When Heart Break Hill Comes Early– And How I’m Coping With It.

So sometimes the only way my body can get in attention is to make it come to a screeching halt.  That is exactly what it did a few weeks ago.  I had been running beautifully, feeling strong and lean and mean (okay–not mean–but fast!).  As I prepared to go on a long weekend trip to see my girl in Juneau, I decided I would front load my heaviest work during the week so I could enjoy some relaxed runs and hikes with my friend.  Monday–I ran 10 miles with the stroller and then did a 3 mile VO2 Max workout in the evening.  I was still tired from the previous week.  Tuesday, I ran 6.25 miles to a boot camp in a park, did a ton of sprints, and then ran the 6.25 miles home.  Wednesday, I ran again.  The whole time I was thinking, “hm, my pelvis area does not feel so hot…” but I ran on.  By Thursday I was walking.  My hamstring, gluteus, and hip flexor nagged at me all weekend (but I still got to do some hiking in beautiful AK!) and by the time I got back to Tacoma on Monday I was feeling like trying to run.  Monday–8 miles…Monday night. HELL.

I love this lady.  We met in Korea.  We've adventured on 3 continents together.  I finally got to visit her in her beautiful home.  I LOVED Juneau.

I love this lady. We met in Korea. We’ve adventured on 3 continents together. I finally got to visit her in her beautiful home. I LOVED Juneau.

Emily has celebrity status in Juneau so she was able to hook up a helicopter ride to the glacier!  HOW COOL IS THAT?  It was pretty amazing.

Emily has celebrity status in Juneau so she was able to hook up a helicopter ride to the glacier! HOW COOL IS THAT? It was pretty amazing.

I called Jannine–a bit frantic– “I’ll do anything!  Fix it, please!!!!” She speculated some tearing–probably inevitable as my body adjusts to my new post surgery stride and as I up my work load.  Rest (the hardest), stretching, heat, massage, acupuncture and PRP therapy were recommended.  This all went down 3 weeks before the beloved Wild Woman Marathon I was feeling so prime time to run.  Now, I’m just trying to get my body feeling decent to run in Cape Town.

Here’s the good news–the PRP injection in my glutes was successful.  My right ass cheek was SOOOO swollen for about 8 hours after (I looked like a one sided J-Lo).  The pain deep in my bum seems to have subsided.  Really, the only culprit now is the hamstring pain.  Its moderate or maybe moderate to severe if I push it too much. I go back and forth between completely laying off it to alternating running and walking days.  Mentally, its a real struggle.  Running keeps me sane.  Really.

The other day on one of my walks, I was listening to the Nomeatathlete podcast.  He was interviewing the founder of Altra–the incredible zero drop, foot shaped shoes I run in and love so much.  The dude is an ultra runner and has worked with a lot of athletes.  Something he said made me laugh out loud/feel better about the fact that I overtrained and ended up with an ouchie.  He said that one of the reasons runners get hurt is because we are hardwired to over train.  Runners–ecspecially ultra runners–love to run.  Most of us are probably addicted to running, in fact.  There is only so much a coach can do–work on form, muscle imbalances, making the perfect training plan, but chances are we’re going to over train because we are sick in the head–I mean constantly challenging our boundaries and looking for that sweet sweet runners high.  So there you have it– I can’t be blamed for over training.  Its just part of running.

Here’s what this little bout of injury has taught me:

1) Slow the heck down Melissa.  Leif is growing up so fast.  Lately, he does not want to stay in the stroller.  “I do! I do!” he proclaims as he wiggles out of the straps and jumps out. Today, he walked a portion of 5 mile drive and then later took off barefoot down the trail when I told him it was time to leave the playground and go home.  A quarter mile later, I convinced him we could watch Fireman Sam for a bit if we went home.  At first I was frustrated with him for disrupting my plan.  But then I was like, “MY KID WANTS TO RUN! HELL YEAH!”

Reality Check-- who the heck cares if I miss a couple miles? He was so happy.

Reality Check– who the heck cares if I miss a couple miles? He was so happy.

These two buddies.

These two buddies.

2) I get to walk with my non-running friends!  I miss walks with the neighbors and their sweet pups.

3) I’m rethinking training.  I’m in the pool using the pull bouy and getting a great upper body workout, I’ve developed a full body strength and flexibility workout that is runner specific and hits on my weak areas (ahem–glutes), I’ve committed to a pre and post run warm up, core and stretch routine.

4)  I’m rethinking goals.  Racing is a lot of pressure.  To pay money and then hope that I’m “on” for race day is pretty anxiety provoking. Sure, racing can be fun and a great way to measure progress but I’m really not in love with it.  Solo runs and runs with a friend are where it is at for me.  Instead of having a goal race, I think I’m going to come up with some really gorgeous, challenging trails I’d like to cover.  Maybe some short ones but mostly some longer runs…maybe even some multi-day races (Although I won’t be pulling a Scott Jurek and running the Application Trail any time soon–but maybe a portion of it in the next few years?).  This allows me to do things as my body is ready and to listen and adjust accordingly.

5)  I’m focusing on nutrition.  I haven’t cut out all treats but I’m hitting the fruits and smoothies even harder than normal.  I just got my body to a place it feels strong and lean.  I don’t want to lost it after all the hard work!  Still, I’m reminding myself that I’m not going to turn to mush with a few weeks off and that I can work my way back quickly.

In other news:  My brother is getting married 10 days.  Leif and I are both in the wedding so the next week will be a whirlwind of bridesmaids brunches, nails, hair, makeup, rehearsals, and getting down with our bad selves on the dance floor.  Oh yes, and packing for Cape Town because I leave the day after the wedding.  I’m stoked. I’m scared out of my mind to leave Leif for 2 weeks.   I’m worried my body will still hurt.  But I’m mostly stoked.

When I return from South Africa, I plan to soak in the last month of summer with my family and prepare for my new venture in home schooling one of the girls I currently tutor.  We’ve already transformed our downstairs bedroom into a an adorable little classroom.

Life is good. But please, send healing thoughts to my lower limbs.  Pray the PRP therapy is successful on Friday night and that my body uses the platelets to heal.  Sometimes it feels selfish to ask for healing energy and prayers over such a minor thing. But to me it is more than just a bum leg.  Running is a huge part of my spirituality and emotional well being.