Friday, May 20, 2011

Deleted but Not Out

I had to make the final decision to withdraw from the Masters Track and Field World Championship competition, a decision I was still dimly hoping I wouldn't have to make.  Now when I perouse the registration status of my events, I no longer see my name.  I officially withdrew and have been deleted.  With just a bit over a month to go before the meet, I still am not able to manage any type of quality run, and a lesser run leaves me limping for several days thereafter.  The timing of injuries will always and forever baffle me.

I won't deny that I am fully disappointed, but in the back of my mind I ponder that I may have other opportunities along these lines in the future.  Afterall, I am now a proud owner of a U.S. Olympic competition uniform and a member of USATF, and I have a sweet renewed interest in track and field competition which happens to be quite popular in Santa Barbara.

I am now focusing on training smart, though most of it comes in the form of cross-training.  I was attempting to run approximately every other day (only able to do about 3 runs per week), but even that plan has proved to be too much.  I had a nice, though painful 8 mile run last Saturday, and followed it up with a harder 6+ mile run on Monday, but have been in pain ever since.  So I refrained from the ground and hit the elliptical and water all the more but with some amount of frustration and anger.  If I am able to manage it, I will go for 10 miles on solid ground tomorrow.  That's just to maintain my sanity I think.

When random people see me limp (and trust me, I try not to limp) and ask why, my explanation it seems is always met with "advice."  Some will say, "Oh, you should try icing it."  Yah!  Duh!  Others will say, "Ohhhhh.  Gee I'm sorry.  Do you think it's ruptured?  Be careful."  Whatever!!  The one that hit me this week was, "Oh, those are bad.  You know you can't train through that.  You have to let it heal."  I let them know of my 6 week lay-off which left me no more healed than the day it happened.  I have had a San Diego running partner, ultra-marathoner genius, recommend and offer a trip to his therapist whom he swears by.  At my first opportunity I hope to try and see, and pray for a miracle.  Thank you for that Mike!

Anyway ... more than ever, I hate seeing people run when I can't.  And I despise the pain that plagues me when I try.  Feeling a bit like Achilles.  Is it not the most ironic and bizarre revelation that the Achilles tendon was named after the mythological hero Achilles who's only weakness was his "heel." 

I'm thankful for a strong training partner and coach in John.  He is the epitome of positive and keeps the swim workouts nice and hard, and inspires me with his growth as a runner.  I haven't even had the opportunity to lament the inadequacy of swimming in comparison to running.  The swims have just been so good and I've been able to stay fit.  I've recently added the elliptical into my routine and have found that an interval session on that bad boy can get my heart rate up to 170 bpm.  Drippy, drippy, sweaty, sweaty.  In time I will spend more time on the solid ground, but until then, plastic/metal, and H2O will suffice.  It could always be worse, right?

I've been deleted from the competition, but I'm far from out.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Getting Perspective

I watched a great movie over the weekend, Soul Surfer.  It's the true story of the young surfer, Bethany Hamilton who lost her arm in a shark attack.  The story highlights how she overcame this trauma, and for me it was truly inspiring (highly recommend the movie).  In the story, prior to her attack, she is at youth group and her youth leader was talking with them about perspective.  She showed a close up of an unknown item and asked for students to identify it.  When they couldn't figure it out, she showed an unzoomed version and it became clear what it was.  The lesson was:  to get the proper perspective, sometimes you have to step back and look at the whole picture rather than focus on the circumstances at hand.

Ok, so I cried through the whole movie because so much of it related to my life.  Only my life has different struggles and they seem so much more managable than having to live/surf with a missing arm.  But still, sometimes I feel like a runner with a missing leg. 

After a 6 week "cross-training only" layoff from running, I tried to slowly reintroduce my legs to running.  As  previously posted, I did a slow but mostly painfree 6.5 mile run a week ago.  My next step was to attempt a light track workout a couple of days later.  This went "ok" but did produce some pain.  Because of the events I am training for, I went back to the track two days later for another workout.  This one produced full and intense pain and I left the track limping and questioning why.  "Why" a lot of things:  Why is it not healed?  Why did this happen when I desperately wanted to compete in this once in a lifetime race?  Why do I run?  On top of that I pondered how totally "done" I am with isolated cross-training.  I want to run.  I want to not hurt.  At the moment I can't even walk without a limp.  Regardless, I attempted another 6.5 mile run this past Saturday, and again a 6 mile hard run on Monday.  I finished both in pain and today I am limping again.

No, none of this is as tragic as a shark attack, but the lesson of perspective has resonated with me this week.  Looking at my situation up close leaves it blurred and I am unable to see the blessing in it.  There is a blessing in everything.  There is a reason; there is a way through; there is an end to the pain; there is another race waiting for me.  I may not recover in time for the Masters World Track and Field Championships.  If not, than it is what it is.  What else can be done?  My little world and my little life is still much bigger than any single solitary competition.  Right?

So I am limping today but my perspective is fresher.  I will do what I can do.  If I can run tomorrow I will.  If I can't than I will swim or aqua-run.  By the way, doing hard aqua intervals and hard sprint swimming intervals is very near the perfect replacement for running.  My fitness has truly remained intact ... just waiting for the tendon to heal.  In the meantime, I will keep a healthy perspective.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

The Ray of Sunshine

I sat hunched over in the crack of sunshine that illuminated the east wall of Los Banos Pool.  It has been windy all week and today was no exception.  I shivered in my bathing suit, wet from my pre-pool shower.  Thankfully there was that ray of sunshine in which to wait.

I have a bitter-sweet relationship with the pool and this particular day was more of a bitter one.  Waiting for the swim club kids to exit the water, I noted that the surface was choppy from the wind and it was going to be crowded with master swimmers.  This meant I would have an extra challenge.  I would have to deal with water being splashed in my face and would have to stay out of everyone's way.  One of the older swimmers asked me if I was going to be walking in the water today.  Walking?  Does she see what goes on under the water?  Yah, basically I move forward about -.3 miles per hour, but ... walking?  I glared at the water and felt less than motivated.

This week marks the 6th consecutive in which I cross-trained and went entirely without a run on solid ground.  In that respect, my relationship with the pool would soon change.  If my recovery is successful, my pool runs will be replaced by land runs.  I would visit the pool only for swim sessions to supplement my training.  But, what if.

What if after 6 weeks, my achilles isn't healed enough, isn't strong enough.  It's do or die now.  I have 2 months to train for the World Championships.  I cannot afford even one more week off from running, so if I'm not healed, my dream may come to an end. 

When you have to let go of running for 6 weeks, I have found that it is best to truly let it go.  But there's a part of running you have to hold onto too.  Therefore, I look at it this way:  I am in training.  I have chosen to look at cross-training as training, rather than see it as a reduced form of exercise that I was confined to.  It has been liberating and has added to my mental confidence.

So Saturday was my first day to try running.  It was a big day, a huge day.  I ran with and amongst my Moms in Motion training group.  Since we are all different in pace, I found opportunity to run a bit with each of the others but also ran back and forth in between to make sure everyone made the right turns on the course.  Because of this, my pace varied greatly ... which was absolutely fine.  It wasn't my goal to go out and set the asphalt on fire.  It was my goal to run, feel good, feel strong, and pain free.

I ran with a smile on my face, a big, big smile.  I had only mild discomfort and could tell that much healing had occurred.  I easily dipped below a 7 minutes pace when I asked my body to do this.  I chose grass and dirt as often as I could.  I finished a 6 1/2 mile run and my leg was relatively fine afterwards.  My forefoot strike and push off was tentative, but that may have been my unintended effort to protect my achilles.  I bit of icing and there was no lingering soreness.  This was a huge day for which I am very grateful.  The next challenge is to see how I fare on the track.  That happens tomorrow on the soft city college oval.

I will continue to cross train every other day, and run quality work outs every other day.  In this manner I plan to heal and train.  I am thankful for my friend "the pool" and am particularly thankful for the masters coach, my husband John, who made sure the sessions were fierce and demanding. 

It's been cold and windy.  Thankfully there was that ray of sunshine in which to wait.