Sunday, April 12, 2009

Highs and Lows

Last Sunday I had the race of my life. Today, I spent Easter downing Advil and taking an ice bath.

A lot happened in between.

Let me back up. Last Sunday I had a goofy grin on my face for most of the day, feeling quite pleased with myself. After five months, I had conquered that nasty winter without the use of a treadmill, a left Achilles injury, a right hamstring injury, a nutrition makeover, and more mileage than I had ever run in my life.

Earlier that morning when I stepped to the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler starting line on a stunning spring day in Washington, DC, I had absolutely no idea what I could do. I just didn’t know where I stood.

Relaxed, calm, and totally controlled, I found out 1:12:57 later: a personal best time of almost 5 minutes. No worse for the ware, no “I’m going to die” moments, no twinges of pain, no post-race soreness—I had clearly made it to spring in the shape of my life.

No matter what you’ve put your time and effort toward, those are the days you dream of—when it all pays off and everything finally comes together better than you could’ve predicted. It’s like you’ve been working on one of those 10,000-piece puzzles for five months and then finally figure out how to finish it in five-minute’s time. And that was just how I wanted to feel heading into Boston just eight days from now.

With a plan to do some last sharpening workouts and head into a 10-day taper before the marathon, I was eager to take my rush of confidence and get back to business.
And then it snowed again. Seriously. After a couple of minutes filled with words I can’t type (my mom reads this blog, you know)…in a déjà-vu moment, my track workout was rescheduled for later in the week and I settled for doing a couple of easy runs in the winter gear I thought I was finished wearing for a while.

But not more than 24-hours after the last snowflake hit the ground, spring was back, it was 60 lovely degrees, and I was headed to the local high school track for one last chance to remind my legs that they can go fast. On deck, after a 20 minute warm-up: Just 5x1000 with 200 meter recovery between each, with permission to kill the last two faster than the previous three, if I had it in me.

I hit the first two right on target. I was feeling sluggish and my legs were kind of tight, but no acute pain, so I went for the third. As I rounded the curve a neared the 800-meter mark, I was abruptly stopped by that familiar searing, shooting pain in the hamstring. Sadly, it was not the previously troublesome right hamstring. No, apparently my left one also wanted to have its very own pity party.

First I denied it and tried to jog it out. That didn’t work. I stretched lightly. That didn’t work. Reluctantly, I headed home, trying to make the responsible decision in the final days before the marathon. Plus, I was convinced that it was nothing more than a little twinge that would go away in a day after some rest.

It’s been four days now and there’s still significant pain. A test run yesterday resulted in a 2-mile shuffle that hurt from start to finish. So I’m pulling out all the stops. Bring on the Advil. Bring on the ice baths. Bring on the miracle cure. I’ve got eight days to kick this thing and get myself to Hopkinton in one piece. Thankfully, though my tendons may have other plans, I am still confident that it’ll all come together just as it should. I refuse to believe the ending to this story is anything but happy.

But after I cross the finish line in Boston, I’m totally shopping for new hamstrings.


ramster said...

I'll take the old ones when you're done with them.

Strouter said...

Ha! Tom, you deserve much better than that!!! :)

Nancy S. said...

C'mon, hammies!!! You CAN do this!!! Give the girl a break, will ya?! She needs you (both)!