The Long Haul

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Hi Peeps!  So today has SUCKED so far.  I was pulling out of my driveway this morning and I live on a residential street in Mid City, LA.  It can be pretty busy in the morning, so I have to be really careful when pulling out of my driveway.  As luck would have it, I made sure both sides were clear and I started backing out of my driveway.  I get to the point where I need to switch from Reverse to Drive when all of a sudden a Jeep is bearing down on me, barely hits her brakes, and slams into my rear passenger side.  She was going at least 35 mph- fast enough to push my car several feet to the side of my driveway.  Luckily I was not hurt at all besides my leg being bumped against the steering wheel, and she and her grandchild were safe.  Never-the-less, not a great way to start the day.  So I am in a super bad and depressed mood so I decided it was time to talk about running!

Okay, I think I left off at my week of the 14-miler.  So the week I ran with my friend, we were talking about shin splints and various other injuries.  I had been blissfully uninjured so far, and was really going strong with my training.  So I started my next run knowing I was going to accomplish it and feeling pretty good.  Really soon into the run, within the first 3 miles, I noticed a mild ache in my right shin.  The pain wasn’t enough to make me stop, so I didn’t.  I just kept running.  I got all the way up to mile 13, which was a HUGE deal, knowing that my whole goal for the year was to run a half-marathon.  And I Achieved it!!!  But by then the pain was so bad I just powered through to the end of the run.

During my mile walk cool-down (I always walk a mile after my long runs and stretch out before getting back into my car) the pain was so bad I was limping the whole time.  I tried to stretch out the top of my foot, but it was far too little too late.  I did that run on a Monday.  I got back home and started icing immediately, and tried to massage.  It felt awful and I was in an incredible amount of pain.

Later that week, on December 7th, I was supposed to run my first Spartan Sprint.  I had signed up for this race with my former coworkers 7 months in advance, and was working toward it that whole time.  I ended up having to not run that race because my injury was so bad.  I was icing all the time, elevating, and resting.  I didn’t really do compression until I spoke with my friend again and he recommended it.  I also did a good amount of research online to figure out how to heal faster.  Turns out, the only real remedy is to rest, stretch, and lot of compression.  I bought a calf compression sleeve and it was like a miracle.  I had no idea the healing properties of compression.  Once I discovered this, I have worn my compression socks ever since.

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Did I miss the sweet feel of air on my legs as I ran?  Yes.  But the safety I felt after I was well enough to start running again is so worth the fashion ickiness 🙂

So I began to run again, little by little.  I started with a mile, and when I felt okay with that, I went back up to 3.  The socks seemed to be doing their thing and I was good again!

One mistake I made while I was training was pushing my times for my shorter runs.  I always tried to be faster and stronger than the time before.  This meant that when the training runs got longer, I wasn’t always able to increase my time and I grew disheartened.  This bled into the times of my long runs.  I was always trying to achieve a certain mileage time instead of just listening to my body and only trying to finish the run.  With the Map My Run app  you can have it tell you your mileage time, and I really relied on that.  I always wanted to be under a 9-minute mile for my shorter runs.  This was just not possible some days.  And I think with these injuries I have learned that while it is important to push myself, I also have to really just listen to my body and know when enough is enough.

So this little shin splint injury took me out for about a week, I think. I didn’t think this was a big deal because I had given myself a 2-month lead for my training, just in case I did happen to get injured.  I am happy to report, that since then, I have not had a single shin-splint issue.  But this is solely because I started taking care of my shins, stretching, and rolling out my shins with a foam roller.

It was at this point in my training where I found out just how critical stretching and foam rolling is.  Well, it actually took me 2 more injuries to really drive the point home.  The next long run I did was 10 miles, then the next week another 14 miles.  It was at this point where I started to get a nagging ache in the side of my left knee.  In true Claire fashion, I just started taking more ibuprofen and using Voltaren (a magical topical analgesic- like putting ibuprofen right on the sight of pain).  The thought never occurred to me that this might be the first sign of ITBS, or Iliotibial Band Syndrome.

Then I did something utterly, ridiculously stupid.  I ran 16 miles.  I did a great job.  10:02 per mile.  My knee was kinda hurting, but no more than usual.  Then the next day I decided to try one of my 5- mile training runs because I had things to do later in the week where I wouldn’t be able to squeeze in my training runs on the usual days.  I knew from the second I started running that I needed to stop, but did I?  NO!  Like a FOOL I just thought “this will pass… the first 3 miles are always really tough”.

I would like to take this moment to stress the utter importance of listening to your body.  If your whole body is screaming to stop.  JUST STOP.  Don’t push it!  Don’t be like Claire and a total idiot!

So I got about 3.25 miles into my run and I felt a snap and a fiery pain roll up from my knee to my upper thigh and I couldn’t run anymore.  I could walk, but running was out of the question.  I had to get an uber back to my car 😦

So I made an appointment with my physician, who confirmed that I did have ITBS.  She recommended some stretches, and said to foam roll 10x per side, morning and night.  I haven’t been able to see a physical therapist due to time and $$ constraints, but I did some extensive research online about stretches and how to take care of it.

So I rested another week, and slowly started running again.  I was able to quickly get back up to my former mileage, and by then it was time to do my 18- miler!  I should say at this time that I also started training in brand new shoes, and have only just recently decided that they hurt my feet and there is no way I am wearing them on Sunday!

Soooooo 18 miles complete!  Guess what.  It was raining for about half of it.  I knew I was getting blisters on my left foot but I couldn’t stop.  I hit a little wall at 12 miles, but I chugged my energy drink from my hydration pack and ate my little gu packs and I finished the run.  The whole last mile I was using the tools the book taught me.  Positive reinforcement.  Positive talk, visualization, etc.  I must have seemed like a crazy person. “Come on Claire!  Don’t stop!  You can do this!  This is easy!  Come on blisters, come run with me!  Come on rain, come run with me!  Come on knee pain in my other knee, let’s go!”

So I had miscalculated my distance, because I suck at math, and when you calculate distance running, you have to make sure to double everything!  I got confused and went too far one direction, which meant that I had to walk 2 miles back to my car instead of just 1.  By the time I was done with the run I was SO done.  My knee hurt really bad, my blisters were incredibly painful, and I had run out of my water. But you know what?  I fucking did it.  18 miles!  20 if you count all the walking.

So this is when ITBS took over my life.  My knee was so swollen and tender.  I iced, bought a knee compression sleeve, used a brace, everything.  My next few runs I had to quit right away.  I took another week off.  I could only do about 1.5 miles of the next 18-miler I was supposed to run.  Then my body decided it was time to rest even more because it gave me bronchitis.  This was 3 weeks ago.  By this time I have used up all the extra training time I had.  I had to stick with my schedule because I only had 4 weeks till the marathon.  I went to the doctor and got antibiotics.  I was able to run almost 4 miles until my knee started hurting.  By this time I have learned to stop running the second it starts hurting.

This is the time of the training cycle when tapering happens.  So I was to do my regular 5-mile, 8-mile, 5-mile maintenance runs, then long run of 9 miles.  Then 3, 5, 3 and 8 mile long run. During this time I had planned a trip to go visit my folks up in Oregon and be there for my mom, who was having pace-maker surgery on March 6th.  I had done 2 shorter runs and was really excited to go running in my old neighborhood for my 9 miles.

Well my body decided again that it was time for me to rest.  I got a really bad case of strep throat and had to go to the urgent care with a 103 degree fever.  I was prescribed amoxicillin, and learned that somehow in the past 10 years I have developed an allergy to this medication…. So I had to go back and get a steroid injection and a different antibiotic.

And this brings us up to present day!!  I got back into town last Friday, a day later than I anticipated.  Today is Thursday, March 16.  3 days from Marathon Day.  I was unable to run either week of my taper.  The last time I ran was Friday, March 3rd.

You might be thinking, “Girl!  Throw in the damn towel already!  Haven’t you had enough??”  Well no.  No.  I haven’t had enough.  I ran for the first time on Tuesday.  3 miles.  3 beautiful miles with no pain in my body besides the pain of not having run in 10 days.  I did a 9:27 mile average.

Today I run 3 more miles.  I have been supplementing with yoga.  I have done 3 classes since I got back- Sunday, Monday, and Wednesday.  Tonight I run my 3 miles and go to a core-strengthening class.  This morning I was in an accident but I will not let anything stop me.  I am going to run this mother-fucking marathon no matter what.

My mantra: “Only positive thoughts.  I will finish the marathon.  I am strong.  My heart is strong.  My lungs are strong.  My body is strong.  My knees are strong.  My mind is strong.”  I am only thinking positive thoughts.  Negative thoughts will kill any chance I have of completing this goal.  I have my team in my corner, rooting for me.  Friends and family I can count on to be at that finish line for me.  I am not just running this race for myself right now.  I am running for all the times I didn’t believe in myself.  All the fear I have had for not accomplishing my goals.  I will achieve this goal.  And if I do this, I can surely do anything.

See you at the finish line, LA!

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Author: clairebearrunner

32-year-old woman training for LA Marathon! Stage manager, lover of the arts, lover of animals and fellow people. Goals for 2017: LA Marathon, Spartan Trifecta, Long Beach Triathalon. I think that's all ;)

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