52 Weeks, 52 Runs. No. 44: Quick, call the help desk!

Eighteen months ago, if you had asked me what an IT band was, I would have told you it was a group of musically inclined computer nerds. I know better now, of course. Running has, if nothing else, given me a new understanding of bodies, and what they can ­– and can’t – do. Before this 52 Weeks, 52 Runs challenge, I had never, ever put my own under so much stress. (It’s important to know that prior to my first 5K in May 2011, I would have considered it a huge accomplishment to run for two minutes on the treadmill without stopping.)

This past weekend, we headed to Vermont for the 29th Leaf Peepers Half-Marathon and 5K, timed of course to take in New England’s brilliant fall colors. For the second weekend in a row, it was pitch black when we departed, although this time there were no school buses involved (phew).

Leaf Peepers 5K

Starting crowd. You can’t really tell here, but the fall colors on the hills are lovely.

The first thing we noticed when we got out of the car in Waterbury, Vt., was a tantalizingly sweet aroma hanging in the air. The start line was at the headquarters of Green Mountain Coffee, and it turns out they were brewing their dark roast that morning. Nothing like coffee in vapor form before a run. I was feeling the shame because I got out of the car with an empty cup of Newman’s Own from McDonald’s, but then we discovered that Newman’s Own is brewed by Green Mountain, so all was forgiven. We also got vouchers for free cups of coffee, of which we availed ourselves after the run. Talk about a caffeine-fuelled adventure.

Alas, all the coffee in the world couldn’t help me out on this particular day. The weather was perfect (cloudy and 7C/44F to start), and I had high hopes again that all my summer running would pay off and I’d finally finish in under 30 minutes. My start was fast (for me), and I felt good …

Leaf Peepers 5K

This way to Camel’s Hump. I have no idea what that is.

That was before the pain in my right knee.

Uh oh.

It was a vaguely familiar pain. I felt it around mile 10 of the Wineglass Half-Marathon last weekend, too. But I had chalked it up to my body reacting to an unfamiliar distance, and finished the run without incident. I stretched a little afterwards and went to my regular Strength and Stride class at the Y during the week. I thought my knee still seemed miffed, but I chalked that up to ongoing recovery and put it out of my mind.

That is, until mile 0.75 of the Leaf Peepers, when mild knee annoyance turned into full-blown knee rage. Concurrently, my right hip decided to also join the pity party. I knew these were the telltale indicators of an unhappy IT band, Hubby having gone through his own IT woes last year. Crap.

Not interested in pushing myself while parts of my body were staging a protest, I slowed. Every few minutes or so I’d try to pick up the pace, but the pain would pop up again. I didn’t want to tempt a full-blown knee revolt, so I walked for the last two miles, with a few minutes of lame jogging here and there. I did run across the finish because I have never not done that, even on the toughest run.

Leaf Peepers 5K

This is where we walk.

Funny thing is, I felt OK with the walking because I knew it was for a tangible reason and not because I was a loser with no endurance. And, I kept reminding myself, I had done a half-marathon the week before. If only that could have been on the front of my shirt. Like those bumper stickers that say, “My Other Car Is a Corvette,” my T-shirt would read, “My Other Run Is a Half.”

Leaf Peepers 5K

Coffee and maple syrup awards!

I was scheduled to do the Tufts 10K for Women the next day but decided to opt out; it’s the first time I have done that since I started this challenge at the beginning of the year. I’m still on track though, as we have done a number of two-run weekends. I have no doubt I’ll reach my goal, even if it’s at walking speed, and I plan to get my naughty knee/hip seen to this week. I was taking next weekend off anyway as we’re escorting my Aussie parents to New York and Washington, D.C. I’ll report back.

By the way, while I was limping through my run, Hubby was doing his 18th half-marathon of the year. He began 2012 with a goal of one half every month, but has far surpassed that and now has his eye on 20 by Dec. 31. Impressive, no?

The events: Leaf Peepers Half-Marathon and 5K
The location:
Waterbury, Vt.
The date: October 7, 2012
My time: 38.38
Hubby’s time:
1.38.47
The cause:
Vermont flood relief
The T-shirt:
Blue long-sleeved cotton
The aftermath: Bananas, bagels, cheese

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22 responses to “52 Weeks, 52 Runs. No. 44: Quick, call the help desk!

  1. “…musically inclined computer nerds.” Bahahaha!
    Hope you feel better soon.

  2. I heard homemade meat pies and wine can make all your IT band worries go out the window…..

  3. So sorry to hear that you are injured, I hope you feel better soon.I ran the Tufts 10K on Monday, it was a great race, we must put it on our race calender next year

  4. Oh, no. The dreaded IT band. Just finished 2 months of PT for what I thought was an IT band problem, only it hasn’t gone away. So now I go back to the ortho tomorrow and beg for an MRI. Considering I have a decade-plus of knee problems and two knee surgeries under my belt, you’d think they’d consent?
    p.s. Have you tried the foam roller yet? Incredibly painful, but effective.

  5. ugh, the IT band is the WORST!! I took a month off running and it still feels a little weird when I do run. It doesnt hurt, it just feels different. I only started trying to run again so soon because I have a marathon coming up in a month. After that, its a total break from running for two months unless for whatever reason I feel normal again.

    I strongly advise giving it time to calm down for a few weeks before even attempting to go again. Ice and compression have been my friends and I just started foam rolling to help it along as well.

    Feel better soon!!

    • Thanks for the advice!! I’m generally giving things a rest, although it’s kind of sad. I mean, I wasn’t super hard core before, but now I feel like it’s slipping away. Oh well. I am going to therapy and stretching etc, so hopefully i’ll be back on track soon. Hope all goes well for you too!!! 🙂

  6. Those coffee and maple syrup awards look awesome.

  7. Feel better and take care of that injury! Tee Shirt envy- I keep wishing more race directors would bring back the cotton tee! Esp the long sleeve ones! SCORE for you!

  8. Do get your knee checked out. I went through this just a few weeks ago — often it’s not your knee, but like you say it’s stemming from your hip/IT band issue. The knee is where the pain is, but not usually the cause.
    LOVED the “my other run is a half” t-shirt idea. I often wish I had a digital counter on my t-shirt that showed how far I had already run. You know how you look tired when running and people think you are just starting out? No!!

    Kudos to hubby for the very impressive feat of 18 halves already this year. He goes!

    • Thanks! I got it checked out and it’s definitely not just the knee, like you say. Actually, my hip has been giving me just as much pain. Hopefully I’m on the road to recovery thanks to some excruciating muscle work!! 🙂

  9. So sorry about the IT trouble. My worst running injury to date involved both IT bands. It dragged on forever, but mostly because I waited so long to get it tended to by an actual physical therapist. I’m happy you’re getting yours looked at now. Good luck!

  10. You are almost there! I really hope the IT band lets you get through it with minimal pain : (
    Also.. don’t you just LOVE Waterbury?! This post makes me want to sign up for this run next year!

  11. Still not a bad time for walking part of it! My very first 5K, a few years ago after only really having started running regularly a few weeks before, was nearly 37 minutes, and I ran the whole thing, though slowly.