Monday, September 12, 2011

My comeback

For the few of you who care, sorry I haven't blogged in a while. I lost steam to write about my running after Boston and have just been trying to find a healthy state of running and working out all summer. After doing the Lincoln half marathon and Mother's Day 5K with my daughter in May, I took nearly 6 weeks off of running to give my foot the rest it needed. Knowing I still needed a goal to stay motivated, I signed up for the Shawnee Mission triathlon in early July. I knew I wouldn't be able to run the race very well (if at all), but I at least wanted something to keep me moving and figured I could still bike and swim without taxing my foot. I chose the long course so it would scare me enough to have to train on the bike and do some swimming. I "trained" (mostly biked and swam) for about a month and accomplished my goal. The race wasn't even cancelled this year and my foot held out great during the run.

But even with all of that, I was still in a running funk all summer. I had no major running goals other than to try to get and eventually stay healthy. My foot was just not cooperating. It still got sore and tight in the joint when I ran too many miles, went too fast, or wore any sort of heeled shoes (including running shoes!).

I was feeling extreme frustration with not finding just the right shoe to help me. I finally threw in the towel and was just about to give up running and/or running shoes altogether when Eladio encouraged me to try the new minimalist running shoe by Saucony called Hattori. Our local Saucony rep, Terry Drake, provided a trial run in these shoes at a group run this past summer. I gave them a test run and they felt great. They were definitely different, but my foot (my toe specifically) felt much better in these shoes than any others I tried. Plus, I wasn't having to run barefoot on the hot pavement!

Since I was having to start all over with my running anyway, I figured now was the time to ease into them. I didn't want to make the classic mistake I heard of most people when trying minimalist shoes for the first time, doing too much, too soon. When I started running again back in late June, I did 1 mile, then 2 and worked my way up to 3 before the triathlon. I was able to maintain doing 3-4 mile runs during July, but then wanted to test the long distance waters again. I moved up to 6, then 8. Still, my foot was holding out and doing okay. It wasn't 100%, but it wasn't getting worse. By late August, I was back up to 12 miles and my foot was finally starting to feel better which gave me enough confidence to sign up for the Sioux Falls half marathon less than a month away. I maintained 8-10 the next few weeks and headed into the half marathon race not completely sure how I was going to do, if my foot would hold out, or if I'd be able to finish injury free.

Race day was yesterday. My strategy was to start slow and then pick it up if I felt good towards the end. If all went well, I hoped to run a sub 2. I just had no idea how much of a sub 2 to shoot for. A few running buddies also had similar goals, but when I checked out the pace bands they were using, seeing all those miles in the mid to upper 8 minute range made me nervous. I really didn't think I had 8's in me since all my training runs were in the 10's and sometimes mid-9's. Thankfully, a couple ladies were being very sensible and were starting in the upper 9's. I decided to hang with them as long as I could.

It ended up being Patricia and I who really started together and stayed tight for about 10 miles. I could see my friend Mallika up ahead for a little while and our other buddy Pritha right behind us. Then by 10, my legs felt plenty good and warmed up. I told myself that if I felt good by 10, I would just see what I had in me for the final 5K. Patricia encouraged me to go up ahead so I finally started pushing my pace and left her. For the next mile and a half, I felt like I was flying. It was an exhilarating experience. I was passing people like crazy. What a feeling! To top it all off, I had no pain in my foot at this speed. I looked down when my Garmin hit mile 12 and saw that I had just run an 8:04 minute mile!! The final mile was a bit tougher since I had started running out of juice and had not done this distance in training. My legs hung in there, but I felt a blister forming under my big toe. It was annoying, but at least it wasn't pain my joint or bone this time. I had to push through my dying legs that final mile, but seeing Eladio at the finish line pumped me up for the final tenth of a mile and I was able to sprint it in. Right before crossing the finish line, I saw the clock at 1:55 something. For a second I was disappointed it wasn't a sub 1:55, but quickly realized how greedy that was. I had just run a sub 2 (1:55:11) and didn't have any major injuries. That is a first in many years!! Praise God!

It's the day after, I'm tired, but filled with new hope. Is it possible that running in my new shoes is helping me become an injury free runner? I pray and hope it is. I'm just so thankful that I am running distance again and am feeling really good. I'm already starting to toy around with race plans this next year. I don't know what I'll end up doing so I'll stay quiet on that for now, but it's wonderful to be filled with hope of being a mother runner once again.

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