Tuesday, September 27, 2011

When Life Gives You Lemons, Why Not Kill Someone With Lemons?

I didn't kill anyone with lemons this weekend but I kind of wanted to.

Last week I blogged about my follow-up visit to the podiatrist, & how he was not pleased with my progress re: the MTSS from hell. The next step was custom orthotics (a preventive, potentially permanent solution) and air casts (a hopefully temporary way to stabilize my lower legs & let the existing damage heal in the immediate future). I was not excited about these options because they seemed rather Bionic Woman-ish. Not to mention pricey as hell.

But the more I continued to run & put up with the pain and worry about stress fractures & get all anxious about my CIM fee going to waste, the more I started to feel like I didn't really have a choice. If I were running 30 casual miles a week, that would be one thing. Building mileage I haven't even been close to for nearly a year for a marathon is something else. Finally I decided it was stupid to risk it & pulled the trigger.

I'll be fitted this Thursday for the orthotics. The air casts arrived last Friday; I had a HMP run scheduled for Saturday at the track so I decided to take them for a spin.

air casts 1

air casts 2

air casts 3

Dead seckseh, no? Try not to be too jealous.

I should've seen the shittiness coming when I arrived at the track and found it closed due to what looked like an elementary school field day of some sort. (Truly, I don't begrudge kids opportunities to be active. At all. But I have never once seen the track closed for an even that actually made use of the track. That's actually what makes me bitter.) So, with a sigh of resignation, me & my bitter bionic shins schlepped up to the concrete track at the top of the bleachers & started our bitter three-mile warm-up jog.

Which didn't last very long. It turns out that running in air casts is excruciatingly painful. The best way I can describe the sensation is like running with the back part of each foot in a vice grip. (On top of this, the rigidity of the casts also makes it almost impossible to plantarflex your foot, which almost forces you to land flat-footed. I could hear myself going smack-smack-smack all the way around the concrete track. Definitely not cute.)

I made it about a mile before I stopped to see if I could adjust them in some way, but nothing worked. On top of this, I was having a really, really hard time effort-wise; running a nine-minute mile was taking way too much out of me and I couldn't for the life of me imagine how I was going to bust out a bunch of 7:37's once my warm up was done. (Sound familiar much?)

Basically, I think the upper concrete track is cursed. That's really the most obvious explanation by far.

At about 1.5 miles I stopped again, seething. I ripped the casts off and threw them into my bag, pissed as hell at elementary school kids, soccer players, the city's complete inability to post any kind of consistent schedule for the track, the clearly incompetent designers of air casts, the stupid backstretch headwind, and my stupid legs for their inability to just work.

At that point, I was ready to pack it in. (Just for clarity, this was the lemony part where I wanted to kill people, and if I had maybe had a bucket of lemons and a better arm it might have gone very badly for those little kids on the infield.)

(I am joking so please don't send me hate mail about menacing small children.)

In the end, though, no one was harmed. I sat in the bleachers for a bit, massaging my feet (it really took several minutes for them to feel normal again) & trying to decide what to do next. The weather was getting nasty and I had a finite amount of time. It would've been pretty darn easy to toss my bag in the trunk and just drive back home at that point, but instead I found myself ruminating on the words of Newark Mayor Cory Booker:

"You cannot let your inability to do everything undermine your determination to do something."

These are awesome words purely because of how widely applicable they can be. I can't remember when or where I first heard them, but I've come back to them over and over again in running, in my professional life, in my personal life, you name it. When things suck and you realize you just aren't going to be able to do what you planned or what you want to do or wish you could, it's easy let your emotions run away with you and throw your hands up. Why bother.

It's important to remember, though, that great things are often just a series of small things brought together. Don't fool yourself into imagining that the small things are irrelevant, just because they're small.

Okay, I sighed to myself, I'm not going to wear the air casts and I'm not going to try to do a HMP run today. What can I do, then?

I had an easy ten miler scheduled for the next day. I decided I could do that. I'd already run 1.5 miles, so I made a deal with myself that if I could just get myself mentally through 8.5 more easy miles, that would be good enough.

So I did. Well; sort of. The rebellious part of me did kind of go, "Eff target paces. You're lucky my ass isn't in the car on the way back home right now. I'm running at whatever the hell pace I feel like. Deal with it."

So I did. Suddenly, a few miles in, I looked down at my Garmin and realized I was running faster than marathon pace, and that it felt pretty easy. It seemed to be working for me, so I kept doing it. When I hit a few uphill stretches, I was careful not to run too hard; even if I couldn't really call this pace "easy," I still wanted to finish my ten miles strong and without breathing hard. In the end, that's what I did. My average pace ended up being about ten seconds slower than marathon pace, but it felt MUCH more than ten seconds per mile easier. Bizarre, considering how those Thursday MP runs have been the bane of my existence lately.

cory bookerWhat was I saying?

Right. Lemons. And Cory Booker. And small things.

Sometimes "perfect" is the enemy of "good" and sometimes "good" is the enemy of "done." Likewise sometimes nice, neat, meticulously-planned training plans can be the enemy of good, solid running. And sometimes good, solid running is the enemy of any running at all.

Cory Booker sez, "Git 'er done, bitch!"

And sometimes doing whatever you can, however you can surprises you with a great run.

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