Wednesday, November 26, 2008

An Ode To My Toe

You brought me great pride; you were part of a set
You were primped, preened, cared for undeniably, yet...

On that day in Chicago, in the sweltering heat
I crossed that finish line, oh, was I beat!

It took a few miles, but I hobbled to the tent
You'd been hollering for some time now, with many a vent

I sat down and untied my trusty old shoe
To see my sock discolored, and that definitely wasn't blue

I pulled off the sock, a fellow runner leaned in
"Oh my, that's impressive," he said with a grin

For out of my sock came not a toe, but a plum
Deep purple and red; I grasped what the pain was all from

Weeks went by and I managed to keep you, in fact
Your whole body went black; but the toe stayed intact

I went to the spa once; and then of course again
Massaged you, scrubbed you and painted your tip with a grin

But even as the weeks passed by and by
You continued to complain and I wasn't sure why

But last night it became clear what the problem really was
You did the thing that a runner's toe often does

And my perfect red toenails dropped from ten to nine
As you shed that red shell with a tiny little whine

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

More On Stress Fracture Recovery

Thanks, Runcolo, your comment is perhaps the most helpful yet. I skipped replying to your comment, and figured I'd just write my next entry around it here. I appreciate the fact that you've been through this exact injury, and that really speaks volumes to me.

The link you sent about recovering from the stress fracture had some really important points, for example, that "On average, it takes 90 days for a stress fracture to heal completely." I've also read that the tibia, being one of the largest bones in your body, can actually take a little longer.

This in particular gave me hope: "You may be able to resume running 6 to 8 weeks after the initial diagnosis," if you take it
cautiously. I thought this test was particularly good: "When you can walk briskly for an hour without pain, you should be able to try a small dose of running." I haven't even tried the hour walk test.

We certainly figured out this weekend I wasn't quite ready to run short distances every day. So, we're trying out an every-other-day approach, whereby I'm either aqua jogging or something else less impactful on alternate days. While waiting for my aqua jogger belt to arrive, I hopped on the elliptical machine yesterday and hated every unnatural second.

The article sanctions at least some running during recovery (which does keep my spirits up): "Initially, you should run every 3rd day or every other day." I'm scheduled for an easy 2-mile run today (and a non-impact workout tomorrow). Depending on how I feel for the next few hours, I'll either do the run or skip it and catch a spin class at 5:15 tonight. I think I may give the hour-walk test a try this week.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Tibial Stress Fracture Update

So, today marks the end of week one of my attempted return to running after being out for a month with a confirmed tibial stress fracture. I had 15 total miles, split between 2 and 3 mile runs. I thoroughly enjoyed each and every one of them.

Generally, I've been pain free. But, I've also been very cautious and nervous about anything that even hints toward tibial pain.

Today I felt a small flash of pain in my tibia as I first bore weight from getting out of bed. I walked around a bit, took the stairs, deciding if the pain was still there; real or not. I didn't notice it again. So, I proceeded with the 3-mile run, finishing easily on the treadmill with a 1% incline in 25:50. But, I did notice, towards the end of the run, a certain tightness building behind the tibia as well as a few flashes of pain in the tibia itself. Not a good sign.

I think that means I'm probably done running for at least a few days; maybe longer. This is my one opportunity to completely heal, and I don't want to screw it up.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

A Decision Has Been Made

In my posting the other day, I pondered whether my next running goal should be a sub-22 minute 5K or a BQ for the Spring. I did hear from many of you, and received much food for thought. I've considered all of it carefully.

Several of you suggested to go for the Spring BQ, because you never know what's going to happen and then you have Fall to fall back on (pun intended). One good consideration was to go for the Fall BQ as a goal, as the Spring marathons have more unpredictable weather and can be windy. You're body is simply better prepared to run in potential heat of Fall, with no wind, after a summer of training. (I'd happily take a repeat of '08 Chi again as opposed to many other possible conditions.)

In any event, I'm grateful for everyone helping me think through this. But, I've made up my mind. I'm going for the sub 22 minute 5K this Spring. There are a couple of reasons for this:
  1. It's something new. I've been training for the marathon distance for years now. And although I'll give Vince credit for never giving me the same workout twice, it's kind of exciting to think I'll be training my hardest.. but differently.
  2. It'll make me a stronger runner. This goal to me actually sounds way harder than a 3:50 marathon. I think it's going to take more work than I've ever done. And that makes my heart beat faster just thinking about it.
  3. It'll lower my threshold. I can't really comprehend running the 22 minute 5K. That's over three 7 minute miles. My threshold pace is somewhere in the 7:30s. This will naturally lower my threshold.
  4. My BQ is there to be had. I only missed it by a little over 3 minutes in the extreme heat. By Fall, I may actually be looking to run a 3:45 or even a 3:40. Although I have to "get back up there," I don't think I need to worry about multiple BQ attempts for 2010.
  5. I want ripped arms. Ok, silly, I know. (Just wait until you read tomorrow's post.) But, I never wanted to add any bulk for marathon training. Nor did I really care that my arms are absolute sticks at the time. But, frankly, I'll need the muscle mass to help with the lactic acid processing. I'm going to continue the arms and shoulders workouts I've been doing these past two weeks through this training, and bump it up a level. While I'm thrilled with how I look from the core down, now I can work on the rest.
There are other reasons as well, but these are a few key ones. I know it's probably also going to take more than a few attempts to pull it off. I'm not going out there in 8 weeks and knocking 98 seconds off my 5K PR--even in my dreams. But, I like to dream big. And, I'm confident I'll get there!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Spring BQ or Fast 5K?

"What would you attempt to do if you knew you would not fail?" --Robert Schuller

For those of you in Facebook, you see that as my status today. My leg is feeling really good. I'm almost 4 weeks of healing (not running). I'm still coughing. A lot. But as tired as you might be of reading about that, I'm even more tired of coughing, writing about it and acknowledging it. One day, I will stop coughing. So, I'm going to start ignoring it, and planning "what's next."

I'm still determined to qualify for Boston, even though I recognize that's for Boston 2010 now. In my wildest dreams, I don't think I'll be ready to train hard enough to run an early February '09 marathon and qualify. So the question is, do I pick a Spring or a Fall marathon?

There are a couple of Spring options that are intriguing me:

New Jersey Marathon
Ft. Collins Old Town Marathon

But, much like the quote above, I'm confident I can qualify for Boston. After all, I only missed it by 3 minutes and 14 seconds under far less than ideal conditions in Chicago last month. Is there truly a need for me to qualify this Spring? Or should I wait for a Fall marathon? My time in Chicago is fast enough to get me preferred seeding for '09; I've made it all the way up to Corral C.

The other '09 goal I want to achieve is to run a sub 22 minute 5K. This is a tough goal. I'd have to work my proverbial and literal butt off to do it. A lot of track work, a lot of strengthening. I'd probably even increase my strength training and weight work-outs to gain more muscle to handle the lactic acid build-up.

The 5K is a difficult race for me, and not my favorite distance. The first mile beguiles me... reels me in, making me think I am strong and fast. If run well, my first mile split will generally surprise and delight me, and I find that I am feeling pretty good. Here is where the race begins for me. I begin to tire half-way through mile two. I think, "Well, good race, but maybe next time. You weren't ready for these speeds," and want to slow down. But--if I'm running well--I don't.

With a little over a mile to go, the suffering becomes intense. All I really want to do is quit. It's worse than the marathon. And quitting is an option available to me. But, I have to talk myself into not quitting and to realizing I'll be wearing the finish time as a badge for months to come. Seconds count. And I continue my race strategy closing in for the final mile. This involves counting the seconds backwards. I know what my finish time will be. I know exactly how long until I finish. I mentally bring my way against the massive outcry of my body to stop, and bring it to the end, nothing left. It's all about hanging on.

Shaving 98 seconds off my very best effort is no small feat. But, I believe I can earn it. And perhaps this training will prepare me to be an even better marathoner.

If you have an opinion on whether I should spend the Spring training for the sub 22 minute 5K or spend it training for a Spring BQ marathon, please comment here, send me an email if you have it, or direct message me in twitter. I'd love to hear some opinions to help me make this decision.