Right now I should be running my first timed race, the 8-Hour Dream Endurance Race and Relay in Indianapolis.
But after going back and forth the past 10 days, I decided yesterday that my ongoing hip pain had not sufficiently healed. Fortunately, the race director announced a few days ago that solo runners would be able to defer to next year because of the predicted high temperatures. The race, held on the Butler University campus, goes from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. as temperatures were expected to near 100 degrees.
It wasn’t the heat that forced my hand, though. My hip has been wonky for more than six months. I have tried massage, which helped but wasn’t a permanent solution. I started with a physical therapist (PT) recently and she has been very helpful in getting me back on my (running) feet. We’re close but not all the way back yet.
I thought I'd be able to race after substituting yoga for running for three days earlier this week. Wednesday was the best the hip has felt in quite some time. After getting this positive report, my new coach, David Roche, had me do runs Thursday and Friday to gauge how the hip would respond.
I decided to set out on my Thursday run in the heat of the day. Even though it was too late in the training cycle to properly acclimate to the 90something weather, it was good practice. The run went off without a hitch in my stride.
However, the soreness returned later in the day.
On Friday morning, the general soreness/limited pain was there. I headed out for my 5-mile run with strides. The hip pain was again along for the ride. Recently it had lasted up to a mile, then eased off. On this day, the pain — more a feeling of discomfort and tightness than actual pain — accompanied me throughout the run. I cut it short after 3.3 miles, knowing that rest was in my future.
I had recruited a couple of friends to help me at the race. Job number one: bring ice.
As I filled them in on the news Friday morning, they offered condolences. But the DNS was not upsetting to me. It was a decision that I felt was more Do Nothing Stupid, than Did Not Start.
And it was far less serious than my infamous DNS from last year, when I underwent emergency abdominal surgery four days before I had planned to take on my first 100K. One of my friends noted as such in a text, “You have shown you can come back from anything as proven last May.” It was a reference to my finish at that race this past May.
This comeback certainly pales in comparison to the return from surgery. Looking ahead, the races I have left this year have more meaning to me than the 8-hour race.
• In September, I return to the North Face Endurance Challenge Series in Wisconsin. I’ll be doing the 50K distance, which I did two years ago and ended up winning my age group. (I love the North Face races, which offer awesome volunteers, well-marked courses and great start-finish line areas. Distances range from 5K to 50 miles. Use my code HH20 for 20 percent off any distance at Wisconsin race.)
• In November, I will run my first 100-miler at Rio Del Lago in California. I’ve already written about my why for that one. As I look forward to that challenge, I know that I will need a healthy hip (two actually) in order to put in the required training and successfully complete the race.
The value of yoga and core work
The injury stemmed from a weakness in my hips. I relate that directly to my previous coach who left yoga and core work off my training log. Sure, I could have worked those in on my own, which I did but clearly not often enough.
As a coach, I prescribe regular core work and yoga to each of my clients, especially those who are masters athletes. It was a lesson I should have applied to myself.
Fortunately, Coach Roche understands the value of yoga — he literally put it on my schedule the first day of workouts he prescribed for me. (He also has a firm grasp of ultra runners and injuries. In short, it’s inevitable.)
I’ve learned a lot from Coach Roche in the limited time we’ve worked together. One thing he asked me even before we started was whether I would be “all in” through the highs and lows.
Absolutely, I reassured him.
This nagging injury has been a low point but I feel good about today. I do not regret deferring the race to 2020. This morning’s hour-long workout on the bike challenged me without adding pounding to the hip. And it’s a step in the process toward my real goal and reaching the highest of highs as I cross that finish line at Rio Del Lago.
Onward and upward.