I have been shooting little in the past week because I have been running a bunch again in preparation for what was one of the most inspiring event I could think of celebrating the end of this first month in New Orleans: My FIRST half marathon.
NOTE-The photo you see below is taken right before the start where Todd (my friend who just quit smoking a week ago and barely ran three times before the race) and I just woke up and are showing off our “unaware excitement.”
I remember last year just about this time a year, I had said I was going to run my very first 1/2 marathon with my best friend Lizzie in Seattle before I turned 25, but then due to back problem and plantar fascitis in both of my feet, I had to pull out of the race. That move did not quite settle with me for months later.
I felt angry and upset at my body. I was young and healthy (never smoked in my life and only a seldom social drinker), why did I must have a mis-aligned disk in my spine that gave me shooting pain to the sciatic nerve?
I got an MRI that show just that and so I was told to stop running until the pain healed and the “disk re-hydrates.” In the mean time I could start swimming if I wanted to.
What? I was a swimmer for 17 years, are you kidding me? I left the sport because my skin was so much chlorinated I could not smell otherwise for months at the time. And because I was no Michael Phelps and there is just so much breaststroke one can take in a life time.
So, I decided to stick with my guns and do what I do best: Listen to my body and do what I felt was right.
As soon as the pain seemed to heal, I would run. When it hurt too much I would avoid running. What was I to do. Just sit and hurt, I rather run and hurt. I could not just sit and wait.
So I continued running. But inconsistently so because my leg and feet kept hurting a lot. So, in mental despair (because running is BETTER than therapy) I dug in my Yoga repertoire to find a cure, but despite the million back bends, I was still in pain. So, I finally went to a orthopedics surgeon who told me I needed a cortisone shot as my final solution (but I did not want such ultimate and sterile procedure quite yet). So, I did six months of physical therapy and chiropractic draining my bank account because my poor insurance coverage did no pick up a penny of such bills (and, mind you, I am freelance photographer who makes $$$ when least expected and often after rent is due) and still not long-term solutions at the horizon.
Anyhow, magically on Jan. 24 I run La Carrera di Miguel, a 10km in Rome, Italy with my dad and did just fine. No pain, no cramps, just a fluid and flawless run.
Was I healed? Were the doctors all wrong? Was I, for the first time, right? Well, I did not care. I run a 10km in my hometown with my daddy next to me (I decided to abandon him half way through and follow my pace, but that’s another story for another time).
The next day, I flew back to Washington D.C. and two days later I moved to New Orleans where I heard on Feb. 28 they were going to have a Mardi Gras marathon and half marathon.
Now, that got me thinking: “What if I try a longer distance? I do not have enough time to train for a full marathon, but I could try a 1/2?”
No need to tell you what happened after, but let’s just say yesterday morning at 7am I was there, in line before the “START” banner on Tchoupitoulas street with the sun rising before me, ready to start the New Orleans Inaugural Rock and Roll Half Marathon.
There were a few bumps on the road before I could make it there: I could not ran for two weeks during Carnival and Mardi Gras because there was not enough recovery night-time to pay off for some serious day-training time; there were the occasional beers I did not want to drink, but chose to chug to celebrate a new life and the Saints (who the hell are they again?) victory; and then there were those leg cramps that had gotten worse since Italy.
Well…all that matters is that I made it and in less than 2 hours (1:51:40 to be exact). Now, here we skip the part where I am still walking funny and that my right leg is not as easy to drag up the stairs as the left one, but who needs two legs anyhow?!
As my dad would say: “The pain is the reward of a good race.”
So I guess I will just lay here in bed for another few hours and then, maybe go for a jog this afternoon, or tomorrow morning? And just started all over again since I am signed-up for the New York City Marathon on Nov. 7 and there is not cramping allowed there!