With only three months to build up to walking 6.2 miles I had my work cut out for me.
The distance itself was not daunting, but the thought of being out there for possibly over 2 hours didn’t sound like much fun.
The good news was that I was starting to have more feeling on my right side and my speed was improving; the bad news was that the muscles were still extremely weak and when I tried to use them, cramps the size of tennis balls would stop me in my tracks.
The old trick of pinching my upper lip when the cramps hit worked occasionally, but other times just gave me a sore lip. I even tried increasing my electrolytes but that didn’t seem to help the problem.
The next two months were uneventful with my walking increasing gradually week after week. Most days I would do a longer walk in the morning between two to three miles and a second walk during my lunch break covering one mile using the walking poles for all but the times I was forced inside on the treadmill. One highlight was needing to contact Omni where my brace came from to have them make it smaller. Apparently all that nordic walking I was doing was burning off the pounds and shrinking my waistline . I still had more to lose before I get to my ideal running weight but it was a good start.
Near the end of March I made the commitment and signed up for the Illinois Marathon 10k, a distance at one time I could complete under 32 min, now just hoping to keep it under two hour’s and not falling on my face.
I had thought about maybe walking it without the poles but if my balance didn’t improve soon there wouldn’t be a choice.
In March I had another follow-up appointment with the Spine Clinic and asked about the muscle weakness and cramping I was dealing with and was told it may take up to a year or more to improve and to expect some permanent muscle weakness. The cramping was caused by the muscles that for some time having little nerve function basically waking up with cramping as a side effect. Permanent weakness is a phrase I would not accept so I asked about when I could start physical therapy and was
scheduled for an evaluation later that week.
My first session made me realize that my strength was worse than I had thought and if returning to running was ever going to happened, physical therapy was the road to that goal.
For the next 4 weeks leading up to the race I continued walking twice a day, increasing my longer walks from four to five miles and going to therapy twice a week.
I had thought about getting in a six-mile walk in before race day but between walking, therapy and work I was starting to feel a little fatigued and decided to save it for the race.
To be continued….