"The goal is to become the unique, awesome, never to be repeated human being that we were called to be." -Patricia Deegan

Friday, February 3, 2012

Making Time for Us

Having a passionate nature means I'm constantly having to pulls the reins in on my runaway horse. I freely admit that I have a problem :)

However, to use the "labour of love" analogy, the vice presidency I took on with AURA must be akin to giving birth and raising sextuplets. Maybe it's not actually giving birth - I didn't create the vp at AURA position - I just inherited it. So, let's say it's like someone died and willed me their sextuplets. They're great kids and I love them like they're my own, but I just can't take care of them all as much as they deserve. So I continue to search for people to adopt some of them. Failing that, I expect that in a few months, someone is going to find 6 small "children" abandoned under a bridge. And me skipping down the lane, freely :)

One of the biggest tragedies in having such a big role within AURA is that my blogging has suffered. So, here I am, on a Saturday morning, with a cuppa, to spend a little quality time.

There's so much rolling around in my head I've wanted to share that I fear it will all come out disjointed in one piece! Let me start with my compartment syndrome recovery....

I took up short, slow jogs at the end of December, at which time I still had a lot of daily swelling in the shin and foot. Jogging actually helped, as the muscle contractions pumped the fluid back out of my lower limb. But I've had to limit the run lengths and intensity markedly. In mid-January, setting the PTS Staypuft course, I ran 19k quite well, but it was a very slow pace, with stopping to tie ribbons on bushes. I tried to back that up the following weekend with an 18k of hills at a more normal pace and paid the price. The shin just felt weird for a few days after that. Not painful, but kinda thick-like. An odd feeling.

I went back to see Ali, my physio, last week and we assessed my progress again. We both agree it's been slower than expected (although neither of us had seen chronic compartment syndrome of this nature before). The arthropathy in my calcaneocuboid joint (outside bottom of foot) continues to cause me almost continual pain/discomfort. We assessed my foot strength. No, make that "tried to" assess my foot strength but basically I had none. I could barely stand on tiptoes on that side. The muscles, tendons, and ligaments in my foot have atrophied, I think, and quite possibly the temporary nerve damage I had inhibited their functions.

We've decided to take a rather aggressive approach to the foot for the next week. I am doing a lot of painful strength work (what could an ultrarunner like more than a lot of pain?!) and lots of stretching through the foot and ankle. Although my calf muscles are still the same size, a small amount of decreased strength is evident to me. I can't do my eccentric calf raises on my left foot because I cannot move that way - pain and lack of flexibility, both. If I keep doing the calf raises on my good side only, I figure I'll create more unevenness.

I find this injury really fascinating. I think it's a very small insight into the lives of people who've had traumatic muscle injuries, stroke, accidents, etc. When I move my foot - wriggling my toes, for example, it's a very conscious movement and everything feels just a little bit awkward, stiff, and "thick."

My goal races for this year start with TNF100 in mid-May. My main reason for entering that race is because many of my mates are doing it. That's a good reason to enter, but it's not going to get me over the finish line. So the secondary goal is to smash out my best possible time, going as hard as possible on a course that's been run by many of Australia's best athletes. I'm probably a bit older than would be best to 'peak' on this kind of trail race, but I expected a sub-13hr race was possible for me under best conditions.

However, to stand at the start line with a hope of going for this goal, my foot needs to be completely recovered in the next 6 weeks. I need all my proprioception back in training. I need to be able to twist and turn quickly and smoothly on uneven terrain. Absolutely impossible right now. I can't even stand on tiptoes!

If TNF doesn't come together in time, I'm okay with that. I have a back-up plan of running the Sri Chinmoy 24 hr in mid-June, with a goal of breaking the Cdn W open 24 hr record. Something I didn't get to finish at Commonwealths. I'm working with a GP and sports doc now on some apparent grade 3 iron-deficient anaemia. We're still debating to what extent my anaemia is artificial - "sports anaemia" - a consequence of "regular aerobic training, which causes an increase in blood plasma volume. As a result the red blood cells are more diluted, and measures of haemoglobin and ferritin appear lower since they have effectively been 'watered down'." This is exacerbated more in hot weather.
I've had no symptoms of iron deficiency (fatigue, lightheadedness), so I'm rather concerned about the mega-doses of iron the medicos have recommended. Too much iron increases risk of disease and cancer (okay, everything increases the risk of cancer, I'll give you that one). But it's my body and it's the only one I have. I'm a bit protective.

The only question in my mind about possible "real" anaemia is that at Commonwealths I had a low-level nausea which kept me from running the speed I wanted. We attributed that to spoilt fuel. But the nausea continued (when not running, as well) for the month after the event, so that's what took me to the GP. Whilst nausea is not a symptom of iron deficiency, one might make the case that with decreased ability to transport oxygen around my body, the digestive system may have suffered first (shutting down digestion in order to preserve oxygen for more vital muscles).

The mystery continues.

I'm working on a new formula for measuring our success with surviving WA summer... in addition to miles logged, with consideration for time of day and humidity, I've added a variable related to how many flies you've got stuck in your eye, swallowed, or inhaled up your nose. Any other pertinent variables you think I need to add to the formula, just let me know!

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