2010 is over, and it was an interesting one for running. January and February involved no running at all, since I was busy giving birth to a baby and recovering from that birth. And since I had stopped running at 30 weeks pregnant, it ended up being a full 4 months off from running.
Four months is a long time to not be able to run. So it's kind of an understatement to say that my first postpartum run on March 2nd was incredible. Slow, with lots of huffing and puffing, but incredible just the same.
I was anxious to race again, too, of course, and signed up for a 5K in April. It was a race I had never done before, but it was great, and I was thrilled to finish it in just under 27 minutes. Since I had only been back to running for a few weeks, I would have been happy to finish in under 30 minutes. Under 27 was so much more than I had ever imagined I could do.
Next up was a goal that I had set while still hugely pregnant, in December. I had registered for, and planned on completing, the Cox Providence Half-Marathon. Running a half-marathon just three months after having a baby is kind of a tall order, but I knew I could do it. I knew it would be a slow race for me, and I was ok with that. I just wanted to complete the distance and cross that finish line. And I did! I felt a tremendous amount of pride and accomplishment finishing that race, and was looking forward to keeping the momentum going heading into a very full summer race season.
Unfortunately, that wasn't going to happen. The dreaded shin injury that plagued me during the training for my first marathon two years ago reared its ugly head again. I knew I had only myself to blame, as I had ramped up my mileage fairly quickly for the half, and although I was disappointed and angry, I wasn't surprised. I backed off running for a few weeks, and worked on some of the old PT exercises that I remembered from two years ago, and hoped that I had caught it early enough that it wouldn't get bad enough to knock me out of commission for the summer.
I was able to keep myself healthy enough to race the inaugural Friends of Hazard Castle 7-mile race at the end of June. Despite the injury, my running had been going fabulously, and I was running faster than I thought I'd be able to run just a few months after having a baby, and I was hopeful that I'd be able to run the 7 miles in under an hour. It was a hot and humid night, and it was a tough effort, but I reached my goal, finishing in 59:02 - 58 seconds to spare!
After that, though, things really went downhill. I started going to PT, and drastically reduced my mileage, but my shin just kept getting worse. I was desparately hoping to still run The Blessing in July, and even picked up my race number the weekend before, thinking I'd be able to pull it off. But that morning I made the very difficult decision to skip it. I knew it would only make a bad situation even worse, and I also knew that if I went out and ran 10 miles that night, I'd probably be unable to complete my sprint triathlon the following weekend, and I did not want to miss that race.
So July was a race-free month, and it was honestly really, really tough for me to miss that race. It's one of the biggest races around here, and so many people I knew were running, and I love the 10-mile distance. But it just wasn't meant to be this year, and I tried to console myself by looking forward to the following weekend's main event.
This was the 3rd year for the Newport Naval Station triathlon, and my 3rd year being a part of it. I did the race last year, while 17 weeks pregnant, so I was not about to miss this year's. I knew the run wouldn't be my shining moment, since my running had been so inconsistent during July, but I had been biking and swimming like a maniac, so figured I was due for a PR in at least one of those disciplines. And that proved to be true, as I finished the swim in just over 11 minutes - 5 minutes faster than the previous two years! My bike time was very respectable, and despite the lack of any real training, I still managed a decent run, and finished the race in 1:14:23, which I was thrilled with. I love this race, and plan to do it every year, so I'm really glad I didn't have to skip it this year.
But I also knew that, after this race, I was done for a while. I was hurting, and I knew that no amount of PT was going to help if I continued to run. So I planned on 6 weeks off, and kept myself busy at the gym with tons of weight lifting and other cardio work. The 6 weeks went surprisingly quickly, but I was SO ready to go out for a run when they were over!
Unfortunately, though, 6 weeks was not enough. The pain was still there, and I ended up taking another 4 weeks off. Races came and went, and I lamented a bit, but my overall attitude was still pretty positive.
I started back running on the weekend that I had planned to be running my second marathon. Instead of running 26.2 miles, I ran barely a mile, but after 10 weeks of not running at all, that mile felt amazing. And even better, it was pain-free!
I continued running the next few weeks, diligently following a 'return to running after injury' plan, starting with walk/run intervals, and gradually working back up to 30-minute runs. It was somewhat torturous, but again, it was so much better than not running at all, so I stuck with it.
I did have some pain returning, though, so I got myself back to PT, but chose to see someone different this time, and I am SO glad I did! The new program of PT that I'm currently on includes two things my last round of PT did not - cold laser therapy and deep tissue massage. And those two things are, I think, what is truly making a difference and finally really healing this injury.
In the meantime, I have been able to get back to racing, starting with the Mews Tavern 5K in November. A very fun race, but a very hilly race, and I didn't think I was going to be able to race it terribly fast, but it had been a long time since I had raced, so I intended to give it my all. And as it turns out, my all was good enough for a new course PR! I felt so good the whole race, and just thoroughly enjoyed the entire experience. It was so good to be back out there racing again - I loved every minute of it!
As always, I finished up my year with the Jingle Bell 5K on the beach in Narragansett. I love this race - it's so fun to run on the beach, and this year was especially nice, since it was low tide, and not too cold. I had a great race, too, finishing 2nd in my age group.
So now I'm looking forward to 2011, and I'm a little nervous, but also very hopeful. I feel very optimistic about how well the PT is going, and I'm also in the process of getting custom orthotics. I went and got fitted for them earlier this week, and they should be in soon, so I'll be running in them before the end of the month. I'm hoping that the cold laser, the massage, and the orthotics are going to be the magic trifecta that enables me to put this injury behind me once and for all, because I have big plans for 2011.
Right now, though, my short-term goal is to stay disciplined and only run twice a week, and not increase my mileage until I'm completely asymptompatic. I'm doing ok with that so far. I'd like to run more than twice a week, of course, but twice a week is better than nothing, so I'm hanging in there.
And the times that I am able to run, it feels almost effortless, and I'm easily running 8-minute miles on regular training runs.
Injury issues aside, I feel healthier and stronger than ever, so I know that once I get this straightened out, I'll be headed for great things this year : )