Saturday, December 3, 2011

The Kind Of Week That Makes You Want To Quit...

...But that's not what I do.  It's been an interesting week.  As far as running goes there were a lot of downs this week and a precious few ups; very rough week.  It's definitely not ideal since all of my 2012 plans hinge on having a good 9 weeks of training leading up to and a good race at the Louisiana Marathon on January 15th and that training seems to have derailed time and time again.  Oh well, I'll get back to this topic later, let's discuss what's gone on this week specifically.

If you've been paying attention (and why wouldn't you?) you already know I've been having some problems with the cold air.  This week has been the worst by far.  Last Sunday (11/27) I met up with my buddy Mark for a nice 14 mile run on the Indian Creek Trail; well that was the plan at least.  It was 35* when we started with a strong wind out of the north and a 25* windchill.  We got started and I was doing good for the first few miles, but then right on queue my lungs started to get tight and I was starting to wheeze a little.  The longer we went the harder it got to breathe.  By the time we got the turn around at 7 miles I was really struggling for air and we were turning into the wind which would only make it worse.  We were close to my mother-in-laws house at that point and I simply couldn't breathe anymore so I turned of to run to her house and Mark went on without me.  By the time I got to her house I'd done a total of 8.88 miles in 1:36:55.  I was very disappointed and frustrated.  I started considering the possibility that I might just be stuck training exclusively on the treadmill again like last winter.

On Tuesday 11/29 the Olathe Running Club was invited to a local running store by a rep from Mizuno to test out a new Mizuno Breath Thermo shirt.  I thought maybe this shirt would help keep my chest warmer and I wore a cover over my face hoping it would help warm up the air as I breathed.  We got started at about 6:45 pm and I ran up the Indian Creek Trail since the store is right across the street from it.  It was 36* with a 28* windchill.  I figured if my breathing could hold I'd go for 6 miles.  No such luck.  Breathing became more and more labored from the start.   By 2 miles out I was really struggling and my pace was getting slower and slower so I turned around to head back to the store.  The cover on my face was helping keep my face warm but it was not helping with my breathing, and the shirt was nice and did help keep my body warm but the cold air still managed to attack my lungs.  I got back after 4 miles gasping for breath.  Humiliated, and disappointed again.  Kristy suggested that it was time to see my doctor about this problem.  I agreed but it would be 100% out of pocket because I used up all of my insurance in the spring when I had a stress fracture.  I wish I could have afforded to buy one of the shirts, pretty nice.

The next day I was still having a bit of a tough time breathing because my lungs were still tight so I decided to work from home and try to get in a treadmill run on my lunch break.  By the time lunch came around I was breathing great and I felt good, ready to have a great run.  Lord knows I needed one.  My training plan called for a Tempo Run consisting of a 1 mile warm up @ 10:32, 5 mile Tempo @ 9:05, 1 mile cool @ 10:00.  I went through the warm up piece of cake and cranked up to the 9:05 and was attacking it.  I felt good!!  Breathing was strong (of course the air is warm inside) and my legs were ready to get some redemption.  I was going along fine when all of a sudden at 3.55 miles (including the warm up) the treadmill started jerking badly.  Suddenly at 3.68 miles it practically stopped and I almost killed myself running into the control pad.  Seriously?  Now my treadmill is turning against me too??  Ended up with 3.68 miles in 34:51.

Now what?  I can't train outside where I can't breathe and I can't train inside on a broken treadmill.  How am I supposed to be ready to hit my goal at the marathon if I can't train for it.  I called and got an appointment with my doctor for Friday afternoon (12/2) to see if she could help.  I've thought for a few years now that I have asthma but my doctors had not agreed to that point so I wasn't sure what was going on and I was just keeping my fingers crossed that she could figure out what was wrong and how to fix it.  I haven't seen her since she referred me to a foot specialist when I had my stress fracture so we spent the first part of the appointment catching up.  I really like my doctor and I love that she is so encouraging about my running.  She was excited that my foot healed up so quickly and my wife had told her about me joining the Marathon Maniacs so she asked me about that. Her response after I explained it to her was, "I think you're insane, but as your doctor I'm all for it. At least I know you get regular exercise."  I thought that was pretty funny, but I love that she is supportive of how much running I do, not all doctors do.  I explained to her what's been going on with the cold weather and she asked a number of questions to get a good understanding of what I've been experiencing.  She listened to me take some deep breaths, checked my ears and throat.  She then told me that she does believe that I have asthma.  She said it's been hard to tell with me since I never go out in the cold and, like many people, mine only seems to flare up in the cold air.  She gave me a medicine to take twice a day and an inhaler for emergencies and when I'm running.  She is hopefully that this will help a lot and wants to see me again the first week of January to see how things are going.  If things have not improved she wants to send me to a specialist.

Now finally something good to talk about.  All week the forecast for today (Sat 12/3) has been calling for very cold temps and a snow/rain mix.  Well, that all changed yesterday; suddenly they were calling for 50* and spotty, light rain.  When I woke up this morning it was about 43* and raining fairly hard so I checked the weather and it looked like it there would be a break in the heavy rain after about 8:30-9:00 then start up pretty hard again in the afternoon so I wanted to take advantage of that window.  I started out at 9:15 am; it was still cold in my mind (48*), but warm enough to not cause breathing issues.  I decided I'd make up the 14 miles I missed last week and do this week's 16 miles next weekend when it's supposed to be a rest week with a 7 mile "long" run.  I kept it close to home in Gardner so I could call Kristy if I had problems, but as anticipating a good run.  I love rain runs so I was kind of excited even with the cold.  It rained off and on, mostly very lightly with one strong rain for about 10-15 minutes.  I don't know why I love running in the rain so much but it is a true joy for me.  This was the most rain I've run in since the Napa Valley Marathon.  Th entire run went well; I felt good, breathing was good, and I was keeping a good pace.  I ended up with 14.14 miles in 2:25:54 with an average pace of 10:21.  My pace would have been better but there are a couple pretty long stop lights I had to wait for and I had a strong headwind every time I was going south or east.

I'm hopefully that the meds the doc gave me will help keep me outside as much as possible.  We have been trying to find a way to fix our treadmill but I'm fairly certain it's dead so I'm not sure what I'll do for the speed training I need to do.  There have been so many roadblocks in my training so far and with the winter still ahead I'm sure there will be plenty more.  I'm hoping that I can get through them as best as possible and be ready to hit my goal of 4:10 at the race.  If I can make it through all of these struggles then I can make it through anything, right?  Hopefully fighting through problems and finding solutions will help give me more mental and physical strength to keep moving forward. I have big goals for next year that are based on starting with a strong performance at Louisiana, so I have no choice but find a way to keep more forward.

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