Tuesday, March 15, 2011


I woke up yesterday morning to some very sore calves and quads.  That 20 miler had its effect and I was glad for a rest day.  Except, I had to spend almost 3 hours in an MRI machine.  Not as restful as you might think.

Dr. Russell ordered two scans--an MRI of the abdomen and also one of the lumbar spine.  He also ordered them with and without contrast dye.  His orders were appropriate given my symptoms, but it also meant I had to have four scans.  I knew it would take a while, but I wasn't quite prepared to be in there for almost 3 hours.

Normally, I wouldn't mind being in an MRI machine for that long.  I'm not particularly claustrophobic, and I can usually sleep through all the noise.  However, I have a bad cold.  I'm sneezing a lot, and lying flat on my back makes it much worse.  In case you've never had an MRI, let me tell you that they want you to hold almost perfectly still.  Well, I kept sneezing.  And coughing.  And sputtering in general.  So it took much longer.  Another thing they have you do, for the abdominal portion, is hold your breath for several portions of the scan.  I was amazed how long I was expected to do this.  By the time he told me to breathe again, I'm sure I was turning cyanotic.  A couple of times I didn't even manage to hold it as long as they requested.  Anyway, it's done.  I got a CD of the scan, which Tim and I looked at, but I have no earthly idea how to interpret it.  I am decent at CT scans (but mostly just of the brain--I can spot a bleed), but I have no experience with MRIs.  The images are impressive in their clarity, especially the spinal ones, but I can't tell you much else about them.  No matter, some guy is getting paid $1 million a year to interpret it from his beach house wearing his slippers.  I have already strongly encouraged both of my children to be radiologists.

I should get the results of the test tomorrow when I see Dr. Russell.  I also saw him yesterday morning prior to the MRI, and he did more work on my psoas and rectus abdominis.  Oh, and I got another ride on the TENS machine.

My schedule called for 13 miles today.  Usually, I'd do this at lunch.  However, I had arranged to pick Amelia up from school to take her out to lunch today.  I've never done that before and have always wanted to.  Tim had the day off, too, so we could all go.  We went to Casa Brava (her choice).  Probably not the best pre-run meal choice, but it was her day to choose.  And it was good.  Tim and I were trying to figure out our runs.  It's Tuesday, which means he was going to attend Tempo Tuesday with some local runners.  I've never been.  Tim mentioned that maybe I should go.  But what about Rowan?  He said he'd push him in the stroller.  Okay, well, what about Amelia?  Luckily, her dad was available so she could come over during the tempo run.

So it was decided I would run with the group, but would I tempo?  I was very undecided.  First, it would of course depend on the status of my abdominal pain.  If it was bad, no way could I tempo.  Second, I have not done anything resembling speed work since 2009.  Third, the focus of this training cycle is on building base, not speed.  That said, I decided I needed some kind of read on my fitness.  We decided we'd run 5 miles before the tempo started (we had to add miles to get the 13 anyway).  If I felt good (pain-wise) during that, I'd do a relaxed tempo.  By that, I mean that I was planning on pushing it a bit, but staying well within my comfort zone.

So, Tim, Rowan, and I set out for the 5 miles.  The weather was not pleasant.  But I didn't care one bit, as my pain was just as it was on Sunday--there but manageable.  That is very encouraging.  However, my legs were talking to me from the very first step.  They are still not recovered from Sunday's 20.  After the 5, I told Tim I'd try to tempo, but not to expect much out of me based on how trashed my legs were.  We met with the group (Bill, Dan, Kathy, John, and Jessie) and did another 2 miles worth of warm up.  We did strides throughout these two miles, and my legs felt awful.  I was wondering if it was even worth trying to tempo at all.  We finally got to the starting point of the tempo.  By this time, Tim and I had already run 7.25 miles.  Probably not the best plan, but it's how it worked out.

I stated that I was going to try to run 3 6:45s.  I got some looks--most of them questioning if I would really run that slowly.  What they didn't realize is that I was worried, based on the previous 7+ miles, about holding that for one mile.  Especially on this course, which has some hills.  It was time to start.  I decided not to even monitor my pace.  The goal was to keep it, as my dad says, "comfortably hard."  And I wanted to stay on the more comfortable end of that since it had been so long since I'd done anything like this.

So we were off.  I started my watch at the wrong place (rookie mistake...I'll know next time).  But I settled into a nice pace.  John was right with me for a while, so I figured we were going around 6:45 (since he was planning to run around that).  But I still didn't look at my Garmin.  I was very comfortable.  My ab pain didn't change, either.  I noticed I was opening up a bit on John, but I wasn't sure if I sped up or he slowed down.  I hit the mile mark and looked at my watch:  6:28.  I didn't panic, because it honestly was very comfortable.

Mile two passed much the same way.  I stayed very relaxed and comfortable, not looking at my watch.  Second mile was in 6:27.  I was surprised by that one, and figured I'd really fall off on the third mile.  I kept running by effort, and was shocked to finish the final (uphill) mile in 6:20.  I wanted to go another mile, if that tells you anything.  But I didn't.  Best not push my luck. 

Tim still finished ahead of me, even with the stroller.  Everyone had great runs, and Kathy (I think) set a personal best.  It was a lot of fun and I hope to do it again soon.  I have to admit that my abdominal pain did get worse during the last half mile, but had settled down again by the time I finished the 13 miles.  I think we're moving in the right direction. And I'm happy to see that, even without any speedwork and very moderate mileage, I'm decently fit.  Another rest day tomorrow--my legs are ready for it!

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