20 February 2010

From Springing to Spring

So far as the global environmental crisis goes, an early spring is rather concerning. So far as our mental states go, an early spring is exciting and invigorating. I’ve gone from a state of springing to a state of spring in the last few days, and to put it mildly, I’m pumped.

It’s been rather rough the last few months, injury-wise. Last fall, I strained my calf just a week or so before the Mount Desert Island marathon. Barely a month later, it was the mysterious lower leg tendon injury. Recovered, I enjoyed a month or so of relative solidity, only to be dashed again by somehow spraining (one might guess?) an ankle doing the supremely dangerous act of getting out of a chair at a conference. I always said that conference food will kill you. And while nursing that one, the left hip decided being healthy wasn’t hip, and went south for a while.

In short, while awaiting spring, I’ve felt like everything in me has being springing loose. Twang. I’m pretty convinced these are all aspects of still being out of balance now that my right foot is permanently altered in its function. A fine rationalization, but it doesn’t get you past the pains.

On top of all that, it is, of course, the Dark Period, that time of the year when we northerners yearn for sun beyond 5 PM. And while we’ve been spared all that much winter precipitation, it’s just seemed windier and starker than usual. The 60-Day Challenge is in full force.

All of this has taken its toll. Anyone who knows me knows that why I’m sometimes nicknamed, “Slightly Obsessed.” It’s true, but only slightly. I don’t fret over my training plans. Unlike many, I don’t worry about this week’s mileage, or exactly what day I put in that twenty-miler for the next marathon. But I do record every mile, I do measure to the hundredth (more or less) to accurately track my training pace, and I do track and use my monthly mileage goals for training incentive. So while I don’t fret when I have a sparse week, which will happen in the real world, I do get antsy when I hit the middle of the month with barely fifty miles on the meter. Which, with the ankle, the hip, and all that, is what happened this month. A lousy fifty three miles by Valentine’s Day. No love there.

Time for the tide to come in. And it did.

The ankle forced many missed days, but seemed on the mend. The hip? That Supreme Expert of Health Care, Google, provided a consensus that didn’t say stop, but instead just said to reduce the inflammation, in short, dose up on Vitamin I (ibuprofen), and adjust your stride to take some stress off the joint. Worth a try. Vitamin I is a regular regimen, but I hadn’t really given much thought to my stride.

And just like that, the outlook turned to Spring. The sun, slowly getting stronger, higher, and staying around longer, seemed to pass a threshold this week that signaled my brain to lighten the mood. Thursday brought a glorious forty five degrees with brilliant sunshine. I opted to challenge the injury a bit, and popped in a lunchtime twelve miler, taking care to consciously shorten my stride, and Mr. Hip got hip. Almost no pain. And down to shirtsleeves by mile six. Shades. Spring, physically and mentally.

That was it. The chains were off. There’s part of me that says, don’t screw it up, don’t over do it, and there’s part of me that says, live it, love it, and burn up some miles to make myself feel better about the abysmal first half of the month. Friday, another ten, barely noticed anything in the hip. And another brilliant spring-like (if a bit windy) day. This morning, another dozen with my club under glorious skies once again, and only about a minute where I even noticed I had a hip. Just like that, the month is saved, my mental outlook is saved, it’s spring.

Well, OK, I admit, it’s still a month to spring, but for me, spring starts March 1, no matter what, by definition, and we’re only a week away and it feels like March 1, so whether you think I’m crazy or not, it’s spring. The key thing is I’m pumped.

In a week, I’ll join my club as we descend on the Hyannis Marathon in droves, covering all the events one way or another. I’ll be the third leg on our masters relay team, striving for one of their uber-cool clamshell awards. Ought to be a real good time. Then, guess what? The next day, it’s March 1, and it’s official. Spring.

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