Tuesday, August 5, 2008

The Hamster Wheel

Like the mighty phoenix
Once again I rise from the flames set to destroy me & take flight
I am Stronger



Kirsti A. Dyer, MD, MS
I imagine that is how cancer survivors feel

After last week's disappointment I had two choices: bow in defeat or rise. I chose to rise...like the Phoenix.

"No more messing around"...That was my mantra this week as I confronted my pain and declared, "I will not go gentle into that good night."

I know I said I would never take an ice bath again, but desperate times call for squealing in ice water. Brian and I sat there, freezing our inflamed joints for 20 minutes while I read aloud the Newsweek magazine with Obama on the cover. My voice trembled as I tried to distract myself and Brian from the thoughts of ice crystals forming on our toes. We emerged numb and cold, but feeling better. The ice baths do really help, even if they are painful at first.

Due to the amount of pain I was in, I had been skipping my strength and cross training in hopes of speeding my recovery. Big mistake. I realize now, that strength and cross training are tools in speeding recovery and preventing further injury. So Monday, I worked my leg muscles with a strength training routine that our coach, Brett, showed me. Then I hit the elliptical for 30 minutes. I felt so tired, so drained, but I kept going.

I decided to skip hill repeats with the team on Wednesday and focus on getting myself running on flat ground. I went to the local park and forced my tired, sore legs to hobble at a slow, gentle jog. I had to walk for a bit to warm up, but I was able to run through the pain. It was bearable enough for me to complete 4 miles.

My confidence was coming back! I started to feel less sore as the week went on. I was eating better and getting more sleep. I realized that I needed to treat my body as an athlete's body. This means demanding better for myself. The discipline required to run this marathon has spilled out past the training days into my everyday life. I think about hydrating a day before my runs. I exchange parties for early bedtimes. Everything I do revolves around my runs. I can't believe this is me!

On Friday my sister, Diana, and her husband, Matt, flew us to Phoenix to celebrate my nephew's 1st birthday with my family. We got in at 8 pm, ate dinner and went to bed. We were up with the rugrats at 7:30 to go for our run. It was 110 degrees outside, so we had no choice but to hit the gym. That is where I found The Hamster Wheel... The tiny track squeezed the gym, requiring 12 laps to complete a mile. It laughed at us as if to say, "See if you can do this without losing count". I felt like a hamster in a wheel. During the first 3 miles, I fought off the insanity of passing the exact same point 36 times. I tried not to think that I would see the same weight set, same aerobics room, same staircase 144 times before I was through. This was a mental battle as well as a physical one. The good news was that I was running without any pain. This kept me going and pretty soon, I found my rhythm.

Brian zipped by with the occasional goose or pat on the back.
He lapped me more times than I care to mention, but I didn't mind. He inspired me to try harder.

I met a girl named Heather on the track. She was also training for an endurance run. She plans to run in the New York marathon in November. We ran together from mile 4 to mile 6. This was just what I needed to take my mind off the dizzying merry-go-round of a track we were on. I started to get more energy and felt my pace quickening. At the end of mile 6, we parted and she took on the treadmill for a while. Her timing was perfect. She got me over that hump. Thanks Heather!

At about mile #9 I started bargaining with myself. "Maybe I'll just do 10 miles," I thought. Once I got to 10, Brian ran by and asked if I was going to do 12. A breathy, "we'll see" blew out of my mouth. My legs were dumb to the running and I felt hardly any pain. My mind, however, was very aware of each lap. I developed a counting system on my fingers so I wouldn't lose track. Each lap was a step further than I thought I could go. Brian ran 14 miles in the time it took me to run 12. He actually completed his run 3 laps before mine was finished, so he ran beside me as I pushed myself past all my mental barriers. When I finally stopped, I couldn't believe what I had just done. Did I really run 12 miles?!? Why weren't my legs hurting? It was like a dream. I CONQUERED THE HAMSTER WHEEL!We left with enough energy to enjoy my nephew's first birthday party. It was a lot of fun! My sister made cakes that looked like baseballs. Jeffrey, my nephew, had cake all over his face. My niece, Sadie, and I decorated the house with streamers and balloons. Jeffrey handled himself in style. He wasn't swayed by the army of kids scampering around, popping balloons. All he cared about was mom and cake.
It was a pretty good day.

1 comment:

darrellteague said...

Hi Jamie,

Not sure if I have meet you but I think I have. I'm Darrell Teague, Rolland and Thelma, is my Dad and Mom. I'll be in S.F. for the run on the 19th of Oct. Hope I get to visit with you. My roommate and a friend will be with me. We fligh in the 17th late at night and we'll be there til the 22nd.
Love you,
Darrell Teague