If your mind don’t move and your knees don’t bend

“No plan survives contact with the enemy” – Helmuth von MoltkeIMG_2462

The Plan

Following Rio de Janeiro, I’ve been in cruise mode, basically maintaining my running with 5Ks over the summer and fall, with the occasional longer race.  Now it’s time to start getting ready for the Bunbury 3 Waters Marathon in April.  My basic training schedule will follow the training plan I used for Tokyo, with some revisions to build in some cross-training: I have a new personal trainer at the gym for strength work, and I’ve discovered that the branch over at Tempe Marketplace runs BodyCombat twice a week.  I have a shiny new Garmin Forerunner 235 that locates the satellites in seconds rather than minutes, doesn’t chew battery and has a built-in heart monitor, yay!

I like to do races for my long runs, so I sign up for a bunch;  although Bunbury is a street race I sprinkle some Aravaipa trail runs into the mix when they correspond to the distance I need to run that weekend because the Aravaipa events are always tons of fun.  There’s a hill just around the corner from my house that mimics the profile of the few hills on the Bunbury course, so I can train there on weekdays – perfect!

The Reality

Barely two weeks into my training plan, I’m car #3 in a 3-car smash-up.  My GP tells me no running and no weights until my broken ribs and sternum heal, 6-8 weeks at least.

The Plan

My GP also says “let pain be your guide”, so I’ll start with walking short distances, then increase my mileage and mix in some easy running, and see how it goes from there.  I can walk the New Year’s race I’ve signed up for, and when I fly up north for my Mom’s memorial service I’m staying near a park where I can walk.  I’ve also got the elliptical trainer at home that I can work with.

The Reality

I manage the 5K doubleheader over New Year’s, but I’ve caught a tenacious cold that on the flight to Seattle blows into my left ear and turns into a hellaciously painful infection.  The doctor at Urgent Care grounds me and I spend the rest of the week holed up in a Holiday Inn Express chugging OJ and watching true crime shows on TV.  My training is suffering from serious failure to launch.

The Plan

It’s now the second week of January.  I look for low-impact activities I can do that will get my cardio back in form, and find CycleZone classes at my gym – great aerobic workout according to my heart monitor, and there’s also lots of core work.  For my trail races, I’ll drop down the lower distances and walk them until I get the all-clear from my GP.  I’ll also try walk/running at the Saturday morning EVR group run in Gilbert.

The Reality

My first couple EVR outings, using the walk/run strategy, are tough.  I’m hyper-vigilant that I don’t stub my toe on the pavement and trip, feeling fragile like I might shatter if I fall.  I start out only running short stretches of a few hundred yards and I’m out of breath quickly, my ribcage not wanting to expand.  Gradually I expand my running stretches, ending up with a strategy of 1 mile running to ½ mile walking that works well.  Walking the trail races is frustrating but at least I’m getting some good exercise.  Meanwhile, I’m sticking with CycleZone and the elliptical.  By the end of January I get the word: my ribs are completely healed and I can resume all my normal activities.  Things are looking up!

The Plan

It’s the first week of February and clearly there’s not enough time for a traditional buildup to the marathon with built-in recovery weeks, especially starting from where I’m at now.  From here I can only do a straight ramp up and hope I can get my long run to 18 or 20 miles before marathon day.  I reset my goal to finding a run/walk ratio that will let me finish Bunbury before the 6 hour cutoff.  I also decide to ditch the 30K Mesquite Canyon trail run in March in favor of the same mileage as a street run; I need to be training to the terrain that I’ll be running in the marathon.

The Reality

Hey, I’m back to weight training again!  And expanding my run/walk ratio.  On February 25 I run the HM distance at the Mesa-PHX Marathon using 2 miles running to ½ mile walking, and finish in 2:32 – not a PB by a long shot, but not shabby either!  The following weekend, I’m so sore on my 15-miler that I have to switch to longer and more frequent walk breaks and I’m feeling like crud by the end.  By Monday I clearly have an upper respiratory infection, by midweek I’m in bed coughing up green shit, and Friday my GP is telling me “Yep, I’m seeing a lot of that this year.”

The Plan

It’s now the third week of March.  My training is in the toilet.  The Aravaipa homepage entices me with photos of record wildflower blooms in the White Tanks and I say screw it, I’m doing 30K at Mesquite Canyon, just throw myself at a ridiculous course that’s going to be nothing but an endurance exercise where I come in dead last and just have some fun!

The Reality

Following a grueling grind up Goat Camp trail, I find myself cruising along at altitude hip-deep in yellow brittlebush, orange mallow and gloriously blue lupin, just enjoying the day.  Somewhere between miles 12 and 13 I trip and face-plant into a boulder.  It’s two miles to the next aid station, where they patch me up.  1.5 miles to the aid station after that, where they patch me up some more and offer a ride to the finish line.  I decide to walk it.  It’s only two more miles, and I want my damn finisher’s glass.  Curiously, I don’t feel fragile any more.

The Plan

It’s now the fourth week of March.  The Phoenix Pride Run is this weekend, and I’m signed up for the HM + 5K “Challenge.” My strategy: repeat my Mesa-PHX run/walk strategy for the HM to finish at about the same time, then treat the 5K as a cooldown.  This should be easy-peasy.

The Reality

I get hung up on the 2:30 pacer, who is running hot by about 5 minutes (as I later reckon) and push the running segments too hard, finishing tired, sore and cranky in 2:28.  The 5K is a true recovery as I walk most of it (albeit a brisker walk than many of the families taking part).

It is now two weeks out from the Bunbury 3 Waters Marathon.  The other drivers’ insurance companies have just, finally, contacted me about the accident in December.  I need to, right now,  fill out medical forms for my Kilimanjaro trip in July.  My water heater just broke.

The Plan


Categories: Not Race Reports | 1 Comment

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One thought on “If your mind don’t move and your knees don’t bend

  1. Yikes. you’ve been through a lot. I hate when my ears wont pop on a flight. I can’t imagine what you went through.

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