Monday, January 31, 2011

The Slow Return

I feel like every time I launch into a story about my injury, I start it the same way: "The hardest part about getting hurt is..." Today, I can definitively say that the hardest part about getting hurt is coming back. It hurts. It's soul crushing and it takes an incredible amount of restraint.

I started running again on January 22nd, 17 days after my Doctor told me I could start back when I thought it was appropriate. That was a challenge in itself. The first run was really just a jog. 18:43 seconds at a warm-up/cool-down pace with Caitlin, Aaron, Ben and Billy. But oh, it felt so good. Nearly 19 minutes of bliss. The CRC Board of Directors had travelled to Asheville for our mission and vision retreat and to run the Hot Chocolate 10K. I had really looked forward to the race, but after accepting the fact that I wouldn't be at the starting line, I simply looked forward to being AT the race. Seeing people working the flats and the hills wasn't depressing, it was inspiring. Lauren, Aaron, Allen, Matt, Boriana, Sarah, Scott, Billy...they all had great races and it reminded me that I've had and will have great races too.

What's tough about building back up your strength and endurance is that it is just that --
building. Just like any project, when you rush, you are bound to screw the whole thing up. Runners who've been down seven weeks, can't just start running 80 miles a week again. Instead, you run a fraction of that distance and continue to cross-train to make up for the rest. After that first run in Asheville, I was back to my monotonous, yet important activities. To supplement my tiny running workout, I found myself in the pool at the Asheville YMCA, passing over the same band-aid stuck to the pool floor 100 times. Gross. Sunday morning when everyone got up early to find some trails in the mountains, I got up early and got in my car to make the two-and-a-half hour drive back to Charlotte. I drove almost directly to the Dowd YMCA (stopped for coffee and to see Pepper) where it was two hours of spinning and swimming.

Monday: Spin lift.
Tuesday: Perhaps the best proof of my desparation and lonliness. I woke up at 4:45am just to meet the Miner's Run group by 5:30 at McAlpine, run two miles out with them, then turn around and run back by myself. In the evening, I swam.
Wednesday: Spin, swim.
Thursday: Five easy miles in the morning before flying to Austin, Texas. When we got to Austin, Lauren was nice enough to take me a YMCA, where I swam a mile in a heated outdoor pool. I have to say, I am stunned by her willingness to aid in such an obsesion.
Friday: Off, although Lauren and I rented a kayak and rowed for an hour.
Saturday: 6 miles in Burnet, Texas at sub-7:00 pace. I've still got it! My legs hurt, but my heart feels fine.
Sunday: Only because it was run or do nothing, I did my first back-to-back runs. I only had a couple of beers on Saturday, but I must have drank enough to forget the marathon I apparently ran. Wow did my legs hurt! I limped along, waiting for five miles to be done and over with.

Today it was an hour on the elliptical and a swim. I'll try to run every other day this week. The thing is, running is so easy. You don't have to go anywhere to do it if you don't want to. You don't have to fight off all the people fighting for a machine at the Y. (Side note: it appears people are sticking with their resolutions a little longer than usual. Come on people, it's February! Wendy's is calling your name! Square beef!). You can get up and go, and that's why it's so tough to stop yourself.

On a non-running related note (I can do that, because it's my blog), Austin, Texas may be the coolest city I have ever visited. There is music everywhere, and good music to boot. Every eatery we walked or drove by looked like one I'd like to stop at. As we sat at an outdoor coffee shop listening to a jazz/bluegrass band on Sunday afternoon, I found myself wondering how a city like Austin landed in a state so incredibly different.

But it wasn't just Austin itself that was awesome. We were there to see Lauren's family. It was her granddad's 80th birthday and we celebrated at two lake front cabins about an hour outside the city. For me, it marked the first time I'd be meeting all the aunts, uncles and cousins I'd heard so much about. I have to admit, it was intimidating and at times overwhelming. But it was also really cool. I'm sorry I don't have a more eloquent word, but that's what it was. I'm already looking forward to getting to know everyone better and becoming part of their family.


  1. dude, coming back from injury is the story of my life. and i hate to say it but it sucks just as badly every single time. that said, it makes the time when you are finally fit again feel that much sweeter. be as patient as you can; it will come soon.

    p.s. i'm actually sitting in austin typing this, and it is currently 35 degrees, sleeting and 30 mph winds. texas weather is crazy.

  2. first time on your blog. It's pretty cool.

  3. Thanks man and thanks for reading!

  4. Awesome blog. i just signed up for REBEL RACE at …can’t wait to run the 5k through boot camp style obstacles and crawl in the mud! My girlfriend’s crazier than I am- she’s doing the 15k! I’m so excited to run and go camping with my friends all weekend. They’re even giving me a free beer! Is anyone else doing this race??