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Sunday, March 6, 2011

Vienna Waits for Me

I've suffered a string of training disappointments in recent weeks. I feel like it's been a long while since I've had a solid training run. Four weeks ago it was Klickitat and missing the mile 7 aid station that did me in, three weeks ago it was letting my pace get out of control for 4 miles then crashing on the last 3, two weeks ago it was the shin splint from hell after running on an icy surface for the first 2 miles, last week it was running without my teammates against that horrible head wind.

Today it was injury. And I guess endurance athletes (it's weird to call myself that, or even to think it in my head) deal with this all the time, and they have to mentally push through it OR (and importantly) know when it's time to take a rest, seek out some help.

At Tuesday night's track practice I noticed a strange twinge on the inside of my left lower leg. Between my shin bone and my calf muscle about three inches above my ankle bone. It's not a muscle cramp. It's not a shin splint. And Tuesday it wasn't particularly painful, I just noticed it. Today it reared it's ugly head on what was supposed to be a brutal but beautiful 14 miler around Lake Oswego. I managed the first 7 miles but with increasing discomfort. I fell behind my team after 2.5 miles but at that point was still determined to power through it. At 4.5 miles my mentor Tyler fell back to run with me but on the last hill before the 7 mile aid station I had to stop and walk. My right quad, hamstring and knee were so sore from overcompensation I felt like my muscles were going to rip through my skin. And the pain in my left lower leg was intensifying. "I'll just walk this one hill and stretch at the aid station, then take it slow the rest of the way," I thought to myself. I told Tyler to go on without me.

When I got to Foot Traffic, the running store where our day had started and would end, I sat down with a roller and tried to knead out the knot on the inside of my leg. It was so painful I teared up. When I stood up a few minutes later it hurt just to walk on it. Coach Mike came into the store. "I'm going to tell you something you're not going to want to hear." I glared at him. "You need to stop for the day. And you need to see a doctor."

I guess this area of the leg is where the ligaments attaching to the shin bone and achilles are located. And is a common area for runners to develop fractures. "What if I finished the last 8 miles on a flatter surface?"

"A. It's not going to be helpful and B. it could be harmful. Take a couple days off and call Dr. Howe. Make an appointment."

Apparently Dr. Howe is a miracle worker. And an incredible athlete. He finished his first marathon in under 3 and I believe has even won a couple events. And probably never gets injured. And is available on Monday at 10 a.m. to work his miracles on my legs. So I gave in, I quit a team run for the first time since training started in December. I drove home and took a 15 minute ice bath and crawled in bed with the second season of True Blood.

Tyler invited me over tonight and I listened to her and another teammate talk about how brutal McVey Blvd was - the part that came right after I dropped out. They had that "I hurt, but I feel accomplished" look to them. I was jealous.

For some reason Billy Joel's Vienna popped into my head on my way home from Tyler's a couple hours ago. This song has supplied sage advice to me for years, but when I listened to it tonight, like 80 times on repeat, it was more comforting than it has ever been in the past. I'm taking Coach Mike's advice, another ice bath tomorrow, some ibuprofin . . . and on Tuesday I'm making a mad comeback.

Slow down you crazy child, take the phone off the hook and disappear for a while
It's alright, you can afford to lose a day or two...
When will you realize Vienna waits for you?

I've met my fundraising goal, but would still love your support for this incredible cause. Eugene is less than two months away. Wish me well.

P.S. Don't feel too sorry for me having to take ice baths. I get to crawl in bed with this when it's all over.

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