Thursday, July 29, 2010

San Francisco 1st Half Marathon Recap

This past weekend I was up in San Francisco for the San Francisco Half Marathon.  After running Surf City in February, all I wanted to do was complete the California Dreamin' Series and get that awesome CA shaped bling (and improve my running along the way of course!).  Immediately after Surf City I signed up for San Francisco, and then Long Beach.
Side note:  The California Dreamin' Series is running the following three CA marathons or half marys:  Surf City in Feb, San Fran in July, and Long Beach in Oct.

But anyways, this is about my experience in San Francisco so let's get on with it!

The Two Days Leading Up To Race Day
My brother and I flew up Friday afternoon, and with the flight only about 50 minutes we had ample time to check in to our hotel, cruise down to the Expo, and still have some time to play.  We checked into Le Meridien which was very nice and incredibly convenient being down the street from the starting line of the race.  We checked in and to our amazement we were on the 13th floor!  First of all, we're there to run 13 miles so I thought that was pretty awesome!  Secondly, when did hotels start including the 13th floor?  Usually buildings skip "13" and go straight to 14.  Oh well, I'm not superstitious so I thought it was pretty awesome!  Here is the view of the Bay Bridge from our room:
We got settled in and decided to cruise down to the Expo hoping that since it was Friday it wouldn't be as crowded.  The line to get our bibs were non-existent, but I did have to wait in the wave change line.  With my stupid injury, I knew I wasn't going to hit my goal of 2:30, and with the race time limit being 3 hours from the last wave, I wanted to move up to wave 3 to give myself extra 50 minutes of cushion.  I knew I would finish in that time, but just in case.  After waiting a good 15 minutes, I got my little green sticker dot (note that this sticker cost me $10 bucks and I probably could have gone to the nearest staples and written "3" on it myself...but I digress) then my brother and I cruised down to the vendors see what goodies we could find.  We tried some samples of granola (the Bear Naked with yogurt was tasty), and there were a ton of drinks to try including a carrot juice that I LOVED.  My bro needed to get an iFitness belt so we stopped there, and I ended up getting a new one that was water resistant.  With my new iPhone I didn't want to take any chances of condensation/sweat/etc.  Then we stopped at the Runner's World tent where I met running legend and Chief Running Officer of Runner's World Magazine (one of my FAV magazines), Bart Yasso.  We took this gem of a picture:
He was so down to earth and friendly.  We chatted for a bit about his new book and the SF course before he was bombarded with a group of like 15 people and I continued on my merry way.  My bro and I stopped to look at the blown up course map and a nice couple offered to take our pic:
After the expo we met up with my boyfriend who just arrived, had a drink in the hotel bar, then headed out to Harris' Steakhouse for a delicious dinner.  Needless to say, we all had steak.  After dinner we went out for a nightcap before going to bed.
Saturday after brunch, the three of us cruised down to Fisherman's Wharf and Pier 39 since my bro and I had never been there.  It was awesome!  It was a great boardwalk complete with shops, corndogs, churros, Sea Lions, a carosel, and a giant noodle!!
In the last picture you can see Alcatraz off in the distance.  Tours were sold out for the entire weekend :(
After cruisin around the Wharf for a while, we took a cab to the Metreon IMAX theatre to see Inception, which was (in my humble opinion) one of the best movies of the year thus far!  In the words of Lisa, "Sorry Keanu, but I'm pretty sure Leo and Joseph G-L just schooled you in the realm of metaphysical mindbender movies.."
Speaking of Lisa, after the movie we met up with her and David.  It was just about dinner time, so we drove to La Traviata for a pre-race pasta dinner.

After a deliciously filling dinner and great conversation, we decided to call it a night.  Afterall, we had to be up the next morning at 3:30am!!!  David and Lisa dropped my boyfriend, brother and I off at our hotel, we laid out our race attire and gear, and hit the hay by 8:30-9.

Race Day
Sunday morning I woke up at 3:30am which was insanely early but completely necessary.  My bro had a wave start at 5:32am, and Lisa and I were to start at 5:42.  After getting ready and wrapping my IT Band, we walked outside to meet David and Lisa.  They parked their car and we took my boyfriend's since it was a little more spacious, and David and Sean dropped me, Lisa, and Sam (the runners) off at the starting line.
It was FREEZING!  But we were ready to run!  Notice the 5 hour energy in my hand below (do I really need it? hahah):
We stopped at the fabulous porto potties and Sam's wave was about to start so he bolted to the corral.  Lisa and I were going to find wave 3 until we realized it was wave 4 lining up!  Shoot!  We missed our wave!  No worries though, we lined up with wave 4 and began the 3 minute countdown.
Finally we were off!  I took it nice and easy being careful not to strain my knee too much.  The first 4 miles flew by...we ran along Embarcadero and past Pier 39 and Fisherman's Wharf, and by Ghirardelli Square where I stopped to take a picture and a nice lady runner offered to take one with me in it:
Then I got a text from Sean saying he and David were just before mile 4, so I picked up my pace a little bit.  At this point I was feeling great, and seeing them gave me an extra burst of energy.
I stopped to say hi, give my boyfriend a kiss, and take a couple photos with them.
Me and my wonderful boyfriend:
Me and David, one of my oldest and dearest friends:
Then I continued on and still felt great.  Just before the bridge my knee started to ache, but it was a dull ache and I was about to run across the Golden Gate Bridge, so I ignored it.  "I'M ABOUT TO RUN ACROSS THE GOLDEN GATE BRIDGE!"  I was so pumped!  That was one of the big incentives to sign up for the race, and of course CA Dreamin.  Just before stepping on the bridge, I hear someone yell out "MAGGIEEEE!!!" and I notice it's my brother FLYING in the other direction having just crossed the bridge and back.  He was flying he was running so fast!  I shouted back at him and flailed my arms like a lunatic.  I was so proud of him!  It was his first half marathon and he was kicking ass!
After seeing my baby bro and feeling a rush of excitement and motivation, I made it the bridge, and with my handy dandy new iPhone with a front camera, I was able to make sure that both my face and the Bridge were in the picture and I took this little gem:
The bridge was cold and foggy, but it WAS SO COOL!  I didn't even feel like I was running, it was more like floating along thinking "Wow, I'm actually running across the Golden Gate Bridge."  Here's a pic I grabbed from the race website:
It wasn't until I was running back across the bridge (it was an out and back over the bridge) that my knee really started giving me trouble.  I walked several times while massaging it and stretching it out.  Along the course there were signs posted of fun facts and quotes.  Around mile 9 I saw the perfect quote for me:
I was going to finish no matter what and if I had to walk, I'd walk, but I would keep going.  And that's what I did.  After seeing this I looked at my Garmin and realized I could probably finish in 2:45 so I started running.  Well there was a massive downhill around mile 10, and despite my Dr. and physical therapist telling me to NOT run downhills as that puts a ton of pressure on my ITB and patella, I ran downhill.  What happened after that?  Well, let's just say by mile 10.5ish I felt like my knee had exploded inside my skin and was radiating sharp heated knives.  I was dying.  I took this picture:
But this is more like how I felt (courtesy of App of the Dead):
I ended up walking the next two miles (which were rolling hills) with some intermittent jogs, but the pain would only come back to stab me.  Finally around mile 12.5 I thought "You will finish running and you will finish strong.  You're almost there!  You trained so hard for this, you can do it!"  So I started running and when I saw the finish line I started sprinting.  I was in so much pain I wasn't sure if I'd even make it to the finish or if I would just pass out.  But, I made it!  Sean and David had a perfect picture spot and took this one of me crossing the finish line...enough said:
My Garmin said I completed 13.14 miles in 2:59, which I was pretty happy about considering I stopped to take pictures along the course, spent a good 1-2 minutes at mile 4 with Sean and David, and then ended up hobbling along because of my injury.  According to the chip time, I ran 13.3 miles in 3:01.  Either way, I don't care how short or long it took me to finish, all that mattered to me was finishing with my little injury, and that's what I did :)
About 30 seconds after I crossed the finish line, I got to Sean and the crew (Sam and Lisa had already finished) and I started to cry.  Not like big sobbing rolling on the floor tears, but more misty "holy hell this hurts kill me now, but hooray I finished" tears.  I drank some water and stretched, and the pain started to dissipate.  I grabbed my medal and my cape, and hugged everyone.  Seeing my brother and Lisa wearing their medals and smiling with pride and accomplishment made me so unbelievably happy and proud!  They did it!  They dominated their first half marathon!  Here we are, all smiles :)
Me and my baby bro:
After getting our free Irish coffees, scones bananas, and fluids, we decided to cruise back to the starting line to check out the free goodies and claim our free beers at the beer garden!  I am SO thankful my boyfriend had his car because the shuttle line to go back to the start had to have been a 3 hour wait.  After a goofy car ride, we made it to the start and claimed our glorious brewskies!
At this point we were STARVING, so we headed to Buena Vista for brunch which happens to be the originator of Irish coffee!  It's first come first serve at Buena Vista, so we had a seat at the bar and ordered an Irish coffee while we waited for a table to open up.  David self-photo-taking abilities and took this gem of us lined up:
Once we got our table, I looked at the menu, saw eggs benedict and bacon, and I was sold.  I was a hungry monster...can you tell?  :-P  Haha
Here are some less beast-like shots:
With my love:

With my baby bro:

With Lisa...hollaaa!
Irish coffee mustaches!
After a completely satisfying brunch, Sam Sean and I went back to the hotel to shower before our flight.  Our flight wasn't for a few hours, so we stopped at the pub across the street for some beers (hey, we were thirsty ;) ).  David and Lisa stopped to meet us before they began their long drive back to SoCal.  First thing I did when I got home was hang this little beauty on my wall :)
All in all, I had such an incredible weekend exploring the City By The Bay and running the absolutely fun and scenic course that is the SF 1st Half Marathon.  I'm already thinking about running it again next year!! Hopefully without any ITB/knee issues :)


Tuesday, July 27, 2010

13.1 Things From San Francisco This Past Weekend

This past weekend I was up in San Fran for the 1/2 marathon, which was incredible and so much fun!  Until I post my full race recap, here are 13.1 things from my weekend in the hilly city:

1. Stayed on the 13th floor of the Meridien Hotel, one of the SF Marathon’s host hotels
2. Went to the race expo on Friday with my brother and met Bart Yasso
3. Enjoyed a delicious steak dinner at Harris’ Steakhouse – my martini was served in a mini jar in a mini wooden barrel filled with ice (martini glass with olives on the side). It was adorable.
4. Cruised around Pier 39 with my boyfriend and brother…very cool Boardwalk and corn dogs were definitely the hot food item!
5. Saw the massive amounts (and massive-sized) Sea Lions that live at Pier 39.
6. Digital bowled at the Metreon until the swivel on the ball broke and they refunded us with vouchers.
7. Saw Inception in IMAX…one of the best movies of the year thus far in my opinion.
8. Met up with David and Lisa for a pre-race pasta dinner.
9. Went back to our hotel room on the 13th floor to prepare for the 13 miles of running the next morning.
10. My brother and I fell asleep around 8:30-9pm while my boyfriend watched Cops. “Bad boys bad boys whatcha gunna do…”
11. Woke up at 3:30am, cruised down to the starting line, found our waves, and took off!
12. I got to run across the Golden Gate Bridge! By far the highlight of the run for me!
13. My IT Band/knee was feeling pretty good until around mile 7ish on the Golden Gate Bridge, then exploded at mile 10, leading me to hobble for the next 2 or so miles until I pushed through and finished strong while on the verge of tears. I proceeded to cry in pain about 30 seconds after crossing the finish line.
.1 I am SO proud of my brother and my friend Lisa who dominated their first half marathon. My bro smoked it in 1:55 and Lisa in 2:33! Way to go guys!!

My boyfriend and Lisa’s hubby were along the course at a couple points taking pictures of us going by and cheering us on! They were such great supporters!  Thank you guys so much!
Later this week I will post my race recap and lots of pictures!


Thursday, July 22, 2010

Physical Therapy Round 3...San Fran here I come!!

Good news!  Yesterday at PT I was able to run pain free with a taped knee!  Ok, so it was only 8 minutes (compared to 13 miles on Sunday!), but the taping really helped!

After the normal heating and stretching, my therapist and I conducted a before taping and after taping experiment.  I warmed up with a walk, then ran on the treadmill sans tape.  My muscles felt pretty tight, but my knee/IT band felt OK…until 3 minutes when I started to ache.  Then after 4 minutes of running I started to really hurt.  5 minutes and I was done.  One of the other physical therapists is apparently a Bad-A$$ when it comes to PT and taping, having traveled with the US Olympic team to Beijing in 2008.  His resume goes on.  

Anyways, he brought over several kinds of tape and started with the most simple wrap job keeping in mind that I would be wrapping myself on Sunday for the San Francisco half.  If that didn’t work, he would try something else.  He took a roll of the foam pre-wrap and started wrapping just above my knee to about halfway up my thigh, back down and back up until there was a good amount on my leg.
He wrapped it like a compression sleeve, so that it was tight but not cutting off blood flow. After having it wrapped on my leg, he rolled it down from the top to where the tape ended just above my knee.
How’s that for an instant ITB compression band!

I got up off the table and already my leg felt light and airy, even bouncy!  I hopped on the treadmill and to my utter happiness I felt great!  The band was a little tight at first but after 30 second of running my muscles relaxed and it felt great.  Now, I’m no PT, but basically what this band did was put pressure on the IT band so that it doesn’t rub over my knee creating the pain (or something to that effect).  It’s like those patella tendon straps but above the knee…an IT band compression wrap.  It’s basically a makeshift one of these and it worked beautifully!  I only ran 8 or so minutes, so we will see how it plays out on Sunday.  But I’m optimistic!  

Speaking of which, I need to pack!  I have my list written out, but I should get on the packing part.  My bro and I fly out tomorrow!  My best friend Lisa and her hubby are driving up Saturday and my bf will meet us Saturday too!  San Francisco here we come!


Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Physical Therapy Round 2: It Keeps Getting Better!

Monday I had round two of physical therapy.  It was essentially the same as last session with the heating pad, stretching, foam rolling, massaging the IT band and area around the knee, followed by icing it down.  This time however, we incorporated some hip flexor strengthening exercises after stretching followed by 10 minutes on the bike.

The hip exercises I did were:

Lying leg raises – Lying on your left side, rest your head in your left hand, placing your right hand on the floor for balance.  Lift your right leg slowly, as far as you comfortably can.  Hold at the top and lower it again, controlling the movement.  Do three sets of 10 reps and switch sides.
Sitting hip rotations – Sitting on the edge of a chair (or table), wrap a resistance band around your left foot.  While holding the band taught, raise your left foot inward, rotating at the hip.  Do 2 sets of 10 reps and switch sides.
Standing hip raises – Stand with one leg on a step so that your foot is parallel with the step.  Lower the opposite leg below the step using your hip (so your hip is the one moving up and down) and then raise.  Do 3 sets of 10 reps and switch legs.
*Note: this can also be done on a flat surface without a step.  There is just a larger range of motion when using a step.
Stability disc – Stand on the stability disc with one leg and hold for 60 seconds. Switch legs.

After these exercises I completed 10 minutes on the bike pain free!  My knee did feel “airy” like it was going to pop but never did which was both good and awkward feeling, but hooray for no pain!  Today I have PT again, and this time they’re going to tape me up and see if I can run on the treadmill comfortably for 5-10 minutes.  If I can do that, then I can attempt a 3-mile run tonight after work!


Friday, July 16, 2010

Physical Therapy Round 1

Yesterday I had round 1 of 3 of physical therapy and it went well.  I think we have a good regimen planned out for the next 10 days to get me ready (or as ready as possible) for the San Fran 1/2 marathon.

We started with an evaluation where she checked my IT band, leg flexibility and motion, and knee motion.  I was super tender just above my knee and on the outside bone of my knee.  And it turns out the 30 degree bend in the knee is the most painful, which is normal of IT Band Friction Syndrome.  So we got right down to treatment.

To loosen up the band and muscles, she wrapped a heating pad around my knee for 10 minutes.  That was followed by an ultra sound (which is not only used on pregnant women apparently!) to give off sound waves to loosen the tissue and help flatten the scar tissue build up causing the friction. It felt funny at first, but then it was relaxing and almost numbing.  After the ultra sound, my physical therapist “rubbed out” my IT Band, yes this is apparently the term they use and yes I know I am being immature by giggling at this.  She massaged, or rubbed out, my band for about 10 minutes and it hurt like hell, but I know it helped a ton!  I have to massage it once a day at home.

Then she showed me a bunch of stretches to do at least once, ideally twice, a day.  The IT band is such an awkward muscle to stretch!  One stretch involved laying on the edge of a bed or couch facing inward and letting your injured leg hang off behind you, stretching the muscle.  There’s also stretching against a wall and of course using the foam roller.  She also wants me to stretch out my hamstrings and calves to keep them from tightening and shortening.  After stretching she wrapped my knee in a compression ice pack to slow blood flow and reduce the swelling, which I have a little bit of.

Overall it was a great first PT sesh.  I go in again on Monday then on Wednesday, and if I’m feeling good on Wednesday they’re going to wrap my knee and I am going to attempt an easy 3 mile run.  They will also teach me how to tape it so I can tape it on race day.  So I’m very optimistic!  Yay!


Thursday, July 15, 2010

Iliotibial what??

Over the weekend I was out running and "tweaked" my knee.  It was sore but I pushed through it for the All-Star Charity 5K on Sunday.  On Monday I wanted to get in an easy run, but I could only run for about 3 minutes before the pain was excruciating.  With the San Francsico 1/2 less than 2 weeks away, I want to keep training but I didn't want to injure it further, so I rested Tuesday.

Yesterday I was stretching at work and i got a super sharp pain and decided it was time to see my Doc.  Good thing I did because it turns out I have Iliotibial Band Syndrome, or IT Band Syndrome.  IT what?  Well the IT band is a thick fibrous band of tissue that runs down the leg from the pelvic bone to below the knee joint and provides stability.  When inflamed, the band does not glide easily and there is pain.  Here is a site that provides a good overview and here is one that goes in to more detail including stretches to help reduce inflammation.  Or just Google it!

So basically here is the conversation with my Doc yesterday:
Doc:  "When is your half marathon, less than two weeks away?  Well you really should not be running it, you should cancel it now.  Let me ask you, is not running it an option?"
Me:  "Honestly?  Absolutely not an option."
Doc:  "Thought so.  You're addicted to training.  You'd try and run it even if I said no wouldn't you."  (He's laughing)
Me:  "Yep!"
Side note:  My Doc is a big runner himself so he understands.
Doc:  "Then here's what we're gunna do...I'm going to get you into Physical Therapy and I want you to go this week and two times next week before the race.  No running for the next week.  Next Wednesday see if you can run 3 miles.  Then Friday see if you can run 6.  If you can do that you can run the race that Sunday.  If not, you should not run.  (Me: grrrr).  I want you to take Motrin or Advil to reduce inflammation for the next two weeks.  And stretch.  Google ITB stretches, you'll find a ton."

I heard from a lot of people, including my Doc, that foam rollers work wonders.  I had it on my Wish List that I posted last week, so I went out and bought a 30" pink foam roller to do some IT Band stretching on.  I love this one, but it hurt like hell at first because I was so tender.
At this point all I'm thinking is 'there is no way I am not going to run San Fran.'  I'm running it with my best friend, my brother and my cousin.  I was the one who convinced my brother after lots of pleading to run it with me, so there is no way he is going to run that bad boy without me ;)
But for now I will listen to my Doc, and this next week will be a LOT of resting, stretching, and physical therapy.  I WILL be ready for San Fran in 10 days.
Dear Running Gods, help me heal quickly and be ready!  Thank you!


Tuesday, July 13, 2010

MLB All-Star Charity 5K Recap!

This past weekend I ran the MLB All-Star Charity 5K at Angels Stadium.  When I first heard about the run I was all about it because I have grown up as a diehard Angels fan...I LOVE them.  So to be able to run THROUGH Angels Stadium all while supporting beautiful organizations to fight cancer, well, you don't have to ask me twice!  I immediately registered and was ready to go!

I woke up on Sunday around 5, ate 1/2 a cliff bar, laced up and cruised down to Angels Stadium.  I made it down there in no time and picked up my bib and All-Star 5K tee under the two giant hats.
I had a lot of time to kill so I walked around to the different booths.  I checked out Stand Up 2 Cancer, Susan G. Komen, Angel Fans Don't Let Fans Drive Drunk, and I just cruised by Prostate Cancer.  The Stand Up 2 Cancer booth had a giant poster that one can write a message to a loved one on.
I wrote to my Uncle who was taken by lung cancer and to my Grammie who is a breast cancer and melanoma survivor.  There was a similar poster for TEAM Coalition and Angel Fans Don't Let Fans Drive Drunk.  It's a designated driver program that promotes the responsibility of drinking and having a designated driver.  It's a wonderful program!
After an emotional walk through the booths, I cruised over to the giant hats to find the Angels Mickey statue.  There are 36 Mickey statues in SoCal decorated with the colors and logos  of each of the 30 MLB Clubs as well as four All-Star designs, an American League and a National League design.  Here is our Angels Mickey:
By now it was almost time to start, so I dropped my tee off in my car, used the restroom, and headed towards the corral.  It was so crowded!  There were people from all over the country here or the All-Star game, and a good majority of them chose to run this 5K or the 1mile run/walk.  Baseball unites!
Anyways, I lined up near the back and after a 30 minute speech from the Commissioner and a brief speech from Jillian Michaels, the horn sounded and we were off!  Unfortunately it was so packed that it took a good 7-10 minutes to GET OUT of the corral.  But it was a *fun run* and I didn't care about time.  I didn't even wear my Garmin :)
We ran out on Orangewood and alongside the 5 FWY to Gene Autry Way, then to State College to Katella.  There was a little downhill on Katella before the mile 2 marker, which is where I took this picture.  There were so many people of all shapes, sizes, and ages!  It was inspiring!
After a short uphill we were in front of the Pond (now the Honda Center, boo) and turned back towards the stadium.  I was cruising along at a mellow pace and felt pretty good.  I did tweak my knee the day before so I didn't want to put too much strain on it especially with two weeks until the San Fran 1/2.  But I cruised along and felt really good.
Just before mile 3 comes my favorite part...RUNNING THROUGH ANGEL STADIUM!  We went through one of the tunnels and there was major people congestion to the point of coming to a complete stop.
We ran around the edge of the grass on the dirt and it was such a powerful feeling to be running on the field!  I was imagining all the great players warming up while we were running and the seats in the stadium being filled.  What a magical feeling!  At that moment I was on Cloud 9.

While we were running the grass was being trimmed in a giant star shape for the Futures Game and the Legends/Celebrity Game later that evening.  It was so cool!
After running the field we hit the 3 mile marker and I booked it to the finish line.  I got a pretty sweet medal and grabbed a water and a banana before getting ready to head home.  It was such a fun run and a memorable experience.  I ran on the Angels field!!!  Score!!
The rest of my day entailed a long bubble bath and watching the World Cup.  I am so happy Spain won, although I do feel badly for the Dutch...three times there and no win.  Maybe in 4 years, but for now, yay for Spain...World Cup Champs for the next 4 years!