I've talked about it before. The endless IT band struggles. The never knowing if I can run from one day to the next. But somehow (with the help of my ART miracle worker, any maybe some common sense) I've been able to dig myself out of some pretty big holes when it comes to injury prevention lately. You would think I would get over my fears some day, but maybe there are just some things we'll never be fully confident in? My IT band is definitely one of them.
Well, after an amazing IM training year (5 weeks to go!) I found myself back in the familiar scared out of my whits, the world is gonna end, my stupid IT BAND I'M going to cut you off scenario. I noticed some tightness 2 weeks ago at track. It wasn't bad, but it didn't feel right. The scary part was the pain was actually on the side I had my IT band surgery (this side hasn't bugged me for years). The pain subsided after the track workout/swim on Wed, but I woke up Saturday morning with my entire hip and knee throbbing. It seemed fine Friday, but as I was packing my bag to race and brought my bike into transition on Saturday I had a very uneasy feeling. The race didn't mean much to me, and I was fully prepared to drop out of I needed to. I was also really worried about all the stairs we had to climb during the race (anyone with IT band problems knows that stairs plus ITBS = no bueno). However, the race went on without a glitch and if anything I felt some tightness on the bike on the left side/hip area. I never felt any knee pain during the race and had a great day despite being a little bonky on the run.
I woke up Monday morning with a LOT of pain. The frustrations set in, complete paranoia and thoughts of how could this be happening AGAIN to me. Not now, not when I'm doing SO well. I feel so amazing and I'm in the best shape of my life. Was it the 20miler I just did? Was it all the big gear stuff? Track? Of course I could play what ifs over an over again, but none of it mattered. I was jumping to every conclusion there was and completely overwhelmed with fear. I got in with my ART guy for treatment on Monday where he worked me over. He even brought out the scraper and scraped over my surgery scar. Oh my mother of holy crap pain. For the 4 years I've been working with Mr. Miracle worker I don't know that I've ever felt that kind of pain. I iced 3 times a day both my knee and hip. Rolled 3 times a day. Lived in my compression tights and applied MYOMED to my hip and Voltaren Gel to my knee twice a day.
Tuesday I switched up my big gear intervals to faster cadence intervals and ended up crawling back into bed after I got up and started to get ready for track at dark:30am on Wed. While I ended up nailing my swim and PR'ing my 100s during the workout, it still didn't make me feel (that much) better about my knee. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't in pain still. And, trying to be the smarter athlete these days, yet balancing that with my determination to still get long workouts in (5hour ride/4mile t-run at race place Thurs followed by 20mile run Friday) was really starting to worry me. I hate missing workouts, and I hate even more missing workouts because of stupid injury.
So, I headed back to ART for another treatment Wed in hopes that the miracle work would take place while I was sleeping and I'd be good to go in the AM. He dug really deep into my hip area, did every special weird release move on both IT bands. Used the stem unit around my knee and then applied Kinesio tape to my right knee area. I got home and immediately put my compression tights on and put my butt on the couch.
I spent 5 lonely hours on Thursday once again in fear. Fear that I would feel a twinge on 9 mile hill, then next climbing up Legend Trails. Fear if I pushed too big of a gear I would once again be back at square one. Fear that when I got home and put on my running shoes I wouldn't be able to run my transition run. A transition run that was to me a test of hitting a pace I didn't know how my body would react to. Fear that if I did that run I wouldn't have a chance of running 20miles the next day.
Now don't get me wrong. I'm not naive enough to think if wasn't able to get these workouts in that I wouldn't be able to have a good Ironman. I know I've got the fitness, but that's not what it's about to me. It's about having something that you want taken away. Having the freedom and the ability to do things you love because you CAN. Not that I'm out to win anything, but just being healthy and enjoying the entire experience of any race I'm training for to me is a win, and when there is a chance it could all be taken away (again) I take it pretty hard.
As I made it past mile 1 of the transition run and noticed my AVG pace was actually faster than planned and my HR was still aerobic somehow all these stupid paranoid feelings suddenly started to subside. I felt like I was flying and I had such relief come over me.
And you know what? That relief carried me all the way through 15miles the next day until I reached the 16/20miles and that relief turned into joy. Joy for having an incredible run. Joy for not giving up that week or 5 years ago when my surgeon told me he didn't know if I would ever be able to run again. Joy for having a kick ass run at a faster pace then 2 weeks ago and most of all joy that I for the first time in a long time felt as if I was a runner again.
And that is what we call a Runners High, and it lasted the last 4miles of that 20mile run.