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The Hardest Thing I have Ever Done

It is quiet.  The air is still. I hear a soft pounding in my chest and my feet on the asphalt.  My heart reminds me of the task at hand: kee...

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Pain and Heat

I am not a good candidate for running in the heat.  Heat makes me slow, like running through thick syrup, and it taps my energy so that I am depleted and fatigued even a few miles in.  This is a phenomena of MS.  I need to be very careful about it.  It is because of this that I am running our next long run, 15 miles, at 6:30 AM.

That said, it has been a few weeks since I had a quality run.  I cannot seem to find the correct time.  It is always warm now, as we enter into the depths of summer.  Even so, I have tried running earlier, carrying water, reducing clothing.  Nothing has been a magical solution.  Then, to top it off, my ankle started hurting again just after the Butte to Butte 10K.  I pushed through it, running on a treadmill in Vegas to stay out of the heat.  I bounced in an inflatable bounce-house, which further aggravated it.

Heat and pain.  Who would have thought these factors would be my great undoing when I have tried so hard to overcome my issues with MS so that I could run distances?  Well, not me.

I started back in with physical therapy, stretching my injured ankle in new ways.  The PT filmed my run again and showed me that I am “ankle striking.”  This is extremely frustrating for me because I felt like I really focused on good form with the Chi Running, and that I have become lazy and all my hard work has unraveled.  He gave me a few things to think about as I run and I purchased a new pair of neutral shoes with less of a heel.  I am working on making my feet fall in a circular motion below and behind me, kicking up my ankles as I go.  He said it would feel “prancey” and it does.  Still, it is better than heel striking my 6 month old sprain 14,000 steps at a time.

So, there I was last night at the South Eugene track.  I decided to run on something soft, and in a controlled way so that I could measure time with distance.  I was joined by Stephanie, the gal I ran with for the Eugene Half and also the Butte to Butte.  She and I clocked a 8:45:00 mile, which is fast for me. Then we lapped a few times just relaxing into the run.  When it was time for Stephanie to go, I decided to stay and practice my “prancey” form.  I went around and around the track, four times, five times, six.  I kept a good strong pace and I felt great.   

The sun had gone down and so the air was cooling.  It was the first time in a very long time when I actually felt stronger as I ran.  In fact, I kept telling myself each time I rounded up to the last of my lap that I was going to sprint with my “prancey” form in the cooling night air just to see how fast I could really push it.  I would have, too, but each time I came around, I felt so much better than the prior lap that I just wanted to keep the feeling going.  Then, on what was to be my last lap, I started thinking once again how I wanted to sprint.  Just as I entered the straight-away, the lights around the track turned off and so I kicked my body into hyper-drive and pushed myself down the track, lifting my heels up behind me and digging in with each stride. 

I moved like plasma!  I cannot tell you how fast I ran because I was not timing it.  I can tell you that it was the fastest I have ever run, faster than the 440 when I was a kid, faster that when I ran the last leg of the Amazing Race at a friend’s engagement party.  I knew it was fast because I felt it in my entire body.  And I knew it was fast because the two other people still at the track with me, one an old man running in slacks since before I showed up and one a young teenage boy, both stopped and watched me finish (the old man gestured at me in what I thought was a thumbs-up).

I have never counted myself as fast, but I was last night.  Pain and heat and doubt and laziness can be overcome, too, just like some of my other obstacles. 

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