The Lament of the Injured Runner?

Well, that doesn’t feel good.  I’ll just push through and hope it corrects itself.  How many of us have made similar utterances?  I know I have.

I’m 39 years old.  On my 34th birthday I ran my first half-marathon in Stockholm.  Since that point, I’ve added seven more of those, a couple of 30 k races, four 10 ks, three 15 ks, four marathons, and a triathlon for good measure.  Up until 3 weeks ago, I was “healthy.”

Oh sure, there were aches and pains.  I missed a week or so once with a calf that didn’t feel right.  Blisters, some discomfort in my hips, and so on.  But, up until now, nothing that has put me on the sidelines for an extended period.

A few weeks back, I was about a kilometre and a half into a planned 12 k run when I felt a sharp pain below my kneecap.  “Hmm, that doesn’t feel right” I thought.  My first instinct was to perhaps call it a day, but that is not the runner’s way.  I have often had an ache or pain along the way during my runs, and usually, it subsides shortly thereafter.  However, this felt different.  Having said that, I carried on, the pain did not, and I finished my run that day without any problems or concerns.

The next day I went about my business as usual, but, the following two days, I found there was pain when going up and down stairs.

I decided this called for some ice and rest.  I did so, and it felt better.  A week after the initial pain, I set out for what I refer to as a “j.a.r,” or “just a run.”  This is a rare occurrence which is free of time or distance goals.  I don’t run these frequently, but thought it was wise to take it slow.

My original plan called for an 18 km run, but my revised plan, given my new reality, was for between 3 metres and 18 km, depending on how the knee responded.  If it hurt right away, I would stop, in the hopes of not causing any further damage.  In the event that it felt good, I would enjoy the day, and go for the desired distance.

I started my run, and shortly thereafter, a dull pain kicked in slightly before my knee quickly flipped me the bird and said “hey dummy, something’s not right here.”  A short two minutes after my run began, I was walking back towards my home.

I was not a happy man.

This was extremely disheartening, and to be quite honest, I was rather bummed out.

In the days afterward, there was no pain, even on the stairs.  I could be up and down on my knees, and playing with my amazing 1 year-old daughter Hadley, without any discomfort.  The disappointment could not hold on in the face of the happiness that is playing with my daughter.

I planned to visit the doctor that week after giving it a few more days rest, and one more attempt at a short run.

I headed out four or five days later and things started off better.  No pain was present at first, however, four minutes or so into my run, the pain began.  By the 5th minute, I was reduced to a reluctant hobble.

I headed to the doctor the next day and was referred to a physiotherapist.

It was frustrating to be missing out on many mild days and ice-free running conditions which are often not present in south-western Ontario during February.  However, my mood remained good.  Although I am registered for some smaller races, my goal race will not happen until September or October (still deciding on which one), so I was pretty confident that those would not be in jeopardy.

My fingers are crossed that I’ll be back in business by March, which would allow me to prepare sufficiently for a registered half at the end of April.

Well, the physio appointment occurred and went very well.  I was asked about my stretching routine, which went something like this:

Physio:  “So, do you stretch?”

Me: “I’m not really what you’d call a stretcher (This is an understatement.  I do not stretch before, during, or after runs….ever).”

Physio:  “You are now.”

She was also quite impressed that I had lasted this long without sustaining an injury.

As a (slightly) sub-four hour marathoner, I always liked to think that the first km or two were a good warm-up, and that stretching was not really necessary.  Besides, who has time for that stuff?  Let’s get out the door, get the run in, and get back to being a father and a husband (and maybe plan some lessons for that whole teaching thing).

Anyway, turns out I have some issues with the IT band and my patellar tendon in the right leg.  Encouragingly, it does not seem to be anything that will keep me out of action for too long.

I’ll be honest, it was tough on that first trial day.  It’s been tough watching the nice days roll by as I can’t get out for my runs every week.  And, I noticed in the first week or so that the stress of work and life definitely was building up without the release that is running.  This was a bit hard to reconcile, as I pride myself upon not feeling stress in general.

However, I’m still able to be pain free otherwise.  I can still run around and chase my daughter through our halls and up and down stairs.  In the end, if I could never run a race again, I could do far worse than being able to chase the love of my life around as she smiles and giggles away.

There may not be much better than being a runner, but being a father is certainly one of those things.

I’m pretty confident, that before long, I’ll be able to do both again.

In the meantime, I’ll do my rehabilitation exercises, hope the knee comes around, and enjoy the extra hours per week that I get to spend with my daughter.

Are you a runner who’s been injured?  How’d you cope?  Leave a comment below as I’d love to hear your thoughts on injuries.

Thanks runners!

 

2016 Year-End Awards

A special thanks to all who have taken the time to stop in and read a post or two, or more here at perpetualkinetics.com this year.

I thought I’d end the year by handing out some awards.  Well, I actually won’t be handing anything out, because that costs money, and I don’t have any extra laying around to make exquisite golden trophies.  So, in place of that, I will hand out the First Annual? Winnies in honour of my cat.  It’s as good a name as any right?

Without further delay, I present to you, the First Annual Winnies, brought to you by perpetualkinetics.com.

ragdoll

Event of the Year Winnie:

This category is only open to events I actually participated in.  There are two contenders here, my first triathlon, Guelph Lake 1 and the Road2Hope Hamilton Marathon.  Both were very well organized and great events.

I was proud to complete my first triathlon, but I’m going to have to give the award to the Hamilton Marathon as I was able to attain a long awaited personal best.

Registration: Guelph Lake 1, Road2Hope

Runner of the Year Winnie:

No shortage of contenders here in an Olympic year.

In the end, it is hard to argue with Usain Bolt performing once again on the largest stage there is.

Triathlete of the Year Winnie:

Many worthy contenders in this category.  You have to of course begin any conversations with the winners in Kona: Jan Frodeno and Daniela Ryf.

Other notables are the gold medalists from Rio, Gwen Jorgensen and Alistair Brownlee.  And of course, the record setting performance of Lionel Sanders cannot be ignored either.

This was the toughest selection, but after consulting others (my wife) and thinking about it on my run today, I’ve settled on Lionel Sanders.  Hard to argue with a world record performance, and hey, as any smart husband knows, you should always listen to your wife.

Sports TV Show of the Year Winnie:

This is easy, and will probably win the award every year.  There is not a more well produced or inspiring show than the Ironman World Championships documentary which airs on NBC every year (even if my local NBC affiliate always airs an infomercial in its place and I have to find it on my own online).

Shoe of the Year Winnie:

The New Balance Vazee Pace is my shoe of the year.  I have never had a shoe feel more comfortable the first time it was on my feet.  I logged a lot of kms in these light-weight beauties this year, and had them on my feet when I notched a marathon personal best this year.

Blogger of the Year Winnie:

Check out FueledbyLolz.  My choice for the blogger of the year.

That Was Cool Moment of the Year Winnie:

Mirinda Carfrae tweeted that one of my runs was a “solid run.” Enough said.

 

Winter Running Gear

As promised in my warmer weather gear post, here are my picks for running when the temperature drops.

I do not receive any compensation for any of my picks.

Bundle up, and get out there.

Shoes:

When I started running in the winter a few years ago in preparation for the Around the Bay 30 km race, it was suggested to me, that I wear trail shoes to get better traction.  This is one of the best pieces of advice I have received.  At the time, I settled on the Brooks Cascadia 8, and they did not disappoint.

Currently, I am running in one of the later editions, the Brooks Cascadia 10.  I actually bought them last year, but we had a pretty mild winter so I hardly even used them.  I’m back in them this winter, and I highly recommend them.  You can pick them up on Amazon.  However, having said that, it is always best to get your shoes at an actual store so that you can actually try them on.

Currently, I believe the Cascadia 11 would be what you would find in stores.

Brooks Cascadia
Brooks Cascadia 10

If weather conditions are icy or snowy, these are literally the only shoes that I wear.

Socks:

I’m not too picky when it comes to socks in the winter.  Generally speaking, I’ll throw on some cheap Hanes ones from Walmart.

Pants:

Once the temperatures really drop, I go to the tights.  I have always worn a pair of New Balance tights.  I’ve been wearing my one and only pair for a few years, and only now, are they starting to show signs of wear.  A great investment.

Shorts:

Yes, I wear shorts over my tights.  For one, it’s just smart, as it provides an extra layer in the cold temperatures.  I also like the additional pockets.  As always, I wear my Sugoi shorts.  The Titan Ice and Pace 5 are my go-to shorts.

Underwear:

Nike Pro Combat are my base layer shorts for all seasons.  They are supportive, durable, and very comfortable.

Gloves:

I started out with a thinner pair of running gloves from the Running Room which I still wear if I just want to protect my hands from some cooler temperatures.

I received a pair of Head Sensatec gloves as a gift a couple of years ago and I always wear these when the weather gets really cold.  They are a great pair of gloves which I highly recommend.  I don’t run with a phone, but for those who do, they will work with your touchscreen apparently.

Hat:

Pretty simple here.  I wear a free toque I received in a case of beer a number of years ago.  Thanks Moosehead.

Shirts/Jackets etc.:

This really depends on the temperature and could be any of the following items on its own, or in combination with some of the others.

If it is not too cold out, I’ll just throw on a long-sleeved race shirt.

Other times, I’ll go with a Nike Pro Dry-Fit long-sleeved shirt I received as a gift (in fact, most of my cold weather tops are gifts).

I also have a Diadora zip-up which I use at times.  It is not a full-zip, so I like that I can unzip it a bit if I start to heat up.

In wet conditions, I like to put on an Under Armour loosefit jacket.  It is great at keeping the water off of me.

A number of years ago I bought a great cold weather running shirt/sweater from the Running Room.  It is an Adidas product with a high-neck and is really good at protecting me from the elements.  I have to give Adidas a great recommendation based on this product as it has been going strong for three or four years now.

If I’m running at night, I’ll often throw on a neon green shirt I picked up at Old Navy over whatever else I am wearing.

Extras:

My Timex Marathon GPS watch works great in the winter too.  For a review of that, you can check out my warm-weather gear post.  It has an Indiglo light which helps you keep track of your pace in the dark.

In addition to the aforementioned neon shirt, if my run is going to go past sundown I throw on a flashing arm band, the 4id Powerarmz.  It is comfortable, and bright.  It has two-settings, a constant light setting, or a strobe light.

Thanks for taking the time to read my post, if you have any questions about any of the gear listed, let me know in the comments below.

The County Marathon

After my failure to achieve a personal best at the Mississauga Marathon in May of 2015, I felt like I still had unfinished business for the year.  With my wife and I expecting a daughter in October of 2015, timelines were tight.  The Scotiabank Toronto Marathon would have been cutting things too close, so I set my sights on The County Marathon in Picton, Ontario, which would be held a couple of weeks earlier, in the hopes that I could sneak it in before the birth.

I did not run any other races between Mississauga and The County Marathon.  So, it was just training run, after training run.  I signed up knowing that the training could all be for nothing, should my wife go into labour early.  But, that was a chance I was willing to take.  In addition to really wanting to achieve that personal best, I also figured that it might be the last marathon I would have time to train for for some time, given the new responsibilities I was about to take on with the upcoming addition to our family.

When it was finally time for race weekend,  we made plans to have a close friend of our’s on stand-by in case our daughter decided to put in an early appearance.  I told my child to stay in her mom’s belly at least until I made it home, and headed off for the weekend.  I spent the Friday night at my parents in order to cut down the drive on the Saturday preceding the race.

The packet pick-up was at the Crystal Palace in Picton, near where the race would finish.  As this is a smaller event, I was able to grab my packet with no fuss.  I also had the opportunity to speak with one of the volunteers who had some good knowledge of the course, and he told me to be prepared for some heavy winds in the back half of the race.  After that friendly chat, I made the drive back to nearby Belleville, where I would spend the night before the race.

As I said, this is a small race, but the organization was absolutely first-class.  Before registering for the race, I had emailed a question, and within a day, I had a response directly from the race director, which is just great communication.

On the morning of the race, I made the drive back to the finish area to catch the shuttle to the start-line.  The building was open, and you were able to wait inside, and had access to washrooms as well.  From there, it was on to the shuttle bus.

I ended up sitting in front of the defending champion who was having a conversation with another runner who asked if he was going to go after the course record or not.  The defending champ told him he would see if he felt like it or not.  Must be nice to be talented enough to decide on chasing course records on a whim!

At the start area, you have access to an arena where you can wait away from the elements.  There is a short track on the upper level of the arena for anybody who would like to warm-up (the only person I saw on it was the defending champ….maybe that’s his secret).  Also on the upper level, are some change rooms.  I chose to stay up there away from the crowds on the main floor of the arena lobby.

Once the start time was near, I made the short walk to the start area and checked my bag in with no fuss.  Soon, we were off.  The course is run along some country roads and through some nice small towns.  If you are not familiar with Prince Edward County, it is a really nice part of Ontario.

I enjoyed the course, but, I am quite content to run without thousands of spectators along the route.  If you are looking for a bunch of people cheering you on to push you to your finish, this is not the race for you.

I started out more conservatively than in Mississauga, and was doing a good job of keeping up a respectable pace, which would have me in line for a new pb (sub 3:59:59).  However, as promised, there were some winds to battle, and around the 31 k mark, things began to get tough.  The race is known for a hill around the 37 k mark and I am sorry to report that on this day, it did get the better of me.  While not as fierce as the vaunted hill at Around the Bay, the fact that it comes late in the race, makes it tough.

Like Mississauga, I struggled along my way to the finish.  I did some running, and some shuffling, and unfortunately at some points, slowed to a walk.

I did manage to pick up the pace a little bit towards the finish, but by that point, I was resigned to not reaching my goal of a pb.  I happily crossed the finish line.  At the finish there were some people recording what type of shoes people had on, I suppose they were doing a survey for some purpose.

I ended up crossing the line in a time of 4:05:49.  “Fast” enough to be my second best time, but well short of my goal of bettering 3:59:59.  Nonetheless, I was still pleased to have another marathon under my belt.  It was a tough day though, and I think the combination of the windy conditions, along with the fact that it was my 3rd marathon in under a year, may have caught up with me.  I can recall texting my wife after the race and describing myself as being “shattered.”

As promised, free beer was available after the race.  We were given a rather small sample, however, to my knowledge, you could have returned multiple times.  I had that small sample, some other beverages, and snacks, recovered for awhile, and made the drive home.

All in all, if you are looking for a really well-organized race, this is an excellent choice.  We received a nice long-sleeved race shirt, as well as a pair of technical socks with the race’s name on them.  I actually wore the socks in my most recent marathon, so they are a useful freebie.  Medals were also awarded to all finishers and the volunteers did a great job along the course.  I really can’t say enough about how efficiently this race is organized and carried out.  I have not returned yet as I have some other challenges I am trying to meet, but I would highly recommend this race to anyone.

To register for the next edition, or to find out more information about The County Marathon, check out the link.

Thankfully, my daugther did not make an appearance while I was out of town either.  We welcomed her into our lives 12 days later.  Much better than a personal best.

A couple of weeks later, I completed my first 15 km race to wrap up the season.  Since it was the only one I had done at that point, I had a new pb.

Have you run The County Marathon?  Join the conversation by leaving your comments below!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mississauga Marathon

After completing my first marathon in October of 2015, I had decided that I definitely wanted to run another one, and set my sights on my hometown run, the Mississauga Marathon.

For details about such race features as the expo, shuttle buses, and the like, check out my post about the Mississauga Half-Marathon where I touched on all of those things.  The marathon and half are run on the same day, along the same course, with the obvious addition of some lengthier portions for the marathon.

I felt really strong in my training for the event, and I was feeling fairly confident that I had a shot at bettering my personal best.  My PB was established at the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon the previous fall, with a time of 3:59:59.  Yes, a sub-four hour marathon!

I had ended that marathon feeling strong, and coupled with the confidence in my training, I felt like I had a good shot at setting the PB this time around.

I spent the night prior to the race at my parents’ house which was very comfortable and convenient.  My parents were actually away in Jamaica for a holiday, so I would be driving myself to the marathon the following day.

I woke up on race morning very excited for what was to come.  In fact, I found I had to calm myself down, as I sensed I was over-eager for the event.

I took the 15 minute drive down the highway and arrived with plenty of time to make the short walk to the start area.

When I had signed up for the event, I had beautifully cool perfect conditions in mind for the run, as that is what I had experienced the year before for the half (average temp of around 9 degrees Celsius).  However, as race day approached, and I was stalking the Weather Network website, much to my chagrin, the forecast was not for cooler temperatures.  To the contrary, it looked like temperatures would climb well above my breaking point, which I’ve discovered to be 16 degrees Celsius.  Once the temperatures hit that point, I’m pretty much guaranteed to be getting heat exhaustion.

I did all that I could to stay cool before the race, staying in the shade, drinking some water, and making some clothing choices which I hoped would help (a last minute purchase of a white hat to take the place of my black one).

Finally, race time was upon us, and we were off.  I cruised through the opening sections, down through the campus off the University of Toronto at Mississauga, and on by the pricey homes on Mississauga Road.  I was feeling really good.

After the point where the marathon splits from the half course, I was greeted by a runner to my left.  My Mississauga Running Nemesis.  If you’ve read my half-report, you’ll know the backstory.  I was running down a wide section of road through a residential area when all of a sudden he appeared on my left shoulder, very close to me.  I honestly don’t know what this guy’s deal is, but his running style is extremely inconsiderate and quite annoying.  I did manage to break away from him and felt much more comfortable once I did.

With that inconvenience out of the way, I could once again enjoy my run.  I can recall cruising down Southdown Road and thinking how great it was to be a marathoner, how I was really enjoying the run, and, about how I was on pace for a PB, despite the increasing temperatures.  My joy would not last much longer.

The next section of the race is through a somewhat industrial area, which is not something that bothers me.  At the 25 k mark you do a hairpin turnaround and head back along the portion that you have just run, before turning off towards the finish area.  It was just after this turnaround, that I noticed the dreaded goosebumps of heat exhaustion, and knew that my day was about to go downhill (and not in a good running way).

My kilometre split times began dropping.  I tried to push through, and started consuming Gatorade and more water in an effort to cool off.  I managed to get the split times back down briefly, but quickly, I had not only hit the wall, I was repeatedly running into it…head first.

The last 17 km of the marathon were a real struggle for me.  It was impossible for me to continue running without taking walking breaks, something that I had never experienced before in a race.

As I slowly approached the finish line, a charity walk passed over the marathon course.  I assumed that they were heading in the same direction as the course so I turned along with them, frustrated at their intrusion (remember, at this point my brain was functioning at far less than full capacity).  I soon realized that I had in fact veered off of the course, extending my run by about 150 m, not a large distance generally speaking, but given my condition, a major inconvenience.

I pushed on the best that I could, up a surprisingly long hill on Lakeshore Blvd. which was exposed to the sun.  The temperatures rose to over 25 degrees, far beyond my comfort zone.

Soon, I was back along the waterfront, walking, and running when I could manage.  You can imagine my dismay when my Mississauga Running Nemesis went running on past me.  I’d love to regale you with a story of how this stirred my competitive fires and I dug down deep to push beyond my physical limitations and crossed the finish line leaving him in the dust.  However, that’s not the case.  I had no physical response, nor the mental capacity to push myself any harder.

I struggled onward, and crossed the finish line in a disappointing time of 4:07:05.  A reasonable marathon time for a runner of my caliber, but disappointing, as I really feel with favourable weather conditions, I could have had my PB.  However, that’s the life of a marathon runner, you can only control your training and preparation, you can’t control the weather you’re given on the day of the big race.  Unfortunately, for me, I just don’t do well with the heat.  As such, as much as I’d like to get my revenge on this course, I’ve sworn off spring marathons.

Having said that, it is a great event.  And, I would still highly recommend it for any marathoners out there.  The organization is first rate, with well-stocked aid stations, excellent volunteer support, efficient shuttle service, and a mostly enjoyable course.

Although I was unhappy with my time, I was proud to have my second marathon finish in the books.  Had I reached my PB, that would have put an end to my marathon running for awhile.  However, I felt I had unfinished business, so I soon set my sights on the Prince Edward County Marathon in October.  I had a sense of urgency about getting that one in, as my wife was expected to give birth a couple of weeks after race day.  I figured that my time for running, was about to be, greatly reduced.

This would mean running three marathons in less than a year.  How would that turn out?  I’ll let you know in a future post.

Thanks for reading.  What was your toughest run?  Leave your thoughts in the comments below.