Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Post-race Recovery

This can be described the same as the race: long, slow, and uncomfortable.

And here's a news flash:  Spending 3+ hours slogging through 13.1 miles on foot is actually not the recommended treatment for Shingles.   Who knew?!?

I'm still really glad that I didn't bail out on the race, though.  I'm extremely proud of myself for getting through it and I'm looking forward to more events in the future.  Alan and I are already congratulating ourselves for setting our own personal bars so low that next year should be an easy PR!  I, in particular, will be looking to redeem the overall experience.  We have a 5k planned for our upcoming anniversary weekend, and Emilie's Race for Pie to look forward to, and we're also looking at other races we might want to do in the spring (Big Lake Half Marathon, perhaps....?).  So, while I cried at the chiropractor's office, and I haven't been back to work yet because I'm still eating ibuprofen and having trouble sitting for long periods of time, and still can barely type two consecutive sentences over the course of a half hour, and somehow took 20 minutes to drive home from Rite Aid in Old Town yesterday,  I did not kill my desire to run.  Which is saying a lot. 

The race was not fun, but I love my medal and my awesome tech tee, which, by the way, can only be described as "anti-viral blue" for the horse pills I've been knocking back 3 times a day for two weeks now.  Isn't it pretty?  I have to go wash it now so I can wear it (and my medal) when I go back to work tomorrow.

Leading Up to the Race

Now that you've read the race report, here's a synopsis of the two weeks prior.

13 days to go:  Got shingles, didn't know it (thought maybe I had  pinched nerve). Ran/walked 10 miles.  Took to my bed, but haven't actually had a complete night's sleep since.

12 days to go: Saw doctor.  She agreed with pinched nerve diagnosis, gave me steroid shot and mega pain killers.

10 days to go: At 4th doctor visit for the week--following appearance of angry red, spots on my rear end--found out it was shingles. Got on anti-virals.

7 days to go: Unable to eat anything for several days and unable to stand pain meds any more, switched to ibuprofen.

4 days to go:  Finished week-long course of anti-virals.  Still felt lousy but thought I was on the mend. Worked a half day.

3 days to go:  Worked a half day.  Drove to my "happy place" (the Stillwater River Trail off Bennoch Rd),  ran an out-and-back totalling 2.5 miles.  Felt better than I thought I would at first, but then got a little shaky at the turnaround.  Definitely not feeling like my usual self.  Very slow.

2 days to go:  Woke up feeling fevery and nauseous, definite signs that the virus was still alive and kicking (my a$$).  Worked a half day.  Got refill on anti-virals.  Living to toss back 800 mg of ibuprofen every four hours.

1 day to go: A bit freaked out, yet still barely able to function.  Packed up my stuff and helped pack up the kids for overnight.  Got on the road around 4pm. Met Mum and Dad in Ellsworth and traded: our Sienna filled with 3 hungry kids and saintly mother-in-law, for their empty CR-V.  Breathed deeply on way to Bar Harbor.  Checked in to motel, picked up race packets, attended pre-race dinner (billed as spaghetti, turned out to be lasagne...not bad but didn't quite hit the spot).  Returned to motel, ate snacks, tried to relax. Discovered I'd been given someone else's bib number.  Called organizers and left message that I would swap it in the am. Slept very badly, up frequently, still popping ibuprofen and wondering if I was going to make it.

Day of race:  Took showers, got dressed, filled our camelbaks, tried to eat something, managed not to barf.  Drove to YMCA and got the bib numbers straightened out.  Used restroom. Met up with Mum et al and handed off camelbaks, went over instructions for the hand-off one last time.  Saw Emilie and her friends Jen and Susan, and another running friend, Doug.  Emilie asked how I felt, I said something to the effect of "lousy".  I explained that really the final decision had come down to the fact that if I didn't run, I'd be traipsing around the park with my parents and my kids supporting Alan and I didn't think that would be any more relaxing.  Quoth Emilie with a knowing smile on her face: "That's why we run!".

In Case You Haven't Heard...

I'm finally posting the good news about Saturday's Half Marathon:

We did it! 

I knew Alan would be fine and he did great.  A little slower than he'd hoped and half the family wasn't immediately on hand to see him cross the finish (woops!), but he ran most of the way and didn't let the hills beat him.  In every picture he looks athletic and strong and confident...except for this one right before the start where you can replace "confident" with "impatient".  He's saying "it's time to go, Lois!".  I was just getting over feeling like I might need to barf, so this was about my best moment of the day in terms of physical health.

Here's Alan approaching Eagle Lake:

Here I am getting my camelbak from mom-in-law, Mary around the 2-mile mark:

Just before this, as I crested the first major hill, my legs were feeling really shaky and I was actually contemplating when and where I might choose to quit.  But then I saw my awesome fan club sporting neon green signs (one of which featured a roof with shingles on it...get it?..shingles??  yeah, that was Dad's contribution!) and clanging cow bells.  It was very rejuvenating, and adjusting my camelbak and having some water distracted me enough to get me back on track.

Here I am approaching the water (and pit) stop at the top of Eagle Lake.  I was thrilled to see that my fan club had grown and split in two:  in the first group I saw Mum, Madeline, Jeremy and college roommate, Kathy with son, Alex.  In the next group I saw Dad, Mary, James and Kathy's husband, Dave, their daughter, Elizabeth, and Dave's mom Tera.  I knew Kathy and the kids were planning to show up but Dave and Tera were a bonus!

There was one person behind me at this point.

I'm off again in a blur (of Mum's making, not speed), but I like how it sort of looks like I'm running through  bubbles.

When the girl behind me came through, Mum made the sweeper wait for me to get out of the lou.  Over the next 2 miles I gradually caught up to her again.  We chatted a little, and then I pulled ahead.

I wish I had pix of all our supporters, but there was a photographer there and I know he took some so I'm eager for them to appear on the event website.

I had a rough time of it pretty much the whole way. I was "smiling and moving" every time I got to a water stop and saw my friends and family, but in between there was a LOT of walking and a lot of pain and discomfort. Fortunately it was a cool day so my right butt cheek(which has been feeling a lot of heat from the shingles) didn't feel too bad. The nerve pain in my hip was pretty intense, though, and radiating right down my leg. There were times when I had to actively flex my toes to wake up my foot. At one point I was thinking how nice it would be if the whole leg just went numb. I logicked that while I would probably lose all function of the leg and collapse in a heap, at least I wouldn't be hurting anymore.

Despite these thoughts, I kept moving around the lake and even almost enjoyed the nice downhill stretch. The back half seemed longer than I remembered, though. I finally made it back to the top of the lake and found the whole Fey family there to greet me. We'd told the 'rents not to wait for me there in order to be sure to catch Alan at the finish, so it was great to have a whole extra family on hand.  Here'a a picture of them we took after the race:

After leaving the Feys and the beautiful lake and the 10-mile marker behind, I felt spent but hopeful.  I knew that the next (and last) hill was going to be a bear and was prepared to walk it.  I was all alone--couldn't even catch a glimpse of anyone before or behind me, but I didn't mind.  Somewhere around miled 11 or 12, though, I started wondering if I was going to make it after all.  I had gotten to the top of that hill and thought I'd start running again but I really didn't have any "run" left in me.  I'd try to start up and then go all jello-y and cut back to a walk. and then try again.  If someone had come along and offered me a ride I just might have taken it. 

All the volunteers were really nice and I'm particularly grateful for the die-hards who stayed out there until the bitter end.  I got to the turn where a nice man dutifully stood at the intersection pointing the way and announced "one mile to go" and I mentioned that I must have missed the 12-mile marker.  He sheepishly said he thought they'd picked them up already.  I laughed and said, yeah, I can't blame them!  Earlier I had seen the truck picking up the tables and water jugs from the aid stations, so I knew they were ready to wrap things up.

I kept slogging.  Earlier I'd at least been able to walk fast, now I was just plodding. Past the golf course, past the lady in a lawn chair who said I was doing great, past the man who advised me to cross to the other side of the road....  A month ago I had thought about where I would start my kick, now I found myself trying to just make myself run.  I had Avril Lavigne on my mp3 which was supposed to be edgy and energizing, but I suddenly listened to the lyrics and heard "isn't anyone tryin' to find me?/Won't somebody come take me home?" and I was sobbing and hoping Emilie would I switched to Dilana singing "Ladylike" which is very UNladylike and makes me laugh.

And then there was Emilie right before the last turn!  And I sobbed some more and she said things like "you're doing it" and "this is it; this is your moment" and she took my hand and said "do you want to run?" and I just nodded and let her pull me out of my lethargy.  And then we rounded the corner and there were the kids and Alan and Mum and Dad and the finish line!  Here's Emilie and the kids bringing me home:

Here's Alan in the finish line shute (a good half hour earlier):

I'm so proud of him!

And here I am sobbing in his arms:

And here at last is the medal I busted my hump for (note the flo-jo nails that match my shirt!):

Official results:

 287* Alan Marks               42 M Orono          ME   799 2:46:59 12:45
 295* Nancy Soule Marks   41 F Orono           ME   582 3:13:13 14:45

*out of 296 runners.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Ick Factor Update

While I'm definitely not 100%, I am feeling soooooooo much better than I was a week ago. 
And that's saying a lot.

I've had such a miserable, painful ordeal, that it was a bit of a surprise for me to realize just how much of an ick factor people associate with Shingles.  A couple people at work (I stopped in for a whole hour today) were kind of inclined to steer clear out of fear of contagion, which I totally understand, but I'm safe, I promise.  And mum set up a nail appointment for me and the gal called, having consulted her own doctor, with some questions regarding the status of my sores.  Again, I understand, it just never occurred to me that anyone would go out putting people at risk if they were actively "oozing" to use her word.  Do hideously contagious people really go out and get their nails done?!?  Anyway, I guess I can enjoy the advantages of not having the things on your face, although there are certain disctinct disadvantages to having them on your hind quarters.

But I'll stop there, in acknowledgement of the ick factor.  That, and I need to stand up for a while.  Ahem!

So, thanks for all the well wishes.  I'm really on my way back, and I'm still hoping (or rather, I have hope once again) that I will make it to that starting line on Saturday.  Oh yeah, and the finish line, too!!

PS: If I sound a little loopy, it's the meds.  I can't drive, but I think I can manage to throw some spaghetti on to boil...

Thursday, September 9, 2010

NOT What I Had In Mind, Part 2

Sorry to load this on you, folks (feel free to skim), but writing this all up is somewhat therapeutic, plus, if I pass out or something, Alan can just refer the medical professionals here.

Tuesday Morning

We get the kids off to school and I call in sick to work. My boss is sympathetic--he's a runner and he's had back problems. I call the chiropractor at 8am and explain the situation. They are full. The receptionist is very nice but the schedule is full. The best she can do is call me if they have a cancellation. I'm assured that I'm top of the list. I hang up in tears. I call Mum who is poised to help with transport in case getting in to the chiro conflicts with Alan's teaching schedule.  Shortly after that, the receptionist calls me back and says she can get me at 2:30pm and will call if anything comes up earlier.  So, at least I know I'll see him that day, which is a big relief.  I call Mum back with the news.  She must hear how miserable I am (she's my mom, after all) and ends up coming over later to cook me butterscotch pudding and keep me company for a while.  I'm so lucky to have such awesome family. [As I type this, Jeremy just walked up to me and gave me a sweet little hug and rubbed my back, as if illustrating my point.]


OK, I give up on the long-winded saga.  On Wednesday, I was worse, not better.  I
 had what I thought was an allergic reaction to the steroids, but it turns out that I have Shingles.  This is only the third time my doctor has seen the pain manifest before the rash so that's why she didn't pick up on it at first.  In addition to the massive nerve pain in my hip, my butt looks--and feels--like I sat in boiling oil.  I am NOT having fun. Hubby has been wonderful schlepping me to doctors and fetching and carrying stuff and dealing with the kids and the house and commiserating when I just can't do anything else except shiver and cry. 

Mum's here now taking her turn as nurse and my only goal for the day is to stay medicated, eat a little, and rest as much as possible. 

Please think good thoughts for me, folks.  I'm trying not to think about 9 days from now.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Labor Day Weekend: NOT What I Had In Mind

I've been trying to fill y'all in for the past two days but it's hard to synopsize while the saga is ongoing and while you're yo-yoing between drugged up and woozy and just plain I'll try to boil it down to the basics before heading off to bed.

I didn't manage to get the run in but made major progress on organizing the play room with Jeremy.  Decided to run Sunday am so Alan could go Sunday eve.  Might as well keep my no-church-all-summer-long streak in tact.  Is running my new religion?

Sunday Morning
Finally headed out the door to attempt 10 miles around 10:20am.  Got a late start because right hip/lower back was kind of bothering me, feeling twingy.  Probably too much slouching in bed watching downloaded episodes of the Wire every night.  Made mental note to try to see Chiro this week, meanwhile hoping run would help loosen me up.  I have decreased the frequency of my chiropractic appointments a lot this past year; I feel like running is very symmetrical and often works the kinks out from slouching at my desk.

Sunday Run
Wasn't feeling energized out the door but I looked good in lots of neon green accents.  I realized early on that the shiny black crop pants were too hot for 67 degrees.  Mentally looked back and thought maybe being overheated in them had hindered me on previous runs.  May have to strike them from the Half wardrobe, despite the cool green stripe.  Did 8m loop from home, to UM bike path, through Old Town and home via Park Street. Walked early, walked often.  Some good points in U forest but mostly slogged.  Uphill stretch after mill in Old Town was misery.  I noticed the butt twinge especialy while walking up hills, which usually provides a welcome stretch. Thought seriously about bagging the extra 2 miles but Alan and the kids were at our driveway with a cowbell and high fives to and that cheered/guilted me into continuing on. Felt a little better: felt the luv, knew I was in the home stretch, plus got a little breathing while giving directions to a grad student.  OK in the end with a total time of 2:17:16. Legs felt OK, butt/hip hurting a fair bit.

Sunday Post Run
Ate PB&Fluff sandwich and took a long hot shower, then spent rest of day sprawled on bed watching TV.  Could NOT get comfortable; in constant pain punctuated by frequent stabs of worse pain. Pretty sure I had a pinched nerve. Alan asked: "So, what Voodoo priest did you piss off??"

Sunday Night
We order take-out and are still eating when Mum and Dad arrive.  I'd invited them over to play a game I bought Dad for his birthday.  It's called "Orijinz" and you try to guess a word or phrase based on it's derivation.  It was fun and a welcome distraction. I played from a sort of bier of pillows on the floor covered with a blanket with a warm rice bag on my butt.  I went to bed early, but the pain had me writhing all night, and desperately holding onto hope that my beloved chiropractor, being Canadian, would actually be open Monday (Labor Day), but figured I was probably delusional.

Monday Morning
I made Alan call our chiro's office. Which was closed. Expletive, expletive, expletive. He left a message that I needed an emergency appointment first thing Tues. I made him call our GP. They were open for walk-ins and my doc was the one on duty, so that was good.  We like her because she "gets" running and she "gets" chiropractors.  In fact, she goes to ours and collaborated with him helping Alan with his Bell's Palsy. I go in hoping for the speedy acquisition of drugs.  Surprisingly, while not yet on drugs I convince Alan that we don't need a sitter, we should ALL go and when I'm feeling miraculously better we can go do some of that back-to-school shopping that was the original plan for the day. We sprawl around the waiting room for an hour.  The kids are restless but relatively well-behaved and sympathetic. Me, I'm pacing around the place in my socks, stopping frequently to clutch my back and wince and moann.  I look like I'm in labor, and it feels like the back labor I had with James. He gets a few scowls he doesn't deserve. 

Dr. Benson confirms my pinched nerve diagnosis while the kids bounce super balls and argue over video games. She gives me shots of steroids (Alan accused me of doping) and something she calls "souped up ibuprofen", and a script for hydrocodone with acetaminaphen. We inform her that I'm running a Half Marathon in 12 days, but part of me is really not sure of this.  She isn't down on it, but doesn't particularly reassure me.  I think she sees that if I feel then the way I do now I won't be running by my own choice.  Alan tells me he is not running it alone which is exactly what I needed to hear.  She wholeheartedly endorses plan to see chiro ASAP, but we forget to ask her to call his office to make sure I get seen right away.

Monday Afternoon
From the doctor's office we head via MacDonald's to Target for the Rx and to do some very random shopping.  The kids love that I'm using a motorized cart but are disappointed at how fast it doesn't go. I'm beginning to feel sick to my stomach so I'm grateful not to be pulling any extra Gs.  I have only a vague idea what we actually buy, other than the red bottle of pills. We finally get back home where I ensconce myself in the family room, medicated at last but still not in a happy place.

Monday Night
I spend the night in the family room where I can be miserable without bothering Alan and can set my watch timer for 4 hours so I know when it's ok for the next pill.  I figure out that when the pills are working I'm spacy but still in dull pain, and when they're not I'm woozy and nauseous, plus they're not working, so it all kind of sucks.  Also my butt is getting sore from sitting/lying down so much.  I catch up on the entire current season of Project Runway (6 straight episodes...well, 6 episodes...).  I alternate between sitting up in the oversized chair and lying flat on my stomach on the couch with pillows under my legs.

Speaking of which... I'm starting to feel really wonky and NEEEED to go to bed so I'll have to continue this tomorrow.  I'm still a wreck.

Saturday, September 4, 2010


Our official countdown calendar now reads:


until Alan and Nancy run
the MDI Half Marathon

So many exclamations come to mind, but few are fit to post.  I waffle between butterflies-in-the-stomach and too tired to think.

I've been talking, blogging, thinking, planning, obsessing about this for so long I almost don't want to talk about it any more (and that's saying a lot!).   Mentally, I am ready to taper, but I have another week of real training to go.  I need a good long run this weekend, hopefully today, hopefully as much as 10 miles.  I was totally psyched to run in the rain, but we've been doing some major reorganizing today and at some point *pouf!* the sun came out and I realized I had missed my chance.  Darn.

It was soooooo nice to lounge in bed this morning listening to the rain and feeling a breeze come in through the open windows, the overhead fan on, and the A/C off....aaaaaah.  Thank you, Earl!

Friday, September 3, 2010

When I Took Ballet "Splits" Meant Something Else Entirely...

Check out these splits from last night's run by someone who's accustomed to taking walking breaks and is generally happy to be around a 12 minute/mile pace:

Mile 1 = 10:58
Mile 2 = 22:00
Mile 3 = 33:03
Mile 4 = 44:02
Mile 5 = 54:45

How did I manage that?!?

1. I bailed on both my Monday and Wednesday runs [too dang hot!!] so I
    a. was well rested and
    b. felt obligated to get in a good run

2. I ran inside the (somewhat) air-conditioned Rec Center on a nice smooooooooth track

3. I listened to ABBA's  "The Name of the Game" nonstop on my Mp3.  I'm getting really sick of it, but it works perfectly for me.

How do I feel today?

Pretty darn good!  I have one little niggling ache in a muscle that must be the one that propelled me around those 200 turns (50 laps x 4 "corners").  I think my personal trainer will be pleased to learn it's in my butt (inside, lower, right cheek...can you tell I was turning left?!?), since he loves to kick it so.

Priceless: A Guest Post by The Man of the House

Tearing apart the door:    $0

Finding and replacing the screw that had fallen out:    $0

Straightening the bent rods:    $0

Putting it all back together:    $0

Trusting your husband to know what he's doing:   Priceless