Run Doodle Run

The long road to 26.2


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Ortho Update

After last week’s hill workout and Saturday’s hilly long run, I had been feeling a bit of pressure in my tibia. I had a similar issue for a hot second last year, but I really didn’t want to mess with it this time seeing as I’m, you know, training for my first marathon.

I decided to take this week easy (e.g. spending a lot of time wearing running shoes while not actually running) and set up an appointment with the ortho just out of paranoid caution. My ortho is kind of a big deal and wasn’t available until the end of next week, so I met with one of her colleagues this morning. He did all of the usual manual tests to see if any of them made me end up on the ceiling, but no dice. He did find an area of tenderness which he’s slightly concerned about, so we had x-rays done to see if there are any underlying injuries to the bone that might just be getting aggravated (for the uninitiated, a new stress fracture won’t show up on an x-ray until it’s well into the healing phase), but nothing there either. Yay!!

On a side note, my calf muscles look seriously amazing in x-ray form. 😉

So he’s about 85-90% confident that it is not a stress fracture, but he can’t completely rule it out just yet because of one of the medications I’m on.

The good doctor then gave me the option of either self-monitoring (because runners are sooo good at self-imposed rest and restraint) or going to a short stint of PT, mainly to use the Alter G. Um, duh – Alter G always wins. I love that thing.

So I start PT this Friday 🙂 They’re probably going to work on loosening some tight muscles and keeping an eye on that area while I log some miles on the Alter G. Unfortunately, my PT is no longer with this group, but fortunately, this group opened up a location with an Alter G half an hour closer to my home. Kinda bummed that I have to get to know a new PT, but I’m super excited about not having to drive allllllll the way downtown twice a week.

Let’s just hope this blip is just that – a blip – and that the rest of the summer will go smoothly! 🍀

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First run!

I finally got in my first run today!

Okay, so it was more of an asterisk kinda run. I met with a PT today for a running evaluation to see if we can get to the root of my problems. I was poked and prodded and measured and bent every which way and then had some strategic dots attached to me for running analysis. He had me run barefoot and shod. Interestingly enough, when barefoot, I run with much more of a forefoot strike – I actually land toe-heel rather than heel-toe. I’ve never run barefoot before so that was definitely an experience. As this was my first real run post-injury we kept it short, only about .3 miles or so.

It turns out my problems come from a hip imbalance. My pelvis isn’t aligned properly and my hip doesn’t move symmetrically when running. We are going to work on strengthening my hips, glutes, and core, and he’s basically going to re-teach me how to run. It works out well because having been off for so long the “bad” habits are less prevalent. Another component of that is increasing my foot strike.

Then, came the fun part. Have you ever heard of the Alter-G? It’s quite possibly the coolest piece of technology I’ve seen in a long time. You have to don some wonky clown pants for it, but you zip yourself in and the thing, which is basically a big bubble-covered treadmill, inflates and actually reduces your weight load. It’s great for post-injury recovery. And it made me feel like I could have run for hours. He had me run a mile at 60% body weight at a 10:10 pace (pretty fast for me) and a 159 cadence. All those years of marching band are paying off! It took about two seconds for my mind to remember how to follow a metronome and move my feet accordingly. Now if only they could make a mobile version of that contraption to use in races…

I go for Alter-G sessions and PT twice a week for the next month, then I should be able to run outdoors again. I am allowed (and expected) to keep doing non-impact cardio and strength training on my own. I’m a little bummed that I can’t run outdoors yet, but if know it’s for the best. And the Alter-G is super fun.


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Moving forward!

I visited with ortho #2 today. When ortho #1 said I may have to give up running because of this stress fracture, I immediately called for a second opinion. I don’t like “never.” The appointment was very positive – she wants me to progress slowly, strictly following the 10% rule, which is admittedly going to be hard, but she said as long as I don’t have pain during or after, keep moving forward. If there is pain, stop and re-evaluate. I’m going to keep working out on the elliptical through turkey day, and then will add running in after that, starting with a modified couch-to-5k style program.

She warned about the possibility of perpetual stress fractures, which definitely could sideline me permanently, but that as long as I am cautious I should be good. She also told me about the alter-g treadmill. Anyone heard of that or used one? It sounds like it’s basically a treadmill with an adult-sized bouncy harness hanging above it to reduce your weight and therefore your impact while running. I’m not sure I’m going to make an appointment for it, but it sounds pretty cool! They also have a PT who is a marathoner who could study my running form and let me know if there’s anything that needs to be changed to prevent future injury. I am contemplating setting up a consultation with him. It may be more time and money now, but hopefully it’ll help prevent future injuries (and costs!!) in the future. As much as I like the orthos and PTs I’ve met over the years, I’d really rather not see them.

But enough about that – now for the fun stuff! With her blessing, I registered for a St. Patty’s day 5k! I am so incredibly excited to get back to training and cannot wait to run this race. I ran it in 2009 and it was tons of fun. It starts out downhill and then runs around the harbor before finishing with a huge party! My dad ran it with me last time and will be training for it this year again.


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The bib I will never get to wear, take II…

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Went down to DC to get my packet for the Army Ten Miler today – and got another reminder of how maddening this stress fracture has been. I have been looking forward to this race for about five years now, and this is the second time I have registered and DNSed it 😦

The expo at least was enjoyable and pretty empty, so it was possible to actually look around and not feel super rushed. Got lots of free water bottles!

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I am planning on completing 10 miles in some upright fashion on Sunday, even if I have to be on the elliptical through the entire Ravens game (and judging by the way they’ve been playing lately it might be a better use of my time). I know I should be happy that I’m healing and working on making myself stronger for the long run (ha, no pun intended), but that’s just so damn difficult to appreciate right now when all I want to do is complete one damn race, even if I’m the last one across the line.

I know it would be foolish, but there’s a part of me that really wants to get up at 4:00am on Sunday to drive down and at least attempt to walk the race. I know that part of me needs to be beaten into submission, but I’m having a very hard time refuting its argument right now.


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Good news!!!

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I have two shoes again!! And I’m not breaking the rules!! 😀

Finally got some good news from the ortho! The stress fracture is healing nicely and I can get out of the boot! I have to wear running shoes 24/7 though – no flip flops, no Uggs, no hard shoes – and if I get any pain in the bone I am to go back to the boot.

For the next four weeks I can increase my activity level, but it needs to be non- or low-impact (i.e. no running), but that’s fine by me. Strength training of the legs is back in to rotation, so I’m super happy about that. First things first, strengthening the left calf. I’ve been tippy-toeing exclusively on my right foot for the last two months and the legs are now way out of whack. I may not be a doctor, but I know that’s just asking for another injury when I get back to running if I don’t fix that.

I’m also really looking forward to getting back into stretching. It’s important for the healing leg, but it’s also vital for the rest of me – my hips and back have been super tight. The boot has altered my gait just enough that everything is moving in ways it’s not used to and because I haven’t been really working out this whole time, it’s just compounding.

The ortho did point out on the X-ray that I have a wavy fibula, which indicates I may have injured my leg previously. She’s a little concerned about that, especially because I never noticed it and therefore never treated it. I’m getting a bone density scan soon to rule out osteopenia.

I go back to her just before Turkey Day to see how things are progressing – hopefully that’ll be the end of this ordeal! Now if you’ll excuse me, it’s a gorgeous day and I need to go enjoy having two functional ankles :):)


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Baltimore Running Festival

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Despite not being able to run in the Baltimore Half, it was important for me to go downtown for the Baltimore Running Festival. There’s such a great energy on marathon morning, it’s impossible to feel sorry for yourself. Plus, with a deluge in the forecast I figured the runners needed all the supporters they could get. It turned out to be a perfect day for running – overcast, some light spritzes, in the low 60s. (Because of security restrictions on backpacks I left my DSLR at home, so you’ll have to put up with lackluster point-and-shoot photos.)

To avoid the parking craziness, I’ve learned to park away from the stadia. Last year that gave me a perfect 2 mile warm-up en route to the start and cool-down after the race; this year it just gave me easy parking without the headaches, even though the boot made the walk a bit slower. Husband and I stopped for drinks at Starbucks and then hightailed it to the marathon start line. We ended up camping out right by the WBAL camera crew, which gave us a great view of the starting line.

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This year the official starter was Baltimore native and Boston bombing survivor Erica Brannock. Her injuries certainly put any injuries I or any other runners have sustained into perspective. It could always be worse.

It's a horrible picture, but there's the lady of the hour!

It’s a horrible picture, but there’s the lady of the hour!

The marathon is the marquee event and was the first race to start, along with the marathon relay, at 8:00am. Every year it starts next to Oriole Park at Camden Yards, which provides a fantastic backdrop.

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Among the runners was the local juggling guy, who switched his routine up a bit – he had a Joe Flacco mask on and was juggling three footballs!

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Half an hour later, the 5k race started at the same place.

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One of the key selling points of the BRF is that each race has an “inspirational” finish along the spine, which runs between Oriole Park and the warehouse, down to the finish line between Oriole Park and Ravens’ Stadium. The 5k runners are the first to hit this point, just a block away from the starting line. It really is a great sight to see and is great to run through. The first time I ran the 5k it seemed like it was so long, but the half put it into perspective a few years later.

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5kers running down the home stretch!

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Runners funneling into the spine towards the finish line on the other side of Camden Yards

 After cheering on the runners for a while, we headed over towards the half marathon start, which went off at 9:45. In order to get to the start, you need to cross the marathon course, which can be a bit precarious. Normally I’d run across, but that obviously wasn’t an option this year. Throughout the downtown area there are pedestrian bridges, which made it possible to safely an easily cross the marathon course, but the city is in the process of demolishing them as we speak. It’ll be interesting to see what impact that has on the race next year.

It was bittersweet walking from Camden Yards, down Conway Street towards the corrals with all of the half marathoners. It’s always one of my favorite parts of race day morning, but I was going down for a different reason this time. While the marathon start always seems to be full of fanfare and gets all of the attention, the half marathon start seems to be its own party.

Walking down Conway towards the Harbor for the Half start!

Walking down Conway towards the Harbor for the Half start!

The front of the pack marathoners from above

The front of the pack marathoners from above

After the Half set off, we headed back to the celebration village to cheer on the winners! I have never watched the winner cross the line before, so I definitely wanted to see if while I had the chance.

There were no elite runners in the race this year and the favored runner was a local teacher from Owings Mills. He won the Frederick Half Marathon (the marquee event of the Frederick Running Festival), the first half of the Maryland Double, and he let no one down this weekend. David Berdan became the first Marylander to win the race in its 13-year history.

Local runner David Berdan won the marathon in 2:30:05.

Local runner David Berdan won the marathon in 2:30:05.

Over the last week I had toyed with the idea of walking the half marathon. They offer a very generous time limit and I certainly could have finished within that time, but I was concerned about injuring other areas (like my grumpy right hip) and slowing my overall recovery. I had decided against walking the race, but while walking around yesterday morning it dawned on me – I was walking so much then and it didn’t concern me, so not walking the race suddenly felt very silly (and regretful).

When I got home I mapped out roughly where we had walked throughout the day. I walked 6.83 miles. *face palm*

Being the stubborn ass that I am, I decided to hop on the elliptical for a while last night, and while I was on there I calculated how short I was of a half marathon. I had only planned on doing 3-4 miles, but then that would have put me close to the goal – so to hell with the original goal. It took me an hour and 27 minutes, but I got in the necessary 6.28 miles, which put me at a nice, even 13.1 miles for the day. Orthopedist be damned! It may not have earned me a finisher’s medal, but now I feel less guilty about wearing my half marathon shirt around town. My muscles are a little sore – I haven’t done much walking at all over the last two months – but I feel fantastic for having done it.

I go back to the ortho on Tuesday, so keep your fingers crossed for me! I need good news.