photo by Steve Penland

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Like an Athlete

I want to feel like an athlete again.

I'm not saying I want to be fast (although I do). I'm not saying I want to be young and not-so-creaky again (although that would be nice, too). I'm not even saying that I want to lose weight (although clearly I need to). I just want to have that glorious feeling of going hard, digging deep, using everything you've got--however much that may be. I miss that.

You expect, of course, to "leave it all on the ice" in a race. I used to have that feeling pretty much every Oval workout, though. No workout planned by Coach TieGuy is easy; there's always a challenge (relax, this doesn't mean I do every workout at 100%; there are plenty of recovery days and easy weeks, as is fitting for any athlete but especially a Masters athlete). So three times a week, 9 months of the year, I have the chance to see what I've got. Can I hold the lap times? Can I complete the endurance laps without having to stand up and rest my back? Can I stay mentally tough through 60 laps and 95 degrees and 25 mile per hour winds? Even when the answer is "no," there's something satisfying about feeling as though I've tried as hard as I can.

That feeling is gone right now. It first left in the spring of '08, when my thyroid started its slow slide into hypoville. It showed up a few times in the next two years, but didn't return with any consistency until the fall of '10, after I was diagnosed and effectively medicated. Last winter, the '10-11 season, was a blast--hard workouts, good races, even a couple Personal Bests at the end of the season (I hadn't had any PB's in almost 3 years).

This spring, though, every Oval workout--every one--has featured what I think of as "hypo legs." Actually, it's not just the legs, but "hypo legs sore back clumsy no aggression" is a bit too much of a mouthful. That's how I feel, though--legs won't go, back gets sore quickly, can't drive the knees, can't keep the tempo up, just can't go--even though I'm not tired when I'm done. The first winter I felt like this, after every race I'd step off the ice saying "I don't know why my time was so slow...I couldn't go any faster but I'm not even tired now." It's kind of like riding a kids' dirt bike with a throttle limiter--I know there's more in the engine, but I just can't get to it. Very frustrating.

Today I had dryland, and it felt good (OK, the left glute is still smoldering, but the fact that it's only the left and not both is merely a reminder that I shouldn't have skipped my Physical Therapy exercises this week. I can picture TieGuy, a state away, happily stabbing a little Kaari Voodoo doll in the left glute with a pin as he cackles "shouldn't have ignored the PT"...but I digress). Anyway, the dryland felt good, the warmup jog felt good...but dryland and warmup jogs don't provide an opportunity to "see what you've got." For that I'll have to wait for tomorrow's long interval workout; to see if the med changes are finally having an effect, to see if I can go hard again.

I sure hope I can, because I can't wait to feel like an athlete again.

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