Monday, February 20, 2012

"Failure will never overtake me, if my determination to succeed is strong enough."

Spartan Shape-Up, Day 214:

... Today was not an awesome day, BlogLand.

I woke up this morning, feeling pretty well rested, and generally good about things (I had a lovely night out, saw a lot of my close friends I hadn't seen in far too long, and was feeling pretty connected to the world, again.). I was even almost excited at the prospect of tackling the challenge of today's scheduled WOD:

Long Run Day. *insert suspenseful music*... 8 miles. EIGHT MILES. That would be a new distance PR. Woot! It's on the training program, as the next step up the latter... It was even going to be a relatively nice day for a run like that... somewhere between 39-41 (that's nice for VT in February!), mostly sunny and not windy. I was good to go.

Got dressed, filled the Camelbak (I find that I am happier if I have water - even just a little - for anything over 5-6 miles), and hit the road. I was off to run at one of my usual out and back spots, mostly because I have yet to scout any new longer loops in the area. I may just have to start sucking it up and running up big hills... it seems that it is impossible to run any great distance around here, without including at least one. Thus, I decided the (only slightly rolling hills) out and back would be good to try the new distance.

Body check: Well, I wasn't 100%, in the sense that my upper body was pretty sure it had been beaten with chains during yesterday's WOD. Thankfully, I don't run with my arms. Leg-wise, I was feeling pretty good... nothing more than the usual on and off (chronic!) tight hamstrings, etc. Nothing a good stretch and a run to get the blood moving wouldn't fix.

... or so I thought.

Geared up, I trotted out. The sun was shining, birds were chirping, angels were singing.... well, okay, slight exaggeration, but you get the idea. It was all good. Typically my first mile (as many people's) is a bit of a warm up and get into the rhythm of things, time. Running was making me feel the stiffness/sore in my back/shoulders a bit more (than just sitting down, for instance), but it was nothing out of the ordinary, or unmanageable. On I trotted.

Since I've stopped running with music, I use this time to really pay attention to my body. I concentrated on my breathing and instituting all the things I've learned along the way... (slooow deep breath... exhale through mouth...) I was still good. Mile two was better than (warm up) mile number one.  All was well in RunLand, and I was pretty sure I was going to beat the crap out of this 8 mile WOD. Challenge accepted.

Mile three passed pretty much the same way. I checked out the scenery, in the late afternoon, of the iced-over pond... enjoyed the slight squishiness of my feet on the semi-melty dirt road... pondered the implications of this unseasonably warm weather we were having.

After the mile 3 marker, I was passing into uncharted territory. I'd never run farther than 3 miles out on this road. It was getting interesting... the slight rolling hills became a little steeper... but hey, nothing this Spartan couldn't deal with. Just shorten the stride a little, keep breathing, and left-right-left, until I was at the top.

All was going according to plan. I was in that tired, because my body's been doing something, but still a lot of Go left in the tank. Checking my mileage, I'd almost hit the halfway mark, so decided that at the top of that next little incline, I'd stop, sip a bit of water, and run back (some downhill! Yay!). It seemed so blissfully simple.

I started up the little incline. Left-right-left, controlled breathing... and just as I made the last little energy push to the top...



I stopped at the top. There had been some sort of tight, weird pain behind my left knee.  Hmm. No biggie, I thought... I'll just walk for 30 seconds or so, stretch it out, and off I'll go. It still didn't feel 100%, but I figured it was nothing, and kept moving.

30 seconds were over, so I picked up an easy jog again. Hmm. The angels had stopped singing, and I'm pretty sure the birds were no longer singing. However, the sun was still out, and I was halfway to my new goal! My behind the knee was feeling a little tight, but "okay"... It'll stretch out, I continued to tell myself.

About a quarter mile later, I found myself walking again. It had gotten angry. It seemed better when I walked. HMM. No problem, I thought to myself. Maybe this wasn't going to be a new time PR, but I could just intersperse a few more walk breaks here and there, and it'd be fine. There wasn't really any pain (just a tightness) while I was walking.

So, I picked up a jog again. Didn't make it a quarter mile. Walked. Tried one more time, got three steps. Tried again. Three steps. Walk.

I kept walking, while I tried to figure out WTF to do next, and WTF was going on. I noticed that whenever my foot hit a rut in the road, or a slant/unevenness, I began to feel the tight ouch, too.
No angels singing, No birds chirping, and the sun was no longer shining.

I was going to have to walk the rest of the way to the car. I checked the mileage. My GPS had failed, for some reason. Maybe that was a weird sort of cosmic blessing, that I didn't have to know how long that walk was.... but I do know it was over 3 miles, and more like 3.5.

This had now reached immensely frustrating. I had a PLAN for today. My body clearly did not share that. I was *walking* (... and beginning to limp), when I should've been running. I do 4 miles on a usual Tuesday (literally.), this had not constituted a Long Run. I did not have TIME for this body-rebellion!

I pulled the sleeves on my layers down. The sun was beginning to set, and the exercise-body-warmth was beginning to dissipate.

I walk/limped and fumed. WHY was this happening? What was this pain, exactly. Here's the conclusion I began to reach... I have tight hamstrings, naturally. I'm aware of this, and trying to work on it. I also did a WOD yesterday that had a significant amount of deadlifts, as well as some clean & jerks - all things that would work those hamstrings. I had been feeling a little stiff, but nothing I had noted as particularly out of the ordinary (when you WOD 5-6x a week, in weird ways, you get used to a certain low-level stiffness happening pretty regularly, as you body tries to work it out). I think, though, that the combination of factors, plus a few little inclines, had pushed my hamstring's tolerance over the edge. It seized, emphatically, letting me know exactly what was up. Now think about it... when your hamstring contracts, what is it going to pull with it? Some sort of tendon/ligament that it's attached to, in the back of your knee - exactly where I was feeling pain. (I'm not a PT, or anything, thus I know nothing about this, and must speculate.)

I kept walking as briskly as possible, and retracted my hands into my sleeves. My body was no longer producing running-heat, and it was beginning to get chilly, walking by this water...

Interestingly, that would explain why it got harder and harder to run, but walking wasn't soo bad. Everytime I'd try to pick up a run, your hamstrings have to contract to do that. Bam. OUCH. Everytime you step on something uneven, and your leg muscles step into stabilize you... BAM. OUCH.

Great. The road stretched ever on and my car was not in sight.

This would be a great moment to throw out a little trivia: You know what's not warm? Your sweaty running clothes, that are really one-layer less than the day's temp calls for... because you were going to be RUNNING and producing heat. When you're walking, and the sun is officially setting... it begins to get very, very COLD.

I was wholly uncomfortable. I was freezing my ass off (despite putting up my oh-so-warm hood on the top, light running layer), my fingers were surely frozen, and my shoulders, back and my legs, (the right one had begun to follow suit, to a lesser degree) were hurting.

I just kept walking. What choice did I have? I wasn't at the car yet. I determined walking was probably the best plan for the legs, too... keep the blood flowing. Plus, there was really no one to call. And it felt stupid. I could walk the remaining 3 miles... how long could that take?

My car was the most welcome sight, as I reached it over 40 minutes after I'd started walking at mile 4. Those were the LONGest, most difficult 4 miles that I have done in a long time. I was shivering, trying to ignore the leg discomfort, and trying to talk myself out of the extreme frustration level I was reaching being unable to finish my WOD, just because my body inexplicably decided to revolt. I winced, as I tried to delicately lower myself into my car for the 15 minute drive home (with the heater cranked up).

Getting home, I struggled and groaned to get out of the car. My legs felt totally locked up. AWESOME. I hobbled around the house making dinner, and trying to psych myself up to what I knew was inevitable  -  a session with my foam roller. It had to help, right?

I ate dinner and eyed my foam roller. It seems so unassuming.

20 minutes later found me alone on the floor of my living room, rolling back and forth on the roller, on my hamstrings, hot tears of pain and frustration soaking my shirt. Awesome. This was downright PAIN... not just the usual stiff-ouchy. My hamstrings had really orchestrated a good one, this time. I had to do the rolling in short bursts, because it was taking my breath away with the pain. This was new. I am usually a tank for this sort of thing. What's a little pain?.... but this hurt. A LOT.

And, really, I'm not going to lie, BlogLand... after I did all the rolling that I could handle (including some shots to my back and shoulders, for good measure), I just starfished on the floor and had a little bit of a tear session. I hurt, no one could tell me why, it felt like pain that wasn't going to go away over night, I had JUST gotten my training schedule back on track and now it would be screwed again, my race (s) are approaching quickly and I didn't have time for this! and, oh, IT HURT. Like, 8-9 on the pain scale, every time I rolled over it. And I was alone. Sometimes you just want someone there when you're not 100% to hug you, tell you it's going to be alright, and provide a voice of reason/solution.

I rallied and got up (slowly) and managed to get my dishes done, anyway. I'm just one big ball of sore, and sitting in hard chairs is really not awesome. Dear Hamstrings, EFF OFF. HOW could you DO this to me!?! Is this payback for last week's Yoga????

And here's where you find me... I pondered if I should think about CF in the morning... but there are Thrusters on the WOD.... We will have to see if this fixes itself overnight. I'm thinking no, as right now, I'm uncomfortable sitting in a wooden chair, pressing on my hamstrings.

Damn it.

I guess the morale of tonight's story is just that, well... Not every day is going to be a PR. You're going to have a bad day. You may have a bad week, even. You may have a run you don't finish, or one you don't do as well as you usually do. But guess what, at least you were out there, right? As least your head's still in the game. The mind must be strong first... then the body will have no choice but to follow.

With that... I head off to hit the pillow and try to reset my brain. If my training schedule gets disrupted... so be it. There is always tomorrow, and the next day.

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