Tuesday, May 18, 2010

What the Hell am I Doing?, Part I: The Injury

In my last post, I talked about giving the leg some rest and feeling good with my first 5k in several days. Then Wednesday I biked 30 miles, Thursday I ran 4.5 miles, and Friday I biked 43 miles. When I got up on Saturday for my last long run before the race, my legs felt tight and I stretched for a good 30 minutes. I was scheduled to run 6 miles. It was cool outside that morning, so I threw on some extra layers to keep my legs warm. Nothing mattered. I hit the road and at first my legs just felt tired, but as I continued my left leg began to really tighten up. I stopped just after I finished my first mile to do some extra stretching. But when I continued, the leg was still really tight. Finally, at the 2 mile mark, the leg felt bad enough that I was noticeably limping, and rather than risking another injury from bad form, I just started walking.

On the walk home, I felt demoralized, but more than that I began to worry if I would be able to finish the 10k race the next Saturday. I had not ran further than 5.5 miles and that was back in April. I was determined that I had to get another long run in. So I decided to rest for the remainder of Saturday, on Sunday I did some goood stretching and I would try again on Monday.

When I got up on Monday, I was not feeling good. While I was stretching, I could tell my leg was really tight, and nothing I did seemed to get to it. The IT Band had gotten so tight near the top that it felt like I had fallen right on the point of my hip; it was sore to the touch. After stretching for what seemed like forever, I went outside. I knew on my first step that things were not right. My leg was so tight that I was already limping, and I had not gone 100 yards. I started to get panicked thinking about what I should do. I thought about trying to push through it, I thought about turning around and walking home, and I thought about what the hell I was going to do if I couldn't run next Saturday. I got so panicked that my breathing went haywire, and everything fell apart. So I stopped and walked. I walked for another 100 yards, then tried to run at a much slower pace. As I shuffled my way down the road, I considered if I could run a 10k at this speed. I certainly did not want to but, if that is what it would take to complete the run, so be it. Finally even shuffling my way down the road wasn't working. My leg continued to tighten up and even started cramping. I finally decided to turn around and walk home.

On the way home, I formulated my new race week plan, and in the end, I decided to do nothing. No running, no biking, and very little walking. I would stretch every single morning and night, and I would pray to God that I would be able to run more than a few feet on Saturday.

Have I mentioned that I have the best wife in the world?

I limped through the day on Monday and Tuesday. My hip still felt like I had fallen on it, and my worries persisted. When I got home my beautiful wife brought me a present. She had been so concerned about my leg that she did some research with her teacher/runner friends, and bought me an IT roller. Actually she was so concerned that she bought two, so I could do a little comparison shopping. My wife is wonderful. For those that do not know, an IT roller is a very hard foam cylinder. You put the cylinder on the ground, then you lay on your side on top of the roller, and just roll back and forth over the hip/thigh/knee area.

I had heard that the experience can be painful at first, but as a guy I figured "Really, how hard can this be?" (It's a foam roller, for gosh sakes) Holy shit, it was some of the most pain that I have been in recently (and I recently had a vasectomy). I did not cry or scream out or anything like that, but I wanted to. After a couple of days of use the pain was not as intense, but it was still painful.

So for the entire week (or more) before my big race weekend, I did almost nothing. I stretched, I did my IT roller, and tried to eat a little healthier (only a couple of Oreos). And I was nervous as hell about being able to do what I had set out to do.

To be continued...

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