I know this little health & fitness blog of mine is turning into more of a running injury journal, but if you bear with me for one more post I’ll get back to regularly scheduled programming, I promise 😉
Yesterday was the BMO Vancouver Half Marathon, the run I’ve been pouring all of my energy into these last few months. Weekly physiotherapist appointments, countless hours doing clam shells & other hip-strengthening exercises, and a not-so-desirable change in body composition after abandoning my heavy weight training; all for what I hoped to be a run that lasted under an hour and 50 minutes.
After last week’s Sun Run my IT band wasn’t feeling too fantastic and I knew there was no way I was going to hit my time goal. I had accepted the fact that I’d have to walk down every hill and go back to my original run/walk intervals of 90 & 30 seconds.
But even though I had to abandon my time goal I was still looking forward to the run. Until Wednesday evening when, out of nowhere, there was a new pain. This time at the front of my leg, right below my knee at the top of my tibia. It was a sharp pain and I could feel it whenever I bent my knee. The swelling soon followed.
Whaaaaaaat the hell?!?!!
Thursday morning was rough. I spent a good chunk of it crying in bed, knowing that my body was trying to tell me something and that I needed to listen to it. I have two more half marathons and a triathlon I’ve already registered for and the logical part of me knew that in the big scheme of things this was just one run.
But the emotional part of me was taking over. I was tired of pretending to not be frustrated by the fact that physiologically I had no problem running 21.1km aside from this particular injury. My lungs and my mind could probably handle another 21.1. I was frustrated that I sacrificed much of the muscle & strength I built over the winter in favour of long runs.
I was emotionally invested in this run. It was the first half marathon I ran and I experienced such a huge wave of emotions during it last year. Between anxiously making my way to the starting line solo, meeting a myriad of inspirational runners while waiting to start, having to choke back tears while watching a blind man ran with his guide, & basically just experiencing a whole new kind of runner’s high, there were a whole lot of emotions that I’ll never forget.
I thought about what it would be like to wake up and not run on Sunday. After all the work I put in these last few months it would just be another day. There was a bib with my name on it and a shirt that said “Ran 21.1km” waiting for me at the package pickup. And that KILLED me.
I decided I’d go to the pickup on Friday to see if there were any volunteer opportunities available. If so, I could defer my registration but at least still participate. It would still hurt, but not quite as much.
Friday morning I woke up & just as quickly as the new pain and swelling had come on, it was gone. I was still going to see if I could volunteer, but I was starting to think that maybe I could run this thing. I tossed the pros and cons back & forth in my mind while I waited to speak to someone, and as soon as I was told there was nowhere I could help I thought I’m fuckin’ doin’ it.
My mood instantly changed. I filled my bag up with free goodies & bought a new pair of shorts so I could get taped up by the guys at Rock Tape. I had nothing to lose. I also picked up a new rain jacket; I have no problem running in the rain, I live in Vancouver after all. But knowing that this could be a 21.1km walk made me want a little extra protection.
I feasted on carbs, talked to guests at the hotel about the course and what to look out for, and foam-rolled and clam-shelled like crazy. When Sunday morning came I didn’t have my usual pre-race jitters, which was REALLY odd. I got up extra early to get some last-minute rolling and strengthening in and watched some motivational videos on YouTube before heading out. I was PUMPED.
Fast-forward a couple hours to the starting line. It was POURING rain and my feet were already soaked. But that didn’t matter. I was focused beyond belief & was determined to take all of my planned walk breaks.
I made it 2km before that feeling on the side of my knee returned, but it wasn’t excruciating so I ignored it. I ignored everyone from the 3 waves behind me passing me as I walked down the first large hill and was actually amazed when I hit the halfway point in about an hour and 20. Things were looking relatively good!
It didn’t last long though. As soon as we got into Stanley Park the pain was full-blown. I was no longer running & walking at set intervals; at this point I couldn’t handle 90 seconds of jogging.
Being at the back of the pack I encountered a lot more injured runners than I did last year. Many of us were dancing; one of us would run past the other walking, and then we’d switch. I tried to smile at a few but they were either too focused or in too much pain to notice.
It got really bad during the last few kilometres. I could barely jog 30 seconds, my walk breaks were painful as well & I had a painful cramp behind my right knee from overcompensating for my left leg. I was desperate to finish so I started side shuffling. And miraculously I felt NO pain in my IT band! And I could go fast!
So I spent the last 2km alternating side shuffling with running. I guess this gave my IT band a bit of a break because I was able to actually run, not just kinda sorta jog. As I passed other runners and crowds of people cheering ” you’re almost there!” the adrenaline kicked in, and as soon as I saw the finish line I sprinted.
2 hours, 49 minutes, and 27 seconds after crossing the starting line I finished. A far cry from the 1 hour 50 minute goal I originally had, but I still finished!! I could add my bib and medal to my racing wall and I could wear the shirt that said “Ran 21.1km” with pride.
There are times where it’s absolutely necessary to listen to your body. If you have an injury that you know will be made worse by participating or if you’ve been instructed by a doctor to hold off then by all means do so. But there are also times where you need to listen to your heart.
You need to decide what’s worse: going for it and facing your fears and dealing with the consequences, or holding back & living with not knowing what might have happened. This applies to anything in life, whether you’re in a situation like mine, debating a career change, or chasing a dream.
One thing that really stuck out for me in those videos I watched yesterday was the fact that pain is temporary. It could last a minute, a month, or even a year. But you live with giving up forever. #Intense
So now with a little over three months until my next half I have a chance to take a bit of time off and then slowly get myself back to where I was heading a couple months ago. I’ve had tons of theories as to why I’m experiencing what I am, and just when I think I’ve got it all figured out I hit another bump.
But I think a combination of new orthotics, the strengthening work I was doing before, and patience & the mental willpower to hold back from going too far or too fast too quick despite feeling good will leave me better prepared for Seawheeze.
I’m looking forward to spending the next few weeks hitting the weights, sleeping in on Sunday mornings since I don’t have a long run to do, and focusing on my business and writing lots of exciting posts for you lovely readers!
I’d like to know what sort of things you’re most interested in reading about! Nutrition tips and yummy recipes? How to be a badass fitness ninja and workout ideas? Stories about my not-so-interesting life? None of the above? Let me know what you need from me! I also have some exciting news that I’ll be sharing within the next week or so, so stay tuned!
I’ll leave you with a little Monday Motivation 😉 I hope you all have a great week!!