Running 2012: the cold hard facts

When I read other people’s blogs, I’m often frustrated at their lack of transparency or inability to tell the whole story, either from discretion or mere laziness. So, I figure if you’re on my blog, you might want the update on running rather than trying to cobble it together from Google, TFRRS and Facebook. Maybe you’re not all as curious or voyeuristic about other runners as I am, but if you are, read on.

The wall o’ text below can be summed up here:

  • January – May: Yay track season! PRs all around!
  • June – July: Tentative return to running
  • August – October: Heel pain, ow. Oh, stress fracture.
  • November – December: Biking and swimming galore. Am I ever going to run again?!

Last time I really wrote about this was after the 2011 cross country season. I had plantar fasciitis but I somehow managed to keep some semblance of running shape.

Spring

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After two weeks off, the PF got better and I hit a really nice segment of training through Christmas break. I ran a full indoor season, slightly upping my max-ever mileage to 60 miles/week. Some race weeks were less than that. I PR’d by a little bit in the mile (4:45), 3k (9:30), and 1200 of the DMR (3:25). Not stellar but pleasing. The trip to NYC was a highlight, in terms of running fast and having fun away from school with my teammates. Running was fun again. All systems go.

Spring break was fantastic. I spent a week roaming the trails of Austin and the shows of SXSW, and had time to finish applying for summer jobs. At a Mumford and Sons concert, my right foot started to hurt, but I figured it was probably because I had worn Nike Frees and been on my feet a long time. The show was amazing, by the way.

The rest of the spring was one of those seasons you long for. Even when I screwed up on the little things, I was having great workouts and long runs. Sometimes my arches hurt, but very mildly. I kept doing massages, icing, stretching, strengthening and all the other PT that PF mandates. The miles kept piling up in my logbook, accrued from chilly, early long runs with teammates, fresh tempos, before-class morning shakeouts, satisfying track days, and carefree afternoon doubles in the shade-dappled trails of Cameron Park.

I raced about every other weekend, and finally conquered my fear of doubling (so irrational). I didn’t race well in front of my home crowd at Texas Relays, but thanks to Stanford Magic a week later I was able to drop a nice 5k PR of 16:13. Two weeks later I PR’d in the 1500 (4:24) at our home meet. I PR’d at Drake in the 1600 leg of a DMR (4:43) and even grabbed an 800 PR on a 4×8 that night (2:10).

I wish I would have blogged during this time of my life, but I was probably too busy enjoying it ;)

Naturally, I had high hopes for the Big 12 Champs in Manhattan, Kansas in May. But for whatever reason, overconfidence, underconfidence, lack of prep, I ran 16:44 in the 5k there for 6th. The race had gone out fast thanks to Natosha Rogers (who would later place freaking 2nd in the 10k at the USA Olympic Trials), and after I dropped off the lead pack at the halfway point, I didn’t hold it together well. I knew dropping off would mean I would do poorly… and it did. Sometimes I probably shouldn’t think so much.

The last race of my season was the 5k at the NCAA Championships West Preliminary Round. They said to quit calling it “regionals,” but it’s not quite making it to nationals. What do they call it? One of my coaches said this…

Anyway, my time from Stanford ranked me 25th in the region, and the top 12 advanced to nationals. Two years before, I’d ran the 5k on a whim at “half nats” and placed 19th when I’d been ranked 46th. It was at the Univ. of Texas in Austin both years, and in 2010 the heat had majorly affected the race. We all ran slow that year and I’d finished strong. I was expecting to be able to do the same in 2012. But some talented gals kicked us off this year with a 5:05 starting mile, and I was toast. Once I dropped  off the pack, I completely gave up and proceeded to run the most embarrassing race of my career, finishing 17:51 for last in my heat. Giving up displays a vast lack of character that I’m not proud of and I deeply regret that was my last race of 2012. My coach was easier on me than I was, commending me for going out hard, but I knew inside that even being tired from that effort could not excuse giving up the way I did.

Summer

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After track season, I took a two week break. I cooked a lot, ate junk food and didn’t sleep enough, and my body was like KTHANX and tacked on 10 lbs. People don’t believe me when I say this, but it’s true. I ran a little in June, following a typical buildup of running every other day, then working back in easy runs every day. My right foot hurt like crazy, plantar’s back in full force. But I was lazy with stretching and icing, so it was probably just kind of mad at me.

Not to worry, I landed a sweet month-long gig working at a high school running camp in Colorado. It was a dream job, as long as your dream was to go to running camp. I loved it, and working with the other counselors and high school kids was a blast. I’d never spent time in Colorado before, and it was every bit as beautiful as the facebook pictures of my friends showed me. It inspired me to be more outdoorsy.

Running at camp was pretty nice. Although altitude sucked, we ran twice a day so it was easy to get mileage. We had time built in for icing and recovery, so I was able to get my foot under control. It would hurt while warming up but not during the runs, so I patted myself on the back and kept going. The highlight of this month was finishing up the last 30 minutes of a long run by myself on the ridge trail by Western State’s campus in Gunnison. I was listening to “Winter Winds” from Mumford and Sons and looking out across the valley, though I was breathing pretty hard, I felt really good. I ran 55 miles that week, my season high.

One of the last days at camp we did a hilly run to Emerald Lake from Mt. Crested Butte, and my right heel was never the same again. It hurt so much to walk the rest of the day. From there and through August, runs were hit and miss. Sometimes it would be ok, but most of the time it hurt. I didn’t stop running entirely because I was still on vacation in Colorado and we wanted to run cool places. I got about 30 miles a week that month.

Fall

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I thought once I got back to Baylor and got with the athletic trainers, I could get it under control. I tried a four mile tempo the first day back, and couldn’t walk the rest of the day. Many references were made to last fall’s bout with plantar’s and how I was able to mostly overcome that. The solution there was time off, so I did that. But even after 10 days off it still hurt, so I picked up running again. Looking back, I’m not sure what we were thinking… but I remember saying, if it’s going to hurt anyway, I might as well have the fun of running.

We did Airrosti and all the normal PT stuff you can do for PF but my heel just wouldn’t stop hurting. Some days it would be better, though, which encouraged us enough to keep trying. I averaged 26 miles a week in September. In October I finally got an x ray. Nothing showed, so I got a cortisone shot. It didn’t work, so we went to an MRI. I guess we’d put it off because those MRIs don’t come cheap. Finally on Halloween I found out it was a stress fracture! Boom.

The sense of relief was great. I was so happy to learn I wasn’t being a wuss about pain. And I had an excuse to stop running and facing pain every day! I started wearing a boot, which was great because it made walking feel a lot better. My Dr. was really cool too and let me still bike so I could work out and get to class.

However, it’s been 10.5 weeks since I ran a step and I still have heel pain. The Dr. says sometimes it just takes longer. Outside of sleeping right, eating right and not being on my feet too much, there’s not much else I can do to get this thing better. It’s become amusing how powerless I am. Not that I’m giving up, but I know God is in control and it’ll get better whenever he wants it to.

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One thought on “Running 2012: the cold hard facts

  1. Pingback: I used to run track at Baylor | cate runs

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