Here's how it all began. As many of you know, I took up running this past year. It all started with the Soldier Field 10. I didn't warm up or properly prepare for the race because my intention was to walk the 10 miles, not walk and run as I did. Poorly fitting shoes, two parties of socks and improper form added to the struggle. So, I walked and ran but finished and decided that I wanted to keep on doing this. My left knee told me differently. It said that I could run but I needed to do more strength training and stretching because I was diagnosed with plica syndrome. Yeah, yeah. I'm a fast healer so I stretched and did strength training when I felt like it but I mostly ran. 5ks were my race after that. What fun! Relatively short distances but a medal and good times after that. I thought I was doing fairly well. So, time for the Hot Chocolate 15k....
Well, maybe I should train for this, I thought. After all, the most that I've ever run is 7.34 miles and now I'm scheduled to run 9.3 miles. Without proper conditioning. So, I decide to follow Hal Higdon's training schedule. I run when he says to run, do strength training when he says to do that (sometimes), cross training when he says to do that (sometimes). And, oh, by the way. I made a mistake in counting the weeks and actually had one week less than I thought that I did. Yipe!
They really get you pumped up at the Hot Chocolate expo! Fun pictures, lots of chocolate, cool merchandise to buy. This is so exciting!
They say to load up on carbs the night before a long race, right? Well, here's my pasta!
Day of the event:
I could barely sleep the night before! I'm so excited! There are so many people at this race. I'm trying to figure out who didn't run. People are either in the 5k or the 15k. Whew! Too many people. But the energy is amazing! We get there early...and it's kind of cold because it's early November in Chicago...and we hang out and talk with women we know from Women Run the World, our running and fitness group. But we don't stretch or warm up during this time. Not a smart move on our part.
During the race:
The first two miles in are NUTS! They have the 5k and 15k runners run at the same time. They are all over the place! Someone actually crossed the street in front of us as we were running in the streets of Chicago. I ran into her and someone ran into me! Not a smart move, Lady! Anyway, it was chaos for a while as we ran Lower Wacker Drive. But we came from under the drive and onto other streets. Once we got to Michigan Ave, the racers separated. 5k runners turned in one direction and the 15k runners kept going. Ah, paradise. The course evened out and we were able to run in peace. That was really cool. Someone once told me that you need to stop worrying about time and other things when you're running. Just relax and enjoy the scenery. And that is what I did. It was really cool! And I ran into people I knew as I was running, which was really fun!
I got to 35th street and ran unto a friend from church, Robert Bradley! He is a great photographer so he took a picture of me when he was able to stop me to get me to pose. It made me feel like a pro out there! So much fun!
Well, I kept on running, this time down King Drive, back up King Drive, back down 35th Street (past a choir singing to us as we ran), over the overpass to the lake. We were probably around mile 7 or 7.5 there. And that's when my knee started singing the blues to me. "Baby, baby, baby! Why you treat me so bad?" "Shut up, knee!", I'm thinking. "We have a race to finish." So, off we ran. My poor right knee got even more of a test when I realized that we had to go up a couple of inclines before we could finish the race. Who put those things in the race? They should have warned me!
We were at 9.2 miles when my phone and Nike+ app decided that they were done for the day. "You can keep on, if you want to. We're out!". So, I ran on. It was at that time that I learned that 15K was more like 9.3 miles and not 9.2 miles. And the longest that I had ever run before that was 7.34 miles. Um.....
I finished the race. Too cold for ice even though my knees needed it. Get my medal, walk around, get the hot chocolate, take pictures. When we got to the cab, I could barely move. I made it home, though. Should have iced my knee and taken a long bath but I had to attend a baby shower. I was limping by then. The next day, I had to take the stairs one at a time. And going down the stairs was excruciating.
"I'll walk it off. I should be okay in a few days". Well, no. With Runner's Knee (that was the diagnosis when I went to see Dr. Richard Kang at the University of Chicago two weeks later), you have to stop running for a while. And you have to have physical therapy. I have tried to run a couple of times since the race only to be in pain at mile 2. That's because I was trying too soon.
So, the lesson learned? Take it slow. Yes, I ran races but most of them were 5K. And, yes, I'm in good condition but my joints have been around for a long time. I can certainly run but I have to be systematic about it.. I can't just run 10 miles or more without proper training. That's asking for trouble. I have learned that I should have stretched more. I should have done more strength training, especially for my quads, hamstrings, glutes and abs. I should not have increased my intensity by more than 10% per week starting out. That means that I should have gone from 3.2 miles to 3.52 miles the following week to 3.9 miles, etc. There is no way that I should have gone from 7.34 miles one week to 9.6 miles two weeks later. But these are lessons learned.
I'm in therapy at Athletico now and I'm really enjoying it. No attempts at running for the rest of the year (only two weeks left in it, any way). After the 1st or 2nd week of January, I'll start running in intervals (not going for speed or distance but by time). If all goes well, then I should be able to run for 30 minutes 4 weeks after I start running. Then I can gradually get back to running continuously.
This is a good test for me because I'm not always the most patient person. I don't want to go through the process. I just want to get to the result. So going through this is making me learn to slow down and appreciate the process. Be deliberate. Be systematic. Be disciplined. Then I'll see the results.
I'm scheduled to run an 8K (roughly 5 miles) in early April. In late May, I'm scheduled to run 10 miles. Then, in June, I am scheduled to run 13 miles, roughly, but that would be as part of a relay so it's broken up into smaller intervals. There are 12 on a team so there are relatively long breaks in between. It's a challenge but it's fun!
So, I'll keep you informed of my progress. Pray for me. All of this is doable but it calls for steady conditioning after I recover. The recovery is the hard part right now.