There is a fine line between heroic effort and stupid failure

Less than 4 weeks until the American Family Fitness Half Marathon, and I am forced to admit I am injured.

Saturday morning, I went for my first cold run of the season (I define anything below 45 degrees as cold). It was 10 miles with training team, a distance that for some reason really agrees with me. I don’t know why 10 is the magic number, but I like it. The weather was perfect.

I wore a long sleeve tech shirt with a regular t-shirt over it, calf length tech pants. Hands were cold but my energy was up and I felt really strong. Usually, by mile 2, I completely loosen up and find my zone. This run wasn’t out of the ordinary except that around mile 2, my right knee started getting achy. This isn’t too unusual; sometimes a knee complains or my right ankle will groan a bit or something on a run and as I get completely warmed up and into my groove, those minor complaints fade away. This ache didn’t fade as I warmed up.

Much of mile 4 was a steep downhill towards Brown’s Island on 5th Street, which is the where the actual half marathon will finish. By the bottom of the hill, I was fighting major knee pain (and also a muscle spasm in my chest, that made breathing painful, but that faded in a short time). I kept plugging along and the next mile and a half or so were all up hill, and the pain dialed back from bad to uncomfortable.

On the long straight and flat run that was Broad Street, the pain started building back up. It didn’t hurt to bear weight on it, just bending. Early in the 7th mile, I had to stop, just 15 or 20 seconds, stretching, rubbing, bending, and then I took off again. I have had to take walk breaks, but I have never had to stop on a run before. We had a SAG stop right at the 8 mile mark, and I stopped long enough to refill my almost empty water bottle in my fuel belt, but the 90 or so seconds I stopped stiffened my knee up to the point that the first quarter of a mile after the SAG was excruciating and I had to stop twice to massage the knee enough to finish the route. No sense in stopping the run since I still had to get back to the Stadium and walking hurt at least as much as running (if not more) and would double the time to get back, so I kept running.

I finished well, all things considered. I stretched and hunted for ice from among the various teams, but there was none, so I filled my water bottle with ice water and put it on my knee for a little while. The drive home was less painful than I expected, but the stairs in the house were just brutal. Ice, celebrex (left over from the recent bout with TMJ), and a brace all helped. Sunday, it was fairly painful until the celebrex kicked in, and Monday, it felt better, but stiff and sore, and when we had a fire alarm, I declined to walk down 10 flights of stairs; I opted to wait at a specific location with other disabled people in the building. In the event of an actual emergency, a rescue worker would have come to us and arranged special evacuation, if necessary. Talk about a humbling experience; standing there and waiting with those lovely but less able ladies.

Today, I felt pain free and decided to take an easy run on a treadmill to test it out for my first run back. Three miles was the scheduled distance and if I felt good, my goal. I started slow (for a treadmill), at 5.7 mph, then bumping it up ever 3-5 minutes. Before I had reached 1 mile, my knee was grumpy. I shortened my distance to 2 miles, asked for ice at the front desk (they didn’t have any) and walked a sore walk back to work.

I am very blue about this. The injury itself is fairly straightforward and presents as a classic case of ITBS. Rest, ice, compression, elevation, and in most people’s cases, anti-inflammatories, should clear this up, but it is so close to the race, and so late in training. This is a drop back week for the team, but next week is our biggest week before tapering begins.

Right now, I feel totally lost and depressed. I am wondering what it would take to get a cortisone shot in the knee and whether I should see my primary care doc, my bariatric doc, or a sports medicine doc. My surgery makes treating inflammation a MUCH trickier thing than just popping 800 mg of ibuprophen and going about my merry way.

And I am wondering: persevere and run through it or rest and possibly defer my half marathon entry to 2013?

There is a fine line between heroic effort and stupid failure.


2 responses to this post.

  1. Oh no, get well soon.


  2. I has this a few years ago. First on my left knee, then it moved to my right. It was the worst pain ever! My physiotherapist suggested I wrap below my knee to help keep the IT band from rubbing on the side of my knee. It did help quite a hit. There are commercial IT band braces out there but I just used the stretchy tape that is used under sticky tape. Wrapped it around below the knee a few times and then rolled it into a tube and set it right where the it band is below the knee cap. It got me through a half marathon,,,.maybe it will help you. Couldn’t hurt to try. Good luck.


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