Wednesday, April 30, 2014

The Fourth 100 Mile

One year and ten days.

That’s how long it took me to run my last hundred miles.

The last two sets of 100 miles took me about three months to complete. So what happened? (Here are my previous running post about running).  

In early November I went on my annual school camping trip with my 5th graders. After five four days are hard hiking and spending more than twelve hours a day in stiff hiking boots my right big toe was really sore.

I’m used to having sore feet and it felt like it just needed to be stretched and have a good knuckle crack, but it never cracked. After a couple days, I tried to run and realized something was wrong. I couldn’t role through my foot comfortably while walking and running only made the discomfort worse.

The first podiatrist I went to diagnosed me with sesamoiditis. This is the inflammation in the big toe joint. He gave me some drugs that were supposed to help that area calm down. Also I needed to take a break from running. Hey, at least my toe wasn’t broken, right?

After going through the course of medicine, it was better but I still wasn’t fully functional. I asked around for recommendations for another foot doctor and one of my friends pointed me to the Running Institute of Chicago.

Most foot doctors do enough to get people on their feet but the Running Institute was different. They aimed to help people get beyond just walking and to be really active. In my first visit I met with a doctor, a sports trainer and a physical therapist.

They didn’t see any signs of the sesamoiditis but they found some other issues. I over-pronate like crazy (I’m flat-footed) and while I had orthotics that helped with this, they weren’t doing enough. The doctors saw in my x-rays that one bone in my foot wasn’t quite the right length in proportion to another bone, which may also be contributing to my discomfort

My doctor didn’t prescribe any more drugs but instead prescribed me physical therapy. I was to go therapy twice a week for four weeks to strengthen my hips and ankles, which was suppose to help my running stride.

I had no idea what to expect but I was pleasantly surprised with what I found. The trainers at Accelerated Rehabilitation Center in Evanston were really nice and helpful. They encouraged me while showing a lot of patience. It was a very chill atmosphere that was a nice respite from my day even though at times it was really hard work. I was introduced to the world of balance boards, “clams,” and the use of big rubber bands for what seemed like a limitless amount of activities. Some things were difficult like doing bridges (a hip exercise using an exercise ball) while other things were frustrating like moving marbles with my toes.

Over time I improve at every task they gave me. The rubber bands changed colors as I was able to do exercises with more resistances.

All of these sessions were during the work week.  A lot of the time I’d get home from work, spend an hour with Ollie and Diana and then go off to physical therapy. It was hard having an hour taken out of my already limited evening hours. At the same time it was good that I was forced to have some time to do something for myself.

Before the injury my running routine had become much less frequent. Between May 20th and June 14th, I didn’t run at all. This had to do with Ollie being born on  May 24th and all of us moving to a new house in June. For a long time, besides writing this blog, I wasn’t doing something solely for myself. This physical therapy really reminded me how important it was that I do something like this to take care of myself.

After five weeks of therapy I started doing a return to run program. It’s similar to the Couch To 5K program. It was scary at first. I hadn’t run in months and I was really scared that I would start running and feel the same pain in my foot. That pain would mean that all those weeks of therapy didn’t work. If the therapy didn’t work, what options did I have left?

For that first run, I took it really easy and I made sure not to run a second longer than the plan directed. Some parts of my body were sore, but my foot was not. I steadily worked through the return to run plan and after one more therapy session, I was ready to start running again.

The four hundredth mile wasn’t the fastest mile I’ve run. It was part of a 30 minute workout with 22 minutes of running and 8 minutes of walking that added up to 2.2 miles. At my best I could run a 5K under half and hour and a 10K in 1 hour 10 minutes.

I thought I’d be frustrated at the fact that I couldn’t run as fast or as long as I did before the injury and before Ollie was born. But I’m not.  Last weekend I just finished my first outside run and it felt great.

I felt that familiar chill as my body adjusted to the night air. I felt muscles tighten up and relax as my body compensated to the surface of the road. Most of I felt freedom.

Working in therapy taught me that things we loose we can get back. It may take months of time, hard work and patience, but you can regain what you have lost. It’s possible.

I took for granted the time I had to run and the ability I had to run when I was working through my first 300 miles. Maybe that’s why I need this last 100 miles to go the way it did and not how I had hoped it would.  However like with everything else in my life for the past year, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

If it takes me two months or a whole year to get to 500 miles, I will get there and I’m going to make sure to cherish every single step of the way.

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