You know what that sound is? It’s me hitting the wall. And not the cool “Game of Thrones” wall where the Watch is on duty and I might get to chase after Jon Snow, but the one that hurts a lot more: the training wall.
Theeeeere it is. The moment where any sort of productive training stops, everything feels like death and you are definitely regressing not PROgressing.
I hit it face first this time. I actually didn’t see it coming which makes it all the more frustrating. But there it is…
The lack of progress, the backwards slide, the wrenching frustration that comes with just not being able to feel GOOD about any of the training sessions.
Mine hit right after the half marathon a month ago. That race was fan-fricken-tastic. I mean, yeah, the IT band hurt and, yeah, I hobbled through the last two kilometers while seriously considering just sitting down and asking someone to drag me, but I finished in my goal time so that makes it fan-fricken-tastic. And then it all fell apart.
I have fallen spectacularly from grace. THUD!! From 13.1 in under 2 hours to not being able to get through 5k without stopping repeatedly to die a little. Now, I am accustomed to the first few runs after I move to the lake sucking. I am a prairie girl who runs on the flat flat flat and then I end up in the Canadian Shield trying to make my body heave itself up steep hills, or the long, drawn-out hill that I affectionately call “the hill from hell” because, while it doesn’t seem so steep, it just keeps going forever…and ever…and ever…
This year, however, my body seems to be refusing to adjust. Even when I went to my other family cottage in Riding Mountain National Park, which has less challenging hills, my body just says “nope!” Most years, after a week or so of hauling my sorry ass up the hills (and believe me, half way up those hills, it is VERY sorry), I can get the groove going. This year however, the theme of each run is “THUD…ugh….wall”. Today, I decided to mix it up with some sprints, so with 30 second sprints at 1 min/km faster(minimum) than I usually run, hitting the wall made a little more sense– I mean, sprinting uphill is two horrible things combined– but it wasn’t during the sprints where I started to fall apart, it was the cool down. Go figure.
How much is mental? How much is physical? Is one better than the other? I mean, I’m kind of pulling for the mental because then it’s all in my head, not that I am entirely sure how to fix it. And, if it’s physical, how on earth did I crash and burn so quickly??
Either way… I need a solution and quickly because that “THUD” is really starting to hurt! Plus, I have two Sprints coming up a week apart and if I don’t get my butt in gear (hahaha) they are not going to go well!
I mean– I’m stuck. For the last few years my world has happily involved running and for the last two triathlon training has reigned.
I’m finding though- that my motivation is failing. Perhaps it was the serious illness that derailed it– I’ve never been able to get back on track since– perhaps it’s something else. I don’t know.
What I know is this:
I fell in love with running. Then I fell in love with being a tri-girl. Last year, my half marathon goal was front and centre. My body was a machine. I craved the endorphins of a good run, cycle or swim.
And now I’m lost.
My body is not the same. I don’t feel like a “machine”. My mind feels weak. Vestibular Neuronitis derailed me and I just can’t find the passion. I WANT to do my best, I want to compete and keep bettering my times but I’m struggling to move forward. My half marathon is approaching and I can’t get one foot in front of the other.
I would love to hear your suggestions. Perhaps to talk.
I got sick in October. It’s now almost Christmas and I’m still dealing with the effects. What a struggle it is to try to get back on track. I still have bad days with the vertigo and the other things that came along with the virus (the confusion, anxiety and depression) still linger at times.
For the first little while, all I wanted to do was run and cycle and I was so frustrated that my body wouldn’t allow me to be successful doing it. I tried and found some successes but the frustration eventually took over. I moved on to some strength training because it didn’t increase the dizziness as much but the truth is – my energy and motivation are gone. I WANT to get back on track but the energy it takes to train seems to be more than I have. So, I stick to short strength workouts a couple times a week.
I get so frustrated with myself that I’m not training properly and then that frustration leads to a sense of defeat. When the defeat kicks in, I am unmotivated to train. And then I become frustrated with myself for not training properly. What a lovely cycle. When I do train, runs and cycle sessions are usually met with step backwards – less speed and endurance or increased dizziness. I went from running a half marathon and getting ready to set a 10k PB to finding 5k a struggle. It’s heartbreaking and I’m not used to failure.
We have a big trip coming up over Christmas and I was looking forward to going for a run in each place we stopped – Kansas City, Memphis, New Orleans and Galveston- before taking my run to the cruise ship decks but I fear my goal with go unachieved. Perhaps the ability to run outside without snow might create a little motivation when we get on the road but for now, it seems a challenge. I’m not usually one to walk away from challenge but this illness seems to be kicking my butt.
I wonder how others with this illness get back on track. At this point, even though I have done it, I’m afraid to run. It honestly scares me. What if I fall over? What if I can’t do what I think I should? What if…
And it failed me in ways I couldn’t even have imagined. It wasn’t an injury that took me down, it was my health. The day of my last planned 10k race of the season I was hospitalized and never got to run. It has been a frustrating and awful few weeks. I’m recovering now…I’m getting there but I’ve been afraid to really talk about it for a few reasons. One is that there is this ridiculous idea that we are supposed to suffer in silence. And I ascribed to that for a while…but finally the silence makes the struggle worse and about two days after I admitted to struggling, I started to really improve. The other is the accusations by a very select few that I was exaggerating or faking my illness, or that it was only a matter of over training and my body was just tired. None of which are true.
It was the most terrifying morning of my life.
I thought I was dying. I couldn’t stand or walk. I couldn’t get to the bathroom on my own. And it was the difference of an hour. At 4 am I woke up thinking I was late for my race and was fine. I went back to sleep and woke up and hour later and everything had changed. I woke my husband for help. He had to lift me, carry me, dress me. I was helpless. I was unable to open my eyes because I would be instantly sick. I couldn’t get myself off the floor.
At the hospital, every examination the doctors wanted to do made me ill. I couldn’t move or open my eyes. IV drips of Gravol didn’t stop the spinning or the nausea for a while. I couldn’t believe what was happening. I had gone from being strong and ready to set a personal best in the 10k race to having to be lifted out of bed and helped in the bathroom. I was humiliated and scared. It was beyond what I thought I could handle. I felt weaker physically and emotionally than I ever had. The diagnosis: likely a nasty and ugly viral infection.
By the next day I could sit up some but I couldn’t be left to move on my own. Nurses or my husband monitored me as I shuffled my feet along the floor, staring down at the ground because it was the one thing that didn’t move on me. They moved me to a ward where I was the youngest by over 30 years. The woman next to me would scream all night in Italian (which now has an element of hilarity) and I still couldn’t do anything on my own. Out of stubbornness I would try only to get scolded. I wanted to go home.
In my head- home was the golden ticket to recovery. I would get home and all would be well. And then I got home. And I didn’t get better. I was still too dizzy to do much.
I was miserable. So miserable, in fact, that I went back to work sooner than I should have. I tried to go back to dance classes, and cycling on my trainer. I was still dizzy and my brain was fuzzy. I just wanted so badly to be “normal” again. I managed but not as well as I’d like to think. I was afraid to admit that I was struggling because I didn’t want anyone to think I was weak, or lying. There had been select accusations that I was faking. It was crushing. I needed help but was scared to ask.
I am grateful for those who stepped up and let me vent or cry in frustration. I’m grateful to those who drove me around and made sure I was safe.
I’m on the mend. I’m not 100% but today was a good day. I was able to dance with my classes and when I came home, I was able to drive myself to an appointment. Better yet- I was able to run. It was slow and unsteady. I had to use the handles of the treadmill to steady myself and I pushed perhaps a little too hard but even at a full minute per km slower than usual, today’s run felt like success.
I don’t know why my health failed. But I do know that I won’t take for granted my ability to put one foot in front of the other.
Last weekend was the Kenora Borealis triathlon. I have never been so happy to be a sprint distance athlete. THAT HILL! But we will get to that…
Here’s the break down of how things went:
The night before…. my friend Sandra comes out to the cabin so we can go together for the race. We make the decision that I should change the tube on my bike because the patch won’t necessarily hold and after the “land of broken training sessions” I don’t want to risk it. So, they laugh at me while I struggle and struggle and eventually get it (the next time I had to do this was better…and yes, there was a next time). As we are pumping the tire, things don’t seem right and the tire won’t stay in the rim so my husband takes over and then two minutes later –VOILA– tire ready. We’ve done this inside because it is, again, raining. Out goes the bike and 5 minutes later…BANG. The neighbor screams, we jump and the whole community stares at our place. Well, good thing I have another tube to replace the one that just exploded. We spend the rest of the night waiting for the thing to blow up again. It doesn’t. Thank God. I don’t think I can sheepishly go down and apologize again to the rest of the lake community.
So, we get up the next morning, brave the wall of mosquitoes to load the bikes and we are off for the drive in to Kenora. The whole time I’ve got two thoughts: 1) what have I forgotten? I’ve had nightmares for weeks about things breaking down/falling apart/being stolen (I dreamed that my bike was stolen mid bike course once. Don’t ask me how that happens.) and 2) please don’t rain..please don’t rain.
And then we were there! Got the bike tires checked for pressure, got set up and then spent about 15 minutes debating whether or not I wanted to wear the wet suit. Race time was approaching and I was texting the husband, looking for the husband and not finding the husband. He overslept…… and then we were off!!!
FiNALLY a swim without panic. I took the advice I got from “beginner triathlete” and sang in my head. A little “Uptown Funk” base line kept me focused and going. I probably could have gone a little harder but the plan for this race was to find a way to swim without freaking out — don’t go out too hard. At one point, I thought I was way behind everyone so I had to mentally keep my game going by reminding myself that the success of this race was not panicking and having a strong swim. I figured I can fix it a bit on the bike and the run. Out of the water, I realized that the person in front of me was my friend and that swim a was a little faster than I thought!
On the way back in to transition I hear my neighbors from the lake screaming out my name. It turns out that they had woken up the husband and they’d come down together.
I got out of transition, forgot my race belt, and then was back out and on the road. The first part of the cycle felt amazing. I passed my friend and was pushing well and then the hill hit. OH MY GOD THE HILL!!! Now, remember, I’m a prairie girl. I do get to ride the hills at the cottage but those hills are nothing like this hill…this hill went on and on and on and on….my watch registered the incline at about 100m. It was brutal. I passed a couple people and was like “YES!!! I’VE GOT THIS!!” and then I looked at my speed and started laughing. I might as well have been going backwards. Don’t ask me how some people managed to fly up that thing. They must have legs of steel and feel zero pain. I yelled at one guy as he came racing by “you make it look so easy” to which he yelled back “oh hell no”…while moving at double my speed.
The way down that hill was a blast. I wish there wasn’t a head wind because it would have been awesome to figure out just how fast I can go. On the way back in to transition I joked with the volunteers that I wouldn’t forget anything this time. I can hear the neighbors again screaming and yelling out my number, which they were enjoying way too much (I was “blessed” with number 69…never going to hear the end of it). It made me laugh enough that it pumped me for the final leg.
BARF. At least I thought I was going to for the first 5 minutes. Thank go that passed. The run wasn’t quite where I wanted to be. Mentally, I wanted to go faster…I really did…but my legs were just refusing. I was flip flopping from speeds that I was happy with and speeds where I was like “GOOOOOOOOOO”. Uptown Funk rhythms helped refocus me a bit again. I came across the finish line strong because I didn’t want the lake friends to think I was wimpy and then I was done!
Not going to lie — I was totally disappointed. I was 6th in my age category and two minutes faster than my sprint last year on an easier course so I should be happy…but I’m competitive and really wanted to place in my age group. That being said — I looked at the times….the women in my age group were just insanely fast!! I was about the same speeds as the men in my age range but those women must feel zero pain to be able to get up that hill at some crazy speeds. But, as my friend reminded me, I was faster than last year and faster than her….and nothing fell apart, unlike the “disastrous race”
There’s always one. Sometimes you see it coming, and sometimes it just sneaks up on you when you’re not looking…the race from HELL.
In the style of Sophia from Golden Girls….”picture it, Birds Hill Park, Manitoba, June 12, 2016……”
It was a cold, rainy and miserable day. Not what one would expect in June. A chilly 12C, the rain was pounding down, the wind was pulling tents up and over to the point they were being dismantled and put away. The thunder and lightening in the background created an addition enhancement to the atmosphere. And there we were, a group of crazy triathletes, all in our wet suits, huddled together under a tree, trying to escape the torture of the weather and anxiously awaiting information from the race director.”It’s going to be a great day! Just wait! The clouds will be clearing in about 10 minutes!” Came the booming voice over the loudspeaker. I looked at my friend, pointed out that they had said the same thing 30 minutes ago and continued to shiver. The debate was on…could we just do the whole damn race in a wet suit? You could totally cycle and run in it, right? We watched a couple of (smart) people head in to the transition area, grab their stuff and leave. A few minutes later the instructions came that we would be delaying the start and the Olympic and sprint distances would just be starting closer together. In the meantime, we were to go to our cars to warm up. Yup, that’s right. It was miserable enough that we were sent BACK to the cars because it was too damned cold to be outside.My friend and I huddled in the car, laughing at the ridiculousness of the situation, wondering if, perhaps, we really were insane, drinking coffee and cranking up the heat until we stopped shivering. And then it was time. We wandered down for the pre-race meeting. We figured it was as good a time as any to test the water and see how brutal it was going to be to swim in. Turns out, the water felt wonderful and all the athletes were hiding in it to stay warm. During the meeting, we were dragged out of the water and danced on the sand, our feet freezing to it with every step. As soon as that meeting was over there was a mad rush to get back in to the warmth of the water. The dark cloud and distant thunder loomed in the background, reminding us that we were, indeed, going to do this race soaked, whether we liked it or not.
The Olympic athletes were off and our time quickly approached and before I knew it we were off… and I was blind. Anti-fog spray my ass!! I flipped on my back for a bit to try to fix them, breast strokes a few times to get my bearings and then back in to the swim…and then fogged again. Can’t see a thing. No idea where I am on the course. Better fix this…. and then it strikes…
DISASTER 1: The strap lets go. Half way through swim and I no longer have goggles that will stay on my face. CRAP CRAP CRAP CRAP. I wear contacts to continuing with my face in the water just doesn’t work. I shove the goggles in my teeth and start breast stroking with my head up through the course, cursing in frustration the whole time. My friend is going to beat me due to goggle failure. I go racing up in to the transition area just as my friend is leaving. Good, I can catch her on the bike, it’s not over yet!
Shoes on…jacket on… helmet on…grab bike and GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!! I can see her in the distance and I’m gaining on her. My legs are strong, I can do this. Closer and closer…I just need to adjust my gear and…
DISASTER 2: Bike chain drops. CRAP CRAP CRAP CRAP. I thought this problem was fixed!!! Hop off the bike, cursing wildly, pop the chain back on. My hands have a coating of grease that matches both the weather and my mood. It’s ok… I can still catch her. PUSH AND GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO. She’s still in my view! I can do this!!! and then… well, they say things come in threes….
DISASTER 3: I can feel the twitching in my hamstring…the tightening of the muscle as it fights the cold. The muscle that may not quite be as healed from the tear in October as I would have liked. No, no, no!!! Not today! Not now!! No seizing!! And I can feel it. And… CRAP CRAP CRAP CRAP. I’m off the bike, using it as support to get this damn muscle to release. Good enough. I get back on the bike and tell my leg it’s just going to have to suck it up for a while longer. I look up. She’s gone. Defeat sets in.
First loop of the park done and she sees me as she heads for the second loop. She hoots and hollers, celebrates and laughs. I cry. She has no way of knowing the disaster that has been my race. I head out on the second loop a defeated and frustrated athlete. The rain starts a little again, this time, in ice format, pelting me at every turn. The dark clouds and thunder are closer now. What’s the point? I’m so far behind I must be dead last in the whole race — totally irrational thought as I have CLEARLY been passing people despite everything going wrong. The downfall to the Birds Hill course is that you can end up quite isolated and I assumed I was so far behind. And then I gave up, slowed down and felt a little sorry for myself for a few minutes. And then that passed.
Eff-it. LET’S GO! In to the transition area, I see my friend just heading out on the run. Holy crap. I wasn’t that far behind after all. Damn. I could have caught/passed her if I hadn’t been acting like such a baby (when the results are posted I discover we were a mere 10 seconds apart in cycling time). Rack the bike and head out on the running course. I’m a fast runner. I can catch her. I’m running, my legs are seizing, it’s freezing, and then the rain dumps. Full out downpour. You have got to be kidding me. At this point, all I can do is laugh. One of the course officials is cycling along side me, also laughing at the ridiculousness that has been my race but giving words of encouragement as I approach my friend. Along side her, I tell her that I don’t know if I can finish. I can feel the twitching in my hamstring again and I think I’m going to seize. But my slow and icky run suddenly shifts. The muscles in my legs loosen a bit as I pass her. WHEEEEE!!! I’m running, I’m moving, I’m going…. there’s the finish line!!! WOOOT~~~~
And now all I can do is laugh. And when the results are posted, I’m DFL in my group. But I beat the race that wanted to beat me.
(and still snuck past my friend in the last few minutes)
Oh –and on a side note, I ran the relay with my friend in the Manitoba Marathon this weekend and CRAP was it humid. I thought I was going to pass out the whole time. That means I’ve had a race that was so freaking cold that I could barely stand it and one that was so freaking HOT/HUMID that it was making athletes collapse. That means the next one will be perfect, right?
Yesterday, I ran my first half marathon. What a crazy experience that was! I’m super proud of the fact that I did it but it made me question my sanity a little!
For days leading up to it I was panicking and having nightmares that I couldn’t do it. I figured there was no way that I could get through running 21.1 km. Plus, being the overachiever that I am, I set myself this stupid goal — that I wanted to finish in 2 hours.
For nights I tossed and turned and wondered how this was ever going to happen -especially considering I am just coming off of injury. And then it was race day. Ack!!!
I am amazed that I was not only able to do it but that I was still smiling at the end. I was hurting, my feet and knees were on fire, but time passed faster than I expected.
I was so happy to run with a friend through most of the race. A high-five from him at the half way mark was a good boost and having someone with me made the nerves settle before the start.
I spent a portion of the race just admiring the amazing group of people who had taken on this challenge. I was in awe of the amount of people in their 60s full out running this race (and kicking my butt!) and the dude who ran it BAREFOOT (what!?!!)
It was a wild race of emotion. From terror to elation. There were times it felt like I was never going to make it, times where I was flying high and having a great time, times when I just wanted to GOOOOOOOO and times when I wanted my friend to slow down because there was no way I could do that pace.
I had made the choice to think in miles instead of kilometers because 21.1km seems insane but the smaller number of 13.1 miles seems manageable (plus, I have zero concept of how far a mile is). And, I think that choice helped. On the way out, I noticed where the 12 mile marker was and when I saw it on the way back -what a boost it was!!!
I started to tear up at the 12 mile marker. I couldn’t believe that I had made it that far. And then there were the cheers and the shoutouts from the spectators and I ran faster than I had the whole race, fighting tears the whole time. In the last 100 meters there were kids shouting at another racer (male) “don’t let her beat you!!!” and so he sped up. But so did I.
And I crossed that line before he did.
And I finished my first half marathon in 2 hours and 26 seconds.
I hate being held back and this injury has done a great job of slowing me down. I haven’t trained in weeks. I’m packing on weight (granted being on a cruise right now doesn’t help that) and I just don’t feel like my awesome self. I need to get back on track. And what better place to do that than on vacation. Ridiculous, I know.
I discovered that the elliptical trainer doesn’t cause pain so I’ve done that a couple times and then I tried to run the path on the top of the ship.
The view was spectacular but my foot injury resisted. I barely made 20 minutes before I had to stop. It was crushing. Especially because I have two runs coming up right away. Back to the elliptical and feeling sorry for myself.
Today, however, a small glimmer of hope. I hit the gym on the ship.
And tackled a brick session knowing I might not survive. The goal: 25 mins cycling, 25 mins running. And I did it! No cycling pain and probably could have pushed harder but the best part was the run. Yes, I still ended up with pain but the foot held up until the last 5 minutes. I was a little slower and therefore short of my 5k but I seem to be at least on the right track. Slow and steady and I should be ready for my 8k in 3 weeks and, hopefully, the half marathon in a month.
Like being a triathlete isn’t crazy enough!!! People are already pretty convinced that I’m insane and my over-achiever tendencies are already mocked on a fairly regular basis. So, what do I do? Decide to make it worse!!
My new challenge is a half-marathon and while in theory that makes me “half-crazy”, I’m pretty convinced that this makes me completely insane. Padded room, anyone? Just me? Ok.
I am now going to have to work to run WAY further than my sprint distance of 5k and considerably longer than my max distance of 13.2km. And the best part? I haven’t left myself enough time. Only 10 weeks with a vacation in the middle of it. Good planning on my part.