Thursday, January 31, 2013

Just Keep Swimming

So, next week I see the doc about my stress fracture. I'm hoping everything is okay, and I'm pretty sure it is. I'm ready to run again. However, when I start back, I plan to start back very easily and slowly. This two months has not been fun and I don't want to sit out this long again. So, for the first month or two back, I'll still be swimming to get enough exercise done.

Like Dory says, just keep swimming. I gotta tell you, I'm really bad at swimming. It's a real struggle just to get from one end of the pool to the other. I keep going back, but I do not get better. But, I'm gasping for air and totally hungry and exhausted when I finish a swim, so it has to be doing some good, right?

I grew up "swimming" all summer every summer. I loved to go to the pool or beach or river. I'd stay in the water all day. I could swim well enough to stay alive and to avoid trouble in water over my head. I was never on a swim team and I never have swum competitively. I don't remember if I've even ever raced a friend to the other side of the pool. So, what I'm trying to do now is completely unlike anything I've ever tried to do before. And I'm really bad at it. Really bad.

This week, I did some laps with a few triathlete friends, and they were pretty much in agreement. I have the ugliest stroke they have ever seen. They all laughed at me. Out loud. My kick is sporadic, wide, and just herky jerky ugly. My head comes WAY up to breathe. My feet sink. I'm nearly vertical in the water. I'm pretty sure I'm a prime example of what not to do when learning to swim. Except that I keep going back. I keep getting in the water. Four or five times per week, I'm beating the water, gasping for air, making waves. But I'm touching each end of the pool and I keep on doing that until I've finished my workout for the day. So take that. It ain't easy and I don't really like it, but I'm going to do it.

This is the program I'm following.

I'd love to get up to a mile so I can think about an Olympic triathlon. I won't consider even a sprint triathlon until I can swim a mile straight and I can swim 400m in a reasonable (8:00-ish) amount of time. Right now, I'm mired in week 4 of that program. I've done the week 4 workout about 5 times now, and I am nowhere near being able to complete it comfortably.

Maybe this is where bull-headedness will help me out. I'm going to just keep swimming.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Stress Fracture Update

It has been a long 6 weeks. I have two more weeks to go, and I have a feeling they will be long, too.

So, just a bit of history.

The Saturday after Thanksgiving, I ran a 16 miler with the Fleet Feet 26.2 group. It was  an easy pace. I was tired from the holiday week and I had nearly 70 miles for the week done when the run started. I had about 3 or 4 days in a row where that I just didn't feel good while running at all. About 10 miles into the 16 miler on that Saturday, my right shin started hurting pretty bad. It wasn't just a little bad, it was really bad. I was limping.

I finished that run and went ahead with my scheduled Sunday run. I was  planning to do 16 miles on Sunday. But... My shin was still hurting. Bad. I quit at 12 miles. My leg hurt for the rest of the day. Shin splints I told myself. Everybody who runs has them and I've never had them, so it's my turn. I tried all kinds of shin splint remedies. Ice. Compression. Walk on a golf ball. Pressure roll it until you cry. Everything I had heard to try, I tried. My leg still hurt. It hurt to sit. It hurt to walk. It hurt to run.

Oh well. I'm just going to have to get used to it. People run with shin splints. If I'm tough, I can too. So, I took most of the week after Thanksgiving off, only running Friday and Saturday. Both runs hurt. Bad. Limping bad.

So, I scheduled an appointment with SportsMED. X-Ray showed a tiny crack in my right tibia about 4 cm above my ankle, mostly perpendicular to the bone, but curving slightly downward from right to left. There was a small knot on the outside of the bone where the crack started.

The prescription was two months of no running and minimal impact. For the first couple of weeks, no spinning class and no walking. Basically, don't do anything that hurts. About a week later, walking was possible again. How on earth will I stay in shape? My only options were swimming and pool running, neither of which I wanted to do.

It's been 6 weeks. I haven't been very good about exercising regularly. I've packed on about 5 lbs. I'm learning to swim, but my stroke is terribly novice and I'm beating the water into submission.

I'll update more later. But 2 weeks from yesterday I go back to the doctor. I expect him to release me because it doesn't hurt. I've run a couple of times (very easy and very short) in the past two weeks and I don't feel any pain at all, so I think I'm healed but I'm waiting on the doctor to say "Go run."

Saturday, January 5, 2013

2012 In Review

I've done this every year since I started this blog. I've wondered why. But I went back and read my 2011 review and learned that it really does help me to see where I am and where I've been. As I write this, I'm sitting in a chair with a stress fracture about 4 cm above my right ankle on my tibia. So, it will be difficult to remain positive.

First, though, a huge thanks to Fleet Feet for their generous support of the running community in North Alabama. It has been my honor again to run on their racing team for 2012. Almost every race and training program in North Alabama is supported in some way by Fleet Feet. I've never known a business that gives back to the community the way that Fleet Feet does. I am so thankful that Dink is recovered from his scary stroke earlier this year. He was an inspiration before, but seeing his comeback from this has been nothing short of amazing.

2012 was the year that I did it!
I know, you've seen this. But this is my 2012 highlight.
I believe that I will always look back at 2012 as the year that I did it! From fairly early on in my running, I wanted to run a sub-3 hour marathon. I don't really know what's so magic about that number, but I wanted that goal very badly. In 2012, I did it! I've heard it said that anyone, if they set their mind to it and train and focus, can run a sub-3 hour marathon. I don't know. In a way, I want to believe that. I did it even though I am not very talented and I am not a very hard worker (definitely harder working than I am talented, but still, I don't think I'm excellent in either area). But I know how hard it was to do. It requires work, sacrifice, knowledge, support, and luck. It's the luck thing that makes me reluctant to believe that anyone can do it. I was blessed and fortunate enough to avoid injury for an entire training cycle. I had the support of my lovely wife. I'm not sure I could have gotten from 240 lbs. to sub-3 hour marathon without good fortune and support. So, on one hand, I believe that if I can do it, anyone can do it. On the other, I know that I was not in control of everything that came together to allow me to accomplish this amazing goal. Recaps and thoughts on the big race are here and here and here.

Another highlight of 2012 was the sub 24 hour effort and ultra team win at Ragnar Tennessee. Read my recap, but that was an amazing experience. By far, it was the best relay that I've ever done.

Medical Struggles
Yes, 2012 had its downs, too. I had a retinal vein occlusion. It's a relatively minor medical problem, but it's not supposed to happen to fit guys my age. And, being unable to see made me a bit unsettled. That then mushroomed into lots of blood work and wasted time trying to get my blood thinners all worked out. It turns out that we have no idea why that happened. The treatment is to take an aspirin a day and hydrate. It was scary for a couple of months, but all seems well now.

The depression that I've cataloged here still gave me some problems in 2012. I'm finally off all medication for it and things are really looking up. I'm learning more healthy ways to deal with things and I've mostly removed myself from the situation that was the trigger. 2013 will be a better year for a lot of reasons. I hope to be a pleasant and fun friend again and not such a sad fun sponge.

The year closed with a stress fracture. Fortunately, the doctor says that we caught it early and he expects it to respond to rest. I'm doing some extra things like calcium and a bone healing system. I'm halfway through my rest and I do not have any pain when walking. I'm determined to take it easy on my road to recovery from this injury. The upside is that I'm learning to swim. I can now swim 400 yards without stopping. I'm planning to work up to a mile (1500m, actually). Is a triathlon in my future?

This is the year that I became a master. Yep. I'm over 40. Old man. But, I did win a couple of masters races, so 40 isn't all bad. I also plan for every PR that I have to be accomplished over the age of 40. Look out sub 2:55 marathon. Look out sub-17 5k. Look out sub-36 10k. I'm coming.