Friday, April 20, 2012

Playing a Crappy Hand

Coming off my longest and most rewarding race back in February and straight into a significant injury has been an exercise in patience. A difficult one. Rocky Raccoon is memorable for many reasons, not the least was being able to share it with family and friends. I began running again this week, one mile at a time. Think about it. I was getting 60 miles a week and now I'm capped off at one measly mile. Breathe... and play the crappy hand. 
Two weeks on crutches followed by two additional weeks of no unnecessary walking. Then a couple of weeks of stationary cycling before I could get on an actual bike. Getting out on the road reminded me how much I love the rhythm of cycling. For me there is something magical about the fluidity of man and a simple piece of machinery. Being able to cover so much ground and explore some new routes. I even had a chance to learn about the latest cycling trends after the rear hub on my trusty ol' Giant Cadex was shredded. There are fixies and single gears and 29ers. I have to thank G-Unit (Jeff Genova) for allowing me to use his other wordly tri-bike for a couple of weeks. Sweet ride but I discovered that tri-bikes are twitchy as hell. Currently I have another bike from another buddy (David Newman) to roll with. A nice old school cool Kestrel. Thanks guys. 
The problem, for me, with cycling is that it takes so long to get a good workout done. I don't have 3 hours everyday to spend riding the back roads around here. So I took to doing regular speed work if that is possible on a bike. I challenged myself to ride the course for the local half marathon as fast as possible. The first attempt was 52 minutes. Last week I did it in just under 42 minutes. I guess that's progress. It did occur to me that I should keep cycling in my training routine. If I can manage a hall pass I have my eye on a cyclo-cross bike, perfect for what I need a bike to do.
And I've been walking too. Walking for a workout is serious. I'm not talking a stroll through the woods. What I'm talking about is walking hard enough to sweat and get the pulse rate up. The first few goes at it were something like 15 minutes miles on paved surfaces. I wanted to see how fast I could walk. I tried big steps and quick little strides. I found out if I used my arms and hips I could move pretty good. Yesterday I managed to power out the final mile, up Crystal Bridges, at 13:53 pace. And let me tell you, after a good walk I have been sore in places I have never been sore before. Those climbs at Athens Big Fork should be a piece of cake next January if I keep practicing the power walk. The secret? Walk angry. 
I had to back out of some events that I was anxiously looking forward to being a part of. The Bentonville Running Festival and the Ouachita Trail 50. And I will also have to really lay off the throttle for the events in the near future. I won't be racing, I'll just be out moving and enjoying the atmosphere with friends. The upside of this is the chance I had to volunteer and give back. The Bentonville Half was fun. Dick Beardsley gave an inspiring presentation at the expo and I was asked to drive the pace car the next morning. A brand new Chevy Camaro. Convertible. Last weekend it was the Hogeye Marathon with the Rush Running gang at the mile 21 aid station. The wind blew, it rained, there was lightning, guys in bikini tops, some dork in a fire helmet and beer. Lots of beer. And music and hot dogs and good friends. Two runners even had enough crazy to do keg stands with 5 miles left to go in the race. 
And there has been the 3rd grade Girls on the Run group I have been helping out with at a local elementary school. Their goal is a 5k race next month. Yesterday was the first time I have been able to run with them. Jog 5 minutes and walk 2 was the plan for the day. They did great. There are a couple of girls that can run pretty good for 9 years of age. None of the teacher/coaches can keep up with them so I was asked to go with them on race day. Sounds good to me. 
Over the course of the last several weeks I have received calls and messages from a number of running buddies asking about my recovery. That's cool. And that's what I miss the most. Apparently those social connections made putting miles under the feet don't break so easily. That's a good thing. A friend asked me yesterday if Rocky Raccoon was worth it? Would I give up my first 50 mile race if it meant I didn't get the stress fracture. As much as it meant to see all that hard work come to fruition and to surprise myself at the result the answer was quick. Hell yes I would give up the 50. Being out of the game for weeks sucks. Or does it? You can belly ache about the crappy cards you're holding or you can make the best of the hand you got dealt. I pick the later. And I have some new tools in the bag to use once I'm back in the game. 
So if you're up for a 1.5 mile this weekend to celebrate Earth Day give me a holler. Anyone? Hello...

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