After spending the past week + in pain, I’ve been forced to make a really difficult decision.
I am deferring my race entry for this year’s NYC Marathon.
So, what happened? This is my own fault, but I don’t think the result would have been much different if I had changed things. After the Marine Corps Half, I rewarded myself with a trip to the movies. I got up, and my left knee was basically locked. It was so tight that I could barely walk from the theater to my car. As I put more weight on it, it started to feel better. I chalked it up to a tendinitis flair up in my left knee (I’ve suffered from this in my right), even though it didn’t feel anything like tendinitis. I took Sunday off to rest, and I felt 100% better, so I decided to go through with “Peak Week,” which was the last hard running week of my marathon training. When I ran on Monday (the 6th), I felt a slight twinge, but it went away. Tuesday’s (the 7th) run started with pain, and it went away after ½ mile. Wednesday the pain developed after ½ mile, and I stopped and walked back. On Thursday I picked up new shoes, an upgraded version of my Saucony Rides. I ran 4.5 miles with them on Thursday night, and other than the slightest twinge (I’d rate it a 1 on the pain scale), I felt great. There was no pain when I was walking around, so I figured the shoes had made the difference. I did spin on Friday and rested on Saturday, excited/nervous for my last long run – a planned 20-22 miler.
Why was I still running through my obvious injury? For one, I was in denial over getting hurt. But the other reason is because with my right knee, whenever I stop running, the tendinitis flairs up. I don't know if it's because I'm suddenly really stiff, but any time I've taken an extended break from running, the right knee aches.
During my last long run (and last run in general), my left knee tightened up right at the 14 mile mark. I tried to force myself to run more, then gave up and walked to a safe area and called my mom, crying, to come get me. My knee throbbed for about 2 days. I tried everything. Everything. KT tape, foam rolling, Trigger Point Therapy, changing my shoes back to the old ones to walk with, icing, compression sleeves, IT band wraps, stretching, hip flexor exercises, resting, sleeping extra, taking anti-inflammatories. I went to a physical therapist, who showed me a lot of exercises to loosen my IT band. She massaged my quads/IT band and it did absolutely nothing to touch the pain. As each day went by, I realized NY was probably not going to happen.
Finally on Friday of last week, I scheduled an appointment to meet with an orthopedist. I was pretty sure I had ITBS, but since I was still in pain (and my IT band was bruised, likely from the massage treatment), I went in yesterday. I actually got to meet with a knee specialist who had worked with knee issues for more than 35 years. He told me he ran his first marathon in a pair of Converse, and I was surprised when he said he was only in pain for a week after.
After a bunch of tests, he 100% diagnosed me with a really bad flair up of ITBS. Oddly enough, my right knee (the one that has always given me problems) is 100% A-OK. I got a cortisone shot, and he gave me a prescription for anti-inflammatories. The shot still hasn’t really kicked in yet, so I’m still sitting here in pain.
I have zero doubt that this is the best decision for me, even though it’s still an absolute heartbreaker. Even if/when the shot kicks in, I’m absolutely terrified to run. The doctor said I should be able to go out for a few miles next week. A few – not 26.2. I feel terrible for letting not only myself down, but all the people who donated. I raised nearly $3,100 this year, and a lot of that came from complete strangers who were touched by my story. Fred’s Team has given me the option of deferring, with all the funds raised going to my total for next year.
I’m more okay with this decision than I was originally. Last week I would break out in tears at any mention of NY, and still think to myself, "well, maybe I could gut it out." I definitely went through the stages of grief, but I can’t wallow on what could have been. I still proved to myself that I can train for a marathon - I hit a 20 miler and felt great! I think I peaked too soon, and my lack of foam rolling, stretching, and glute strength training didn’t help. NYC will still be my first marathon, but next year. While there is a small chance I could have gotten through the race without blowing out my knee, I don’t feel confident about it at all. I don’t want to run NYC in fear of my knee hurting, or holding back, or in a lot of pain. A big part of my desire to run NYC comes from wanting to experience the crowds, the bridges, the sights. If I’m running in misery, what’s the point? I have too much respect for this race, myself, and the running community to halfass it "just to finish." As much as it’s going to suck to train through another summer of 95 degree temperatures, it’s better than the alternative.
My goal right now is to heal up enough to get back out the door. I haven’t been able to run since the 12th, and I’ve done basically nothing as far as working out. The arc trainer hurts, I can’t swim, and the only spin class I’ve gone to since has been with an irritating instructor who drove me so crazy I had to leave halfway through the class. I know it’ll take more than 8 days to lose a summer’s worth of training, but I feel so lazy and miserable. When I can get back to running at my JRC groups, I’ll feel a lot better.
Till then, I’ll be sitting back with an ice pack.
I'm Jenn! I'm a baker, blogger, sorta-runner, and writer living in Jacksonville, Florida!