Confession time. I hit a low point in training, a mental weakness type of low further debilitated by injuries. For weeks, I felt like I was doing well; I was completing workouts, seeing improvements in fitness and I was feeling good about myself. Kona seemed totally doable.
Then I had a really bad run. Actually, the run itself was nothing spectacular, but due to my carelessness and dropping my car key along the running path, my 14 miler turned into nearly a 20 miler and my body wasn't prepared for it. I was out of water, nutrition - it was an overall poor turn of events. The following two weeks were hellish in terms of IT band pain. My neck issue decided to rear its ugly head so my lower left and upper right quarters of my body were useless. It hurt to stand, it hurt to walk, it hurt to move. I took a spill on my bike the day before the bad run and fell on the outer portion of my left knee which left quite a bump and bruise exactly where my IT band hurts so I'm sure that didn't help.
I immediately went into damage control (after envisioning how miserable running 1 mile let alone 26 miles would be in a few weeks). I foam rolled like crazy, used the stick, consumed ibuprofen like candy, slathered on diclofenac gel and icy hot, used the cold laser at work, and got worked on a couple times at PT. I didn't much run for nearly two weeks (a couple very short runs only). Friday, Holli and rode a touch over 5 hours and 100 miles and I felt pretty awesome after that. Then saturday rolled around which should have been a long run. I woke up from nap and felt really short of breath. It was an odd feeling, but I thought maybe the humidity was doing weird things to me and didn't think much of it. I set out to run and ran exactly 0.18 miles before I turned around. I couldn't breathe, my legs felt strange.
I thought, okay - I'll go swim! Coach had said if running hurt, then head to the pool. It wasn't that it hurt per say, but my body felt strange so I thought, better safe than sorry (I worry about asthma attacks), so away to the pool I went. I swam about 1400 yards before multiple lifeguard whistles were blown and we were kicked out of the pool because a kid had vomited.
And the Gods said, "you will not work out today."
I continued to feel weird through the following day. I used my expired inhaler (I know... really, I know) a few times and began drinking copious amounts of water wondering if dehydration was the problem. My stomach was visibly distended (though the rest of my abdomen looked fine, it was... strange looking to say the least) and I still couldn't take full breaths so I Dr. Google'd my symptoms and took tums and gas-x (though gas was really not the problem, boy scout promise). It was a rest day (though the previous day was basically a rest day too) so... I rested. Hard core rested. Honestly, I slept almost all day long. I was awake for about 4 hours in total and slept through the night.
It was ridiculous. What a waste of a Sunday.
Woke up Monday morning and went to work still feeling a bit off. I solemnly swear I will drink more water from now on. Mischief managed and all that. I really think I was super dehydrated from the ride Friday and didn't properly rehydrate like a sane person would do.
The IT band has verrrrry slowly been improving though some days I wake up and fall out of bed, but hey, no big deal. Yesterday it was time to test her out again. I was at my parent's house this past weekend to see them and my brother (!!!) and Sunday morning I planned on running 12. It would be a gold star added to the steps-to-ironman-readiness chart in my head and boost my low morale a bit. A lot was riding (albeit only mentally) on this run.
I was excited though. I was going to run my route. my path. I have run this path/route approximately 100 times. Or more. Many more actually. I ran here during college when I began "distance running"... i.e. greater than 4 miles. I ran here more days than not during the year after college when I was contemplating my next steps in life. I run here and think about many things... marriage... and later, divorce... school... and later, job... the miles on this trail are so familiar and comforting... I know I'm home. Now that I don't come home as often, I tried to really savor my run and take trips down memory lane because this is also where I grew up. I first played baseball on the field next to the prairie path (25 years ago), I spent my very early childhood in the apartment complex on the trail, the popcorn shop, the train station, the DQ after softball games, etc...
SO, I've been thinking a lot about heart rates lately and my lack of knowledge associated with it. I decided to aim for what-I-estimate-based-on-the-average-of-some-loose-calculations is zone 2, meaning pretty easy running. It was hot as hell outside and you could basically see the humidity in the air, so I thought this would be a safe way to complete my first long-ish run in 3 weeks. I was aiming for 12. This would get tricky if I wasn't up for 12 since I was doing a straight out and back, but I like to live dangerously so away I went.
My first mile was 8:40 and my heart rate was in the gutter but it was so hot that I knew in a mile or two it would come up significantly without trying. It did. I knew I was running really slow but it felt nice and easy and effortless so I just kept that pace. The miles ticked by fairly quickly, I know where the mile markers are and I know even where unofficial half mile markers are (I ran here a lot pre-GPS era). My heart rate stayed pretty steady until mile 8 - I had already hit the turn around, I had 4 left to do with pretty minimal knee pain so I decided that I was done with heart rate training and the heat hadn't ended me yet, so I was going to go faster. Surprisingly to me, my heart rate didn't increase all that dramatically though it felt like I was running pretty fast (thank you humidity) - my pace only dropped by about 10 seconds in mile 9. By the last mile though, my body thought it was hauling ass. It put up an 8:02 which was pleasing given the conditions and the fact that I haven't been running much. Still not fast though. But 12 miles later and buckets of sweat left in the car on the ride home, I was done and felt pretty good about running again.
I think I'm coming out of the slump now. Running at home seriously helped. I watched some triathlon footage and the paralympics for swimming today and I think I found a touch of motivation again. Watching the paralympics was incredible. It makes my stupid knee pain look ridiculous. Self and I had a quick chat - self, your life is fairly uncomplicated and you have a pretty healthy and able body to do awesome things; no excuses, its time for you to step up and kick your own ass but no one is going to do it for you. If they can accomplish the unthinkable, then you can sure as hell achieve what you want to if you work your butt off. End of conversation.
I'm ready for a bigger week of training, had a great spin session today with a made-up-on-the-fly workout that kicked my ass, so cheers to more ass kicking and getting closer to the big races.