Monday, March 06, 2006

Still Have Top Gear...

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The picture does not lie. Twelve repeats, all of them between 86-90% of my maximum heart rate.

I find myself stuck in that area between the proverbial rock and the hard place these days as I have not been able to complete my last two long runs on Sunday...

First the epic little journey to Edmonton, from which I thought I had largely recovered and then "Bang!" on my way to an important meeting earlier this week I blew out the sidewall on one of my rear tires. No time to call a tow-truck or a car service. So I changed the tire by the side of the road, cursing Mazda for their wimpy little scissor-jack that comes as space-saving standard equipment, the six inch wheel wrench and the troglydite who was madly in love with his air-wrench when he last mounted my Panasport rims... Every lug-nut took back-breaking lumbar wrenching effort to loosen. Oi vey! Curses!

The last two Sunday runs, in fact I have barely made it the last few kilometres back to my car, and I abandoned all thought of doing my add-on mileage to prepare for Boston. My back has really been acting up. And I have even been having some fairly serious medical consultations.

I may have to postpone Boston a year. There is no point in injurying myself so that I can't run period. At this point I do not think - nor do others far wiser and better trained than I - that I am doing any further tissue damage, but I do have some pretty serious nreve weakness. Chronic pain that I can usually manage is now intruding ever more into every aspect of my day to day routine. And not thinking about it doesn't make it go away. Even worse is the endless stream of lovely well-meaning souls who are endlessly asking me how I am feeling. There is no short answer. And the truthful one is just plain rude. So you nod and smile and say something utterly inane. As a good friend might say, not very authentic...

But last Thursday night I was still able to show a little speed in the 300 metre sprints that Steve Mattina had us do in the Personal Best Clinic. In fact Steve offered me a rare compliment - he's a stern taskmaster and not given to easy praise - by telling me he thought I was in "great shape", his words not mine - and that I might surprise even myself this coming year with some personal best times. He also thought I had a nice light step and "good float". I had no idea what the Hell he was talking about and was intrigued enough to waive any and all embarassment at my ignorance by inquring just what the Hell "float" was...

Turns out float is the opposite of plodding, and accompanies a smooth stride with not too much up and down motion - in other words a marked departure from the way I ran when I first started out endurance running some five years ago, which was markedly inefficient and with far too much muscular involvement. I did start out life as a sprinter after all.

I can honestly say I never tried to change my stride. The miles I ran beat the up and down out of me. Getting smoother and more efficient was the only way I could survive sixty and then seventy and then eighty miles a week and the odd ultramarathon thrown in for good measure. Mother Nature is a wonderful tutor.

But is was nice to hear it from Steve, who is , Mr. Mattina, that is, himself a rather phenomenal athlete (a 2:35 marathon, 32 minute 10K, 15:07 5K, etc, - you get the drift) with hints of a mysterious athletic past that only comes out in rare moments... On Thursday I tried to just tuck in behind the fast kids - the speedy boys and girls - and survive twelve repeats.

I have to tell you, I hate running behind other people. It just kills me. So on the last few repeats I let it out a little. I still averaged 1:04 to 1:06 for each 320 metre repeat, but I did practise my Boston "surges". And we got pretty close to a minute a few times...

On the last repeat I just broke for the tape at the half way mark. Finally, with twenty metres to go I was busted. Spent. Exhausted. And the field breezed by me. But for fifteen seconds I was King of the World.

I was brought a little closer to earth the next day when I couldn't lift my feet over the curb, caught my toe, fell on my face and took all the skin off the heels of my palms. I tell you, one day I am going to master that walking and talking at the same time thing if it kills me... And it well may.

In the meantime, I am stuck with painkillers, muscle-relaxants, anti-inflammatories and the occasional bottle of red wine. Hey, some things require serious self-medication!

So for now I am day to day. And Boston is six weeks away, to the day, today. I wish I felt more positive. But it is hard to feel too badly for myself when I look back over the ground I have travelled these many months and see how far I have come.

The journey has been worth every bump and bruise and ache along the way. Every little setback and reversal has been matched by a little triumph, a small victory that I have treasured. I wouldn't trade away a single moment, or have it end any other way... It will, if nothing else, be interesting. And you can't ask for more than that.


Blogger Scooter said...

So, to quote Regis Philbin..."No Boston - Is that your final answer?"

6:58:00 AM  
Blogger Vince Hemingson said...

"No Boston!" Such a thing is sacrilege at this stage.

Running Boston and making a pilgramage to Boston are not necessarily the same thing.

I have my plane ticket, my room, my old friends with whom I will travel and the new friends whom I am dying to meet.

My original goal was to do all that it took to qualify to run the Boston Marathon. Having done that, the rest is all icing and silver-linings.

Nothing would give me greater satisfaction than giving my best effort while running Boston.

But if the spirit is willing and the flesh weak, I will save the flesh for another year and instead feed the spirit and cheer on others.

At this stage I may just be worn out. But having experienced back pain and back surgery, and having ongoing chronic pain I think I know a little of which I speak.

I consider myself lucky and blessed beyond belief to have done what I have done so far.

Now I am just taking it one back treatment, one doctor's visit, one consultation, one prayer to the Gods and one day at a time...

It's all going to be good. :)

8:06:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is this why you're such a jerk?

11:48:00 AM  

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