Thursday, September 30, 2010
Someone suggested it might be because we're having a super-humid, rainy week. Someone else suggested it is my other muscles taking over for the ones that have been the focus.
Whatever it is, it's been making me wonder all week if I'll ever run again. And when I do, will I remember how?
Today, at PT, I got stretched, strengthened, scraped, and stretched again. I talked with my PT about my follow-up appointment with the sports med doc on Monday. And then my PT said, "Ok, let's get you on the treadmill." This wasn't news -- I'd walked on the TM for 10 minutes on Tuesday. But what K said next made my heart skip:
"We'll even get you running -- no, jogging -- for a little bit, too."
What!? Really!? Don't tease me. Seriously?
WAIT! What if I forget how to run? What if my arms don't work or I trip over my own feet? What if I lost my coordination? What if I look like Phoebe on Friends running down the street with my arms flailing all over the place!?
I was sweating, my heart was skipping, I felt like a kid on Christmas.
And I was nervous. My leg isn't 100%. I compare it to how the right leg feels -- which has zero problems -- and I know my left achilles/calf isn't 100%. I was nervous that my body wouldn't remember how to run, and I was hesitant to run when I knew I've been still feeling some tightness.
But my PT wanted to see how my leg reacted so she could send me to the doc on Monday with an update on my progress. So, like a kid trying out her new bike for the first time, I excitedly and with some trepidation made my way over to the treadmill.
I walked for 2 minutes, and my leg still felt some leftover crankiness -- not strong tightness, but something. But it didn't get worse. And then K came over and said, ok -- now let's jog for one minute.
Yayayayayayayayayayayayayayayayayayay! I get to jog! Ten minute pace, and it was pretty good. A little over a minute. Leg didn't get any worse -- still just a touch of crankiness.
And then I walked for 2 more minutes, and then I jogged for 2 more minutes. Leg actually felt better in this second run. Then I finished with 2 minutes of walking.
It may have only been a test, and it may have only been a few minutes, but I didn't forget. I didn't forget. It may have been slow, but I ran -- and I didn't forget how.
And in those few minutes I was happier than I've been in weeks.
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
Into the Wind: The Terry Fox Story was on ESPN tonight. I remember watching this story, and the original movie made about him, when I was little. It was amazing then, it's amazing now.
The ESPN show is moving. It's inspirational. It honors his perseverence. Catch the replay of it if you can on ESPN2 or ESPN classic.
My calf/achilles problem is a speedbump. I know that, even when it feels like my life is falling apart around me. Terry Fox ran on one leg for 3,339 miles in 143 days. In cotton shorts, socks, and t-shirts, I might add. Through the summer heat and humidity.
My problem is a speedbump, no matter how devastating it feels to me.
In the ESPN film, Terry says, "You hope and you pray that it'll work out for the best." For him, the cancer won -- but his work was recognized, appreciated, and valued. This is a story that should inspire perseverence in everyone.
Sunday, September 26, 2010
Perhaps the one thing I dreaded the most with my time off of running has now come to be. When I strip down to naked, I don't like what I see.
Growing up, I always battled with my weight. I was always heavier and rounder than my twin. I was heavier in HS and college. It wasn't until I left Time Warner at the age of almost 23 that I got into shape and lost weight and became slimmer. And I've still battled with my weight ever since.
My comfortable weight is about 118-120. My racing weight has gotten as low as 114. When I get above 120, I get nervous. I'm not as comfortable in my clothes, I'm not as comfortable in my own skin.
When I get above 120, it's a quick road to 125, 128, even higher. I've been there, and I don't like it. When I get above 120, I'm reminded of those years when I was heavy, and I was unhealthy, and it scares me. It's so easy to get above 120. It's so easy to gain weight.
These days, I'm hovering around 123. My stomach is softer. My legs are thicker. My chest is bigger. Maybe not to the eyes of anyone else, but that's because I hide it. Or I try to.
Now, if anyone reading this starts getting frustrated or annoyed that I'm complaining - or lamenting - about weighing 123 pounds, I'll tell you this: you aren't me. You might want to skip the rest of this post. This is about stripping down. This is honesty. I was going to post a picture, but it freaks me out to have an almost-naked picture of me on the internet. Still, you can't convince me I look ok, or that 123 pounds isn't bad.
123 pounds is a knock on the door of the fatter, younger, heavy-drinker, bad-boyfriend-chooser that I was.
123 pounds is pants that are tighter, shirts that are more revealing, clothes that are uncomfortable.
123 pounds is more inches around the waist, more inches around the chest, more inches around the thighs.
123 pounds is a lack of confidence, a catalyst for sadness.
123 pounds might as well be 150, or 200, or more.
It doesn't matter that I eat healthy. It doesn't matter that I'm swimming, biking, and sometimes elliptical-ing six days a week, plus the physical therapy work. Nothing has slimmed me down in the past like running has. And so, when I had to give up running, this -- the gaining of weight -- was the thing that bothered me about it the most.
Yes, I am frustrated that I can't get out and enjoy a run in the cooler temperatures. Yes, I'm highly disappointed that I won't be racing this fall. Yes, I'm beside myself that I don't have running as my stress-reliever.
But most of all, when I strip it all down, I'm more than frustrated. I'm scared, I'm nervous, and I'm unhappy. Because I have the impossible task of trying to burn more calories than I'm taking in, and I'm losing.
I need to run. Tomorrow, the scale will likely read 124.
*note: I understand that my esteem and my happiness shouldn't depend on my weight and my body image. I understand that. I also understand that this is (hopefully) temporary. But today, this week, this is how I'm feeling. So be it.
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
A partial tear of the medial head of the gastrocnemius muscle and tendon.
Not entirely shocking. That pop I heard twice this summer? A symptom of such an injury. One of the causes? Overuse. No wonder it wasn't getting and staying better this summer.
My PT said that while I still need to speak with my doc about these results, she doesn't plan to alter our course of therapy. She made me nervous about her knowledge the first day I met her, but since then, I've come to respect her ability. She HURT me Day 1 with the Graston technique work she did, and she bruises me every time I'm there, but I get the sense that the scar tissue/knotty stuff is breaking up. She uses these metal/stainless steel/whatever butter-knife-without-a-blade things, and literally scrapes (no blade) up and down the muscles of my lower leg. Like rubbing a metal ruler across your muscles and shin. Holy Moly I've never felt something so painful.
It makes me squirm. I sweat through my shirt and shorts. I beg her, silently, to stop. But she keeps working it and working it, and believe it or not, I do get the sense it's breaking up the bad stuff.
After the PT strengthening exercises, the stretching she does to me, and the Graston, she sticks 3 small, rectangular electric pads to my leg and for 10-15 minutes, my leg jumps up and down as the heartbeat of electric stimultion increases the blood flow to my damaged muscles.
The bruises are colorful, the swelling lingers, and icing doesn't seem to do much. But hopefully all of this, plus the time off from running, WILL do lots. I hope it brings me back stronger and smarter. I hope it lets me run for the rest of my life.
Sunday, September 12, 2010
I know, I know. All of this is so that I can run for the rest of my life -- because ultimately that's what's important to me.
But it really sucks to know that my better racing happens in the fall, and this fall is now worthless to me. I don't get to enjoy the cooling temps. I don't get to see a strong training round through to a marathon that won't be in 85* temps. I'm missing good races. Everyone else is progressing around me.
I spent 60 boring minutes on the elliptical today. At least I got a pretty good sweat working. Then I jumped in the pool for 1000 yards. Not much, but it's something.
I've been finding myself staring at runners when I pass them on the road. I slow down my bike or my car and watch. I note how their form looks. I silently applaud them. I'm jealous of them -- even those, maybe especially those, who seem to be struggling. I want to be them. All of them.
I also marvel at those who seem to continually improve and excel each and every time they get out there. I wish my body was stronger, like theirs. I spent much of today watching/following Charisa kick ass at Ironman Wisconsin, and got emotional as I watched her finish with a big smile on her face. 5th overall female. Amazing.
I want to race. I want to be happy about my racing. I tasted a bit of that last fall, and I'm bummed I'm missing the chance this fall. But most of all, I just want to run. So I'll deal with the next (hopefully only) 4 weeks, and I'll do what I need to do to get my leg stronger so I can run for the rest of my life.
Thursday, September 9, 2010
I broke down in tears when he told me he doesn't want me to run until he sees me again. In a month.
I did. I broke down in tears right there in the office.
He said, "I know, this is hard. I understand."
I told him, "I appreciate that, but you don't understand. This has been the hardest year of my life. I've dealt with death, a broken relationship, criminal behavior against me, screwed up work stuff, and a failed marathon -- just to name a few. I need to run."
He didn't know what to say. He handed me a tissue.
So, that's it. I know I should look for the good. I know I'm not terminally ill, my family's ok, and I can still bike/swim/whatever.
But I need to run.
Tuesday, September 7, 2010
This summer, I've struggled with an on-going left calf/achilles issue. I've gone to 3 different people about it. I have been massaged, activated, manipulated, ART'ed, taped, and compression sleeved. I've gotten better, I've gotten worse, and now I'm in the stalled, not-getting-better state. I get worked on, get things loosened up, try to run as the doc prescribes, and the achilles tightens up again. I can't run right now.
I have had to bail out of 2 races already -- a 5k that all my running store friends run, and a triathlon (last post) that I did the first 2 legs of and then walked off the course. I planned on running the Philadelphia Distance Run (now the Rock 'n Roll Philadelphia Half Marathon) on September 19. Can't now. I started training this summer for the Philadelphia Marathon in November -- hoping to have a good fall race. Can't now. I can't even run more than a mile this week without my gait altered and my leg hurting.
These days, I'm no longer a runner. No running to relieve my stress, no races to look forward to, no part of my day I look forward to like I had. I feel my identity slipping away.
People have tried to tell me that running isn't who I am -- it's only part of who I am. Family, friends -- they all remind me of this. They remind me I'm not battling a terminal disease. They tell me this is temporary and I should just focus on other parts of my life. I appreciate that, and I know all those things are true, but not being able to run cuts me.
Yes, I've been doing other things. I swim, I bike, I do core work, I walk (when my achilles allows). But none of these work up the heart rate, the sweat, or keep the pounds off like running does. None of them balance my mind like running does. None of them are enough.
I have an appointment with a sports medicine doctor on Thursday. I can't imagine he'll do anything that will get me running strong on Friday, so I'm only partially excited about seeing him. What I hope for is some answers on why this is such a nagging, frustrating issue, and what I can do to be able to run again.
I need my identity back.
Wednesday, September 1, 2010
Whatever it was, whatever the (still unknown) cause, I was beside myself. I had just gotten to a point where I thought I was on the almost-healed route. I drowned my frustrated, sorry ass in some beers with friends that night, and then saw the ART guy the next day. I was in pain, and I told him to take it easy on me. I really needed him to confirm what I thought -- that it wasn't a rupture, that it was something he could help me with. He did, and he did.
But I still couldn't run. I saw him again before the weekend, and he told me not to run until Monday. Since I could barely walk without a limp even 3 days after it seized up, I was resigned to this being what I had to do. However, I was supposed to do the only sprint triathlon I was registered for this summer on Saturday, and I was disappointed I wouldn't be able to run. I contemplated not doing it at all.
And then I realized that for me, the run is the easy part. It's always the swim and the bike that present the challenge for me in a tri. So I'll do those. I would start the race, and walk off the course after the bike.
I arrived at the Medford Lakes Triathlon relaxed and ready to go. It really stunk to set up my transition 1 stuff, and know that I wouldn't need anything for a T2, but I knew I was making the right decision. It is more important for me to baby my achilles now so that I can run for the rest of my life. I can sacrifice this race for that.
I ran into a teaching coworker who was doing her first tri, and helped her get situated. She was REALLY new at this -- and didn't know what to take to the swim start, how to set up her transition area, or even that she had to wear the swim cap she was given. I got her ready, wished her luck, and stepped into the water to await my wave start.
The water was warm, the lake looked calm, and I knew this would be a piece of cake. A 400 meter swim was nothing. I'm still a pretty weak swimmer in my own mind, so I positioned myself off the back and to the left, where I thought I'd get some clean water.
And then we started, and within the first two minutes, I was already frustrated. All the 39 and younger women, of all different levels and abilities. Grr. Man, I suck at this swimming-in-races thing. I had a million things racing in my head the whole time: move left, there's clean water! Breathe, dammit! This isn't that hard! Ack! move right now, this isn't clean anymore! Eww, shave your legs, lady! That stubble is scratching me up! Whoa! If you're gonna do backstroke, at least try to look where you're going! Breathe, Lora, you've done this before! Stop acting like you haven't! Wait! That guy's cute, but why is he treading water without his goggles on? Ok, almost done, swim it in and finish this thing! Remember to suck in your tummy as you get out -- you chose to swim with just your shorts and bra top today! Ok, there's the beach. Get to your bike, but remember, no running!
After a ridiculous effort, I finished the swim and had a long walk to my bike. This was a great course, but the transition was a really long, thin, area. I walked the whole thing, because I'm not running right now (double GRR!) and so I finally got to my bike and headed out.
The bike course (13ish miles) was a good one. Some good rolling hills, a nice area, and I got in a good groove. I was feeling VERY good about my bike (usually a weakness for me) and ended up with a great-for-me bike leg, averaging 18mph. As I got to the dismount area, I was disappointed that I would not be doing the run, but I held fast to my plan. I walked my bike to my rack, packed up my gear, and walked my bike out of transition and over to the finish line. A couple people commented, she's done already? and I had to tell them, no, I wasn't doing the run leg. :( I handed my chip in, watch the finish for a little bit, and headed home.
I'm glad I had the ability to do what was best for me, but man it stunk to not finish that race. It was a great course, and it seems they had a very successful first triathlon there. I'd go back next year, for sure.
And now, after more serious, sweating-inducing ART work the past few days, the achilles is slowly loosening up and I'm starting to run again. Partial running, that is -- walk some, run some, repeat.