Sunday, November 6, 2016

LR2B - Warm Up Part 2

As is expected, I got behind already. Shocking, right?

Here's pretty much what you need to know about the past three weeks.

1. This is what my running life looks like.





You get the point.

I've progressively gotten a bit further on each 30 minute run I've done. First, I broke the 3 miles in 30 minutes barrier on October 19th. I felt fine afterwards, so pushed a bit further the next time by adding in a few 2:1 segments near the middle to end of my session. With no resistance from Gertrude, I decided to go for an all 2:1 on Monday the 24th. I dropped a 9:00/mile average that day and felt great. So great, in fact, that I renewed my membership to the Richmond Road Runners Club and signed up for the annual 10k Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving.


Then came Wednesday the 26th. I was overly confident and had a goal of running a half mile segment. Which I did - twice. But it hurt the whole time and then I paid for it big time for the rest of the day and throughout Thursday. This all devolved into a full on meltdown by Thursday night. I decided to be cautious and not run on Friday, so during week 3 I ran only twice.

I returned to the track on Halloween. I refuse to back down, so I did the same workout that I had done before - a 2:1 with two half-mile segments thrown in the middle. I executed them perfectly too, finishing both in 3 minutes, 50 seconds. On Wednesday the 2nd, I upped the ante a bit, first throwing down a half mile at a 7:40/mile pace. I walked one minute and then did 3/4 mile - the longest I've run in months - again at a 7:40/mile pace. The longer I went, the less Gertrude hurt and the more everything else hurt. Not sure what that means, other than I'm in terrible, terrible shape.

Then on Friday, November 1, I did this:


What? You can't tell the difference (other than the part where I forgot to stop the Garmin when I was finished and left it on until I got to my car and realized it)? Well, I guess I'll forgive you for not noticing that I ran AN ENTIRE MILE NON STOP during this workout, at a pace of 7:26 by the way. Then I walked for 2 minutes before doing a half mile at a 7:24 pace. My overall was a 9:00 average - the quickest I've been.

Did I pay for it later? Yep. My calf and foot hurt for the rest of the day, probably a pain level 4 to 5. But the way I see it, I just have to keep moving forward.

2. At least I don't cycle in circles (for the most part)

It's no secret that I am a terrified and reluctant cyclist, but it's all I have when it comes to a long, hard workout these days. Much to my dismay, Kit is also broken now so we are both banished to bikes. On Sunday the 22nd, we met near Berkley Plantation went 20 miles east on the Virginia Capital Trail to the Chickahominy River, cover territory that at least I hadn't yet ridden, then back again.



 Having learned my lesson about cycling-induced hunger, we brought PLENTY of food this time and stopped on the bridge to enjoy the view and feast.






But there is still more to be learned about cycling and that day's lesson came in the form of numb feet.  It was in the lower 40s when we set out that morning and within about 30 minutes, both of my feet were completely numb. They didn't wake up again until a good 60 minutes after we were finished. Not a good feeling. In my silly runner brain, for some reason I thought that cycling shoes aren't as breathable and well-vented as running shoes... and therefore would be warmer. 

This is not the case at all. 

As it turns out, the solution to preventing feet that are numb from cold is buying toe covers. (SURPRISE, yet something else I have to buy to cycle comfortably.)

Unfortunately for me, I did not have time to go buy toe covers in between Sunday and our next long ride on Saturday the 28th. For the time being I opted for thicker socks and hoped for the best. 

Though we may not be going in circles, there are just a few cycling routes that Kit and I know well and feel completely comfortable on: to Ashland and back, West Creek and the surrounding area, and the Capital Trail. We've been riding a lot since I got hurt (and more now), so they are quickly getting boring. So we decided to drive out to the Chickahominy Park, where we turned around the week before, and start there then ride the end of the Capital Trail to Jamestown, where we picked up the Colonial Parkway.

 

I had no idea this thing existed but am very happy that Kit introduced it to me. It's a three lane wide composite parkway with a low speed limit that goes from Jamestown through Williamsburg to Yorktown. It's very scenic and for the most part, pretty quiet. I like that because it means I feel less like I'm going to die (always a plus). 


(Not my photos)

The Capital Trail portion was about 7 miles and then we just went on the Colonial Parkway until we hit 20 miles. We stopped at a pull off near a pond called Jones Mill Pond and ate some snacks before heading back. 




Kit had sworn up and down we'd get a tail wind on the way back but nope... per our usual luck, it was more like a crosswind. I had also not realized how exhausting it is to bump along on an uneven surface like composite for 27 miles. By the time we got to Jamestown, I was dying for the smooth pavement of the Capital Trail and when we hit it, it was like heaven. 

I never knew I could feel so much euphoric relief thanks to a piece of pavement.

Then came the even better part - when we got back to the car, Kit pulls out a surprise snack of Amy's Everything Bagel Chips. I can't even tell you how amazingly delicious and satisfying they were after 40 miles in the saddle (I hate that phrase ... for real).

I said to him, in between mouthfuls of bagel chips, "Man, Kit, people who don't push their bodies to go do something hard at least once a week just don't know what they're missing." 

A good hard workout heightens every sense and does truly make everything better. Even pavement and bagel chips.

On that note, this sign was on the napkin dispenser at the Urban Farmhouse that we stopped to share a coffee in on the way home...

It's the thought that counts?
(Listen, can someone explain to me why my text keeps turning blue mid-post for no reason and I can't fix it? ::headdesk::)


For the next weekend, Kit wanted to try something new. I was anxious about not sticking to a bike trail or otherwise bike friendly route. Have I mentioned I'm pretty much terrified of riding on real roads? Cause I am. After much back and forth, he finally convinced me to try out a route starting and ending at Hanover County Courthouse.

I'm not going to lie; I was extremely nervous about it but in the end I'm very glad I got over my fear and went for it. Most of the time we were on back country roads with no markings that were so quiet that it was easy to forget that they were actual roads and not bike trails. There were a few very intense hills that really tested my legs too. When we finished I felt like I really had done something significant. So much so that I actually felt like I earned a burger.





I still don't really like cycling but I can't deny that I am slowly but surely getting better and stronger each week. To give perspective, the Hanover ride was definitely the hilliest but I still managed to make it my fastest pace too.




In addition to the long weekend rides, I've been going absolutely nowhere on the bike by attending spinning class at least once a week. Generally that goes something like this: I arrive just in time for 6 am start, feeling disoriented and grouchy because I'm running late and my foot inevitably hurts. And also because I'm about to pedal in place for 45 minutes. The first 10-15 minutes of class absolutely suck, I feel like every pedal stroke is way too much effort and whenever Becca tells us to add gears I hope that my inward groan doesn't show on my face. About 20-25 minutes in I find my rhythm and hopefully some strength and take on the rest with a fierce determination, watching every minute tick by like an eternity.
 
3. Most days, despair still outweighs hope.

There have been bright spots, but it's amazing how quickly and easily my fragile sense of hope can be completely dashed by any number of things. A simple and well-meaning conversation or text; a day of pain; seeing the race pictures of friends who completed the Marine Corps Marathon; driving on my favorite fall running routes and knowing I'm going to miss out on them this year; doing endless laps in the pool at deep water running and wondering if this is as close I'm going to get to running ever again; stepping out of the house into a cool crisp morning and feeling nothing but a sense of loss.

I know full well that positive thinking will go a long way... but knowing this fact and being able to act on it are completely different things. By nature, I am not an optimistic person. Fighting to stay positive is completely exhausting for me. It's hard to fight every day to not feel sorry for myself, to not let dark thoughts and what ifs consume me; to see that positive side of things, like at least I'm not in a boot anymore or on crutches. At least I am "running" three times a week.

I'm tired of the "at least" too. "At least" is not enough for me, but there seems to be little I can do about it.

For the past few months, I've tallied up many of the things that I've lost when I lost my ability to run. But this week another thing dawned on me: this injury has taken away from me the one thing that I was really good at. I'm decent at a lot of things but for a beautiful two years, I was really good at running - and I was good at it because of me. Not because somebody else decided I was good at it, or made a decision that resulted in me being good at it, or by accident. This loss is really affecting me.

On Friday, November 4, I had my final post-op check in with the surgeon. It did not go well. Seven weeks later, there is still way more inflammation than he would like to see. When I ask him what I can do about it, he basically shrugs and says he is sorry but he doesn't really know but that there is still a little bit of hope because he has had patients who have improved at 10 weeks or even 12 weeks.

Sorry? That's all he has to tell me? That he's sorry?

I left incredibly frustrated and on the verge of tears. The feeling of defeat was intense and is still hanging around. I cried a lot when I got home that night; I cried the next morning when I met Kit for our long bike ride, and I cried today when Marcey gave me a patented Big Marcey Hug™.

I'm really tired of crying.

Really, I'm just tired of fighting so hard. There are days when I want to give up on this. But they pass and somehow I pick myself up again and keep going.

Summary

Running: 11 workouts, 30 minutes each, various walk/run intervals. Longest interval was 1 mile. Moved from a 10:04 minute average per mile to a 9:00 average.

Cycling: 160 miles covered (Ashland, Capital Trail, Colonial Parkway, Hanover/King William/Caroline County) outdoors; 5 spin classes

Deep Water Running: 3 - 45 minute sessions