It is just just not my year for running

I’m struggling man, I’m struggling.

Not with swimming.  Okay, I am struggling with swimming.  Getting used to open water swimming is still a struggle.  I’m having MAJOR goggle fogging struggles and in general, swimming will always be my nemesis.

But what I’m really struggling with is my running.  I mentioned earlier that I have compartment syndrome (CS), but I’ve also been having hamstring issues.  I’ve gone in to get dry needled to work out my hamstring issues and correct some of the issues I’m having which are leading to that and possibly by compartment syndrome.  But beyond my nagging and chronic conditions like CS or my hamstring soreness, I’ve never really had an injury.  That is until now.

Last week Brian and I were doing a two-person marathon relay.  I had run the first 6.25 miles and it went really well.  My CS and hamstring issues didn’t bother me and I felt good.  Brian took his first 6.5 miles and then it was my turn again to hit the pavement and finish my last 6.5 miles.

I got about 2 miles into my last leg when my calf/Achilles was starting to tighten but I wasn’t worried.  Typical aches and pains arise all the time while running and that’s what I assumed this was.  Just after my calf/Achilles started to tighten I saw Brian on the route cheering me on and I had decided to use that time to grab the BioFreeze from him and spray my leg.  I thought that was going to be the fix I needed and I didn’t think about my sore leg again.  That is until it popped.

Yep, it popped.  About 1/4 mile after seeing Brian I was running along minding my business when my calf popped.  And I stopped.  Actually I swore – loudly – and then I stopped.  I had no idea what just happened.  All I knew was that it was quite painful and wasn’t going to be a good thing. I tried to keep running and I couldn’t.  And that’s when panic set in because I knew I wasn’t going to see Brian for another 2+ miles at the next rendezvous spot.  I tried to continue hobbling along the best I could, willing myself to be okay.  But I soon realized I wasn’t going to be okay and I wasn’t going to make it to the next rendezvous spot – at least not quickly.  That’s when I remembered the really fancy and expensive stop watch (aka my Apple watch) on my wrist.  I had gotten it because I don’t run with my phone and I felt I needed the security of being able to contact someone in case of emergency while running.  Little did I know the emergency was going to be during a race and not a training run.  I had never tried calling on my watch before and I surely hadn’t tried to do it as I was hobbling along with the medical staff following me.  (Yes, a woman from the medical team had spotted me in distress and biked over to me to see if I was okay.  When I said yes I was fine, I’m not sure why she didn’t believe me.  Was it the crying or the hobbling?  Not sure!  Either way she followed me for quite a while to make sure I was okay.)  I couldn’t get in touch with Brian but thankfully my sister Carol was rocking the route too, so I called her instead.  It turned out that she was with Brian.  I told them what happened and that I couldn’t go on and that I needed them to back track the course to come find me – which wasn’t as easy as it sounds.  I gave them my wrong locale and I just couldn’t seem to find where I was, to give them an exact place where to find me.  But eventually they did.  But to my credit, I made it another .75 miles on my bad leg while Brian and Carol tried to find me.

And of course, I was not going to have a DNF on my report card so when Brian said to get in the car, that we were done, I said NO!  I wasn’t letting Team Miles for Miles drop out. I would finish my last 3 miles if I had to walk or crawl it.  BUT there was another option… Brian could take my last 3 miles in addition to his last 6.5.  Knowing how stubborn I am and that I absolutely would have hobbled my last 3 miles if given the option, Brian reluctantly agreed to take over for me.  But not after calling me the most stubborn person he knows!  (That may be true!)

Fast forward to today, Friday… 5 days after my injury – which turned out to be a calf tear – and I’m still limping.  It’s a minor calf tear and the first few days, while pretty painful, contained a lot of improvement and progress.  But now my progress as slowed. I feel like I may have taken a step backwards.  A limpy, gimpy step backwards, but a backwards step nonetheless.

I have a 25 mile bike race tomorrow that we are going to do and I’m a bit afraid.  I totally thought I was going to be ready, but I’m not feeling as pain-free as I had hoped.  I also have a sprint tri next week that I don’t know if I’ll be ready for or if I’ll have to pull out.  And all of this unknown due to an injury has me freaked out.

As I said earlier, I’ve never truly been injured.  I’ve had nagging pain – lots of it, but not a full-blown injury.  Not even as a kid.  Growing up a tomboy on a farm, you’d have thought I’d have had my share of injuries.  But not even a sprained ankle or a stitches.  I’ve been really lucky.  Until now and that’s why I think my mental anguish is as bad as the physical anguish.  While I’m not dying, and it’s only a minor calf tear, I just don’t know what to do with being sidelined.  The thought of dropping out of an event is REALLY REALLY hard for me to wrap my head around.

It’s already been established that I’m stubborn and that stubbornness is telling me to rub some dirt on it and get back in the game.  But I’d also like to think that I’m smart.  Smart enough to know that my goal events are the Chicago Tri in August and the Marine Corp Marathon in October and I have to heal to get ready for those races.  And while I know this, I still hate the thought of possibly dropping out of a stupid “warm up” tri next week?  Why is that?  Like I said, I’m smart enough to know the right thing to do, why can’t I do it?  The thought of dropping out makes me feel like I wimped out and I’m being a pussy.  I feel like I should be able to leather up and see my commitment all the way through to the end.

But then again, my main commitment is the Chi Tri and Marine Corp which may not happen if I re-injure myself or don’t heal in time to ramp up my training.

UGH!  The round and round I’m having internally in my own head is making me quite bi-polar now.  I can’t make the lambs stop screaming (name that movie reference)!

So, that’s the latest and greatest.  I’m loading my bike and heading north tonight for the bike ride tomorrow.  I’ll see how my leg feels during the bike ride and the rest of the weekend.  I have another dry needling appointment Tuesday morning and depending on how I feel after that, I’ll make the call whether or not I drop out of the Tri next weekend.  So wish me luck!

Until next time,

Gotta run (or hobble slowly)

 

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A new experience

OMG, I’m excited to report I had my first bi experience last night.

NO, not that kind of bi-experience!

I did one lap of bi-lateral breathing while swimming.  Woot Woot!

It was ugly and I’m not lying when I say I drank a ton of water and probably held my breath more than I should.  But I did it.  I swam, I breathed to my left, I swam, I breathed to my right and then I hit repeat.  By the end, I was basically willing myself to get to the side of the pool because it was so ugly and uncomfortable.  But I don’t care how ugly it was.  It was my first and you never forget your first time!

I definitely have to work on my rhythm because it was not smooth and my instinct kept wanting me to breathe every right stroke.  All of that will take time to get used to.  But at least now I feel that there’s hope for me.  I feel that I can keep making progress and maybe I can actually get this whole swimming thing down.

So while I’m not getting any faster, at least I am making some progress and that really excites me and keeps me going.

Until next time,

Gotta run

 

Swim pace illiterate

Someone please help me; lord I’m a lost cause when trying to figure out my swim pace!

And NO, I’m not even trying to figure it out in my head or old school by looking at the timer clock in the pool.  Maybe that is what I should be doing.  No, instead I’m relying on not one, but two, very expensive watches.  (Don’t ask why I wear two watches – it’s a long story).

A few weeks ago I went swimming at – what one of my watches told me was – a sub 3-minute pace/100 yards.  I can not swim that fast but a few of my laps were flipper aided or were other “drills” so I took my time to be pretty meaningless.  Expect for the fact that the laps I did “standard” seemed to also come up as sub 3:00.  But again, I know this isn’t possible.  That was my first red flag.

My .88 mile swim on Sunday took 54 minutes – give or take.  One watch calculated my pace per 100 yards at 3:04 while the other one said 3:33.  If you actually do the math, the 3:33 is more accurate.  But where did the 3:04 come from?  Three thirty-three has me missing the swim cutoff by about 10 minutes, but 3:04 has me making it by 10 minutes.  Now you can see why I need to figure this out.

I went swimming again this morning and once again did drills, some with flippers and registered a pace under 3:00 minutes – 2:48 to be exact on my watch on my left arm and my right arm watch gave me a pace of 3:19.  Seriously, how can this be?  As far as I know, they are both set up the same, I never set an auto pause on either watch.

So what can it be?  My pessimistic side says to always go with the watch that shows the slower time, just to be safe.  But come on, I need a win every now and then, so if I can actually see improvement in my swim speed, I’d sure like to be able to celebrate it.  But more importantly, I need to truly know what my swim pace is.  If I can’t even swim at a pace that gets me out of the water before the swim cutoff, as I’m swimming solo in a pool, how in the world can I expect to try a Half Iron or Ironman in open water where the conditions are more like a rugby match than they are a casual swim?

If anyone knows why my watches, an Apple Watch and a Garmin, are so far off, please let me know.

Until next time,

Gotta Run

 

Running, not swimming is keeping me up at night

It’s been a crazy busy spring, and summer is looking to be even crazier and busier.  So let me jump right in and get you up to speed on my training.

Swimming:

I have been in the pool a lot.  Just this past Sunday I swam 31 laps!  Hot Damn!  Thirty one laps equals about .88 of a mile and I have to swim .93 miles for my August Tri.  So from an endurance perspective, I’m covered.

What I don’t have covered is speed or bilateral breathing.  I was able to choke and cough my way through three ugly laps while breathing to my left while wearing flippers.  I drank more pool water in those three laps than I have in the past 10 months.  It was ugly, it was uncomfortable, it wasn’t good but it’s a start.  I’m still frustrated, but at least I made a bit of progress.

I’m also very, very, very frustrated on my lack of speed.  I have not made any improvements on getting any faster.  My .88 mile swim on Sunday was at a pace of 3:33 per 100 yards.  I need to swim AT LEAST 3:19 per 100 yards to make Ironman cutoff.  SIGH!  Beyond frustrated.  I don’t even want to talk about it so I’m moving on to my biking update.

Biking:

I finally got my bike off the trainer and out of the basement and in some fresh air.  It was a horrible spring here in Wisconsin – we got over 36 inches of snow in April – and that forced me to stay inside longer than I would have liked.  But I just did my first two outdoor rides and so far, so good.  And by that I mean, I didn’t crash!  I set the bar low for myself so I can tip-toe over it!

Running:

Running should be my easy sport.  It’s what I’ve done for the past 10+ years and it’s the one I don’t have to think about.  Unfortunately, it’s all I’ve been thinking about.

As you may recall, during Fall 50 training in 2015 I started to complain about shin splints.  And I’ve dealt with the nagging pain ever since.  Pain and frustration led me to dig a bit deeper into my shin pain and when I did this, I realized that what I thought was shin splints this whole time was not.  It is something called Compartment Syndrome.  What is Compartment Syndrome you may ask? Well, let me tell you.  Actually I’ll let Mayo Clinic tell you…

“Signs and symptoms:

  • Aching, burning or cramping pain in the affected limb — usually the lower leg
  • Tightness in the affected limb
  • Numbness or tingling in the affected limb
  • Weakness of the affected limb
  • Foot drop, in severe cases, if legs are affected
  • Often occurs in the same compartment of both legs
  • Occasionally, swelling or bulging as a result of a muscle hernia
  • Begins after a certain time, distance or intensity of exertion after you start exercising the affected limb
  • Progressively worsens as you exercise”

If you read the causes listed above and are still a bit confused, let me try to clarify it by giving you the example that the doctor gave to me.  For all Wisconsinites, you’ll understand this analogy, for those reading this outside of WI, sorry but I may lose you here.

Try to think of my muscle as the “meat” and my fascia as the “brat casing”.  When my muscles warm up, just as the meat of a brat does when cooking, it expands.  And if you cook a brat without poking or cutting the casing, the meat will explode when too hot.  My muscles aren’t actually exploding, but they are being squeezed inside the fascia (or casing) and there’s no way to relieve the pressure.  Well, there is a way to relieve the pressure and it’s the only way to treat Compartment Syndrome and just like in my brat analogy, my fascia needs to be cut.

Fun!

I did ask if my fascia can be “poked with a fork” like when cooking brats.  But not only did the doctor not find me too amusing (I wasn’t even trying to be funny, poking it seems less invasive and painful), he said that wasn’t a solution.  It has to be surgery and they have to cut it, not poke it.

The problem is that recovery is 6-8 weeks.  Not only do I have a lot of triathlons this summer on my race calendar, I have the Marine Corp Marathon in fall.  I don’t have 8 weeks to set aside for recovery.  I have plane tickets to Washington DC purchased so I’m going to run that damn marathon.

There is no other treatment or cure unfortunately and surgery will be in my future.  But I have found a “band-aid” fix for the time being.  I am terrified that my band-aid will soon fall off and it will no longer help me.  Compartment Syndrome is so painful that I can’t run through it.  It stops me in my tracks.

But what I have found that has worked as a MacGyver trick is to stop – often very suddenly I may add – and walk when I feel it coming on.  And walk slowly.  Yes, super slow.  It usually starts coming on around a 1/2 mile into my run (which makes starting a race really fun when you start to walk less than a half mile into the race).  I can’t stop too soon and I can’t stop too late.  It’s weird and it sounds like it should be easy… just walk – what’s the big deal?  Well, here’s the best analogy I came up with to explain how hard it is (and scary) to time it right.

If you’ve ever cooked oatmeal in a microwave in a bowl that was too small, you’ll understand my example.  You’re cooking the oatmeal, or in my case running, and things are going fine until you notice the oatmeal is getting really hot and is coming close to boiling over the bowl and exploding.  You know you have to stop the microwave AT JUST THE RIGHT SECOND to catch it or it will be too late and disaster will have occurred.  Stop it too soon and you just have to start the heating process all over again.  BUT, if you stop the microwave at just the right time, just as it was about to explode and you stop and let it cool down, give it a minute or two, then you can start it back up again and everything is fine.   But look away for a second and it’s game over.

Same thing with trying to contain my CS.  I can feel my legs getting tight, getting numb and getting hot.  But if I stop to walk too soon, it does me no good and it starts all over when I start running again.  And if I go even 5-10 yards too far, I have screwed everything and I can no longer finish my run and I’ll end up walking home in pain.

So yeah, fun times.  And as I said, I just found this “temporary fix” and I’m afraid that once training really ramps up that it won’t work as a fix.  If that happens…

Nope, I’m not even going to think about that.  I can’t think about not being able to get through my summer and fall races.  I just can’t go there yet.  It’s too much to think about.

So that’s my update, now that I got you hungry for brats and oatmeal, what do you think?  I’m guessing you weren’t expecting all the drama to come from my running and were probably thinking my swimming was what was going to pre-occupy my blog again this year.  Oh how I long for that to be the case.

Not sure how my summer and fall training will unfold, but I do know that I will once again not have an easy schedule ahead of me.  So here’s to doing what I need to do to get it done.  Stubbornness, grit and hopefully a bit of luck will get me to November when I can rest and take care of my legs.

Until next time,

Gotta run

 

Self-congratulations is not easy

I had an early morning session in the pool today with my Coach.  I had seen him on Wednesday too but we didn’t do a lot of swimming or drills on Wednesday, it was more talking about what I’ve been doing and my upcoming goals.  Today he had me doing more drills.

He really wants me to work on my body position because as we both agree, it’s the SECOND most important part about swimming…. with not drowning being number one.  He’s finally conceded that body position is number two because he’s tired of asking me what the most important aspect of swimming is and me answering “not dying”!  So to speed things along, he’s now acknowledging that for me, body position is the second most important.

As we were working on body position in the water he had me just glide through the water with my arms out in front of me and just kicking.  I wasn’t doing any strokes and when I had to breathe, I would stop and stand up to breathe.  It was pretty simple, so I was surprised when he was pretty excited about how I did.  He said my body position was really good and that I was basically 80-90% perfect.  I just shrugged it off and he could tell that I wasn’t overly impressed with it and he wanted to know why I wasn’t more excited.  I said that I wasn’t more excited because it wasn’t that big of a deal.  I wasn’t actually doing the strokes – I was just gliding in the water.  No biggie.

That’s when he pointed out that it is indeed a big deal.  That last year at this time I needed two pull buoys and flippers to do what I just did now without any swimming aids.  Not only did I need two pull buoys and flippers last year at this time, but I didn’t even want to put my face in the water to do it and I would routinely cough or swallow water.

He also commented on how, when he watched me swim on Wednesday, a lot of what he taught me regarding the basic mechanics of swimming had stuck with me and are still there.  Again, all good things in his opinion.  In my mind, I still am not comfortable and still can not go fast.  That’s what I think about. I don’t think about the mini victories I’ve had (just ask Brian, he’ll confirm it) along the way.  And Craig could tell that I wasn’t impressed with my improvements. That’s when he again said how well I’m doing and said that he actually wanted me to say it out loud.

So I reluctantly said… “yes, I’ve improved!”  And then I got a fist bump from Craig.

I know I never acknowledge my progress and instead get down on myself for that which I can’t do – instead of being proud of what I can do.  So here I am, I’ll say it again, this time not just to Craig as I was sitting in the pool, but to all of you.  I’m acknowledging that I’ve made improvements.  I’m swimming!  I’ve come a long way and I’m not giving up.  I’ve made improvements and I plan on continuing to make improvements!

(It’s taking all of my self-control to not type out and follow-up with all of my negatives and all the things I still need to learn!)

So there’s my Friday self-congratulatory fix!   And it’s just about as difficult to admit I did something well and give myself credit for it as it is to actually learn how to swim!

Until next time,

Gotta run

 

I guess I know what I’m doing this summer

My upcoming race calendar:

3/24 – Dick Lytie 15K

4/28 – Crazy Legs 8K

5/5 – Door County Half Marathon

6/16 – Door County Spring Classic Bike Ride (pending)

6/24 – Pleasant Prairie Sprint Triathlon

7/22 – Ripon Sprint Triathlon (pending)

8/26 – Chicago Olympic Triathlon

10/28 – Marine Corp Marathon

I said I wanted to get back into training and get back in the game – I guess going balls to the walls is one way to do it.

It’s going to be a hard, long and challenging summer filled with swimming, biking and running, because let’s not forget I’m still learning to swim and bike.  And when it comes to running, I haven’t run longer than 13.1 miles in almost 3 years.  I guess it’s time to get back on that horse.

Giddy Up!

Until next time,

Gotta Run

(Or take a nap now while I still have time for naps!)

 

 

 

I’m making it blog post official

Okay, here I go – here’s my big announcement.  I’m quite terrified of saying this out loud (or in this case, typing it online) but I want to make it real and put it out there.  Once it’s in the universe – it’s out there!

I have a goal.  And my goal is to work my way up to doing Ironman in 2021!

YIKES!  There it is… I said it!

Three years seems like a long time from now, yet it feels like it’s right around the corner.  I have a lot to do in 3 little years.  I have to learn to swim 2.4 miles.  As of now, the longest I’ve swam is .5 miles and I cried uncontrollably before doing that.   And let’s not forget I just learned how to swim in June and I’m still afraid of water!

I have to learn to bike 112 miles.  Right now the longest I’ve ridden is 25 miles.  Besides learning to go the distance I have to learn to do hills.  And a lot of hills.  And I have to learn to bike in a straight line and not crash.  I do not want a repeat of the Great Poison Ivy Outbreak of 2017!

And I have to get back into running.  Ever since my ultra in 2015, I’ve struggled with my running motivation.  I need to get back to marathon distance.  All I’ve done the past two years are half marathons and I’ve struggled with training for those because I had no desire to lace up my shoes.

And on top of all of this, I have to find a way to swim 2.4 miles, bike 112 miles and run 26.2 miles faster than I ever have before.  As of now, I wouldn’t make the swim cutoff for Ironman.  And if I do somehow manage to make the swim cutoff, I wouldn’t make the bike cutoff.  I’m not going to go through Ironman training only to be stopped in transition because I didn’t make the cutoff time.

But why make my declaration now in 2018 if I don’t plan on competing until 2021?  Well, because I need the motivation to train that much harder.  To make that extra sacrifice and to be held accountable.  I figure I can get through 2018 without changing my lifestyle and making too many sacrifices.  But once 2019 rolls around, and if I do a Half Iron next year, it’s game on.  I’ll be making a lot of sacrifices to get to that end goal in 2021 and I will need my family and friends to understand why I’m making these sacrifices.

So there you have it, I made it Blog Post Official (not to be confused with making it “Facebook Official”).  And while a lot can happen in the next 3 years, if you know me at all – you know that once I make my mind up – I’m too stubborn to quit!

So join me on this crazy adventure – won’t you!?  Because if nothing else, I’m sure training will make for some interesting blog posts.

Until next time,

Gotta run!