Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Nature's Rules ... Part II

After my falling incident last year, a co-worker told me to look to Mr. Miyagi for some advice: "First walk, then run. Nature's rules, Danielson, not mine."

It's been a week and a half since the motorcycle accident and almost a week since my excruciating attempt at a three-mile run.

I'm anxious to get back on my feet, but am trying diligently to follow the doctor's orders -- and I have to admit it's really hard at times. The weather's been nice, I've had some free evenings and mornings with a light work schedule and I have an almost-new pair of running shoes next to my bed.

After my painful run last Friday, during which I noticed that I was digging my fingernails into the palm of my hand as a subconscious way to avert my mind from the pain in my calf, I decided to skip the team run on Saturday morning.

Well, not skip it entirely. I decided I'd still make the early morning trip to Portsmouth to support the team. I didn't even put on my running gear and shoes, so I wouldn't be tempted to join the run. I let Rebel tag along as an extra assurance that I wouldn't run.

And I know I would have been tempted -- the weather was perfect and the route brought the marathon runners along the beach. A nice run.

Instead, I drove the route (and noticed how far we run!), checked on the runners and picked up the water stop -- overall, an enjoyable way to spend the morning.

On Monday, I had my first round physical therapy, which included some sort of electric stimulation therapy, some laser therapy and a strange configuration of support tape on my calf.

My leg was killing me after two hours of therapy. I began to question whether it was the right choice (and, with some tears in my eyes, definitely doubted whether I could keep up with training), but I knew in the back of my mind it was the best way to heal -- with or without a marathon in my future.

I dreaded my next appointment on Wednesday and the massage they'd scheduled me for on Thursday.

The good news is that I woke up this morning with my leg feeling better than it has in a while. Today's therapy included some more electric stimulation, heat and laser. Then we added a bit of stretching and some take-home exercises.

I'm sure I was smiling when the doc gave me the OK to try a walk tonight and a light workout on the Elliptical in the morning, if I'm feeling up to it.

Massage tomorrow and another round of PT on Friday and Monday -- all in hopes of getting back in the running shoes and not falling any farther behind in the program.

Can't wait to get back to normal. But, I'll have to listen to Mr. Miyagi and have some patience (not my strong suit, I'll admit).

Walk first, then run. Nature's rules.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Crash Course

I spent last week on a relaxing vacation, enjoying my first camping experience and a motorcyle trip to Vermont later in the week.

I even managed to get in a couple of runs while camping in Maine. The change of scenery was nice and I'm loving my new shoes.

Unfortunately, my vacation ended with a bang -- and when I say 'bang' I mean the sound of an 800-pound motorcycle being hit by a minivan when a less-than-attentive woman decides she's going to make a right turn into a parking lot from the left lane.

The problem was that we were between her and the parking lot.

Yep, just a few minutes after we packed the bike and started on the 200-mile trip home, we were hit. I doubt we were even two or three miles from the hotel.

It's a funny feeling as you see the van starting to make the turn directly into your lane, knowing that there's no way that we'll avoid the collision.

Charming Friend did an excellent job trying to maneuver us out of the way as much as he could (don't worry, Mom, he is a good driver), but we still ended up with our left legs pinned between the van and his bike as we were dragged about 15 feet, the bike scrapping along the pavement.

Eventually we broke free, somehow jumped off the bike before it went down and evaluated our injuries -- and the bike's condition.

We seemed fine. No scratches, scrapes or blood. The bike, it seemed, had more damage than we did.

The woman immediately took responsibility for the crash, the police wrote up the report and the brigade of parents we were on the trip with rushed to the scene of the accident. Even though none of them were my parents, I still got plenty of mothering, hugs and concern -- especially after I started crying for no known reason.

I usually don't let people see me cry, but I couldn't help the tears from flowing -- despite the fact that it was a good 15 minutes after the accident and we were fine. Maybe it was the shock of being hit or the thought of how much worse it could have been if we'd been going a little faster.

Over and over, the parents (all six of them) asked if we were okay. Each time, CF and I had the same response: "We're fine."

I knew my left leg hurt, but I didn't say anything. It wasn't bad. I was sure CF must have had some aches, too, but he didn't say anything.

The bike's crash bars took the brunt of the collision -- thankfully CF had gotten them installed last year because he thought they looked good. I was glad to learn that these aesthetically pleasing bars also served a purpose and told CF that they were worth every penny he spent on them.

The left crash bar was bent and the foot pedal was twisted against the bike. We would not be making the trek home that night -- plus, there's no way the parents would let us get on the road again that night.

The guys in the group banged the bars and adjusted things until the bike was again drivable. CF's dad got on to test it out. It seemed to run okay, with only a slight rubbing sound coming from the front tire. A last trip to one of the vendors helped straighten everything out a little more and we made plans to leave in the morning -- after a slumber party in CF's parents' hotel room because there were no rooms left for the night.

We all took a dip in the pool that night, and CF and I quietly talked about our slight aches and pains, knowing that if the parents heard us, they'd be alarmed. I'm sure we would have been forced to go to the hospital. We took a couple of pain relievers before bed.

The rest of the trip home was relatively uneventful -- except for the rain that soaked us as we make the ride down 89. Otherwise, all was fine.

As my calf ache persisted, I began to wonder how I'd keep up with my running schedule. Thanks to a couple of runs on vacation, I wasn't behind. My original plan had been to get in my long run after we returned on Sunday. That wasn't going to happen.

Just to be sure all was okay, I made an appointment with my doctor's office yesterday. She checked me out and told me I had a 'crush injury' to my left calf. Nothing serious, but the muscle was swollen in its pouch and causing the pain. She prescribed anti-inflammatories and ice -- and just a bit of patience. Muscles take a bit longer to heal, she told me.

I told her I'm training for a marathon and she referred me to physical therapy to make sure I'm healing properly. A slight injury can turn into something serious if it's not dealt with correctly.

As far as running goes, I just need to listen to my body. My leg will tell me when it's okay to get back to a regular running schedule.

CF visits his doctor today, and I'm pretty sure he'll be okay. I least I hope so -- I hope he's not more hurt than he's letting on.

It really could have been a lot worse. I think we all know that. If a little ache and a few days of light running is the only price I have to pay for a motorcycle accident, I think I'm pretty lucky. We both are.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Weighty Issue

It's getting hot now and we're running far enough, that we travel with our not-so-stylish-but-very-functional water belts.

As I strapped mine on the other day, I couldn't help but notice how much two 8-ounce bottles of liquid add. Even though I run with only two of the six bottles that my belt holds, this small amount of liquid feels like I'm lugging around a small child latched to my waist. It seems to add several extra pounds in my mid-section.

Then, I thought to myself, I am lugging around several extra pounds. Unfortunately, it isn't only due to the water belt.

Weight's always been an issue for me -- if not always physically, most certainly mentally. Even when I'm at my lighter weights, I feel fat. I look in the mirror and see fat. Even when I know I'm not. It's always been that way and unfortunately probably always will.

Seriously, it's almost obsessive. I look at almost every woman and compare myself to them -- are my legs bigger than hers? My butt? Stomach? I stare and grab at my fatty parts and imagine just cutting out the unwanted stuff. (There's plenty of it.) I pick out people I'd like to look like -- eventually.

I just never seem to get there. And even when I'm closer, I still do it.

Several years ago, I lost quite a bit of weight. I looked good, I'm sure -- at least that's what people told me -- but I still wanted to lose more. And so I did.

I turned to extreme dieting -- I know I never ate more than 1,000 calories in a day, probably around 500 on most days. I lived on giant travel mugs of black coffee, water and a heaping pile of veggies for dinner. One meal a day, that's it. Definitely no snacks. I weighed myself no fewer than 10 times a day.

Every now and then I'd treat myself to a single wheat tortilla wrap. Yes, that's right. I'd treat myself to a paper-thin, plain wrap. And it tasted so good. I'm sure my body was craving anything substantial -- and at that point, a wrap seemed substantial.

Inside, I knew it wasn't the right way to do it. But, with the gushing compliments and my loose-fitting pants, I kept at it. I began to love the feeling of feeling hungry -- that pit in the bottom of my stomach that never went away. Sometimes I'd be so hungry I'd shake. But I liked it. That's how I knew I'd get thinner.

People began asking me if I was sick because the weight was coming off so quickly. And believe it or not, I actually felt good when they asked.

You think it would be a wake-up call to me -- I mean, really, I'm a pretty smart person -- but instead I felt that it validated what I was doing. Messed up thinking, I know. I guess that's how these things work.

It doesn't help that when you lose weight -- no matter how you do it -- people compliment you. And when you gain, people don't.

I surely wasn't stick-thin, but I took quiet pride in the fact that my hipbones stuck out and I could see each vertebrae on my back.

At my lowest, I was about 30 pounds lighter than I am now. I kept the weight off for quite a while -- a couple of years -- even after coming back to a healthier lifestyle. Then, slowly, the pounds came back. And then some.

These days, I'd love to lose 10 pounds -- well, I'd love to lose 12 pounds, actually, and I'd be happier losing 15 or 20 pounds. But I figure if I set my goals a little smaller, I might achieve them. (Kind of used the same mentality when deciding to run a half marathon before the full marathon, I suppose.)

I imagine that running would easier for me with those few pounds gone, like running without an extra 20 water belts hanging from my body. Maybe I'd actually feel good about wearing running clothes in public, especially the shorts. I'd like to be the person that people look at and aren't surprised that I can run 13+ miles on a Saturday morning. I want those pointy knees, dammit.

It's so tempting to go back to bad habits -- the weight came off quickly, I looked good, I wore any clothes I wanted to, people complimented me on my body. And it was easy.

But I can't. I won't. I have to keep telling myself that.

I'm come way too far to do stupid things like that again. Plus, I know I can't do that and train at the same time.

And so now I struggle -- some days a lot -- with wanting to lose weight the right way and not being able to do it...and the constant temptation to return to the way that worked for me in the past.

I mean, seriously, if you knew someone who ran literally hundreds of miles, spent hours in the gym and had decent eating habits for several months, wouldn't you expect they'd lose just a little? But, nope, not me. Sure, I know I'm a healthier person and I've built muscle, but the scale just doesn't budge.

It's frustrating. Really frustrating, to a point that I've actually cried over it. I can't believe it.

I guess I just have to keep working at it, refine my eating habits a bit more and keep trudging along.

Hmm, trudging -- that's a pretty good description of what I feel I'm doing when I feel like I'm dragging along these tree trunks I call legs. Worse than tree trunks, they're jiggly tree trunks.

I know I should take pride in all that I've accomplished -- and I do. I've done things I never thought I was capable of -- and surprisingly enjoyed doing it. Heck, I'm training for a marathon. That's 26.2-freaking miles.

But I don't like failure. And this struggle to hit those magic numbers on the scale seems like failure.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

This Girl Ain't Got No Rhythm

I do a lot of people-watching. When I'm at a race, I watch runners' strides and gaits. I watch runners on the side of the road. I watch my teammates.

Everyone has a different running style. Some have serious spring in their step. Others seem to shuffle along. Some seem to run with ease. Others seem to exert themselves.

I'm not sure what my running style is, but lately I've noticed an ever-increasing clunkiness to my steps. At first I attributed to an off-day. Some days running is just easier than others.

The other day as I ran a mid-week jaunt near my home, I felt as if I was favoring my right side. My right foot seemed to hit the pavement with more conviction and a steadier step.

While I surely wasn't limping, I didn't feel even. I couldn't put my finger on it, but decided to make a mental note of it to see if it continued.

It did.

As I did more runs, I felt increasingly uncoordinated. I couldn't get into the rhythm I'd managed to achieve in previous runs. I'll admit that I'm not a 'pretty' runner. I don't spring along like a gazelle. Not a natural, you might say.

If it's possible that something could become more unnatural, that's what seemed to be happening to me and running. I questioned whether I'd actually be able to complete the upcoming marathon. Would it be smarter to just try to improve my performance in a half marathon?

Determined not to get to that point yet, I decided to make it through my mid-week runs and ask Coach Jack at my next practice.

Turns out I didn't have to. He beat me to it.

Coach Jack and Dave ended up running behind me and Erin for a while during Saturday's team run. Coach Jack noticed that my gait was off -- the message got passed to me by Dave, who caught up with me for the remaining miles after Jack and Erin turned back.

The diagnosis: Tight hips.

It made sense. At times I could feel a tightness in my hips, especially the left one. It would certainly explain my clunky gait. Coach Jack noticed my feet flaring out in an awkward way -- a sign that I needed to stretch my hips a lot more.

I had the diagnosis, but now I needed to know how to stretch my hips. Sounds funny, but I wasn't exactly sure how to target that area.

Dave showed me a few stretches and I did some more searching online. I tried them out and could really feel the pull, in a good way.
I'm determined to set aside some time for extra stretching and get in a few Bikram yoga sessions.

Hopefully I'll get my rhythm back -- well, as much as I ever had to begin with.