The Last Marathon Notes. I promise
So many things worked out so well for me in the Boston Marathon that I had been trying to pinpoint what was it that did it, mostly under the crappy circumstances I was in 2 months ago (piriformis syndrome, and then the evil ITBS). I decided I’d jot them down because it is REALLY IMPORTANT I keep them around…
The race was a blast. And it was the opposite of what I always do. No music, running with Andrea, going out just to enjoy the race. But what I think really did make the difference was running with no pace bracelet. And having no time goal or clue what time I was doing during the race. That took all the pressure off me and allowed for everything else to work and to finally run a smartly-paced marathon.
The ITB issue
A LOT of people told me to defer Boston and to stop running for a bunch of months. Of course you know I didn’t, and this is what I found helped:
#1: GET OFF THE PAVEMENT. This was Toby (Tanser)’s idea and it did wonders. I had trouble first with the idea of doing even the long runs there, but it was a major factor on my super fast recovery. I will keep at it. Toby also never said to stop running and helped me plan the whole thing out. As much as I read and listen, there’s nothing to get advice from someone who’s lived it. Just keep running through it, you won’t make it worse, it doesn’t matter what people say, don’t stop running. That is, if you can handle the pain. Run on a softer surface if you can, and a flat area (the downhills hurt more as you know. In NYC, I did my long runs in the reservoir (up top) and it was fine.
#2: Brutal MASSAGES. Also Toby’s idea. So I went to Chinatown to pay for pain a few times to Toby’s guy. But then, a friend lent (more like shoved) me her PT: Paul was so good I’d end up all bruised from the massages!! Seems like as much as you want to roll on the ITB, that stoooopid thing doesn’t stretch, so he went deep into the quads (the ITB runs below). I did all I could not to cry on those sessions and look tough. Since then, I’ve never foam rolled again. Massages are 50 times better.
#3: STRENGTHENING. As my knees bend inwards, I needed to strengthen some particular muscles (the inside of the knee, the forward rotation of the glutes, etc.): you have to find someone who knows where the deficiencies are and would give you specific exercises to work that area. And you have to do them. Every day. I am still doing them. I have added the thera-band to my torture devices. Basically focus on strengthening the quads and the glutes. ok? that’s KEY. 2-3 times a day. GO at it.
#4: STRETCHING. Foam rolling the ITB, the quads, the hamstrings; tennis ball in the piriformis, hip flexors, use a yoga band to stretch out your hamstrings, glutes… any kind of “fun” stretching: the marathon stick; the yoga band… Every day, as many times as you can. When I am home, it’s 8 times a day. Every time I pee, I stretch!
#5: The rest. Warm compress the sore spots (knee, etc) before a run to let it warm up, and ICE the crap out of it after, as many times as you can (like three times a day)
If you do all those 5 things, you can get rid of ITBS in anything from 2 days to 2 weeks. Once a day stretching won’t do it though. You have to be aggressive and attack it, ok? Like, you’ll be in more pain from this than from the ITBS. The more you suffer, the faster it’ll go away. –I’ve seen people have their ITBS disappear after two days of this. OKAY???
It was short and fickle (given post NYCM piriformis syndrome and then the ITB…) but here’s what did it:
#1: BLAISE, my TP (NOT Toilet Paper: Training Partner!). I needed trails, trails it was; there was a monsoon, there he was. He trained through a brutal winter with me and followed my training program even though he had no marathon coming up. There he was for every long run I could NOT have done by myself. All I’d hear is “whatever time/route/day/surface is fine”. It’s amazing to me how you’d come across people like that in the world. There are no words to say how much I appreciate having a TP like this.
#2: See above for trails and Toby’s support!
#3: My friends, family, and everyone’s patience. You don’t get these things done on your own, and yeah, it takes a village: Thanks to all of you who shut up and didn’t tell me how crazy you thought I was running like that. It’s great that by now you know better and that’s all I needed. Thanks to all of you who supported me, helped me, and pushed me forward on those crazy days. And thanks to all of you inspire me, and to all of you who believed in me.
Ok, I now swear that I am done writing about Boston (for a few months??). I did 5 miles this morning, all back to normal!
Boston Marathon RR – Part II
I was so totally relaxed that we got the start line 9 minutes late; so we started like a few corrals back, and who cares! I was ready to enjoy it and soak it all in, in my 26.2 “victory lap”. The plan was to enjoy the race, go cautious and pace for an even effort. Basically, hold it in for the first 22 miles and then see what we had left for the last 4, where the race starts.
I like to divide and conquer, and split the race into segments to make it easier, so I’ll do the same here.
April 15, 2010 11:37 AM
I am having a GREAT week. And I am not going to question it!!!
First, I finally acknowledged I qualified for Boston. Yes, it’s been 5 months, but sometimes, some things sound just like they belong in dreamland. For years I thought that I wouldn’t even bother trying, that it was so out of my league. I still find it a bit hard to believe that it happened. But it did. And the dream of “finishing Boston” is around the corner… around the corner!!! Let me pause to grab a Kleenex again.
Last night I watched course videos (… ehem, my plan of going to sleep early is SO NOT working!!!), Boston marathon promos, and… my favorite: Saint Ralph!! I just love love love this movie! And that line at the end “If we are not chasing miracles, then what’s the point?” always gets to me! So true!
But, I don’t have a miracle to chase in Boston. Or a goal. And not having a time goal is something so strange to me, like Chinese… But last night, I got it. This is a completely different game from my last two marathons. I know how to run relaxed: I have done it before!!
There was a 5 miler where I almost didn’t show up because I was so tired, and a pikermi earlier this year, that I used as a “long” run!! Being relaxed works for me, though it’s usually hard when it comes to racing, but I KNOW how to do it. I CAN do it!
I think it happens to most of us: we forget what we’re capable of. I sometimes have to go back and look at my log to see that I can actually do a workout because I did something similar a few weeks before. This is when I realize that having a log and a blog helps me inmensely. No more self doubt. After all, I did BQ!!!
The world is all mine again. Oh, there’s my MOJO!
PS: How much can a person really eat? I am SO tired of chewing!
Now that the taper has started, I am on a mission. I have 3 weeks to get better and ready for the race. The fact that I didn’t train enough (or well enough) and I am still in a lot of pain should be a big big problem. Also, the fact that after certain point on my long runs (in soft surfaces no less) I can’t start running again once I stop should make me freak out. Or make want to postpone the race till next year.
But no. I still think there’s hope. Even if it comes to the point where hope is all I have on my side. Crazy, I know.
For now, my Goal (A, B, and C) will be to finish. And here’s what my brain likes to see as reasons on why I could do it:
1-Toby said not to worry, “you can get beat up on the race day then heal. Keep on with massage. You’ll run by the gatorade table and swoop up a cup!” (I was worrying about how I’d refuel without stopping, which I’ve never been able to do without chocking!!)
2- My quads really hurt yesterday: signs of a good massage. Keep’em coming!
3- I am insanely determined. Crazy/insane/don’t get in my way-determined about this race.
Here’s the plan:
-keep running on dirt, that means I’ll have to skip the races I wanted to do for speedwork, just because they’re on pavement (bye Scotland Run/Run as One!! I’ll see you next year!)
-lower the mileage but start back on the speed for these last three weeks
-wear the compression band (yuk)
-ice-strengthen-massage-stretch-roll: — />all the torture you can think of!
I feel god about this plan (and sometimes you have to write it down to really commit to it!). Now, less is more. (that means less Nutella too! grrrr).
A FAIR WARNING to ITBS
Not SO dear ITBS:
Don’t you even try to get to me with the “you had this coming“, “you did this to yourself“, yada yada bs… You’re just plain EVIL and we all know it. It’d be better for your karma if you just admitted to it at least. Still, I won’t waste my time hating you, but I know what you’re trying to do. And I can tell you right now: IT’S NOT GOING TO WORK.
So, we can do it the easy way, or the hard way: your pick! Either you disappear silently and let me be, or I will smash you into tiny little sad pieces. I promise you it will not be pretty, but it will happen. Sooner or later. It will happen. I will NOT stop running, you can fight that as much as you want. I am NOT backing off. Sure, you want me to “REST”, give it up, it’s not happening. I admit you’ve had your little victories, cutting short some of my runs and depriving me of any speed, but I will eventually take over. This is my body, I WILL prevail.
As you know, there’s a deadline: Boston is less than 4 weeks away. If you still want to come with me, go ahead, but I swear you’re going straight to hell for that. I’ll advise you against it, but I know you don’t listen to me. I am going to massage you, roll all over you, and run you into so much pain you are going to wish you had never met me. I am going to be as evil to you as you’ve been to me. It’s coming, you better back off NOW or be ready for what’s about to hit you.