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MCM Training: Weeks 11 & 12: Broken Down, but Not Broken

Last week was a fairly strong week, except that I really started to feel persistent pain in my left lower leg, mostly in my shin (anterior and posterior) and high Achilles. If felt the worst of it Thursday, when I attempted a 5-miler but instead cut it short to 3. I wanted to preserve my legs for my 17-mile long run on Saturday. I'm sure it didn't help that we did tons of sprints at CrossBoot on Wednesday night. I've been so proud of myself for making it out to two CrossBoot classes per week, but I'm afraid my legs are just not handling the speed drills very well, on top of my long training runs.

Monday I ran 4 miles before CrossBoot, because I didn't wake up in time to do it in the morning. This was my first run since the previous Saturday's 20-miler, and I really felt the pain in my leg. Then we had a rather leg-heavy CrossBoot class, but I didn't feel much pain during or after the class.

On Tuesday I ran with a couple of buddies in the evening. Our meet-up point was 2 miles from my home, so I ran there and back to get my necessary mileage in. On the 2-mile run there, I tripped and fell, skinning my elbow:

Not the best way to start out my run, but it really didn't start hurting until later, after then numbness from the fall went away. But I was happy for the company and the gorgeous weather on that run. I did 5 miles with the guys, and then ran a mile and walked a mile home to nurse my elbow. I think my left leg was bothering me, which is why I didn't run both miles home (plus, I didn't need to).

Wednesday night was another CrossBoot class. At one point I had looked forward to these nights as non-running nights, but that hasn't really been the case in recent weeks. We sprints galore, a lot of plyometric exercises, and again heavy on the legs. But I survived it, and I wasn't really in pain at the end of the night.

However, when I attempted to run 5 miles Thursday night, I could really feel the pain in that left leg, and so I cut it short. Long run aside, I had pretty much done my mileage for the week--though not exactly as it was prescribed--so I thought I'd quit while I was ahead. I went home and iced and rolled my leg, then took some ibuprofen.

I rested Friday, doing more of the same therapy on my leg, hoping it would be able to handle the next morning's run.

I woke up in time to run the 2+ miles to Davis Island to meet up with some friends who started with the Blue Sharks, a running group who starts their Saturday morning run at 5:30. I was definitely feeling some pain in my leg, but it didn't feel severe, and it wasn't increasing with mileage. I also had the good distraction of two friends who are also training for MCM, plus to other friends who are training for a December marathon. Sometimes I like to do my long runs alone, but this time I was grateful for the company and light conversation to take my mind off of my leg. A few hours later, I finished the run in decent time and wanted nothing more than to get my leg into an ice bath, pronto.

Sunday morning, I got up and took my newly adjusted bike out for a 12-mile spin on Davis Island (I'm becoming all too familiar with this route). It was the first time I'd ridden since I had the bike re-fit for me to help reduce/eliminate the hand numbness I was experiencing. And while I can gladly say that my hands did not fall asleep, I still struggled to feel comfortable on the bike. I know part of it was because my legs were just shot from the previous days of activity, and they didn't want to push very hard on that ride. I did get a nice picture of the boats at the marina, and I think it nicely captures the calm but ominous feeling of that morning:

Later that day, I went to yoga in the park at Curtis Hixon and practiced under the awning of the children's museum, as the clouds were still lingering and threatening rain. It didn't end up raining, but we still had a lovely practice in that cool and shaded space. Here's a picture I took after class:

And that brings me to this week. On Monday, I could feel the pain in my leg before I even tried to run. I knew I had a race coming up on Saturday, so I decided to skip my 6-mile  run for that day and just go to CrossBoot. I did end up doing a mile warm-up before CrossBoot, but it didn't feel great afterward. And of course, during class, we had about a gagillion shuttle runs to do (I counted), in addition to cone drills. Because these runs were short and somewhat spaced out with other exercises, I didn't feel too much pain during them. But after class, the pain set in. I did my therapy routine of ice, rolling, ibuprofen.

Also on Monday, my A/C had gone out, so I spent the day working from home and waiting for the repairman to get the replacement part. Well, due to a SNAFU on the supplier's part, my part got switched with someone else's, and by the time the error was realized, it was the end of the day, and I wasn't going to have A/C until the next day. I decided to stick it out and sleep at home with the window open and ceiling fan on. That ended up being a miserable night of sleep.

On Tuesday morning, I waited for a little bit to see if the repairman would be coming by in the morning or afternoon, so I knew when to go into work. Eventually, I was told it wouldn't be until the afternoon--if then. So I went into work and awaited the call. Around 4:00pm, I finally got the call that the my part had been returned to the supplier, but there wouldn't be enough time for the repairman to go pick it up and then come over to install it. So I was faced with another night of no A/C. This time, though, I would not try to sleep at home when I could go to my sister's.

After work on Tuesday, I again met up with my new running buddies for a 5-miler (plus 4 for me). I could feel the pain of this run with every step on my left leg, and I knew some damage had been done. But I wanted to complete the run, since I'd already missed Monday's run. We ran at a pace just faster than my intended marathon pace, about a 10:13 average (MRP is 10:18)--until the very end, when we decided to sprint to the finish of the 5 miles. That really did me in, but I loved the feeling of racing against someone and pushing all out for speed. It was exhilarating. And then it was painful. I still had to run 2 miles home after departing from my friends, and the only reason I ran instead of walked was because I knew the pain would be there either way, and I wanted to get home sooner rather than later to ice and massage my poor leg. I spent the night at my sister's house, and while I had the luxury of A/C, I still had a very hard time sleeping because my leg was throbbing and aching and keeping me up.

I brought my stick-roller into work Wednesday morning and even had a very kind co-worker roll my leg for me, as it had become exhausting for me to keep doing it on my own. After about half a day at work, I got the real call to meet the repairman back at home so I could finally have my air fixed. And hallelujah, it worked. I spent the rest of the day groggily working from home--groggy because I'd had two very poor nights of sleep. Nonetheless, I was determined to go to CrossBoot that night. I sent a text message to the instructor, Scoot, ahead of time to see if much running was planned for the night's workout. If so, I knew I'd have to skip it, and I didn't want to half-ass the night's workout. He said there wasn't a lot, so I decided to just go and try my best. I skipped the warm-up run and instead jumped rope, but that really didn't feel much better on my leg. Scoot was good about allowing me to make substitutions for the running portions, but it seemed like everything I did made my leg hurt--plus, I just felt drained and like I had no push in me. After completing a little more than half of the workout, I decided I was done. I bowed out and headed back to my car.

As soon as I was away from the others, I just started sobbing uncontrollably. It surprised even me. I tried to pinpoint what was wrong, and there was the obvious feeling of failure at not having finished the class, and also the larger fear of potentially not being able to run the marathon--but I think more than that, I had been holding in a lot. I had just recently ended a relationship that I'd had a lot of hope for and put a lot of effort into, and I hadn't done much to deal with those feelings except workout more. Which is effective only at masking feelings and only in the short term. So that added to my feelings of failure--which I know are not legitimate, but they are strong nonetheless.

I took these feelings to bed with me in my air-conditioned home, and, hoping for a much-needed good night of rest, I instead dreamed of a frightening apocalypse and awoke in the middle of the night to that fear. Later, after waking up for the day and getting ready for work, I had to laugh a little at the association my mind had made. I'd made a decision last night to take the next four days off from training, or at least from running, and I think subconsciously that decision spelled doom for me and my marathon hopes. And then I dreamed of a very literal, but much more impactful doom. And things were put back into perspective.

I won't be racing in the 15k I signed up for this Saturday, as that would be the worst thing I could do right now, but this means I'll be able to focus more on my niece Tori's one-year birthday and get some good family time in. There are, after all, more things to life than running.


Deedra Hickman said…
Darn that you'll miss the 15K, but this is probably a the best thing you can do for yourself right now. Can't believe that little one is a year old now. I hope the rest will heal you quickly.

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