Monday, June 18, 2007

My First 100-Mile Month: Check!

Good news is that I reached my 100-mile goal, early I might add, with a 3.6-mile run on Friday and 11.05 miles on Sunday. Yeah!

Sage twist pose in yogaThe bad news is that somewhere in the middle of a sage twist during yoga on Sunday morning, I threw out my lower back on the left side (you knew it had been too long since the last time I hurt!). Boo!

I didn’t feel any ill effects while I was doing yoga, but the sage twist on my left side was the only thing I kind of forced (I know, I know: you’re never supposed to force). And that wasn’t very sagacious of me.

I had done some weight training for my legs the day before as well, so when I was running on Sunday morning in Euclid, I felt a little strain on my left side. It only felt like I was a little weary on that side, so I continued to run. Four miles in, I felt the pain creeping up the back of my leg toward my back. And, again, it didn’t feel like a pull or a sharp pain, but more like fatigue than anything else. I walked for a block or two and tried to stretch it out, then continued to run.

It was nice to be back on old stomping grounds in Euclid—I was visiting family this weekend and didn’t get my long run done on Saturday because I went to a bridal shower—where the sidewalks were endless and the largest animals were overfed, aggressive squirrels. I ran about 30 blocks from my mom’s house to East 185th Street, and then winded down a tributary off East 200th all the way to 222nd. Then it was while I was cutting down a street past my old high school that I started feeling a little more pull on the left side and walked a bit.

I picked up running again as I neared Babbitt Road at mile four, which I ran at 8:42 pace. Shortly before I started feeling pain, I ran into an old soccer and track coach of mine whose first words after not seeing me for ten years were, “what’s up with your left side?” At that point, I wasn’t compensating for my pain (yet) and was just running as usual. He had watched me run for about three strides and noticed that I have a semi-lazy left leg. I had always suspected it, but could never actually see my stride because I haven’t run in a hall of mirrors lately (I’ve tried to check out my shadow, but that’s always horribly distorted and unappealing ;-).

My left knee, however, doesn’t lift or bend the way it should, which is something I had felt while running but didn’t pay much attention to because my whole left side has always been kind of stupid. And he pointed out that the extreme wear on the tip of my left toe and the outer left heel on my shoes was damning evidence of my stupid left leg. The funniest thing he said was, “You better be careful or you’ll wipeout pretty hard someday.” Ahh, where was he two weeks ago?

But the self-fulfilling prophecy continued. After he helped me a little more with sagely coach’s advice, I was running down Babbitt Road past my brother’s house when I wiped out again! It was the same type of fall as last time, but I’ve been so mentally prepared since last time that I fell and hopped back up with only a scraped hand. Luckily my brother wasn’t home, so I escaped with some shards of my pride. Can you see why I run alone?

Oddly enough, my left side felt considerably better after the fall. But I took my pace way down: 9:10, 9:16, 9:20 for miles 5, 6 and 7. I ran all the way up Babbitt Road to Lakeshore, and then took Lakeshore almost to the Euclid-Willowick border (it was going to be a cross-Euclid trek, but I passed my old street and took a turn to check out the former hood) before turning back and heading home. And that was when I started feeling a little achy.

I ran mile eight at 9:29, which is the nice, slow pace I’ve been targeting… but I had hoped to achieve that pace from mental training and effort rather than pain and surrender. I ran the next mile at 9:23 before I really focused on running at a moderate pace with an active left leg. Employing my left leg as an active partner in running didn’t feel anymore physically exhausting (my right leg was grateful), but it was something I truly had to think about stride after stride. How difficult can putting one foot in front of the other be?

I finished the last 11 miles of my 100-mile goal with 9:18 and 9:15 tenth and eleventh miles. It wasn’t until after I showered and cooled down, however, that the real back pain set in. Right now if I put weight down on my left leg my lower back screams. Or maybe that’s just me. So, I’m taking the day off my feet to see if it’s something that needs medical attention. I might, however, need some mental medical attention for pulling something in my back and then running 11 miles, but that’s a different story.

Running throughout Euclid, as I mentioned, was awesome despite the wincing end. Not only was it nice to be somewhere I couldn’t get lost (I grew up there and it’s built on a grid) and whose sidewalks didn’t abruptly end in 45-mph roads! The only hazard was running into someone I knew and having them tell me I’m doing something wrong. But sometimes that’s precisely what we need.

Once I’m on my feet again, I’m going to hit the track (perhaps I’ll check out the outdoor track this time) and work on educating the stupid left leg. It’s difficult to communicate the extent of my left leg’s lack of coordination, but let’s just say that when I danced ballet we would do exercises on my graceful right side and then I’d almost knock down the class on my left. By now I think it’s my left side’s inability to move as directed and 27 years’ worth of frustration. But at least now I can focus on something simple. One foot at a time.


JenC said...

Congrats on your first 100 mile month! You've come a long way.

Hope you heal well. Yoga is not supposed to hurt.

Jim said...

Kudos, as well, on your 100 mile month. That's a nice milestone. Now go see your doc and get this achey, breaky back and leg thingy under control.

Joe said...

Congratulations on reaching the century mark. Take it easy on your poor back though.

The Salty One said...

Oh dear. I hope it's a very temporary thing. Stretch well--and I mean back AND legs--and take it easy if you need.

Good job getting in 100 miles. Next month you can make the goal 100 miles and no scratches or dents! Heh.

Your tour of Euclid brings back memories. Sounds like you passed your old high school and mine on your run!

miss petite america said...

yeah for your first 100 mile month!!

don't know what to say about your gimpy left side. i suspect i'm the same way as sometimes even walking can be there a special gimp camp we can go to be healed?

miss petite america said...

regarding spinning, i've only taken it about 3 times, even though i did get in a decent number of cycling workouts while training for my half.

i think spinning is good for helping increase your speed, namely your foot turnover. i look at it like a speed workout, on wheels. and the cardiovascular benefits are obvious. i suck wind way more spinning than i do even on my hard running days. i think it's a good way to really ramp up intensity without pounding.

as for the quads vs. hams debate. it's good for both because you're pulling and pushing because your feet are strapped into the pedals. i find i also get a good shoulder and tri workout when you're out of the saddle climbing.

spinning for me is like medicine. i take it because i know it will benefit my running. i would never want to do it was my core workout, but i think it really complements my running workout. hope this helped.

Steve Stenzel said...

BOO to the sage twist. But congrats on the first 100 mile month!!!

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