Monday, May 25, 2015

The Day After the Med City Marathon

It’s been more than 24 hours since the Med City Marathon, and I’m still trying to figure out where I stand.  Clearly I wasn’t sufficiently recovered to run a marathon on a hilly course, but I didn’t know if I had suffered a serious setback in my recovery.

Immediately after the race, just walking back to the hotel was uncomfortable.  As soon as I got there, I applied an ice pack.  That helped considerably.  By the time I got home, I was in no immediate discomfort.  That said, I didn’t walk around much.  I wore a compression wrap, and I iced my leg periodically.  Later in the day, I did my stretches, but other than that, I mostly stayed off my feet.

One of my stretches involves standing and alternately moving each leg to the side.  Two weeks ago, I could only move my right foot about six inches to the side before noticing discomfort.  That range expanded a little bit each day.  Eventually, I could swing each leg about three feet to the side with no discomfort.  It was a nice measuring stick of my recovery.  Last night, I could still swing my leg three feet to the side with no discomfort.  That was a pleasant surprise.  By that measure, I still feel as good as I did before the race.

I didn’t know how I would feel today.  Would there be delay onset muscle soreness?  During the night I rolled over in my sleep and noticed some momentary discomfort.  Walking around the house I sometimes feel OK, but sometimes notice mild discomfort, depending on how I move.  As far back as Wednesday, I was walking around with no discomfort.  By that measure, I’ve regressed about a week.

This morning I did my core workout.  The first time I did this workout after the injury, I had to do my twists sitting down, but I felt OK doing sit-ups and leg raises.  This morning, out of habit, I did the twists in a standing position.  No problem.  On sit-ups and leg raised, however, I felt some discomfort.  Huh?

In the afternoon, I did weight training.  The last time I did weight training, I was slow and deliberate with all my movements, but still felt a small amount of discomfort doing things like stepping over the weight bench.  Today, I had no problems.  Then I did my hip and groin strengthening exercises.  Again, I had no problems.

Ideally, I’d try to get another PT appointment this week.  Today is a holiday, and I leave for South Africa tomorrow.  Even if I could get a last-minute appointment in the morning, I just wouldn’t have time.  For this week, I’m on my own.

Prior to yesterday’s race, I was running every other day and feeling fine.  I only ran a little bit farther before noticing discomfort yesterday, so it seems unlikely that the distance was the issue.  Most likely, the real problem was running so many hills.  All of my post-injury training runs were on a relatively flat loop through our neighborhood.  The Med City Marathon begins with seven miles of long gradual hills.  I suspect the long sections of downhill running were a bit too much at this point in my recovery.  If so, the Comrades Marathon is going to be a big problem.  That course has dozens of hills, including some big ones.

During a PT appointment last Tuesday, the therapist asked me if I could bring my compression wrap with me during the race.  I was skeptical.  I sometimes run with a fanny pack, but my wrap is fairly bulky.  I didn’t know if it would fit in the fanny pack.  I also didn’t think I could wear the wrap for the whole race.  It’s made of neoprene, and it covers most of my thigh.  If this year’s race is anywhere near as hot as last year was, I would sweat profusely wearing a wrap like that.  At the time, I was reasonably confident that I wouldn’t need it.  Now I think having it with me is a good idea.  I know what it’s like to finish a marathon in pain after pulling a hamstring five miles into the race.  I would’ve given anything to be able to wrap my leg during that race.

I checked to see if I could fit the compression wrap into my fanny pack.  It barely fits, but I’m able to zip it shut.  As long as I don’t have to put anything else bulky in there, I can make it work.

The Comrades Marathon is mostly uphill in the first 35K.  After that it’s rolling.  I think my leg will be OK running uphill.  I worry about all the downhill running.  Fortunately, most of the downhill running will come in the second half of the race.  I can’t wear the compression wrap for the entire race.  Aside from being too hot, it constricts all of the other muscles in my thigh.  I’m toying with the idea of stopping at the top of each big hill to put the wrap on and then taking it off when I reach the bottom.  That way, my groin will be protected running downhill, but the larger muscles that I need for climbing won’t be restrained.

The race is in six days.  This is mostly a rest week.  I’ll still do my hip and groin strengthening exercises every other day, but I’ll only run once, if at all.  Ideally, I’d like to go for a short run on Thursday or Friday, so I can evaluate how my leg feels, both with and without the wrap.

I’ll continue doing the other things I’ve been doing to treat inflammation.  At home, I ice a few times a day using gel ice packs.  Staying in a hotel, I can use the ice machines to make an ice pack the old fashioned way.  Our morning paper gets delivered in plastic bag.  This morning, as I took the newspaper out of the bag, it occurred to me that this is a nice size bag for an ice pack.  Now it’s in my suitcase.

I can also continue to use the compression wrap and low doses of ibuprofen, although I’m leery about taking any on race day.

I still have six days to heal.  I’m sure I’ll feel better in six days, but I won’t be 100 percent.  I was willing to skip the Ogden Marathon.  I was willing to stop during the Med City Marathon.  Comrades is my “A” race.  I’m not willing to skip this one.  I may have to adjust my goals, but I’m going to finish this one if I can.

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