After I recovered from the Chicago Marathon debacle of ’07, I came to the conclusion that racing a flat, fast course in your own neck of the woods wasn’t such a bad idea as there were so many pros:
- No airfare or multiple tanks of gas
- No hotel costs
- No logistical nightmares to deal with
- No jam-packed smelly subway rides
- I could sleep in my own bed the night before the race
- I could sleep in my own bed approximately 1 hour post-race
- My mom could whip up my favorite pre-race meal in the comfort of her own kitchen
I could really go on and on…
So I decided to try the Columbus Marathon, yet again.
Marathon #5: 2008 Columbus Marathon: DNF
Training was PERFECT. Seriously, I was producing some of my fastest times, in all distances. I raced my first ever 10-miler that summer, and LOVED it. I ran races practically every week and was busting out PR’s like it was my J-O-B! I worked part-time at a local running store, and was a member of the store’s race team, so I was able to get in on some pretty sweet deals, and sometimes even raced for free. Doesn’t get much better than that.
In addition to my part-time gig, I was also working as an Exercise Physiologist for cardiac and pulmonary rehab patients, in addition to an exercise program strictly for breast cancer patients, all while working on my Masters Degree. I was livin’ the dream, and inspired daily by so many of my patients! As the race was approaching, I was getting more excited, and couldn’t help but talk about it to every single person I came in contact with. My patients especially enjoyed hearing the tales of my trials and tribulations on the open roads. I not only had my usual race day crew in my corner, but so many other wonderful souls rooting for me that fall.
With only about a month before race day, we were hit with a nasty, rainy day, and I decided to do something that I rarely do…hit up the treadmill for my mile repeat workout. Ick. After a sufficient warm-up, and two fast miles, I began my third mile. After a couple of minutes of rhythmic pounding, I felt a sharp needle-prick kind of pain in my left knee area. I immediately pulled the emergency cord on the treadmill to stop the belt and caught my breath. I was officially spooked. I’ve had mega knee injuries before. My freshman year of high school I snapped the ACL in my right knee completely in half. I also suffered from tears in my meniscus, cartilage and strained my MCL. All at the same time, mind you. Hey, I go hard or go home.
Anyways, I was freaked. Anything knee-related makes me want to throw-up, naturally. I did some stretching and decided to just throw in the towel for the night. After walking for a couple of minutes in the parking lot, which didn’t hurt, I decided to try jogging. After two steps, I was done, out for the count, there was definite pain in the knee area, but I wasn’t exactly sure what was up. So as soon as I got home, I did what any self-proclaimed Google Master would do, I searched my face-off. My final conclusion was that I had an Iliotibial Band injury going on.
I set up an appointment with a local Running Specialist later in the week and took a few days off of running. The doc came to the conclusion that I had Iliotibial Band Syndrome. I think I went into the wrong profession. The doctor understood my heart’s desire to score my BQ in a few weeks and suggested an intense regime of rest, physical therapy, and cortisone injections and I would be as good as new for race day. I ate it up. I didn’t even consider dropping out of the race, by this point I was obsessed, and was willing to do basically anything to get to the starting line healthy. Well, healthier.
Fast forward a few weeks, if I was to be completely honest with myself, I knew deep down that I should have sat this one out. On the flip-side, I also was being told by licensed professionals that I would be fine to race. So what is a young 20-something in distress to do? She listens to her elders, and is convinced all things will be sunshine and roses come race day.
As I toed the line, I got that marathon morning feeling that I always get and I relaxed and felt that today very well could be my moment to shine. The first few miles clicked off just fine, then by mile 4: game-over. Well not quite, but the IT Band pain was back. I was just too stubborn to pay attention. It wasn’t a constant pain, it would come and go, so I thought I would be fine. I made it through the half-way point, on schedule, with even a few minutes to spare, and some of the pain in my leg had subsided. Things were looking good.
Then by mile 15 my situation rapidly deteriorated. By mile 17 I had to stop and stretch and even walk for a bit. After stopping and stretching a few times, I was ready to call it quits. Only problem, there was no medical tent in sight! I kept stopping every few hundred yards asking total strangers that were spectating where I could find medical attention, and no one could help me. I limped/walked/jogged for the next 5 miles. FIVE MILES! Before I saw a red tent. Oh I thought I had died and gone to heaven! The Red Cross! Of course! As I staggered to the tent, I immediately began sobbing and talking complete nonsense to this poor innocent bystander. Turns out, it wasn’t the Red Cross, it was just some random Buckeye who bled Scarlett and Gray and was cheering for the runners and handing out orange slices. I asked her if I could just sit down at her tent while I composed myself, and she of course obliged. Then out of no where my physical therapist emerged, turns out the medical tent was at mile 22, just directly across the street, and he saw me struggling and came to help. To make a long story short, I dropped out of the race at mile 22, earning myself a big, fat, DNF (Did Not Finish).
Eventually the Red Cross did show up and allowed me to call my mom and Matt, and they were able to drive some side streets and meet me, scoop me up and take me home, in, you guessed it, my mom’s Rav-4. Seriously that car has seen me through it all!
I was defeated. I was crying. I was in terrible pain. Matt threatened to make me go to the hospital because it was seriously excruciating. I sobbed and said I just wanted to go home, shower, eat Panera and drink Starbucks and forget this day ever happened. I felt like I let so many people down, not just myself, but everyone that was rooting for me! That’s probably what I felt worse about, I loathe disappointing people. Ugh.
After the race I continued going to this
quack doctor for months and things weren’t getting any better. By early spring, I came to my senses and sought a second opinion, and jumped ship. Wouldn’t you know, the entire way the doctor and physical therapists were handling my situation was all wrong, down to the orthotics they made me, to the physical therapy rehab exercises! I basically wasted 6 months of my life on keeping myself injured. Awesome.
After all was said and done, I eventually was unable to run for almost an entire year! I didn’t resume any sort of running until August of 2009, and it was one of those walk for 5 minutes, jog for 1, walk for 5, jog for 1, etc. situations. Sheer torture, but at least I was able to run some. After I was cleared to run for consecutive minutes, I bounced back rather quickly to my crazy self. After increasing my mileage over the course of 6 weeks, I took the plunge and raced a 5K and it was awesomely challenging. A few weeks after my 5K debut, I ran a half-marathon on November 1, 2009 in 1:45:22! It felt good to be home.
As much as I hate to admit it, yet another marathon disaster, and being sidelined by an injury was probably the best thing for me. It made me snap out of my BQ obsession and realize that I am so lucky to have a passion for a healthy activity, and that I should never take it for granted. Sometimes we make goals for ourselves, and we expect them to just magically occur on our own time, but things happen and fall into place when it is meant to be. Patience truly is a virtue.
Oh yeah, and cortisone injections are a bad choice.