Monday, October 25, 2010

Ides of March

Continuing along as I said I would, a brief update with January to March 15, and then maybe a little beyond.

By the last time I had posted, somewhere around January 6th I think, I was able to run a little bit. My knee hurt every single stride of every run, as my range of motion was tremendously restricted. It didn't help that it was very cold all the time. I would run every couple of days, and by mid January had worked up to a 6 mile run, including one night keeping up with the gang at Fed Hill. It nearly killed me, but I did it. I was following the protocol at physical therapy, but there didn't seem to be much, or any, improvement. I was swimming as much as I could handle, and was cycling indoors on the trainer a few times each week. Tuesdays and Thursdays it would be me, Pat and Alyssa on trainers in the basement for 75-90 minutes, and I think I even went outside once or twice. (Note: most days it did not feel any better to ride).

Simultaneously, inspired by Ben's original 2k10 mission (A Year of Deconsumption), I attempted to cut out a few things myself. Unlike Ben, however, I succeeded at whatever I put my mind to. First up was no Coke or alcohol in January. The Coke was the harder of the two. February was "Facebook-free February," which was actually not that hard, but I also couldn't make comments about girls (e.g., oh man that chick is so hot, did you see her hammers, etc). That was very challenging, but I did it. In March I decided my goal would be to read 3 books, which I did. Then I realized I proved my point and stopped doing it, mostly because I felt I had done everything that would have posed a significant challenge. Sorry for the sidebar topic.

Our 2nd annual trip to Miami came at the end of January, and while I had been intending on running the 5k on Saturday, two weeks before we left I knew something was not right and I just stopped running. I was still going to Fed Hill, and would typically walk into the Inner Harbor and try and pick up the group for their last 4 miles in. So running once a week, I decided no 5k for me. It was nice to see everyone go by at mile 5 - our hotel's front door was exactly the mile 5 marker. Of course I don't think anybody who ran that day enjoyed it, but that's what happens when you go out hard before races, and also why we don't take Miami very seriously.

January Totals: 58,700m swimming, 210 miles cycling, 38.75 miles running.

Onto February, and this was a tough month for no reason other than the massive amount of snowfall. My knee was not very stable, so walking around was truly difficult, and because my car was snowed into the garage for THREE WEEKS, I was pretty much trapped. I had to walk to PT 3 days a week, and relied on other people for rides if I had to get somewhere. I had just acquired a car, and now couldn't even use it. I decided I would stop running altogether, for safety's sake and also because it was not comfortable. I got to the pool as much as I could, but they were closed a bunch of days/it was too hard for me to get there, and I was riding still up to 3 times per week, all inside.

Then I went up to see my surgeon again, and the decision was made to have another surgery, because something just wasn't right. If I felt like graphing my training numbers, you would see a low, steady volume then a complete drop to zero for all things. No more riding. No more swimming. I finished the month with just 33,600m swimming, 185 miles cycling and 0 miles running.

Surgery was set now for March 15th - great omen, right? Beware the Ides of March. I wound up taking a spur of the moment trip to Amsterdam at the beginning of March to visit with Sgrizzi and Thais, see them one last time before their baby arrived. After I got back, it was a crazy little week that involved driving to NJ for a visit with the legal team/the deposition, back to Baltimore to spectate the Shamrock 5k, dropping someone off in DC followed by immediately going back UP to New Jersey, for surgery the next morning. After surgery I thought I'd be able to be back in Baltimore by Wednesday for St. Patrick's Day (a favorite Baltimore holiday) but I still couldn't drive. I wound up being just barely able to do it by the weekend, so I drove down to DC and was able to catch Brennan (and Dusty, Diane, Zero, Nina and Terence) run in the National Half.

Right after getting cut up again, I felt awesome. And no, it wasn't just the medication. My knee felt more mobile than it had been, which was great. The corrective procedure seemed to free up my knee a little. Of course, it's not just "cut open, seal up and go." I'd at this point been going to physical therapy for 9 months. 3 days a week. That's a lot of time. It was also at this point that my physical therapist seemed to have hit the wall. His attitude was worse than mine, I think - and I don't think the injured patient should have to be the one trying to pump up the therapist. I was going to PT but really just going to go. I was getting nothing out of it. Either I needed to go somewhere new, or stop going altogether.

Anyone who was around me or saw me between the months of January and March can attest that I was a mess. My mental state was in all sorts of disarray, and it was thanks to the help of friends and family that I was able to make it through that time. Most days I didn't even want to wake up, and normally I just power through everything. I hated life, and really didn't care what happened to myself.

Totals for March were a whopping 4000m of swimming and 15 miles on the bike.

April was a new month, but I still wasn't ready to do anything yet. Looking back now, after what I've been doing, I can't believe I was able to go that long recording training zeros. 5 straight weeks without so much as lifting a finger. And even then, my first "session" was a short swim, then I took off again. I guess during this time I was keeping myself busy, as everyone in the DC/MD/PA areas would have seen me outfitted with my camera at just about every road race there was. I think I just passed the 50 race mark of races I've spectated since getting hurt. I took some great pictures with the awesome camera, and most of those can be found with hilarious captions on FB.

Training for me at this point was not really training. I didn't care what I did, so if I took 4 or 5 days off in a row, it really didn't matter to me. I had no fitness, no strength, so I wasn't able to lose any more of it by taking off. However, when Justin asked if I wanted to run one day (Big J's been hurt since a week after I got hurt last year), I obliged. We ran 2 miles on the track in the form of 8x400. I was able to run them in just under 2 minutes a piece, with about a minute rest. I think I worked down to just under 90sec on my last one? Felt like I was going to explode from the lack of aerobic fortitude. Hopefully this paints a picture of my fitness for you. I had not run a single step in 3 months.

April was another banner month, at 15,700m swimming, 0 miles on the bike and 2 miles of running.

Onto May, and honestly I would not have run at all in May had it not been for the 2nd annual Alumni Mile at the University of Maryland's Twilight Meet. The 2009 edition was a great event, with a solid turnout. 2010 was a much different year. Apparently I went to school with the hugest bunch of pussies ever, because everyone had an excuse as to why they couldn't show up on a Thursday night and run one mile. The excuse "I'm not in shape" is not an rmcgrath approved excuse to not do something. The correct answer is, you're in the shape you're in to do whatever you're able to do. I hate to pull the "if I can do it card," but seriously, if I can run one mile, you can run one mile. There were only 3 people that were going to do the race, and they weren't even going to hold it as a result. I said I would do it, to ensure the legacy of this fine little race. The end result was that I got toasted, but I ran a 6:15 full mile. I've never felt burning like that before in my life.

I'm pretty sure I received a number of sympathy claps for running a slow high school girl's time, and even Edmund Burke came up to me after and said it looked like I was limping/favoring one side. I explained why that was the case and he was all "oh, well that explains it."

Following that amazing comeback race I felt like Michael Jordan. I had retired, came back for one moment of glory, and then retired again. Maybe it was time to focus my talents and energy somewhere else, on something else. I went into hiding once more, not running for another month. At this point I had gotten back into the pool on a more consistent basis, and despite being deathly afraid to go outside on my bike (another post will be reserved for why), I finally got back on it on Sunday, May 30th, for 7 miles - which was really just riding my bike around town I think. I chased that with 14 the next day, following the guys as they ran at FHR. May's totals ended up being 51,200m in the pool, 21 miles on the bike and 1 singular mile of running.

I was disappointed that I had to bail on Columbia Triathlon in May. I had signed up last year and thought there would be a chance I could do it, but following that second surgery there was obviously no way. I wasn't able to get any money back for that one so I still went to pick up my number. 69. Dammit. That would have been so awesome. Eagleman, fortunately, has a pretty nice refund policy (surprising given the race organization), so I was able to drop out and get most of my money back. These two races couldn't have been more polar of opposites. Columbia was its typical rainy/not warm, but just a few weeks later, Eagleman 2k10 looked a lot like Eagleman 2k8. Water temp was too warm for wetsuits, and that set up the massive sufferfest that is this half ironman in Cambridge. I was no longer upset that I couldn't do that one.

Meanwhile, I had also signed up for Chicago Marathon on 10/10/10, as most everyone else around here did, and knew that I would need to be able to comfortably run at least 30 miles per week by June to feel like I could run it. Since I had only run 3 miles since February, that was clearly not going to happen. I felt like I made the right decision for my body, waiting a little longer to really start attempting to run, but it was a long time of not running. My surgeon had never restricted what I could do, it was always more on the principle of "see how you feel and listen to your body." Obviously I wasn't going to go jump out for a 12 mile run (even if I could have done it, which I couldn't). But he didn't say I couldn't run. We discussed and I said I would wait a few months after the 2nd surgery and he said that was fine.

So that's what I did.

At this point I'm almost halfway into the year with 40 miles of running, about 100 miles of swimming and maybe 400 miles on the bike.

But things were about to change, and that will be for the next post since I feel like this one is too long already.

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