3.6 miles, sore achilles

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This is what I look like when I’m crushing it. Or possibly when I’m struggling along at a snail’s pace. The difference between the two is very small. :)

Ran 3.6 miles today. It was hard, harder than yesterday. Slower, probably because my legs didn’t get time to recover. There was also a stiff wind blowing too.

My left Achilles gave me some trouble during the first mile. It seemed to improve, although when I was finished it was still sore. I iced it afterward and it seems to be okay now.

Tomorrow I’ll take a break to give my legs a chance to recover. This was a tough run, but still worth it.

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Spring weather and a strong body

I’m so happy. I ran today!

Yes, I suppose it’s a little cheesy, but the weather was beautiful this afternoon (sunny, light winds, 75 Fahrenheit) and I am finally beginning to feel strong and healthy again. After a reasonably productive work day, I changed into my running clothes and strapped on my running shoes.

As good as it felt to run again, I could definitely tell that I’ve been inactive lately. My lungs and my legs rebelled at the workout. My pace was slow (16:00). Since I’ve run before and trained before, though, I didn’t have the same struggles as I had back when I first started running. Some of that, I’m sure, is because I’ve learned how to maintain an efficient gait, but I believe most of it is because I’ve mastered a lot of the mental game. I’ve learned to convince myself to keep going – even when a run/race is long, even when my pace is slow, even when my body feels awful.

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About one mile into the workout, I spotted a police officer on a motorcycle, but parked, partially concealing himself behind a sign and pointing his radar gun at oncoming traffic. I didn’t have the nerve to walk up to him and ask to take a photo with him! I took this not-very-good photo from about a half-block away, but when I got closer, he got on his motorcycle and drove away.

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I stopped halfway to take a running selfie, and I was struck by my shadow. Very pronounced, and very interesting!

My nose is still dripping a bit more than usual, and it was at this point in the run that I had to sent out the first snot rockets. :) Don’t worry, I didn’t hit any people or cars. Just the middle of the street and a lovely flower bed. (sorry!)

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Back on the road, and I felt great. I found my groove and was just letting my feet lead the way. There were actually quite a few people outside today – no surprise, since the weather was so nice. I passed several bicyclists, a walker, and a whole crowd of people waiting at a bus stop.

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I was nearly home when I was stopped by this – a truck with a long trailer backing into a driveway. I’m sure it didn’t take more than three or four minutes, but it certainly felt like longer as this driver blocked the road.

 

I completed 3.61 miles today. It was really quite glorious to run again. If you’re not a runner, you won’t get it. Running is what makes me feel strong and healthy and amazing. Finally kicking the illnesses I’ve had this winter is just the icing on the cake – I am still blowing my nose a bit more than usual, and I’m still coughing a bit, but I finally feel strong. Here’s hoping I’ll be able to squeeze my training in before this spring’s 5ks!

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Now is the winter of our discontent…

I really am trying.

You wouldn’t know it, but I really am trying this year.

I am sick. AGAIN. I’ve spent all week sick with another cold, and because of it, I’m really struggling to kick the bronchitis I’ve been fighting. Just when I think the symptoms are nearly gone, I get sick again, and the coughing and shortness-of-breath flare up again just as badly as before.

On top of all that, I have the typical symptoms of a cold – nasal congestion, headache, low-grade fever.

I’m going through boxes of Kleenex like they’re going out of style. Seriously – I am almost out of Kleenex because I’ve blown through three boxes this week!

I want to run. Seriously, you guys have no idea how badly I want to run. But my body seems to be dead-set against it!

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A difficult 3.6 miles

I ran 3.6 miles today.

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It wasn’t particularly easy. It’s actually kinda funny… I was thinking while I ran about how strange it is that it felt like a hard run, because it was still so much improved from where I once was. A few years ago, a run like today’s would have been a great run.

Nonetheless – it didn’t feel great. It wasn’t terrible, but I definitely felt like I needed to get in shape. I’m still pleased with it. I’m glad I got out there. I have to get my body back into shape for the spring racing season. A few more runs like this, and it’ll feel so much better!

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Running, how I’ve missed you!

My last run prior to the Great Illness of 2015 was exactly four weeks and two days ago. I woke up with a sore throat exactly four weeks and one day ago, followed by a month of bronchitis and lung inflammation that prevented me from getting a decent breath, much less running.

Today, I am more than thrilled to announce, I got to run again!!

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I ran 3.72 miles, and it just FELT like it had been a month since I ran! My legs felt heavy, and I absolutely had to push myself.

At 0.82 miles, I paused to wait for traffic to clear, and was overcome by a wave of dizziness and nausea. I’m not unfamiliar with dizziness, although usually I only feel that at the end of a race – after I’ve pushed myself to the limit, and maxed out my blood pressure, so to speak. I was mildly surprised to feel it during an easy training run. I haven’t felt the nausea in awhile, but luckily it wasn’t too severe.

My apologies to the driver in the silver minivan who stopped to let me cross the street ahead of him. That was quite kind of you, but I wasn’t going anywhere until I’d gathered my wits.

I paused at around 1.85 miles to take a photo, and I was hit by another wave of dizziness – not nearly as bad as the first, but I paused for a moment here as well.

On my way home, I happened to see this laying by the side of the road:

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A small tube-type television with an attached VCR. What a relic!

I’m thankful that I got out for a run today, though I’m a bit disappointed that it was as difficult as it was. I was hoping that my muscles hadn’t broken down too much in the past month. Apparently I was wrong! Oh well – it’s good to get out there again, and I’ll work myself back into fitness!

 

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Desire muted by illness acuted

My last run was on Monday, February 9, exactly two weeks and one day ago. It was a great run, too. A fartlek. It was cold, sunny, and felt wonderful.

Two days before that, on Saturday, February 7, I ran long. 6.3 miles along my favorite route, up hills and down hills. During the last mile, I felt blissfully close to hitting the wall. I pulled every last ounce of energy from my legs. It felt wonderful.

On Tuesday, February 10, I woke up with a mild sore throat and a little nasal congestion. My mom had recovered just the week before from this same virus, very mild, basically just a minor cold. I cancelled my planned run, but otherwise I continued living normally.

By the time the weekend rolled around, I felt a little bit better, but it proved to be only a moment of respite. The next day, I woke up with laryngitis, nasal congestion, shortness of breath, and a really bad cough. In hindsight, I’m pretty sure I developed acute bronchitis.

And that is where I am still. For over a week, I’ve been taking over-the-counter cough medicine just to get a few hours’ sleep. Since bronchitis is virtually always viral, I haven’t even tried to go to the doctor – what could they do? Charge me $200 to confirm that it’s a virus, and recommend that I treat it with OTC cough medicine? There’s nothing I can do but wait this out. I am getting better – but improvement comes in slow, tiny, baby steps.

Running has been out of the question, and it absolutely grieves me. Admittedly, it’s been cold, but I want to run! I still have shortness of breath and a bad cough, meaning a cold weather run is a bad idea.

I don’t have much more to add. I’m just tired of being tired, ready to be done with sickness. Unfortunately it seems like sickness is not done with me!

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Monday Memories, part six

click here for part 1
click here for part 2
click here for part 3
click here for part 4
click here for part 5

Sorry this is so late. Writing this is getting harder. It’s easy to write the parts I don’t remember. But going back to school… It’s the parts I remember that hurt the most.

Going back to school was… strange. I’d been gone for at least three months, and the students around me were so normal. They were totally, blissfully unaware of everything that had changed.

I still had a ridiculous amount of make-up work to complete. In addition to my regular classwork, I did make-up. I was basically doing twice as much work as the other students, and it took me twice as long to do the assignments. I turned in my last make-up assignment on the day before the school year ended.

The experience became a litmus test of my teachers. My Senior Journalism teacher, Ron Clemons, was sadly familiar with tragic accidents – an encounter with a drunk driver had killed his first wife many years before. He knew my work, and he gave me an A for my missed assignments without requiring me to do anything. My elective British Literature teacher, Alan Hunter, was also familiar with my work. He’d been impressed by an essay on Othello that I’d turned in the year before. He, too, gave me an A without requiring me to do anything.

My college physics 101 professor, Dr. Jennifer Snyder, went out of her way to ensure I would succeed. I had a LOT of make-up work for that class, but she tutored me privately (and at no cost) after school, one or two days per week. It took the remainder of the school year to complete all the make-up work, alongside the current work, but I did. I think Dr. Snyder wanted me to succeed as much or more than I did. I’ve never forgotten that.

The good teachers made the year tolerable. I couldn’t have gotten through it without them.

Other teachers, though, were a nightmare. My College Prep English teacher made me re-write a particular essay five times, each time saying I wasn’t following the directions but not explaining what I’d done wrong. In hindsight, I’m pretty sure she was convinced that I should have been forced to drop her class. I later learned that my mother had contacted Ms. Alvested, explained the situation, and she had intervened on my behalf.

The one class I wound up dropping was college calculus 101. My calculus professor was good, and very supportive of my efforts to finish the class, but he didn’t reach out as much as the physics professor. I don’t fault him for that. After a month or so, I realized that I was in over my head. I visited Ms. Alvested and was given a “withdraw/pass” grade for that class.

The end of my senior year is still a blur. I was working so hard, constantly tired, studying almost every moment that I was awake. I even quit wearing contact lenses just so I could sleep a few extra minutes!

Graduation was such a relief. I know graduation is a big deal for every senior, as it should be, but for me – it was just more. Not only had I graduated, I had finished all but one of my honors classes and completed 11 out of 16 college-credit hours. I had defied statistics. I cannot even begin to express my relief.

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Monday Memories, part 5

click here for part 1
click here for part 2
click here for part 3
click here for part 4

Eventually, we began to talk about going back to school. I was improving and would be discharged from therapy within a few weeks.

My therapists, my parents, and I met with two administrators from my high school – Mike Jeffers, who at that time was a vice-principal, and Faye Alvested, who was a school counselor.

I suppose you should understand that I was (and still am!) a geek, in every way imaginable. I was enrolled in every advanced/honors class possible. As I recall, I was taking college Calculus 101, college Physics 101, college prep English, dual high school-college credit American History, American government, elective British Literature, and Senior Journalism (which allowed me to work on the staff of our high school newspaper). In addition to the high school credits, those classes included 16 college credit hours.

When I went back to school, I wanted to return to those advanced classes. I can’t explain why. I suppose, since I’d always been an honors student, that was all I knew. I also didn’t want to quit the classes I’d already begun.

Privately, the therapists had told me that they did not think I would succeed in college, that I would be very lucky if I graduated high school. I don’t remember exactly what was said in those meetings, but I know those words were hard to shake.

When we met – myself, my parents, the therapists, Mr. Jeffers, and Ms. Alvested – the therapists strongly pushed that the only class I would take should be the American government class. Due to a change in state law, and because I’d pushed myself so hard during the first three years of high school, that was the only remaining class that was required for me to get a high school diploma. The other classes, they said, would be too hard for me, and I shouldn’t try because I would only be disappointed when I failed.

Because of the brain injury, I was now disabled, and I would need a special plan to provide for my new deficits. This would be either an IEP plan or a 504 plan. The differences between an IEP and 504 plan are complicated, but in my situation it basically came down to college. An IEP plan would end after my graduation. A 504 plan would allow me to have additional services in college.

The therapists, who needless to say felt I should not go to college, pushed for the IEP plan. Hard.

Mr. Jeffers and Ms. Alvested pushed back. I got a 504 plan.

I owe a lot to Mr. Jeffers and Ms. Alvested. They didn’t have to stick up for me. Legally speaking, they had every right to push me into taking only the American government class. They didn’t. They pushed right back against the therapists, so to speak. They suggested that I resume my class schedule, exactly as it had been, and if any of the classes became too much for me, I could visit Ms. Alvested at any time and they would give me a withdraw/pass.

The therapists didn’t like that, but there was nothing they could do about it.

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Monday Memories, part 4

click here for part 1
click here for part 2
click here for part 3

Coming home, to the only house I’d ever known, focused me in a way nothing else could. In the hospital, I didn’t know where I was. I believed I was in other states and even other countries. When I saw my home, I knew exactly where I was.

I went to outpatient rehab every day. Each morning, one of my parents would take me to the rehab facility. Depending on the whims of the insurance company, I would stay for either a half a day or a full day. I received physical, occupational, and speech therapy.

The physical therapy strengthened my body enough that I was able to walk with the aid of a cane. Later, my therapist took away my cane and I began walking independently. We did a LOT of balance exercises, because my sense of balance was affected by the accident. She would ask me to balance on a low balance beam, then balance on one foot, then balance on one foot with my eyes closed. It wasn’t easy!

The occupational therapy worked on improving my fine motor skills and my hand-eye coordination. I spent hours in front of a light board, punching buttons as they lit up. My arm had been in a sling, due to the broken collarbone. Someone (I don’t remember who – probably a doctor) took away the sling after a few weeks, but I still tended to hold my arm against my abdomen as if was still in the sling. It hurt when I moved it! The occupational therapist gave me a couple of tiny dumbbells and made me do lots of simple arm exercises to strengthen my arm.

I still don’t understand the speech therapy. I guess it had to do with improving my ability to communicate, as I had no trouble talking. After the accident, I had to re-learn a lot of things, including just about everything I’d learned in school (math, science, history, and so on). But that wasn’t what we did in speech therapy. My mother remembers me complaining about being forced to play some extremely simple computer games, for no identifiable purpose.

Meanwhile, my parents went over all the things I needed to know for school at home. I had forgotten everything, from how to add 2+2 to the year the founders signed the Declaration of Independence (1776). Once I was reminded, the information came back quickly, but my parents re-taught me everything.

One of my few leisure activities during this time was playing card games on the computer. If I could’ve, I think would’ve played Freecell for hours on end. In hindsight, I think this proved to be an important tool in healing my brain. Playing card games makes you think, strategize, and plan – all skills that are useful for a damaged brain.

I don’t remember a whole lot about this period, but I do remember being constantly tired. Because of the accident, I was sleeping 10-12 hours a night. I went to therapy, studied, and slept. And that was it. My body was still recovering, and everything was a challenge.

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R4TW recap

This morning, I awoke early for Run 4 the World. I wasn’t at all sure what to expect. I ate breakfast (mistake – more on that later), and at about 8:30, my parents and I left for the run.

We went to Lowenstein Park in Lee’s Summit, Missouri. My cousin, who was organizing the run, had reserved a picnic shelter, where he and his family were waiting. It was a SMALL group, a total of only 13 people and one dog. It wasn’t until the run was over that my cousin explained why the group was so small – his organization had determined that smaller runs were easier to reproduce internationally. That’s fine, though I will say I think I would have enjoyed the run a lot more if that had been communicated in advance.

It was cool this morning – just a little over 40 degrees. The big dip in temperature was a big adjustment. I wore shorts and a tech tee, with a track suit on top before and after the race to keep me warm.

Before the race, we stood around the picnic shelter waiting for everyone to arrive. (Not that it took long.) It was right at this time that Paul Lamb commented on my post from yesterday. Thanks, Paul! Your timing was outstanding, and your encouragement meant a lot!

The park has a somewhat looping path that is a little under one mile long. With none of the traditional race paraphernalia (start/finish lines, air horn, etc.), we all just kind of took off at the same time. My mother and one of my cousin’s friends stayed at the picnic shelter to hand out water bottles and to keep an eye on my cousin’s three kids.

I started the race wayyyyy too fast. Within a quarter-mile, I was sucking air, while my brain was yelling “too fast! too fast!” I slowed down as best I could and tried to get my pace back under control. I willed my heartbeat to slow down!

The first half-mile or so was a bit cold, as I anticipated. Once I was moving, I warmed up and felt better.

For whatever reason, I expected this park to be flat. It was not. The hills were not huge – there couldn’t have been more than a 0.5% or 1% change in the grade, but it was enough that I noticed, and long enough to be difficult.

Once I’d found my pace, the first half of the race went smoothly. It was a lovely park, and we weren’t alone. There were other runners, plus at least three or four dog-walkers. A few families with young children were enjoying the playground. There was one family that had come to the park with a photographer, and they visited several places around the park to take family photos. Several times, I saw them posing on the path ahead of me and slowed down, but they were incredibly kind and always waved me through!

I need to mention here that I usually don’t eat breakfast before I run. Usually, my schedule works such that I eat after I run. Today, though, that just didn’t work, and I ate a banana and peanut butter before I left home. I was afraid that I would need something to carry me through until lunch. Mistake! At about the 35 minute mark, my stomach cramped terribly! It hurt!!! I ran through the cramp, but it was HARD and my pace fell apart. Eventually the cramp eased and the pain went away – but after a few minutes it came back. For the remainder of the run, I was struggling to just keep going.

Finally, with only two or three minutes left in the run, I got to another of those hills and just couldn’t run another step. I walked the last bit, then collapsed in the picnic shelter.

Afterward, we sat around and talked for a few minutes about Operation Mobilization (the organziation sponsoring R4TW) and their work with sports missions around the world. There was a platter of Chikin’Minis from Chick-Fil-A, a tray of cookies from one of the grocery stores, and a few pounds of bananas. I couldn’t eat for a few minutes – my upset stomach was NOT happy. Finally I was able to eat a little, and drink some water, without feeling too bad.

Overall I ran 3.92 miles in one hour. It was an interesting experience. It was definitely a great way to start a Saturday morning, and it’s a lot more fun to look back on it now that I understand the organization’s goals for the run.

(Yes, I’m publishing this after midnight. I napped after the run, and now my schedule’s off!)

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