Friday, September 24, 2010

OK. Go ahead. Call it a comeback.

Last Wednesday, I visited Dr. T for my it's-been-four-week-since-I've-been-off-crutches-what-now appointment. My leg, to him, felt remarkably well (I think he's just been surprised all along that I've listened to every word he's said and done everything I've been told) and, he regretted to tell me, I could start running again.

He regretted to tell me so much when he first said it, I thought he was telling me I couldn't run. Ever. He's probably just sick of seeing me and was sorry to give me a reason to be back too soon!

As in recovery, however, I will be in shape-up. So, here we go!

I was given very strict directions: every other day I could run 2:00, walk 2:00 in a gradual build-up to 32:00. Once I hit 32:00, I could start lengthening my run time, slimming my walk time. Here's how that's gone:

Day #1: 16:00 total, 4 x 2:00 at 9:35-11:10 pace with 2:00 walking recoveries. Can I tell you how incredible it felt to run for the first time in four months? I would have felt like I was flying if every step weren't hampering by the fear my leg would snap in half! Distance: 1.32 miles

Day #2: 20:00 total, 5 x 2:00 at 9:15-11:38 pace with 2:00 walks. Still loaded with paranoia, but let go, responsibly, just a touch. Distance: 1.60 miles

Day #3: 25:00 total, 6 x 2:00 at 8:46-10:51 pace with 2:00 walks (and a 3:00 walk to end). I haven't checked my pace even once while running. I'm just running by feeling and not pushing one bit. If anything even starts to hurt, alarms trigger so loudly I stop right away. But breaking 9:00 for the first time didn't ache a bit! Distance: 2.04 miles

Day #4: 30:20 total, 7 x 2:20 at 9:19-9:47 pace with 2:00 walk recoveries. OK: I didn't make it to 32:00 before ramping up. But the extra :20 was enough to make me run more focused and even, hence the more consistent paces. Distance: 2.55 miles

Day #5: 33:00 total, 8 x 2:30 at 8:01-9:00 pace with 1:40 walk recoveries. Not a bad experiment. Again, not checking pace while running. But after a couple weeks' worth of Tracy Anderson strengthening, I was feeling, well, strong. While I didn't push the intensity, I did slug either. Did I slap my hand for running 8:00 pace? Sure. Did it feel great? Absolutely. But I'm trying not to do it again soon. Distance: 3.06 miles

Day #6: 37:20 total, 8 x 2:40 at 8:10-9:38 pace with 2:00 walk breaks. I returned to the 2:00 walks because too short recoveries, it seemed, didn't really work as recoveries, per se. Just momentary slow-downs for me to run faster the next rep. And I'm not there yet. It's funny, though, how 2:00 now seems to last an eternity, but when I was doing 400M sprints, it was a blink. Distance: 3.31 miles

And that was this morning. Today was the first time since May I was able to drag my mopey butt out of bed pre-work and run as the sun was rising. I'm feeling a little sad about missing the whole summer, about not running Akron tomorrow, about spending most of year #30 momentarily disabled.

On the plus side, I can do one thing: sing Radiohead's classic "You do it to yourself" and know that in the future I can stop myself from feeling this way. By not breaking my own bones training in stupid ways.

And it will be an ongoing challenge: I'm planning on racing the Pigskin Classic 5K as my first race (it's Ohio State-UM weekend some time in November), followed by the GP family cup at the Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving.

The true comeback, however, will be realized in May: the Cleveland Half. Not only is it one of my favorite races, Neil has agreed to train for and run it with me. Granted, the way he's been running, he'll hand me my butt at the finish line. But I'm looking forward to responsibly training for that not to happen.

Challenge: accepted.


The Salty One said...

Girl, I so feel you. I missed those crazy sweaty track workouts, soaking wet pony tails and salt-crusted shoulders. But, these little hiatuses (hiati?) make those seamless seasons that much more profound and appreciated. If you need a comeback buddy, you got one up in the hills!