Updates from runner me

I saw a doctor on Friday, and while I can’t run for the next two weeks at least, I can be reassured that I did not give myself a stress fracture. I gave myself a stress-reaction and I just have to take this as a lesson well-learned. After not running, one cannot suddenly jump from 7 to 15 to 30 miles a week. There needed to be something between that 15 and 30 mile week. Despite my muscles being fine, my bones needed to be readjusted.

So, I learned. I also learned that our bodies don’t heal the way we expect them to, and that our bodies bear the marks of what we do to them for months, years after we do it. For example, I got to see my healed toe, and I was surprised to see a clear line indicating where I’d broken it. It was a crazy break, jagged and everything. No wonder it hurt for so long. I thought when bone heals together, then there’s white in the x-ray again. Instead, the bone heals, but it takes a while for new part connecting the bone pieces together to appear as white.

In other news, I sold my Munich Marathon entry and resisted the urge to pick up a Berlin Marathon starting place, floating around on e-bay. There will be more marathons.

And I got to volunteer at the Berlin Marathon! Recap here.

Otherwise, not much new from runner me. I’ve been following a good regimen of weights every other day- and non-runner me actually likes it. Um, yeah. Been riding? Okay, I’m done now.

Happy running!



A little bit wiser…

A little bit wiser after a lot of stupid. Fans of the expression are welcome to write it in the comments below: told you so.

I guess I thought I was immune to the rules of nature, and figured that after five weeks off running, I’d be able to return to an only slightly modified marathon plan. “That’s insane,” many of you would say. “You’ll regret it if you go too far too soon,” you would warn.

Well, now you get to say “told you so.” But I know that most of us, while gratified to see that no one is immune to the rules of nature, also sympathize with someone who suffers as a result of an Icarus-like flight.

Things were looking most excellent last week. The week before, I had tested with three runs no longer than 4 miles. Then I progressed a bit fast, but runs were feeling great, only mild phantom aches near the end of 6, 7 miles. I thought I was benefiting from my rigorous cross-training regimen. I even made it through a longer run with my only complaint being the huge blister that developed on arch of my foot. I think things would have been okay had I continued with easy runs, but stupid me, I ignored ALL the advice (nowhere- except maybe here* [of course, that’s the one I listened to]- is it recommended to start up with speed-work within two weeks off a major injury) and thought I was ready for speed-work. Not only did I do speed-work, but I did intervals and a tempo run within three days of each other, just like my plan usually asks for. But that plan was for runners not coming off a broken toe.

I know, I know, I know it’s my own fault that I’ve fractured my fourth metatursal, and that it’s time to accept that I won’t run the Munich Marathon.

And I have. I somehow found a groove to remain positive.

It helps that I can sell my entry to someone (there’s an advert on eBay, if you’re interested) and officially switch. It helps that I can still go to Munich and rebook the bus ticket so that I get back to Berlin at a decent hour as opposed to after midnight. It helps that there are so many other things going on in my life, that I can say “I don’t live to run.”

Once I can run again (this time, no pressure of a marathon to get back into it hard), I will run to live–but this time, let’s just step back and take the time it takes to heal and start back up properly, right Dorothea?

These past few days, since ending the tempo run in a limp, I’ve been doing a lot of pep-talking to myself. Anger, frustration, and sadness keep popping in my head, but then I just tell myself: “look, this is your own fault. You can’t blame anyone or anything, not even bad luck on this.” I was stupid. I am responsible for the actions that led me to injury #2 in just as many months, and I accept this responsibility and the consequences. I am a lot more responsible in other matters… though I understand how people could just shake their heads at this. Add a competitive personality to determination and grit, and you get a perfect storm of stupidity, sometimes.

So, it looks like I’ll be sticking to my habit of no more than one marathon a year, for now.

Now, post this, Dorothea! Otherwise you’ll still think you can run a marathon in three weeks! Just let. it. go.

(it’s hard)

*I think the suggestions for returning from an injury can be misleading. For example, in the article by Runner’s World “How to Return to Training After Time Off”, the author suggests that if you return six weeks out from the race, and the first two runs are fine, it’s okay to get back into the plan. The problem is, a plan usually includes speed work and those, happening too soon and too often back into the running, can cause a re-fracture of a bone. “The cause and type of injury ultimately determine comeback.” Yes. Also, listen to your doctor… but try to find a doctor experienced in the injury you’re faced with and the fitness you have. A podiatrist who works with a lot of runners is going to be able to advise you better than one who deals with little old ladies with fallen arches.


An open-letter about the Paralympics

Dear World,

Why aren’t more people talking about the Paralympic games in Rio? Less than a month ago, I could try to avoid the Olympics and would fail. Now, I barely see anything about some of the sports world’s greatest competition, which is a real shame because, believe it or not, some of the world’s best athletes are performing in these games.

I know that many people don’t bother watching the Paralympics, because they think there’s nothing to see. The WR made at the Paralympics aren’t “really” world records, right? Because, I mean, the 10.92 seconds T11 Class 100m WR are not the 9.58 seconds Usain Bolt ran in 2009. And the T51 record of 21.11 seconds? Probably not even on most people’s radars. But to me, they are impressive.

And you know what? The Games are not only about achievement. They are also about sportsmanship, overcoming challenges, giving one’s best, and the joy of competition. Honestly, I saw so much joy in in the events I’ve seen, and it inspired me to be a better athlete.

While I realize there are some logistic difficulties involved (i.e. over 5000 athletes for the Paralympics alone, with 526 medal events), I don’t understand why the Paralympic games cannot be integrated to happen at the same time and with the same coverage as the Olympic games.

I spent some time yesterday watching the Paralympics, and was reminded that we live in an able-bodied oriented society–or rather, in a a society with subconscious beliefs of what “able-bodied” even means. It struck me alone with the moderation on ZDF, a German TV station. One of the moderators, Matthias Berg, is someone I’ve never seen before in my life, but he was very good at moderating, and  he could moderate more than just paralympic events. His appearance is a bit unusual, but I think I would have been able to focus more on what he was saying than how he looked if I could see more of him. The other moderator, Yorck Polus  is someone who gets to moderate a lot of sports events. As people without disabilities, we don’t realize that people with disabilities are often forced to live on the fringe, in one way or another. The lack of sponsors and ticket sales for the Paralympics are one example of the ways in which we don’t recognize the accomplishments of these athletes enough. The irony is that the Paralympics are much more interesting to watch than “regular” Olympics, because the events are carried out with different methods and tools  than we may be used to. You can watch a 100m sprint for free at any track in the country during the spring. It’s a 100m sprint with a sight-guide, totally in sync, that is really neat to watch.

However, back to that point I dropped a few sentences ago: disabled people are often forced to the boundaries of our society. They are often put in their own classes, own groups, own housing. Of course, this is often because their situations require a certain assistance for living, however, why can’t these be more integrated in society? Why can’t we have more interaction? Probably because society is filled with norms, cultures and understandings that make being disabled “not okay.” There’s a problem, a defect that ruins the “good” of someone normal and/or healthy.  Many people have a problem moving beyond the person as his/her disability to the person as a unique individual- unique like each person on this earth.

I know that if asked to write a list of things that define him/her, each person in this world will have more than one items. If social and physical structures in the world made all communities more accessible to everyone, we could have a lot more interaction with people who have otherwise been segregated in some way, and then we would actually learn to interact with them and have more opportunities for intellectual, spiritual, and emotional growth.

Now, I want to make one thing clear about my post and my response to the Paralympic games.I’m not saying these athletes are wonderful in spite of their disabilities. I’m not saying they’re wonderful because of their disabilities. I’m saying I respect them as athletes, pushing their bodies to the brinks of what they’re capable of, and that it’s worthy of respect.

One thing one shouldn’t do to a person with a disability/deformity, is tell them how great the person is. Just because these athletes have a disability does not make their sports achievement better. Even if a T11 Class athlete one day breaks Usain Bolt’s record, it doesn’t make breaking the record any better because it was done by a visually challenged person. It would be awesome because a new record would have been made in the T11 Class for 100m…and that happens to be faster than the 100m no class race. It is better, in this case, to realize that the T11 athlete is actually not competing against Bolt anyway, just like I, as a woman, would not be competing against him. Rather, it is that athlete’s challenge to be the best in his/her sport that s/he can. I wish we could respect that, and support the Paralympics more.

As a closing note, a personal fact about myself that may give you some insight into where some of this response is coming from: I was born with a complete bilateral cleft-lip and palate. I didn’t have my first surgery to close the lip until I was two. My palate remained open until I was 10. As far as defects go, it’s pretty small. The only way one could say I was disabled is that I had a speech-defect and trouble eating for most of my youth. Still, I had 13 surgeries to get my face to look the way it does today- and it’s still not “normal.” With social and hormonal standards that favor symmetrical lips and  faces, I still have my insecurities when I interact with people, especially when I’m attracted to them and want the feeling to be mutual. However, while I spent most of my childhood having people telling me how awesome I was despite my cleft, I’ve outgrown their attention and my own desire to bask in this attention. I don’t need to be told by a random person that they can barely see it and that I look beautiful, or that they have a cousin, nephew, whatever, who has it too. Just tell me that I look beautiful, thanks.

And watch the Paralympics, polishing your couches, and be inspired. Thanks.

Some athletes to watch: Fatma Omar (Egypt – Powerlifting)
Jaryd Wallace and his teammates (USA- 4 x 100m Relay T42-46)
Walid Ktila (Tunisia- 100m and 200m T34)
Joe Berenyi (USA- cycling)
Daniel Dias (Brazil – 50, 100, 200 ms freestyle, 50 and 100 ms backstroke, 50 and 100 ms butterfly (S5), 50 and 100 ms breaststroke (SB4) and 200 ms individual medley (SM5))
Tatyana McFadden (USA-  100m, 400m, 800m T54) and her sister, Hannah (USA- 100m T54)

as well as a bunch of people on this list and others.