Wednesday, June 7, 2017

A Work In Progress


Not sure if anyone noticed but there was a big lag in blog posts.  I haven’t felt like writing about much while I’ve been recovering from my surgery.  Most of my posts are about running and I didn’t feel I had anything else worth saying while I was recovering.   My surgery was mid November and I spent four weeks on crutches or a walker.  I pretty much went from my bed to the recliner and to the bathroom.  The crutches wore on my shoulders and eventually I gained a new injury to my bicep tendon. It was a sad time.   Depression came and went in waves as my doctor tried to break the news to me that running would not be happening for a long time.  I watched my friends doing amazing things.  I was happy for them, yet envious.  I’m not sure if that is a normal reaction as I’ve never been in this position before.  

      My doctor didn't' think I needed physical therapy, but my brother insisted.  He's an athletic trainer and he knew I would not recover as quickly or fully without doing to therapy.  Physical therapy began in late December and went until the end of April. At first just walking was hard.  During the surgery they made an inch incision through the iliotibial band to insert the screws into my leg.  We did lots of exercises to strengthen the muscle and get my leg back in shape.  I saw my doctor monthly and by late January he said I could begin riding my bike on the trainer.  This exercise was as good for my brain as it was for my body.  February came around and I was allowed to walk on the Alter G treadmill. (An anti-gravity treadmill so you can run at a lower percentage of your body weight.)  By March I was running on the Alter G.  I felt my endurance came back quick and I could do 30-40 minutes before long.  As I raised the percentage of body weight on the Alter G, I also raised my spirits.  Soon I was up to 90 percent of my body weight and my doctor and physical therapists said that was time to try running outside.

My second run outside was at the Sharmock Shuffle 8K race in Chicago.  I had no idea how this was going to go.  I figured if it went bad, I’d just walk.  Turns out that I felt great!   This race is the “training run” for the organizers of the Chicago Marathon.  They use it to make sure all their suppliers for services are working right.  I read online that it was the 9th largest road race in America, with about 30,000 participants.  So for a short distance race, it is a pretty big deal.
I covered my Garmin with my shirt sleeve and willed myself not to look at it.  I ticked off the miles not knowing my pace, but knowing I was breathing hard and it felt tough.  This made it tough to know if I was running hard or if it was just hard as I hadn’t run outside in so many months.  I only walked for a few seconds at two water stops.  I pushed along and before I knew it I was coming down the home stretch (the same finish line that I crossed at two Chicago Marathons in years past)  I saw the clock and pushed as much as I could.  When I saw my finish time I was amazed.   It averaged a 9:52 mile.  This is a good time for me any day of the week.  But for my first race back?  I was THRILLED.  My husband said he was enjoying a nice breakfast and got text alerts that I was going to be done soon and had to cut his meal short.  He met me just past the finish line and was so happy.  He knew what this race meant to me.  He had seen me go through the emotional and mental turmoil this past winter.  It was a huge victory.  Since I’ve never run an 8K race, I guess it was also a PR.  I’ll take it.  It may not be close to my best times, but it is my new times and I’m good with that.  
Fast forward to May 10th, six months post surgery.  My doctor did another set of x-rays and declared me recovered and told me I could do “whatever” I want.  This is a dangerous thing to say to me.  But I will proceed with caution and likely won’t do any serious distance for a while.  

In June, I went to Colorado for the Skirt Sports 13er (half marathon).  I made sure to have fun and ran the entire race with Christi, my brother’s girlfriend.  I finished the race 20 minutes faster than last year and 20 minutes slower than my PR two years ago.  I’m happy with that.  It’s progress.  I’m running what I want, when I want, with no training plan.  Things are coming together, but it’s a work in progress.  

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