Remember how great I was feeling after the Newport Half last weekend? I raced a half marathon - a true, all-out race effort - without so much as a hint of pain or discomfort. I was healed. I was ready to get back to training, and hopefully get back on track to at least come close to my original Philly goal. Things were looking good!
And then I went for a run, and they weren't looking so good anymore.
My hip and piriformis felt totally fine, but somewhere around mile 2.5 of my run, I felt a strange discomfort in my thigh. It felt unusually tight. I chalked it up to the fact that I was only a few days out from a race effort, and continued on. But then about a half mile later, the strange discomfort turned into a sharp pain. A sharp, stabbing pain.
No runner (well, no person, really) wants to experience a sharp, stabbing pain. Somewhat in disbelief, I stopped to walk for a minute, hoping that it would miraculously just go away. Because that's what always happens to sharp, stabbing pains, right?
Of course it didn't, but I still had a mile to go to get back to my car, so I jogged/walked back, and it hurt - way more than my hip had ever hurt. I was honestly concerned that I had torn a muscle or ligament - and baffled as to how I had gone to feeling so good to feeling so bad so quickly.
The good thing about rehabbing an injury is that you've usually got PT appointments lined up at least a week or two out, so I was already scheduled to be going in the next day, so tried not to completely freak out, but also spent some time googling "groin pull" and "adductor strain," which didn't help with the 'not freaking out.'
PT the next day confirmed that it was most likely an adductor strain, and she treated it with the same stuff she used for my hip - Graston and ART. It worked wonders for that, so I was hopeful it would do the same for this. But still concerned.
Another appointment I had already scheduled was for acpuncture, on Saturday morning. I spent the entire treatment focusing my thoughts on healthy, strong muscles, and all things positive. I daydreamed about running; I visualized running Philly. Yes, it sounds weird and 'out there,' but when you're lying there with your arms and legs and feet stuck full of needles, weird things happen to your mind. Weird, but good.
I walked out of that appointment feeling amazingly hopeful, for no reason other than I just felt that way. I couldn't explain it.
And physically, my leg did feel better. The soreness was almost completely gone. Did I dare to try to run on it the next day?
The plan called for 20 miles. But I couldn't run 20 miles, could I? Just three days after I hurt so bad that I couldn't make it 4 miles?
I set out with a plan to run a 5-mile loop, so that if anything started hurting, I wouldn't be too far from my car, and could easily walk back. And if nothing started hurting, I'd run the loop again (and again?).
Truthfully, for as hopeful as I was feeling, I didn't know if I'd even make it a mile, judging by how bad I had felt three days earlier. But I brought my water and Gatorade and Gus, just in case.
I ran the first 5 miles, staying incredibly aware of how my leg was feeling, and being absolutely amazed that it felt completely and utterly fine. It was a beautiful morning - cool and dry - and I was running along the ocean, and couldn't stop thinking about how grateful I was just to be out there.
I completed the 5 miles and felt fabulous, and wondered if I could go for a longer loop this time, given how great I was feeling? I decided to try for an out-and-back, and see if I could make it 5 miles out and 5 miles back, and get myself to 15 miles total. That, I thought, would be fantastic.
I had started the run super slow, but gradually found my pace drifting down to the low 8s. I wasn't consciously trying to speed up - it was just where my legs kept wanting to settle. And I was feeling ok, so I just went with it for a while. The way back was a little tough, as the wind was in my face the whole way, and I did start to feel a little tired. But I got back to the car with exactly 15 miles on my Garmin.
Could I go for another 5? Shouldn't I just be happy with 15? If you read this blog at all regularly, you'll know that no, I couldn't just be happy with 15. I was still feeling ok, so I grabbed some more water and headed out again.
I knew my legs were getting tired, though, and I was worried about my form getting sloppy, which could lead to potentially aggravating already weak areas, so I went back to a much shorter, 2.5-mile loop. And once that was done, I knew that unless I was suddenly completely hobbled by pain, I'd be running 20 miles.
There was a little bit of tightness in the adductor as I finished those last few miles, but when I backed off on my pace and slowed down a little bit, it went away. If it had ever actually felt painful, I would have stopped. But it didn't, so I pushed on until my Garmin beeped 20.0. And I wished I wasn't alone, so I could celebrate with someone. Not only did I run 20 miles, but I was only 9 seconds off the average pace I was scheduled to run (8:28 instead of 8:19)!
Post-20-miler, there's some lingering soreness, but no pain. It feels like something that another round of Graston will take care of, and I've got that scheduled for tomorrow morning. And another acupuncture appointment for next weekend.
I had thought that if I couldn't get out there and chase down my PR at Philly, that I wouldn't want to run it at all. But now that I know it might still be possible, I'm feeling differently.
Even if it's not the race I had hoped it would be, it will still be a spectacular experience. Running 26.2 miles is always something to celebrate, and with the added bonus of spending some time hanging out with Another Mother Runner's SBS and Dimity (and hopefully a bunch of other mother runners, too!), this is a weekend I'd still like to make a reality.
It's tough to let go of goals, but when things are out of your control, there isn't much else you can do. This training cycle has taken a lot out of me, and my body is sending me plenty of signals, but one of the signals it's sending me now is that I may be down a bit, but I'm not out - not yet.
Where do I go from here? Wherever my body allows me to go.
I do know that what I will not be doing any more of is speedwork. Sprinting and an aggravated adductor do not make a happy pair, so my days at the track are over for now. And truthfully, I've already missed 4 weeks of speedwork, and there's only 5 more weeks to go (2 of which are taper), so any workouts I got in at this point probably wouldn't even make all that much of a difference.
So my goal now is to run as much as I can without getting hurt. And I'm going to keep thinking positive and keep doing everything I can to get to the starting line healthy, so I can cross the finish line the same way.
5 weeks to go.