Monthly Archives: March 2015

Stress Fracture? Part II

This place. . . this is where it gets spiritual for me. If I was faced with the possibility of a stress fracture a year ago, I am not so sure that I would have handled it the same way. I have grown as a runner but I have also grown as a person. It is a fine line for me. . . this place. . . this passion. If it was a stress fracture, I would have to stop running for a while. No running. None.

Hmmm. . .

The week of Easter is considered the passion week. I think that I finally get it, in my finite mind. Christ was passionate. . . unto death. . . in his love for me. Christ is passionate about ME. . . me. As I prepare to run in Zion, I am passionate. In my narrow understanding, I get His passion, His intensity, His joy. Our God is an adventurous God. He is not a safe or boring God. Trail running has become a place of adventure and passion. (I smile as I type.) It is not safe or boring. AND, He is right there with me.

Passion does something to you. Passion is defined as a strong and barely controllable emotion. It is dedication, devotion, excitement, fury, intensity, joy. God gave me this body. He gave me the ability to run for long distances.  It is His gift to me. It goes deeper than the run. He has always been there and He always will be.

Pencil marks on a wall
I wasn’t always this tall,
You scattered some monsters from beneath my bed,
You watched my team win,
You watched my team lose,
You watched when my bicycle went down again,

And When I was weak unable to speak,
still I could call You by name,
and I said “Elbow healer, Superhero,
come if You can,” and You said “I am”

The winds of change,
And circumstance blow in and all around
us so we find a foothold that’s familiar,
And bless the moments that we feel You nearer
Life had begun, I was woven and spun,
You let the angels dance around the throne, who can say when,
But they’ll dance again, when I am free and finally headed home

I will be weak, unable to speak,
still I will call You by name
“Creator, Maker, Life-sustainer,
Comforter, Healer, My Redeemer,
Lord and King, Beginning and
the End, I am, yes, I am.”

-I AM by Nichole Nordeman

Stress Fracture? Part I

Two consecutive weeks of snow and ice caused a major shift in my training. The first week, I was on the treadmill a lot. The second week I was running a flatter trail course, close to home, and I was on the road for longer distances.

So. . . last Saturday rolled around and my plan said 50K. I changed my plan up a bit and ran a fast trail marathon the week before and I would run the 50K the week after this run.  I chose to run 20 on the road because the trail was still a bit icy and because,  I was pressed for time. I knew I could finish on the road faster than the trail. I headed to my new fav “guaranteed to get in a long run, short run, medium run” spot. I headed to the Meade (Belle Meade).

I finished 20 with a 9:43 pace. This is fast for me. On the trail, I probably would have had a 14:00 pace. I got in the car and noticed that my right calf was tight. I dorsal flexed my foot (pointed my toe toward my shin) and it hurt. There was no pop or pull. It just hurt, a throbbing hurt. I was planning on resting the next day, Sunday, so I was really not too concerned. I really did not even think about it.

Monday, I met two friends to run on the trail. I was planning on 9-13 miles. My calf started throbbing, radiating pain up to my hamstring and down to my heel at about mile 5. I ran 9.5 and stopped. Now, I was concerned a bit. I came home and iced it. Just touching the back of my calf right at the bottom of the gastrocnemius (upper calf muscle that kind of resembles a heart, when you flex it). It hurt the most when I flexed my toe up.

Tuesday, I woke up and I had no pain. Strange. Track was shifted to Wednesday because of the weather.  I decided to be conservative and ride the bike and do weights. It did not hurt at all at the gym. It did not hurt the rest of the day. My plan was to run.

Wednesday, 6 x 800 on the track. I completed 4 repeats without pain. Repeats 5 & 6, I started to feel a bit of pain. (Track day is typically also my 2-a-day). I was meeting a friend later that morning at my local trail to run 7. Half way into my trail run, it was throbbing. I kept going and kept the pain to myself for 3.5 more. Finished. Throbbing. Going to the doctor.

My sport’s doctor is James (Jim) Johnson with Elite Sports Medicine and Orthopaedic Center. If you are a competitive runner or even a runner who races more than twice a year, I suggest finding a good sport’s doctor. There are many out there.  I like Jim. I trust Jim. He is going to keep me running. I have been seeing him for 3 years now, through a few injuries. He has never steered me wrong.

I digress. . . I saw Jim on Wednesday at 1:00 pm. After examination, his thought my pain was either a soleus strain (your soleus muscle is a long strip behind your gastrocnemius that runs from just below the knee to the heel) or a stress fracture. My heart started racing. I kind of went into shock. I know what a stress fracture is because I know that it is a tricky injury to recover from. He took and X-ray and said that the image looked fine. He ordered an MRI for Thursday. I was mostly in shock for the rest of the day. I had never considered the possibility of a stress fracture. Based on the symptoms of the pain, I convinced myself that I had one. He told me NOT to run or to do any load bearing/weight bearing exercise, other than the bike.  😦

Thursday, My MRI was at 2:00. I spent the morning on the bike. I also did a light load of weight training. I had a lot to do this morning, which was good. I did not tell too many people that I was having an MRI. It was a handful of friends. It was a VERY emotional morning. I pretty much cried every moment that I was not carrying on conversations with the outside world. I had a meeting that I was really looking forward to, right before my MRI, with a woman whom I have known for a long time. She asked me for a running consult and I asked her for a life consult. The time with her was good. I cried a lot. She prayed for me and listened. It was good for my soul.

MRI. . . I thought that I was going to have to have that horrible laying down MRI with the 70s ear phones and the claustrophobic chamber. Little did I know! It was a “sitting down” one. I walked in and they asked me to choose a movie?! Ok-cool. I chose “Sweet Home Alabama”. I really like Reese Witherspoon’s hair in this one. 🙂 I sat in a chair. The technician was so calm. He put a pillow behind my head. He put a pillow under my right leg. He put a pillow under my left leg. He put a blanket over my body. I could have closed my eyes and napped.

Now. . .to wait. . . results in 24 hours.

Friday, back on the bike and light weights. This would be a day of waiting. In the waiting, I had to reflect on the possibility of stress fracture and how I would proceed. It was a good day. I was not emotional. I looked at my training and have NO REGRETS. I would NOT have changed a single thing to this point. I did not feel a frantic race to figure out what I did wrong. There was nothing I would have changed. That was a good feeling.

If I did have a stress fracture, my body was at a strong place to move into resting and healing. I also had confidence in my training to this point. If it was possible to heal in 5 weeks and run, I was going to go for it. I planned out different bike workouts. I had planned out some great exercises to maintain my fitness. I was also at a place with my self that if I had to choose a later race or no race, it was not going to destroy me. It could be 8 weeks to heal.

This place dear reader, this place is new for me. I was not at this place last year. And, it is not because of my training. It is because of my heart, my love. This is where it gets real and spiritual.

 

How Are You Feeling?

I am beginning to love this question. I am also beginning to get comfortable with this question. For those of us who are running a lot of miles a week. . . for those of us who are racing a lot of races each year. . . for those of us who are driven to run, love to run, can’t wait to test our training. . . do you loathe this question, sometimes or are you growing to love it?

I think sometimes we fear this question because of the persons asking it. I think as a competitive, driven runner, I have persons. . .  friends and family. . . who ask me this question and more.

I have heard the ‘gamut’ of lectures from a non-runner to a runner. I learn who these lectures come from so I stop sharing the intricate details with certain people, mostly non runners who do not want to take the time to learn about what I do, how I do it or how I plan to continue to do it.

Dear friends who love running, as I do, get comfortable in your story!! You are filling the pages of your running story with your experience of success, your experience of DNF (did not finish), DNS (did not start), sidelined by injury, etc. Your HIGHS. Your LOWS.

Here is my current post race routine. . .

The initial hours after a race are tough. My routine is to soak, (preferably in my fav muscle soak from Thistle Farms via Whole Foods, “Moringa“), put on calf sleeves and wear my wedge flip flops around. I try to avoid ibuprofen, until bed, letting my body do what it knows to do to start healing the micro damage.

It’s funny because I consider the day after like a “daylight view of the destruction.” As if a tornado blew through and I am not able to witness the extent of the damage until sunlight. I do not stretch. I do not massage. I rest. Resting for me is feet up, drinking plenty of water, eating what I crave in moderation and trying to take it easy, despite any “urgency” as a mother, house keeper, wife or friend. I am still present, but I take it real slow. I have to allow things to be a bit messier than usual. I have to allow others to help cook or be in charge. VERY hard for this Type A life live-r!!

The moments after Dry Creek were painful and exhilarating. My body ached. My legs cramped a bit. I was cold to the core. I ran fast. Racing long and fast is gonna hurt for me. Over the course of the last 6 miles, here’s how some conversation with myself went.

It will hurt to a point, then it won’t get any worse.

Does it hurt to walk? Does it hurt to run? RUN!

I CAN relax in the discomfort.

I do not have to walk.

Back in the car with warm clothes on. It was uncomfortable sitting for an hour. I was glad to be home. I headed straight for a hot, soaking bath. After that, my toasty Oiselle time out sweatpants, calf sleeves and wedge flip flops. REST.

Most all discomfort was gone the next day. I believe in getting the blood circulating again, as soon as possible. My initial mode of circulation is the stationary bike and LIGHT weights. After this good warm up, I spend at least 10 minutes stretching.

Back at it two days after the race. . . 4.5 miles on the track and 6 miles on the trail (Day 2 after race). 13.1 miles on the trails (Day 3 after race).

5 Fridays until the Big Dance. . .

Dry Creek Trail Marathon and Half: Race Report

I knew based on past finish times,  the elevation profile and the fact that marathon runners were going to run the first 13.1 with the half marathoners that this was going to be a fast race. It was similar to the Scenic City Marathon because of those 3 things. BUT, unlike Scenic City (5 1/2 hour cutoff), there is no cutoff time. There is no one on a bullhorn at the 5 hour mark calling out “30 minutes until the finish” (not in those exact words, but a bullhorn creating a sense of urgency none-the-less).

The forecast was rain and 50 degrees. The trail was going to be wet and muddy. Really, this is not a shock or a deterrent. It just makes it all the more fun. I think my favorite part was running in the back and watching people who were trying to avoid the mud and the creek crossing. 🙂

I wore shorts, compression socks, a tank, a long sleeve top, a hat, a fuel belt and my Nike Terra Kigers. I was wet the entire time, but the long sleeve helped to keep me warm. My hat helped to keep the water off of my face. Because the aid stations were about 3.5 miles apart, I chose my fuel belt over my pack. I used their nutrition and drinks. I ate a 1/4 of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich at each aid station. I drank Nuun and water. Nothing fancy. Again, my nutrition plan worked out well. I had no stomach issues.

A majority of the runners were doing the half marathon. I decided to tuck in the back and hang with the speed of those in the back. They were fast. It was challenging. I ran almost the entire 13.1. I walked a portion of the one major incline. (It was nothing worse than “red trail to the left in Percy Warner” x 2.) Doable and not intimidating!! The first portion was about 1 1/2-2 miles on a jeep road, then you cut off to a wide, rugged road and trail for about 4 miles. My favorite part was before the water crossing and hill. You ran through an overgrown field with rock formations on each side. It was really pretty and quiet. After you came off the first 6 mile portion, it was an out and back for about 3.2 miles each way. This was wide open jeep road, no trees to catch the rain drops. This was a rolling 6.4!! I liked this part because you got to see the REALLY fast runners on their way to the half finish and later the marathon finish!

At the half marathon mark, my time was 2h 15 minutes! I knew I needed to slow down a bit. 

My last two 26.2 distance training runs were at least 6 1/2 hours. I really had no idea when I would finish this race. I had no goal or pace in mind. I was going to test my fitness by staying with the 1/2 marathoners as long as I felt good. 2h 15 is close to my half marathon road pace, so mission accomplished for lap one.

Going into my second lap, I knew that I needed to slow down a bit. I also knew that I could finish with the same time as Scenic City, 5:15. I had a time cushion to walk a bit more this go around. I also had a choice if I wanted to walk a bit more or not. Miles 13.1-20 were not too bad. The hardest part was going from miles 20-23.2! UGH!! I knew that once I got off of the trail and on to the jeep road again that my pace would be faster, walking or running. It seemed like I was constantly assessing myself. . . over and over for the last 6 miles.

Does it hurt more to walk or run? Neither? Then, RUN!

Do you need to be walking?

You can run up that hill!

It will only hurt to a point and then, it will not get any worse!

When I realized that I had 1.4 miles left and that I had the ability to finish under 5 hours? IT WAS ON!! I gave all that I could. I am not sure that there was much more to give for this race. I made it under 5 hours! I was thrilled.

Here are some stats to compare this race to Scenic City.

  • Scenic City, 2424′, finished in 5:15
  • Dry Creek, 1753′, finished in 4:55.

STOKED!!

This would be a GREAT first trail race. The aid stations are spaced at a nice distance apart. It is not too steep, overall. It is small. There is no time limit. It was fun. The Race Director, aid station workers and any one else I met or talked to at the race were VERY nice and accommodating. Think about this for next year. It is worth a look.