Monday, January 21, 2008

And I didn't even get a T-Shirt! (Humbug!)

You would think, for the amount of excruciating pain that I've been in all day, that I would have done something really extraordinary yesterday. No, not simply a silly treadmill run. No, something really deserving of a free shirt (okay okay, I know - we pay entry fees to get into events). Like a race... A triathlon, a bike, a run, a swim, even an adventure race (I have always wanted to do one of those, but I have a tendency to get lost. I ended up in Alabama by accident during one long bike ride. Oops.)

There have been times in the past where I've felt almost as sore. But not quite. Then again - those memorable, painful times were all in the past - so my memory of how awful I truly felt may be a bit dodgy. Or at least the pain I'm experiencing now is so great that I have nothing in recent memory to compare it to.

And just think - how awful it would have been had I NOT taken the ice bath...

Don't even want to go there!

I woke up this morning to my alarm beeping merrily away. I moved my leg and arm in effort to turn the flippin' thing off.

Big mistake.

My leg felt like it had a 10 pound weight attached at the ankle, and even my torso felt stiff as I turned to reach for my bedside table. Nathaniel - wonder of wonders - was already awake, going over TH-57 Emergency Procedures for a disabled tail rotor (that puts things into perspective... when you help your husband memorize what to do in case his helicopter starts going down. I love Nathaniel so much, and this part of his job truly terrifies me. But I know he's doing what he loves, and by helping him go over his flash cards, I'm helping to make him a better prepared pilot. Even though it sucks because I tend to have a vivid imagination. Hey - at least it took my mind off my legs for a while...). Like I was saying, he was awake and studying - so when I stumbled out of the bedroom at 6:03 am, he gave me a cheerful, "good morning sunshine!"

I don't think I even responded.

In a Frankenstein-like manner, I jarringly walked/shuffled/dragged myself to the other bathroom and switched on the light.

Big mistake.

I stared at my reflection. The crazy-haired, bleary-eyed girl stared back at me.

And then, I made my first really big mistake (aside from reaching for the alarm).

I attempted to sit on the toilet.

Even BIGGER mistake.

My legs felt as though they were being stabbed with little knives, and it was all I could do from crashing onto the toilet. I did, however, land with a resounding "thud!"

But hey, at least I was awake.

"I think something is seriously wrong with my legs," I told Nathaniel, panic creeping into my voice, as I re-shuffled towards the living room.

Sitting in his green recliner, he just gave me a look, sort-of smirked and said, "that's okay. Just think how you'd be feeling without the ice or ibuprofen."

Humph! The External Motivator wasn't being so, er, motivating.

I couldn't even think of a response. So instead, I stumbled back to bed, convinced that by getting a few more minutes of sleep, things might just be better when I awoke.

(What kind of fantasy land was I living in???)

Actually, sleep is something that I'm pretty weird about. I can function on very little (5 or 6 hours, even 4 at times) for a few days. But then I'll catch up with 9, 10, or 11 - all in a row. The even more difficult part - is that I'm a light sleeper, will sometimes have a hard time falling asleep, and usually wake up a few times in the middle of the night. I'm not a big fan of sleep aids - as addiction runs in my family. Plus, I don't like the groggy-feeling-all-day-long (if I can help it). The previous few night's, I had only gotten 6, 5, and then 5.5 hours of sleep.

I know it's not healthy - but I've always been like this. I stay up late reading and writing, and then set the alarm. Sometimes I can sleep in, or if I'm really tired I have the flexibility of adjusting my schedule (sometimes).

The increase in intensity and volume has affected me, though - because once I hit the bed, I fall asleep pretty fast. (I just feel so much more effective at terms of getting "creative" stuff done - always have..."burning the midnight oil!" as my Dad would say...).

Then again, the minute I start worrying about weather or not I can fall asleep, I never am ABLE to fall asleep.

It's a vicious cycle, I tell you! (Now I know what my Dad was talking about all those years ago. We, unfortunately, have the same sleep patterns. 8 uninterrupted hours of sleep sounds almost too good to be true!)

But I stumbled back to bed.

Next thing I knew, Nathaniel was shaking me awake, exclaiming, "Wake up sleepyhead! It's a little after 9, and I thought you should get up."

Somewhere, deep within the covers and under numerous pillows, I think I groaned.

"There's coffee..." he promised.

What? Did someone say coffee?

I was up, at 'em, and ready to go.

My mind may have been able, but the body was weak. My legs still felt awful, and I wondered how the heck I was going to get through my workouts, let alone my day.

And then I started thinking about those other "painful" incidents that I've had. There are a handful, but I've pretty much picked out my top 5. I'm sure many of you can relate - even my Mom... Who made the rather unfortunate error of doing lunges for an hour in a grueling aerobics class, after never having done lunges in the past. Ever. (She called me, wondering how she should stop her pain. I told her ICE! And then asked her, "why in the world would you do lunges for an hour?" Her response: "because everyone else was. And it was my class!")

Like mother, like daughter!

Here they are, in no particular order:

-My first Half Ironman, California 70.3, 2006. I couldn't walk for days, let alone hobble to the bathroom, or squat down on the toilet in order to pee. It was painful. I actually took a shower to avoid sitting on the toilet (again, so I could pee). I learned a tough lesson though: My racing flats weren't intended for the 1/2 marathon distance. I will never make that mistake again.

-My first 1/2 Marathon. Cherry Point, MCAS (sorry - Marine Corps Air Station), April 2004. The look I gave Nathaniel after I crossed the finish line says it all.

-My first time lifting heavy weights in the off season. Let's see YOU try walking "normally" after doing 4 X 10 of a heavy, leg-intensive day. Didn't get a tee-shirt, but that's to be expected: there was no running, biking, swimming, triathlon-ing involved. Strength is a different beast all unto itself. (Case in point: have you ever watched "World's Strongest Man Competition"? I wouldn't trade sports with those guys for the world!) Coincidentaly, this workout involved lunges. I made the somewhat catastrophic mistake of holding 20 pounds. In each hand, as I happily lunged forward. It may have been the only time I felt "cool" at the gym. But I didn't walk for days afterwards. (Mom: I understand what you went through. Believe me. Not a time goes by when I've got "lunges" on my workout schedule that I don't think back to that fateful day.)

-During my first triathlon, ever. I got off my bike - having never done a bike-run workout before - and tripped over a curb. And I wasn't even going up - I was trying to step down. The 4 mile run that I did took over 45 minutes. So long, that I had to pee on myself, as I had over-hydrated so much before the race. It was gross, I was embarrassed, and I was S-L-O-W. And sore. But, at least I got a tee-shirt. And I got hooked on a great sport.

-After yesterday's 4 X 20 min zone 4-5.

You get the drift.

But even though I'm sore, even though I have a hard time walking - after each and every time I've felt this way, I've also had a marvelous sense of accomplishment. I did what most people would consider crazy - and I feel all the better for it. It never ceases to amaze me, that I put myself through this kind of stuff, yet I do so willingly, aware fully of the subsequent consequences.

I might B*tch and moan right now, but I know I'm better for it. I know I'll be better and stronger for it. And I would rather live my life, meeting new challenges head on, facing life to its fullest, than shrinking away in fear.

And what does this all mean?

Well, for starters: T-Shirts are overrated. Yeah, it's neat to get cool schwag, a great t-shirt from a fun race, but what does it really mean? Are you a better athlete for it? Does wearing the "official race shirt" make you all the better? (Finisher Shirts are a different story: I'm sure that I will sleep with my Ironman Finisher - God willing - under my pillow every night for a year after that race). No, absolutely not. It's the person whose wearing the t-shirt that makes all the difference.

And besides, most of the time, they don't even come in my size. So I'll get a Large or XL, and Nathaniel will use it. He's got a whole assortment of Triathlon shirts I never wear. But I still deserve one after yesterday! Not only for the workout, but for the bath that followed. Now, I'd like to see Nathaniel wearing a shirt thay had that on it.

FINISHER! I survived the treadmill, the people at the gym, the weak legs, and the ice bath that followed. :)


BreeWee said...

Oh my gosh! You have to get a shirt that says "I survived the treadmill". I think everyone who has a wicked coach who gives them tready sessions needs that shirt- my coach would crap his pants if I wore that... Too funny!
Way to go on the pain! Embrace it, love it, that means you did your workout right! It it will only make you stronger! (I am still laughing at that shirt!)
Recover well!

Beth said...

Marit! I nearly peed my pants reading about you taking a shower so you could pee without having to sit down on the toilet!! Now that, my friend, is an excellent idea!! (might have to use it later on this season! :) Anyway - hope you are feeling more recovered today!

Marit Chrislock-Lauterbach said...

Yup, showers are great, er "recovery aids". I think there was a Seinfeld episode about peeing in the shower. Too funny though... Yep, I'm feeling better today - although haven't been challenged to do anything too substantial. I'm switchin around a run to tommorow, and biking an extra hour - because I don't want to aggrivate my lateral quads (I can just feel the knots). So a long bike (scheduled) and then an hour of self-induced pain from a massage. :) We should all just make t-shirts for ourselves... we've earned them! Beth - for you and your weekend ride, where you push yourself to new extremes each and every Sat/Sun (on the same, hilly course!) and Bree for being able to back up telling Chris Lieto that he could draft off of you. You guys rock!

Kellye Mills said...

I can so relate to your post! Some point during every race I have a moment where I ask myself, "Why do I think this is fun?" But you know it always is! :) You finish, walk away with not only your t-shirt but that much more confidence in what you can accomplish, you recover, and then somehow, history gets rewritten and in looking back... it just doesn't seem that bad anymore!

The girls in my family swear it's natures way of women forgetting pain so that you won't have JUST ONE child :) I'm just glad that crosses over to triathlon too!!

I hope you recover well!

Pedergraham said...

I've peed in the shower, too, to avoid sitting. I dare you to get a t-shirt that says, "I pee standing up"!
Can you take a hot bath to loosen up, or does that only help for a short while and inhibit the longer-term recovery? (I shouldn't ask this question b/c I'm sure the answer isn't going to be the one I'm looking for!)

Mel said...

shhhhhh don't scare the childless woman about birthing...IT is great...not really pain, more like uncomfortable :)

But to racing it does have a funny thing about it...during a race and moments after you are cursing ...I am NEVER going to do this again...BUT after the hurt.... you are ITCHING to sign up for another one :) SO just remember the pain goes along with the racing...and it does go AWAY :)

Marit Chrislock-Lauterbach said...

Danielle - only if you wear it too! :) Yea - ice baths for the recovery stuff... But actually, a hot shower/bath is great for relaxing your muscles and getting them warmed up. While it doesen't serve the same purpose as a real workout, it is good for your body (if you have tears and junk un your tissue from a really hard session, then you're better off skipping the hot water and just soft pedaling or something.) Actually, when I rowed at the World Indoor Rowing Championships, after my final I took a shower, and met one of the openweight finalists - who would be rowing in an hour's time - in the shower. I asked her if her race went well, and she said that she had her final still left to go, but that the hot water helped to relax her. She ended up winning the Overall Title, and coming within 2 or 3 seconds of a new world record. I found this out later, and people were greatly amused when I yelled, "I met her in the sower!" I say that we all just go somewhere where the water is warm (like KONA with Bree) and float above the surface, looking down at wonderful turtles and nice marine life.

Pedergraham said...

OK--we are going to get a t-shirt that says on the front "I pee standing up" and on the back, "I survived the treadmill". We can add a picture of a nice-friendly looking shark for you, Marit!