Injury, Recovery, and a New Direction for My Running

I haven't blogged in a while.   Most of 2014, I have been plagued with pain outside my right knee (and sometimes the left as well) at the point of IT band insertion.   I have a swollen bursa (fluid-filled) sac at Gerdy's Tubercle, the little bony protrusion on the outside of my knee.  It feels like a stabbing pain at times; other times, it's a dull burn.  I'm pretty darn excited that I self-diagnosed it based on information I found on the Internet. When I finally went to the doc in April, Dr. Kurt Kowalski and my physical therapist Dave confirmed that's what it was.

The stabbing pain had started on my VERY FIRST RUN of 2014, a 15-miler on my favorite Rails to Trails route.  After that, it hurt off and on, usually at miles 14+ of pavement runs.  It didn't bother me on my trail marathon or trail 23K.  It REALLY hurt during the later miles of the Greenway Marathon in March (all pavement).  Two weeks later,  I ran the Oak Barrel Half Marathon with my husband in early April without pain.  It was a very hilly course, and I was relieved that the IT band didn't hurt at all.  I was proud that Hubby ran a personal best that day.  We ran every step together for a 2:16 finish.  I thought maybe the IT issue was healed or that it was an issue that would only bother me in marathons.  Then it started hurting on 5-milers.  Then 3-milers.  That's when I went to the doc.

I went to see Dr. Kurt about two weeks before I was planning to run a 50K at the Run for Kids Challenge on a very beginner-friendly course.  He nixed it and said to run only short distances on primarily soft surfaces.  However, when your ortho doc is a Boston Qualifier who longs tons of miles a week, you should probably ask him to define what "short distances" means.   For a couple of weeks I ran 4 miles and under, then I added some 6-9 mile runs.  Mostly, the IT band felt ok.  (Well, in full disclosure, it hurt starting at mile 7.5 of the 9-miler last Wednesday, but just a little!) I also went to two physical therapy visits to get some strengthening exercises for my left side (weakness there makes my right leg work harder- the potential root of the problem).  He also gave me some stretches and pointers on KT tape.  He made me realize I need to do more strength work, and I have been.  I am glad to be back to circut/strength training.  I didn't realize how much I'd missed it.   I've sort of enjoyed these short, but intense runs over the last month!

This weekend will be the TEST.  I'm running the Viola Valley Half Marathon that I was registered for last year, but didn't run.  It is a hilly, paved 13.1 miles.  My longest run since early April has been 9 miles.  I don't know how my endurance will hold up or how the IT will feel.  But I NEED to know these things.  I need a baseline for my current endurance/speed/health.

I've run 66 races (assuming I remembered to log them all on here), and I'm inexplicably excited about this one-- my 23rd half marathon.   I guess it's because I've been struggling for a while with my running.  First, I had energy issues due to Hashimoto's (an auto-immune disease that causes hypothyroidism in me).  Then, I couldn't run without pain.  Now, I just want a baseline to see where my body is.

It's predicted to be 48 and 70-80% chance of rain during the race.  Those are not my favorite conditions!  But, I don't care.  I'm ready to run.  I crave the long-distance run.  I love that completely wrung out feeling at the end of races.

Since my IT feels 80% better, I've made BIG PLANS this week.  I have a race a month scheduled for the next few months.  Funny, all of the races after this weekend that I'm currently registered for are on a trail (or crushed limestone at Run Under the Stars). I want to become a TRAIL BEAST!!!   Here are my upcoming events after Viola Half.  These are all registered and paid for so, there will be no waffling!

JUNE-Run Under the Stars 10-hour Endurance Event in Paducah, KY,  We will run a 1/2 mile horse track from 8:00 p.m. until 6:00 a.m.  Fun!!  The plan is to not re-injure this IT with the counter-clockwise circles (Dr. K said that could be bad).  I might get to 40 miles this year, I might not.....

JULY-Chuckanut Trail Half Marathon in Bellingham, WA.  I'm visiting a friend, and we are running this race together, along with a high school friend of mine, who happens to live there!  3,000 feet of climb over 13.1.  INTENSE!!

AUGUST-Rotary Park 4-5 mile NIGHT trail run with my 13-year old son. Headlamps required!  Fun!!

SEPTEMBER- Rock and Root 30K in Oak Ridge, TN.   The Hill of Truth (run up it twice!) looks interesting.  25% grade at times.  Yikes!

OCTOBER- Stump Jump 50K trail race in Chattanooga, TN.   This one scares me.  It will be my first attempt at 50K on a trail.  Last year, most participants were attacked by yellow jackets.  Some got 12 or more stings!    Also, the course is really challenging.   There are many easier courses for a first trail 50K.   But, I picked this one.  My friend Ryan said to "Train like Hell" for this one.  I plan to.   Honestly, I'm very intimidated by this race, the bees, the difficulty of the course, and the 9-hour cut-off.  (17 minute pace should be doable unless the wheels fall off and roll away--which could happen!)   But sometimes you just have to do THIS:

After that?   I dunno.  Maybe a road race!   Midsouth Marathon in November looks good, and there is always the Flying Monkey Marathon that I need to redeem.

Run happy, my friends!!