... my journey from ballerina to triathlete

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Small Joys and Summer Rain

How has it been a week since I've written? Somehow the time flew by this week, and although I didn't manage to get anything written I certainly learned several things worth writing about.

As I mentioned last week, my motivation had been dragging a little. It wasn't that I was no longer excited about the idea of doing a triathlon, simply that I was getting frustrated with my lack of running proficiency. Much to my delight, I am discovering that my training schedule pushes the time up on the running rather quickly for a week or two, then allows a week or two to adjust, catch up, and improve. Weeks four and five pushed quickly from twenty-five minutes to forty, but week six (which I am finishing up now) hovered comfortably around thirty minutes. Alright, "comfortable" may be an exaggeration but "doable" is accurate. This reminded me that I am within the normal training demographic and not a hopeless lumbering elephant incapable of improvement.

This is running looks like when you get a migraine 
Unfortunately for my rediscovered motivation, I was struck down on Monday by a new kind of enemy. Perhaps I should have seen it coming when I saw patterns of light swimming in my field of vision, pain snuck in behind my eyes, and my stomach felt like it was going sour, but since I have never experienced what I would soon learn was a MIGRAINE I didn't know what to look for. Despite not feeling 100% I was determined to brave my run. I made it about a mile before it hit with a vengeance. Oddly enough, the headache itself actually abated a little when I was running, but the dizziness and nausea were unbearable. When I gave in and walked, the pain behind my eyes made the world seem like it was far away and surreal. There was some sort of huge barbecue happening in the park (a curse of Hawaiian good weather) and the smell of smoke was enough to make me double over. It didn't take long before I was crawling along, urging myself forward with each step and wondering how it would be possible to make it over a mile and a half home. I tried to run several times to ease the pain in my head, but the nausea took over and forced me back to a walk. I continued this walk-blinding pain-run-falling over nausea pattern and it only took me 30 minutes to make it a mile home. Dear God. I was officially on my ass, and I have a new level of compassion for people who deal with migraines on a regular basis. On the plus side, after lying down in a dark room for four hours, I was as good as new. 

Migraine aside, I learned a lot of good things in my running this week. First, I am figuring out how to control my breath in order to increase my running longevity. I realized that by breathing in fully I eventually end up gasping for breath, but that if I decrease my inhale to a two count and hold the last count before exhaling three counts (back to my waltzing breath theme) I can preserve my air and run longer and more comfortably. Stopping my inhale before my chest is full seems counterintuitive when exercising hard but I've tested this method in three runs now and can't believe the difference it makes! If your'e having trouble with your breath while running, it might be worth a try. 

In fact, it has made such a huge difference so far that this morning I ran four miles with only one short walking interval. It was pouring rain, the streets were nearly empty, and the only sounds were the swoosh of the rain and squish of my sneakers. Memories resurfaced of running (one of many failed running endeavors in my past) in a park in Bellingham, Washington around a glassy pond, surrounded by greenery and quietly falling rain. I was transported to days when life was straightforward, when my family was whole, when the house I grew up in was still home. It was peaceful. When I made it home 45 minutes later, soaked and dripping, I felt like I did when I was six years old coming in from splashing around in summer rain puddles.  

Yet another surprise, another wonderment that has come from this training: a peace that I hadn't felt in years and a reconnection with some exuberant corner of myself that I thought was lost. 

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