Friday, September 3, 2010

13.1 Miles in 79 Days!

I've been thinking a lot about the Philadelphia Half-Marathon lately. After running Broad Street, I had my sights set on the Philadelphia Distance Run, a race much discussed in the running community due to its ease (for non-runners, read: flat course), but due to circumstances this race has alluded me the past 4 years... wedding, pregnancy, post-pregnancy, and this year: my left knee.

Problems started during my pregnancy - I experienced a great deal of pain using my left knee, mostly going up and down stairs and getting off the floor. Well, I figured a 70 pound weight gain will do that and just assumed it would get better as I lost weight. This was the same thought that I carried with me while training for Broad Street. As the May race grew near and the pain became more problematic with long runs and hills, I thought, "S*#@! This isn't getting better!" Concerned about completing Broad Street, I met with my physician, had an x-ray... then, an MRI... then met with a sports doc who specializes in running injuries (ok, so that appointment was after I had successfully completed 10 miles in 2:02 on a hot May day in Philadelphia). The good news: there were no tears, sprains, or other problems that would keep me from Broad Street. There was, however, a knee cap that was rubbing on bone and a super fancy Latin diagnosis. Oh, and the obligatory, "You really shouldn't run the race," followed by a prescription for physical therapy.

The physical therapy helped me really understand how weak my left leg (not my dominant) muscles were. I spent a good month not running and simply focusing on building up the muscles and ligaments that were left seriously weakened by my pregnancy (and did I mention the fat that came with it?). By the end of PT I was bounding up stairs and practically leaping from a floor-sit! But running still hurt like a SOB. My dreams of actually completing the Philadelphia Distance Run (now, the Philly Rock-n-Roll Half-Marathon) were fading off into the proverbial sunset.

Seeing my dismay... or more like, hearing my complaints, the knee doc recommended a series of protein-shots injected into my knee to help build up the cushioning around the knee cap. Despite my intense and paralyzing fear of needles & shots, I sucked it up, got insurance approval, and went once a week for FIVE weeks. SIDE NOTE: ask for a skin numbing spray, something I didn't know about until the doc happened to use it at week 4.

SUCCESS! After week 4, I really noticed the difference. I'm still taking precautions and strengthening the muscles, but I am finally back on my feet. But I digress...

I've certainly missed the window of opportunity to finish the Distance Run (which even if I could pull off 13.1 miles right now, registration is closed). I decided instead to go back to my roots and run the Philadelphia Half-Marathon! This was my first long, "official," run way back in 2006 when a colleague encouraged me to give it a shot. I've been running distances ever since (minus that brief 15 month hiatus called child-bearing).

So I have about 12 weeks to train my body and brain to run 13.1 miles (again). And with my most recent 2 mile jog being my longest run since Broad Street, I have quite the feat ahead of me. Oh, and did I mention, I have only run outside once since then?

No matter! I can do this! I will do this! I have to do this - I've already registered (sickly trumpet sound effect: mwah wah). So if you're game, bored, or curious, check back frequently for updates. Join me at the starting line. Or cheer me on, near or far. Either way, mark the date: November 21st, 2010.

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