Tuesday, December 29, 2009

I'm alive!

Long break from the blog! Warning: long race recap followed by cute baby/knitting pic at the end.

The last post was made before I ran my half marathon, which I'm happy to say I ran and finished in the time I wanted to! It was slow, but I did it. About halfway through, it started raining, and that rain eventually turned to sleet... and then snow. It was a freak October snowstorm up here, which made finishing that race even better! The bad thing was the injury I limped away with. During training, I broke the cardinal rule of "Don't increase your weekly mileage by more than 10% per week". Toward the end of my training, I noticed my right knee hurting after my long runs. I would ice it and move on, not thinking much of it.

Around mile 6 of the race, it started to feel a little sore. I told my cousin/running buddy but said it would be ok... just a dull pain. At mile 8, I could tell she was dying to run faster, and the knee was hurting more, so I told her to go on without me. The rest of the race was excruciating. I stopped to walk thinking a rest would be good, but then when I tried to run again, it got worse. So I figured, no walking, just hurry up, run, and finish.

At mile 10, I felt a slight snapping sensation on the side of my right knee and stumbled a little. I had to limp over to the sidewalk and slow way down and take a break. And then... I started to cry. I had been waiting three years to run a half marathon. My legs felt great, I wasn't hungry, I had tons of energy. I ate properly in the days leading up to and the morning of the race and now... I really thought I wasn't going to finish. I think if there had been a first aid tent between miles 10 and 13, I wouldn't have finished, so I'm glad there wasn't one. I walked over the bridge I was on and took my last GU at the end of it.

The real weather (read:sleet) started around mile 11. I think I've mentioned before that I actually enjoy running in rain or snow... it motivates me to go faster and distracts me from any pain I may be in. So all my power went toward breathing and motoring along with my busted knee (probably not the smartest thing to do?) to finish the race. As I ran over the final bridge I started hearing the always-welcome "You can do it! Almost there!" and I thought wow, I really am almost there...

So I cross the bridge and the crowd petered out as I ran a quieter section of the race. I noticed that up ahead there was scaffolding and rails and what not, so I figured that must be the end and I was so relieved. I ran into the "chute" (for lack of a better word) and saw the arch up ahead that looked like the finish. I ran toward it and it dumped me out into a huge minor league BASEBALL FIELD that I had to run all the way around to finish at home plate. I thought... what a sick joke! I headed left and around the outside of the field and in my last 100 yards, I really did start to cry again. I'm not ashamed, many runners cry. This time, I cried out of a mix of sheer pain and pride and joy. With one final push I sprinted/hobbled across the finish line and ducked my head to receive the beautiful medal I had worked so hard for. It was one of my proudest moments, ever.

With my mylar blanket wrapped around me, I found my cousin and we set out to find our way back to my car... except I wasn't moving very quickly. Actually, if you have ever seen the show House, I was walking exactly like Dr. House. I could not bend my right leg at all. She went ahead with the keys and I eventually met up with her and we went back to stretch and ice. When I got home, I immediately hopped online to look up what the heck could have happened to my poor knee. Between my research and a personal trainer-friend, I found out that I was suffering from Iliotibial Band Syndrome. Its a common running injury and can be caused by improper training, or weak hip abductor muscles, or a handful of other things. For the next couple of days I had pain that ran from my right hip all the way down to my knee and crossed in front and down my shin. I thought we were going to have to amputate. Too scared to run or do anything else, I avoided all exercise... until today! I did a light speed interval workout for just 25 minutes on the treadmill. I felt good at first and then... the knee pain came back. I'm so sad! I can't give up running, its out of the question! So, I guess I will have to find out what exercises to do to strengthen up the rest of my leg so I can get that full marathon in before I hit my next major milestone... (forty).

I learned two very important things from this race...

1. Listen to your body when it talks to you. It knows more about it than you do.

2. Research your race route! You don't want to think you're done only to be dumped into a huge baseball field!!!

In other news, I have no in-process knitting pictures today. Maybe tomorrow. What I DO have is a picture of the Super-Natural Stripes Sweater from the end of my last post. I was really nervous it wasn't going to fit! But... this picture tells a different story... Toren in my sweater, and his first time in jeans! So cute :) I was very happy to get these pictures!!!

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