Tuesday, February 22, 2011

A Minor (hopefully) Setback

Since January 22nd, the recovery has been going well. I am slowly building back up to normal mileage, hitting 47 last week. I have not been doing workouts, but have been keeping about 75% of my miles faster than 7:00 pace. There was a tight hamstring early on, but other than that, no aches or pains. That is until last night. I was running down East Boulevard when I started to feel a little pain in my butt. Since it wasn't my job causing the pain, I knew this was unusual. I was just shy of five miles into a planned seven miler, so I continued on up the hill and through some of the Dilworth neighborhoods thinking I could probably shake it.

By the time I got back onto East Boulevard, I could tell my gait was being altered by the pain. It had now spread into my lower back. I stopped and walked hoping to work out whatever the kink was. When I started running again, it hurt even worse. As I settled back into the pace, the pain alleviated but was definitely still present. Instead of tacking on to get to seven miles, I went straight home and called it a day at a hair over six. At this point, each foot fall sent a radiating pain through the left side of my body whether I was walking or running.

My preliminary investigation finds that this is either sciatica or piriformis. I have never had issues with either of these, so it comes as a bit of a surprise. Treatment options range from ice, heat, massage and PT to surgery. I am hoping this is just a minor tweak and the PT and massage I have scheduled for the next 48 hours do the trick. As I write this, I am lying on a bag of ice. I told my co-workers that normally I would just ice at my desk, but this injury requires me to take my pants off. Not that I am above taking my pants off at work, I just don't prefer it.

As another way to expedite the healing, I am taking today completely off. I have bailed on my scheduled track workout with Paul and Aaron. No pool. No bike. No elliptical. This is something I haven't done since January 28th. It didn't kill me then and it won't kill me today.

Before the pain hit last night, I had planned on writing a blog entry with a review of all the books I have read this winter. It's a solid list, but it will have to wait until next time.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Back on (the) track

I've never beat around the bush when it comes to the track. I don't like it. There is no special place in my heart for repeated 400 meter loops. Give me a rolling asphalt road or a dirt trail any day. That being said, it was kind of nice to pull into the familiar parking lot that sits above the JCSU track -- adjacent to the giant metal bull -- in West Charlotte Tuesday night.

Actually, Tuesday started with another odd and uncharacteristic first. I woke up at 4:45am ready to limber up, dress up (for the cold) and head to McAlpine for the Miner's Run. But as I limbered, I could tell my legs weren't as fresh as they could be from running both Saturday and Sunday and in an time where caution is king, I changed directions and turned left on Providence toward the Dowd Y pool instead of right toward McAlpine. By 5:20, I was swimming laps. It's the earliest I have ever been submerged in water. By 5:55, I was being kicked out by a gaggle of old ladies who needed the pool for water aerobics.

I've gotten off track (pun). I got out of my car already geared up and launched right into a two mile warmup down to the cemetery and back. By the time I got back to the track and passed by Caitlin and her menagerie of male minions doing a minuter workout, Aaron was there and ready to go. Of course, our workouts were dramatically different. He was doing 3X2000, which for a guy with just nine runs under his belt since eight weeks off, was a bit ambitious. I thought I could probably manage the first 800 of each one, going right into a moderately paced run in between the intervals.

What I wasn't counting on was how good of shape Aaron is in. Adrenaline and the excitement of going fast for the first time since mid-November got me through the first lap with little effort. By the second lap, my body and mind realized just how quick we were moving. It was a shock to the dusty system. Still, I clung to Aaron's shoulder, not backing down. We hit the 800 in 2:34 and I was breathing pretty heavy. Ok, I was panting.

After a two more pedestrian paced laps around the track, I was ready for our next one. We took off with the same force -- shot out of a cannon. Two laps of me holding on for dear life while Aaron seemed to move effortlessly through the turns and accelerate down the straightaways. This time, I pulled up alongside on the final stretch to finish stride-for-stride. Well, I finished, but he had three more laps to go. 2:32. I repeated the motions for number three, finishing in 2:31.
I was winded, but after watching Aaron click off one 75 second lap, I made a go at an unplanned fourth 800. Through the lap, I taunted Aaron with the hopes of being motivational, saying things like "don't let the guy with the broken ankle beat you," and "I haven't run in eight weeks." He was killing the workout, so this was probably useless, but still fun for me. With no expectation of doing anything more than three, I pulled out after a 76 second 400 happy with the small amount of work.

In the grand scheme of things, and in comparison to workouts of the past, this was kind of a joke. But I am measuring success differently right now. I am simply looking for signs of life in the legs. They're there, and that's a good indication that I'm not starting from scratch.