Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Throw Caution to the Winds - Carefully

I feel a strange sense of calm and confidence, and I probably shouldn’t. Today marks three weeks since my appendix was ripped out of my belly button, and thirteen days before my scheduled 30 kilometre Around the Bay run in Hamilton. I think I’m ready for the race, but there is an inner voice urging caution.

I ran 10 kilometres three days ago, on Saturday, and did so a second time the next day, Sunday. It didn’t feel right; my insides were unsettled, I had ominous queasy feelings that aren’t part of the deal in my experience. So I didn’t run yesterday or today. Which begs the question: why do I feel calm and confident?

In those two runs I felt that I haven’t lost much conditioning. No problem with breathing, no undue weakness or injuries, and speed was pretty good. That is an immense relief. I was scared that I would be wobbling down the road like a drunk, no pace or muscle memory. I just didn’t know what to expect.

So it’s just the unseen threat of internal injury that holds me back, an invisible danger that can’t be dealt with in any way other than proceeding with caution.

Yes, it’s kind of frustrating, but I’ve taken the perspective that this is a unique training challenge. I won’t ever have this specific challenge again, although I may have similar ones if surgery rears its ugly head for some other reason in the future. So I frame the challenge thus: I have to maintain conditioning to the extent that I don’t cause further injury, push the envelope just as far as it is safe to do so.

No doctor can give precise advice on this. Everyone’s recovery time is different, although I should not run before at least the 3 week mark (so I was a tad early), and in many opinions I’ve received I should not run before at least 6 weeks. So the time frame posed by Around the Bay is a bit rushed, coupled with the possibility of doing enough damage to compromise my ability to complete the Pittsburgh Marathon on May 15th.

I know, it’s a bit of a tight rope to walk. However, a large number of runners go through exactly this sort of unpredictability when it comes to race readiness. That lurking fear of doing damage and resetting the clock is pretty daunting. This is simply my first encounter with this sort of handicap.

I’ll do a mall walk tonight, and hopefully hit the gym in the morning. Then try a run the next day and see how that goes. I think I could safely wait until the 27th and run the Around the Bay with no problem, but I’m afraid that that would be far too long. I would go crazy. What to do. What to do.

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