3 Dec 2014
November 23, 2014 I ran the Philadelphia Half Marathon for the third year in a row. Although a desert dweller here in Las Vegas, I am originally from Northeast PA and frequented Philly often. This race became a family reunion of sorts with a few cousins and I meeting to run it. This year, there were two of us. We both had goals of just doing better than last year and not letting the hill at mile 9 win. We enjoyed a weekend of sightseeing and trying new restaurants.
Last year, I had a head cold for this race, and my time was okay, about average for me, a minute or two slower. I did my best to avoid getting sick this year, it worked… no head cold. After last year’s 13 half marathons, I did far fewer this year (this was my second official road half marathon on the year). I ran regularly, with fewer runs over the summer. I increased my strength training and became more consistent with it. I improved my eating. Heading in to this race, I felt stronger, good to go. I had my usual doubts and nerves… did I train enough, was I prepared for the cold. Could I really hit my goal?
I had a goal of finally, finally hitting 2:20 on a half marathon. I told two people this goal, one of which was my trainer. I felt good, even on race morning, I felt ready. I felt that my mind was in the right place and my body was ready. We woke up early, got ready, grabbed breakfast and walked to the start area. My cousin and I chatted away and then parted ways into our respective corrals. When I got to my corral it seemed weirdly empty… but I was finally able to get a picture of the Rocky Balboa statue and the art museum. I chatted briefly with someone as we walked up to the start line… got my watch and music set to go. And…. We were off!
When I started, I was unbelievably cold… but felt good. My pace was right on, my legs felt strong, my lungs were happy… my mind was happy. I didn’t even care that it seemed more crowded than years past or that the roads were a mess. More potholes and uneven surfaces (ok, maybe I am a bit spoiled here in Vegas that in my area, our roads are in good shape). I tried to enjoy the scenery and architecture, and focused on keeping consistent in my pace. Around mile 5 my hip started to ache a little. I shrugged it off, and kept pushing. At the 10k split, I was on point for my PR and feeling good. That realization gave me the burst I needed to conquer the mile 7 hill without a single walk break. Then, around mile 8 my hip really started to ache, but different than when I injured it previously. This was a wraparound pain from the groin to mid-butt cheek, it felt stiff and tight… heading into the dreaded mile 9 climb, I tried to focus on that hill, one step at a time. Part way up, the pain got real. I stopped to stretch and loosen it up, decided to walk for a bit to see how it felt. When I tried to run again going up that hill, it hurt. I decided to fast walk the hill to not lose too much time, and run from there. I tried running again… it hurt, but I kept going, just slower. I realized then, around mile 10.5 that 2:20 just wasn’t going to happen this year. My focus quickly switched to finishing, and trying to run as much of it as I could. By mile 12, I just hurt, so I went to run/walk intervals. I cried… a combination of the pain and realizing that this race was my nemesis and my goal was still just out of reach. Running uphill hurt the most, so at the marathon/half marathon split, I walked that little climb, and started running again. As I came around the bend with the finish line in sight, I gave all I had in me to “sprint” to the finish. I finished.
I finished, but I was in serious pain. Walking through the finisher chutes, I cried. I tried to calm myself down and walk it off, but every. single. step. HURT. I tried to call a calming presence in my life, forgetting (or not caring) it was 3 hours earlier in my home time zone, got no answer. So, I made it to where my aunt and mom were, drank my coffee, text my trainer and a friend, and waited for my cousin.
A very small part of me is upset I didn’t make my goal time. But mostly, I am worried about my hip. This isn’t the first time it’s acted up, but it is by far, the worst it’s ever been. I keep thinking could I have trained differently, stretched differently, worked out differently, etc., etc. Then I think, what happens if it’s something more serious? I have the Star Wars Rebel Challenge mid-January, and Surf City a few weeks after that.
And, well, I’m trying to work through the emotions from that race. It’s my third year… year one was decent, I was sick year two, and now this… this race is becoming my nemesis. I don’t do well with not moving, with not running… that cliché: running is my therapy, is so true for me. I work through things on my runs, think about work ideas, unwind and de-clutter my mind. I’m eight days in to no running and seriously struggling.
It’s time to come clean on this injury. Walking takes patience and more time than I want it to. It hurts to walk any significant distance, sit too long, or put to much weight on my right leg. My doctor sent me for x-rays. Now, I try to dig up patience, to not push it, to let this heal, to rest… to not go stir crazy while I do the waiting, and healing and resting. When I went to see my chiropractor Monday, and was given the no running order. I knew it was coming, but it still hurt to hear it. I got the x-rays, followed orders, and still hurt, although a little less. I drug my dog out for a slow, painful two-mile walk Saturday and Sunday. I stretched, iced, stretched. I went back to the chiropractor yesterday and I still can’t run. I can do non-impact exercises like cycling or aqua jogging, I can try body weight exercises and see how it feels. I know this is progress, but not being able to run is frustrating and a real struggle for me. Nothing else I do helps me feel as amazing mentally and physically as running does. So…now is the time to heal my body, to focus on health, to figure out other ways to work through stress and emotions, to stay calm and to emerge stronger and faster.
When you can’t run, how do you stay fit? What helps you deal with the injury and healing? More importantly, how do you handle holiday stress without your greatest stress reliever?