2012 was full of ups and downs for me as far as running goes. For the most part though everything was positive.
I started 2012 with the PF Changs Rock and Roll Marathon. I went into this race with a horrible case of plantar fasciitis that had started in July. I had just finished physical therapy a few weeks prior and hadn’t received much relief from it. Going into the race I wasn’t feeling too positive because of all the pain, but I wanted to at least try and run it, this would be my second full marathon. Well, the race was not great. On top of running with a bum foot the race started half an hour late which threw off my warm up. I ended up with side aches about 8 miles in and they never went away. I crossed the finish line with a new best time of 3:43:12. I felt awful, everything hurt. While I was glad to have completed and come away with a better time, I still was disappointed in the way I felt during the race.
After the race I went into full force trying to get my plantar fascitis under control. I took a little time off running which I thought helped, until the same familiar pain returned the minute I started running again. Next step was ordering custom orthotics. These made a big improvement although they didn’t completely solve the problem.
Before I started running full time in my orthotics I ran a half marathon in March. It was the Phoenix Marathon and it was their inaugural race. I did this race with my friend Corine (check her out over at the www.zucchinirunner.com). The things I remember most about this race other than it was a great race for me (new half marathon PR 1:38:51 and was the 22nd female finisher) was the freezing temperatures at the start and the amazing spread of food at the finish. One of my favorite bakeries to get bread at was giving out cookies, brownies, muffins, and scones at the finish…needless to say I loaded my goodie bag and stuffed my face the whole way home!
My third marathon was the San Diego Rock and Roll in June. This was a great race for me. I felt so relaxed and calm before the race, which is totally unlike me. I had plenty of time to warm up, stretch, and take everything in. The year before when I did this race I was pressed for time so it stressed me out before the race even began. The highlights of this race were having my friend Corine there to help keep me calm, a VIP Port-A-Potty pass (nothing could be more stress reducing than not having to wait in line for 15 minutes to use the bathroom), running past Ryan Hall on our warm up run ( I was giddy as a little school girl when I saw him), and getting a huge new marathon PR, 3:29:12. That time was also a Boston qualifying time which was just the icing on the cake! My improvement and success with this marathon spurred my desire to become a better runner.
Over the brutal Arizona summer I trained hard to make myself faster. Training started out great, but as the summer heat and humidity surged on I began to tire. I entered several races over the summer to help keep myself motivated. I ran a half marathon up north in Holbrook to escape the heat. It was a small race and I ended up being the first female finisher! Even though I absolutely hated that race (it turned out to be 90% trail instead of the half trail half road like they listed it as) I was ecstatic about my first place finish.
I also did a couple of 5K races through the city of Scottsdale. I hadn’t raced a 5K in so long that I really didn’t know what to expect or even how to race it. I surprised myself in the first race and was the first female finisher! I couldn’t believe it, I’d finished first again! The second 5K race however was a different story. The weather was awful. It was extremely hot and there had just been a dust/rain storm before the race started so the humidity was through the roof! I felt ok the first mile of the race, but after that things went downhill. The humidity and trying to hold the pace I was going for were too much. I felt like I was breathing through a straw. I was the 4th female finisher in that race and really disappointed about it. This was the start of a bad month of training for me.
During the month of August I strained the muscles in my ribs and wasn’t able to run for several days. If you’ve ever strained the muscles around your ribs you know how incredibly painful it is. It hurts to move and even to breathe. I probably should have taken more time off from running, but I have a really hard time doing that. I ran through a lot of pain and eventually after about a month I felt like myself again. It was about this time that the heat started to break and the temperatures became more bearable.
In October I ran another half marathon called the Arizona Half Marathon out in Goodyear. My Aunt and Uncle have a vacation home out there and the start/finish of the race was only half a mile from their house! It was perfect. My husband and I went out there the evening before the race to stay at their house. This cut out so much stress for me race morning and allowed me to get some extra sleep. The race had some nice desert scenery and for the most part was a good course. There was one monster hill several miles from the finish that I really had to gut it out on. I again had great success with this race and ended up being the first female finisher. While it wasn’t a PR for me it was a great race and a pretty good time for me, 1:39:02.
To finish off 2012 I ran the California International Marathon in Sacramento. My sister, who is also my coach, ran it the year before and said it was a good race and a nice course. I thought it would be fun to run a course in a city I’d never visited. I was very excited for this race, up until the week of it when the weather forecast started to not look so good. With every day that the race drew closer the weather reports kept getting worse. They were predicting headwinds up to 30 mph, 100% chance of rain, and colder than I’d wanted temperatures. A couple days before the race I had to reevaluate how I expected to perform.I decided that if I could at least finish with a slightly better time than my last marathon I would be ok with that.
The morning of the race I looked out the hotel window and it was as bad as they had predicted. I couldn’t believe I was actually going to go run 1 mile in this let alone 26.2 miles. I bundled up as best I could and my husband drove me to the bus pick up point. The minute I opened the car door I was wet, even though I was decked out in a very fashionable garbage bag. When the bus dropped us off at the start it was almost surreal. The wind was blowing harder than I had ever experienced, to the point that it was pushing me and almost knocked me over. Along with the wind the rain pelted down hard, soaking me and making me cold before I even started. I took cover under the roof of a gas station along with probably 300 other runners. Warming up was out of the question. I just did some stretching and tried to stay positive. Then it was time to line up and lose the garbage bag.
From here everything became a blur. The gun went off and then I was just running. No clue really what my pace was, just moving. The wind was so strong it was like trying to push through a brick wall. I kept looking around me at all the other runners knowing we were all in the same boat and dealing with the same circumstances. I really didn’t see much of the course in this race because my head was down so much trying to keep the rain out of my eyes. What I did see of it though would have been beautiful had it been a nice sunny day. The streets were lined with big beautiful trees full of fall colors, and the small towns and neighborhoods were well kept and quaint, with old homes and buildings.
I managed to pick up my pace the last few miles with the thought of getting in warm dry clothes driving me forward. I finally crossed the finish line with a time of 3:27:46 although I didn’t know this until an hour later. My husband was waiting at the finish to congratulate me, I had never been so happy to see him. I was completely exhausted and out of it. After getting my finisher picture taken I started to get really cold and my right psoas was locking up to the point where I could barely walk. I went in the medical tent where they worked on it as well as worked on getting my body temperature back up because it had dropped so low. After an hour they finally let me leave. I hobbled over to where the goodies and food were, it was time to stock up! Even though I felt pretty crummy there was no way I was missing the pancakes with strawberries! Somehow standing there freezing, eating those pancakes made everything worth it.
While I wasn’t thrilled with how I performed in this race it was definitely one that I will never forget. Following the race I was able to take a few vacation days and relax in Napa and San Fransisco. It was a great way to finish 2012. Be sure to check out the picture below of my reward for running another marathon (by far the tastiest reward I have ever had)!
And there you have it folks 2012 racing and running in a nutshell….ok it was kind of a long nutshell, congratulations if you made it all the way through!