Sunday, October 23, 2011

I ain't down yet

The goal today? 10 miles.

The fear? That today would be the day I'd realize my dream of doing this half marathon was over.

The result? Procrastination getting ready for my run, irritation when I started my warmup and was stopped twice by people asking for directions, frustation when, at the start of the first jog, my hip screamed for me to stop and, frustration again, when minutes later I really had to stop to wait for the light-rail train to go by.

All followed by elation when, three hours later, I returned to my apartment having completed 11 miles.

My hip did continue to bother me the first half of the run, but it was a beautiful, cool, blue-sky day and I thought back to the beginning weeks of my training when I would rather walk the distance than do nothing at all. So I took it mile by mile. About halfway through I got the idea to add one more mile to my total - just in case. The thought was, if this run really hurt me and I was out of training for the next week or two or three, at least I'd have gotten up to 11.

I ran/walked the first 9.5 miles, then pretty much walked the rest. When I got home, I immediately took two Aleve, stretched, took a shower, and then napped on a heating pad. All precautionary measures. When I woke up, unbelievably, nothing really hurt.

My back hurt some during the last few miles, but thankfully, it was more my upper-to-middle back and not my lower back. Which means, I think, it was more of a muscular issue rather than a disc issue.

Now the only thing I'm really nursing is a headache, and a bit of a sore throat, and if that wasn't the case, I'd shout from my rooftop how happy I am to have accomplished this today. Yes, I am not in great shape for this race, but I'm also not out of it just yet. I can't tell you how happy that makes me.

I thank you all for your prayers and support. I know that that's making all the difference in the world.

Fundraising update: I'm $109 away from my $3,000 goal for the Wounded Warrior Project! Want to help me get there? I'm still taking donations for the next three weeks, in person or on the website: And a side note: If you donated to me more than a month ago and haven't gotten a personal thank-you note from me, please let me know. Based on previous mistakes, I'm a little worried my mail carrier has been putting some of my mail in the wrong box. With the exception of donations I've received since Oct. 8, the thank-yous have gone out.

And, believe me: I am truly, truly thankful. Out of 150 letters I mailed out, I have received 60-plus donations, more than I ever imagined possible. You all have warmed my heart with your generosity.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Crying uncle (and, well, crying)

I never thought I'd get to the point where I threw up my hands and admitted defeat. But it may be time to do just that.

Last week's vacation was lovely. I was able to travel and hike mostly without pain. On Saturday, upon return, I ran the Susan G. Komen 5K. As I took my first step running, I realized my right hip was acting very strange. It took effort to pick up my leg to run. As the run progressed, the pain subsided, but as soon as I took a small walk break and then resumed running, it returned. Since then, I've found it hard to do just about everything, including walk.

On Monday, I bent over to dry my hair, and a sharp pain - like a small knife being jabbed in my lower back - hit me hard. My physical therapist on Tuesday discovered it's not muscular (like all my other problems). It's very likely a disc issue. And that's not fixable.

And I still have the IT band pain.

So to sum up: Pain in the left knee area, lower back and right hip. I'm one hot mess.

My physical therapist (yes, the one I love for supporting my running) threw me for a loop this week when he suggested that, after the half marathon, I stop long-distance running. He said my body may not be cut out for it. That I should stick with small distances.

Embarrassingly, I started to cry as he spoke. I didn't want to hear what he was saying. I had decided that I would take a running break after next month - to hopefully reset my body and help the various parts heal - and I thought that was what he, too, was going to suggest. Not to stop long distances for good.

It's what many people have told me over the years, but I've ignored them because long-distance running makes me happy. It's the only thing I find joy in, where I feel proud of myself. I never thought when I was 317 pounds that I would one day run half marathons. And that I would love it. But I do.

Beyond that heartbreak lies something worse: I'm beginning to realize that this half marathon (now 20-some days away) may be impossible. I haven't run long for more than two weeks. I haven't run at all - with the exception of the 5K, which despite my pain was a good race - for more than two weeks. Today, while crossing a busy road on my way to work, I did a small jog. It hurt so much, I practically had to peg-leg myself across the road.

I keep telling people that despite the various injuries, I am not ready to give up, that I'm still determined to run this for Chris, that I have fundraised with the promise that I was going to run the half. I'm less than $400 away from my goal of $3,000 for the Wounded Warrior Project. Yet I'm so far from where I need to be in my training.

I still have it in my head that I'm going to attempt 10 miles on Sunday, but at the moment, as I sit at my desk feeling that knife-pain in my back, I don't know how that's going to be possible. Or the 11 miles the following week. Or the 13.1 miles two weeks after that.

Every night I pray that I heal, that I can run without pain, that I can run this race. But every day I am faced with a new problem. I am willing to work hard. But it appears there is only so much I can do.

I'm still hoping for a miracle. That may be what it takes.

Friday, October 7, 2011

A wee update

I'm taking a week off for a little vacation, so I won't be back blogging till next Sunday. So I just wanted to update you on my status.

It's still lousy.

I endured many, many painful injections on Tuesday with the hope they would make my back and IT band feel better. But both still hurt, and as I squatted to look at some books on the bottom shelf earlier today, the IT band really hurt. So I don't know where that leaves me. I plan on trying to hike next week, but I realize I need to be careful, with both my leg and my back.

When I return, I'll try my darndest to pick the training back up. My physical therapist is very hopeful I can still do the half marathon. He knows how much it means to me and how I'd regret it if I didn't try. His thought: Start it and if you have to drop out, at least you can say you tried. Have I mentioned how much I love my physical therapist?

On the fundraising front, we're nearing $2,000 raised. I hope that in the last month I can push to get that last $1,000, but either way, I'm so grateful for those who have already given and those who now know what a great man Chris was.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

For better, or worse?

Well, I remained conflicted all morning about what to do regarding my run. Do I try? Do I wait? Do I just do a few miles? Do I try for 10? Etc.

A few circumstances went into my final decision: 1. I had expected to be working all day, but I was all caught up. 2. It was a beautiful, cool day. 3. I wasn't in terrible pain. 4. I'm supposed to vacation to the N.C. mountains next week, which means no long run next Sunday.

So I laced up the shoes, said a prayer and went outside.

It immediately began raining, but I didn't mind. "Don't mind the rain, just don't want the pain," I thought to myself.

As I started my run/walk, I made sure to pay attention to my posture during each run portion to make sure I wasn't hunching (b/c maybe that's causing the pain?). Then I got worried I was trying so hard to run upright that I was tensing up, which could also easily cause pain. So I concentrated on being loose, relaxed and straight. By three miles, I felt just fine. By five miles, I started to feel some back discomfort. I decided at that point to just do six miles, just to be safe. But then, as I neared six, I decided that, at the very least, I wanted my legs to cover at least what I did last week. So after my six-mile run/walk, I walked three more miles, very slowly. It was a beautiful day (the rain didn't last more than five minutes), so I didn't mind the extra time it took.

My IT band, at the moment, feels just fine, though there were some twinges during the run so I immediately iced and took some Aleve when I got back. My back is a bit sore, but I have a heating pad on it. It doesn't feel as bad as last week. I am glad I was able to do nine miles, even though technically it was only six on target time-wise. I feel better about taking next week off knowing I got those miles in.

The big question mark now is, will I ever be able to run more than six miles without back pain? I sense that it starts to hurt when my legs get tired. Perhaps it tries to overcompensate. Perhaps I'm hunching and don't even realize it. Or maybe it's just weak hips. I don't know. Hopefully my physical therapist will have some insight on Tuesday.

So I don't know if what I did today was good for me or bad for me. I'm just hoping I didn't do any further damage.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Good news, bad news, Part 2

I had been feeling so good for most of September, so this latest setback is somewhat bringing me down. Week Five of training was an Epic Fail, though I did complete 9 miles on Sunday. Still, those 9 miles resulted in this new pain that has derailed my momentum, so I don't really consider this week a success on any level (training-wise).

Where this week was a success was in the fundraising. I thought that first day of 10 envelopes in the mailbox was just a fluke, but each subsequent day has brought five, two, five more. And, in honor of Chris, I'm up to more than $1,500 raised - halfway to my goal. That is a huge source of pride. My friends and family (and eye doctor!) have been so generous and supportive.

Which is where the bit of guilt comes into play. They're helping me with the fundraising, and I want to fulfill my end of the bargain - getting out there and training and running that half marathon. So as I sit here on the couch (though working, not eating bonbons and watching TV), I feel a lot of guilt and sadness for not continuing that streak in my training. My head knows it's the right thing to do to not hurt myself even more, but my heart is heavy and sad.

I would like to try to run tomorrow, but I'm facing this inward battle of "Do I just run 3 miles to try it out? 2 miles? Or do I do what the schedule says and try 10? Will that make me hurt more? Will I feel worse if I don't try? Should I just get out there and see how it goes? Do I hold out longer till after physical therapy on Tuesday? Am I really feeling pain in my knee and back or is just my brain thinking I am feeling something that's not really there?"

This race is very, very important to me. Many people who care about my health keep trying to persuade me to switch to the 5K. But there's something about this half marathon that is special - and I need to feel like I've given it my all. The race is six weeks away, and I need those six training weeks, or at least five of them. But I also want to show up to that starting line in good health and spirit.

Taking it day by day. I may be down in spirit right now, but I haven't lost my determination.