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Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Set Backs

It started off as a beautiful morning at the track...

I've always considered myself a 10-minute miler. That seems to be the pace that I've consistently run forever so when I set off on this half marathon adventure, I set a somewhat ambitious goal for myself - a 2-hour half marathon. Preferably sub-2 hours but I will take 2 hours on the dot. As I've been running over the past month, I've felt really strong. I've been running closer to a 9-minute mile pace pretty consistently and comfortably which has surprised me. At the same time, it has given me confidence that my goal wasn't totally out of reach and that I am capable of more than I often give myself credit for.

This week officially marks the start of my half marathon training. I can honestly say that I have been so excited to start training - challenging myself physically and mentally and really seeing where I am with my running. Enter today's speed work at the track. It was a fairly easy workout - running 4 times around the track (400 meters) with a warm-up and cool-down easy jog. My goal was to run each lap around 2-minutes.

I don't think that I've ever really done speed work at the track before. Maybe in high school? I wasn't sure how hard to run each repeat or how to pace myself. I went out too fast on my first 400 but adjusted my pace for the next two but still ran them hard. I was breathing hard and my chest burned a little. I knew that if I wanted to run faster, i would have to run my workouts as they were intended. Speed workouts = run fast.

On my last 400, about a quarter of the way into it, I felt my right knee pop or click. The only way that I can describe it is that it felt like I cracked my knee like how it feels when you crack your fingers. I took a few more steps but had to stop immediately. I couldn't put any weight on my right leg. I started limping my way across the field and called my husband to pick me up.

As I sat there waiting for him, a huge amount of frustration and anger swelled up in me (and is still sitting in the pit of my stomach) and tears were building up behind my eyes. I couldn't believe that I was going to start crying about this. I was being smart about my training, building my mileage slowly and strengthening my legs and core along the way. But it's the same knee that I had repaired about 14 years ago (ACL and medial meniscus tear) and I know my knee well enough to know that it doesn't feel right. Aside from not being able to bear weight, my side-to-side stabilization feels off. My head immediately filled with worst case scenarios - that I re-tore something and that I will have to have surgery or my knee scoped which will mean that I can't run and I can't train and that I will have to pull out of the half marathon in April. And what would it mean for surfing down the line? I also might have sent off some freak-out texts to my sister (an Orthopaedist) and my Orthopaedist for re-assurance.

I know that it's not the end of the world. There are many bigger problems and issues that I/family/friends could be facing. But I think that it's the fact that since I've rediscovered running, I've felt really happy and strong and confident and purposeful. Weird and silly, I know. I don't know why running necessarily gave me that but now that I'm facing the possibility that I might not be able to run (or do anything active for a while), I'm freaking out. I'm scared of losing that happy, strong, confident, purposeful feeling. My workouts and runs are a big part of who I am and what I do. I don't feel complete without them. It's my time to focus on making myself healthy and strong and provides much needed head space during my day.

I'm trying really really hard to think positively since this happened all of an hour or two ago. After all, it may very well just be a small set back. And set backs are good sometimes, right? They help us refocus and reprioritize and re-energize. I'm icing my knee, taking some anti-inflamatories, elevating it and going to wait to see how it feels.

BTW - I was rocking my 400 repeats:  1.33.85, 1.39.8, and 1.40.51.

How do you deal with set-backs? Injuries? I'd love to hear your thoughts, advice and reassurance!

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