Third time’s the charm?

Chicago this year was SO hard. I went into race day having only completed one “long” run of about 10 miles. The rest of my training runs came with bouts of walking and struggles to catch my breath. 

Prior to the start of 2017 Bank of America Chicago Marathon.

Prior to the start of 2017 Bank of America Chicago Marathon.

On June 24th I ran with a local Nashville crew to celebrate Global Sports Bra Day. We ran a light 3 mile loop around the downtown area. It was an incredible and invigorating experience. It was my first time ever running without a shirt and for a run in the middle of June in Nashville, it was a fantastic way to reduce the heat that I’ve been used to running through while also building confidence with other athletic ladies and tuning out society's standard of a "perfect" body, recognizing our bodies for what they truly are - strong..

That evening I went into work. My job at the time was banquet severing which meant a good amount of time on my feet. I ended up covering a crazy amount of ground during that shift, walking almost 7 miles. I was stressed that night, but I had no idea what that day was about to mean for my future.

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Over the next few days I started to have an ache in my foot. I figured was from running for the first time in a little while. A week after the 24th I ran another run with the same group from the Sport Bra Squad Day, only this time it was a 6 mile mural run around Nashville. It was a fantastic route with beautiful street art, but I couldn’t avoid the fact that my foot was definitely injured to some extent. Research. Research. Asking running friends. Tendinitis? No exact answers.

My research eventually led me to a possible stress fracture. This sounded like my exact symptoms, pain on the top of my foot near my toe (4th metatarsal). Ask more running friends. Stress about finding a doctor with my crappy healthcare plan. Stress about hearing I might have a stress fracture. Cry about not being able to afford an MRI for a proper diagnoses. Buy KT Tape. Watch videos on YouTube from podiatrists and orthopedic surgeons describing my pain as a metatarsal stress fracture.

At this time I had taken a trip back to NJ to visit my family and I was worried what this pain meant for my running. I had a marathon three months away and my training was nonexistent. Once I got back to Nashville I stopped in to an urgent care center that took an X-ray and had me wait for a call from the radiologist that day. That night I got the phone call that there was no stress fracture. I could not believe this by looking at the X-ray myself.  Where the exact point of pain was I could see a calcium spot where, to this day, I know that’s where my stress fracture occurred. 

I posted my results on Instagram begging for someone to tell me one way or the other what this spot was when ThisGirlCanRunFar reached out to me and told me this was definitely a stress fracture, the injury she had just recently recovered from. Her advice? Rest 9 weeks and then ease back into running.

 

Turned out that was exactly what the doctor never ordered but should have. In nine weeks I could walk on my foot again without wincing every step. But this nine week period left me with just five weeks to prepare for the Chicago Marathon. Only being able to run a mile or two for the first week, limited to run/walk/run routes felt very defeating.

 

 

Chicago came and it was a very warm day. My game plan was to follow the Run Walk Run method as made famous by Jeff Galloway. I would run for 1:30, walk for 30 seconds, repeat until finished. Except at the Chicago Marathon there are 45,000 runners which meant walking wasn’t an option until after mile three. By mile 7 I had to stop to pee (a thing I’ve never done during a race), and by mile 8 my feet hurt so badly I thought this would surely be my first DNF.  

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"Just get to mile 17 to see Kelly". Kelly Roberts of Run Selfie Repeat (now She Can & She Did) was posted up at mile 17 as I knew from social media. It took all I had to fight through the pain and the heat to get to her, but eventually mile 17 came and I started to search for Kelly and her crew. I put my hawk eyes on and finally saw her as she took a step back from the sidewalk. I hurdled the sidewalk as I yelled her name and gave her a hug and asked for a selfie. “You’re the only thing that helped get me to mile 17, and now my boyfriend at the finish line will be the only thing to get me through these last 9 miles.” (or some runner’s high mumble jumble is what I offered her) and away I went.

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Those last 9 miles were horrible. I hated every second of it. I couldn’t muster up any feelings of excitement. I truly did not want to continue on, especially after getting a pebble in my shoe around mile 20 and having to stop and bend over to take my shoe off. I started to realize that any goal time I had was useless. And the clock eventually rolled over 5 hours leaving me feeling so down on myself as I texted my boyfriend, apologizing for being so slow. I made it to the last 800 meters and even then I couldn’t get my legs to continue to run. I walked up the final hill of Chicago and ran it in to the finish line. It sucked. I hated it. I felt I had worked so hard on race day after not being able to work appropriately prior to race day. I ate deep dish from Giordano’s with my boyfriend, complained about how horrible the race was, and went on to enjoy the rest of my time in Chicago.

 

This past week I was notified my application for the 2018 Chicago Marathon was one of the selected ones. Which means I get my third time’s a charm race, or so I hope. I hate that the lottery happens so soon after the race, the $195 hitting my credit card going into the holiday season adds a lot of stress. But I hope to come out of 2018 happy with my comeback in Chicago. This could be the year.

 

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This month a new album came out that I was really looking forward to. Walker Hayes’ new album  boom. is a fantastic work of art. I had been a fan of a few of the songs from this album that had appeared on his prior album, 8 Track. But of all the tracks on this new album I can’t help but smile running to “Beckett” a song about his son living life as a four year old, completely innocent and carefree.

 “Damn proud of that belly button / Ain’t suckin' it in for nothin’ / 4 years old looks like fun to me //  When I grow up I wanna be like Beckett / Eatin' breakfast butt naked / Ain’t even tryin’ to be famous / Just wonderin' where his airplane is / Don’t know if he’s rich or poor / Says it’s cool that the girl next door / Has skin like chocolate / When I grow up, when I grow up / I wanna be like Beckett.”

I love these lines because they sum up the innocence we’re all born with before we learn hate, prejudice, negative self reflections, and yeah, I do often wish I was 4 years old again. This song is added to the playlist this week even though I’ve been listening to it for more than a year.

Having lived in Nashville I had a friend who had met Walker and his family and could vouch for the good people they are, all six of their children included. Do yourself a favor and buy a copy of boom., stream it on Spotify, Apple Music, and request to hear more Walker Hayes on your local country stations. Jump on the wagon before you get left behind!  And why you’re at it, you must check out “Your Girlfriend Does” which is one song I’m heartbroken didn’t make this album. Hoping for a deluxe album so I can blast that song nonstop. 

 

In addition to the exciting news of getting into Chicago again, I’m happy to announce that I am also a 2018 Honey Stinger AND nuun ambassador. These two brands have helped me complete many marathons and half marathons as well as some tough training runs. I’m excited to see what 2018 holds for my run journey with these two excellent products in my tool belt. 

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Down but not out...

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Right around June 24th my worst runner nightmare became reality - I suffered an injury.  There was no herolike story to accompany my limp, just that I had walked 6.5 miles at work in shoes that were far too worn out. I had completed a round of P90X plyometrics attempting to get ready to start training for the Chicago Marathon. I stood up from the couch one evening while watching tv and felt a sharp pain in my foot. I thought I needed to stretch but as the next few days unfolded I came to find that my pain was increasing the more time I spent on my foot.

I wanted to list some words of wisdom in hindsight for anyone who wants to continue being injury free, or for those who are going through a first time injury experience (like I was) to give some guidance on what worked and didn't work for me.

 

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1. Always wear supportive shoes, for whatever you may be doing on your feet.

These were the shoes I continued to wear for far too long. I kept waiting to make a little bit more money at work before investing in a new pair. Instead of just paying up for a good pair of new shoes, I had to buy new shoes AND pay a $75 copay at the doctors visit I eventually had to go to (not to mention the days of work I missed from not being able to be on my feet). Also, heels are not a friend of feet. Be wary of too much time in them, and find ones that put as little pressure on your feet as possible.

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I swear by Altras for running, so I committed to them for my new work shoes as well. The support they give is incredible.  I'm waiting for the day they design a high heel that is runner approved. And yes, I will absolutely buy them when they do.

 

2. Go to the doctor as soon as possible. 

I kept telling myself that my injury probably wasn't that serious, I figured I had just strained a muscle or had a case of tendinitis. It got to the point when I couldn't walk or stand without excruciating pain. I made an appointment to see a physical therapist through my local running store. That visit ended with a false diagnosis of tendon strain and being told a second metatarsal stress fracture is extremely rare. PSA: second metatarsal stress fractures cover about half of all diagnosed stress fractures in runners. I wasn't able to get to a doctors office for another two weeks because of plans to visit family in New Jersey the following week.

 

3. Listen to your body. 

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I finally made it to the walk in clinic on August 28th, more than a month after the occurrence. I waited to hear back from the radiologist who said there was nothing on the x-ray and I was clear. Sadly, this was also a false diagnosis. Because a stress fracture is not a full fracture, noticing one on an X-ray is nearly impossible within the first few weeks. However, I was on week five at this point. On the point of pain which was felt on the top of my foot, you can see a periosteal reaction on the X-ray, which often means a place where bone has healed from some type of injury. I find it too coincidental to say that this was not the exact pain I was feeling. I think doctors are fantastic resources for helping us runners get back on our feet, but if you are unable to afford an orthopedic surgeon visit or podiatrist visit like me, I think it's best to use your head and notice the pain you feel and what those symptoms may suggest.

 

4. Do not try to "run through it." There's no such thing. 

Running through a stress fracture just means aiming to have a full on fracture. Give your body the time to heal and miss a few weeks or try to run on it and miss a few months. I'm not really sure how anyone could run through the pain my foot was causing me, but just don't do it. Let your body heal and come back stronger than ever. After all, bone repairs thicker than it originally was so giving it time to heal just means you'll be a stronger person. I know it's sad to have to defer a race you really wanted to run or forfeit the money you spent on training, but it's even sadder to have to be out of the game for much longer because you decided that you just couldn't refrain from that race. 

 

5. Find what exercise works for you in injured condition. 

I was fortunate for a few weeks and had access to my apartment pool. Sadly, I moved from my apartment a few weeks into my recovery and I didn't continue to carry out swim workouts, but I swear they were making me stronger. Swimming is very different from running and it's challenging in its own way. Maybe your injury allows you to do yoga, or cycling. Find what works for you but don't put too much stress on yourself or your injury.  

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6. Don't be hard on yourself.

You didn't want this, you didn't purposefully cause this, and beating yourself up will only make recovery worse. Be wary of your mood and note that you may lose those endorphins without proper exercise. It's sad enough to not be able to exercise the way you want, but it's a whole other level to then have to deal with the mental downfall. Take time to do the things that do make you happy. Talk to a friend, bake cookies, listen to good music, drink a good cup of coffee. Take the time to treat yourself and give yourself the self love you need. It matters now more than ever.

 

7. Come back slowly and again, don't be hard on yourself. 

I ran 7 miles in my first week back starting last week following nine weeks of rest aside from the swimming and some cycling. I was slow. I am still slow a week later. I am running on the grass to help alleviate too much stress right off the bat. But I am pain free. To me, I know that I should be running a 20 miler this Saturday. But instead of dwelling on what I can't do I am choosing to find the victory in the things I can do. I have created a new game plan of trying the Galloway Method for the Chicago marathon in less than a month and I will earn my medal being proud of whatever I can accomplish with such a crapshoot of a training season. 

 

 

Life is hrd, and running injuries make it harder.  Be nice to yourself, get angry, then get over it and come up with a game plan for your comeback. Taylor has surely been helping pump me up for my comeback. What do you think about her new music?? Newly added to the playlist, ...ready for it? And Look What You Made Me Do. Boom.

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