Van First Half – Race Report

With less than 12 hours until the start of the race there was a wind warning for gusts of up to 100 km and it was raining pretty good. I’d done my last 12 mile long run in some pretty nasty rain so I wasn’t super worried, the forecast had been calling for rain on race day for a good two weeks, but as some of you know I have some rational/irrational wind fears. By the time I went to bed the rain had stopped but the wind had not. When I woke up in the morning the sky was scattered clouds and NO RAIN was falling, there was a breeze, wind at times, enough that I wore my running hat, but for what could have been the weather was incredible.

In the final weeks leading up to the race I went through some serious nerves. I hadn’t ran a half marathon in 12 years and I was extremely nervous. Thankfully, by the time I got up Sunday morning after a surprisingly good sleep, I was more excited than anything. My only real worry was my I/T bands, a few days before I had started to doubt the whole process of tapering and I had a few extra taper days on the calendar so I was worried that given the drop in running that even though I was diligently doing the exercises for them that they weren’t going to hold because in my mind I wasn’t running enough.

Given I’d been plagued with injury since the previous April my only goal was making the start and make the start I did! My dad sent me an awesome email full of great advice. Some of it was stuff I had heard to do, for example break your half into four 5ks, but having a lot of great tips in one place that I could read over really helped me on the course when I was hurting.

I felt amazing through the first 10 km, super relaxed, and ran a race split PR of 49:16. I had decided after I knew I was going to make the start that I’d be pretty happy if I could run a 1:50, but I also knew that the only hills in the course were in the second half and so I also figured with how I felt at the end of my last long run that running the first half in around 50 minutes was to my advantage incase I ran into trouble in the second half. And run into trouble I did.

At approximately 12 km I felt both of my I/T bands start to twinge. My hips were fine but my knees, not so much. I seriously thought that I had at least 16 km in them, I wasn’t sure how to handle it at first and panicked and slowed down considerably. I also lost a lot of my rhythm, I didn’t feel so hot anymore. My mind started to get to me, my last half started to exude itself into the forefront of my thoughts and all I could hear was you can’t run the rest of this if both of your I/T bands go, you can’t do it. I remember I was nearing 15 km when I’d had enough and telling my head to fuck the fuck off finally worked, what the hell good was rehashing that horrendous race doing for me? Thankfully, by this point my right I/T band had stopped hurting completely, the left one was not stabbing me but it was rubbing and I was losing confidence.

I was surprised at how badly I was feeling mentally, again, I thought I had at least 16 km of relatively strong mental running in the tank. My head was now heavily relying on having ran that sub 50 minute in the first half and was saying such things to me as no worries you can totally walk up that hill! Not in my race you can’t.

The last 5 km was a battle, I managed to get my disastrous first half marathon out of my head completely but now I just felt pain and I had to dig deep and tell myself to keep picking up my feet and go but man I really didn’t wanna. I had managed to pin myself to a woman close to my pace in the second half of the race up until the last water station where I lost her, she blocked a lot of the wind for me and helped me not die. Thank you anonymous runner.

I beat my brain and I didn’t walk at all, I pushed up the final hill and left everything I had on the pavement. But while I was running for the final turn for the finish a woman who had been racing with a man the entire way who I’d played the you pass me I’ll pass you game with for most of the race – I saw her partner run off to the sidewalk right when I also saw a sign that said unregistered runners drop out here. This was a seriously well organized race and I remember reading somewhere that they could only have 2000 runners due to insurance reasons, so I’m simply confused as to how people were basically allowed to have pacers/bandits that weren’t even registered in the race? I really would have loved to have had Adam meet me at the halfway point and run me in and recently I was creeping Elisabeth Hasselbeck’s half marathon time and read that she is a PROUD race BANDIT and was happy to pace her friends into the finish of races, which I’m glad I came across or it would have been an even bigger what the fuck moment. I really want to know when this became ok? Like I said I haven’t ran a half marathon in 12 years so if I am missing something, please, I’m serious, fill me in.

When I rounded the final corner and saw that I had a chance to put it in the 1:47 range I found a gear that managed to keep me there with a final personal best time of 1:47:50. One of my girlfriends was there to meet me and it meant the world to me even if it was a tad runnerish when she told me that my gel shot had made it’s way up into my nose. I was slightly embarrassed until I realized it wasn’t snot and I had just run 21.1 km.

You can’t run from yourself.

Where I left off last year having missed a half marathon waiting to find out if I had a stress fracture turned out to be just the beginning.

I did infact have a stress fracture in the left 4th metatarsal of my foot. I was pretty pissed off because I knew that meant I was also going to miss another half at the end of June.

I dusted off my old mountain bike and begrudgingly started to ride it around Stanley Park Road and some days I’d go around twice cursing that damn Prospect Point hill all the way up. I also got a pass for the Vancouver Aquatic Centre (major hidden city gem) and started to water run or aqua jog as some call it. Water running for an hour is boring in general but it’s horrible at this particular pool, the only suitable place to do it is in the dive tank and you can’t see for shit. Adam went with me a couple times on the weekends but he couldn’t actually run in the water so he just swam next to me and I realized for the first time ever that water running isn’t easy. I learned how to do it sans water belt with my high school track team and have used it on and off whilst sick or injured whenever I’ve been running.

It was a long six weeks.

After what felt like years in runner time the sports doctor gave me a month of rehab running on the track. The first week I ran 3 days and 1 km on each day. By the end of the month I hadn’t ran over 3 km at one time but I was able to return to my regular miles.

On only my third real run Adam and I were on one of my favourite routes, at two points you run under Canada Place, it is dark under there but I left my Oakleys on because I have transition lenses in them and it wasn’t until the way back under that right after Adam had warned me to watch my step that I turned my ankle over, badly. I sat down on a curb and starting swearing at myself through tears and of course blamed not having removed my sunglasses even though people run at night and stuff so it being a bit darker from my glasses shouldn’t have mattered. Physio said that if destroying it completely was a three then I’d done a full two on it. It was bruised and swollen straight from one side to the other. The physio brought me a picture of a foot and started to point to things and used words like crushed and torn and it wasn’t the best day I’ve had at physio. I think the best news was finding out that it was likely going to take me out for longer than my stress fracture had. It did, a lot longer.

I was able to ride my bike again at first but no water running just a plethora of boring exercises, but I did them, every. fucking. day. When I was able to start water running again the aquatic centre was closed for cleaning for the entire summer and into September. Brilliant. This left me with the outdoor, Second Beach Pool which I had water ran in back in the early 2000s but I had a mini freak out because I figured times had changed and that people would get mad at me for what looks like simply treading water in a funny way up and down the slow lane. I got over it and went; it was actually fun again because I could see the rest of the pool and the aqua fit class started right when the pool opened so there was music, the time flew by. This is where I also forgot that you can tan under the water a HARD lesson I should have already learned after missing the bottom of the back of my legs in The Cook Islands and suffering a seriously bad burn while snorkeling.

I don’t even remember how many weeks I was out for exactly but I was eventually cleared to run, short, slow rehab runs again the only difference was they weren’t on the track this time. Everything was going well and I was building my miles back up and getting excited to race in the inaugural Eastside 10k in mid September which was actually more important to me than my halfs had been because I really wanted to be in the first one. The race was my first actual 10 km run in months. By this point things were going good enough that I signed up for a 10 km race in November with hopes of getting revenge on a bad race the previous year leaving me with many training runs that are much faster but don’t officially stand up as PBs.

One morning I woke up with a very dull ache in my heel, I didn’t think too much of it and went for my run figuring it was a kink and that it would be fine, it apparently wasn’t fine and now my heel hurt, badly. Physio said it was likely that some scar tissue left over from the sprain had irritated some nerves. Oh my God, FANTASTIC!

I missed yet another race and at this time started to stress because I have a half marathon on February 16th and the idea of seriously missing three half marathons was enough to finally have me say enough and this time I sat on my ass and did not ride my bike or water run. I was really fucking OVER being injured. OVER.IT. All I did was the exercises given to me at physio.

By the time I was able to start running again I was a week shy of the minimum 10 weeks needed to get ready for the half. I knew my ankle wasn’t going to let me run more than 3 days a week yet and I didn’t feel it was safe given some other small things that were popping up to do any real speed or hill training, I thought it best just to concentrate on getting the runs done.

For one, my left tibia has been bugging me since October, I thought it would go away during the time off for my heel but it started to hurt right away again. Physio is going to be teaching me how to tape it if it doesn’t get better pretty quickly. I also just got a cortisone shot in my ankle about two weeks ago because it’s six plus months on and it still isn’t 100%.

It’s just over a week until race day and I’m getting extremely nervous, doubting my decision not to do hills or track workouts, feeling upset with myself because I ran a faster paced 8k than I’ve been able to run my last two 5ks at. Feeling like I can’t even run that far because I haven’t since 2002 thanks to all these injuries I just got through explaining. I of all people know how hard I am on myself but I haven’t raced well in so long I’m just really nervous. And I know the races I did last year that sucked were last year and this is a new year but I can’t help it, I’m feeling super insecure. The only goal I set for this race was making the start line and I have 3 runs left to complete before that can happen. It does look like I’m going to make it. I just feel like I worked through so much that I deserve a good race, but running doesn’t work that way, just like life and really I just wish I could fucking relax.

Sidelined.

The 5th of May has come and gone and I was not at the start line for the BMO ½ Marathon. On one of my runs in the final two and a half weeks leading up to the race I felt a pain in my left foot, it was in the last kilometer of a short 8k and I knew the second I felt it that I was out. I did run another 13k on it that Sunday to prove myself right but I still knew.

The last time I injured myself before a big race I ran it anyway and that had disastrous consequences. I could have easily done the same thing this time but I didn’t, I’ve been benched and haven’t ran since April 21st.

I may or may not have a stress fracture. X-rays generally do not show stress fractures and mine stayed true to that so I’ve been waiting on a bone scan. After I’d done that 13k the pain wasn’t any worse than it had been but the three days rest I’d given it from the onset hadn’t helped at all either. I had planned on simply giving it another two days rest and then only running 5k on it. At first I wasn’t worried because the longest run I had left before the race was a 10k and I figured if it wasn’t going to hurt any worse than that then I could run the ½ on it.

I went out on the second rest day to do some errands and noticed again that the foot felt no better and the words stress fracture were getting louder and louder in the back of my head. My body was telling me that ignoring my gut any longer was stupid and to get my ass to physio, NOW. I knew I was going to have to see a different physiotherapist than my normal one and I wasn’t super happy about it. I’d heard good things about the new guy at the clinic and thankfully everything I heard turned out to be true because between treatment and having my foot re-taped twice a week, we’ve been spending a lot of time together.

I’m pretty sure that this injury be it a stress fracture or just a really bad strain stems from a super bad race I had at the end of March followed by a training error or rather a few training errors. I didn’t write specifically about the race but I did post on how stressed out I was feeling. It seems silly to get so worked up over a race but some of these races are really expensive and they do take a lot of time in training for them. Whether I’m running them for fun or for a specific time it’s disappointing and frustrating when nothing ends up working out. When I was forced to back off of my miles I didn’t back off the intensity, I think that’s the main error I made. I know I would have raced a great time, I did a 19k Tribute to Terry Fox run on April 12 and the pace was pretty easy and I felt great the entire way and the time was 1 hour 50 minutes. I felt really strong that day, that day made me feel like it was all finally coming together. I’ve got it now, I’ve learned the lesson, when I get back out there I’m slowing my training down. I’m going to stop saying that I’m going to do it and just do it. The funny thing is if I’d have been running with a group regularly it would have happened anyway because I always have to keep up to the front of whatever group I’m running with and that is why I don’t run with groups, very often, I know my running weaknesses.

So far I haven’t gotten depressed and I’ve been riding my bike around the park, not in the trails that would hurt my foot, too bumpy and I’ve been water running. Water running has got to be the most boring thing to do on the entire planet but I started doing it with my high school track team and have done it enough in my life that I’m actually pretty good at it. I started out with 45 minutes and now I’m up to an hour. I don’t know how I feel about doing it for more than an hour, I take Adam to the pool with me on Sundays to keep me company, If I go over an hour it’ll be when he is with me. I don’t really know what sort of water moves he’s doing but it is nice to have him there.

Right now is a bit of a waiting game, my bone scan is super soon but then it can take another 5 days for results. I waver back and forth over whether I think it is fractured or not. One part of me doesn’t think that it hurts enough while the other is puzzled as to how it doesn’t feel any better. It feels like if I ran a kilometer on it that it would dart right back to the most intense of pain levels. If the scan comes back not fractured I could be back out there in around 6 weeks but if it comes back fractured it will likely be 8 to 12. Either way I’m not running on any sort of ground right now and although that sucks fucking large I seem to be maintaining my sanity quite nicely. For now.

diagnostic thoughts.

When I sat down for my last session with my psychiatrist some of the first words out of his mouth stated that he had just read a recent study proclaiming that the average diagnosis period for bipolar II is 13 years. When and the way he said it stuck with me. I’ve been seeing him long enough now that I’m used to his mannerisms and this wasn’t the shrink I recognized for a moment. We both know it took 10 years to diagnose me so I left it, I remember acknowledging that he said it but I didn’t comment back in a way to bring it into the dialogue I moved on to whatever I needed to talk about.

I can’t say that finding out that it can apparently take 13 years to come to the conclusion that your patient is in fact more than “just depressed” doesn’t make me feel any better about the length of time it took for me because for me it isn’t really about the length of time, that is turning out to be the least of my worries.

This has been the first week except for PMS where I’ve had more than one bad day in a row. This is good but it is also bad because the low times were LOW like sleeping all day low. One very obvious difference over being on the antidepressants and now just meds for bipolar II is that before I’d go to bed and do absolutely nothing and have to play catch up on everything. This week I still did all of my housewife extraordinaire chores and then I crashed or I crashed in between and I went to some length to hide from Adam that I was actually sleeping – which there is no need for me to do – if I wasn’t getting it done as a wife. Yesterday I explained that I had been feeling worse than I had originally led on.

The point is I don’t know how many days are too many days. I don’t want to have to add an antidepressant back into the mix but I realize I may have to. I feel so exposed and I don’t mean in an I put my life online sorta way I mean literally exposed. Depression was just depression but this means that there is actually something wrong with me. I would gather that makes no sense because severe depression alone dictates that there is something wrong but this is deviating from everything I thought I knew about my disease. I have now said to myself many times that I do not like being bipolar I do not like it one bit. But at the same time I do not want the old me back, not for one second. I like the person that is emerging, the difference is incontestable, this is a better me. But I’m still afraid. Very very afraid. I don’t enjoy feeling like a time bomb or worrying that people won’t want to be friends with me because of it.

I don’t care so much about the label of bipolar – people are gonna say what they are gonna say – as I do the feelings behind living with this. I know in my head right now that it wouldn’t be a failure to have to go back on an antidepressant but I know I would punish myself with mental torture if I were to. I do not wish to be back under some foggy cloudy shit that most of the time I really didn’t think was there but I’m afraid of bad days and how long they will last and if it is only the day and how will I feel in the morning and did I freak out and if so how bad? So it is a bit of obsessive thoughts as well. Everything is still so new, the only other time I was able to come off of antidepressants I made it two months, suffered an assault and went right back on. I remember that ex boyfriend I have who said that he would never want to know me off of antidepressants, I don’t dwell on that comment but I sure as fuck remember it.

This is me off of antidepressants, up and down a bit more than I’d like right now but adjusting to being a medicated bipolar person with a side of clonazepam for anxiety. It’s the best I’ve got right now.