And also from people who are practically strangers.
As I've mentioned, I joined a long distance training group. I did it for a couple of reasons...but mainly, because the idea of running 18, 19, 20 mile training runs by myself sounds dreadfully boring.
Although, because I've only ever trained by myself, I don't know anything different.
People talk about how it makes the time go by...how it makes it better and more enjoyable.
I'm going to test it out, and see how it goes. It might not be for me...or I might love it. I'm going into it with an open mind.
Sunday was the first time I've been able to join the group for the Sunday am long run. We headed out to a park on the Iowa side of the river. There were a handful of us there.....and everyone was running different distances, as usual. My schedule called for 8 miles....but after the way my last attempt at running went, I decided to just run and see how long or how far I ended up.
Once around the lake was just over 6 miles....and I thought that would be plenty.
At about a mile, I was ready to stop and go back to my car. Both of my lower legs were like blocks of cement. Every single muscle, from ankle to knee, was tighter that the string on a compound bow.
I decided to ignore my embarrassment and train with the 2 min run/1 min walk intervals that have worked so well for me. No one else in the group does 'em. And, you know, I wasn't embarrassed about using them at all, until this last half marathon I ran.
Runners and spectators alike were making comments. "She's walking already?" "Why even come to these things if you're not going to run?"
I'd see people clapping for everyone who went by....and then they'd stop when I got there.
Hearing people cheering keeps a runner going. Granted, we run every day without it...but there's just something about the support you get along the way. Cowbells, signs with awesome messages, music.....
Hearing comments like this, even though you know to ignore them, is a complete buzz kill. A serious downer.
But, I'm not going to injure myself and take the pleasure out of running by listening to what they say. So, on Sunday, I sucked up my pride and took a walk break after only running 2 minutes. I could go further...much further. But I wanted to be able to walk the next day, right?
After the first mile, I stopped at a park sign to stretch my screaming muscles. I took 20 seconds or so, then headed back down the road. Up ahead, I could see the "leader" of the running group coming back towards me.
As soon as he was near, I told him that I was doing run intervals, and he didn't need to wait for me.
He could see that I was limping along, and stayed to talk. I told him that I was working through some shin splints (no need to go into the unabridged version of my woes), and that he could continue on, I didn't want to hold him back.
He ran a couple intervals with me, then said he was going to run and catch up with other members, to see how they were doing.
About a mile later, he came out of the woods (runners have no shame...when you gotta go, you gotta go). He hadn't caught up with the group, and said he didn't enjoy running alone...would it be OK if he stayed and ran intervals with me.
For the remaining 4 miles, we talked about assorted running topics. He asked me for my story...how I got into running, how long I've been doing it, what events I've run in, etc. He then asked me about the issues with my legs.
He recommended a great doctor, who ended up being the doctor I'm already seeing. He recommended a great physical therapy office, that ended up being the group I'm seeing. He suggested some stretches and strength training exercises, that are a few of many I've been given to do already. Then we laughed. "Well, I guess you're doing everything that you can. The answer is out there, now you just need to let them find it. Be patient. It might not be an immediate fix, but the fix is there somewhere."
Then we just ran....not speaking. Every once and while he'd tell me to slow it down a little...or speed it up a little. He started "singing" some military cadence at one point....which got me laughing...but seemed to do the trick.
By the time we got back to our cars....we were soaking wet. Not from sweat (granted, there was plenty of that), but from the rain that started falling on us at about mile 3.5. I was wearing shorts, but my bright orange running coat. I'd debated wearing it...but was glad that I had.
The muscles in my legs, all of a sudden, loosened up at about mile 5. Wouldn't you know.
In fact, he started laughing during the last 3/4 mile. Apparently my pace had picked up significantly.
"You can see the finish line, can't you?"
I replied "I just want to get this damn run over!!"
I know don't if he ran the whole way with me because there's something in the group running handbook that says "leave no runner behind." I don't know if he was worried I'd make it, or worried about leaving me to run by myself in the park.
Whatever the reason, him sticking around kept me going. I don't know how far I would have made it before I just walked the whole way back.
I went to physical therapy today and told her about the pain the orthotics caused on Wednesday...I told her about how my legs, from the knee down, were in a state of mutiny during most of my Sunday run. I swallowed my pride and told her that I was scared, frustrated, mad......
She has asked that I not put any more major walking miles on the new orthotics. She just wants me to wear them each night around home while making dinner (giggle), doing laundry, etc. She is also going to have me come in again this week, for an extended session, so we can go over all the different strength and stretching exercises she wants to load me down with. "This is war...but we have to be smart about it."
We're taking a step back, going back to the beginning.....refresh, reboot, retry. Do over.
I'm trying to make sure my spirits and emotions follow suit.
(6.22 miles, 11:10 overall average pace)