Reindeer Run 5k Race Report

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The alarm went off just after 5am and while I was quite bleary-eyed, I rolled myself out of bed to get moving. I tend to not get as much rest the evening before a race, and this time was no different. There's just something about the excitement of a race that gets my mind reeling all night long which has me waking up at least a few times. So much for sleeping straight through for seven to eight hours!
Once I ate my breakfast and got myself ready to go, mom was up trying to put something in her stomach. This was the second race mom was doing with me, as she did the Turkey Trot as well on Thanksgiving morning. She works until 11pm, so she had even less sleep than I did. We got out the door a little later than I had planned, but only by about 8-10 minutes, so it wasn't too bad. The event was being held at Sea World this year, so it's only about a twenty minute drive from my parents house.

Traffic was fairly light at that early morning hour, so I made good driving time. Arriving at the Sea World entrance, that is where the hold up began. It took almost fifteen minutes to get inside and park the car. Neither myself or mom felt as though the parking situation was as organized as it could have been. Heck, it was Sea World, they are used to crowds of people, so I was expecting more organization in that area.

As soon as I parked the car, we followed the crowds of people toward the starting line. I was disappointed to discover that the only available restrooms before the race start would be portable ones. Usually, I expect that when I'm doing a race in downtown Orlando, but seeing as this was Sea World playing host, I thought we would have access to their facilities. We did have access to those restrooms later on, but that was only after the race had begun.

Due to the parking situation taking longer than expected, the race start time ended up being pushed back by about twenty minutes. Once it started, I got a bit confused as to where the actual starting line was since mom and I were in the walkers area. The runners had originally lined up at one point with a starting line banner/line, but once we got moving, the clock was about .1 mile or so ahead of that point. The only bad thing about that was, the clock was not going when I approached that point, so I had no idea how far behind the actual starting clock time I was. I was only going to be able to rely on my own watch and my Nike+ times. Not sure why that happened, maybe some sort of malfunction? It was just a bit disappointing since I looked at the clock time for the Turkey Trot the previous month which helped me see how far behind that time I had begun since the seasonal races aren't d-chip timed.

The first mile or so of the course route was through the parking lot. While I saw this prior to the event, I didn't think too much about it. It wasn't until I was actually doing the beginning of the race that I realized how much I didn't like this portion of the route. It was boring and odd. By the time I reached the park entrance, I was anxious for some new scenery besides parking spaces in Sea World's huge parking lot. The route inside of the theme park was okay. The ground itself inside was made of cement stone which I wasn't a fan of. It's a bit awkward of a surface. Also, the park itself had numerous wet spots so trying to avoid them took some work with the crowds of people everywhere. There were some good things though of course, the decorations Sea World has around it's park were nice to see as was the area where they pumped out fake "snow." My favorite parts though consisted of seeing the flamingos and the cockatoo and macaw the employees had brought out to see the racers. Otherwise, I'd have to say that this route was probably my least favorite of the 2010 races I've done.

At the finish, I felt good at having completed it, since my back had done well as did my sciatica. But, I didn't feel the excitement that I usually do at the completion of a race. Not sure if it has to do with not liking the course or what. I do want to make sure I say that Track Shack did an awesome job as always with helping put the event on. They work hard to organize many races each year and I give them kudos for that. I just think that the venue wasn't ideal. Also, the charity cause this race was supporting was for pediatric cancer. Dan Newlin, a local attorney was the main financial supporter of this event and in doing so, I felt that he seemed to make himself stand out more than the cause the Reindeer Run was for. His name was everywhere and on everything, and it felt to me, as well as to my mom that he wasn't allowing enough of the spotlight to shine upon the children and cause we were racing for. When I saw people wearing shirts with their sick child on them who had passed away far too young, and the firefighters wearing pinned photos of kids on their sleeves, I felt that those people and their stories should have been at the forefront of the race, not this attorney.

I am glad that I did get out there and do the event with my mom, as it was nice to do another 5k event with her. I hope that we can do more in 2011 and maybe get my dad to come out and do a race or two as well.

Sciatica/Workout Update

Wednesday, December 8, 2010
Here's an update on what has been going on since I last blogged regarding my workouts and my back injury.

Last Friday, I did go back out in the morning pre-work for a power walk. I slowed my pace down some (probably not enough though, it's hard to do when you are used to pushing yourself) and did okay. Was very happy that I felt good for the most part and was looking forward to my Saturday workout.

On Saturday, I usually do 3 miles or a full 5k distance-wise. I felt a bit weak during the walk, so not wanting to push myself too hard too soon, I cut the workout short by a mile. I also decided to pick up another knee support for my left knee thinking that some extra support might help.

I had plans to go to EPCOT with my best friend on Sunday and woke up feeling good. I already planned upon doing a walk prior to the day at the park, so I headed out. I ended up doing just over 5k distance-wise which I was pleased with. I felt pretty good coming home post-workout. I then got myself ready and met my friend for our day trip to the theme park.

The day continued to go well until after dinner time. While in Captain EO, my left foot and leg began to feel numb and fall asleep. This didn't please me at all, as I was trying to have a good time. After that, the feeling would subside a bit, but never really went away. I found myself massaging my foot and leg the rest of the night once I got home. Definitely not my idea of fun. And, no matter what I did to try and calm my foot, nothing seemed to work.

Since I was having so much trouble on Sunday night, I opted to take Monday as a rest day from my walk. I figured that maybe doing the 5k and then walking in the park was overwhelming on my back/sciatic nerve. That being so, I hoped and prayed that it would calm down with a rest day.

At work on Monday, nothing seemed to calm my numb and uncomfortable foot. I merely had to grin and bear it it seemed. When I got home after work, I opted to take half of a muscle spasm pill that I had gotten from my doctor for my back injury. I was really hoping it would help calm that nerve. Since Monday had been so uncomfortable, I planned to again rest on Tuesday from my walk.

Here it is Wednesday and I'm still dealing on and off (more on) with the sciatica discomfort. I am not having any back pain per say, it's all in my left leg and mostly foot. Not a fun experience to say the least. I've rested since Sunday's walk and theme park outting, so I'm debating on whether I should continue the rest through Saturday's Reindeer Run 5k or attempt to do a slower walk tomorrow morning. At this point, tomorrow would be my only workout prior to the race since I rarely workout the day before just to allow my body to relax going in. So, I'll have to see how I feel in the morning I suppose.

Rest is important, but sometimes too much rest is going overboard as well as crazy as that sounds. I have read online that resting for a couple of days for sciatica and then slowly resuming walks and low intensity workouts is a good thing. I've also learned that my sciatica discomfort may not subside for awhile, it's hard to say how long it might stick around. I recall last winter when I rarely ran due to my wussiness in the cold temperatures. I was hoping to conquer that a bit more this year and get out there more often.

Bump in the road

Thursday, December 2, 2010

It seems that I have hit a bump in the road in regards to my 10k training. In the last couple of days, I've begun to experience sciatica pain in my lower back and a bit in my upper legs. The more I thought about this soreness, the more I realized that my leg problems with the "jelly leg" from Sunday's 4 mile walk was most likely a part of this same problem. In fact, this may go back to Thanksgiving Day.

On Thanksgiving, I took part in a Turkey Trot 5k here in Orlando. For the first time, my mom decided to sign up, so it became a bit of a family affair. Thousands of area runners and walkers joined in on the trot fun. By the end of the race, I was feeling good, a bit tired, but good. I felt so good later that day in fact, that I walked another 2 miles in the evening with my father. It was quite a slower paced walk, but I went out and did the extra mileage. My body isn't really used to doing anything further workout wise post-race. I tend to take it easy and not do anymore workouts on those days. I suppose adding those extra couple of miles may have been too much for my body to take.

The next day, my quads were extremely sore. I hadn't recalled being that sore since I was doing my weight loss workouts, or maybe since I began running in 2009. Either way, it had been awhile since I had experienced that level of soreness. I didn't workout that day, but I did go back out for a 3 mile walk on Saturday. My legs were still a bit sore, but they seemed to be a lot better. Then came Sunday, the Hal Higdon training calls for a 45-90 minute walk for this particular time of training. Heading out the door, I felt good so I had it in my mind that I was going to push to do 4 miles if I continued to do well. The first 3 miles went well, my body is used to doing that kind of mileage, so it's a piece of cake. Trouble didn't occur until I hit the last 500 or so meters of my 4 miles. At that point, my left leg became weakened and felt like "jelly." I made it home okay, after pushing myself to get there and then I felt alright. My leg seemed to calm and the weakening went away.

Monday's walk went alright, didn't feel as energized as usual, but that has happened some mornings, so I didn't think much of it. Tuesday's 2 mile walk did have a problem though. My left leg again experienced some weakness during the workout. It didn't have the "jelly" sensation that I had on Sunday, but it did feel pretty weak. Wednesday is a rest day for me, I tend to keep this day as a definite non-workout day, so I didn't workout at all. Today, I would have normally gone out for my usual 2 miles or more, but due to my sciatica/back soreness, I opted to take an additional rest day so as not to push my back too much.

Today, I have iced my back some and also used the heating pad when I can. The soreness is still here, it fades a bit but has yet to go away completely. At this point, I'm conflicted on whether or not to go out for tomorrow's power walk. On one side of the coin, exercise is good for my back injury, just not overdoing it. If I do go out, it would definitely not be at the intensity that I normally do my walks in, I'd have to not worry about my pacing. On the other hand, I'm wondering if another rest day is in order. I could take tomorrow off and then resume my workouts on Saturday, allowing my soreness one more day to relax and rest. I'll most likely see how I feel in the morning, play it by ear. If I feel okay and stretch well, I should be okay to walk at a slower pace. Either way, I'm listening to my body and my gut feeling on it.

My story

Wednesday, December 1, 2010
I had been an overweight girl most of my life. I would probably say that I really started to be fat when I was about thirteen years old. My father's side of the family is one that loves it's food. I recall visiting my grandparents many times as a kid and there never being a lack of snacks around. There would always be Doritos, Cheetos, cookies, nuts, you name it, it was out in a bowl or some other container ready for anyone to consume. Of course, there was a good amount of junk food at home as well. My parents tried to get my brother and I to eat as healthy as they knew how, but whenever family or friends came over, we had pizza, chips, ice cream and such all of the time. When you are an active young kid playing Little League baseball or softball and constantly running around outside everyday, that isn't a really horrible thing in the weight department.
By the time I made it to high school, my outdoor activity began to decline, as I no longer rode my bike to school and was not as interested in playing outside with neighbor kids after school. I was now taking the bus to school or one of my parents drove me to and from there. While it was great that I began active in newspaper, yearbook and other creative outlets in high school, the regular exercise and activity I had been having as a younger kid slowly but surely faded away. The weekends when friends came over for sleepovers or we had pizza nights still continued, yet I had no way of really working off the excess I was taking in food-wise. Also, there was lunch time at school. For the first time in my life, I was able to choose a bag of chips over an actual plate of food for my lunch. I was not good at making the best food or nutrition choices for myself. Thus began my more sedentary lifestyle.
I'm not sure exactly when I thought I was overweight and unhealthy, but I think that deep down inside myself I knew it by the time that I was eighteen or thereabouts. I would try quick diets, Weight Watchers and all sorts of things. I was never committed enough to really drop the weight or change the way that I ate or lived in that way. There was one point in my early twenties when I did drop some weight however. My family doctor had put me on a weight loss drug which aided me in losing about 40 or so pounds at the time. Alas, it was very short term, and I gained the weight back and more soon after. Nothing really stuck with me because I was not ready. That really is the bottom line with weight loss, you have to be ready to change your life and get healthy.
The second season into a television reality show called, The Biggest Loser, I began to feel a twinge of motivation. I watched as the show's contestants battled it out each week to eat healthy and worked their butts off in the gym. About a year or so later, I heard about the show doing a tour throughout the country. The tour would include former contestants from show itself. One of my favorites from that second season was going to be in attendance. I was thrilled at the chance to go to this event and meet them. At the mall tour, I met Suzy Preston. At the time, I was sure I wanted to get myself healthy once and for all and drop the weight. I told her that she had been an inspiration to me, and I was going to really do it this time. Alas, I again started something I wasn't ready to follow through on.
Then in September of 2008, my defining moment came. At the time, I was living in Western North Carolina and had gone home to Central Florida to visit my parents for a few days. During my visit down to Florida, my father and I went to EPCOT one day. There, the two of us took pictures and enjoyed a day at the theme park together. Returning back home to North Carolina, I had two picture cds in hand, one was from the camera I was using to shoot that day at EPCOT, the other was from my father's camera. He said that I might want to see some of the shots he took. As soon as I popped his disc into my computer, I realized that my dad had taken some candid’s pictures of me. I was out there shooting photos or not paying attention and he took a few photos during those moments. Looking at the photos of myself I could not believe how fat I looked. I was mortified by what I was seeing. Something inside of me just knew then that I had to do something to drop the weight and get healthy. No more false starts, this time I was going to begin and follow through to the finish on my weight loss journey.
After a lot of good days and bad days, I succeeded in my weight loss journey by the summer of 2009. I had lost over 75lbs and had never felt more energized or healthier in my life. I worked hard to achieve my goals and knew that I was no longer that same person that had been in those pictures over nine months prior. It felt good seeing the results of my hard work and knowing that I had finally done it. Once I conquered my weight loss goals, I knew that I could not stop there. I never wanted to return to my old lifestyle. I began the Couch 2 5k Running plan. Never believing that I could be a runner, I slowly but surely began to prove myself wrong. It really is amazing what you can accomplish when you put your mind to it and push through.
Then on March 30, 2010, I encountered a set back. After a 25 minute run, my longest run to date at the time, I experienced severe back pain later that day at work. At first, I shrugged it off, thinking it was just soreness and not being used to running that much or that far. But, by the end of the work day, I knew that I had to do something as I even had difficulty carrying my bag. The next morning, I went in to see my doctor thinking that she would say it was something that could be easily treated and not to worry. Fast forward to two weeks later, after having an MRI done of my back, I was informed that I had herniated my lumbar disc in my lower back. I was crushed by the news. What was even more crushing was that my doctor told me that I would more than likely never be able to run again due to the injury.
Once I got over the denial and the not wanting to give up running thoughts in my brain, I finally accepted that I may never again be a runner. Those 25 minutes I ran on March 30th may forever be the longest I will ever run. Now, I power walk regularly and do a lot of 5k races locally. I am also reigniting my love for biking again. Even though I can't run, I don't plan on giving up my fitness or my love for doing races. Currently, I'm training to walk my first 10k in 2011 via Hal Higdon's 10k Training for Walkers. Also, I have aspirations to walk a 1/2 marathon in 2011. I have a lot of strength and stubbornness left in me, so limitations aren't going to hold me down, they may keep me at the back of the pack, but I'm okay with that.
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