Back to Business

The past couple weeks I’ve been able to dramatically increase my mileage.  I almost feel like I’m back to normal with regards to running.  The best part is that I’ve had absolutely no sign of compartment syndrome since getting back on my feet.  At times, I still feel like I’m a pinch slower and struggling with endurance a little, but I keep reminding myself that’s expected at this point.  Five weeks of no running is nothing to be shrugged off.  Mentally, however, I feel rejuvenated and ready to really challenge myself again.  That time off may have been the perfect tool to renew my motivation.  I do still find myself sore from the surgery and am still unable to do plenty of other things.  But everything is coming full circle pretty quickly.

The Pensacola Marathon looms overhead, about 7 weeks away, and I decided I am going through with it and running it.  I brought my weekly miles back up almost to my pre-surgery level and am feeling pretty confident.  I’ll run three 20-26 mile runs before the marathon with plenty of 10-15 mile runs throughout.  My endurance post-surgery is my main concern at this point.

My surgeon cleared me for certain calisthenics like pushups, leg raises, etc., but something just doesn’t feel right in my abdomen when I do them.  Very unfortunate.  Oh, well, I’d rather be safe than sorry and hold off on that for a while longer.  I’m not going to push it.  At this point I can’t even imagine how long it will be until I can resume weight training.  I am anxious to get back to where I was.  Things just aren’t the same.

I got some new sweet kicks!  They’re hybrids but really more of a trail running shoe (Salomon XR Crossmax), so I’m not sure if I’ll marathon in them or not, but I probably will!  They do quite well on pavement or any kind of surface it seems.  I’ve had them on gravel, asphalt, dirt, etc.  Best of all, the bottoms of my feet aren’t aching 10 miles into a run with these!  After the marathon, I want to do much more distance trail running.  I might run a 10-mile trail race in early October just to get out on some unfamiliar trails.  I am hoping to find an ultramarathon of 50k to 50 miles to train for at some point next year.

Last week I successfully pulled off a 40-mile week.  This week I’m planning to do 45 with an 18-mile run this weekend.  I am so ready and excited to get out and put in a real distance run.  Everything is feeling pretty good, and though I’ve been fighting off some minor shin splints, I think I’ll pull the marathon off just fine.

It might be time to move on to a new favorite brekkie… my beloved chocolate-peanut butter oatmeal just wasn’t as good this morning as it usually is.  What’s with that?!  I’m thinking pancakes are in proper order.

Unleash the Beast!

Last Tuesday, 5 weeks out from surgery (exploratory laparotomy), my surgeon cleared me to run again.  My husband and I never expected those words to come out of his mouth.  I’m pretty sure my jaw dropped to the floor and I drooled all over myself.  I think my husband was really worried.  He told me, “I don’t think he quite understands what running means to you!  We’re not talking about a jog through the park!”  I just responded with the only thing that came to mind, “He unleashed the beast!”

Originally, my doctor had told me that it wouldn’t be until November when I could run.  Needless to say, the day he cleared me I came home and bounced into my running clothes and jumped on my treadmill for a test drive.  I didn’t get any stomach pain, but my ankles and knees were really tight and verging on becoming sore.  I felt heavy and slow.  I stopped at a half mile.  (Granted I had put on some extra pounds since surgery which I can definitely feel now when running.)  The next day, I got on my treadmill and ran 3 miles with minor soreness in my joints.  It felt like pure joy to run again.  Over the 5 weeks I was out of commission, I had developed a new relationship with running.  I felt so out of touch with life in general while I couldn’t run.  I obsessed over running constantly (I kinda do that even when I am running, LOL).  Suddenly, now, running is like this incredible gift I’d been taking for granted.

My endurance is fairly zapped, but there are lingering remnants of it.  My leg strength is definitely subpar.  After managing to run almost 12 miles last week, I have slightly sore muscles and tendons.  It’s going to obviously take a little time to get acclimated again.  Dropping my weight back down will help a lot.  I told my 15-year-old daughter to take advantage of me being back to base training and run with me.  So far, it’s been working, somewhat.  She’s even considering training for the Pensacola Half Marathon in November.  We shall see how that goes.

I do plan to still try to run the marathon.  Obviously, I’m not expecting any PRs.   If I don’t feel ready for it by then, I’ll just run the half.  My sister, who lives in hot and humid Mississippi, stepped back to the half marathon.  She was originally going to run the marathon, but she’s had her share of difficulties training for it.  There’s even some indication that my mother also might be attempting to run the Pensacola half!  It would be like a family racing reunion!

This week I think there’s a good chance I can get up to 15-20 miles.  I’m planning to run 5-6 miles today since my longest run last week was 4 miles.  If that goes well and I have minimal soreness the next day, I’m hoping to increase my long run dramatically over the next 3 weeks and begin running 2 long runs a week until I can run a 20 miler.  My muscles and tendons will dictate everything at this point.  Hopefully they will be quite agreeable.  I’ve got my heart set on hitting the trail this coming weekend.  I can’t even begin to express how excited I am to get back out there.  It’s going to feel amazing.  I don’t know if there’s been a night where I haven’t dreamed about running the trails since I got sick.  Anyway, I am planning to do a 10-mile jog/run and just take my time and enjoy myself.  Maybe I can get lucky and coax my daughter to tag along if I promise to buy us lunch!

New Beginnings

Monday, July 9th, 2012 was the last time I ran and would be the the last time for months to come. Oh, how July was the month of setbacks, major obstacles, and disappointment.

First, we lost power for over a week after a rogue storm came through here and dropped a tree in our front yard on the power lines. We spent that week trying to keep our disabled son in air-conditioned hotels while scrounging around for a generator. I still managed to find time to run twice during the whole ordeal. However, not long after getting power back, I found myself in a much greater predicament that would change my little world for months to come.

One evening, as I was getting ready for a treadmill run I experienced the onset of extreme abdominal pain. My husband ended up leaving work and taking me to the emergency room. They ran a few tests and sent me home with a diagnosis of constipation. I remained in fairly severe pain for another week before I went to a clinic. They sent me back to the emergency room where a CT with dye showed I had free air and fluid in my abdomen. I was rushed into surgery for an emergency exploratory laparotomy.

I woke up in the ICU with an incision that ran the length of my belly with 21 staples. All I could think about was running and weight lifting and how I felt so robbed of all my hard work. I tried hard to not let on to anyone how sad I was about the whole ordeal with regards to my fitness. It seemed so shallow and ungrateful. I spent over a week in the hospital. No definitive diagnosis was made as to why I had free air in my belly, so I will have to have further tests done once I’ve completely recovered from surgery. It’s all very frustrating right now.

When I finally got home, the real challenge began.

It’s been 2 weeks since the surgery. I had my staples removed yesterday which did provide some relief. I’ve been told I can’t run for about 3 months, but I was cleared for brisk walking. I’m still so very sore and have a lot of edema in my torso which is very slowly dissipating. I can’t lift anything right now and am told I can’t lift over 40 lb for 4 months. This means I can’t lift my disabled son which creates an immensely complicated situation. It just feels like everything is turned upside down. I’ve been bored, depressed, and confused as to what to do with myself. I’m incredibly impatient for the soreness to go away. I just want my life back so badly. Though I know everything will come with time and a few months pass in the blink of an eye, I just feel disheartened and long to hear the sound of rocks crunching under my feet.

I have to get my head right.

So, here I sit, somewhat demoralized, but more and more determined to formulate a comeback plan. I’ve decided to start a walking streak of a minimum half-mile a day until I feel comfortable upping the ante to 1 mile a day. I’ll do a “test drive” this weekend and see how it goes. I know it’s going to be a long, slow recovery, but damnit I’m not letting this get the better of me! I’m going to push through this, and I’ll be back on the trails by the time the weather is cooling off again this fall! I’m coming back, and maybe I’ll be tougher than ever!

Get outside and put some miles in for me!