Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Kaboom..... Not Fair...

So I think I mentioned that after last Sunday's 4 mile race, I had this tweak in my foot arise. Well, by Tuesday it was totally gone and I decided to head to the track. At the track I talked with my coach and agreed that if there were any twinges there I would just back off and do some non-running work.

I warm up and do some strides - not a peep from the foot. I confirm with my coach and she says there are no compensations in my stride and everything looks fine.

We all set out to do 8x400 relay repeats. I'm feeling good on the first one with a little tightness in my hamstring in the last 100m. I stretch it and check in with my foot - no issues. I head out on the second 400m and my hamstring is tightening up again. I decide that this probably needs to be my last 400m and I really focus on just relaxing through the rest of the lap. Mind you - I'm running fast (~5:50 - 6:00 pace) - but that's about 80%, not sprinting by any means.

Then coming around the last turn, my hamstring goes from tight to really tight to a sharp twang about 1/3 of the way up - all in the course of less than 10m. No real warning and all of a sudden I'm hobbling off the track thinking - "OK, that's not good at all".

All I could think of was 'Not Fair!' - I mean, sure little tweaks and stuff coming up, but no real warning that I was going to go from moderate tightness to blowing a hamstring out - certainly not in that short of a distance. Heck, I wasn't even worried about my hamstring because it hasn't given me any indication that it's been under duress. A little tightness in the final sprint of the Sunday 4 miler that subsided within minutes afterwards with no soreness afterwards. Nothing in the previous weeks.

'Not Fair' is the fact that the Platte River 1/2 marathon, which I've been training for the past several months for and felt 95% confident in running a sub-1:30 at, is this Sunday (which ain't going to happen for me by any stretch of the imagination at this point).

'Not Fair' is the fact that I've been having one of the fastest periods of my years of running over the past few weeks. My pacing workouts have been 6:30-6:50 with strong intervals in the 6:10 range. Strong efforts - but no straining to get there. I'm lighter than I've been, good attention to nutrition, and feeling like a million dollars. I walk around feeling like I'm *oozing* jet-fuel. AND - the last couple weeks have been a taper period. I ran like 40 frickin' miles last week - that's a vacation from 55-60 mile weeks!

'Not Fair' is that I was planning on a few weeks of easy running to let my body recuperate. But my body didn't seem to be able to hold out for that and decided we were on vacation early. When I tried to even moderately ask it to go fast last night - it rebelled.

As Liz Lemmon would say - "Whuck?" "Blerg" and "What the what?" - all in one continuous stream of profane innuendo.

So here I sit, last night and this morning - feeling sorry for myself, calling 'foul' and all that. Icing, resting and a compression bandage wrapped around 1/3 of my hamstring. And I know, I know...... I could write all the rebuttals and have been practicing my positive thinking, "These things happen when you are feeling strongest" / "Most elites even struggle with injury because running competitively is much harder on your body than running for recreational" - blah, blah, blah....

And Paige has been great - being a competitive athlete, she understands the frustration of injury and setback. She keeps giving me hugs and saying how sorry she is about what happened. She's a sweet girl and a most wonderful wife.

And I know the drill, and know that I'm not relegated to the couch, eating a Hefty size bag of Costco M&Ms, drinking Pepsi from a 2 liter bottle and watching reruns of  'Dawg, Bounty Hunter' and 'Cake Boss'. I'll be on the bike and then the eliptical and able to focus on some upper body weight training and core work. And then there will be some light running in a few weeks and stretching and in 'no time' - I'll be racing again.

But sorry - I just want to mope and wallow for a bit longer..... and then...

I'm sitting on the couch this morning, ice under my leg. Drinking coffee and watching the Today show or something like that with Luke propped on my lap eating a fruit snack. And this segment comes on about a couple with a little 2 year old girl - and just recently both the couple are diagnosed with untreatable cancers. Both are not going to be there to see their little girl grow up. And I listen to them and they are pushing forward. They are not moping or wallowing (although I'm sure they went through even darker moments in dealing with this true tragedy that is 'Not Fair' by any stretch of human imagination).

And at that moment, I feel small and petty. I kiss Luke on the head and inhale him. That familiar scent that every parent knows fills my lungs. I have everything and more than anyone should ever need to be ecstatic in their lives. I have a wonderful, beautiful and loving wife. I'm so proud of the people my 3 oldest kids are turning into. A precious gift of a 3 year old that likes nothing better than to sit on his dad's lap and drink his fruit snack. A great job, perfect health and athleticism - for someone my age and even much younger.

And in a classic anecdote, I realize that what happened last night is just a little mechanical set back to a very small part of what makes up my life. A little bump in the road. Injury is not something separate from being a competitive athlete - it's an integral part of it. Inevitably woven into the fabric of what it means to be an athlete. To not accept it as part of the mix is to not accept the life of an athlete.

While you can minimize the risk of injury - you can't avoid it. It's like the Coyote invetibly blowing himself up with the ACME explosives gone wrong, or getting run over by the speeding train, or falling off the cliff. If you chase the Roadrunner, then you're going to go 'Kaboom', 'Splat' or 'Twang' once in a while. If you can't deal with that, then you need to stop chasing the Roadrunner.

So 'Beep beep' and on to the rehab.......Bring it!  :-)

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ps - Bet you didn't think this post would turn out like this did you? Neither did I this morning.

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