With just 10 weeks until Ironman Louisville, you'd probably laugh if I told you my Sunday long run was 4 miles. I, however, couldn't be more thankful.
Exactly 6 weeks ago, months of consistent training came to a rather sudden stop. My Sunday long runs had been progressing nicely and I finished a 2 hour run satisfied with my pacing and nutrition. Monday I noticed some soreness in my right hip that felt muscular. I flew to Providence for a conference that night and on Tuesday morning hit the treadmill for my weekly 10k pace tempo intervals. My hip was still a bit sore, but after a mile warmup, it felt normal. Things changed on Wednesday when I woke up with an achy sore hip that was particularly painful each time it extended when walking. Still thinking it was muscular, I attempted to run an easy 5 miles with a friend that night. Again, it was sore, but seemed to improve the further I ran. Little did I know, that would be the last time I ran for 6 weeks. Later that night the benign ache became a pain in the front of my hip each time I took a step. It was an eerily familiar pain that ironically dates back 8 years ago when I first began training for triathlons.
|2008 Ironman Florida 70.3|
My debut race in the swim-bike-run world
|The dreaded black line in a location that isn't so benign.|
Flash-forward now to 6 weeks ago, and that exact pain of past injury was fresh in my mind. Each step I took hurt, pushing off the wall in the pool hurt, and if I tried to stand on the bike and climb it hurt. Running was a definite no go. At that point, x-rays and an MRI were the next logical step, but I couldn't fathom spending $1500+ (not even doctors have good insurance!) for a confirmation of a diagnosis that I already felt confident about. So, I did as I knew I had to with a presumed femoral neck stress fracture - I stopped running. For a very long 6 weeks.
At that point, Ironman Louisville was 4+ months away, but even still I hated to think about the potential that I'd never make it to the starting line. Training had been going so well and I had high hopes for my second-go at the Ironman distance. After a week of rest, I was back in the pool and on the bike, determined to use the opportunity to strengthen those disciplines. Training remained consistent, averaging 15 hours per week, and two back-to-back weekends with 100+ mile bikes boosted my confidence in the sport I consider my weakness. Sunday long-runs were replaced with a second long bike each weekend, and I tried not to dwell on the fact that I couldn't enjoy the pain of a post-bike run with my friends and training partners. I was diligent about strength training and recovery to rehab this injury and prevent another. And most importantly, I tried to ignore the voices in my head questioning my ability to finish an Ironman after missing 6 weeks of running.
|Conquering a very hot 100 mile ride|
This past week marked 5 weeks of no running, and my hip had been pain free with all activities for almost 2 weeks. In my mind, it was time to start running again. On Monday I ran a slow 2 miles, and loved every minute of it. Thursday brought yet another successful run of 2 miles. Finally, on Sunday I decided to push the distance a bit while maintaining a very conservative pace. With each step I was paranoid that the pain would return with the next stride, potentially sidelining my running yet again. But, I finished 4 pain-free miles at 9 minute pace smiling ear to ear, so thankful to be lacing up my running shoes and hitting the pavement yet again.
So race day is a mere 10 weeks from yesterday and there's a bit of a difference between running 4 miles and running a marathon. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't nervous about how the rest of my training will go. For now, though, I'm focused on one week at a time. Small increases in mileage and careful attention to recovery will hopefully get me to the starting line in Louisville with a pain-free hip that's ready to tackle 140.6 miles and cross the finish line to hear - "Crystal Perkins, you're an Ironman!"