Now What?

 

 

16904756_10102355519287342_4135975679303363540_o
Photo by Scott Goldstein!

I sat down with the intention of writing a race recap for the Hyannis Marathon, and I just can’t bring myself to do it. To sum it up, it went better than I had ever imagined it could. I was shooting for sub-4, and surpassed that goal by running a 3:50:24. I felt strong the entire time, I stayed hydrated and took in calories as I needed them, and I finished strong with my last 5 miles being around 8:30 pace. Hands down it was my best performance out of any race I’ve ever run. Maybe someday I’ll have the energy to write a more detailed race report, but for now, I’ll tell you about my post-marathon week.

Let’s start with Monday. I expected to be sore, maybe have some stiff knees or sore shins, but I was nowhere near as bad as I thought I would be. I even biked to work, no problem! After biking in to work, I started to feel some pain in my lower right abdomen. Pain very similar, but less intense, to my pain I had a few weeks ago before I ended up in the hospital with a ruptured cyst. I told myself I was probably just sore from the race, and it would go away.

Cut to Tuesday. I feel amazing, like I barely even ran a marathon, so after work I go for a quick 3 mile run. My legs are tired, but in great shape. I start getting excited for my long run on Saturday of 23 miles. Cut to Wednesday, the pain in my abdomen is still lingering, intensifying just enough to make me worried after my bike ride home. I listened to my body and skipped my run. I worked from home on Thursday and called my gynecologist to see if they could get me an appointment. By some miracle from the heavens, she has an open appointment at 2pm. By a whole other miracle, the company I work for is amazing, and let me take the rest of the day off of work to see my doctor.

I explain the situation and tell her I’m nervous I might have another cyst. I tell her I went to the ER not a month ago for a ruptured ovarian cyst, and she asks me some questions. When was the last time you had a cyst that caused pain? Are you still on birth control? Are you skipping any pills? Are you pregnant? Does it hurt during intercourse? You know, the fun questions we all love our gynecologist asking. She says she can get me an ultrasound at 4pm in Chelsea if I’m willing to drive out there.

Cut to 3:00, I’m in Chelsea (way too early) waiting anxiously for my appointment, exhausted from the lack of sleep thanks to stress about my health. I get two ultrasounds and they say I’ll hear back the next morning. Cut to Friday during my lunch break. It was past noon and I hadn’t heard anything so of course I call in a panic, asking for my doctor to call me back. She calls me a few minutes later and tells me I have yet another ovarian cyst. She mentions they’re not normal cysts, they’re hemorrhagic ovarian cysts (aka filled with blood) which is why they’re so painful. They have absolutely no idea why I’m getting cysts due to the fact that birth control is supposed to prevent cysts from forming at all.

It’s also over 5cm in diameter, so she recommends I don’t exercise for at least 6 weeks, which is when I will need a follow-up ultrasound to see if the cyst has gotten any smaller. If it has gotten smaller, I will need to be monitored for future cysts while they try to figure out why I keep getting cysts. If it hasn’t gotten smaller, I will need to meet with a surgeon to go over my options for removing the cysts. There’s a chance if they remove the cysts but haven’t figured out why I am getting them, they will come back, and they would go over my other options, which are far less appealing and end with me not being able to have children.

I have 5 short weeks to go until the Gorge Waterfalls 100k, but was advised not to run for the next 6 weeks. I’m still unsure about what I’ll do on race day, but for now I’m taking it day by day. If my pain subsides soon, I might try easing back into a running routine, but skip the biking, since it seems to aggravate it much more than running. My doctor did say if my cyst ended up rupturing, it would decrease in size sooner than it would if it didn’t rupture, but it seems pretty morbid to hope for a rupture since it basically made any movement excruciatingly painful for 4-5 days.

Normally I would hear what my doctor said, politely agree to disagree as young people tend to do, and go about my way, silently suffering. But this time, there is a chance that if it doesn’t rupture or decrease in size, strenuous exercise could cause ovarian torsion, and I’d likely end up losing my ovary. While I’m happy to be an idiot and maybe cause some extra shin pain or push through some knee pain, losing an ovary at 26 isn’t something I’m willing to risk.

I am absolutely heartbroken that this is happening to me after 3 months of intense, dedicated training for this 100k. I’m in the best shape of my life, and I’ve never been more prepared or excited for a race. But for once, this seems like something I shouldn’t brush off and try to push through. I will keep you all posted on my recovery and my game-day decision, but as of now it’s looking like we will just be enjoying a week of vacation in Oregon in April instead of racing. Word on the street is their food and beer game is strong out in the Pacific Northwest. Maybe instead of running a 100k, we’ll drive a 100k and where each aid station would be, we’ll stop for food and beer! Sounds fun, but let’s be real, we were probably planning on doing that after my race anyways.

 

Bear Mountain 50k Training – Week 6

Well, this week was my first overall negative week. I’m definitely glad it didn’t happen until now, but I’m determined to get back into it and prevent more injury. After a few runs on the treadmill in the cold weather, I started having some more serious pain in my right shin. I’m wondering if maybe the treadmill just somehow makes me change my stride significantly, but it could also just be from running so many miles. I took enough time off this past week and took it easy enough that so far in week 7 my runs have felt pretty good, though!

Tuesday was my second treadmill day, and the first day my shin really started to hurt.  I did 2.8 out of my planned 5 miles on the treadmill before I called it and went downstairs to immediately ice my shin and have a small panic attack. Matt talked me down and told me to just take it easy this week and see how it goes, so thank the lord I have Matt to keep me from going crazy.

Wednesday I did an easy 5 on the esplanade that went pretty well, despite my shin being a little sore still. I took advil, rolled/massaged/iced my shin after, and decided to call my Thursday run the next day after some sleep.

Thursday I was feeling pretty good and had my first hill repeats scheduled for my training plan, and felt like I should at least try to do the workout. I did a nice 1.5 mile warm up and was feeling pretty good, so I headed over to Summit to do some hills and almost immediately regretted it. My shin got much worse and I decided to just run the hill home and call it after only 2 miles. I felt very defeated and worried about the rest of my plan. I knew I had Friday to rest, and that I should try to take Saturday easy instead of jumping into my long run right after a painful run.

Saturday I decided to do my miles on the elliptical, and I’ve never made a more difficult decision. It was straight up GORGEOUS in Boston on Saturday. I walked my puppy at the park in SHORTS AND A SWEATSHIRT. It took every bit of my willpower to not run outside and to force myself on that elliptical. I’m thankful I did it though, since the extra impact would have made my long run Sunday pretty miserable. I did a 50 minute elliptical workout while staring outside at all the people jogging and walking and enjoying their life much more than I was at the moment, but was just thankful I had the ability to do a low-impact workout. Plus, I took Gustav to the park twice that day to get my fill of sunshine!

Sunday I woke up feeling much better and decided to go for my long run. When I was in the boot, I bought some cushioned 33-m ASICS, which are more like Hokas in their level of thickness. Something nobody warns you about when you get a boot – none of your shoes will be tall enough to keep you from walking lopsided! So I switched to my ASICS and decided to do an 8 mile loop, instead of 16, just in case my shin was too sore for the full 16. I ended up doing all 16 and felt barely any shin pain!

This week was scary, but I’m proud of what I accomplished despite the shin pain. I’m monitoring the pain as I go and making sure I do even more strengthening exercises and stretches throughout the day. I have been to physical therapy before for shin splints specifically, so I’m fairly confident I can work through it and adapt my training plan to my needs. My plan has me getting up to at most 52 miles in a week, but I’m confident even if I kept my runs all generally the same as they are now (with the exception of my long runs) I will be in better shape for this 50k than my last!

Vermont City Marathon – May 24, 2015

Vermont City Marathon
View from Mt. Mansfield

I finally ran my first marathon in May of 2015. I’d love to say this was a great first marathon experience and that I totally rocked it, but I won’t lie to you. Like a lot of firsts, it was sloppy, painful, and I probably wasn’t ready.

My training for the Vermont City Marathon began in winter, Vermont City Marathonwhich I didn’t think would be too challenging since I’m from Syracuse, one of the snowiest cities in America. But Mother Nature decided that Boston was going to pay for all its sins, like Boston’s love affair with Dunkin Donuts and their horrible driving skills. This winter dropped storm after storm on Boston, and I don’t think a single runner I know got in all their training runs. I had a difficult time getting the mileage in even with a treadmill in the building because, well, have you ever tried to run 10 miles on a treadmill? Physically it feels like 10 miles, but mentally it felt worse than the actual marathon

After a rough winter, spring made everyone extra twitterpated. Everyone and their brother was out running again, and I definitely ramped up too quickly to try to make up the miles I missed all winter. I ended up injuring myself – it became difficult to lift my foot/toes, and walking became extremely painful. After a physical therapy visit, doctor visit, and a CT scan, I was diagnosed with a high grade shin splint as well as tendinitis in the tendon running from the front of my ankle up my leg. I was put in a boot at the end of April, and wore it until the week before the marathon.
The injury first presented at the beginning of April, so I ended up taking it easy for 3 weeks in April, was stuck in the boot for 4 weeks, and ended up having a week of running before the marathon. Needless to say, I didn’t expect it to go well. While I was in the boot, I continued with cardio training by biking and using the elliptical as much as possible. I was advised by my physical therapist it wouldn’t be the best idea to run the race, but I’m stubborn and had worked so extremely hard after undergoing knee surgery the year before. I wasn’t about to give up this dream I had worked towards for so long, so I decided if I had any pain in my tendon I would drop during the race. At least then I could say I tried!

Yoga
Cross training while in the boot

The few days leading up to the marathon I kept doubting my decision, but I’m glad I ended up sticking with it. The course was so beautiful and the weather ended up being nearly perfect (for my standards) most of the morning. The day started out with clear skies, got a little
sprinkly around mile 8, then was very sunny and very hot for the last part of the course.

The first few miles of the race were wonderful, besides an annoying side stitch that lasted through mile 9. I was keeping pace, feeling good, and getting plenty of water and Gu. Matt was my pacer, and he helped keep my spirits up and let me know where all the hills were since he had done the race the previous year. I had pretty solid 9:30-9:45 minute miles for the first 18 miles, and then had some nausea hit me. I had never had tummy troubles on a run, and hadn’t changed anything about my running routine that day, so I was extremely disheartened by my tummy problems. I’m sure taking a month off of running didn’t do my body any favors, but I powered through it.

Vermont City Marathon
At the finish – so happy to be done.

Around mile 20, I not only hit the wall, but my leg started hurting again from my tendinitis. I was devastated and so conflicted about what to do. I was already 20 miles in – what was another 6, really? I alternated between walking and running, and changed my mind about continuing about a billion times. I had told myself if my leg hurt, I wouldn’t run through it, but I was already so far that I couldn’t stand the idea of not finishing. I powered through, unhappily, to the end of the race. The last few miles I was limping and barely making it through, but a magical woman offered me some fresh watermelon and it helped lift my spirits. The last mile, there was a young woman also struggling to run, so she introduced herself and asked if she could run with us to the end. As they say, misery loves company, and we were both pretty miserable.
I finished the race as strong as I could, barely breathing towards the end since I was completely overcome with so many emotions about finally finishing my first marathon. I went up to my dad and dog who were waiting for us to finish, gave them a big hug, and laid down on the ground ready to never move again. I ended up feeling absolutely horrible about 10 minutes later, with some more nausea and obviously exhaustion. I hadn’t been able to eat much for the last third of the marathon, so I was running on E and my body needed nourishment to recover. Once I got some Gatorade, water, and a banana in me, I felt like a million bucks. I got right back into the boot to prevent any more stress on my tendon, and took plenty of time off to recover and let my leg rest.

Overall, the marathon was a wonderful experience. My mom, who has rheumatoid arthritis, even ran it! It was her second marathon. So, she’s cooler than your mom. We had lots of ice cream and beer to help recover, and it was a lovely long weekend with all my favorite people. Despite what I said during the entire last 6 miles, I can’t wait to do my next marathon!

Vermont City Marathon
Me and mom celebrating our race!

Strava:
https://www.strava.com/activities/312166907

Gear:
New Balance 890v4
Garmin Forerunner 620
Ciele GoCap
Balega Socks

IT Band Issues

Ever since my Ragnar Relay, I’ve been dealing with some IT Band issues. While I understand this is a common injury, it absolutely scares the pants off me. I began running (very casually) right after I graduated high school. I was a pretty seasonal athlete – winters in Syracuse weren’t super conducive to running, but did the occasional 5k, 10k, Tough Mudder, and just generally tried to find running friends to join on the track.

Jarden Westchester Triathlon
Finishing my first triathlon in 2011.

After my junior year of college, I decided to start finally utilizing my outrageously expensive college tuition and went to the pool. My first day, I wore a bikini, didn’t have goggles or a swim cap, and just kind of flailed my arms and legs around from one side of the pool to the other. I suited up appropriately after a few days of neck pain, when one day I was approached by a guy in the lane next to me about joining the Syracuse University Triathlon Club. To make a long story short, I joined and suffered through two triathlons – one olympic and one sprint, before realizing I hated biking more than I hate broccoli. I ended up befriending the captain, Laura Beachy, who is one of the most amazing, hilarious, and wonderful human beings I’ve ever encountered. She and I became running partners and set out to run the Pittsburgh marathon.

Beachy and I trained together and kept each other accountable, no matter if we were hungover and it was 10 degrees outside. After about a month and a half of training, I started to develop IT Band issues. She ended up also injuring herself, so neither of us actually ran the Pittsburgh Marathon, but she was much more fortunate in overcoming her injury and went on to run the Umstead 100 Mile Endurance Run not too long after that. If you want an entertaining recap by a hilarious woman, I suggest you check out her Runners World article.

My IT Band issues continued for quite some time. I ended up cutting back on running much more than I’d have liked to, and went to a (horrible) physical therapy place that shall remain nameless. They basically told me to stretch and try taking time off of running, which I did for months. Then I moved to Boston for grad school and was aching to get out and explore this amazing new city with nothing but my two feet… And Google Maps, because let’s be real, Boston is confusing as hell to navigate. I tried running again with no luck, so I started to go to the Boston University Physical Therapy clinic, and haven’t been able to shake them since.

At BUPT my therapist recommended I focus on foam rolling, stretching, and strengthening exercises. He wasn’t sure if it would be enough, but didn’t want to refer me to a surgeon until we had exhausted all options. After months of PT, playing around with adjusting my stride, getting new shoes, and countless other tactics, we decided to see if a surgeon had any opinions on the matter. I saw Dr. Nicoletta at BU Sports Medicine and he realized right away that my kneecap was crooked, and I needed a lateral release. This basically consisted of him cutting through some tissue to allow my kneecap to straighten and release the tension on the outside of my knee. I got the surgery in late October of 2013, not a month before the Philadelphia Marathon, which Matt and I had signed up for together as both of our first marathons. Obviously, I didn’t run it, and I wouldn’t finish my first marathon until about a year and a half later.

Half MerryThon
Bundling up before my half marathon – it was windy and cold!

The recovery went super well – I was extremely diligent about my physical therapy appointments and home exercises, and was anxious to start distance training. It was especially difficult to watch Matt, a fairly new runner, become completely immersed in the sport I loved but was seemingly unfit to do. Watching him fall in love with distance running only made me focus more energy into my recovery so that I could join him and enjoy not only my favorite sport, but doing that sport with my favorite guy! It was a long few months of recovery, but in April I finally ran my first post-surgery race, the B.A.A. 5k. It was slow, and not completely pain free, but damn did it feel good to finally be out there again.

After that, training took off and I completed my first half marathon in December 2014, and my first marathon in May of 2015. Everything has felt great up until the Ragnar Relay a few weeks ago, and now my IT Band is irritated again. So, you can imagine why I’m absolutely terrified that this could turn into a bigger issue. For now I will ice, stretch, foam roll, cut back on my mileage, and focus on yoga. I’ve got the Marine Corps Marathon coming up in October, and my last training plan was ruined by a bout of tendinitis/bad shin splint that landed me in a boot for the month leading up to my race, so I’m going to be much more conservative with pushing myself and my body. I need to learn to listen closely to my body and learn my limits. It’s hard living with a running robot, but I have to recognize I am but a silly, injury-prone human being.

If you’ve struggled with any IT Band issues, I’d love to hear about your recovery. You never know, maybe your trick could help a gimp like me get back on the road to my next marathon!