With one final 20 mile run left in my training I felt pretty good about how things were going in the lead-up to my first marathon, the 2008 Philadelphia Marathon. I had just finished a solid triathlon season and I was feeling strong and ready to run fast in my first 26.2 mile race. Nothing was going to slow me down, well that was until I attempted my final 20 miler three weeks before race day.
The run started off well. I was living in Tipp Hill and I was running hills a lot. I had a pretty tough course for my final long run with most of the harder hills coming the first half of the run. I was practicing my nutrition and pacing for the race and feeling pretty good about the pace I was able to hold. Then it was if someone had taken a bat and swung as hard as they could striking the side of my knee. I felt a pain of which I had never felt before. It was a debilitating pain that hurt so much that the slightest bit of pressure sent my whole leg into a frenzy. I tried to walk it off and then jog again. Nope. It wasn’t going to work. Every step made the pain worse.
I’m a stubborn guy, but I had a feeling this pain was going to be hard to run through. I had to walk eight miles home every step hurting more than the previous one. I was scared that I was causing more damage with every second I was dragging my body towards home.
When I finally did get home it was right to the freezer for ice and then the medicine cabinet for some Ibuprofen. Later that I day I saw an actual bruise around my knee. It felt horrible to walk up and down stairs. It felt even worse to sit and then stand again. I needed to figure out how to get rid of this pain and back on track. My mind went right to a remedy that helped me when my sciatic nerve was giving me a lot of trouble three years beforehand. A healthy dose of massage and chiropractic visits.
Two weeks and three massage and chiropractic visits later I was able to run again, but I was nervous. I could run three miles without pain, but what about 26.2? I played the cautious card and wore my Brooks Adrenaline’s . A little heavier shoe than I wanted, but they had the stability and support I needed to make sure my knee pain stayed in check. Every mile of the marathon was a victory for me. I was feeling better as I went and I started to believe that the knee would hold up and I would stay pain free. I managed to make it the whole way without incident and ran a good time for my first marathon.
Why do I bring this story up?…Well this past Saturday I started feeling some knee pain in the same spot I did back in 2008. It was at the same point in my training too. Again, I had to skip my final 20 miler for fear that I might end-up having to walk half the run again. I decided to play it safe and take the whole day off. I ran well the next day, but felt some pain up and down stairs and while walking uphill. So I’m going to head this issue off before it becomes a real problem. I’m going to rotate bike rides and runs instead of just running every day. It’s moments like these that I realize that I’m not a runner anymore. I’m a triathlete and my body likes the variety and the variety keeps my body healthy. It just stinks that it take situations like these to remind me of this. We’ll see what happens in the next two weeks, but a new race plan may be in order if the pain doesn’t fully go away by then.