I haven't really posted about my running in a longish time. Well, aside from races, that is. I guess I don't really have much exciting to report and I don't think you guys want to hear about my mundane marathon training. Today, however, was remarkable because I had the crappiest long I've had in a long time.
I've been having trouble with my legs for awhile. It all started with the Deck of Death and jump lunges. I felt like I "tweaked" something in my butt. I was also well aware that my hamstring was really tight. It wasn't something that was terribly painful, but left my legs feeling very weak and maybe overworked.
After riding in the car for more than 24 hours, the pain in my butt was so bad. I attributed it to sitting on my derriere for such a long time. Over the course of the next few days of my vacation I rode my bike three times and took an bootcamp class that left my calves EXTREMELY sore. We spent several days wake boarding (hard on the legs) and finally, I ran a speedy (for me) two mile race.
The point is, my legs were sore and tired. The next adventure in our vacation was at my in-law's house. They live in a small, rural town without much to do. I figured there wouldn't be a much better time and I made conscious decision to sit back and relax a little to help recoup my legs. I attended a few easy jazzercise classes with my sister-in-law but that was all I did over the course of a week.
Still the same 1400 mile ride back in the car left my butt (especially my right butt cheek) and my legs feeling very sore and tired. Here I had sacrificed long runs in hopes that I would feel better physically (and mentally), but my legs STILL didn't feel better.
Now I should say I never felt INJURED. I just feel sore, tired, and a little weak. I really believed it was from overuse. However, as vacation ended and I got back to workouts (that really were NOT strenuous at all) and my legs started taking on that very familiar sore feeling I had my doubts I was dealing with overuse and fatigue.
This brings me back to today's run. As per my marathon training schedule, I was supposed to run 15 miles today. I knew, due to my lack of running on vacation (I basically missed 3 long runs) that I would NOT be able to do 15 miles. Before I left for vacation I had been doing 10 mile long runs EVERY weekend for a couple of months. 10 miles was relatively easy for me. Well, I guess I should never use the word easy, but it was comfortable and not necessarily a challenge.
I figured I'd do just a little more than I was used to doing and set out to run 12 miles today. I'm not saying this is a smart decision, but it is one I thought my body could comfortably handle if I paced myself and went slowly. Everyone knows their own bodies and I would never encourage anyone to do what I do, but I make decisions about what I think I can do based on past experiences and knowing my body. Last year after a 2 week vacation hiatus, I came back and tackled 13 miles no problem.
Today's run started off like any other. I was with Chrystal and Bianca (5 miles planned), Mary (10 miles) and Karla (12 miles). All of these girls run faster than I and it's not unlike me to be at the back of the pack. Less than a mile into the run, I was already falling back. Granted the girls were running a tad faster pace and I consciously made an effort to keep at 10:30 (my marathon goal race pace). I didn't care if they wanted to go ahead without me, but they continued to wait on me.
Mile 1: 10:25
Mile 2: 10:50
Chrystal and Bianca turned around at the 2.5 mile mark and I started cruising along with Karla and Mary. I honestly felt decent at this time aside from the sweat dripping in my face. Although it wasn't entirely "hot" by Texas standards it must have been incredibly humid because sweat was dripping off of my like never before. I remember glancing down at one point and we had barely hit 4 miles and I was scared because of the way my body was acting. I kept pushing along trying not to get too far behind Mary and Karla. I new at the turn around point I'd ask them to stop and let me stretch.
Mile 3: 10:55
Mile 4: 10:27
Mile 5: 10:42
At the turn around I took about 3 minutes to sit on the ground and stretch my hamstring. It is just so tight and the pain was radiating into my buttock. My body was feeling like the end of a really tough race, not like I was 5 miles into a SLOW long run.
To make matters worse I was no out of water and dying for a drink. I kept trying to push because I knew that we were going so slow, but I just couldn't honestly make my legs go any faster. I was really in pain.
Mary had to get to church so she left us around the 8 mile mark to speed ahead. Karla stuck with me since she and I had the same distance in mind. We were able to veer off "course" a little and pick up water at the local middle school track.
I told Karla that it was times like these REALLY help prepare you for a marathon. Pushing through when you feel like crap is a necessity when it comes to marathon. So today I kept telling myself I wouldn't quit if it was a race and I wasn't going to quit today.
Karla left me at just under the 11 mile mark to head home and I had to go back to the elementary school where I left my car.
Mile 6: 10:56
Mile 7: 10:38
Mile 8: 10:45
Mile 9: 11:04 -----> ugh
Mile 10: 10:32 (water does wonders)
After I left Karla I ran right by the entrance to my house. I can tell you there were several times where I thought I would just run home instead of to my car. This meant taking almost a mile off my run and avoiding a long hill. It's not a tough hill, but tough enough when it's at the END of your run and REALLY tough when you're hurting.
I walked for 1 minute (I timed it). I really needed it to give me the energy (mentally) I needed to power up the hill. I started running again and saw a walker come off one of the side streets. I was barely gaining any ground on the walker and it was discouraging me. I almost started to walk again when I realize the walker was my friend Joelle.
I called her name and caught up to her and we walked for a bit. I told her I was suffering and she encouraged me (as she always does). I don't know what it is about Joelle, but she always seems to be in the right place at the right time in my life. She's my friend that is like a rock. I know I can always count on her. Once again her words had the right effect of my and I found it in me to finish my run strong.
Mile 11: 11:31 ----> 1 minute walk break
Mile 12: 12:57-----> walking with Joelle
Total: 12 miles in 2:11
I was never so happy to see my car and drive home. As soon as I got home I told George how much pain I was in and asked if he'd help me foam roll and use "the stick rolly thingymabob on me". I don't know why but it feels so much better when someone else does it.
After several minutes of rolling, I realized the primary source of my pain was my right buttock. What I thought was causing the pain was a tight hamstring, but the more and more George rolled I realized the pain was coming from my hip area. So I've now decided (albeit completely self diagnosed) that my pain is being caused by my IT band.
I'm really scared for what this means about my marathon training. I'm at a pivotal point in my training where my mileage is ramping up. I can't afford to be skipping any runs or to put my training on hold. Like I've said, I don't think I'm injured. I think I've just have a little overuse problem. So I'm going to continue to train with running and take it easier on non-running days. I'm going to focus on stretching (something I NEVER do) and rolling as it really made a difference today. If at any point I feel like I'm pushing too hard or I think I'm doing more harm than good I will reevaluate. I'm smart enough to know that not taking rest when I need it is NOT a good thing and will do more harm than good in the long run.
There you have it. Another long run in the books. They can't all be rainbows and butterflies you know. Here's to keep on keeping on. See you next Sunday Long Run, you haven't won yet.