Tuesday, May 31, 2016

An Unexpected Hiatus

In April I ran the Hawkeye 25k and right after that started to feel some tightness in my right hip.  I figured it was from running on the uneven surface of the trails, so just stretched it out a bit more after workouts.  Soon it shifted more to my glut area.  After a few weeks of it not going away I scheduled some ARTappointments.  I kept running as the soreness/tightness would only last a block or two at the beginning of my run, then was just fine.  
Then, 3 weeks and 1 day after the race, it all went to hell.  I did a long, hard run workout and felt fine, but that night I couldn't sleep. My bum throbbed so bad I kept waking up.  The following day was a rest day. The next day was a short run which wasn't pretty.  I tried one more run after that and knew I needed to stop.  I took a full 6 days off of running before trying again.  Still no good.  I was able to run without my gait being affected, but my bum was sore the entire run.  Time to go back to Iowa City Physical Therapy.  Ugh!
Pinpointing the issue was a little difficult, and I wanted to know for sure what was going on, so made an appointment at the UI Sports Medicine Clinic.  Dr. Hall quickly determined it was High Hamstring Tendonitis.  The "good" news is I could run through it if I wanted to. The risk of tearing it was extremely slim, but the recovery time would be at least twice as long.  The "bad" news was if I completely rested, it was still 3-6 months to recover.  I quickly did a ton of research and sought out people that had the same issue (if you have gone through this, let me know...someone should really start a support group with how common it seems to be).  Unfortunately, it all looked kinda grim. 
Two days after my appointment was the Marion Arts Festival Half Marathon.  Originally my plan was to attempt a PR, but now I had to figure out a new plan.  Run it casually and hope I don't make anything worse? Skip it and ride my bike around the course to cheer on Wes?  Push the pace and see what happens? I kept going back and forth on how to approach the race.   At this point I hadn't completely ruled out doing the Afton 50k in July and figured if I can't try to run a half marathon at a decent pace, there is no way I could train/race the 50k.  And, Dr. Hall said I could "run at a reasonable pace and see how you feel".  So, I went with the later ("reasonable" = "push the pace", right?) and see how that night (throbbing while sleeping?) and the following run (will I be able to run?) would go.
Race morning was beautiful.  The temps weren't too warm yet, but I knew they would climb high enough that I would want to keep things in check throughout the race.  I decided to not do a warm up, but did walk around quite a bit.  I lined up in front of the 8:00 pace sign thinking maybe that would be a good set of people to run with for a "reasonable" pace.  I started the race at a comfortable pace, not paying attention to my watch. I slowly caught a few people that had started in front of me, which kicked in my competitiveness.  At the mile markers volunteers were calling out the current clock time, and at mile 1 I was already way ahead of 8 min/mile pace.  Oops!  But, it felt good and I kept going, slowly catching more people.  My pace felt relaxed and easy to hold for 13.1 miles.  My time ended up being better than I had expected given the previous few weeks of training and the effort I put in for the race.  Official time was 1:33:48 (7:09/mile pace), with my watch saying the distance was 13.11 miles (amazingly accurate!).  I looked up my race results from the Marion Rotary half marathon 2 years ago. My official time was 1:33:45, but my watch said the distance was 13.34. At 13.11 miles my time was 1:31:59. I am pretty sure I could have done that at the Marion Arts Fest Half Marathon if I would have tried just a bit more.
The day after the race was a rest day (although we filled the time with gardening), then two days of short, easy runs.  The area felt no worse then before the half, but no better (I didn't expect it to). There was a dull pain in my glut area for the entire run and I couldn't sit upright in a chair for more than a half hour at a time without the area throbbing.  After some further thought, and encouragement by my coach, Daniel, I decided to stop running until fully healed.  In the triathlon world, that would mean missing an entire season of racing, but running is fairly year-round.  Most of the races I have looked into are fall trail races with various distances to choose from.  I also plan to run Boston 2017.  So, not running during the summer is actually good timing the more I think of it.  It does mean not doing the Afton 50k or a Colorado Adventure Trip (anyone want to take my place?).  But, the summer is the best time for cross training...long walks with the dog, bike rides, stand up paddle boarding, and gardening.  
I am one week out from my decision to take a break.  I have a half hour of physical therapy exercises every other day along with 15 minutes of stretching every day.  Weekly I meet up with Steve at IC PT to change up my routine and make sure I'm doing the exercises correctly.  I'm taking more advantage of Core Fitness, not only to do the exercises, but I also think the stepmill is amazing cross training for running and they are one of the few gyms that has them.  There are some additional things I can try to quicken the healing process, but most are not covered by insurance.  More decisions to make.   
On the bright side we are going to have the best garden ever!