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Redefining Normal

January 19, 2011

In spite of all my efforts at cross training and taking it easy, I’m back on the bench for a few days. It seems I overdid it last week, and my shins were letting me know that in waves of angry, “you-broke-me-again” waves of pain over the last few days. So it’s back to cross training and physical therapy for me, at least for a week, until the pain subsides.

At first I thought I’d run too far too fast, but, in retrospect, I think it was probably a combination of hillwork–Little G and I tackled our favorite bridge on Saturday–and challenging surface–we threw in three miles on the beach as part of our 10-mile long run.

I went back for my first physical therapy session of 2011 and just had to laugh at myself. This is how the conversation went.

PT: “How’re you doin’?”

Me: “Meh, not so good. The pain’s back.”

PT: “What’d you do? Go out and run a marathon?’

Me: “No, that would be stupid.”

PT: “How far did you run last week?”

Me: “26 miles.”

PT: “So, a marathon.”

Duh. And then later:

PT: “How do you manage to run so much with little kids in the house?”

Me: “I just do it.”

PT: “Well, like, when do you go?”

Me: “In the mornings, before they get up.”

PT: “When is that?”

Me: “I’m on the road by 5.”

PT: “So you wake up before 5? That’s crazy.”

Me: “No, my alarm is set by 3:45 so I can pray and get dressed and stretch before I hit the road.”

PT: “That’s insane.”

Is it?

See, and both the physical therapists I’ve seen have mentioned to me now, from their perspective, I’ve gone past the line of being a recreational runner. I’m not sure where that puts me, but apparently, there’s a line where if you run as much as I do when I’m healthy, you’re just insane. You’ve become more than just a typical runs-a-5k-every-once-in-a-while runner.

So what am I? I mean, if you had to categorize runners, where do I fit in?

PT G started asking me today, how many days a week do you run? How many miles would you put in on a typical training week, if you were uninjured? How many races would you run in a typical week?

After answering all those questions, as I was sitting up, all done with treatment for the day, he said, “Ringmaster, I’m sorry to have to be the one to tell you this, but you passed the recreational line a long time ago. There’s nothing wrong with that. But it means you have to start doing things a little differently, and yeah, it means most people won’t understand why you do things the way you do.”

And as I was putting on my shoes he threw out, “And by the way, setting your alarm at 3:45 so you can go running? That’s not normal.”

And, I confess, that is a new thought for me.

In related news, I had a very uncomfortable wake-up in the middle of the night Saturday, which I only figured out after twenty minutes was an asthma attack. Having never had one before, I confess it took my sleep-addled, oxygen-deprived brain quite a long time to figure out I can’t breathe! That’s why I feel so yucky! To the Boss’s eternal credit, he was great about the lost sleep, and he suggested I find the rescue inhaler I’d been prescribed months ago to help with my occasional cough. It helped, but when I woke on Sunday still unable to swallow comfortably, I decided to go see my primary care doctor. I went today, and we’ve decided to try Advair seasonally, as my asthma (always previously manifested only in a scratchy, annoying cough) seems to come around mostly in January. I’ll keep my rescue inhaler on hand, of course, but we’ll hope the Advair keeps me from having to use it. It’s very interesting to me that a person can get to be 36 and suddenly have her allergies change the way they manifest so completely.

Whatever happened to my normal?

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