Thursday, October 18, 2012

One mile? More like one leg raise.

Many people knew I was training for a marathon last spring, and while probably more than a handful of people had very little faith that I'd actually get there, well you're right, but not for the reasons you probably think...

I was always one of those people who thought it'd be cool to run. I'm what I like to call athletically challenged, but for some reason running just didn't seem like a bad idea. Of course when it came down to actually doing it there was always an excuse. I need shoes, I need work out clothes, I need, I need, I need. But when I got the awesome running shoes and the flexible clothes that embrace a running lifestyle, it really came down to being utterly embarrassed that I was 25  and had no clue where to start.

I joined to keep track of all my efforts and was directed to Hal Higdon's marathon training guide. I got a gym membership for the first time in my life and actually used it. I did a 10K and a 5K with decent results considering I'd only had a few weeks to train for each. Then I moved to Pittsburgh and there was another obsticle in my way. Mountains. I think they call them hills here, but I'm from Oklahoma, so they're definitely mountains.

Nate and I found a gym to join here right after the New Year and I began training for the Pittsburgh Marathon almost immediately. I logged runs, followed my schedule, made up playlists to get me through that boring treadmill workout when the weather was bad. My longest runs were always followed by text messages to my closest friends and posts on Facebook bragging about my latest accomplishment.

I completed my 12 mile run, but when it came to my half marathon distance of 13.1 miles, I was unable to get even half-way through. My ankle and left knee were in a lot of pain. I tried walking it out, tried doing some weights and some shorter runs, but even backing off didn't seem to help. We figured it was just too much too soon. Going from no activity to full on marathon training in less than six months is pretty intense. By the middle of March it was obvious I wasn't going to be able to bounce back from whatever this was and finish training in time for the race, so I transferred my registration into Nathan's name.

The next several months were filled with anything besides physical activity while I tried to give my joints a rest. Once July hit I was pretty stir crazy, so we hit the gym doing weights to strengthen up my leg muscles before getting back into running, figuring that's where we'd gone wrong. However, a month later I still couldn't get through a two mile run without a lot of pain in my left knee.

That's when we decided I actually needed to see a doctor. Chondromalacia patellae is what the othopedist diagnosed. Basically the cartillage under my knee cap was irritated because the muscles on the outer side were stronger than those on the inner side and it was pulling my knee cap out of its correct placement. Cure? A few months of physical therapy, which entailed strenghtening exercises, ice, electronic stimulation, and taping of the knee. Oh, and absolutely no running.

So far I'm about six weeks into my therapy and I'm noticing little differences. Of course the exercises are moving the knee cap back into position, which again irritates that cartillage, so until it's in the correct placement, I'm going to continue having significant pain. I continue to walk up stairs one at a time (having been told that stairs are a definite no-no), I don't go to the movies since prolonged sitting in the same position is also uncomfortable, but I have been cleared to ride a bicycle, and I'm not having pain every day.

So the new game plan? Pittsburgh Marathon 2013 hopefully! My physical thereapist says I'm at least half way through my therapy, measuring the movement with each session. She's been increasing the intensity and difficulty of my exercises rapidly, knowing that stir craziness (and well, money) is a definite factor. We've already got a new marathon training schedule in mind; one that is at a very low intensity so as to ease into it this time.

The future is bright. By this time next year, I'll most likely have completed one marathon and started training for a second. I'd really like to do the OKC Memorial Marathon in 2014, but we'll see...

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