Sunday, November 6, 2016

Jess Goes Running: The Last Two Months

Hi!  Well, here we are... two months after my last Chicago Marathon training run, two months after I deferred my marathon entry to 2017.  I am surprised at how quickly the time has flown by between then and now.  Undoubtedly, a lot has happened, too!  Both in my personal life and my running life.  That's part of why I've been so quiet around here--and I definitely have a lot to catch up on!  I think I've also been just trying to process the events of summer and training and the recurrence of my injury.

The exciting thing is, I feel like I'm coming out on the other side of this whole thing!  You see, after I deferred my marathon entry, I still had a few weeks before my scheduled ultrasound.  I definitely wasn't doing any running... and work was hard.  I was in pain despite everything I was doing to curb it and it was rough.  I knew I had made the right decision in stopping my training but it was still a difficult thing for me to deal with.  It was hard to go from being incredibly physically active to virtually doing nothing so... I bought a bike!  This is something that Tom has been wanting me to do for a while and I figured that I finally had the perfect opportunity.  I LOVE it and I'm so happy I made the purchase.  More on that later!

At the end of the month, I had my ultrasound.  This was scheduled for the day after the Chicago Half Marathon, which I had also signed up for and also had to skip.  I was really sad to not be participating in it, as I really love the race.  However, I was incredibly excited to go down and cheer on Tom, who was running his very first half marathon race, and my training buddy V. who was also running it in preparation for Chicago.  I will admit that I was a little sad after I said goodbye to Tom and headed over to my spot in the middle of Lake Shore Drive, right near mile 4/mile 13.  However, it ended up being a really beautiful day, and Tom ran a great race, and I really enjoyed the day!

The ultrasound the next day revealed that I have a chronic partial tear in my left plantar fascia.  Really bad plantar fasciitis.  I was a mess during the week and a half leading up to the doctor's appointment where I received this diagnosis, and I was both relieved that it wasn't something worse and upset and scared by the reality of having a chronic injury.  I was given two options for treating this injury and I went with the one that I thought was better for me--physical therapy.  I called and set up my first appointment at Atlhetico for two days after the Chicago Marathon.

That day, race day, arrived more quickly than I thought it would.  Initially I wasn't sure how I wanted to handle the day.  I was dealing with some serious sadness and regret that I couldn't be out there.  Part of me really wanted to stay home.  But Tom and I ended up riding our bikes to watch the race at mile 8, and I was so very glad that we did it.  It was a beautiful morning!  And really so inspiring to be there watching the runners.  It gave me hope for 2017 and my future as a runner.  We got donuts and coffee and watched the marathon pace tracker app to keep an eye on my friend V. and a few other fellow runner friends.  Being able to give V. a high five when she passed by and to cheer her on made everything worth it--I was so happy that I could be there and see her!

After a bit, we got back on our bikes and headed over to the Lakefront Trail.  It was SUCH a gorgeous day.  We wanted to watch some of the marathon on the south end of the course, near the end, but we were obstructed by an unfinished pedestrian bridge over LSD.  Instead, we continued to ride around, checked out Northerly Island, and eventually made our way up to Pizzeria Uno for deep dish pizza and beers.  I came home that day feeling totally at peace and ready for whatever might happen as I forged on.

I was prescribed to go to PT twice a week for three weeks.  I was nervous but excited to start... also perhaps a little skeptical that it would be enough time.  However, I knew I had to go into it with an open mind and a willingness to do the work.  My physical therapist O. and I determined two goals for my treatment: to be able to work without pain and to start running again.  Ultimately, I found PT to be incredibly beneficial in my recovery!  First off, I had a lot of work done on my foot by way of deep tissue massage and muscle scraping to promote healing.  She and I also determined that I have weaknesses in my hips and in my left leg in general--and all of these things are connected!  So I was given exercises to help strengthen all of these areas and to improve my foot as well.

At the end of three weeks, O. and I determined that I'd had an almost total recovery in my range of motion and in the strength of my foot.  I'll admit I was a little surprised by this revelation.  I had been able to tell over the three weeks of PT that I was improving, but I didn't really realize how much until O. gave me the okay to try some running.  I started off very slowly--we're talking five minutes on the treadmill--but it was something!  On the last day of October, five minutes turned into two miles and I ran for the first time since August 28th.

It certainly was not my fastest run.  I could tell that I have lost fitness since my training came to a halt.  But I did it, I got out there and I ran and I made it happen.  It felt good to be out there, feet hitting the pavement, to be doing something that I love so deeply.  I continued the trend by going for a three (yes, three!) mile run yesterday.  I also went to the gym today.  Best part is that I haven't been in any pain.  I have been sore, and I am taking it easy on myself and not pushing it too hard.  It is clear to me that I have and am accomplishing the goals I set out for myself in PT--to work without pain, which has been a reality of mine since about halfway through my treatment, and to run again.  

So as I was saying before, the end of the three weeks, O. released me from her care and I officially graduated from physical therapy!  Got a t-shirt and everything.  I saw my doctor in a follow-up appointment, and he was incredibly pleased with my progress and happy to see that PT had worked for me.  He told me to keep up with the exercises I had been given, and said that I will probably always have to be vigilant; plantar fasciitis, especially the degree to which I have been experiencing it, can pop up at any time.  It's very possible that I will go a long time without any issues.  However, if I do find myself experiencing pain and issues again, all I have to do is go back to my doctor and he'll send me back to PT.  

I am confident in myself and my abilities, and I will do the work to keep myself healthy.  I might not be able to push myself as hard as I could before in my running (at least not yet) but I can get out there and I can reclaim that part of myself.  I am planning on signing up for the Chicago Marathon for 2017, as I have a guaranteed entry and see no reason to try again especially as I know what I can do to have a stronger training session next year.  In the meantime, I have signed up for the Evanston Flying Turkey 5K, my first race since the 4th of July 5K in Lincolnshire.  So excited to have something to work towards!  I'm also looking at races and very, very tentatively starting to plan my race schedule.  In addition to this, I'm ready to start hitting the gym again, not only for cardio and strength training, but also for yoga!  Hoping that will keep me motivated over the winter.  I am feeling refocused and refreshed.  I am so much more aware of my abilities and what I need to do to keep myself healthy and strong.  It's good to be back!

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