Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Already sidelined...

I love beginning a new project. Carefully laid plans, fresh new supplies, the anticipation, hard work, making progress and the reward of accomplishing a goal...What's not to love?

With the encouragement of some of my Sole Sisters, I signed up for Women Rock as my first half marathon.  My BRF (best running friend) promised to run it with me too, so that sealed the deal.  To top it all, at the finish I'll be handed jewelry and champagne by some very "lovely" assistants, if you get my drift.  I figured if that didn't get my rear across the finish line, nothing would!

For weeks I pored over training plans in books and websites, searching for the one that was just right.  I found it in the book Train Like a Mother by Dimity McDowell and Sarah Bowen Shea.  Fifteen weeks of workouts that clearly specified which days I could bail out if needed and which runs were absolutely necessary. Retyped and color coded, I was ready to go with a start date of June 10.  A couple of weeks and training would begin...I couldn't wait!

In the meantime I ran a midnight trail race and ran trails with a fellow Sole Sister in my new barefoot trail shoes.  My feet and ankles were sore after both runs, but I chalked it up to weakness in muscles I wasn't used to using and vowed to do strengthening exercises.  Days later I was cleaning up after my children and stumbled over a toy (typical in a house with two toddlers!) The tenderness nagged, but I didn't think much of it because I hadn't really taken a rest day yet.  

Finally, it was time to train! I set out for my first training run of 4-5 miles at the local trail.  Paying attention to my form, my ankles were tight and complaining but I figured they just needed a mile or so to get loosened up.  By 3/4 of a mile they weren't feeling better so I slowed down to walk and stretch.  Feeling a little better, I picked up the pace again only to have the pain intensify once again.  By mile 1.5 I was in tears and limping back to the car, completely discouraged.  I couldn't touch my left ankle without gasping; not only was it painful, but swelling and bruising were appearing as well.  I expect some pain with training, but NEVER have I finished a run in tears.  I knew something was wrong.

I immediately called the PT (physical therapist) I previously worked with to rehab my knee and went in for an evaluation.  The swelling and bruising were continuing to worsen, so an appointment with my doctor was made.   By the end of the day I couldn't bear weight on it without a lot of pain.  Bummed barely described how I was feeling.

The next day I woke up and my ankle felt better - until I started walking on it.  Within half an hour I was limping again and even more worried something was really wrong.  My doctor examined me and gave me the news.  Diagnosis:  A nasty sprain.  Treatment:  Rest (no running for a couple weeks), ice, and elevation.  My reaction was split:  while I was really glad she hadn't found a fracture (the bruising and swelling worried the PT), I was worried about my training.  It's only week 1 and I'm injured! How am I going to run 13.1 miles if I can't even START my training???

I got home and did what I always do when faced with a problem:  I researched.  Several hours later I had my answer: It's going to be okay.  Everything I'd read suggested I could miss 1-2 weeks of training because I had a strong base of mileage.  There will be a period where I'll have to cut back and work my way back up, but, for now I'm okay with being sidelined.  Well, at least as okay as I'm going to be.  Let's be serious, I'd rather be running hills or doing hard tempo runs than sitting, resting this ankle.  But, give me a couple weeks and I'll be back. :)

So, what's my point with this rambling saga? What I'm trying to convey is the change I see in myself.  A year ago I would have let my discouragement take over and quit.  Instead, 

I didn't give up.  I adapted and am continuing to work at my goal, just in a different way than first planned.  And I'm proud of that!

So for now I'll be busy strength training and building a stronger core with some killer workouts I found at Em's Gym.  Who knows? Maybe this will help me learn to love strength training?!

Gotta run - in a couple weeks, that is. ;)

Thursday, June 13, 2013

The Greatest Gift

Let me just start by saying:

I don't know what I'm doing.

That's right, I have no idea what I'm doing with this blog.  Yet.  What I do know is that running and a couple of special blogs have influenced me greatly.  So much so, that I am inspired to share my experiences. 

One year ago, I sat with my two children (then 21 months and 1 month) wondering how I was going to do it.  My spouse had just deployed, I started graduate school for speech-language pathology in August,  and the walls were closing in.  I was scared, stressed, and overwhelmed to say the least.  

Fast forward to November.  I'm a basket case of stress, anxiety, and entirely too busy to enjoy life.  As I thought I couldn't handle one more thing, all hell broke loose:  my father-in-law passed away.  Several tough phone calls later, my husband was on his way home for emergency leave to attend the services.  This truly was the turning point for me.  During his leave he wanted to get new running shoes, but hated the ones he had.  I took him to the local running store to get fitted, as I had no idea what was wrong with the Sauconys we'd picked out for him a little over a year ago.  With two kids in the store to entertain, I began "test-driving" the double jogging stroller they had in the store.  Staff members noticed how much the kids liked the stroller and asked if I was a runner.  I replied that I had been a on-again-off-again runner in my twenties, but hadn't run since I became pregnant with my son more than three years ago.  My husband, ever the practical man, suggested I get fitted for shoes too since my feet had likely changed since pregnancy.  Two days later my husband gave me the greatest gift he's given me (with the exception of our two children):  a double jogging stroller.

It doesn't seem like that should trump other gifts, but it has.  That stroller became my ticket to leave the house, to get back to the sport I loved, to a community of women who supported me and that have become some of my best friends, and to a community of athletes who continue to teach me so much.  That stroller opened the door between who I was and who I wanted to be.

Throughout the past six months, running has influenced every part of my life.  I'm learning to be mentally tough and applying that skill to challenges in graduate school.  I'm learning how to set attainable goals and persevere working toward them.  I'm learning to challenge myself and to believe in my ability to meet that challenge.  I'm learning I am stronger and more capable of great things than I give myself credit for. I truly believe the benefits of running have helped me to become a better mother, a stronger student, and a better athlete; overall, a better person.  

I thank God for that double stroller; it put me on the road to new goals, new PRs, and to myself. Thank you, babe.  You may not realize the import of that gift, but I do.  I definitely do.  

Gotta run. :)