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kyle cassidy

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Last race related post for a while, (if you've held on this long, don't unfollow me now!) [May. 17th, 2013|06:50 am]
kyle cassidy
[Current Location |the antipodes]
[mood |accomplishedaccomplished]
[music |judas priest: electric eye]

This is not a fitness blog, I promise

I just need to do a race recap.

The Broad Street run is a ten mile race through Philadelphia in a straight line from Einstein hospital to the Philadelphia Navy Yard. About 40,000 people do it every year. It was The Thing I'd set my sights on late last year when I realized that I was getting less fat and more capable. Ten miles seems like a ridiculous distance and I wanted to do it mostly because it had seemed absolutely impossible at one time and then possible, however unlikely....

When I arrived at the starting line though I began to worry. City hall marks the half way point, and despite it being gigantic and looming, it was so far away that I couldn't see it. I'd never run in a straight line like that before. I'd run in loops and I'd always been able to see the next place in the loop, realizing not only that I'd have to keep running until I got to that point that I couldn't see, but also that when I got there, I'D ONLY BE HALF WAY was freaking me out. My training had been Not Good, since I'd fractured my tibia I had only very slowly come back to running, the longest I'd run in the last two months was five miles the week before, five difficult miles. I wasn't sure if I'd have the stamina and I wasn't sure that I wouldn't re-injure myself -- in fact, I wasn't sure if my fracture had healed (spoiler: I make it and nothing breaks).

clickenzee to try and find city hall

I was right at the very back of the pack, in fact, out of 40,000 people, only about 100 were behind me. The big lesson for next year was "bring a disposable sweat shirt and sweat pants" -- it was freaking COLD and they tell you to be there long, long before you actually need to be there. They suggested I get there by 6:45 or so which was a good two hours before the race starts. Next time, I'll pull into town around 8:00.

Finally the starters gun goes off, but it's so far away that we can't hear it from the back of the line. It takes 20 minutes, maybe more for the back of the line to actually get to the starting line but finally I was off. All along the way through North Philly people line the streets, waving and cheering, it was great. After about half a mile I started passing the first people who'd stopped running and started walking but I was cautious about going too fast. I wasn't sure if my leg would hold up -- I hadn't done a long run since the fracture -- which made my training a nightmare, and I didn't want to turn into one of the people who had to stop, so I loped along with 10 minute 45 second miles.

Clickenzee to Embiggen!

There are people all along the route, and every sleepy-eyed garage band in Philly is set up on a corner playing Counting Crows covers and eventually you pass the Temple University marching band (not marching) with baton twirlers performing amazing feats of dexterity, playing "Eye of the Tiger" (possibly over and over and over again) and the whole thing is like some grand party. It's somewhere after mile three that people start to space themselves out and you're not really passing people or getting passed too much, you're just trotting along. It was around here we passed two injured people, one had fallen in a pothole and was being carried off by friends -- the other had twisted his ankle and was limping defeatedly towards the El stop. I asked if he needed a train token, he waved me off and said his father was coming to pick him up and went back to looking sad and injured. To me, being so worried about the same thing myself, it seemed like a catastrophe.

Finally, at mile 5, city hall looms up and you realize that you're half way. I got much more enthusiastic at this point. I'd been promising myself to hold back judgement until I got to seven miles, but at five I felt pretty good which was encouraging.

Clickenzee to Embiggen!

At mile six my running partner said "I just hi-fived (former Philly Mayor and Pennsylvania governor) Ed Rendell!" "Where?!" I said. "About a block back? Do you want to turn around?" -- of course I wanted to turn around. So I ran back a block, and spotted Big Ed on the side of the street hi-fiving people & wearing a Boston uniform.

Palms were slapped and I continued to mile seven with a celebrity charge. Also, trillian_stars was waiting to cheer me on somewhere between mile six and mile seven which was a great thing. It's kind of hard to express just how happy it makes you when perfect strangers shout "you're crushing it! go go go!"

Clickenzee to see Big Ed even bigger

Big psychological charge by being on the other side of City Hall,
plus having Trillian Stars cheering.

At mile 7 I saw someone holding up a sign that said "only three more miles to go!" I was tired but that sign made me realize that now it was ony a 5k, and I can run 5k while clipping my nails now, it's no longer a big deal. That amped me up, and my running companion who decided that now was the time to put the burn on and he shot off in front of me. I would have been perfectly content to keep going at the same speed, but he saw this as our opportunity to pass a lot of people so I gasped and tried to keep up.

Clickenzee to see me surge through mile 8 or something.
Also note my weird messed up walrus flipper of a right foot.

The last three miles weren't all that fun. My hands got a little numb, I felt really tired, but all around me were people walking, they'd just stopped and I wasn't going to stop, even though it felt pretty bad the last mile. Eventually I saw the finish line about half a mile ahead. We surged through the chute with what I felt was the last bit of anything I had and there was someone standing with an armful of medals handing them out to people. I took mine and felt incredibly, indescribably happy. Everything started to go white, like the world was powerfully over-exposed. Someone handed me a plastic bag filled with food and a bottle of water. I walked out onto the grass and things kept getting brighter and finally went purple and my legs were wobbly. I realized I was going to fall over if I didn't sit down, so I sat in the grass and started eating the junk food out of the bag. It tasted pretty good. There was a 270 calorie "breakfast bar" from local vendors TastyKake which was ... freaking incredible. And I ate a banana and a bag of potato chips. There was no cell signal so I couldn't text Trillian to let her know I was finished.

Later I discovered that I was suffering from something called "Orthostatic Hypotension" paired with or causing another thing called "Exercise Associated Collapse" (conveniently called EAC) which happens a lot at endurance events and is mostly temporary. It's caused by blood pooling in the lower extremities -- when running the action of running helps circulate the blood, when you stop, it doesn't return as quickly and not enough gets to your brain. There are several recommended solutions to this, one is to keep walking, briskly, at the end of your run, the other is to lay down and elevate your legs. This is sort of what I did, but I substituted "eating candy" for elevating my legs.

As the crowd started to thin out I found Trillian and we watched the very end of the race come through the finish line -- the very end of the race is made up of all of the routes bicycle cops and golf carts they use (presumably) to pick up injured runners. When the bike cops and golf carts pass you, you're not a racer anymore, you become a pedestrian. I wonder if they shut down the finish line and stop handing out medals as the last golf cart crosses the line or if some kind soul stays there to see if anybody crawls up.

Anyway. When I got home I printed out a photo of myself at the finish line and mailed it to my sports medicine doctor.

I started the race with about 100 people behind me, and I came in 26,262th. At 1:50:19, my time was about double that of most of the people in my running club, but I realized that somewhere in there, I still managed to pass about twelve thousand people. Go little walrus flipper. Go me. My only goal was to finish, and I finished.

So there you have it. Last October I was fat and out of shape and today I ran ten miles. In the interrum I survived a fractured leg and various aches and weirdos at the gym and I feel pretty good about myself. Plus I have a medal. My final thought is this: Pin your goal in a place that seems possible, though very difficult, and work towards it relentlessly. The view from the top of the mountain is worth it.

I will now shut up about exercise for a while. Have a swell day.

Have I shown you my medal? Clickenzee to see it LARGER!

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From: swingchickie
2013-05-17 11:36 am (UTC)
what a wonderful story!!! congratulations!

and don't stop writing about exercise, you're a major inspiration. i love reading your workout and running posts!
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[User Picture]From: russtycat
2013-05-17 11:56 am (UTC)
Congratulations! That is so awesome!

And please don't stop writing about your exercise. You inspired me to start walking. I am disabled and ill and 250 pounds. But despite everything I got my cane and my whole family outside and we walked. My husband said he was worried it was too hot. I told him no more excuses I'm doing it now for myself and for them. I can't go very far yet and it takes ages just to get to the end of our block with me hobbling along. But one day we'll go to the next block. And then the next. And eventually I hope like you I can do a race. I'd like to do a bike marathon one day. Thank you for the encouragement to just go for it. :)
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[User Picture]From: kylecassidy
2013-05-17 12:50 pm (UTC)
Sweet barking cheese. I could win the lottery today and this would still be the best thing I heard all day. Congratulations! I don't know if I mentioned it before, but in the middle of October, 2012, I'd been going to the gym for two weeks and things were getting better, I ached less, and I'd been riding the bike and I'd already lost some weight and I thought "I'll be super-fit and I'll run to the gym" -- so I put on my gym clothes, went outside and started running and I couldn't make it to the end of the block. So, eight months ago I couldn't run a whole block.

"no more excuses I'm doing it now for myself" is the most powerful thing in your life. Walk that block, climb that hill, move ahead. You do it one step at a time and it gets better. It gets a little bit better every day and then you realize that all those little bits of bette have added up, the tiny slivers of better have become something substantial and you realize you've gone way past the place that you couldn't pass on your first day.

Go go go. You inspire me. Thanks for posting this.
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[User Picture]From: sleigh
2013-05-17 12:18 pm (UTC)
Woo hoo! Congratulations!
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[User Picture]From: kylecassidy
2013-05-17 12:50 pm (UTC)
so good to hear from you!! how's the writing?!
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[User Picture]From: sheilagh
2013-05-17 01:12 pm (UTC)
and why *isn't* this a fitness-sometimes-photography-etc-othertimes blog?? you're still taking gorgeous pictures, and inspiring your readers!
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[User Picture]From: kylecassidy
2013-05-17 01:36 pm (UTC)
because every time i post some sort of fitness thing about six people unfriend me. I reached Peak Livejournal Friends in November of last year, since then I've just been shaving people off talking about the gym.
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[User Picture]From: tsarina
2013-05-17 01:39 pm (UTC)
You are a bad ass Kyle.
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[User Picture]From: howlokitty
2013-05-17 01:41 pm (UTC)
Good form, old chap. I'm graduating from grad school and my birthday is this weekend. Once the dust has settled, I'll go back to my 5k training.
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[User Picture]From: ratphooey
2013-05-17 01:54 pm (UTC)
Bravo, sir! Bravo.
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[User Picture]From: ladycelia
2013-05-17 02:18 pm (UTC)
That's inspirational, that is. I fear that I'd have seen City Hall in the distance and just walked away. Congratulations!
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[User Picture]From: Meredith Rau
2013-05-17 04:17 pm (UTC)
"My final thought is this: Pin your goal in a place that seems possible, though very difficult, and work towards it relentlessly. The view from the top of the mountain is worth it."

Thank you. I finally understand this. I've watched your transformation in awe. You are an inspiring example of what it means to take on those challenges. My husband has started a similar effort, and witnessing his change has also been the greatest motivator I needed to finally head down my own path. I've talked about it long enough. No excuses now. I've always wanted to do something like boxing. So at just under 200 lbs, I'm moving more, building my muscle and stamina so that I may start that path. It's not easy, but I know that view is so worth it in the end.

So a million thank yous and congratulations.
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[User Picture]From: kylecassidy
2013-05-17 04:31 pm (UTC)
You will win this, you will crush this. The hard part was saying "I will now do this" -- and you've already done that. Go go go! It actually stops hurting and starts being fun. Well, maybe it doesn't stop hurting, but you start to like the pain. I promise. Weird but true.
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[User Picture]From: rhondaparrish
2013-05-17 04:28 pm (UTC)
Go you!
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[User Picture]From: pickleboot
2013-05-17 04:33 pm (UTC)
congratulations! i am so proud of you.

one year, my father-in-law, ken, who i suspect you would like very much, decided he was going to run the london marathon. because he wanted to. so he quit smoking, started training, and two or three years later, he did it. twice. two years in a row. and he finished in the first half the first time and the first third the second time. he said he figured he was climbing towers all day, building them, that he was fit, he just needed endurance, so he ran to work, then home from work, then more, and then got those medals. you'd like him for other reasons, but i am definitely sharing this with him.

my goal is to be able to walk the three miles to the beach next summer. small goal. might not seem like much, but i can hardly do target without a chair, so three miles is huge. you've inspired me. i've lost 200 pounds, i am at my goal weight, time to whip this ms and whatever else is mucking up my nerves in my legs into shape.
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[User Picture]From: kylecassidy
2013-05-17 04:47 pm (UTC)
holy cow it's inspring reading this. walking three miles is a fantastic goal. and losing two hundred pounds is freaking amazing. few people will ever be able to say they did something that too so much work and determination. go go go! a little every day. thanks for posting.
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[User Picture]From: kylecassidy
2013-05-20 01:11 pm (UTC)
yaay! and i have photos for you of various places for your play.
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From: angela_n_hunt
2013-05-17 06:49 pm (UTC)

Go you!!! I am so happy for you! Feels awesome, doesn't it? :D Keep up the running posts. I love them. :)
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[User Picture]From: howeverbrief
2013-05-19 05:23 am (UTC)
You're excellent. I don't really run because my ankles are terrible, but this was really inspiring. Way to go!
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[User Picture]From: lawbabeak
2013-05-19 10:17 pm (UTC)
I am happy for you. I am proud of you. You have accomplished what I think is the epitome of running for every Philadelphia runner.

I am going to do that triathlon by the time I'm 40, dammit. You can do what you did, so I can do what I'm going to do.
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[User Picture]From: kylecassidy
2013-05-20 01:10 pm (UTC)
do eeet! the swimming i think would be the hardest part. you already walk six miles so running 3 is just half the distance a little faster. go for it!
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