Thursday, September 15, 2011

A Time Trial and Me

Good news - my calf seems to be all healed up and behind me, and I'm more than glad to have that situation over and done with. Now I am moving on and looking toward Houston, which is 17 1/2 weeks away.

Earlier this week, coach and I finally ran that 30 minute time trial we have been talking about all summer. I wouldn't say I was dreading it because I was actually a little excited about it. I was actually a little nervous or maybe anxious about it, because no doubt it wouldn't feel good at all. It was still a little cool, mid 60's, humid and dark. But there is something really cool about running in the dark with the way lighted by the moon. After a warm-up for almost 1.5 miles, it began. Coach was thoughtful, he brought me a piece of black tape to cover my Garmin screen so that I couldn't see anything. He latched on to my HR signal on his Garmin in order to monitor the workout. I was running blindly, but I know that trail like the back of my hand, even in the dark, so I had a slight idea of where we were in the workout. After about mile or so, I started breathing like I was dying. Coach told me not to worry about talking that he would take care of that. We made the turn out past Clyde, and headed back, and the best part about that was the slight downhill that you get when you head east on the trail. I was able to get a slight reprieve with breathing, but it still hurt. Finally we hit 30 minutes, and I was DONE! We took a little walk because I really needed to catch my breath, in a bad way! We jogged it in, and the hour long workout was over. In the 30 minutes, I believe I covered 3.6 miles, with the total workout being 6.65 miles. I'm happy with the workout, but I sure felt like I was running faster than I actually was. But the heart rate doesn't lie. From this workout, he was able to establish some heart rate zones, which we will use in training for Houston. And we get to do this again in a couple of weeks!

Following Tropical Storm Lee, and Tupelo, we have had some great weather. It's looking like the dog days of summer are moving on finally, but in the last few days, it has heated back up a little. This morning was the warmest in about a week and a half. That and the hard run Tuesday took a toll on my run this morning. My 8 miles were much more difficult than they should be, but I did them and ran my pace. I was pretty sore and fatigued after that workout on Tuesday so it wasn't the easy pace it was supposed to be.

So after a tough run on a rather warm humid morning, I told coach that I am ready for the weather to cool off for good so that my paces can start reflecting the efforts I'm putting out. I am ready for that extra burst of energy you get on those cool mornings. I am ready to see my breath!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Saddle Up!

Back on the horse! Time to saddle up! There are several reasons me not running the full in Tupelo was a good idea, but the two main ones are this: 1. I prevented myself from further injury 2. I am able to get back on the horse and back to training much quicker.

This week, I'm taking it easy. I'll admit it's nice because after the long, hot, sweaty summer, my brain kind of needs a break. A break from training is great for the body, but you shouldn't neglect the mind! I walked earlier in the week, taught my spin class yesterday and went out for a 6 mile run this morning. I had a great run - nothing fast or fancy, but just good ole fun with two great friends, which is a big part of why we run. After not running a whole lot these last two weeks, it was great to be back out. It was also great to enjoy temps in the 50's!!! This is what we've been waiting for people! I barely sweated, and I didn't even use Body Glide! We are embarking on my favorite time of the year to run. Bring me the 20's, I don't mind!

So the rest of the week will be easy, social runs. I'm looking forward to some extra sleep and some extra rest on the legs. The goal of a week like this is to make me ready to get back to serious training. To make me want and need to run. I better be ready, because on Tuesday, Houston starts. We will start with a 30 minute time trial Tuesday morning. I don't know what the rest of the week holds, but right now, I am ok with just knowing about Tuesday. Nothing about a 30 minute time trial sounds easy or comfortable. But, like I always say, and this could be my mantra, "if it was easy, everyone would do it." This won't be easy, and that's why not everyone does it. So, I say bring it on!

It's time to get the saddle ready because it's time to get on the horse! I'll be ready!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Tupelo 26.2, I mean 14.2

All summer, I have been building for the Tupelo marathon.  I have had a great summer of training during this build.  I had a milestone 50 mile week and lots of quality runs in some serious heat and humidity.  So, I was ready.  Until my last long run a week ago.  Insert dramatic music here.  I was finishing up a great 16 mile run.  I had my tunes in my ear and was cruising in on the last mile, which would be my fastest mile.  With a little over a 1/4 mile to go, I felt a twinge in my lower right calf.  No biggie, stuff aches.  A moment later, something that compares to a knife or a shot in my calf stopped me dead in my tracks.  Wham.  My run ended just like that.  I couldn't walk.  I certainly couldn't run.  I painfully limped back to the gateway.  I had a slightly swollen spot on my leg, and it hurt to even touch it.  I took the next couple of days off and did some walking/running.  I even went for a massage on Wednesday while hydrating and taking in extra electrolytes.  After consulting with coach and a PT he is friends with, we figured it was a just a cramp or possibly a small tear.  Either way, I was nervous.  By Thursday, I was able to run a 6 miler, but not without some pain.  Tupelo was coming closer.  Another off day on Friday with some packing and an early bedtime.  Saturday morning, I went for a pre-race 2 miler, and I was very happy to report no pain.  I thought I was fine and ready.  Bring it on Tupelo!

Terri, Ginny, Terry and I pulled out about 10 a.m. Saturday morning.  After a quick lunch in Meridian, we arrived in Tupelo about 2.  We ran some errands, like picking up race numbers and picking up some gels (that was for me), we went to our hotel for a little rest before dinner.  Dinner was at Ginny's favorite place, Vanelli's, and it was yummy!  Back to the hotel where we were all in bed by 6:30 watching a little college football.  By 8:30 or 9, most of us were asleep, except for ME!  I did a lot of tossing and turning and dozing until 3 a.m.  Of course at 3 a.m., when we all started getting up, I was sleeping well.  Figures!  So we dressed and left around 4 for the start.  After 3 or 4 last minute bathroom trips for us, it was time to walk to the very dark start.  For some reason, I had some anxiety I wasn't prepared for.  All week long before the race, I felt as calm as ever, so I was not expecting this anxiety at all.  Maybe it was the darkness all around at the start.  The sudden start of running without so much as a pop gun.  Maybe it was the nervousness in the back of my mind my calf really wasn't ready to run 26 miles.  Whatever it was, I was not on my game.  I was running the pace I was supposed to, but something wasn't right.  I ached, especially in my right leg.  Terri and I let the crowd thin out and as the sun came up, I expressed how I was feeling.  I think I complained a bit too much, but she was great and let me talk through it.  I started needing extra steps at the water stops.  I even needed a walk break a little further down the road.  My heart wasn't in it, and I felt terrible.  I began considering that I might not be able to make it.  But I had the hardest time making that decision.  I literally debated and battled it for miles and miles.

At 13, it was decision time.  There was a turnaround, and full marathoners went back the way they came. 14.2 ers went straight in for another mile.2 to the finish.  For the last 2 miles, I had pretty much figured I would stop, but when it came down to it, I had a hard time pulling the plug.  I was hurting, the leg wasn't going to get any better and neither would my mental state.  The guy at the turnaround yelled at me that marathoners needed to turn around.  I said I knew, but I needed a minute.  There was no going back once I went either way so I needed to be 100%.  Even as I decided to go 14.2 and finish there, I was wondering.  I walked / ran that last mile and the whole time, I was telling myself I had done the right thing.  I was hurting.  Finishing 13 more miles would have been a bad decision, but in that moment, all I could think of was I had quit.  Wimped out.  And that I wouldn't be running my 12th marathon that day.  I wouldn't have the bragging rights.  But when running, you have got to leave the ego in the car.  There is no room for it.  The ego is what causes problems.  And in my case, it would have caused greater injury.

So, I finished the 14.2  and there was no celebration.  Terry had finished an hour before me, so I figured he was back at the hotel cleaning up.  A littler later, he was back and told me he wasn't surprised to see me after the week I had with the calf situation.  That made me feel a good bit better.  We hung out while waiting on Terri and Ginny.  They came in an hour or so later and we headed back to shower and go home.  Yes, it rained, more on Ginny and Terri than Terry and I, but it was damp the entire time.  Including on the trip home.  But we made it.  And we had a great time with lots of laughs and fun.

I've had some time to reflect.  Do I regret anything?  No.  But am I disappointed?  Yes.  I trained all summer through heat, humidity, 4:30 a.m. wake ups, sweat, chaffing.  So of course I'm disappointed I couldn't finish what I had started.  I worked hard this summer.  But I can't help what happened with just a week to go.  And Tupelo was just a run, not a race, and certainly not the race I'm working toward.  Years ago I would have tried to keep going and risked further injury or damage.  I realized I am a more mature runner that can now make smarter decisions based on what is the right thing to do and not what I want to do.  That's a pretty good feeling, and I'm proud of myself for being strong enough to say, I don't need to do this today.  I will live to race 26.2 another day!