Saturday, July 21, 2012

Getting with the Program

I'm just about done with the 10k program. I'm really feeling good about things. My running is improving. Not as fast as I would like, but it IS improving. I'm paying attention to my heart rate. I'm really not using any scientific method to 'keep to HR'. I go by feel. I know that I can carry on a conversation and run at the same time when my HR is around 160. Once I hit 180, it's all over. I can't talk, my breathing is heavy, I'm struggling. A heart rate of 170 isn't very comfortable but it can be sustainable. By that I mean if I'm in the 170's and I have 2 miles left to go, I can keep my current pace. With training, I try to keep my heart rate in the 160's. Doing my walk/run runs I tend to get higher, in the 180's if I'm out on the road. The treadmill keeps me at one pace consistently so it's easier for me to stay in the 160's. All this is to say, I think it's boring. I hate thinking about my heart rate. One could argue that it isn't really worth my time to worry about my heart rate. However, I want to use this rebuilding time to build a good fitness base. I want to build up my endurance so that I can sustain my way through a half marathon or a sprint triathlon and not bottom out at the last mile. What is my body telling me? Forget heart rate and just run, run to feel, run to get it done. My legs want to go so much faster than they are right now. My mind is the one that keeps telling my legs to slow down, let my heart get used to this exercise. Let my heart get used to how things feel while doing exercise. So, it's a battle. One that I know if I keep to the program and keep track of my heart rate I will be grateful for all this work down the line. However, even with this battle, I still want to keep going. I want to keep running, keep biking, keep swimming. I will say that there are some days I don't want to get out of bed. That I want to stay in the covers and just let the time tick right on by. However, the days that I do force myself out of bed are the days that I love my run/bike/swim the most. Good thing, as I start the half marathon training program this week. I signed up for the very cool Wineglass Half Marathon back in December. I'm looking forward to this for so many reasons. My only goal is the same I have for ANY running race: To run the whole time (maybe a walk break at the halfway point).

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Sorry, for the Silence

Sorry for the radio silence these past few months. It was not my intention. However, a few things happened: work got busy, blogger (google) will not let you write on blogger unless you have google chrome or a more recent version of IE. This all adds up to me moving this blog to wordpress soon.

So, where was I? 
Surgery. Surgery went well, 4 weeks post op went well. I worked from home, had lunch with Phil while the girls were in school, it was a great 4 weeks. I didn't get out as much as I would have liked for walks. 

So, what now?
I'm doing a Hal Higdon Novice to 10k running program. I love it. Mostly because it allows for cross training and weight training. I have built in days that force me to lift weights, days where I can swim, days where I can bike... and not feel like I'm 'not running enough'. The most important piece of advice Hal gives on his plan is that it doesn't matter how LONG it takes you to do the miles, just that you do the entire mileage. I'm sticking to that like glue. I repeat it on my runs.

So, how IS the running?
OK. I'm taking a very slow approach. I run a 1/4 mile, walk a 1/4 mile, etc. until I hit my goal distance for the day. I'm about 2 weeks into it, and it's going well. I can already feel my legs wanting to go FASTER, FASTER. However, I'm trying to be smart and take it slow. My heart is still not up to going faster. As I continue I'm noticing my hips aren't aching anymore after a run, my back isn't sore after a run, in fact... NOTHING is sore after a run. I'm paying attention to form like never before. I'm stretching longer after a workout. I'm being SMART about things this time around.

So, really, how is it going? Really.
I'll be honest in the beginning I had a horrible attitude. I had all the horrible negative thoughts in my head: I used to run so much faster than this, I need to be faster, I'm better than this, I can't believe I'm this slow, etc. etc. 
I would follow all those up with one thought: Sure you were faster and going longer distances, but you also go hurt.
Now, with this training program I'm seeing improvement. Real improvement without killing myself.

So, the swimming and biking... what's up with that?
I love swimming. LOVE. Every swim I soak it up like a favorite meal. I love the new watch that Phil got me for Mother's Day allowing me to track my swim distances and lap times without having to do anything (it's a Gar*min 910X*T). It's the same for the bike. I still love my new bike. I love getting on and just going. I am now trying to keep track of my heart rate (the new watch helps with this) so I may not be going as fast as I used to but I'm GOING.

All in all, things are going well. Each day that I'm out there swimming, biking, or running I'm thankful that I CAN swim, bike, or run.

Look for more posts as I try to navigate around the road blocks that blogger has set up.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Best Laid Plans...

I had great plans for the upcoming race season. A fantastic long distance swim, an Olympic distance triathlon, the Skinnyman, kicking ass at the Mountain Goat race in May. Really, working on improving my performance instead of 'just finishing'.

Then, well, the pain in my leg/back that I thought was sciatic pain? Got worse. Before Christmas it got to the point where I couldn't even walk properly. It hurt to get in and out of bed, pain stabbing me in the back. An electric kind of pain that hurt with every twinge. Phil and I had a lot going on around Christmas, no time to see a doctor. Phil and I went to Salem to finish cleaning out the condo (closing was approaching) my mom watched the girls. We had a fabulous time. Except.

My back was killing me. I just pushed through it though, my thought was if I stay active enough eventually whatever 'it' was would get better. Keep the muscles loose and all that. We cleaned out the condo. Pushing queen size mattresses and box springs down the stairs. My back really hurt after that day. Then the 5+ hour ride back to Syracuse. By the time we got to my mom's, I was in agony. I could barely walk without bending over. It was at that point that I knew I should go to my doctor when we got back home. No doubt about it, something was wrong.

Sunday, January 2nd, we went to spend a gift card that we had. I was able to walk! Upright! I was feeling pretty good. Some pain but not nearly as bad as what I had been dealing with recently. I even set my sneakers and running gear up so that I could do some walking on the treadmill the next morning before I returned to work after a being off the week between Christmas and New Years.

Monday, January 3rd, I woke up in pain. I hobbled to the bathroom thinking that by the time I got up, dressed, my muscles will have warmed up to the point that I would still be able to do my walk. Oh how wrong I was. I went to sit on the toilet and immediately bounced back up my back hurt so badly. I thought to myself: that's odd. Tried again with same result. I then tried to stand up like I had been, searing hot pain everywhere up and down my back and left leg. I was paralyzed with pain. Silently freaking out, I made my way to the medicine cabinet and took a couple ibuprofen. Then, I could no longer stand the way I was, my muscles were getting really weak. I tried to lay down on the floor, I couldn't, I couldn't even bend down to get in the position. EVERY position hurt. Finally, I thought if I could just get to the living room and lay down, flat on my back, with my feet on the couch and my legs in a 90 degree position it would feel better.

With low moaning I got myself into the crawling position and crawled to the living room. I was able to get in the position and it offered some relief. I had my phone with me so I texted Phil that I was in pain, please come help me, bring a blanket (I was freezing). He came out and tried to help me but nothing worked, EVERYTHING hurt. I was starting to panic. By this time the girls' started to wake up. I had to put on a brave face as Kirsten and Lindsey got ready for school and daycare. When Phil took Kirsten to school it was just me and Lindsey. I had made my way back to the bedroom and found a semi reliable pain free position. Lindsey was watching cartoons on PBS. At one point, I panicked because I could not get comfortable. Phil came home, and took Lindsey to daycare. While he did that I called my primary (who I was not real thrilled with the first time I met her and had planned on switching, but she was better than nothing).

My appointment was set for later that morning. I 'walked' into the office, bent over in constant pain. We'll fast forward to my primary being of no help until I started crying in her office that the pain was so horrible. Phil went to fill prescriptions for perc*ocet, muscle relaxer, and xan*ax (I was going to have an MRI, I needed something to help with the anxiety of enclosed spaces. I'm very claustrophobic). While he was off doing that I had a regular x-ray done. Pure agony at first. Then, I started to calm down and relax, the x-ray room was warm, dark, and quiet. The x-ray tech was very compassionate and nice, I wanted to stay there until Phil got back from the pharmacy.

As I waited for the MRI Phil showed up with the medications and breakfast sandwich, I was starving. I ate, I drank, I took pills. MRI wasn't so bad. About half way through ALL the meds took effect, I was just about asleep in there. I got home, I fell asleep until about 4pm when my primary called me with MRI results: herniated disc at L5/S1. I was told not to do anything that might make it worse. Stay on the pain killer/muscle relaxer until further notice, appointment made with neurologist to over results with more depth. Hmmm, 'awesome'. At that point is when I realized that the outside of my left leg all the way to my pinky toe and the one next to it, was numb.

My appointment with the nurse practitioner of neurosurgery went well. Based on the images and my symptoms it's a herniated disc hitting the nerve that runs down my left leg. Two options were given: physical therapy and time or surgery. Here's the sticking point, physical therapy MAY work for some. It could take up 6+ months. That's a long time for me on a 'maybe'. The surgery itself is very noninvasive. They go in, cut the bulging part out, call it a day. Recovery time is relatively short, PT will prescribed for a number of weeks.

I am an impatient person. The thought of putting off all my activities for 6+ months and dealing with annoying numbness for so long just did not seem like an option. With the surgery, it would be in. out. My life would start to go back to normal. Now, I'll say this, nobody pushed me into the surgical route. It was left completely up to me.

I met with the actual surgeon on Monday. He went over the results of my MRI again. He then showed me what the surgery would actually look like (on his i*Pad no less). Recovery time would be shorter than what the nurse practitioner had told me. I would be up and doing 'normal' activities by Saturday if my surgery was on a Tuesday. Swimming could resume once my stitches are healed, biking can resume by the time the weather holds out long enough to allow me to get out there, running... Well, running is a little different. He didn't tell me NOT to run, he cautioned me that I take it easy. Ease back into running. So, there will be some time spent getting back into things.

He did say the likelihood of a herniation to occur again in the same spot is unlikely but it can happen. Chances are if it is going to happen again, it will happen within the first 18  months.

For now, my 'plan' is to get through surgery, get through recovery, and see where I am. Races? I don't know, we'll see.

This blog? Will have more frequent updates. I plan on using it to document my surgery and recovery.

This wasn't 'The Plan' for my 2012 race season, I'm okay with that now. I love my workouts, my swims, my bikes, my runs so much that I plan on getting back into them and building up again. I just can't WAIT to get out there again.