Monday, May 18, 2015

Nerd Parades and Tennis Balls

It's been two weeks since I checked in. It's been a bumpy couple of weeks, and for a while I just wasn't sure what to say. The ups and downs (alert: this post might be kind of a downer!), mostly downs, have been confusing and frustrating, and I'm still figuring out where they end, and what they mean.

Let's start with week before last.

Classes had finally ended, and I'd (metaphorically) locked myself in Grading Jail but was making very slow progress getting out due to the fact that I spent my entire week in meetings, interminably it seemed. I was also at the bitter end of what had been a long and extremely stressful series of events at work. I was finally over whatever stomach thing had lingered with me for a large part of the previous week. I was exhausted. When I was in bed enough hours, I couldn't sleep, and a lot of nights I was just too busy to be in bed for long enough.

So I did my workouts, but I dragged. And it really showed in speed work. The goal was 2x400, 1x800, 1x1200, 1x800, and 2x400, at a 7:02 pace, with recoveries. I hit that goal pace exactly one time, on the first 400, and not again. Toward the end, try as I might, I could not move the needle below a 7:30 pace. Of course I was happy to finish the workout, since I'd been sick the week before and had bailed on it, but man, was this frustrating. I love to go fast! I can sometimes go fast! But not lately, and not ever again, it felt.

My weekend long run ended up happening on Sunday rather than Saturday because it poured all day Saturday. I didn't mind. I spent almost all day Saturday either with my family or under a blanket on the couch, grading. Still not finishing grading.

I couldn't help taking a picture of this, the academic equivalent of the morning after Mardis Gras. This is the left over debris from our annual nerd parade known as graduation.
The long run itself was 14 miles with an average pace of 9:30. There wasn't anything particularly memorable about it, except that I kicked it off with a pretty stellar elevation gain, and enjoyed that that felt easier than it used to.

For quite a while--6 weeks maybe?--I've had a pain and small amount of swelling on the inside of my left knee. For several weeks I thought it was something about the knee, then learned that in fact I had injured a tendon in the bottom of my left foot, and that tendon runs the length of the calf and connects to the knee. I can't say for sure, but this probably happened while I was busy not noticing that my running shoes needed to be replaced, then continuing to run in the old ones when my first effort at replacements didn't work. And the 14 mile run, well, that was the last straw for my foot/knee issue. The pain increased to a level that I couldn't continue to ignore.

I did not run on Monday. I foam rolled, and I rolled my foot on a tennis ball, which for those of you who have never done this to an angry muscle/tendon, hurts like a son of a bitch.

On Tuesday, after about 48 hours of rest (which to the brain of an injured runner feels like a year), I decided to give it a try. I made it 0.3 miles.

I rested another 2 days. And kept rolling on the tennis ball (insert every expletive you know, then make some up). I tried again, hesitantly (it's Thursday at this point). Five miles. And it went...ok! And average pace of 9:05, which mostly tells me I was anxious to get going. I kept a careful eye on my foot and on my knee for swelling, and hopped back on the tennis ball repeatedly (sensing a theme yet?). Friday I added on one more mile, turning in a solid 6-miler. Whew!

And again, Saturday (yesterday) it rained all day. We (me and my boys) tackled a laundry list of household chores that had piled up. I don't know about you, but getting through even some of the backlog lifts a weight off of me.

So the real test came today, Sunday, on my 10-miler. The run went really well! My average pace was 8:55, and I did successfully put 3 faster miles in the middle (8:00, 7:58, and 7:25). In the hours after, my knee is a little touchy. I've foam rolled my left IT band and quad (the IT was, unsurprisingly, a little angry), and my foot, and will hit the foot again before bed. So far, it's a big improvement over last week, though it's a bit too early to definitely call it a success.

So this is where I'm at. I spent part of 1 week sick. Then the following week exhausted. And part of this week injured. This coming week I'm traveling, and while I can hit the treadmill for easy runs, am not yet sure how I'll do speed work. This has not been the training cycle I'd hoped it would be. Will it prevent me from reaching my goal on race day? That remains to be seen. I know all of this is perfectly normal. Runners go through training periods of nirvana, and periods that are less fulfilling. I know this. We all know this. But it still sucks when it's you on the low point of that sine wave.

Any tricks or words of encouragement?

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