Friday, June 23, 2017

Reflections on Completing 1st Post-Brain Surgery Marathon

I did it! I did my first marathon post brain surgery, second marathon in my lifetime. With any endurance race, friends and fellow runners always ask, “when’s the next one?” Simple truth is: I don’t know. Marathon running takes a heck a lot out of you. You have to sacrifice time with friends. You have to build in time to sleep. And, learning what macro nutrients are ideal for this kind of mileage is like having a full-time job. Then there is the injury. Some can make it through a marathon without injury. I could not.

I did the best I could with the unique training schedule that was a result of working 60-70 hours a week during the first 8 weeks of my training when I should have been working 40 and laying a strong foundation. Fortunately, these hours as a project manager overseeing a 70 person company move and the completion of a new building also meant I was often walking 5-7 miles daily. Still, I could not escape injury.

When running a marathon, you constantly have to check in with your body. Is that a pebble in my shoe? Am I engaging my abs? Are my muscles tired or did I injure something? Unlike my first marathon, I don’t feel like I hit the wall… or if I did I just knew I had to keep going because you can’t stop running a marathon just because you’re tired.

At mile 17 my hamstrings started burning. There was a short line to get your legs sprayed down with something icy. I pulled over. Man, did it feel good. From mile 17 to 26.2 there were two more stops, three sprays in all. I probably could have skipped the last two, but mentally, it helped keep me going.

What I didn't realize during the race was that I hurt my left hip. When the hot walker (so named for their job and not for looks) collected me after I got my medal and took me around to gather food and gear check, I was sore. Legs, abs, arms all ached. These types of discomfort are expected after you run 26.2 miles. I kept walking. Found my family. Found my friends. I was stiff. Kept stretching. I couldn’t make my left hip feel okay. The next day, I had the same problem. Where the femur joins the ball socket of my hip felt bruised. An ultra marathoner friend told me to stretch, foam roll, and worst of all— take two weeks off— From everything! No running. No dancing. Not even weight lifting. I was only permitted to do slow short walks.  This was maddening. I knew I would go stir crazy.

And, while I was encouraged to be inactive, there was a convergence of life experiences that accelerated weight gain. 

I met someone.

While training, I joined a dating site.  On January 24, I was matched with a wordsmith. Because of the training and sleep regimen I was holding myself to, I told him we’d have to wait until March 20th for a date. He was okay with waiting. Even though we only had text conversations, the cadence of speech, grammar and punctuation of Mr. January 24 was something to behold for this Writing Major’s heart. I wanted to give him Saturday, March 25.

Two weeks after our first date I did a four-mile run while Mr. January worked out with his trainer. We had a couple more dates like this, I do a short distance while he works out. I felt so good each time my foot fell on the dirt track and my arms pumped to give myself more speed.

And then somewhere in there, I got out of the habit of running.

We’d go out to eat. I stay up too late to hit the gym early in the morning. It was a perfect storm to create disgrace and self-loathing.

Injury = take a break from training (of any kind)
No race on the books = complacency 
Dating = happy love weight 

It was a trifecta that gnaws at your stomach and whispers in your ear, "you're going to be fat and slow forever." I have been annoyed, every time I get 8 pounds away from my ideal weight, my body holds steady, adjusts and then I gain the weight back. 

I signed up for the Pasadena half marathon in January 2018. I put a new training schedule on my fridge. Friends started to remind me about a fall race I said I wanted to do. I rejoined BodySpace. And while I was making these small but important Modifications, I called my gym to cancel my personal trainer... I had passed the year contract commitment. I could cancel, but I would have thirty days to use my training sessions I had in my cache. I had 57 30 min sessions. And, we decided twice a week to reduce these quickly. I asked for an hour each time to reduce my girth. Done. Now, I have to be at the gym at least twice.

The first training session with new trainer was rough but manageable. For my second encounter, I decided to do thirty minutes of running intervals first. I was quite sure I was going to collapse with the kettle bell side lunges or dumbbell step ups. I managed to eke out the workout.

I talked to him about appropriate weight. If I want to build muscle, if 12 reps is too easy, I need a heavier weight. (If we're being honest, I don't want to be too bulky, but I like it when I have more definition... More weight it is!)

I took a rest day; reset my BodySpace calendar restart at an appropriate level. I figure this is the plan I started with. Build the muscles, get used to waking up early, and get used to getting ready at gym. Then, I'll let myself start on the women's 20-39 max weight loss.

I didn't pay close enough attention- today was supposed to be a rest day. I skipped the rest and went for upper body.

I feel great. Feel like it's not hopeless. I also remember that after you have a certain level of fitness, if/when you take time off it feels like you're starting from zero. It feels like zero every time, but your body knows what to do. It's not zero and getting back into desired shape is not impossible. 

Sunday, March 19, 2017

A Quick Post Recap ... More to come

Ran my second marathon today... Great weather! I've been working like crazy... 60-70 hr weeks when I needed to lay a strong foundation. (Fortunately, I was also walking 4-5 daily at work!) Work tapered to 50 hr weeks. Was hoping to do a sub 7 hr race. Ended up finishing in 5:58:14 (only 10 min off my PR)!

Ran with my old running buddy for first 8 miles or so, which included running past my secondary oncologist's old office and my first apartment... Found parents at mile 12 and found another fried & his 8-year-old daughter on Sunset Strip... Hammies started hurting around 15 and got sprayed down with Icy Hot... Wicked Side cramp at 24, but overall emotionally easiest run ever had.

Thank you all for the cheers and prayers!

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Last Push Before Marathon

Last long run before LA Marathon. Encountered Pasadena reverse Tri and this fabulous pine cone.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Always special when friends call you out.... On those days just when you can't push anymore, without saying you need encouragement, they are there reminding you how far you've come and what you're capable of....