No Excuses!

The end of March has crept up on us way too fast!  It seems like it was just yesterday that we were dealing with sub zero temperatures, snow storms and making final preparations for out Spring Training Vacation.

Now it is the end of March, vacation is over and we are finally having warmer days!  Granted it will probably be July before we see green grass and can head to the beach – but it’s a start!!

As I sit here and look back on the last month, it was definitely a roller coaster of a month.  I had some great runs, so not so great runs, shared a fabulous vacation with my
husband and some great friends… and had to face the fact that I needed to slow down and deal with an injury.

The statement above has really helped to keep me focused this month.  There were days that I had serious doubts about what I could do, questioned why I ever decided to sign up for a full marathon and was ready to just give up.  Then a statement like the one above would show up on my Facebook page or on my Twitter feed and remind me why set out on this journey.
For those of you that follow me on Facebook an/or twitter, you have seen me post about having to deal with this injury.  Any runner is prone to injury (and usually all deal with one at some time or another) and we all dread the words, “no running”… and hearing IT band is never a good thing to combine with that statement.  This was not a new injury to me.  I actually had IT band issues after the Fox Cities Half Marathon in 2012. With this race, my IT band issues were probably a direct result of trying to do too much, too fast.  I tried increasing my miles faster than I should have and thought could finish a half marathon without a lot of training – after all, I was planning on just walking most of it!  Wrong answer!  It actually took me over 7 months to feel comfortable running again. 
For those of you that are nor familiar with the IT band, yes you have one too!  In simple terms, it is a band that runs basically from your hip to your knee. It is key to helping stabilize the knee when running, biking, hiking and even weight lifting.  There are many factors that can contribute to IT band syndrome and at some point many runners end up dealing with either pain or injury that is IT band related.  
Icing my knee after my 17k in AZ

Now, 2 1/2 years later I started facing similar pain.  At first it just some minor pain after I would hit after running 8-10 miles.  I didn’t think anything of it at first and just contributed it to the slow increase in miles during my marathon training schedule.  However, when the pain would creep up on my at the gym (some days squats got the best of me) I started looking at options.  I have some awesome trainers at the gym that started doing what they could to help me with additional strength training and modifying some things to try and keep me from aggravating it even more.  After doing a few long runs and spending time with ice packs all afternoon following a long run, and having to cut a 12 mile training run short because I started feeling the pain within the first few miles (I still pushed thru and finished 6 miles) I knew I need to do something.  

Thanks to the recommendation from a trusted fellow runner and his connections, I was connected with a fabulous Physical Therapist (who is also a runner!) to help me with a treatment plan and we are starting on the road to a better me, and a future will still see me as a runner.  Over the last few weeks I have learned that my pain this time is a result of not having all of my muscles working together like they should be.  All of my muscles in my legs are strong, except my glutes.  In the words of my Physical Therapist, all of the muscles in my legs are doing all the work and my glutes are just going along for the ride.  We need to wake them up and invite them to the party!  They need to start contributing to the effort!  We have a plan and with some hard work and dedication to this training plan, I know that I can come out on the other side, pain free and a stronger runner than I am today.

In the mean time, I have had to make some modifications to my training.  One of the hardest things that I have had to do in a long time was back out of running the Dick Lytie Half Marathon last weekend out at UWGB and only run the 5k.  Yes, I was bummed that I would not run the “big” miles, but I decided that I was going to go out there and make the best of the day. No Excuses!  It ended up being a mild and sunny day.  After the long cold winter that we dealt with, it was a fabulous day to get out and run. The 5k course was a fairly flat course so the elevation change (or lack thereof) was going to be refreshing!  I knew that I didn’t want to push it too hard but still wanted to see what I could do.  I started out at a nice pace and fell into a refreshing rhythm.  When I hit the 1 mile marker I was feeling good.  It turned into a great feeling when I realized I just ran a 9 minute mile.  I kept up with the comfortable pace that I found and just rolled with it!  Before I knew it, the finish line was just ahead and it was on!  I kicked it in for that final push for the finish.

Official time = 28:37

In the end, I missed my 5k PR by only 8 seconds!  I could not believe I just did that!  It was an amazing feeling to know that I just ran one of my best 5k’s EVER!  This amazing morning has truly given me the confidence that I can get through this injury and come out stronger in the end!  It will be some hard work, but I can do it!  I have a fabulous support team of my  amazing family,  fabulous trainers at the gym, my new Physical Therapist, plus many awesome friends that continue to help me grow as a runner, keep my in check so that I don’t push myself too hard or too far and continue to encourage me to be the best that I can be.

Here is to a great 2014 and all of the adventures that will continue to come my way!  Be strong my friends!

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