Sunday, April 15, 2012


I was out on my 17th long run since November in preparation for Ironman St. George when it happened.  I was just half way through a 14 mile run, just preparing to pick up the pace, when I felt the spasm in my back.  It's that spasm that makes it hard to take a deep breath, the one where it feels like you can't breath when you get it.  Sometimes in training, my body will tell me that it's time to rest, this may be one of those times.  Ironically, I've been having some trouble with pain in my left ribcage when I run.  It can get quite painful and can definitely slow me down.  During my run today, I felt some of this pain early on and began massaging the left ribcage, which I've found to help.  When the back spasms started, the ribcage pain stopped!  I actually wonder if something shifted, improving whatever was causing the rib pain, but at the same time setting off some other muscles to go into spasm.  One of the good outcomes of the muscle spasms was that I had already decided to push hard for the last 7 miles of my run.  I still wanted to do that.  So, the next six miles (I decided to run the last one easy), became a game of tolerating the pain, trying to relax my breathing and muscles, and just persevering.  It also became a visualization exercise for St. George.  What if this happened during the race, what would I do?  I would have no choice but to keep running and try to find a way around the pain.  My thoughts brought be back to Perth, Australia, just 2 1/2 years ago, after my bicycle crash.  Riding my bike in the aero position with a fractured shoulder and hip socket was the greatest challenge to dealing with pain that I had ever encountered.  I persevered then, and I know that I can keep going despite pain.

So, this was my 17th long run, that was part of the plan I made with my coach last October.  I needed to get in more long runs than I have in preparation for previous ironman's.  Last year I did 10 long runs.  My long runs this year have averaged about 2 1/2 hours and 16 miles each.  The 17 long runs don't include a few "two a day" runs I also did in order to improve my run preparation.  My history of running is rife with experiences where I couldn't run due to debilitating side stitches.  This has occurred during open marathons and in triathlons.  I remember watching the Hawaii Ironman in 2010, and seeing Macca rubbing his ribcage during the latter part of the run.  Side stitches and rib pain are not only my problem, the pros deal with them too and they need to find a way to manage them.  So will I.

I have also completed 13 long bikes in preparation this year versus 9 last year.  My long bikes averaged 5 hours and covered 80 miles each.  I also have done more transition runs off the bike, preparing me better for getting off my bike at St. George and running.  One thing I know, my legs usually feel fine after I get off the bike and start running.  The thing that slows me down are cramps, stitches and overall fatigue.  Hopefully, that won't be an issue this year.

What about my swimming?  Actually, this year I've done 7 swims over 4000 yards whereas last year I did four.  I'd say that also goes along well with how my swimming has been lately.  I feel like the longer swims don't bother me and I feel ok when I finish them.  Furthermore, my swim paces have been holding up pretty well, they really aren't any slower than in past years.

So, back to the main topic, perseverance.  At the end of the day, that's what it's all about.  Ironman is a long day.  It is about getting through that day.  However, at the end of the day, literally, I will be running a marathon.  In order to achieve my goals, I will have to run.  There will not be the luxury of walking this year, except at the aid stations.  If I have side stitches, or rib pain, or back spasms, I have to keep running. Today was practice for that, that's what training is all about.

I will persevere.

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