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).
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 …
That was before the pain in my right knee.
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.
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.”
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