I totally did it!!! Holy cow – 14 miles – not my longest distance and definitely not my best run, but it’s DONE and I am full speed ahead for the 20-miler next Sunday!

But let me back up. 🙂 Yesterday was a bit of a weird day; I had very little pain in my tush but for whatever reason my right hip flexor was super duper tight – every time I got up from my desk I cringed. The pain subsided once I started walking a bit, but it was worriesome because I’d already taken my anti-inflammatory pill – how could I still be in pain, you know?! And where the hell did this come from, anyway!? By lunchtime I decided it was tied to the foam rolling I did in the morning – I did more than I typically do before work, and focused a bit on my IT band. I guess I was right, because this morning I had zero pain. Thank god.

I finally got the results of the MRI – not exactly cheerful news. It’s most definitely not a stress fracture, so cheers to that, but the doctor said I have a “rip-roaring case of gluteus medius tendonitis.” He said the only true cure is rest. At which point I started to cry. But then he kind of backed off – he told me that there was no way I’d break a bone or anything like that; if I were to continue, I’d just have to contend with continued pain. So I started to see some light. Finally I asked “okay, so if YOU got these results and it was YOUR MRI, what would you do?” And he replied “well…off the record…I’d try to keep going.”

Well that was all I needed to hear – I had wiggle room! I decided that I’d try the 14 today and if I got through it (and felt good at the end), I’d press on to the 20. Because in my mind, as soon as I get the 20 out of the way we’re into the tapering period, when we cut back on mileage, so that should coincide nicely with giving my tush the rest that it apparently needs.

I take my pills twice a day, and last night intentionally took my evening pill at 8pm, later than usual, the goal being that it would last me through a bit more of the morning. Sure enough, I woke up and really did feel great – no pain! So I got ready and did my stretches and headed out – in the POURING.RAIN.

Oh man – normally my group meetings at a spot along the trail, but today everyone was huddled in a tunnel – we were all laughing because it really was pointless; we were all going to be soaked in minutes, but I guess it made some people feel better! I saw a girl walking over with an umbrella and just thought she was really kidding herself! I was absolutely stunned at how many people came out for this – not only have many of my group members already run marathons (and therefore running 14 miles is old hat), but many of them ran last week’s 18-miler…if I had, I definitely would have given a second thought to coming out this morning! But we all just kind of laughed about it…what else could you do?! One of the other running girls said she felt totally bad ass for slogging through this…I did too!

Anyway, we started by running north and from the get-go I was feeling pretty good. Zero pain. Overall I felt like I was trying to regain whatever endurance I’d had, because I hadn’t run in a week (save for the 5 miles on Thurs) and hadn’t successfully done a long run in two weeks. I felt like it was catching up to me. But I stayed calm and kept my breathing in check. I guess the rain was a good distraction, because when you’re dodging puddles and the wind is pelting you with raindrops, you have other things on your mind!!

We got through 5 and I felt good…but not confident. I wasn’t sure I was going to finish. But then something happened…I guess it was around the next mile that I started to feel stronger.

Of course it was right around then that the rain was absolutely out of control!! My running partner decided she was done and my pace leader was ready to head back as well. At this point we’d done over 6.5 miles. I headed back with them and my plan was to just continue on my own – I had to prove to myself that I could get through today’s mileage, monsoon or not!

Finally, I guess it was around mile 8, the skies started to clear and some legit sun came out – we all started to dry off, and our collective spirits improved. Ultimately my pace leader and running partner and I kept going, running northbound yet again since we turned around early and bound and determined to see this thing through. Around mile 12 I felt achy and tired, but not sore – I’m telling myself that’s just because I need to build back my strength.

And then…we were done!!

In retrospect, the 15-miler was my hardest physical challenge of this training cycle, but this one took more mental strength. I was so proud of myself – and so relieved – to finish it. I have no idea what will happen next week at the 20-miler, but I know that I’m going to let the deferment deadline pass – I really want to try to see this through.

One quick cute anecdote – my nearly 63-year-old dad is heading to Cooperstown to play in a hardball baseball tournament this weekend. My dad is a total athlete and if I possess a fraction of athleticism, it comes straight from him. He’s been battling some soreness in his shoulder for awhile, so last night when I called to wish him a good tournament, I ended with my usual closing “have fun and PLAY SAFE” – this time he said “yeah – you too!” We decided it was our pact – he’ll keep it in check with baseball and I’ll keep monitoring my tush. 🙂

So looking forward to taking it easy for the rest of this lovely early fall day! I’m taking a walk in a bit, over to the running store for new sneakers, and maybe to Athleta for new workout pants – I feel I deserve them! It’ll be about a 3-mile loop, which will be a great way to flush out my legs.

And with that I am signing off! Thanks to you all, so much, for your comments and texts and emails – they mean THE WORLD to me!!!

Some Good News to Report!

Hello from a lovely pre-fall evening in Chicago!

I think I finally have some good news, or at least some reasons to be optimistic! After bailing on my long run on Saturday, I tried to make up for the deficit with swimming laps at the gym pool, some yoga, and an upper body workout. My hip continued to bother me throughout the weekend but I got through it.

On Tuesday afternoon I had the appointment with the orthopedist that I’d been waiting for – he took a look at the Xray and did similar diagnostic tests to what my PT guy had done and also deduced that I do not have a stress fracture. But to be on the totally safe side, he suggested an MRI – not only will it definitively confirm no fracture, it will also show him the degree of the injury that I have. In addition to the test, he prescribed some anti-inflammatories (Voltaren is the real name; diclofenac is the generic that I have) to take twice daily and some more targeted PT.

AND based on the X-ray results, I have a new diagnosis…rather than tendinitis of the hip, it’s actually tendinitis of the gluteus maximus…which I am now calling my tushie tendinitis. 🙂

The doctor seemed fairly nonplussed about the whole thing – he said if we had all the time in the world the injury would heal itself, but because I really want to run and the deferment deadline is around the corner (Sept 15), we can really work on helping along the recovery process. He said he wants to see me cross the finish line even if I have to crawl – naturally the hope is that I don’t resort to that, but it’s a good option to have in my back pocket. 🙂

Anyway, I was able to get the MRI on Wednesday. What a bizarre experience. Not sure if you’ve had one before, but it was equal parts precisely as I’d imagined (based on tv and movies) and not at all how I pictured it. The sound was the craziest part – it’s a REALLY loud machine! But the technician was a sweetheart and gave me headphones and pumped “massage music” into them, so that helped a lot, plus she gave me a blanket and cozy socks. Anyway, weird procedure and I should have the results tomorrow.

In the meantime, I started taking the pills and they really do seem to help – not only am I not in as much pain, I just feel looser all over. And thankfully I’m not experiencing any of the side effects, at least not yet. Though please keep your fingers crossed that the weight loss one kicks in for me!!

Yesterday morning I had a bit of a victory – I was able to run to the gym. It’s less than a half mile but it was something. When I got there I tried the elliptical for 10 minutes but kept feeling the pressure on my hip, so I switched to the bike and just did that for a half hour – dull but pain-free. Then last night I had another PT session – holy cow – it was intense! This time Josh stuck these electrodes on me and pumped energy into my tush – it HURT. But in a good way, I suppose. He also worked a bit on rolling out my IT band, which also hurt. He seemed very proud of his ability to inflict pain! I told him that I think most people think of PT as a fairly enjoyable process and he said yes, that for many people it’s just a few soft tissue massages and you’re out the door, but for me it’s going to be really painful! Whatever – if it means I can keep running, I’ll take it.

Finally this morning I got back to running, after a week off. I just did 5 miles and I intentionally didn’t use the app because I didn’t want to get freaked out if my time was slow. Ultimately I think my time was pretty close to my usual one, based on some distances I know pretty well. I had a little pain but it really was manageable. The better part is that, while the run was challenging in a way that running is always challenging for me, it wasn’t as labor-intensive as my runs at the beach felt. I felt like I wasn’t compensating the way I did last week and that my hamstrings stayed pretty loose. My breathing seemed pretty good too. All of this was a huge relief.

Tomorrow is a scheduled rest day and I will attempt to rejoin my running group on Saturday for 14 miles. In my head I know I can do it – I just did 12 two weeks ago and 16 the weekend prior – I just need to actually get out there. If I cannot…if the pain is too much or I’m too negative in my head or it feels like too much effort…then I’ll have to seriously consider deferring. Likewise, if the MRI results come back and show a muscle tear or similar, then I’ll have to focus on 2016. Please keep your fingers crossed that neither comes to fruition!

I just have to give a shout-out to my pace leader (not that she even knows I have a blog, but still!) – she really tried to encourage me when I had to bail on the 18-miler, and this week she emailed me with another pep talk. Another huge spirit boost is this month’s edition of Runner’s World…it has a ton of articles all related to the Chicago marathon, which is making me so (cautiously) excited!!

Finally, thanks to my mom for reminding me today that “pain is NOT a sign of strength” (per her text). I know that’s true, I just need to remember that.

Will write on Saturday, hopefully with a cheery run recap!!

Feeling Incomplete

I knew the 18 mile run was going to be a challenge, and I knew there was a good chance I wouldn’t make it through. And sure enough…I dropped out after not even 2 miles.

I did everything right – I foam rolled and stretched before bed, went to bed early, had my banana and ibuprofen this morning, did more rolling and more stretching…I was ready to go. But even as I was walking from my car to the starting area, I could feel my hip. Once we started running it was just like my beach runs – not so much with the pain, but with a sheer amount of effort. My breathing was so loud and labored – I told my running partner I felt like I’d just run 12 miles, not 12 minutes.

And in my head, over and over again, I kept thinking that maybe I really did need to rest, maybe pushing 18 was a bad idea, maybe the doctor on Tuesday will tell me that the marathon is completely out, etc etc etc – over and over and over again. My running partner tried to get me chatting as a distraction but I couldn’t keep up. It was especially frustrating for me because we were slow to begin with and it felt like I was making some herculean effort to keep going. Running blogs and magazines talk a lot about the perceived rate of exertion – I perceived that I was exerting myself well beyond my capability.

So finally I just knew I had to throw in the towel, and did. I walked over to the water and sat there for awhile, definitely crying and just feeling so frustrated and berating myself for quitting. Then I geared up and decided I was going to try to run it on my own. I got back to the path and started to run…only to stop about 10 seconds later. It just wasn’t happening.

So I turned around and walked back in the direction of my car. The walk took forever – we’d gone north farther than I’d realized; I ended up getting in 4 miles just with all of the walking. And I ran into my group as they were heading southbound – my pace leader was super supportive and said that I just need to keep icing my hip, resting it, and asking my doctor about doing some cross training like cycling. I told her I’d try swimming today – I know for sure it’s an approved exercise because it’s non weight bearing – and she said that was a great idea. So I came home, changed, got to the gym, and did laps for a half hour. I felt tired afterwards, in a good way – I really love to swim but I have to say, the laps can get a little boring! I’ll have to look up some lap swimming guidance if this is something I’m going to commit to.

Anyway, I’m feeling deflated now, of course, but trying to keep it all in perspective – as I said to my mom on the phone a minute ago, one missed long run does not derail a marathon. I had a great 16-mile run; when we get to 20 (in two weeks), it’ll just be four miles longer. Maybe resting today will be the elixir my hip needs, who knows. Maybe the orthopedist guy will tell me the marathon is off the table – I don’t know. But I do know I’ll keep away from running until my appointment on Tuesday, and I’ll compensate with more swimming and probably some upper body stuff, plus my regular stretching and rolling.

Hopefully will have better updates soon…

Catching Up!

Finally writing again after coming back from a wonderful vacation! I go away to the Jersey Shore with my friends every year, and every year it’s the greatest week ever – 2015 was no exception!

I’ll just jump right in – when last we chatted, I’d finished up what felt like a grueling (albeit rainy) 12-mile run and was waiting for the results of an X-ray. Thankfully I got a call from my doctor’s nurse on Monday afternoon – definitely no stress fracture. This is a huge YAY!

The nurse did say that the X-ray showed what could be calcium deposits in my hip, which could indicate that my pain is a result of hip tendinitis.  Thankfully I was able to make an appointment with an orthopedist on Tuesday afternoon, so hopefully in just a few days I’ll know exactly what’s going on – and I’ll have a plan in place for treatment.

I did get back to running my mid-week runs during my time at the beach. I was discouraged at how difficult each run felt – I did 5 miles on Tuesday (slowly!), 9 on Wednesday (and definitely wanted to quit at least twice), and just 3 on Thursday and walked 1. I’m telling myself that the INSANE HUMIDITY slowed me down and was a challenge, plus the fact that I didn’t run at all last week. I took ibuprofen before each run, and while my hip definitely hurt when I was getting started, it did seem to mellow out a bit as I went along. On the other hand, my hamstrings felt really tight and overworked – I’m sure I’m compensating. So that’s no good. In general the runs just felt like so much more effort than they usually do, and I’m concerned about that too.

Tomorrow morning I’m supposed to do 18 miles. My plan is to meet up with my group and run northbound with them, knowing that we’ll pass the area where we park our cars on our way south to do the bulk of our mileage – if I need to duck out at that point, I can. And if I’m able to go south and suddenly regret my choice, I can always just walk back to my car. This afternoon I remembered that there’s a group that’s running a 4:2 ratio…theoretically I could link up with them. It would take a lot longer than what my group does, but would incorporate more walking, which feels more comfortable to me. We’ll see. It’ll be a game-time decision.

In the meantime I’ll keep stretching and foam rolling, taking the Advil, and icing my hip. I really hope I can get this done tomorrow – I keep thinking about how awesome my 16-miler was; 18 is just two more miles! In my head it’s totally do-able…we’ll see if my hip agrees!

Will write tomorrow and let you all know how it went. Happy Labor Day weekend!!