It’s Saturday night and I’m finally home after a long, but busy-busy-busy, day out and about in Louisville. I have a tummy full of delicious Indian food from Shalimar, I’m fresh out of a hot shower, and I’m reveling in a day well spent.
But it was how the day started that truly set the tone. I got up, earlier than necessary, to be able to fit in my core and hip strengthening exercises. I even did a slight dynamic warm-up (with hot tea because it was pretty chilly this morning), outside of my apartment building, testing the hip flexor and seeing if it wanted to cooperate or be cranky today.
It was a little tight…mostly because it was early morning and I’d been sleeping (and I finally got some decent sleep) and it was cold. But it worked through the exercises my physical therapist got me, and I went upstairs to grab a bite before getting together all my stuff and heading to the Falls of the Ohio to go for my longest run (either outside or in) to date…since August.
5 miles used to seem like a warm-up to me. Today, it felt like it was the start of a marathon. I had butterflies in my stomach, going through every scenario of how this run might turn out. I was there, with strangers and some friends, and I knew there was only one way to find out.
I set out with the group running 4 miles…and hoped for the best. Especially since the start for us was straight up a hill. HA!
The whole time, in my head, I’m sitting there thinking…”left, right, left, right”…because I chose not to run with the metronome. I couldn’t imagine listening to that thing for 5 miles. And then it was “lift the knee, lift the knee.” And then, “This feels………OKAY!”
And so, there I was, running the Greenway and feeling like I was a runner again. My hip twinged only a few times, and that was my reminder to check my form. When the people doing 4 miles got to the turn around point, I had further to go. I needed another half mile before I got to turn around and head back. I needed 5…so there I was, leaving behind the group and striking out on my own. I had run over there before, so I knew that ahead would be a lot of desolate area. I saw 5 deer, which was awesome…but it was literally just me and a bunch of nothing. I turned around when I hit 2.5 miles and started back. Some of the run/walkers were at the water stop or just making it to the bridge as I came back that way. I rejoined everyone, got up another hill, and began running my way back to the start point.
When I hit 4 miles…I knew that I was now in uncharted territory. I had run 4 miles of hills the past two Tuesday nights…and I am pretty much crippled at the end of those runs for the next two (2) days…forcing me onto a treadmill for any scheduled mileage to simply take the pounding off my joints and body. I drew in a breath and set my feet to work…now really making a conscious effort to focus on my form. I wasn’t about to break into a limp, which is what happens after I stop running hills. (NOTE: My physical therapist wants me running hills, because it activates the muscles in my hip that don’t want to work together). And then…I got back to the starting tent and I stopped my watch. I started walking to cool down a little and…no limp. No pain. NO PAIN!
PERFECT NEGATIVE SPLITS! Yep…perfect. And I wasn’t even trying. I was just running by feel.
I did all my stretches and plyometric exercises assigned to me by my physical therapist. Still felt good.
But, I do think that the crowning moment was when Deana came in at the halfway point of her run and saw me. She stopped and asked if I was done and how it went…then gave me a hug and said the thing that has stuck with me through the entire day:
“We’re going to get through this!! We are going to get through this!”
As she has been dealing with nagging injuries as well, hearing it said to me by someone who understands…by someone who has not only encouraged…but inspired me…pushed me…and knows exactly what I am going through…I believed it. And it was what I needed.
So, thank you, Deana. And thank you to everyone on these training runs. I change my program at the start of February…making it a little more challenging, but without stepping it up too much too soon.
I’m cautious these days…and I’m okay with that.
I’m out. And I’m running. And that’s what matters right now.
I’m going to get through this.