Sunday, October 18, 2009

dealing with deferring

I guess I should have seen it coming.

After five weeks of not being able to run longer than about 3-5 miles without major pain to my right knee because of IT band issues, I've decided to defer my entry to the NYC Marathon until next year.

I'll still be able to transfer all the money I've raised for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society through Team in Training, and I'll still be able to run the race next year, but as you can probably guess, I'm pretty depressed about it.

I can only share what I've learned to hopefully help others dealing with the same thing, and of course, a few thoughts about what it means for me personally.

1. "IT Bands like rest." This was said to me the first week at practice I told my coaches about my knee/hip issues. I got a bunch of different responses from people who'd had IT issues, but this one stuck with me. With three long runs still to get in before the race, I couldn't rest--I had to keep going. But now looking back, I wish I'd just taken two solid weeks off my leg, and then tried to come back, vs. just running on it every odd day, just injuring it more.

2. Acupuncture works. Coach Ramon told me about this great sports acupuncturist Colleen Canyon. I definitely believe in Eastern medicine, but with my knee completely locked up, I was skeptical it would work. Amazingly, even after the first treatment of about 25 needles stuck directly into the parts of my knee that were hurting, I began to feel all the tension dissolve away. The next day at practice I was able to run about five miles without feeling any pain. Unfortunately I was on such a high that as soon as I did, I kept running for another mile, setting me back a lot. It continued to help my leg loosen up, but unfortunately not enough to allow me to run as long as I needed.

3. Trust yourself. This was the hardest and biggest lesson for me this time. Not wanting to give up until the very last minute, I asked just about everyone their opinion, and have literally run around going to five appointments a week to try to rehab my leg. Coaches, my physical therapist, my acupuncturist, friends, random people with IT issues. Each one had a different piece of advice. Some people told me just to keep going, that every runner has had injuries, and that if you keep training, any way you can, you'll get out there on race day and just feel enough pure adrenaline to carry you through. People who'd had IT issues told me to stop running, start rolling, and rest. How would I keep up my fitness for the race, I thought? Deep down, I knew that my body was telling me something this time around--that it wasn't going to hold up for 26.6 miles again this year. Once I finally made the decision to defer earlier this week, a weight felt lifted and I knew it was the right decision for me.

I still feel very guilty for letting everyone down who's generously donated to my running fund. And I worry that this backslide in not completing what I said I would says something, too. Like that first marathon--and my newfound resolve--was a fluke. But I do know that with a winter to rest up, and hopefully strengthen my leg, I'll go into next year's training even more reinvigorated than the first time.

Here's hoping.

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