Friday, October 19, 2012

My Connecticut Marathon

(This blog post contains information on my running injury recovery.  I am NOT a doctor and anyone reading this post should not take anything in it as medical advice for themselves.)

    For those who know what I have been going through these past 7 weeks, finishing this marathon in Hartford Connecticut for me was basically a miracle that not even I saw coming.

Seven weeks ago I pulled a very bad injury, a couple of doctor visits, a sports injury specialist and x-rays determined I had either a strained hip flexor or a torn hip flexor.  (I opted out of the MRI to know for sure, since both injuries are basically treated the same, one just takes longer to heal.)
For four weeks I was only able to run if I was lucky 2 miles a week, and even that came with its own considerable amount of pain (it hurt to even stand up straight or lay flat...)
Two weeks ago I had a New Hampshire marathon scheduled, and having attempted a seven mile run a few days before the marathon only to result in some of the most piercing pain imaginable, I knew for the first time ever I was going to have to pull out and not run the race.  (Let me just say, that was a VERY difficult *tears* decision.  But having 5 additional marathons signed up for in 2012 still to go, I decided passing on one would be better than having to pass on all.)

Bushnell Park, park the finishline was at.
It was during that same week of the New Hampshire race the doctors gave me their final diagnosis and suggested I start physical therapy with a running sports therapist.  So I decided to make a decision, and opted out of going to one.  I figured I knew my body better than anyone, and you don't get through 34 marathons, and countless other injuries without learning a thing or two about how to recover from even bad injuries.
So in short for two weeks, I started out small running a couple of miles, and stretching before and after, then take a day off, then running a few more miles, adding longer stretching before and after and introducing my injury to more as it could take it.
I controlled all of my running by breaking out my dreaded treadmill that generally only sees action on the snowiest of Utah winter days:)  But it was needed (running uphill even the slightest activated the pain in the injury.)

State Capitol, also this is the starting line of the race.
I knew about 5 days into this, something was different and although I didn't dare push it to be sure I had a feeling it was working and the injury was finally starting the mending process.
The week of the marathon, I ran an easy 2 mile treadmill on Monday, and then went up camping and picked a semi flat course both paved and dirt and decided to see how far I had come.  My goal was to go until I was in pain and stop at 6 regardless.
Imagine my surprise when I finished the 6 and had practically zero pain the entire time.  With smiles on my face I packed up the next day and boarded my flight for Hartford, Connecticut.

Unfortunately, when in my life it can't just rain, it has to pour!  So naturally, on my flight I discovered I was catching a cold and feeling worse and worse by the hour.
The day before the race, I was pretty miserably sick.  But for those who know me, since I have that stupid Epstein Barr I frequently am forced to run marathons with illness.  (at least it wasn't pneumonia or bronchitis this time, lol:)

Race morning, this was my plan:
Run, just go as far as my leg would let me and pull out and hop into a swag van at any sign of pain.  (Ultimately the Marine Corps D.C. race coming up 2 weeks later was my priority #1, and I didn't want to ruin any of my recover to sacrifice running in that race.)
It's hard for me as a runner to switch to the "quit" mentality.  But not all injuries have the ability to run through, and this was a lesson I had been learning for several weeks now.

This is the entrance into the finish line.
Race morning was a beautifully crisp and cool blue sky day.  My rental car was covered in frost with it being only 21 degree's out.  (Can I just note, rental cars do NOT provide scrapers, good thing I was leaving with plenty of time, I had to sit in the freezing car and wait forever for ALL the windows to clear.
Downtown Hartford was insane with traffic as 14,000 runners were finding parking.  The day before I scouted out several parking area's and came up with a few backups and programed the coordinates into the GPS.  I completely lucked out, someone pulled out of the last spot in the closest lot to the start just as I arrived, right then I knew the day was looking up:)

I decided to take off the warm up pants and leave them in the car.  But I kept my long sleeve top, hat and ear covers and gloves with me.  My injury was being kept nice and warm by those fabulous Tylenol heat patches:)  I lined up to the start, still seeing my exhaled breath as the gun went off.
I took the first few miles extremely slow, just to let the injury warm up exactly as I had done the past 2 weeks on practice runs.
It was a beautiful morning, the race started through downtown Hartford.  My body was loving it, it wanted to run.  I knew I had to keep a certain pace/stride in order to keep my injury from pulling, that was really the hardest part early on.

Connecticut River along the Great River Parkway
Now I won't lie, I honestly thought if I was seriously lucky I might get 10 miles into the race before having to pull out.
I was completely surprised that even at that point my injury was holding and I had yet to experience any real pain from it.  (Only time I felt it was on the steeper uphill, which there wasn't too much of.  Short steps up the hills helped keep anything from pulling much.)
We ran along the trails along side the Connecticut River (Absolutely Gorgeous!)  Ran by and watched several teams of rowers practicing on the river:)
Went up into some older and beautiful neighborhoods for an out and back from miles 15-18.  I remember at times looking in-between the homes that themselves were full of character.  To see these lush green rolling hill valleys (reminded me of the song on the old TV show Green Acres) there were these little grassy banked streams all though the hills, with horses and little white fences.  Seriously looked like a staged picture it was so amazingly to see in the morning!

The fact that I had gotten into the teens and still no leg pain was literally blowing my mind, I had a feeling then that if the injury hadn't bothered me too much by now I was likely going to be able to finish if I just kept playing it smart.  Being sick, well that was another matter.  The good thing was, my attention was focused so closely on listening to my body and making sure that I wasn't injuring myself worst.  That I really didn't let my cold bother me too much early on.  But not going to lie, by the last 8 miles of the course, the illness was taking its toll on my body.  It was like twice the effort, twice the exhaustion.
But I was still so thrilled my injury was going so well, that I wasn't allowing too much to get me down, and sadly so much experience in running marathons with even worse illnesses helped on that mental part of it.  Not even the horrible stomach pains that I got from miles 15 til finish which were oddly made worse when I would have to drink at the water stops.  As I think back on now, and attribute to the likely cause being  an empty stomach and all the cold medicine I had taken the night before to attempt to get some sleep (which actually didn't help.) that caused the stomach pains and cramping.

Finishline View.
Aside from the picturesque green acre scenery, my other favorite moments were running down a maple tree laced street.  With beautiful fall yellow, orange and red leaves.  The breeze kicked up just slightly and it was like snowing leaves onto me while I ran.
The last couple of miles were my biggest struggle, I think by then my inability to actually run much over the past six weeks caught up to me, and I was starting to run out of gas.  But hey, when you are at mile 24, you know even if exhausted your going to finish so just that thought alone gives you the extra energy needed to get your butt across the finish line:)

I was AMAZED, and thrilled!!!  I never would have guessed I would have finished 26.2 that day, nor did I even plan on it when I started on mile 1.  I didn't know that my body would have LOVED running so much that even any "out-of-shape" it had gotten the past month and a half wouldn't bother me much at all that day. I had no idea that my "self made" injury recover program had been working as much as it apparently had.  I loved Connecticut, it's beautiful and the race and volunteers were wonderful.  I loved seeing the castle like bridge in the distance as I approached it to run through to get to the finish line.

Surprisingly I feel I am recovering quit quick from this marathon, I had really no time to rest with a brides wedding just 2 days after the race to get ready for.  The injury isn't completely healed, its going to take some time before it's 100% again.  But it's holding and I have VERY high hopes that I will be able to finish the rest of this year especially if I keep doing what I am doing!

Starting next weekend I am beginning my first 3 marathon's in 3 weeks, I don't know how that is going to work out (Injury wise), but I am optimistic and excited to see what happens!

Another state capitol view (I was sick on the trip,
the reason for my lack of awesome pictures this time:(
I do have to mention a few good things did come out of having an injury which forced me to do little to no running for six weeks.
My hip bursitis (other leg) is now completely healed.  The tendinitis in the backs of my ankles has seemed to heal up entirely.  My left foot that felt fractured and throbbed constantly seems to be pain free now.  My knee with the torn cartilage is also worked out its kink and no pain.  As well as all the other normal constant pains that long distance running and several marathons a year puts onto your body, they are temporarily (just guessing) gone for now.  I feel great, but at the same time I am missing my (not injury pain) but regular running pains, time to get back into the shape I was before and enjoying running and continue to work on my 50 states plus D.C goal again!!!

GOAL COUNTDOWN: This was actually my 35th marathon overall, and Connecticut was my 28th state:)




4 comments :

  1. Wow, I'm so amazed that your body allowed you to complete the marathon! Way to be smart leading up to it- hope you continue to recover fully very quickly!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Congratulations on completing another marathon! Wishing you a full recovery soon!

    ReplyDelete

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