I slept in today. Even though my clock reads 5:40, the "old" time would be 6:40. So I actually am up quite late (for me). After the third child of the night ventured into my queen size bed for a "bad dream", I decided I'd had enough sleep and that even if I wanted to I wouldn't be getting any more with all the elbows knees and feet in my way. So here I sit, after thinking of a title for this entry, realizing I'm kind of giving away the fact that things did not go my way when it came to the Athens Marathon.
The qualifying marathon had been chosen. The training plan had been chosen. Our job now was to execute the plan. Sarah and I did not do all of our running together. I have always run very early in the morning and she is, well, not a morning person (up until 3 weeks ago, ya know, when I became injured and couldn't run and suddenly she's out there on a daily basis racking up the miles at 5:30 a.m. BUT I AM NOT BITTER). It simply wouldn't be a good story without giving her a little shit for this unlikely turn of events, so it's all good. I apologize for getting of track.
We did, however, do our long runs together. Every Saturday or Sunday, which ever day worked better for our schedules, we would head out in our insulated running tights, wick away shirts, headbands, Garmins and backpacks full of Gatorade (yes we both have Camelbaks that carry our Gatorade... I've tried the waste pack and HATE IT. Personal preference thing). We would run mileage that she would usually pre-route through MapMyRun. Those runs I like to refer to as "therapy sessions". When you are running side by side for hours at a time, you just gotta find interesting stuff to talk about. Not that are lives are super interesting... I mean, we are both mothers of four. For the most part, our conversation centered around the kids and our husbands (all good guys... you believe that, right?). But occasionally we'd get on another topic and just hammer it out. The miles flew by during these runs. The discomfort of the long run was a little less noticeable on those days than when I ran alone. But unfortunately, I was dealing with some discomfort that was worsening and that I could no longer "band-aid" with ibuprofen, the wonder drug. To backtrack a bit, while training for the Columbus half marathon that October, of which I only decided 6 weeks prior that I was going to run, I noticed some pain in my right hip with each stride. It wasn't "awful", and I could take ibuprofen and feel better, so I continued to run on it. The pain was odd. It was right on the tip of my iliac crest and felt like a bruise when I pressed on it. I had no idea what it could have been, but I continuously brushed it aside in pursuit of my Athens goal (side note... runners are notoriously stupid when it comes to things getting in the way of their races). The final straw came during our 17 mile long run, when I had to stop at mile 14 (or something like that) and try to stretch out. But how do you really stretch your iliac crest? You don't. We finished up that run and I told Sarah that I would be going to see someone that week. I needed to figure this thing out. It was hindering my training. I assured her that I'd get it figured out, they'd fix it and I'd be back for our long run the following week.
That did not happen.
My visit with the orthopedic doc painted a dismal picture. To be honest, I don't even remember what I was told was wrong (inflammed IT band up by the hip??), but I was going to need physical therapy and time off of running. This did not sit well. My heart sunk as the smug physical therapist, who they got me in to see that day, told me that runners "never listen" and that since I had essentially abused my injured area for so long, it was going to take a long time to heal. I tried to nail him down for a time frame. I looked at him, desperate for an answer, and said "So do you mean like a week? Two weeks?" I was thinking I could stay on track if I only took a week or two off, but anything more would probably put me out. He shook his head and said "We'll see". I called Sarah on the way home and said "Ok, looks like I'll only need a week or two (runners also only hear what they want to hear. I swear, they are like children). You keep training and I'll catch up."
That did not happen.
Two weeks of diligently doing my physical therapy exercises, with NO improvement whatsoever, made it pretty clear I was out for Athens. After a particularly irritating visit with the therapist, who I then vowed never to go back to, I called Sarah once again on my way home. "I'm out, Sarah." "Oh man! That sucks, Kate." I was fighting to keep my composure on the phone as I explained the visit. I still didn't know what was wrong, and frankly, neither did they. I just kept being told that since I hadn't taken care of it earlier, it was going to require time. And lots of it. Ok, fine smartass, but WHAT IS IT?
This happened nine weeks into our eighteen week training program. Eight weeks of long runs together that I now was jumping ship on. I was devastated. For myself, but also for Sarah, who I felt I had just kicked. I had lured her into doing this with me after she had said many times "Never Again". She was going to have to decide to either quit or continue on her own... still facing a handful of solo 20 milers. At that time, we knew no one else who was marathon training.
Sarah knew she was on track with her training. She felt good, her runs were great. She was in different place than she had been years earlier when pursuing a qualifying goal. She chose to continue with her training, getting out there week after week during the freezing months, running those long runs alone. Occasionally meeting up with other runners who would run "part" of a long run with her. Just enough to make it bearable. I was busy trying to figure out what was wrong with my hip. My sister, Maria, kept urging me to try acupuncture. I was very skeptical. Sounded like witchcraft to me. But Maria continued to push this as she had great luck with it for some IT band issues. After a couple of weeks, John (who probably could not stand another second living with his non-running wife... the guy has the patience of a saint, I swear he does) said "What do you have to lose? You are doing PT and it is not helping at all." So I took the plunge, went to a session, where I was told I had an "inflamed gluteal medial muscle", and began my first of four sessions. It was weird. I mean, having tiny needles poking into your skin is really a bizarre thing. But amazingly enough, it was working. After each session, things felt a bit better. After the fourth session, where I rated my pain as a "1" during activity, I was told I could start running again. So one week before the Athens marathon, I set out to run my first mile in nine weeks. Slowly and cautiously with each step, I waited to the familiar hip discomfort. There was none. I was a runner again!