That which does not kill us, makes us stronger. - Nietzsche

Saturday, July 2, 2011

The Updates

The Finger
I thought something must be terribly wrong, but apparently dislocated fingers just take forfreakingever to heal, and mine is coming along quite nicely. I started hand therapy, which, as it turns out, is considered occupational therapy, not physical therapy, so I have 20 visits authorized instead of using up my remaining 4 PT visits, which I would like to save in case I hit some big snags in the marathon training. I'm only supposed to wear the splint for strenuous activity now (I chose weights and biking) and try to actually use the finger more now. That's a little laughable, as it's still swollen (1/2 inch larger than the same finger on my other hand, to be exact) and it doesn't exactly want to move. So I have to exercise it now, and holy crap, that's hard. At the very least, I'm trying to hold it in a normal position instead of holding it straight out, because at a quick glance, it looks like I'm flipping people off. I'll be thrilled to wear my engagement and wedding rings on the correct finger, but that could take a couple of months. (!)

The Leg
I've officially graduated from PT for that one, but I know I'm not totally out of the woods. It still makes its presence known occasionally during runs. I found out my insurance specifically excludes orthotics (grr!!) and rather than spending $400 on the custom ones, the PT told me to try some retail ones. I just haven't had the chance to price and order them. I swear I'll get on that SOON.

The Swimming
Blah. I'm starting to get sick of swimming. The good news is that if it doesn't storm tomorrow, I'm joining a group open water swim. This could be a little ridiculous, but I HAVE to get into an environment other than a pool if I want to do an open water tri this year - which I do. Right now I tell myself that I'm not trying to swim faster, but I'm trying to get comfortable enough in the water that I don't freak out if I get a little tired or if I gulp down a mouthful of water or if someone kicks me in the head or whatever.

The Biking
I rode with a group a couple of weeks ago - there was a ride lined up with my quasi-normal group, but I couldn't find them, so I rode with some other people who were training for a charity ride. They were quite nice, and a smidge slower than I am, especially on the hills. It made me feel good. Last night I mapped out a ride that turned out to be absolutely gorgeous, but a bit hilly. There are some pretty good hills around here; unfortunately, if I ride from my house, I'm surrounded by them, so I have to take big hills in order to leave the neighborhood, and big hills to get back in. It's that darn Escher staircase again.

Last night, part of my ride was on the bike trail, and I met a guy riding a high racer recumbant bike. It was so cool that I had to ask him about it, and we had a pretty good chat about bikes and riding. Actually, one of the first things I asked him is how you DON'T fall off that thing. It's pretty precarious looking, but also looked really comfy! So I had some nice bonus comeraderie. Other bonuses: wildlife (a deer that I thought was about to run into traffic and a fat ground-hog looking thing), a little kid in his yard who yelled, "HIIIII!!!" at me, and beautiful views of the Little Miami River. Seriously, I've driven all those roads hundreds of times and didn't notice how gorgeous they are until I was on a bike. This is why I love biking. Another bonus: stopped for a cone at the Creamy Whip. I have a weakness for soft-serve vanilla.

The Triathlons
I'm officially signed up for the Fit to Fight Tri. It's a sprint tri divided into women's/men's races, with a serpentine pool swim. I'm stoked about it because I shouldn't have any swim-related freakouts, and I should kill my run time from Tri for Joe. It'll be a good chance to see what I can really do now. I want to do the Cincinnati Tri the next week - the Olympic distance. It'll be a challenge for sure, but I think I can do it. There are two problems: it's pricey, and swimming in the Ohio River is terrifying me a little bit. Not because it's dirty - it IS dirty, but I have a high tolerance for grossness. It's deep and it has a current and I have a fear of drowning. I'm trying to talk some sense into myself - I can swim longer than 1350 m (the distance of the swim) without stopping in a pool, so there's no reason I wouldn't be able to do the swim. Plus, it's downstream, so it wouldn't take as long as a pool swim. It doesn't matter if it's 4 feet or 40, I can stay above water. (I'm not even afraid of the typical open water stuff - fish, etc. - I'm afraid I'll get exhausted or kicked in the head and slip under the water and nobody will see me.)

Signing up for that one is going to depend on how much open water time I can get in beforehand and how that's going. I'm figuring I will freak out at first. I'm not a half bad swimmer (albeit slow) but being in deep water, or water of unknown depth, and knowing that I CAN'T just stop and stand up if I want to, freaks me out. It's all mental and I have to see if I can get over it in time. It'll also depend on how Fit to Fight goes.

The Running
A little background here: I've never been especially athletic. I tried to be. I tried really hard to be. Looking back, I don't think I especially enjoyed sports, but I went to a small high school where ALL the cool kids played sports. There weren't a lot of other EC options. So I wanted to play sports. I actually really liked volleyball, but I got cut after junior high (when they didn't have cuts.) I played basketball because they didn't have enough participation - so little participation, in fact, that at barely 5'5" I played center - so they didn't cut anyone. I remember one summer, I think the summer before my sophomore year, I decided that when the season started up again, I was going to be GOOD. I ran (I actually ran! Although I don't think it was much or it was fast...) and I shot baskets outside in my driveway every day. People did comment on how much I improved, because I had. All said and done, though, after busting my butt, the end result was that I was a slightly below-average basketball player, and I couldn't hope to compete with the people that were good athletes even though some of them had quite possibly not even looked at a basketball all summer. I sat on the bench and got to play when we were already either winning or losing by at least 30 points. I quit my junior year, after my friends and I had started a rock band and my parents told me to pick one.

So I pretty much gave up on doing anything athletic. I resigned myself to the fact that I was the smart one and I could be the validictorian without much effort, so as a trade-off, I was pretty much hopeless in athletic pursuits.

Fast-forward to today. Obviously I've discovered some athletic pursuits that I'm really really into. But for a while post-injury, I was having flashbacks back to being that girl who worked like crazy only to be slightly less than mediocre. I felt like everyone who trains at the same volume, has trained for the same amount of time (or less, in some cases) ends up being better than me. So what's wrong with me - do I not train hard enough? Am I slacking? Should I just give this whole thing up because I'm no good at it?

That is why running was not fun for a while. I started thinking back to last summer, when I was training for my first half. I never really battled those thoughts, because I never really talked to other runners (besides my husband, but I'm faster than him - although if he really trained, he'd probably run circles around me). I was just happy every time I added a mile and did my longest run ever. I ran at my speed, and didn't consider whether it was fast or slow - it was just the pace I happened to run. Part of the problem, too, is that I made my comeback just as the weather was turning. Some of you have never experienced summer in Cincinnati, but let me tell you - the humidity is generally 80-90% and it's awful for running. So even if I'd be faster on a good day, I have no choice but to slow down when my sweat won't evaporate and the air I breathe feels like it weighs me down.

So I'm trying to get back to not worrying about my pace, and accepting it. I decided to try, and my long run - 8 miles - a couple of weeks ago felt awesome. And the pace wasn't bad at all. I've actually had some pretty stinking fast runs since I abandoned the idea of running faster and decided to just run.

Today I had a crappy run. I woke up this morning and I knew I was tired. I tried to bust out 10 miles, but my left hip was pretty much shot from biking, and no amount of stretching would undo it enough for a run that didn't feel somewhat like torture. Add to that the humidity, a random side stitch, some stomach discomfort, and I decided to cut it short. A few weeks ago I wouldn't have done that. A few weeks ago I would've pushed myself through all 10 miles, risked injury and then felt like crap about my slow pace. Today, I was able to accept that good runners have bad days, the biking didn't help, and I run because I enjoy it. I couldn't get any enjoyment out of today and it wasn't worth the pain, so I stopped. I'll try again another day.

I still worry about the low mileage of my training plan. I still worry that I won't be ready for 26.2. I still am tempted to get pouty about my pace and to compare myself to everyone else. I'm still tempted to read the triathlon forum and emulate the training plans of those who swim, bike, and run 3-4 times each a week and say that you can't get faster otherwise.

But in the end, I'm trying to do what I can do and accept it. Trying. :)

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