"When you get to the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on."
--Theodore Roosevelt

Monday, April 25, 2011

The 20 Miler and the Aftermath

So we're a week past the marathon and many of you already know how I did (ah the wonders of Facebook) but for the rest of you I'm going to hold you in suspense for a little while longer and give you an update on the few weeks leading up to the marathon.

On St. Patty's day my coworker/friend Bre and I got on a plane to Ireland to start a week long vacation to Dublin, Galway, and London.  I studied abroad in Dublin as a junior in college and have a few friends living in London so for me it was a bit of a trip down memory lane hanging out with old friends and revisiting favorite bars and restaurants.  We had a great time but the copious amount of beer and delicious (but highly unhealthy) food was not great for my training program.  Even so I did manage to sneak in some of the best cross-training: biking on Innis Mor which is one of Aran Islands off the coast of Galway.  After biking most of the morning we had mile long hike up to Dun Aonghasa, ruins of a fort set on the most amazing cliffs.

Me sitting on the cliffs
Bre climbing a huge hill up to a light house we
probably weren't allowed to be in.

After returning to the States on Friday the 25th having had an amazing but not really relaxing vacation, I immediately had to face the longest training run of the season: the 20 miler.  The 20 miler is a big deal for the charity runners as pretty much every charity does it on the same day.  Everyone get bused out to the official start line in Hopkinton and run the actual first 20 miles of the course.  The goal is that you should run the course like it's a dress-rehersal for Marathon Monday.  If the weather agrees, you wear what you're going to wear on race day and work out last minute things like how you're going to carry your gels and how to drink water and gatorade without slowing down.  We even got to wear our famous purple Team In Training singlet for the first time.  The main thing our coaches stressed was DO NOT GET INJURED.  If anything is bothering you, you should STOP as we're only three weeks away from the marathon at this point which doesn't leave much time for recovery.

My mentee group before heading out to Hopkinton for the 20 miler.

By now you already know that I've been injured.  So I was really sensitive to not screwing up my leg/knee any more than it already was.  A couple of weeks before I had managed to complete 15 miles on the day that everyone else completed 18.  I wasn't quite ready to jump right from 15 to 20 especially coming off a vacation.  My plan was to aim for 16 and see how I felt.   I started off the run feeling pretty good.  I was a little sore but it seemed to work itself out after the first mile.  Then things started to go south (and I don't mean the direction I was running).  My shins started to get really sore but since this wasn't where my original injury was I pushed through it.  I got to mile 11 and should have probably stopped there but in the back of my mind I kept saying to myself "If I don't keep going and run at least 16 miles, how am I going to jump straight to 26.2 miles?"  Between miles 11 and 13 my knee started to hurt again.  I decided that it was best that I stop at the half marathon point so I didn't really injure myself.  When I started to walk I realized that the damage was already done.  I had to get driven back to the Community Center (yet again) and my leg hurt worse than ever.

I noticed during the next few days that the pain in my knee was not the same as the original injury.  That pain was mainly soreness on the outside of my knee (i.e. the bones that run down the side of my leg to my ankle that was not supporting my knee).  This pain was just under the knee cap.  My physical therapist diagnosed it as a strain from my IT band (the muscle the runs along the outside of your thigh) being too tight and pulling the knee outward.  After the pain didn't fully subside she finally taped it so that it pulled my knee back inward to balance out the pulling from the IT band.  At this point my leg now looks like a badly wrapped birthday present with all the tape and band-aids I had on it.  The tape did it's job though and finally I felt some relief.  My coaches and physical therapist felt confident that I would be able to run in the marathon if I just rested and let my knee heal as much as possible.  Since we were in the taper phase where we scale back our training to make sure we have enough energy for the marathon, this adjustment didn't really affect my planned training.  Again though we had to play the waiting game...

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