Tuesday, May 29, 2007

The Plan

I've been rolling this whole thing around in my mind for two days now and I still don't have an answer for my foolishness, but I do have A Plan.

A Plan to run the last marathon on my schedule for spring. The marathon that was on my original list of "must do's". Funny thing, Portland, Mt. Si, North Discovery - those were the "I wanna's" for the year. Eugene, UWR, Last Chance, Vancouver, Tacoma City, C D'A, Capital Peak, Orcas, Pigtails...those were all serendipity. North Discovery has been on my radar, along with a few others, since I started thinking about marathons. Okay, so the Plan. The Plan is to go back to the beginning. Back to last summer's training and my first three marathons. I'll drop back to a seven minute run/one minute walk for North Discovery. At mile 16, I'll start taking two minute walks. My time will be abysmal, but hopefully, I'll finish comfortably and with ease. That's my Plan. Like it?

I really appreciate the concern and encouragement from all of you in response to my last two posts. I'm still trying to find an answer.

The essential question is: am I willing to risk my life to finish a marathon? The answer would have to be no, I'm not. And if that is true then why don't I walk off the course when I'm in trouble? The answer is a hundred things and it is nothing. It's the thoughts that fly through my head, it's the drive to finish what I started, it's the terrier in my soul that won't let go once it has a grip, it's stubborness and stupidity and yes, I'll admit it, saving face. It's ambition, determination, vanity and a desire to belong. If I stop once, what will keep me from stopping every time? If I stop, will fear keep me from starting the next one? If I don't run marathons, what will I do? It's the memory of running 5K's because 10K's took me over the hour limit I was supposed to follow. It's the memory of desire. It's all of that and none of that. It doesn't make any sense, it just is.

Could it be that I am simply irrational when in this situation? Like a diabetic that needs to eat? Is it that I've been through it so many times that I know I can pull out? In reality, it probably lasted less than five minutes - it just felt like forever. I say I can't breathe, but I'm getting little sips of air. Eric thinks my diaphragm spasms and that lying down, or forcing Pilates breathing relaxes it.

The chiropractor took away my early warning signal - back pain. And in the midst of it all, I didn't realize till later that all I had was a tight chest - I didn't get the cinched ribs or back pain along with it. Those are good things. Unfortunately, it didn't stop the other problem. As I've said before, opinions vary as to what is happening. It's not asthma - I've had the methacholine challenge test and came away clear. Suggestions have been that eventually the leaky valve can't keep up with the oxygen demand of endurance exercise or that there is some other minor defect in architecture that is causing a problem, or a spasm of the veins or arteries somewhere in the cardio-pulmonary system, or Eric's diagnosis of a spasming diaphragm. It's an unknown and probably will stay that way.

My new task will be to tune back in and find a new early warning. I'm new enough to this whole chiropractor business that I don't know if this means the back pain is gone forever, or if it's a temporary fix. I'm going to have to focus a little and see what I can learn.

Again, thanks for all the wonderful thoughts and for sticking with me while I muddle through this, and for reading everything I pour out in this blog. I appreciate it.


Wes said...

Awwww. Michelle, you know you are #1 in our books :-) Ya know I was hearing on the radio the other day how endurance sports actually helped with leaky valves, and it made me think of you. I wish I could remember where and when I heard it. That would kind of make sense wouldn't it? The longer you have run, the further you have been able to go?

olga said...

Be healthy, dear, yet be bold and daring. Balance:) We are at your back.

wendy said...

Well you know, you can't beat yourself up. It's so easy to say "you should have done..." AFTER the race, but in the moment, it's just not the same.

We're all guilty of being Monday morning quarterbacks, and really, in your heart, I'm sure you always know exactly where that breaking point is for you. Just know that it shouldn't break your spirit. When you aim big (like running back-to-back-to-back marathons), you end up further along even if you have a few setbacks. You're right - last year, these were I wanna's, and you've more than survived them. You're breaking records!

If I've learned anything from you, it's to enjoy the run. I hope I finish all my runs and races feeling good about them, and it's truly my hope for every runner out there.

May the valleys be few and far between!

Try@thlete said...

7/1s then 7/2s sound like a good plan.

Sometimes we have no explanation for why we do the things we do - at least that's my theory. But I know you're smart enough to know when to push and when to back off the pace.

runliarun said...

Yes, risking your life for a marathon race would not solve anything. But all your reasons for not stopping during the race are persuasive - so passionate and so comprehensive they could win over a non-runner. I believe the crucial one refers to fear. Living in fear in not an option either.

Perhaps A PLAN is good, because it reduces the risk without inviting fear.

Steve said...

I like the plan, reduce this effort and risk a little and see how you do. You 've come a long way, Baby! Now, take care of yourself.

Joe said...

The plan sounds good, Michelle. Your analysis seems on the money. The 7/1, then 7/2 plan is also good.

I do suspect tuning in to the new early warning signals may be the most significant thing of all for you.

angie's pink fuzzy said...

i haven't commented on the last couple of posts, cause i haven't known what to say.

you and only you can make the decision to run long or not. you and only you know if the symptoms you are feeling fall into your frame of reference: scary/not scary, life-threatening/non-life-threatening.

you chose to keep going because that was safer for you. i truly believe that every action anyone takes in this world is out of safety (fear - need to stay safe - even if the actions seem counter-intuitive to staying safe).

keep up analyzing, keep staying aware. that's how you'll monitor yourself and know what's right for you.

Robb said...

Well, you're in a real pickle. Like Angie, there's not much to say except to be very 'aware'...and stick with friends when the going gets tough. I know this about you: you're too smart to be foolish.

It's going to be just fine. Patience.

Kim said...

Thank you very much for sharing your thoughts. It is always great pleasure to read your posts.