Saturday, September 27, 2008

Logic trumps!

It's been just a couple of three weeks since the Old Hickory Lake Triathlon here in my hometown of Hendersonville, TN. I spent the next five-seven days after recovering and nursing my bad back. Just this week I started, in earnest, to train for the Marathon in Memphis on December 6th!

Today I ran 13.1 miles, purely coincidental that this happens to be the exact distance of a half-marathon. The time, although not important at this point was 2 hours, 20 minutes and change. I was happy with this, although my knees, ankles and lower back were letting me know that this was just enough.

I have been trying to logically decide and to convince myself that it's time to give the full marathon (26.2 miles!) a whirl. It's something I truly want to do, I guess just to be able to say that I have, for there really is no other reason for this.

But, on this beautiful September morning, as I am making my way through the streets of Hendersonville, I am really and truly enjoying the work. I am not really worried about how far or how fast I'm going, I'm just paying attention to my body and what it's trying to tell me. Somewhere about an hour and a half after I started I'm still feeling really good. I know I can last at least another hour, more or less.

I take a small break to refill my water bottle and to take a second shot of GU jell. I make my way down the straight and long Gallatin Rd., on the way back home. At this point I begin to take a mental inventory of each and every joint that would hurt and I realize that each and everyone is beginning to ache. My right knee buckled at one point and I had to slow down to let it recover a bit. As I look at my gps, I see that I'm on mile ten and still have about three to make it to the house. This last stretch I was being very careful not to do anything silly that would compromise the health of my bones. And then I began to think..."if i were running a full marathon, I wouldn't even be halfway through. There's no way I could make it to the end without doing serious damage."

I took this opportunity to analyze why I was doing this, what would happen to my goals and intentions if I pushed it further. I have nothing to prove to anyone, except myself... and the only thing I have to prove to myself is that I should be able to continue to do what I've set out to do from the beginning, and that is to have fun while continuing to improve my physical condition and mental attitude.

I have been running for a couple of years and so far I have enjoyed every single mile. I cant recall at any point ever wondering why I am doing this, in a negative manner. This summer I tackled the world of triathlons and thoroughly enjoyed it because it provided the extra challenge I was looking for.

And so the decision was made. I would, at least for the time being, forego the idea of running a full marathon. I dont think that I would be happy putting myself in a situation where I begin to wonder why I did something like this! I will, however, leave the door open to revisit this idea in the future.

Logic trumps! If I run a full marathon, I could really do something to my back that would at the very least, sideline me for months and the the worst, sideline me forever. Additionally, the idea of putting myself in a situation of ever wishing, even for a step, that I wish I hadn't done this, is not something I want to do. I know what it takes and what I need to complete a half, this I can live with.

So, for now, I will stick to my schedule of half marathons; the Memphis St Jude's Half, the Gasparilla Half in Tampa and the Music City Half in Nashville

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Old Hickory Lake Triathlon

Twenty Four hours and change after the conclusion of the Old Hickory Lake Triathlon I'm still replaying the race over and over in my mind. Don't get me wrong, I finished the event, and that was my main goal. I have said over and over again, after each and every event that finishing was the goal of each race, as it was, but for this one it couldn't have been any more true.

On Tuesday morning, just four days prior the the tri, I woke up and could hardly walk! Took me several minutes to get out of bed, took me even longer to be able to stand up straight. The two bad discs on my back were at it again. I could feel the pain shooting all the way down my right leg, through my thigh to the knee. As I struggled to the morning two things kept going through my head; what went wrong and will it get better before Saturday morning?

On Wednesday I woke up feeling even more in pain. Nothing I did on Tuesday seemed to help. I just knew that the race in Saturday would have to be bypassed. This was a bummer. I was so looking forward to this one event. It is to be held at home, in front for family and friends, but I knew that feeling how I felt at that point it would be irresponsible to follow through and try to compete.

I continued stretching and concentrated on doing more sets of the back exercises. I pulled out the inversion table and borrowed a massage pad from my sister-in-law. I was not about to accept the fact that I couldn't race without a fight. I postponed the decision to a "game time" decision.

On Thursday morning the pain was a bit more bearable, it seemed that whatever I was doing was working, I was encouraged. By Friday morning, just hours prior to the swim start, I still felt pain and my walking was still affected.

So here it was. Woke up Saturday morning and my decision was to try to do at least ten back press ups as soon as I got out of bed. Assess the pain and make a decision. I was able to do full presses and the pain was almost non-existent. I was ready to go! Got ready and off I went.

The pre-race jitters were huge! Never this intense. There were several issues that contributed to this . How would my back perform and react? How would the swim leg be? This would be the first time I ever compete in open water and how would it go? How about the run? Would my back take the pounding? How would splitting the run in two stages be?

I was number 252 out of 454. My turn came quick and like it or not, off I went. As soon as I got in the water, anything and everything I had learned and practiced at the pool, was gone and forgotten. You cant see with your head in the water so your first reaction is to lift up your head to see where you're going. This alone, seemed to take more energy than anything else I did. When I tried to swim with the right technique, I found myself way off course, again dispensing more energy trying to get back in line. The buoys seemed to be miles away. Boy am I glad I had practiced the backstroke at length. This saved my swim.

Off the water came the first run leg. It started very gingerly as I was trying to assess how my back was feeling. It felt good, not great just good. Got through this stage and made it to the transition area to mount the bike.

The bike stage felt awesome. I feel this is where I made up time lost in the last two faces. All went well until about mile nine when my calves starting cramping up. Found out real quick that you cant climb well when your calves cramped up. Actually, it is very difficult to climb with your calves in pain. But I worked through it and made it back to transition area.

The last stage of the triathlon was the second half of the run. As soon as I started running the left calf started tightening up again, so I stopped immediately, stretched it to prevent further development. This worked somewhat but I still felt the remnants of pain through the remaining of the run.

I'm not sure what my total time was, let alone the splits. Today I was truly not interested in this, I was just happy I was able to finish. Half way through the event I realized that my mid to late week focus on the back pain distracted me from focusing on proper diet and hydration. I felt the effects during the race; I even forgot to take my pre-race Gu Gel as I have done prior to each event and each long session in the past.

Now this triathlon season is over for me. I will concentrate in the next few months in marathon racing. Yes, I did say "marathon" racing. My desire is to run the full Marathon in Memphis on December 6th! We'll just have to wait and see what develops!

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Today's the day!

Well, it's a little after 5am, I woke up some 45 minutes ago, did my stretches and my back feels like it's going to make it. Somewhat sore, but not in terrible pain. I decided last night that it I could do 10 press ups this morning without pain, that I would give the tri a try! And it actually felt pretty good... so, off I go.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

What went wrong?

Just three days before the Old Hickory Lake Triathlon and I CAN HARDLY WALK!

My recurring back problem has returned, and this time with a vengeance! I can't stand straight, I can't walk straight... it hurts like the dickens. I am doing everything in my power to get the discs back in place in time for Saturday. Stretches, press ups, leg ups, etc. Everything I need to do, I am doing. Now it's just wait and see.

Participation in the event will be a last moment decision. It will be irresponsible and dangerous to try to swim, bike and run feeling like I do... but giving up, I will not!