Step by Step

It’s funny how life works. One day, you’re writing a dramatic blog post about your numb foot/leg/back and calling your surgeon, and the next you’re feeling just a teeny, tiny bit better. First things first. I spoke with my surgeon finally – literally while hacking through a swamp – and he said it sound like I had herniated another disc in my back or made a current herniation (I have two) worse. He recommended another MRI and said that would determine the course of treatment, but that it could heal itself in the meantime, require physical therapy, and injection, or as a last result, another surgery. He said not to do anything that hurt, but anything that didn’t hurt was ok.

I worked in the field last week, as I will for pretty much the whole month of May (hence the aforementioned swamp hacking). Lucky for me, walking doesn’t really bother my leg,  so I decided to head out for a walk after we got back one evening. I figured I would run a few steps and see how I felt, but planned on just walking and getting some more exercise and enjoying the evening air. Oddly enough, despite a whole day in the field on my feet, those few steps felt pretty good. My leg seemed more able to engage, and I was able to run a mile without walking from weakness. I decided to call it quits at a mile and walk the rest of the way, but I felt just a little optimistic, even though I had no idea what the next day would bring.

I woke up the next morning feeling normal, did another whole day in the field, and did an online Barre3 workout with the same promise to myself – I would not do anything that hurt. I modified a lot of the moves but still got a good workout in and better still – no weird pain the next day. So I set out again for a run/walk and ended up running about 2 miles, feeling stronger than the previous day. Not 100% by any means, but definitely better.

I did a Barre3 class in studio on Friday morning, again with modifications, but also again with no extra pain or numbness. That meant that this weekend brought me and my HOKAs a “long” run, which was actually more like a 4.5 mile run/walk. I’d estimate that I ran probably 3.5 miles, more or less, with breaks whenever I felt like I needed them.

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Post “long run” excitement! From Instagram

And today I did my first bike ride in easily a month and ended up riding about 23 miles. I’m definitely planning on spending more time on my bike when I can, but it’s hard when I’m traveling for work all the time. My bike isn’t exactly the most convenient thing to lug around.

I’ve started thinking about the Casper Marathon and what my approach should be. Originally, I was of course planning to run the full marathon on June 7. Now, I’m not sure how realistic that is. Even if my back continues to heal, which I hope it does, I’m pretty horribly undertrained. My last long run of 15 miles DID go great (and was at a great pace), but by the time I get to race day, it will be over 2 months old. While that is very similar to my training for the Prairie Fire Marathon (my first one since back surgery, back in October) when my longest training run was 16 miles, it’s still not ideal. I know my endurance is not where it should be, even if my back ends up being fine.  The biggest problem is that the half and full marathons do not really run the same course, so I have to decide what I’m going to do ahead of time.

Part of me says that I should do the smart thing and drop down to the half, regardless of how I feel. The other part says that I can try the full, set out to have fun with no time goal (the thought of which kind of angers me because I had hoped to run a solid race in Casper after a great training season), and see what happens. If I finish, great. If my back ends up causing a problem and I DNF, oh well. I’m just not sure what to do, and unfortunately I think it will be a game time decision. It won’t be the race I was hoping for either way, but I’ll still be having fun with my friends and seeing a new place – that’s the most important thing. We’ll see what happens!

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