Friday, May 22, 2015

The longest seven weeks of my life

49. A perfect square number. The math geek in me loves numbers like 49, numbers that are significant in some way.  I love 13 for this reason (it's my favorite prime number, as I was born on the 13th!).

49 will always mean something more to me now, though.  49 is the number of days that I went without running, due to a probable stress fracture in my right tibia.  I was diagnosed on May 4th after a VERY LONG PROCESS involving a denial--and eventual approval--of coverage of an MRI of my leg by my insurance company.  The MRI finally took place on May 1, a full month after I went down during that fateful run.  While Dr. Bright (my sports med doctor at MaxSports) didn't actually see a fracture, the images indicated that one likely had occurred and I was in the progress of healing.

I kind of feel like a recovering alcoholic when I discuss this with non-running friends. In a way, running is an addiction for me.  I honestly have no idea how I have made it through the past seven weeks.   The last time I blogged, I had recently come to terms with the fact that I would not be able to run the marathon that I'd planned on April 26.  This was no easy decision to make, as my heart wanted so badly to have the chance to show what I knew I could do.  Fortunately, my brain was smart enough to take charge and make the right choice.  

Actually, I'm pretty damn proud of how smart I have been over the past seven weeks.  I won't say I never tried running at all.  I ran a lap around my backyard around three weeks into my recovery.  At Glass City, I ran around 15-20 yards with my friend Kim at mile 20 of her marathon during my adventures as Marcie the Cheerleader (who biked around the city!).  Both times that I attempted to run resulted in pain, but I listened and immediately stopped what I was doing.  Oh, and on day 45, there was a brief altercation between two students at my school.  I was the closest teacher, so I ran around 20 yards to the scene to intervene.  This didn't hurt at all, which is how I knew I was oh-so-close to running again.  But did I immediately start to run again after this incident?  No... I waited for the green light from my doctor.  See how smart I've become? :)

Meanwhile, what did I do instead of running for seven weeks???  Well, I was able to swim 1-2 times a week.  Wish I could have done it more often, but unfortunately the pool isn't open early enough for me to go before work, so I had to resort to swimming in the evening hours or on weekends, and with the kids' activities, there typically wasn't time to get there.  I hit the gym 2-3 times a week as well.  I started out just biking, and with my doctor's permission, after 5 weeks I added in the elliptical as well.  I met friends to walk a few times as well during the final week of my hiatus from running.  After a 30 minute walk with Lori and then a 60 minute walk with Andrea (on separate days of course), both of which were pain-free, I could practically TASTE running again.

On Monday, May 18th, I returned to Dr. Bright.  I had an inkling of what he would be having me do to start my return to running, as a few of my friends have had stress fractures and are patients of his, and I also have been googling return-to-running plans.  I came prepared with this plan, which was highlighted in a great blog that I found during my search process.  However, when Dr. Bright showed me the plan he wanted me to follow, I did a few quick mental computations and realized that his plan would have me back to my former running self sooner.  I didn't even take the plan I had found out of my purse!  

So, here is the plan that I am following.  

Dr. Bright deleted steps 1 and 2 as they involved all walking and I already had done that prior to my appointment.  So, that night I met Jen, Lori and Christine for a 10 minute walk, 10 minutes of running at a 14 minute per mile pace, and 10 more minutes of walking.  

Joined by sweet babies!
 It was sprinkling a bit, and very humid, but there wasn't anything that would be stopping me from this first "run" back!  We managed to keep our running pace just under 13 minutes per mile, and everything was perfect, including the beautiful deer we caught sight of right next to the trail.

I am very happy to report that I have flown through steps 3 and 4, as I was permitted to do them on consecutive days.  My first workout for step 5 is tomorrow. I hate to look too far in the future, but if all goes well, my first run at my "comfy pace" of 9:00/mile will be on June 3, which happens to be National Running Day!  My favorite Wednesday gals will all be running, and I simply cannot wait to rejoin them.  And if things continue to go well, I will finish Dr. Bright's plan on June 14th and will begin to build up my miles again.  In the meantime, I am extremely grateful for friends who are willing to slow down a bit to join me on these early steps, as well as the chance to run with other friends for who these early steps represent their own personal "comfy pace"!  My "running social calendar" has quickly filled up, and I am overjoyed, to say the least.  A friend commented that it must be so hard, running a pace that is so much slower than my typical pace. Honestly, it isn't!  I am loving the fact that I AM RUNNING AGAIN.  You can see the elation on my face in this picture with my sweet cousin Katie, with whom I simply love to run with.

My theme song right now is Rachel Platten's "Fight Song".  These lyrics speak to me, telling me that I still have a lot of fight left in me.  I have a long road ahead, but I'm up for it!

That being said, I am not quite ready to make plans for any future races... there is too much that needs to happen before I add back in speed (make it through steps 5-10, first and foremost!).  Of course, my mind has wandered ahead to when I might be able to don a bib again, but I won't talk about that for a couple of months. For now, I shall enjoy every single time I am out on the pavement.  This break has made me appreciative for the simple act of running, more than I could ever imagine!