Training for the Mississippi Blues Marathon was going very well for about 10 weeks. I was increasing mileage properly and feeling pretty good about my effort. Somewhere around late October, when the weather was beginning to change, the problem started. It had been raining and I was walking to work in a pair of worn but still serviceable dress shoes. There is really no tread to speak of whatsoever on these shoes and I slipped. My left foot slipped forward in an attempt to put me into the splits but I managed to find purchase and stop the slide. Unfortunately, it was a very abrupt stop and I felt something in my lower left quad pinch. I didn't think much of it. As a matter of fact, I forgot about it. I continued on with my day, continued running, and continued teaching Body Pump. The leg felt sore but that is pretty much par for the course when you are training for a marathon. It wasn't until I slipped again (same shoes, same slip and catch) that I felt the muscle pull a little bit, reminding me how this first started.
By the middle of November, I was up to a 15 mile long run. For whatever reason, I didn't get the run in on a Saturday like normal so I decided that I would get up a couple hours earlier than normal on Monday and get as much of it done as possible and finish the rest after work. My alarm went off at 3:00 am, I rolled out of bed, and got out the door. I managed to get 10 miles in by 5:30 when I had to be home getting ready for the day. I felt fine - a little sore but happy that I had managed to get the miles in. Five miles after work would be no problem. The day progressed like usual and by 5 pm I was out the door again; this time with Michelle. By the end of the first mile, I was feeling my quad worse than I ever had. By mile 1.5 I was walking more than running and by mile 2 I was limping and knew that something was wrong. Michelle was kind enough to turn around and run home to get the car. I walked almost another mile before she made it back to pick me up. How frustrating. I knew that I was going to have to rest more than I wanted. I was worried about how I was going to make up the missed training. First, I stopped doing squats and lunges - at least with a weighted bar. The pain started to subside but every time I would try to do more or run a little bit, I would feel enough pain to make me stop. I had no interest in getting seriously injured so I began to tape my quad and go to ART at Adair Chiropractic. I am not sure ART did much but it was better than doing nothing. By the beginning of December, I was feeling better and tried to get back on track for the marathon. The first Saturday in December, I went out for a 14 miler but pulled up at mile 11 barely able to walk. Now I am really frustrated. My quad wasn't as bad as it had been during my last long run but now my ankles were on fire. As I have tried to analyze why that was the case, I dismissed the idea that I needed new shoes - mine had less than 120 miles on them. The only thing I can think of was that I had unwittingly changed my running gait due to an increasingly painful bunionette on my right foot. I didn't get it look at because I had heard that you needed surgery to remove them and I didn't want to be out of commission for an extended period of time (not necessarily true by the way). When I got home and finished feeling sorry for myself, I told Michelle that I didn't think there was anyway I could run a marathon. She suggested that I change my registration to the half marathon which I did after some hesitation. Part of me wanted to push on and do the marathon but another part of me wanted to hang up my running shoes and just be done with it. Since I was pretty much trained up for a half at this point in time, I decided to go ahead and do it. My feet continued to hurt although my quad was responding fairly well to being constantly taped and a reduced running schedule.
Race day finally approached. January 9th dawned rainy but the temps were in the upper 50's to lower 60's. Thunder storms were forecast so I was a little worried that the race might be delayed or even worse, cancelled. Jackson is, after all, and 11 hour drive from Iowa City. Start time came with a drizzle and no lightning so we were off. I tossed by cheapo disposable rain jacket by about the half mile mark the rain stopped altogether by mile 2. There was only one hill in the first three miles and it wasn't too bad. However, by mile 4, the hills started coming and didn't really stop for the rest of the race. I was impressed by the organization of the race. The course, other than being hilly, was well thought out and carefully monitored by a bunch of volunteers. I finished about 30 minutes slower than my PR but considering all the problems I had been having which led to a breakdown in training, I couldn't be too upset. One of the big things I will not be doing next time is taping my ankles. I apparently didn't tape them correctly and my feet ached the entire race. Actually, my feet ached for nearly a week afterward.
The rain nearly held off for Michelle. She was at mile 18 when a thunderstorm hit with torrential rain. Thankfully, it moved off quickly and by the time she hit mile 24, it was sunny and warming up nicely.
I finally got the bunionette removed last week and was pleasantly surprised at how easy and painless the procedure was. I have been walking pain free all week for the first time in months. Time to strap the running shoes back on and get back out there.