Sunday, August 7, 2011

Pushing Through

End of Week 6 of 19.
13 Weeks until the NYC Marathon

Total Mileage
Week 1: 35
Week 2: 28
Week 3: 45
Week 4: 39
Week 5: 28
Week 6: 45

As is probably clear from the mileage totals above, things have not gone exactly as planned. Not at all. I haven't blogged for two weeks because week 5 was a bit of a bust - at least in my head. We made week 4 a step-back week for logistical reasons (life got busy) with the plan of getting back on track in week 5. Well, that didn't happen as I missed a run, suffered a minor injury, and burned out on my Sunday long run all that one week. It was a bit of a downer. Other than my tough, hot runs in Duluth over the 4th of July - this blog has been, for the most part, filled with positive vibes and strong runs. Things are getting harder.

I have bad hamstrings, that's just part of me...I have torn them both and they get tight very easily and it is often a task to get them loose and to keep my legs turning over as I'd like. I thought it was a problem I only experienced in sprinting (which I retired from in 1999 after my second torn hamstring in the middle of a race) but when I trained for my first marathon in 2007, I struggled with my hamstrings in the final two months leading up to the race. I saw a physical therapist who told me that it is not, as I had thought, scar tissue from the tears. Rather, it's referred pain from my sciatic nerve and something I just have to spend a lot of time caring for. (The problem I have caused the tears, the tears aren't causing my current problems.) The discomfort is always there, but usually nothing more than a slight niggle or annoyance.

Well, in week 5 I did two training days (a Tuesday and Thursday) in a row with speed, one fartlek, and one with a couple of miles at about tempo pace. On Friday, the day after the fartlek, I headed out at 5am for an easy run and not only could I not get any turnover in my left leg, but I had excruciating pain shooting up through my hamstring and into my butt. I spent about two minute shuffling along and thinking I'd try to tough it out but realized that wasn't smart. It wasn't just tired or was injured. I went home. Damn.

I iced it, took some ibuprofen and hoped for the best. I headed out on Saturday with the hopes that it would be okay if I just went easy on go. Not as painful as Friday but still not right. On Sunday, I headed out for what was supposed to be an 18 miler. Thankfully, my hammy was finally back in business...unfortunately it was a zillion degrees and the heat completely got the better of me. I bailed after 12 miles.

This week, week 6, I got back on track and hit all my runs. Coach took away my mid-week speed work and, for now, we are only doing a marathon pace run on Saturdays. That's all I get in the speed department. Sad face. I had a couple of good runs early in the week and was grateful that the hamstring problem was short lived. But my runs on Thursday, Saturday, and today were just no fun. I completed them. I ran a 10 mile marathon pace run yesterday, with a 2 mile warm up and cool down (6 at pace), and I nailed my pace miles - but I was miserable doing it. Today I logged my 18-miler but I was miserable most of the time. I just couldn't snap myself out of feeling so, incredibly tired. Not my fitness level - that feels great. My legs are just not giving me anything I want. They are so, very tired. Such is the way it goes smack dab in the middle of a marathon training cycle.

I did spend a little bit of time during my long run today reflecting on things that haven't gone wrong as of late. This list is a bit remarkable and it was worthwhile to make myself conscious of how lucky/fortunate I have been on these fronts considering what I've dealt with in the past:
  • I have minor colitis and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and there have been times in my life when I have had to run around the block because I had no way to predict when I would suddenly need a bathroom. 
  • I have severe asthma and allergies and there was a time when my allergist suggested I run with a mask so that I could make it without having an asthma attack from the pollen.
  • I am slightly hypoglycemic and usually run with glucose tablets because every now and then, and at times I can't predict, I suddenly feel intense dizziness from a drop in blood sugar.
I haven't carried glucose tablets in weeks, it hasn't even crossed my mind. I carry my inhaler on every run but have not had to use it once on the run (after taking it at home before starting a run) this entire training cycle. It hasn't even occurred to me, since I've been training in Minneapolis, to take a route that has bathrooms.

So, my legs may be a bit trashed and my running may not be particularly inspired...but I've got a lot that's going right.

Right now, I'll take it.