Not myself

So, it’s not new news that I’ve been relatively sidelined with injuries since… oh, late February/early March. Achilles tendinitis was the name of the game that time. I felt a hint of pain in my heel and stubbornly (you’ll find there’s a theme here) continued to run on it until it reduced me to a tearful limp one day after a run. I saw a doctor, who told me what it was and what I could do to rehab it (put heel cups in my shoes, stretch my calves, and build up the miles again slowly.)

It was unbelievably hard to take a step back after finally building up to a daily/weekly mileage I was proud of, but he surprisingly didn’t even tell me not to run. I ran a half that weekend and was pain-free. (I kept running too much immediately after, thinking I was cured for good, which set me back another couple weeks.) KT tape ended up saving me, and through April and May I mostly ran relatively painlessly.

Finally, on vacation in Colorado, I felt like the KT tape could come off, the heel cups could come out, and that I could start going back to normal. So I go on a 5~ mile trail run, relishing the painlessness, feel a little tweak in my foot, and think nothing of it. I run another 6 miles the next day, and 14 on the weekend. Foot feeling a teeny bit twingy, but generally alright (I thought).

General alrightness became a thing of the past as the week went on. My foot felt weird and either bruised/swollen but not swollen appearing? I had had a similar thing happen twice last year and thought a few days off would cure me, as it did in the past. I had a half coming up that weekend, and it wasn’t painless, but it also wasn’t painful. It was… uncomfortable. It felt like there was too much in my shoe. It wasn’t unbearable, so I started up my marathon training as scheduled.

My first long run was 14 miles, and I set out that morning a little nervous, but not feeling too pained in the foot region. About halfway through the run I noticed my other foot/heel/ankle was feeling a little odd, but didn’t think too much of it. I struggled through a few runs the following week, but things didn’t get worse, though they certainly did not improve..

My next long run was a 12 miler, and I was determined to do it. Once again, about halfway through, I started to feel the pain in my ankle area. By the last mile it was almost unbearable. I just wanted to get home, so of course I kept going. I limped into the house completely dejected.

So that’s where I’ve been at, lately. I had made a doctor appointment when my foot wasn’t really healing itself, even though it ended up doing just that before the appointment. I kept it so I could get this new issue looked at, and was told it was peroneal and posterior tibial tendinitis in the same ankle (not common, but not impossible, apparently). He suggested I take a week off running. I took 5 days off, but then there was Dances with Dirt, and we all know how that went…

After DWD, I took a few days off before I ran a fun run with my local running store. Pretty sucky, not impossible though. Took another few days off, and things were really feeling better, so I set off to test out a few miles. It was.. okay. I’ve been running a few here and there since then, and I’m just not sure what to think about anything anymore.

I’m honestly really struggling to maintain positivity when it seems like it isn’t going away. I feel nervous and utterly terrified that my marathon is almost exactly 2 months away and I’ve been completely unable to train. The longest training run I’ve been able to complete is 14 miles. Coupling the stress of moving somewhere I don’t want to be, with not being able to just RUN, has kept me in an incredibly negative mood for over a month now. I’m usually the most positive person in the group, so the fact that I’m not is another thing I stress over now.

I’m doing my best not to complain, to see the bright side, to keep moving any way I can. I know it’s not the end of the world. I know I’ll still toe the line at the marathon no matter what training I’ve got under my belt, for better or for worse. I know everything will be okay eventually. But it’s hard to not feel like yourself for such an extended period of time.

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In which I attempt to blog/Dances with Dirt race recap

So, I clearly have no idea what I’m doing here. In theory this seemed easy, make a blog, write some stuff about running, etc etc. I suspect that I’ll be terrible at it, but I guess we’ll find out. Fair warning: This really only follows a very general time frame. I’ll work on it.

I think it makes sense that my first post be a recap of this past weekend’s Dances with Dirt half marathon. They offer distances of 10k, half, marathon, 50k, and 50M. Most of it is run along the Ice Age National Scenic Trail through Devil’s Lake State Park, both of which I’m 100% obsessed with. So naturally when I heard about this race, I basically threw my money at them immediately. I was all, yeah I’ll run a half that weekend as part of my marathon training, no big deal. Turns out, SUPER BIG DEAL, since my body has been on the injured list essentially since February. I had tendinitis in my Achilles, immediately after it healed I had this weird foot thing going on, which FINALLY went away, only to lend itself to peroneal and distal periodontal tibial tendinitis in the same ankle. Yay! I had been able to run through the previous 2 injuries relatively fine, but this latest one is really taking it’s toll.

But I’m stubborn. I was so damn excited for this stupid race, I’m like, yeah I’ll run it anyways and be totally fine, even though I can’t even walk without limping, whatever! But for real, totally worth it. The struggle was 3000% real, and I didn’t even care. It was a slog. It was a painful, painful, slog.

We got to packet pickup the night before (it’s about 2 hours away from me) and I was pretty nervous. Usually before a race, I’m excited nervous, but this was more of a “I know I’m going to be in a lot of pain” nervous. Since we had to head up right after work on Friday, after I got the goods we basically went to the motel and were done for the night.

In the morning I figured I was ready as I was going to be, except I had the pleasure of breaking the only hairband I had with me, and after almost having a complete breakdown over it – used a dirty rubberband from a super creepy gas station attendant to maintain my fantastic hairdo. But I’ve got ALL THE KT TAPE all over my ankle/foot, I’ve got my trusty Montrails, I’ve got my dirty rubberband, and I’m on my way.

We get there, I wait in the endless line for the port-a-potty, and I finally get to the start line. We separate into random waves, and I’m in the second. And we’re off! I’m running, it’s not exactly pain-free, but it’s not exactly painful either. It’s DEFINITELY not fast, or what my usual pace (even on trails) is. And I had heard about the elevation of the race, but I’m like, I’ve run up mountains! In Colorado! I’m totally fine, this is Wisconsin. It’s flat. Um.. apparently, not as flat as I thought.

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So, um, that huge climb, right at the beginning? Needless to say I was hiking pretty soon. I wasn’t too worried about it, because so was everyone else. I had these gel heel cups in my shoes that had really helped with my Achilles tendinitis, and I hadn’t had time to find anything that more specifically took the pressure off my new found tendinitis, so I was winging it with those. It only took about a half mile for it to decide it didn’t want to stay under my heel anymore. So I spent a lot of time tying and retying my shoes, trying to figure out what would maybe hurt a little bit less, but I don’t think I ever really figured that one out.

It bears notation that this race had the best aid station volunteers I’ve come across. Of course, the entire atmosphere of a trail race is completely different than that of a road race (which I’m more familiar with) but each time someone filled up my water bottle, I probably could’ve cried. The humidity was insane that day, my entire shirt was completely soaked through within the first 4 miles, so it honestly made all the difference.

Around mile 6 or 7, the entire mile was literally just a slow, winding incline. If I consulted my Garmin stats here, I would be able to tell you exactly which one, because I hiked the entire thing. Since I had no real idea of the elevation changes to come (or not come, I never looked at the course prior to the race), I didn’t want to wear myself out any more than I had to, because I honestly didn’t know if I’d be able to finish through the pain.

I’ve been lucky in all my trail runs/races, that I’ve never actually fallen while out on the course. I saw so many people bite it on Saturday (HARD), including one who was on the side of the course with a medic because his whole leg was torn up and bloody (I was extra careful after seeing that). It had rained in the days prior to the race, so the trail and rocks were pretty slick, which didn’t help. I tripped my fair share of times, but somehow managed to stay relatively on my feet. Probably because I was moving at a snail’s pace, but better safe than sorry.

Speaking of pace, it was incredibly slow going for me. I really wish I could go back and see what I could’ve done minus the injury, because it was a really rough day in general I think. Luckily for my pace, but unluckily for my knees, those whole last 5ish miles were bombing downhill. There was a girl behind me that kept tripping and I was positive she was going to take me out, so that was also pretty unpleasant.

I was so freaking happy to see the finish line. But also really disappointed that I couldn’t really go out there and see what I could do. My official time was 2:45:56.6, 337 out of 568 finishers. I battle between being proud of myself for going out there and doing it, and being bummed that I couldn’t have magically pulled out a better finish than I did. I will definitely be back next year. Not so secretly, I’d like to do the 50k (because running up double black diamonds for the last 5 miles seems like my idea of FUN!) My ankle is still swollen to the high heavens after the beating I put it through, and I know it wasn’t in my best interests (marathon is officially 81 days away, and since I’ve been injured the entirety of the training cycle I’ve been barely able to pull out ANY solid runs) but do I regret it? Nah.