Sunday, August 3, 2014

Day 363 of 365: Runner's Heart

So this will most likely be my very last post about running in this little project.


It seems fitting that one of my very last posts will be on the same topic as one of my very first posts. This time last year, I was training for my first very half marathon. Now, I'm trying to rehab up a strained tendon, hoping I have a knee that can fully function during distance running.

As I've mentioned before, usually my knee feels 100% normal. Unless I'm running for too long (or there's a sudden change in barometric pressure -- aka the, "Feels like rain" effect). I'm treating this summer as my at-home physical therapy, doing high-intensity cardio with stretching intervals to keep everything from tightening up. I've been slowly (incredibly slowly) upping the distance in my runs. Right now it's at a pathetic 2.5 miles -- not exactly where you want to be if you need to run an addition 10.6. But I am incredibly adamant about staying under 5k until the end of August. In September I plan on incrementally upping it up to 10k, and -- from there -- to 9. The goal is 9 miles by the end of September, and 11 - 12 miles the weekend before the race.

That doesn't seem like much time to train, especially given that I trained since April for my first one. But I compare to my husband's swimmer's heart: once upon a time, my husband was an incredible swimmer. He swam for his high school -- he even swam while in college for a tick. He hasn't swum much since, but it's very easy for him to get into a pool and outswim anyone else in the gym -- even against adults who have been swimming laps as a way of exercise since, well, college. He can get into that attitude very quickly because -- even though his body is no longer conditioned to swim at fast speeds to long periods of time -- he still has his swimmer's heart.

Before a freak yoga accident strained my tendon, I quickly got to 7 - 9 miles after my winter sabbatical. I attempted to start out slow, since I had no clue where I was in my abilities, only to find myself gliding through 5-milers like I was born to do it. In fact, the only thing really holding me back was the fact that my feet did not have time to slowly build up calluses, making blisters on the edges of my feet a very real possibility.

This might just be wishful thinking, but I can tell through my little runs that I still have that runner's heart. There's a part of me that gets into her stride around mile 2 and is actually a little disappointed when she caps the run a half-mile later. It's the part of me who dealt with the Ashland Half Marathon's Green St Monster -- a downright vertical hill at the 10-mile mark, aka their Heartbreak Hill -- without stopping to walk once. It's the part of me who got lost during a run and ended up doing a full half-marathon and then some.

And it's the part of me who understands just how important it is to complete the Boston Half Marathon, on so many different levels. As someone who isn't competing in the Chicago Marathon and as someone who is still affected in some way by the bombings. It's the part of me who is willing to go in undertrained and potentially reinjuring herself if it means crossing that finish line.

So I think my last post about running is ending on a note of hope. Hope that I can at least temporarily get back into the distance thing one more time. Running has played a huge part in my life for the last 3 or so years. I went from someone who was very self conscious of her "gazelle powers" (thanks, high school track coach!) to someone who takes great pride that she can run for so long that she has to eat in the middle of running. Especially at this stage in the game, injury is just an inevitability. But I think I'll be fine, so long as these injuries never really affect my runner's heart.

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