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.