Saturday, August 21, 2010

Injury blues

“I'll have a full recovery - that's the utmost physically my body has the ability to heal. Then I will push about 20 percent further, through sheer mental tenacity. If you're not prepared for that, go elsewhere.” Posted on a Bethesda Naval Hospital door by a Navy Seal.

         I am injured. This time it isn’t shin splints, a pulled muscle, over tired legs, black toenails, or blisters. It is a real injury, brought on by running real hills and up and down real stairs, by increasing my mileage and significantly increasing my intensity all at the same time. I know…I should know better. Part of my problem is I didn’t want to lose ground on my 1,000 miles for 2010 challenge, which reminds me why these kinds of goals of miles or streaks are dangerous. They push us to ignore our bodies and keep going. My body sent me a mild reminder with sore calves the first week. I ignored it and kept pushing. Thursday I broke down and went to see a doctor, who said, “Hmmm” and ordered x-rays. The doc called back at 8:30 Saturday morning to tell me he thinks I have a Lisfranc injury. Seriously? Who is Lis Franc and what did I ever do to her? A Google search later I am crossing my fingers, lighting candles, and praying in any way I can think of that this doesn’t require surgery to fix! First thing Monday morning I have to get more x-rays, this time weight bearing, to determine if putting weight on my foot makes the bones move apart (that would be a bad thing.) I will also see the orthopedic doc and am still on for an MRI.
       I have never been so frustrated by not being able to run. There is a whole new world right out my front door and I can’t get to it! I would walk and go on a photo safari, but I can’t even walk right now. Only people that are used to a lot of exercise understand what this does to you mentally. I know I can regain any physical losses, but at this moment the mental stress of not having my number one form of relief taken away is making me crazy! I need to run.
       After moping around and being terribly depressed because I can’t run my race next week, I decided to hit the gym. Last week I tried the recumbent bike, one of my favorites for easy cross training days, but even with an episode of Battlestar Galactica to watch, it was just too boring and not hard enough. Then I tried the elliptical trainer. I can put enough weight on the foot for that, but I just couldn’t get my heart rate up enough and again, SO BORING! Yesterday, however, I tried spin class for the first time.
       I consider myself to be in pretty good shape. My race times are respectable. I can run 10 miles at the drop of a hat and I can run a 3:45x400 a few times in a row, so I’m no slacker. I also knew going in that cycling uses different muscles, but figured I wouldn’t be totally humiliated. Yeh, right. Let’s just say my new goal is to be able to get through this one hour class without having to take an unscheduled break! Not being able to stay up on the pedals because I cannot yet support that much weight on my foot was a lovely excuse, but I doubt I could have done it anyway.
       This is my magic ticket. My heart rate was high, I was sweating and puffing, and I realized this must be a regular part of my routine even when I am back up to full mileage. As runners we know we should cross train, that our quads need building and our core needs to be pumped, but how many of us really take the time to do it right. I think about it, once in a while I poke at it, but I have never really taken the time to build myself up so that I feel as competent working my quads or core as I do running a race. So now is the time. I plan to come out the other end of this injury stronger than when I got hurt. I plan to run a better race, set new PRs, and improve my form; all while taking a forced break from running.
       Injuries can take us down for a while. They can mess with our heads, chip away at our VO2 Max, and undermine our training plans, we can either roll over and take the loses or we can use this time to build strength in other areas. I still have a race on the docket for October. That gives me lots of time to heal, if not a lot of time left to train. However, if I can keep my cardio up and build strength in areas that need shoring up, AND I don’t need surgery, I should still be able to finish with a respectable time. Or, wait for the next race, there is always another around the corner…

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Land of the Morning Calm

       I still feel like we got off the plane yesterday, but we have now been in Korea for two weeks. So far it is mostly involved jumping through all the hoops required of the military, but we have ventured out the gate a little to check out the shopping, and buy cell phones, and are moving into our new home tomorrow (provided the typhoon that hits tonight doesn’t prevent us.)

       All my running has been on base. Not because I don’t feel safe, it is just easier to stay on base for now. I am excited about checking out the local trails and getting familiar with the neighborhood around our house once we move into it, but we just bought a car yesterday and haven’t had much chance to go sightseeing.

       Running on base has been a great challenge though. It is very hilly here, not to mention hot and more humid than Florida! One morning I headed out into fog, despite it being over 80 degrees. I didn’t even think that was possible. It was like running in a steam room. The hills have been great though. At first my left Achilles was really sore from walking all day on steep inclines, but that has settled down and I’m getting more comfortable with the hills.

       Running the flight line is great too. It is a 6 mile loop around the air strip that is clean, smooth pavement. Apparently the in thing in Korea is to put down a rubber surface made of ground tires to pad jogging paths. About a mile of the trail near the fitness center is surfaced with it. It is kind of cool stuff, but I would rather run on dirt. There are lots of sidewalks though, something that was seriously lacking in our last home town, so it is easy to avoid traffic and feel safe from traffic.

       Out around the flight line things get interesting. I’ve passed groups marching in full combat gear, big camouflaged rocket launchers surrounded by flowers and big white birds, and a corridor where all I can see is the fence on either side of the road topped with endless coils of razor wire

and the occasional cement closet to shoot from.

I’m pretty used to this sort of stuff so it interests me more than it bothers me. I feel safe running the flight line, knowing every part of it is watched for intruders. Best of all there is almost no traffic on the road and it is free of trash or debris. I’m sure I will come back often to run here.

A couple of days ago I traveled up to Seoul to meet my new running club. It was a great visit and quite an adventure, (that included getting back to the bus home with 3 minutes to spare!) I am really excited to run with this group and experience racing in Korea. I am registered for 2 half marathons already, one at the end of this month and another in October. The race this month will be hilly, but beautiful. It is in the DMZ where they have set up a park with hiking trails. I’m not sure about the October race, but the military is sponsoring 150 runners so the race fees and bus are paid for. Woo-hoo, free race! Cut off time for the half is 2 ½ hours so I won’t be mid pack on this one.
       For my RA followers, this move has been the best so far.  Other than a slight shoulder flare from carrying heavy stuff too far, keeping up with my running has kept things under control.  I've been tired and wiped out a lot of the time, but so has the rest of the family so I think it is more a let lag issue than an RA issue. 
       Things are moving along, we are slowly getting settled and finding a routine. The next chapter in our life has begun!

Monday, August 2, 2010

One last race in Virginia

     Saturday, July 24th, I finally got to meet Rich Walkden and his wife, Anne! They flew down from Vermont to run the Operation Homefront 5K on Fort Story, VA with me. On Friday, when they arrived in Norfolk, Rusty and I just happened to be at the airport picking up our rental car so we got to meet one day early, which was cool because it reassured everyone that none of us were axe murderers :-).

     Saturday morning I met them up at the Waffle House across the street from their hotel at 5:45, where Rich and Anne tanked up on coffee, and then we headed to the race start. Despite getting slightly lost because we were talking and not paying attention to where we were going, we managed to get to Fort Story in plenty of time to check in and warm up. There we met Sam, another barefoot runner, and headed off on a warm up. Again, chatter took over and we ran a brisk 2 mi. warm up before we knew it, oops, LOL.

     The race started at 7:30, which was a good thing because it was already stinking hot and sticky! I suggested an 8 mpm pace, thinking they guys might not want to run that slow, but they took me up on the offer and we joined the group at the race start. Anne is new to running so she placed herself further back. We probably should have taken off a little slower, but with a good warm up behind us, I thought keeping an even pace would be good. We were passing people fairly steadily when I heard, “Hey, I just got passed by a girl, in a pink skirt and bare feet!” I hollered back, “You also just got passed by a guy in a red skirt and bare feet!” which brought winded chuckles from the surrounding crowd. (Rich runs in a very cool sport kilt.)

     We sailed past the first water stop without partaking of the H20. I had a hand bottle and I think the guys thought they could just tough it out. About half a mile later, they were regretting it since we popped out of the shade and onto a very sunny loop. Somewhere on that loop we lost Sam. The heat had gotten him and he wasn’t doing well with the rough pavement. Apparently Sam is more accustomed to pristine asphalt :-). I thought it was a pretty choice course, but I’m used to a neighborhood with chip seal so apparently I’m a little tougher than I thought. While Sam tossed his cookies, Rich and I plodded on. Somewhere before the 2 mile water stop I lost Rich. I had been checking for him over my shoulder frequently, but as it got hot and I got more tired, I started focusing on my form and pace and the next time I looked back he was gone. Virginia Beach in the summer is a tad warmer than Vermont and the thermometer was on a steady march to “hot day in Hell” so Rich flagged and took a break.

      At about 2.5 miles I was a cooked goose. My heart rate was out of control so I decided to walk, catch my breath and let my pulse simmer down a bit. By the time I picked up the pace again, I had lost close to a minute and knew my goal time was history. I wasn’t too worried about it though. It was blazing hot and I had been sick all week on top of moving out of the house and into a hotel with only about 5 hours of sleep a night for the past week. Basically, anything below 30 minutes was going to be a victory. At the same time, I still wanted to do my best, and frankly the place medals looked pretty cool, LOL.

     I walked until I hit the shade again, and then picked up my feet for the final half mile. Fortunately, it was early enough that the pavement wasn’t hot or I would have turned that around and run the sunny part, walking in the shade. As hot as it was at not yet 8 am, the shade offered little difference in temperature, but it was enough to pop back to my pace and finish. They were calling out times as we crossed the line and I heard, “25:24!” WHOOT! I really didn’t care that the elusive “sub-25” slipped through my fingers once again. This race was about meeting friends and finding out just what I can do with a wicked head cold :-). Turns out, head colds don’t slow me down much! I even won the cool medal for 3rd place in the 40-49 age group! Rich finished not far behind me in 27:42, which I believe was a PR. Anne did great too, she was disappointed that she wasn’t able to run the whole way, but the heat really got to her too. She managed a good running finish though and was still ahead of several people in our age group, GO ANNE!

     We hung out for door prizes and Anne won a cool blown glass sculpture (which she then had to fit into her back pack for the trip home) and then waved good-bye to Sam before heading back to the Waffle House. We indulged in a hearty breakfast while talking each other’s ears off and then it was back to the airport for Rich and Anne.

     The whole day was a spectacularly good time. Rich and Anne are great people and we never ran out of things to talk about. It was the perfect break between the chaos of leaving one home and moving to another. I couldn’t have found a better way to spend the day!