Sunday, February 11, 2007

Let's Review

Alright. I'll admit, I might be one gu short of a full pack. Let's just all agree that I have gone over the edge, that I am risking injury (though I think we do that every day) and that I am way too enthusiastic. Now that we've all agreed on that, lets review:

  • I spent three years pretty much on the sidelines cheering Eric and others on, carrying their bags and ringing the cowbells while they ran marathons.
  • I spent those same three years struggling with health and heart issues, undergoing many medical tests, and finishing with a simple gall bladder surgery.
  • The whole time I wanted to get off the sidelines and into the fray.
  • I came out of surgery feeling better than I had in years and ready to give it a try.
  • Last spring when I started this marathon madness, I had a twelve year base of 20-25 mile weeks.
  • I use a run/walk method, and keep my heart rate below 160. I use the run/walk for my heart health, but also believe it helps prevent injuries.
  • It's working. Four marathons and one ultra down. No injuries, no terrible heart problems. Much fun and much enthusiasm.

Now that we've all agreed that I'm currently out of control, and we've reviewed how I got here, I'll let you in on my latest plan. I'm adding the Coeur D'Alene Marathon to my schedule. This is what the next few months will look like:

  • 15 miles of Orcas Fat Ass
  • 34 days with no race
  • Yakima Canyon Marathon
  • 21 days of recovery/training
  • Mt. Si 50K
  • 6 days of recovery
  • Eugene Marathon
  • 13 days of recovery/training
  • Tacoma City Marathon
  • 13 days of recovery/training
  • Coeur D'Alene Marathon
  • 14 days of recovery/training
  • North Discovery Olympic Marathon

This is an agressive plan. I know it is, but I think I can do it, especially since I'm not going for any fast times. I am going for three Maniac stars though! If the plans for CD'A don't quite work out, then I'll stick in Capital City - but that will only give me six days after Tacoma City.

During those years of supporting Eric and everyone else at their marathons, I was looking at races and deciding which ones I would do, given the chance. Well, I was given the chance, and I've picked quite a few off my list this year, but still have some left: San Juan Island, Whidbey Island, Big Sur, Avenue of the Giants and Reykjavic among them. Of course, I keep discovering new ones to add, so the list is by no means static.

Lately, I've been getting asked "why" a lot, been told I'm crazy (probably true), been told that the Maniac stars don't mean anything. And really, they don't. Let me tell you the absolute truth of why I'm hitting it so hard.

I know I have said this before, but since it is kind of a driving force behind my desire, I'll repeat it again. I have a leaky heart valve - a birth defect. As I age, it degrades. I have absolutely no control over it - diet and exercise cannot control the changes - it is the nature of the defect that the valve will show wear and tear. For a few years it was degrading by a steady percentage each year - had it continued, I'd be looking at valve replacement at age 52 (I'm 49). However - for the last two years it has held steady and not gotten any worse. The cardiologists say that it could hold here forever, or it could get worse at any time. No way to know, other than an annual echo. If it does get worse, it could degrade to the point where I will have difficulty walking, much less running, at which point, they'll replace it. The other factor is the risk of various bacterias and viruses. I know somebody who is my age, who had the same defect and now has an artifical aortic and mitral valve because he got strep and it settled in the defective valve. He went from healthy to near death in six months. Fortunately, he is doing well now with his artifical valves. This adds up to making me feel a little bit like the Sword of Damocles is hanging over my head, and so I am cramming it all in while things are good. If, heaven forbid, the sword should fall, I'll have no regrets because I did it all. If the sword continues to dangle, I'll have no regrets because I'm giving it my all. Either way I win.

PS. I swear, I will not be doing any 50 milers! That is like, 19 more miles - now, that's nuts! And I don't even want to think about how many more miles a 100 miler is! But, Rob tells me "never say never". I'm saying it anyway: NEVER!


robtherunner said...

There is no doubt you are out of control, but I believe we should live life out of control. I would much rather do this than wonder if I could have done something. You'll never know until you try and risk failure, but failure is not so bad. It gives you the chance to try again and do it better the second time. This in no way means that you are going to fail.

I think you will do great and this time next year you will be training for the Mt. Si 50 miler talking about how you said you would never run one :)

Wes said...

I don't know Michelle. You are going into this with your head up and your plans laid before you like sheets of music. You can change it anytime you like for any reason. I call that "control". You have fun. I know I will cheering you from the sidelines and ringing virtual cow bells.

Jenny, Maniac #401 said...

You should always live life to the fullest. Take every opportunity to push yourself and see where the "line" is. Risks and adventure are good. No regrets. As Rob says, "Failure is not so bad." I don't think you'd ever fail. You might change the route a bit, but never fail. I know you've got it in you. I just have to give you a tease or two!

JustRun said...

You are embracing what I strive for: make all the plans you can, none of them are guaranteed anyway.

I have a friend that is 55 and does a marathon a month. It's not only possible but also helps to eliminate all those boring long training runs in between- she's either tapering or running about 15.

You're gonna have so much fun!

Janice said...

I think what you are doing is amazing. Keep going strong for as long as you can. I've spent over a year out with injury and I treasure my ability to run. Running helps me connect mind, body, and soul. Every time I run, even when it's lousy, I'm grateful I can still put one foot in front of the other and experience joy. Keep running strong:)

angie's pink fuzzy said...

right on.

(and of COURSE you'll be doing a 50 miler)

Sarah said...

There's no point in not trying! : ) And never say never. Obviously the thought of doing a 50M has crossed your mind. Now it just needs to simmer for awhile. : )

Juls said...

"Never" is a relative term like "you're almost there." I think you meant "never" in terms of *this year.* You're crazy without a doubt. Enjoy your health and just listen to your body. It'll tell you if it is too much.

Just curious, is it your mitral or your tricuspid thats a leakin'?

teacherwoman said...

You are one dedicated strong woman.. and I love it! You are a true motivation to me and many other runners or soon-to-be runners! Keep it up! You ARE living life to the fullest!

Chad said...

Sounds like a great plan. Life is fragile, and it's better to do today than hope for time tomorrow.

Besides Couer D'Alene is a nice town. Depending on what time you get done, the restaurant at the airport in Spokane used to have all you can eat Barbecue on Sundays ;-)

Darrell said...

With your heart health as the primary concern, I say shoot for the stars.

You are definitely a positive personification of Maniac. Besides now you're giving me ideas. I still have an open slot in Idaho.

Thomas said...

Only you can know if you're overdoing it, but I do know that non-runners have absolutely no idea what the human body is capable of. My mother-in-law is convinced I'll drop down dead well before reaching the 39.3 miles mark in April (she really said that. In front of Niamh).

What's the alternative? Sitting on the sideline, getting old while watching other people having fun? What would be the point of that?

olga said...

Rob said it well. And Sarah pointed out, since you even mentioned it - it's simmering. But in either case, you already had done more than you ever thought you would. Isn't it wondeful? Take life a day at a time, plan, and make decision that are importnat to you that day.
It's your life, Michelle. Not anybody else's.

Robb said...

Dream big Michelle and get after it! I like Rob's take on things!

Anne said...

Nah, you're just making up for lost time with all these additions. And, you're right. So long as you go at a reasonable pace, your body should cooperate.

By the way, Yakima Canyon and The Ave are on my list too. Maybe we can do Avenue of the Giants together in 2008!

TryAthlete said...

Michelle, you are an inspiration.

runliarun said...

You brought tears to my eyes.

psbowe said...

Ha, I almost want to place a bet on this..hmmm. If you're writing about it, chances are you're secretly planning on taking it on! :)
Nice schedule there.

Joe said...

Fascinating, Michelle.

One cool thing...the longer you can keep your valve degradation stable, the better technology will get to possibly help, should you ever need a new valve. New work on valve leaflets and other design elements can only help and lower the risk of the infection your friend had.

Pay attention to your HR and keep going!

Anonymous said...

You are quite an inspiration! Run smart and be safe and I'm sure you will find great success.

WADDLER26.2 said...

Totally Awesome. It is so important to appreciate everyday to the fullest.

Donald said...

How many GU are in a pack, anyway? I just buy singles at marathon expos.

And can I brag? I knew the Sword of Damocles reference without even clicking on the link!

Good luck managing your race calendar.

Anonymous said...

This post leaves me with an even greater apprecitation for your accomplishments. I agree, either way you win. Hope to read about many more completed races here.

Dori said...

You are your own best counsel. You don't get to age 49 without having a clue about your body. I have nothing but respect and admiration for you, and I say if you want to race, then race. Tomorrow isn't a guarantee for any of us, leaky heart valves or not. Seize the day!

Ironayla said...

I think all of this is great! You are doing what you have dreamed of doing... keep going :) I think I may have caught some of your bug :)

Oh, when you get more serious about a 50 miler, let me know, and I will do it with you ;)

D said...

I think we all possess some sort of craziness to keep us running in the freezing cold, humidity, unbearable heat, rain, snow, 5 am, Saturday mornings, running after a 12 hour work day, etc.

You are a special (and smart) runner who runs (after having been a supportive spouse and friend for years) despite your heart issues. You know yourself and take the proper precautions. You are living life to the fullest. We should all strive to be more like you!!

Anonymous said...

"No apologies, no regrets"
I live my life by it!!!!

Ovens2Betsy said...

Oh my goodness Michelle -- I had no idea! What a fantastic attitude you have. You really are inspirational. Thank you for sharing your story.