It’s been a long seven months since my last post so I must apologize to anyone that was following. I realize that setbacks are a major part of the journey and that people want to know about them. They are usually what makes someones story a little more interesting and often inspiring. But, there are times when you just don’t feel like sharing an injury story while it’s happening. It’s often an emotional drain so talking about it when you don’t want to even think about it can be pretty tough. I don’t always feel this way, but this past setback I did. I’ll fill you in as briefly as I can and then move forward with how I’ve been lately, which thankfully has been very positive.
Basically I had been running with insertional Achilles tendinitis in my right heel for almost two years. It may have something to do with breaking my big toe on my left foot way back in November of 2009, or it may have started from the tear in one of the discs in my lower back which was discovered by Dr. Cousins this past August. For quite a few years I’d had really painful, sometimes nauseating back pain on my right side. I never felt it while running, only right after a hard workout. This past year I started to have the symptoms throughout the day depending on what my activity was. Also mixed into this year, it appeared I was compensating for the right side heel pain and had a stress reaction in the fibula bone on my left leg. I ran the 5,000 at the Cardinal Invitational not knowing what was going on in that leg but definitely knowing something was up as I felt shooting pain in the last mile and then wasn’t able to cool-down. Anyway, almost immediately after getting my first treatment on my back this past August, I started to feel relief both in my heel and my back. I also had quite a bit of help from Phil Wharton and learned so much about the importance of active isolated stretching. Mieke Haeck at Atlas Therapy has also been an integral part of my recovery, with all the cold lazer treatments to teaching me how to relax in my upper body all the way to my jaw. It’s been a gradual progression since then with each day bettering the previous day.
I ran my first race in 7 months on Thanksgiving Day, The Manchester Road Race, in Manchester, CT. It was a bit of a stretch for me to mix it up with the top women but I was so thankful to just be there running pain free. Since then I’ve done a few more workouts and long runs, most recently this past Sunday at the Nittany Valley Half Marathon, conveniently in State College, PA. It was so nice to see familiar faces from the community and of course a few of my athletes running the race. The Nittany Valley Running Club did a fantastic job with the event and are always so welcoming. So, the workout plan was to run at a marathon paced effort. Going into it I’d heard for years nothing but pretty much horror stories about how challenging the course was. My coach said it would be pretty huge if I was able to even average sub 6:00 pace on that course, he ran it as a training run multiple times while running for the legendary Harry Groves at PSU. So, I was excited to finally find out for myself.
The stories were so true. It was the most challenging road course my legs have ever run across. I did however feel very much in control as I ran alone for miles 3.5 to 13.1. and ended up averaging 5:54. The weather conditions were pretty ideal compared to past years that have seen snow and wind storms. It was a comfortable temperature, sunny enough to wear my Oakley Commits, but pretty windy for a few of the long stretches. It was my first ever half marathon. The longest distance I had raced was the US 20k Championships in 2009 in 1:08, that being my first time at that distance as well. My finish time on Sunday is not exactly a pr time I plan to brag about unless you’ve seen or run the course. It was a huge strength builder so I’m really glad we decided on it as part of my marathon build up. Yes, that’s right, marathon build up. While I don’t have a marathon or half marathon to qualify me for this January’s Olympic Trials, I do have a sub 33:00 10,000m time which also serves as the B standard qualifier. So, I will be making my debut at the distance at the Olympic Trials, what better place to do it!
I’ve recovered really well from Sunday’s effort, thanks to Tom Zellner at State College Massage Therapy, Dr.Lamb, my chiropractor at U.O.C., Phil Wharton’s active isolated stretching routine, and the Ironman Restore Recovery drink by PowerBar. I practiced taking PowerBar Energy Gels during Sunday’s run as well. I definitely need more practice with that but know how important it is to get your body use to not only the absorption but the timing and maneuvering of it.
My next workout is tomorrow at one of my favorite places, rails to trails in Alexandria. Check back for an update on that along with more frequent updates as we near the big day on January 14th.