Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Vermont 50K Race Report

So we just got back form Vermont for the 50K trail run. Unfortunately I wasn't able to run as I have what I believe is a stress fracture in my foot. More on that in the next post, but wanted to give Linda a chance to relate her amazing experience. She did an awesome job in really bad conditions, and we're really proud of her!

Jamie has asked me to do a debriefing of the VT 50K since sadly he was unable to participate:( I am two days past the event and emotionally and physically wasted. A lot of physical, mental and time management (having three kiddo's under 7) went into this event.

I have never considered myself an athlete. I ran a mile for the first time back in college: to the 1/2 mile marker at the Blvd. and back Yipeee!!! From there went on to do a couple 5k's, 10k's and eventually a Marathon in 2000. In your 20's it's amazing how easy this is, as your body can take a ton of abuse and still keep going with very little injury.

Fast forward nine years and three kids later. I had no core strength to hold my pelvis together. Between that and hormones everything would just clunk out of place. I went to a great physical therapist to learn how to strengthen my core, and with the help from my wonderful husband I was able to get my body back into balance. Last year I had dabbled in triathlons, doing two sprints, one olympic and two half marathons. Still was having left hip /knee issues- I felt fit not stellar- lower middle of the pack finisher -that's okay still breast-feeding. Over the winter Jamie and I started to hear more and more about trail running and we became intrigued. We signed up for the Pineland 25K-loved it!!!

These events are perfect for me: endurance, mother nature, and cookies at the aid stations. However my whole left lower side of my body wasn't so happy. Hello ITB-you suck! So began my further education into the world of single-legged bridges, planks of all shapes and sizes, CORE, hip flexor stretches and barefoot running. I'm not saying my body is perfect (nope) or super strong (it helps that I am married to sports chiropractor) but she done good in Vermont!

Whenever we test ourselves or dare to climb out of our boxes, we journey and grow. This was my Odyssey! The self-doubt I had going into this plagued me for two weeks with insomnia, irritability and irritable bowel right up to packet pick-up when I thought I was still a fake and some how these people can tell. I slept well Sunday night, thanks to the Harpoon Brewery and a great talk with Jamie that boiled down to: It is my choice to do this. It's my choice to be here and participate. So buck up; be present and do it. And that is what I chose to do.

We woke up to rain and temp's in the low 50's. Six hundred mountain bikers and about 100 50 milers had hit the trails before we started. The mud was so deep you were in danger of losing your shoe. Many times we had to walk because running was too dangerous. A smart-aleck friend had told me prior to the race not to worry, that Vermont is mostly all downhill (I'm not going to say much more on that topic.) Between the rain, mud, and cold, I didn't get warm until mile 27.

And guess what... I loved every minute- actually all 8hrs and 42 minutes of it. My body was strong and she held up for me. By choosing to be there and be present today I am an athlete....... Until that next darn box comes!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Plantar Fascitis: In the Beginning...

Had an interesting experience observing the beginnings of a potential case of plantar fascitis. Since it happened to Linda I know all the details and she doesn't mind if relay the story.

When we first started training for our upcoming 50K, she was coming off of a left hip injury that essentially boiled down to having had three kids in five years with resultant pelvic instability. Hard work on her part in getting her core strong had for the most part put that issue to rest.

The one residual issue from that injury was some remaining weakness of her left foot (specifically tibialis posterior, one of the main arch supporters.) She had been working on strengthening the foot, and even listened to her wacky husband and done some barefoot running. Unfortunately not enough to get the foot where it needed to be relative to the miles she was logging. Consequently she developed some shin splints on that left side (irritation of the flexor digitorum muscle, which in my mind compensates for the weak tibialis posterior.) Fortunately this seemed to settle down fairly quickly with some aggressive treatments (anyone receiving an elbow massage to their shin splints can thank Linda for being the guinea pig on that one... she said if she were a patient of mine she would have kicked me and never have come back... but hey what can I say- it worked.)

The next thing to happen a week later was pain on the bottom of her (you guessed it: left) heel. She described it to me as this sequence: after doing a longer run while we were on vacation, she hopped in the car for a several hour drive home. She could feel things locking up (see the last post, 'Everything is Connected.') Subsequently some of her old pelvic issues resurfaced, and she could feel her entire left side down through the hip, hamstring, and calf tighten up. Some of this feeling remained on her next run, and then bingo: the next morning she had heel pain in the classic plantar fascitis location.

At that point we decided that now wasn't the time for her to be transitioning to minimal, less supportive shoes, that she just needed to do what she had to do to get through to the race. So she found some Saucony trail shoes that were more supportive. These couple with getting things rebalanced and the calf opened up seem to be doing the trick.

For me it was interesting seeing all this play out. Usually seeing someone once a week I wouldn't quite get every....single.....teeny.....weeny....itty.....bitty.... last detail of an injury like this, on a moment by moment basis. But hey, if we can all learn from this, then its all good.

So what did we learn?

1. Everything is connected.
2. Address your imbalances before training for distance (or speed.)
3. Watch out for long drives in the car, especially right before or after a long run.
4. Make sure that if you are making changes to your gait and/ or level of support from your shoes, you did it over a long, gradual period. (Just because your husband may have freakishly strong feet doesn't mean yours necessarily are.)
5. A marriage apparently can survive both training for a 50K at the same time, so long as that foot gets fixed!