Wednesday, August 3, 2011

A glorious night!

What a glorious night it was...!

I was licking my wounds this week after I tried to run around Reservoir 6 with Charlotte Sunday morning.  The loop is a fairly flat 3.5ish miles.  We did the it in 32 minutes, but I was gimpy and sucking wind behind Charlotte the whole way.  My stride was painful and tentative and I was very much disheartened by the effort.  Charlotte ran about 10 paces in front of me most of the way which I found to be incredibly disheartening.  I guess I was moving pretty slow.  There was nothing I could do to close the gap.  I was in full afterburner mode at a 9 minute humbling.  I know she didn't mean to drive me into the ground as she was just doing her best to finish the run.  She was in survival mode as much as I was...just a bit faster.   Her stride looked so effortless and smooth from my vantage point though.  It was humbling for me, but I was also happy to be there.  It was only 10 months ago yesterday that I was in a helicopter on my way to the hospital and wondering if I would live to see this day.

It was a lesson for me though.  There was a time, not too long ago, where I would run out in front of people, and loop back from time to time to see how they were doing, chat a bit, and then open a gap again.  I thought I was running WITH them, but now I know that I was not running with them at all.  I understand it's hard to slow yourself down to run at someone else's pace, and there was a time when I felt I had to hammer the pace to meet my training objectives.  It was always a compromise between running socially vs. training to meet a race objective.  It's also really hard to run slow when you are used to running fast.  I learned a valuable lesson on Sunday.  I suspect most people won't have trouble keeping up with me for the foreseeable future, but I will definitely keep it in mind when the day comes...

Tonight was different.  I went out on the same course by myself.  I went at my pace, and my leg decided to cooperate a little better.  My stride felt good from the start, and the pain level seemed manageable.  I still felt a little off balance, but it was considerably better than my previous effort.  I was blazing along with a 1 minute advantage at the halfway point...woohoo!  My leg started getting tired, the pain was increasing, and my stride started going to hell, but I hung in there.  The wonderful thing about it is that I really felt like a runner again.  This wasn't a gimpy mile on a treadmill or at the track.  I was actually covering some distance without stopping, and my stride felt reasonably intact (albeit a little off kilter).  It was running as far as I was concerned!

I covered the 3.5 mile distance in 30 minutes.  A 2 minute improvement over my previous effort.  It honestly felt like I was going much faster, but it's a start.  I'm less concerned with the time than I am with my form and pain level....and both were much improved tonight.  I'm a happy guy with all things considered.

If you had told me I would be running at this level a few weeks ago, I don't think I would have believed it.  All the hiking on the vacation definitely helped, and even my walking has improved significantly.

Life is grand!  Ain't it?

So many days I doubted the ability to get it all back.  The gap was so large and I didn't see a path to get there.  I'd like to say it was sheer determination and faith that got me to this point, but there were days where I wondered if it was possible.  I often negotiated with God, the Universe, or whoever would listen.  "If I could just get back to "X"..."  You know how the story goes...

I know I'm not there yet, but I am starting to see the possibilities, and it excites me!  The light is starting to appear at the end of the tunnel.  Sure, I walk like a drunk in the morning without the shim in my shoe, but I can live with it if that's the only major issue.  So many people have experienced much worse.  I am very blessed!

Count your blessings and be thankful!  Keep the faith and stay the course!  That's what I keep telling myself!  Good things will happen...just be patient and persistent.

I am planning to get out to some of the local races soon.  It will be great to see some of my running friends again!   Maybe I'll be able to keep up with Char a little better on our next run too ;-)

As my RTB teammate, Rich, says, "May your feet dance across the pavement (or trails)!"



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