. Everything leading up to this day is why I was here, why I would finish this. I was wearing purple in Memory of my Mom. #4Bunny
Mile 13 my face hurt from smiling. I could see the finish.
I crossed the finish and the tears started rolling down my face. Just three weeks post spinal neck surgery. I did it. My slowest Half Marathon ever. In memory of my Mom. My most enjoyable, memorable, and most amazing race to date. This was my 5th year in a row racing RNRLV and for the the 5th year in a row I was greeted at the finish by my husband and son. I cannot tell you how much it means to me to have them there. Their love and support is my world.
Post race my #1 focus was going to be full and complete recovery from surgery. I was ready to get back to being active and able to play with my son.
In the couple days after I was feeling good. Really good. My neck was sore, but not more than the usual during recovery. Then while on a walk with my husband the pain became intense, bringing me to tears. After review my new symptoms and dissecting the race with my surgeon we came to the realization my exuberant high five lady may have done some damage. I was put on rest, no more walking and I am to report all symptoms to my surgeon daily.
On November 21 I developed fever and further complications.
I seem to take 1 step forward and 2 steps back. I saw something recently that I am going to think of daily to try stay positive through this frustrating time:
“Optimism is looking at a step forward and a step back, not as going backwards, but just as doing the Cha Cha.”
I’ve never been a dancer, but I am getting pretty good at the Cha Cha.
I have a lot of restrictions and a long and slow recovery ahead of me. I have been told to expect not to be able to lift weights for 8 months. I may be able to run again in 6, the key word being may. I have been told a lot of things that I cannot do.
I started this blog January of 2012 with the post “Mantra”. I now know more than ever my mantra will carry me through the remaining part of 2013 and for all of 2014.
“Tell me what I can’t do, I’ll show you what I can”
My most sincere thanks to the following:
Idiots Running Club, for reminding me to laugh until it hurts and be thankful for this thing called the “run”.
Training Peaks, Raw Elements, and Coolibar. Thank you all for continuing to support me, even in this less than stellar race year.
True friends for “being there” for me during this rough year.
Most importantly my husband and son. You two are my rock, my world. I love you.