Monday, September 24, 2007

Flip flops and ice cubes

It’s finally here: my “taper” week (it’s a “taper” week because I don’t think my training is quite to the level—neither the highs nor the lows—to truly warrant being called a true taper… ahh, semantics)! Several weeks ago I was thinking that I wanted my taper week more than I wanted a vacation. And I’m not sorry.

But before I made it to this week, there was some hard running involved, such as my Saturday and Sunday runs. I’ve been adhering to my strict schedule of stretch-ice-stretch for my calf and I nixed all interval training last week. For once I was listening to my body. At least partially listening. And by Sunday I had incorporated pill-popping into the mix (OK, I took two anti-inflams and it was fab) and all was well.

On Saturday I completed a 6-mile round-the-neighborhood run. While it started with my slow-as-torture jog to warm up my calf (maybe 11-13:00/mile), the calf warmed up and the pain all but vanished after 2.5-3 miles. I had plenty of thoughts running through my brain—running and life related—that distracted me from the ouches, but then it actually dissipated. Mostly. I would get the occasional pang, tweak or yowzaas, but nothing stuck around too long.

After the first three miles, I thought about making up the intervals I skipped last Tuesday. Running guilt gets me every time! I had been thinking about that workout all week, and had hoped to finagle some intervals into my painful existence. Thankfully, I’ve actually learned something over the past several weeks about pushing myself too hard.

OK, I’m lying. I haven’t learned anything. It just hurt to run fast. Sigh.

But I was able to keep up a 9-9:30/mile pace for the last three miles without any discomfort. At least I can make the minimum pace, I thought.

Sunday, however, would be the true test.

Aside from seeing Skippy (whose prognosis has improved and whose skippiness peaked when he saw Neil “Dogman” B.) and spending quality family time, one of my favorite parts of spending a weekend in Euclid is running. If only I had known that during my 22 years there!

I woke up early Sunday morning and rounded the north-of-boulevard (NOB) blocks from East 219th Street to East 185th and back for a 12-mile roundtrip run. The only drawback: it was almost all flat. The largest grades were the wheelchair-accessible sidewalks and maybe a few dips in the road (in case you’re not familiar with the Akron Half route, it’s pretty bleepin’ hilly… to me).

On the bright side for this injured runner, there’s great novelty to finding a single roundtrip route that measures twelve miles in totally distance, but whose farthest point reaches only 1.5 miles from your mom’s house. I’ve had some distance anxiety the past several months, fearing that my knee, hip, back, ankle, body might give out when I’m dozens of miles from home. And while my calf was feeling OK yesterday, I had the reassurance that I should an injury trip me up, I could easily hop on one foot to safety. Either that or catch the bus.

This run started with my slow jog too, but the anti-inflams made it a cautious slow jog rather than a painful one. I trotted gingerly down one street before I grew more comfortable with my close-to-pain-free calf warming up. And after about ¾ -1 mile I was running at about 75-80 percent energy/flexibility/comfort.

My legs really loosened up after the second mile, so I picked up my pace to 9:30/mile and kept it there for the duration. It was a wholly uneventful run in itself, but it was entertaining to troll the old neighborhoods and check out some houses. Plus, it couldn’t have been a more glorious morning.

The only downside to a beautiful Sunday morning run was my rumbling belly. Everywhere I ran it smelled like someone was cooking something hearty and filling and warm. The open-house houses were baking apple pies, one church smelled like fried chicken and another like muffins.

About one hour into the run I was fighting off more drool than sweat, and I should admit now that this 12-mile run was supposed to be a 13-miler. Sigh. I admit it. I misjudged my distance (I was supposed to take another two streets past my mom’s street) and bolted up the driveway for some cream of wheat. Mmm. But I’ve totally convinced myself by now that my body needed the extra rest and the extra yums.

I didn’t have much downtime when I arrived, however: I showered and suited up for the Indians game. Twelve miles and the AL Central clincher? Doesn’t get better. Well, it could. But we don’t need to talk about the Browns.

And now I can rest. It’s two easy miles on Tuesday and likewise on Thursday. I’m looking forward to some stretch-ice-stretch-ice-eat action this week. I’ve even taken to wearing flip flops and all flat shoes this week to keep the stress off my lower legs. My calf claims that it will be ready for Saturday’s race. And my fingers are crossed.


B Bop said...

You're calf will be ready and you are ready. The worst of the hills the halfers won't see (they start aroun mile 18), but the course is far from flat.

You're going to do great! 7000 runners are expected and with the adrenaline and rest this week your calf will be as good as, better than ever!!!

Joe said...

Reading your blog makes me feel better about my assorted aches and pains. Good luck in the race. Keep swimming, too!