Tuesday, July 23, 2013

At The Heart of it All... (Or "Why I won't let pain steal my long run.")

It seems like most people who are training have their long runs on the weekend...  I know with my family's schedule, it works best for me to get that done Sunday morning.  This last Sunday was to be my longest distance ever.  I don't know why, but I suppose I look to each Sunday now with a little bit of trepidation.  "Can I go that far?"  "Will I fail?"  "Will I have to give up and call my hubs for a ride home?"

Granted, maybe 8 miles isn't much for some.  But I was also excited and looking forward to the challenge.  "I CAN do this!"  "Here's to all the doubters and people who told me I couldn't..."  "Here's to my bum knee and other issues that have tried to hold me back..." etc.

Perhaps I worked myself up a little too much?   Whether anxiety or a physical issue or a combination of both, I woke up earlier Sunday morning than I had intended.  I was going to get up at the crack of dawn to beat the summer heat...  but I didn't plan on waking up to searing chest pain.  This was grab-your-chest-and-moan type pain.

What the hell?

Deciding it best not to wake the husband, I tried to sneak out of the room and woke him anyway.  It became very obvious to him fast that this wasn't something to mess around with.

He is a trained "first responder" at his job and went through his checklist with me.  My heart rate seemed normal, I wasn't sweaty or clammy.  I looked pale, but I had just woken up (very rudely too).

What I didn't have going for me was this terrible chest pain and pain deferring down my left arm.  I felt like my left shoulder had been bashed with a baseball bat.  It was very clear to me that it hurt much worse with every intake of breath.  Was that a heart attack?  Or an anxiety attack?

Having 2 out of 5 symptoms was enough for him to call 911 and I realized he was being more than cautious when he started to stutter at the operator's questions.


If he was losing his cool, this was more than just a little acid reflux or panic about running in the heat.

It seemed like he had just hung up the phone when the fire fighters started walking up the driveway.  They recommended an EKG in an ambulance... while on my way to the ER.

"Okay."  I wasn't able to think much between stabs of sharp pain.  Just do whatever you need to in order to make this stop!

After the first few blood pressure readings and a 12 point EKG, I was instructed to chew some baby aspirin and dissolve nitro tablets under my tongue.  This is not the breakfast of champions and I do not recommend it.

On the way to the hospital and getting an iv bag placed on a bumpy road, I couldn't help but stare at my feet and think, "Well, crap!  There goes my long run."    
At the hospital I had another EKG and chest x-rays.  My nurse was a trooper to commiserate with me on how terrible it was to not get to go on a planned long run when on a tight training program.  She did however know that some runners might like to over do things a bit and not take well to being sidelined with an injury or illness.  "You already went 8 miles today.  IN AN AMBULANCE.  Why don't you take the day off."  

She had run 8 full marathons herself, but her favorite distance is half marathons and has done "too many to count".

Between tests and checking on her other patients, she told me bits about her marathons.  Victoria was her favorite , simply because the people were wonderful and her worst marathon was the Marine Corps Marathon.  With a slap stick sense of humor she relayed to me all the mishaps of the race... including the water stations running out of cups, so runners dipped their hands in the water barrel.  Eww.

After the tests and hanging out in my room on oxygen, the Doctor came in to let me know that it was what he anticipated all along.


That increasing, terrible pain with each breath?  Inflamed cartilage in my rib cage.  Seems that this was the after affects of a little virus I had last week.     

I still have a lot of research to do on this, but it seems that for some people it can also be brought on by stress, as well as viruses (such as something simple like a common cold).  Nice.

Still a bit sore 2 days after the ordeal, I've decided that I'm not going to give in to it.  I'm going to "listen" to my pain and not over do it, but I'm not going to just give in to the temptation that this is a perfect excuse to stop.
Stop training.  
Stop trying.  
Stop running.

No.  Stop listening to that negative voice in your head that thinks you can't do this.  You already have done it.  7 miles last Sunday.  6 the Sunday before.  What's one more mile this week?  So, after discussing the pain with the Doc, he said go out and run.

Monday morning I pushed that voice that tries to derail me away and laced up my shoes. And I did it.  I ran.  8 miles.  I'm ready to do it again.  And when I've woken up since then with that stabbing, sharp pain that makes it nearly impossible to breath?  I no longer have that impending sense of doom and know now that it's something funky with my cartilage attached to my breast bone.  
So weird.

What obstacles, physical or mental, do you have to hurdle over?  How do you overcome?  

Sunday, July 7, 2013

It takes a (running) community to get me on my feet

Who doesn't have a crazy life? It might be pretty peaceful and full of great people, fond memories and every other warm and fuzzy thought... but it can get crazy. How the heck to balance it all?

A general recap of last week would include hubby's birthday, a killer long run and planning a course for my local chapter's Moms RUN This Town virtual race. I'll leave out the recap on laundry and tough stains.  
The Mario and Princess figurines were not made of fondant, but that cute 1up mushroom is!
Starting out with something sweet, Bug-a-boo helped me whip up a cake for the guy who does it all.  With out hubby's unwavering support,  I can tell you I would have quit running by now.   So for his birthday, we whipped up a toasted butter pecan cake with cream cheese frosting and then covered with marshmallow fondant.  For my first cake with fondant, I was pretty happy with it... and it didn't taste icky (like typical fondant does).  [Recipes linked in the text above.]   

This week has had me reflecting a lot on my running and how I got here.  There's that proverb that "it takes a village" to raise a child, but it takes a village to make me a runner! 

Last Sunday, I left the house in the cool of the morning to get in a long run of 6 miles.  I hate out-and-back running and wore out looping the neighborhood, so it seemed like a good idea to leave squeakers (the baby) with hubby and hit the course with Bug-a-boo in the jogging stroller and meet up with them at the end of the 6 miles... have a little picnic, rehydrate and get a ride back home to the air conditioning.  Well... some plans are better in thought than in action. 

I left the house way later than I had hoped (around 9am) and the heat had already set in.  On top of that misery, I was just completely unprepared.  I had no idea hubby had packed snacks for me and Bug-a-boo in the bottom of the stroller and I had completely forgot to put sunblock on myself.  After 2 1/2 miles, I realized I planned my course to go by a friend's house.  I called her to "borrow" some sun block, a sweat towel and a refill on water...  stopping long enough to fuel up, it became apparent that I had better just call it quits.  I had the shakes, chills and was not thinking clearly.  I got three miles in and felt like I was cooking.  My back looks like it too! 

Stay hydrated people! 

Without a friend willing to help me out that day, I get nervous speculating if I could have gotten heat exhaustion or really compromised myself and my daughter out there. 

Lesson learned and I am so grateful for good friends... and that they live so close!

I picked up the remaining three miles that evening and then June left and July started!  With July, it had been my goal to run 13.1 miles in the month.  The WHOLE month to get that distance down.  That was my goal in April when I first learned of Moms RUN This Town and signed up for the virtual race.  After some encouragement from friends and a pretty good response to others wanting to do the virtual race with me, I started a local chapter.  Now it's time to start racing and logging miles for the virtual.   

I had some serious doubts in April about my stamina and if I could accomplish the 13.1 miles in time.  I wasn't sure I could handle more than a 5k once a week!  After reviewing training guides, I latched onto Hal Higdon and went for it.  So that I couldn't back out of the commitment, I signed up for a half this October ("Run Like Hell").  It will be the 10th anniversary of this race and it's the 2 year anniversary of my first race ever. (Which happens to be the 5k "Run Like Hell" in 2011.)  I'm pretty jazzed about it.  I try not to interject that "I'm running a half this October." into every conversation, blog post and facebook status update. 

Anyway....  I've been working on a course loop for my gals who signed up to do this with me, and with training in general... I completed my miles in 7 days!  This morning I finished up the final mile and hubs was there with the medal to reward my hard work.  Seriously, this guy needs a medal for being super dad and most supportive cheerleader. 

This morning a friend sent me an email saying simply "I need to know how you started running."  Already I've been wandering down nostalgia lane with my running shoes in tow, so it turned into a long email that I won't bore you with too.  Suffice it to say, I wouldn't be here without cheerleaders, awesome friends backing me up and running partners willing to slow their pace but challenge me to pick up mine.  It has been an emotional couple of weeks... discouragement from the heat, relief in friends and running mates, leaning on my wonderful husband and completely bewildered at how far I've come these last few months and my accomplishments with training. 

Thank you everyone.  I hope you all know who you are and that you have helped me tremendously. 

     Who or what is your running community?  What helps keep you going when things get tough?