Monday evening - I got home, iced, stretched, donned my compression sock, and rolled my foot/calf. A lot. I even wore my night splint to bed. Yes, I admit that my foot and calf progressively hurt more as the day wore on. It did not hurt more than it ever has previously and let's be real - I haven't run in 5 months and just got off doing next to nothing for 4 weeks. This is not going to feel good and stuff is going to hurt.
Tuesday - Woke up, stuff hurt. It was really chilly outside in the morning, which made me want to go to deep water running class even less, but I did it anyway. It's really strange but for some reason my calf is always more achy after I do that class, which makes pretty much zero sense. Anyway, at class the instructor thanked me for working hard (not sure what he was insinuating) and my reply was, "I don't have much choice and besides, I don't get out of bed at 5:15 am to come get in this pool and do this for fun!"
While we were "warming up," I chatted with two other injured runners banished to the pool. One has recently been diagnosed with a stress fracture in her hip and I told her it's GOOD that it's a fracture and not soft tissue. Be GLAD that's what it is because you've got a finite time line as to when bones heal. It sucks now, but in 4-6 weeks, it will be healed and you'll be back on your feet. Her goal is to try to BQ in the spring. I told her she definitely can. I wish I was as confident in my own recovery.
I had planned to go to yoga that night but as the day wore on my foot and calf bothered me more and more. It had turned into a gorgeous day so I asked Kit if he'd rather meet me for a walk after work down on Belle Isle or the Canal Walk instead. I had noticed that everything hurt the most for the first few steps that I took and thought that maybe a nice walk would help things loosen up more. Plus, there was no way I was going to be able to do any balance poses on my left foot.
It wasn't too hard to convince him, so we met at Tredegar and set off toward the pipeline. As predicted, things started to feel better. I haven't been on the pipeline in months and months - I honestly can't remember the last time. Of course when we got onto it, all I could think was that I wished I was running it and not walking it. That led to a whole bunch of "what ifs"...
What if Wrightsville was my last marathon?
What if I never run Richmond again?
Or have a snow run?
Or one of those runs when it feel so awesome that you just keep going and going?
What if from now on, I will always only be watching other people run?
What if it is over?
And that's when I started crying - a big old ugly cry too. It had been a good month since my last ugly cry, so it was due. I felt terrible, because my intention for going on a walk was for it to be an enjoyable and relaxing thing and not including me sitting on the pipeline sobbing like a child.
What ifs are terrible things. I try not to dwell in the realm of what ifs, but it has been impossible lately. What if I had just taken off for 2 weeks back in May? What if I had just gotten the cortisone shot instead of the Tenex? What if I didn't run that half in Chicago? Or had transitioned to lower drop shoes back in the spring when I said I would?
Past what ifs are bad because obviously those are all decisions that have been made and nothing can be done to change them. I made the choices that I did, I am in this place now, and there's nothing to do about it but keep going forward.
The worst thing about them, though, is that if you spend a lot of time wondering what you could have done differently, it makes you paralyzed to make decisions in the here and now. What if I wait another two weeks to start running? What if I hurt myself again? What if I just stop every time it hurts? Where will it lead me? Which is the right choice?
I'll never know the answer to any of the what ifs that I face - and neither will you. That's life. We can all only try to make the best choices we can, learn from them, and live with them.
Wednesday - By some miracle, on Wednesday my foot felt 100 times better than it had on Tuesday. (Side note, I'm already really sick of writing "my foot.") After work, I met up with Marcey and Kit at
I felt creaky during this outing, but also determined. During the last lap around the ~1 mile course, I let loose a bit. I stopped thinking, shortened my stride, relaxed, and just went. I pulled ahead and remembered what it feels like to run fast.
When you run fast, something happens in your brain. More accurately, what happens is that your brain turns off. You stop thinking and just go. During my 4 or so minutes of running fast (and yes, I admit it was truly fast - the first number of my pace was a 7), I stopped concentrating so hard on how I was landing with that left foot (was I favoring it? was I not? was I overcompensating?) and like magic, it felt fine.
Or maybe I just too busy being disgusted with my loss of cardiovascular fitness and didn't notice the aches anymore.
Thursday - Things flared up post-run and I felt it in the morning when I dragged myself out of bed to go to spin class. We had a substitute instructor for spin who literally had just happened to be walking through the Y and plucked from her normal routine to fill in last minute. She didn't have a plan and winged the class. It was good, but it seems that her default was hill and hill after hill. My quads were very tired. Not sure if that impacted how my leg and foot felt for the rest of the day or not. They were both sore, but not as achy as they had been on Tuesday so I'm going to count that as net positive.
Friday - New and improved strength routine in the morning with Kit. We've been doing this set of ten moves for a few months now with a few additions including a variety of planks, leg lifts, and tricep work. Now we've added in clam shells and wall sits and eliminated the scorpion for the time being. Before Erie and my surgery, we had really made a lot of progress in all of these exercises but lost a lot of ground during about 3 weeks of down time. This was the third session back and it finally started to feel a little bit easier.
I got off work a bit early and it was just a glorious day, so we met up after work at Tredegar and this time did the Belle Isle loop for the 30 minutes of one on, one off. It didn't feel great this time, but I was very thankful to be out and running (as it were) after work, on a beautiful fall afternoon. When I do these work outs, I always use my Garmin for all of the intervals to make sure I'm sticking to the correct timing. This time, Kit only cut his on when we were doing the running intervals. At the end, he informed me that I had run a total of 2 miles at an 8:18 average. I was SO HAPPY.
Saturday - NADA! Unless you count moving your fork to your mouth as a work out. If that's the case, I did plenty of that.
Sunday - It has been 5 weeks since I went on a good long bike ride; since I've really felt that I pushed myself hard and long during a work out. Today was the day for that, at long last. The morning was chilly and the sun isn't coming up until 7 these days, so that's when I met Kit for the 40 mile round trip to Ashland.
Within the first 5 miles, I felt tired. This isn't completely unusual for me. No matter what I'm doing, I often have a slump during the 20-30 minute mark and then revive. Despite being tired, I couldn't help but love taking in the scenery around us. The city had been clear but as we got further out on less well-traveled country roads, a thick fog appeared. It was beautiful to ride through the quiet country side and watch the mist settling on the fields. My helmet collected a bunch of condensation, as did my shoes and Astrid too.
The way up to Ashland had many rolling hills. NOT being a cyclist, I'm terrible at pacing and powered my way up them like a mad woman. When we were about 5 miles out, I looked down as we sped along a flat and saw that we were going 21.7 miles per hour. That's pretty darn fast for me. And it felt good. We passed some abandoned farm houses, still shrouded in mist. A field of low plants (I am not a country girl and have no idea what they were) was dotted with perfect spider webs that were easy to see thanks to the water hanging on them. It was so terribly autumnal that it almost felt like a movie.
We stopped briefly at Ashland Coffee & Tea for a drink before setting off again, back toward Richmond. My legs were very heavy and very tired; I'd spent all of my energy on my mad dashes earlier. Kit was tired too, lagging behind me which is strange. He is always faster than me on the bike. I refused to give in though. "We don't have time to be tired, Kit!" I yelled over my shoulder and continued on. I make it sound like I was flying, but in reality it was around 14-15 MPH with some 17s thrown in once in a while.
About 10 miles out, I started to get hungry. REALLY hungry. It has been a very long time since I worked out to the point that I worked up a good appetite. All I could think about was how hungry I was and how much longer it would be until I could eat. By the time we got to Richmond, I was downright delirious with hunger. We planned on going for breakfast, but I didn't know if I could hold out that long. I asked Kit if he had anything that he could feed me RIGHT AWAY in his apartment. I said I was so hungry that if someone gave me a banana at that moment, I would eat it. Thank goodness he had just bought a whole bunch of trail mix and nuts. We got off our bikes and went straight up and I pretty much ripped into the contained of mixed nuts like a starving person and devoured a mozzarella stick too.
I can't remember the last time I was that hungry. I think it may have been a year ago at the Richmond marathon, where all I could think about for the first 13 miles was how delicious my salted caramel gu would be once I allowed myself to eat it at the half way point (significant because I hate Gu and normally eat them very begrudgingly) and then for the second half, nothing but the finish festival pizza filled my mind. I ended up eating four pieces.
Despite the desperate hunger and tough ride back, it felt really really good to go for a long hard ride. For the first time in forever I got a great dose of exercise induced endorphins. It was fantastic.
As for my foot, it hurt a lot yesterday (Saturday) until about 7pm when for no apparent reason, it suddenly felt better. Today it has continued that trend, even post-ride.
Week 1 Summary
3 runs, 30 minutes each of 1 min run/1 min walk intervals
1 aqua jog session
1 strength session
1 long ride
Foot Status: Pain level currently a 1/10