The list of ailments? My left abductor, almost certainly torn and aching after only half an hour of running on the flat. Something odd happening at the bottom of my right leg - Plantar Fasciitis? An Archilles problem? Whatever, my right arch was sore, my heel, although improved over Tuesday's run, was still aching, and my Archilles echoed the sentiment. Moving upwards, my right knee and IT band were threatening to join the chorus, my hip was definitely expressing dissatisfaction, and my right glute was the tightest it has been in weeks.
Self-preservation kicked in. Sunday was spent either in bed or in front of the heater. On Monday I flagged any weights training, but did meet up with the Squad for our last group run. Ingrid was in charge, and described a route that went up Willis street, up to the Aro Street shops, back down, along Webb, along Buckle, down Cambridge and Courtney, and back to the gym. Sarah and I looked at each other. "That's not going to take 35 minutes", I whispered. Sarah put her finger to her lips and shooshed me quietly.
It was very crisp outside, but there was no wind to speak of, and things were dry. We sprinted our way from traffic light to traffic light (the Bypass has killed Willis Street for running). By the time we turned onto Cambridge we'd only just hit 20 minutes. I fought a desire to slow down all the way back to the gym. We were all absolutely flying, so I guess it just felt harder than usual. We made it back to the gym in 25 minutes.
Afterwards I didn't feel like I'd done too much damage, but come Tuesday I felt it wise to hold off running again. I stuck to Body Balance. We did the latest release again, and it became clear to me that it contains a lot of moves that activate the abductor. By the end of the class I was even more certain that my injury was a tear rather than something that may need to be stretched out. I wasn't really enjoying the cramps I was getting in my right hip during the strength poses either. More rest seemed called for, although I continued to debate doing Duck's 6.35 RPM class right up to the point Dale, my massage therapist, demanded that I go home. As it turns out I may well have been the only person booked into her class that night, and it was canceled. I'm very glad I didn't stick around. Instead I enjoyed some quiet time with my lovely husband.
I thought before my massage that I was feeling better, however Dale had so much trouble with my legs that she only had enough time to work over my quads and shins before my time was up. Poor Dale, despite her best efforts and attempts at being gentle I was still left writhing on her massage table. I really admire people who can run and run, never stretch and never suffer from undue muscle tightness. I'm not one of them obviously. Even without exercise I am tight. Waiting until the end of an 11 week training programme, during which time I trained for up to 13 hours a week, to get a massage, was obviously not the best plan. Two or three Body Balance classes a week does not a limber Pip make ...
So it was a surprise when I felt noticeably better that evening, and it was a feeling I didn't want to mess with on Wednesday. No problems with finding an excuse, as the Jog Squad girls were meeting for dinner in lieu of running.
I was fairly confident that Duck wouldn't be working my legs this morning, and that was indeed the case. Unfortunately I slept incredibly soundly last night and woke with a spasmed neck. Upper body weights and chin raises did not help at all, and I spent most of the day at my desk quaffing Neurofen and nursing a heat pack on my shoulder. So poor Dale had a new challenge to deal with before she could go anywhere near those rested legs of mine when I saw her again this afternoon for a follow-up massage.
Neck of pain - Dale managed in the time to make only a small inroad into the cords of muscle I could feel twanging under her fingers. Still, it was enough that I have loosened up a little more over the last couple of hours. However I was more than a little disappointed that my newly fresh legs were still extremely painful to the touch, once she was finally able to get stuck into the real business of the day. My calves were full of over-inflated balloons that writhed under her fingers, my right Archilles and shin felt almost bruised. Then it was my quads again, my glutes, my hips. By the end, despite Dale's attempts at restraint, I felt like I'd just gone several rounds... No going back to work, it was home through the winter wind and rain and straight into the shower.
I'm going to have to learn how to deal with these muscles of mine if I'm ever going to be able to run injury free. I took out some time to look into some sports supplements. Magnesium is the obvious first choice and something I've always been short of. The health shop sales person I spoke to also recommended a fancy new antioxidant which is supposed to be good for muscle recovery and endurance, and the Google searches I've done sound promising. I think that I'm suffering some joint pain in addition to the muscle pain, so Glucosamine gets added to the list, and why not top that off with a general sports multi for good measure? This is going to cost me a fortune!
So, that's the physical state. How about the mental side of things? At what point did I go from just wanting to complete this event to wanting to complete it in two hours? How on earth am I going to feel if I completely revert to my usual head-case type and stagger in somewhere around 2 hours 15? In my happiest daydreams I come in just under two hours, with everyone at the finishline cheering me on. Realistically, I know that if I do ok I'm likely to be simply aiming to keep ahead of the 2 hour 10 pace team.
In my dreams the weather is as perfect as it has been for most of our training. In reality I now that the forecast for Saturday is for a high of 10 degrees and gusty Northwesterlies. In my dreams the euphoria kicks in and I run for two hours at full strength, with no significant pain and no nausea. In reality I know there's likely to be pain, that there may well be nausea, that I may not feel strong and that my mental demons may kick in.
However, and this is a HUGE however, I've dealt with all of these demons before in my training and in past events. I know how fantastic things can be and I know what to expect when they don't go so well. These things don't scare me as much as they used to, and I know the things I need to do and say to keep myself going.
I think I started to turn a corner on Tuesday night walking to Hamish's office. I was being passed by a number of runners, several with Shoe Clinic shirts on, and it occurred to me that a number of them will be in taper in preparation for this weekend. I felt like I was part of a community, and I started to think about how good a good run feels. I thought about having the opportunity to prove myself. I thought about being fit and strong.
Today the good feelings continued when I spoke to Duck about our plans for Sunday. I'm an interesting mix of fear, anticipation and excitement right now. Just this once I want to do better than I expect.