Going into this week, I was super nerves and stressed out. I wanted more than anything to race on Sunday. Over the past 3 years since I decided to start running again, I have had the goal of running half marathons, setting new records for myself, and shooting for the Olympic Trials Qualifying Standard. Through the first 2.5 years I suffered from about 6 stress fractures. Not all at once, but throughout the entire 2.5 year. My last stress fracture consisted of 2 fractures at both ends of my right tibia. I stopped running this past February. The spring was an eventful time for my husband and I with our move back to the Midwest. I decided to finish up my time devoted to my students. I cross trained as well as rested my body till May. Since we were going to be on the road and bouncing around till the middle of July, I decided I would start slowly adding running back into my days once we get more settled. I ran throughout the summer, but only managed to run about 20-30 miles per week. Just enough to keep me sane. By the end of the summer I knew I was running out of time. If I wanted any shot at all towards the Olympic trials, I needed to start running again. In fear of failure, I kept putting off actually starting to train. August rolled around and I knew it was time. At that point I only have 5 months to train. Since I am not in great shape this dream was not going to be easy. Especially because I knew I needed to be super conservative with my training to avoid another injury.
Since the beginning of August I have kept my mileage hoovering 45 miles per week. With a few of the weeks closer to 20 miles with supplemental cross training to avoid the onset of an injury. Training was coming around. I still was not getting in very many workouts. Why? Well that’s easy, because I am scared. I know, crazy stupid!!! Especially since I have intimidating goals. I decided to start racing to help encourage me to train a bit harder. Also the races could serve a purpose as a hard “workout”. I ran one 5k, and two 10ks. They were fun. But also racing the shorter distances is within my comfort zone. They say success lies outside your comfort zone. With that in mind I knew I needed to run something that would test my limits. A Half Marathon is the next step.
Last week I started suffering from what seems to be patella femoral tendinitis. My knee is constantly swollen and has been for the past two weeks. After taking last Saturday and Sunday Off, I needed to start cross training. The swelling had subsided greatly due to my Mother In Law and her magically hands. Monday I rode the bike for 35 minutes just to test the waters as well as weight and circuit training. I also included exercises for my knee. Tuesday my knee was starting to feel a bit better, So I extended my time on the machine and cross trained for 75 minutes with weights and circuit work, along with knee exercises. Wednesday rolls around, My knee feels about 85% better. I still had my eyes on a half marathon for Sunday, therefore, I needed to run a bit to make sure I do not feel sluggish. I went out for a 6 mile run that morning, I felt pretty good. Averaging 7:18 pace for a total time of 43:54. I felt a bit sluggish, but was just going to wait and see how my knee responded before making my next move. I woke up Thursday Morning, my knee was a tad sore, but not too swollen. I decided to do a moderate workout. Something to get my legs moving at race pace, but nothing that would irritate my knee too much. I chose to do a mini fartleck. My favorite one, I think I do this every other week. It is my safety workout. It consists of 30 minutes alternating 1 minute at race pace and once minute at regular run pace. Since I did not want to aggravate my knee too much I decided to aim for half marathon pace instead of 5k pace. I tried to keep the fast portion of the run around 6:00 pace, but ended up hitting 5:40 pace. I ended up running 8 miles in a time of 54:29 for an average pace of 6:48. With a mini workout under my belt I figured if I still wanted to race on Sunday I should take it easy on Friday. Friday came and I biked for 60 minutes, as well as spent time working on knee exercises as well as stretching. Saturday I decided to do a little shake out run which was only 3.5 miles (7:18 pace, 25:34 total time). I followed the run with the dreaded foam roller and ample stretching.
Now to Sunday…( sorry for the long novel)
Saturday afternoon I still was unsure if it was smart to actually run the half. If I were my old self from 2005 I would run through it. My more recent self, backs out at the smallest ounce of discomfort in fear I will ruin myself pertinently and never be able to run again. I do not like the self I have turned in to. The whole point of running is to push your limits. Yes!! I have to be smart. But I also know I am most likely dealing with tendinitis. This type of injury tends to just be a nagging pain. I can run though this. I will just Ice and cross train for a few days. In the first week of November I get to see an osteopath, who will help realign my body. That’s only 2.5 weeks from now. If I have to I will just run every other day till then. I will do whatever it takes to run this half marathon. No more quitting or backing out in fear of failure. It is time to take what I get and move on!
I stepped out onto the starting line of the Rock’n Roll Half Marathon in St. Louis, MO. The temperature was about 37 degrees. There was a slight chill in the air, but I knew by mile 5 I would feel warm. I made it. I actually made it to the starting line of a half marathon. It has been just 3 months shy of 10 years since the last time I stepped onto a starting line like this one. 10 years ago, I ran the 2006 3M half marathon in Austin, Texas. At 18 years old I crossed the finish line in 1 hour and 16 minutes. Today, a much more difficult course, and many ups and downs later I finished as the first women, 8th overall finisher, in a time of 1 hour and 19 minutes. I was exactly 3 minutes slower than I was when I was 18 years old. My goal going into the run was to hit 6 minute miles the entire way, I ended up averaging 6:05 miles. Just a few seconds off each mile. I wish I was faster, but it has been a tough few weeks. If I can get my knee feeling better, I would love to attempt another half in the first week of December. I am proud I raced. I have a new starting line. 1:19 now, and lets just wait and see what time will tell… The calculator predictors suggest I should be able to run 2:46, for a full marathon. In order to qualify I need to be under 2:43!