Friday, April 12, 2013

"Marathon Curious" / One Year Out

It's funny to me that it literally took a "court order" to get me to blog again.  So what if it was just a court appointed Jury Duty date.

I will admit that I have missed blogging.  I have NOT, however, missed CANCER or any of the treatment.

I guess I'm writing now because I've been in a pensive phase. I've been doing some thinking (yikes), and I generally do that best when I write the shit down and let everyone who will listen, know about it.

It just occurred to me that TODAY is the ONE YEAR ANNIVERSARY of my Bilateral DIEP Breast Reconstruction Surgery.  I KNEW something had me thinkin'!!! One year ago today I went under the knife for what turned out to be the MOST physically challenging of all the Cancer treatments.  Don't get me wrong, the surgery itself went very well and the end result is actually quite impressive, if I do say so myself, but I must tell you that this surgery brought me down physically to a level that I had not been at any other time during, or before, cancer treatment.  Not just the surgery itself,  which completely trashed the minimal core I had worked up to since my 2 C-Sections, but also the 1 month of mostly sitting in a "puffy chair" and then 2 more months of absolutely no exercise, or work.  Due to my Vicoden induced decision to join the November NYC marathon, and my excitement to get back to life and to running, I was able to jump back in fairly quickly, even if at an extremely slow running pace.  I had a very rough summer of running but then starting feeling a bit better in the fall.  As you know the NYC marathon was cancelled, but I did get to run a marathon in Central Park, which was actually probably a great thing because I did not have a timing chip on so there was very little stress.  After NYC, I decided to go ahead and sign up for another Trail 50 K race in March.  This was the same race that I did last year when I had raced the 50 mile. (Nueces).  When I signed up for the 50K I was very excited because it sounded so short compared to the 50 miler. I was happy also to have made a very sound decision in that I knew that wasn't going to be prepared for 50 miles again this time around!

I had some pretty decent winter running, and some really great times with my old trail running buddies:

And a few really Horrible runs:

But the resultant 50K was Great!

This was a 50K PR for me and a super fun weekend!

I have to admit that even during my 50 K training, and then after,  a certain "itch", or curiosity kept bugging me.  I'll explain...

As you may know, I do at least one day a week of road running and I have been doing that "speed" work with Team Rogue.  I've been running with a new coach there named Jeff Knight.  He's a really cool person and he seems to really know what he's doing.  My thoughts about that were confirmed when, the other day, I met with him to discuss my "Marathon Plan", and he mentioned that I'd come a long way since he met me in September/October.  He mentioned also that, at that time, he'd wondered if I ought not even be there. (Post surgery and all, and that I was SUPER SLOW).  I have to admit that he was probably right, but also chuckled inside when he said it as I remembered that I looked good at that time compared to when I was bald and in chemo and was still attending every Tuesday, 2 years ago.  I thought it very cool that he went with it, despite his doubts and let me keep coming for reason's he may not have even understood at the time.  Not only did he let me keep coming, but he showed interest in me and continued to progress my workouts.  I'll never forget the day that I was having my first good run at a decent pace, and he was driving in the car next to me for what seemed like a mile.  I felt like ROCKY.  It was very inspiring.  But let me back up....

When I first met Jeff, I explained to him that "I'm just the trail runner girl who shows up on Tuesdays."   "I run trail the other days."  It was kinda strange and cool for me that he did not know anything about me or that I'd been doing this Tuesday road run for several years even before and through cancer.   I explained that my "A" race for the year was Nueces 50K in March.  I then explained that this 50K trail race was sort of like "a really, really, long, slow, hilly, rocky marathon", in order to get it inside his wheelhouse.  After this description, he hardly paused for a breath, and then asked me what MARATHON I was going to do?.  Hmm...  I asked..."What's the next one after March?"  He said.."Eugene".  I said.."I'd like to go to Eugene." Which I absolutely meant (for vacation purposes, etc) . I've never been to the great Northwest.  So, for the months of October through March, Jeff trained me for this trip to Eugene that sounded absolutely wonderful.  At some point in January or February I realized that I was, in at least in someones mind (Jeff's), actually going to do this Eugene Marathon.   At that point I had a little talk with  my husband and explained that depending on how Nueces goes, I MIGHT sorta have to do this marathon.  After Nueces I showed up on Tuesday morning at 5:30 as I normally do and began discussion with Jeff regarding my future running plans.  I was pretty tired that day (having just raced 31 hilly, rocky, miles only 3 days before) so I mentioned to him that maybe I should run Eugene NEXT year.   He had a few words regarding my statement that allowed me to buy one more week of introspection.
After a week of fun during SXSW including several days without the kids, I was feeling GREAT, and realized that I still wanted a few more months to try to continue to progress my fitness. Just before Nueces, I had realized that I did not feel that I was going to actually be peaking for that race. I felt that if I'd just have a couple more months, then I would possibly be peaking, and I'd be closer to one year out from my surgery. Nueces ended up being a better day than I had expected, producing a 50K Personal Record for me (including pre-cancer races), but I still just felt I wanted more. The difficult thing was going to be explaining to Richie this seemingly ridiculous desire. I wanted a SECOND "A" RACE within 2 months of the other one, and this one requiring plane tickets to OREGON. Oh yeah, and I want to take my 5 year old son with me who has never been on a plane. Richie was hesitant but agreed. Luckily by the time he realized the price of the plane tickets and began to question why I didn't just run a marathon in Austin, it was too late :).

So, here I am now in my "taper" phase trying to figure out my "purpose" for this marathon. Why did I decide I wanted to do this? What is it that is going to keep me running, or even better, keep me running as fast as I'd like to, when things get tough. Since toughness alone is no longer an option, due to the fact that I had previously vowed against it (in order for bad things that require toughness to get through to stop happening to me), I must find a true "purpose". I explained to my coach that prior to Cancer I was very competitive. I was the girl that would always try to catch the person in front of me and never let the person behind have an inch. Since Cancer I've been much more content to just be wherever I was. So then, why am I, a self-professed trail runner, now signed up for yet another marathon? And why do I have a certain marathon time goal? Especially since I really don't know what that means any more and I have only an inkling of the pace that I'm capable of. In trail running we don't even pay attention to the pace per mile. In fact, for the better part of this training season I didn't even have a Garmin. When I signed up for Eugene, I literally had no idea what pace I should be running. So, since I signed up for this marathon I've had about 4 weeks with a new Garmin and an eye on what might be possible. So, what is my motive? The only things I can really come up with are that 1.) I just feel like doing it, as I mentioned above about just wanting more time to progress, and 2.) I'm curious. Curious about how I will run. Curious what I can do literally one year out from my surgery, having started from what I consider zero.  My lowest point in cancer treatment. In a way I think that I feel it's kind of like a final exam for my comeback. I used to love taking tests in school. I always wanted to see what the best score I could get could be. Have I studied well enough? Will I get lucky? Do I already know the material? Have I done the work? This is a game that the pre-cancer me might have played. Like I explained to Coach Jeff, I've changed in many ways since cancer. Mostly for the better. But, there are some parts of the old me that I have begun to miss.  It feels kind of good to feel like that person again, at least in some ways.

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