Tuesday, March 27, 2012

On the Mend

So, after 3+ weeks of fairly intense training and 1+ weeks of convalescing due to a hurt ankle, I do believe I'm finally on the mend.  Today is the first day in over a week that I can walk without limping.  Whee.  Additionally, I am officially registered for the Brooklyn Half-Marathon.  Double whee.

Turns out I wasn't the only one eagerly awaiting registration to open; you could finally sign up yesterday starting at noon, and the race was sold out in record time, 10 hours later.  What's more, last year just under 6,000 people ran this race, but this year the organizers are changing the course to accommodate a whopping 15,000 participants.  That means 15,000 people signed up in 10 hours.  Wow.  They are all going to be so bummed when I win...  haha.  Maybe not exactly win, but let's not get caught up on semantics.

I've never seriously injured myself while running before, so this injury has been an adjustment for me.  Last week I tried to stay off my foot as much as possible, which found me sitting while teaching a lot more than seems reasonable.  My students kept asking for help and were continually perplexed when I insisted they get up and walk to me, as I apparently lounged, foot propped up on a chair.  On Friday I was trying to get across the classroom quickly, and--tired of hobbling--I hopped on one foot like half of a three-legged race team.  Luckily 14-year-olds are reliably self-involved, so no one appeared to have noticed this stunt.  My limp is most obvious going down stairs, as this requires quite a bit of adjustment so as not to further torque the ankle.  I have it down pretty well at this point, but imagine I must look like an off-kilter and over enthusiastic frog as I strangely hop down one step at a time.  I've always enjoyed an off-kilter frog, though, so I am at least slightly proud to suddenly find myself among their ranks.

Fortunately for me, one of my best friends is a college track coach, so he had all sorts of advice on getting back to my training regime as quickly as possible.  A key component of this turns out to be ice baths for my foot.  That sounds sort of pleasant, right?  A nice bath for the foot, let it relax, etc.  Um, no.  One might recall that ice is cold.  Freezing cold, in fact.  Nonetheless, I have been told to plunge my foot into a bucket full of ice water twice a day for 12-15 minutes at a time.  That's what everyone wants to do upon awaking at 5:45 in the morning, right?  I surely do.  And while in the ice bucket bath, the toes are instructed to write their ABCs so as to increase mobility and looseness.  At 33 degrees Fahrenheit my toes do not remember their alphabet, so I find it necessary to recite aloud.  Everyone enjoys this.

It's okay, though.  Because on May 19th I'm gonna kick some half-marathon ass.  That's still the plan, anyway.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

What Dreams May Come

My weekly training consists of three runs: a long run, a short run, and a speed-training run.  I am increasing my long run by a half mile each week, which means that each week I am running the farthest I have ever run in one go.  (On Sunday I ran 7.5 miles for the first time.)  It's not often that I accomplish something so concrete and new, and so I enjoy these small weekly triumphs.  I come home and discuss the whole run with Greg, who genuinely wants to know how fast I ran and how it went and which route I took and whether I stopped to re-tie my shoes or take a drink of water.  I love his interest in these banalities because I am interested in them, too.

I am learning things on these long runs, beyond the obvious lessons my body is learning about running just that much farther each time.  I am quickly learning that long runs simply take a long time--there is no rushing through them.  It turns out that there's something quite freeing about this.  I'm able to settle into the run and relax, as odd as that might sound.  I get to enjoy listening to my music, and even slow songs are welcome, since there is no hurry.  This sort of imposed patience also allows space for thought; I am able to puzzle through something put off all week because I didn't have the energy to deal with it, or to turn a simple thought over in my mind and enjoy its intricacies.  Or I can not think at all, void my mind of anything beyond the rhythm of each step and corresponding breath.  I'm surprised by how beautiful I'm finding this experience to be.  So much of my life seems to be full of rushing from one thing to the next, trying to catch a train or bus, making it to work or trying to get home, meeting friends out.  These long runs are space carved out in time without intruders or deadlines.

While I am enjoying this process, I have two pieces of disconcerting news.  The first is that registration for the race is still not open.  I am beginning to worry that there is a problem of some sort and the race will be cancelled.  We'll see.  The second is that I injured my ankle last week while running (strained my tendon, I think?) and now am a bit limpy on a slightly swollen ankle.  This means no more running until I am healed, which throws the whole process a bit out of whack.  I will be patient, though, lest I push it and do any serious or permanent damage.  Not worth it.

Meanwhile I will mentally prepare.  Last night I dreamt that I was walking up a hilly street in my neighborhood, trying to get to a meeting.  Down the hill toward me came a short woman wearing a teal top hat; she had the shape of a human, but in my dream I knew that she was an imp or spirit of some sort.  Anyway, she mischievously smirked at me and knocked into me as we passed.  Circling back around, she tried to repeat this, but I surprised her by grabbing her and then gave chase after her up the hill.  She squawked and whined as I ran after her up the hill, shocked that I was able to chase after her with such determination.  If I can't run in my waking life for the moment, at least I can keep training in my sleeping life.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Lacing up My Sneakers

I've decided to run a half-marathon, specifically the Brooklyn Half-Marathon on May 18th.  Registration for the race hasn't opened yet, though, so I'm finding myself a bit superstitious talking about my plans before I'm actually signed up and officially in.  Ah well, I suppose I will take my chances here on this highly-trafficked blog.

I imagine that some people would never consider running a 13.1 mile race, while others would think nothing of it, having run any number of races, even marathons perhaps.  I am somewhere in the middle.  It wasn't so many years ago that I had never run for pleasure or exercise outside of basic gym requirements in middle and high school.  I ran my first ever race in the fall of 2008 and have run only two more since then, the most recent being a 5-mile Turkey Trot this past Thanksgiving.

That experience has a lot to do, I think, with my decision to take on a half-marathon.  The day was unbelievably crisp, sunny, and gorgeous.  All 2000-some participants seemed in high spirits and the whole event felt like a celebration; it was the perfect way to spend the morning meditating on all that I have to be thankful for.  Greg and one of our friends also ran that day, and all three of us were pleased with our times and enjoyed ourselves.  I felt like a runner that day, like I had arrived.  Not so much to the end, but the beginning, rather.  I had arrived to a place where I finally feel like "runner" is a legitimate part of my identity and I'm not just a poser.

I tucked that thought away and then, two weeks ago while I was on vacation, my mind was quiet enough to let the "I could be a runner" thought peek its little head out and get my attention again.  And when you have spent three straight days napping on a beach, it logically follows that you will forever be well-rested and that training for a half-marathon will be simple and painless.  Um, yes...that's the logic of one too many piƱa coladas.

I'm now in my second week of training and so far oddly enjoying it.  More on this to come.  I am also eating carob chips by the handful as I type this, so...yeah.  Some things never change.