After my positive visit with my physiotherapist last night, I debated whether I should run on the treadmill today or give it a go with Run Club. I knew the groups I've been running with were doing hills and I really didn't know if hills would be the best idea. After wallowing in runner's injury self-pity since Saturday though, the thought of running alone in the basement was just sooooo uninspiring.
In the end, I decided that I needed the morale boost of running with the group more than I needed to go easy and run on a treadmill. A group run was really the best of both worlds because I'd be able to run with friends and if things hurt or the hills were too hard I could easily just modify my route or slow right down.
I am so glad that's what I decided to do. Tonight was awesome.
Instead of starting at the store, I drove and parked a few blocks away from the hill. I figured this would give me the chance to do a short warm-up before meeting up with everyone else at the hill. I started out easy, focusing on staying relaxed and not compensating in any weird ways and things felt fine. A few more blocks down the road and I still felt good. This was already a huge improvement over Saturday's Honey Wagon half marathon where the pain started almost immediately.
I headed towards the hill just making sure to be careful and to watch my footing. We think the muscle I strained is a little stabilizer-type muscle in the back of my knee, so keeping even footing would definitely help. The last little stretch up to Marathon Hill is this dark little paved pathway so I tried to be super careful. Sure enough, I felt a little twinge during this part so I slowed down a little.
When I got to the hill Krista was already done 3 hills so we said hello and I fell into step behind her. Having someone with a steady pace in front of me always helps on hills and Krista was my focus tonight as I trudged up the hill. The leg felt good and before I knew it, I was on the downhill still feeling good. I decided to try a few more and sure enough, felt okay. Yahoo! This was going so much better than I expected.
By the 5th repeat I was feeling some mild discomfort across the back of my knee but nothing compared to my DNF-inducing pain last weekend and certainly nothing of the level that would normally concern me. By this point I was feeling so happy and the last couple hills both up and down felt awesome despite the little niggles.
By the time I headed up for my last hill I was pretty sure I was the last person on the hill. No big deal, I've spent many a run at the back of the pack. One of the marathon instructors joined me (although I didn't notice her until the top because bad me, I had my music turned right up for a bit of motivation on that last climb). Coincidentally she's the one who did the Run for Water Ultra last year so it was nice to chat a bit on the way down.
When I got to the end the rest of the group had waited and I even got a little clap. Ha ha. I think they were clapping because I was the last runner but in my mind I was clapping for myself because I conquered those hills despite the pesky knee/calf injury that I had totally feared would derail me this year. I felt so good to finish all 7 repeats and feel just fine at the end. Awesome.
I headed back to the store to meet up with one of the most dedicated runners in our Run Club who had told me he had a donation to my Run for Water efforts. I'm only a couple days in to my fundraising and his donation got me to the 40% mark of my goal. I just can't believe how amazingly giving my running community is and I am so humbled by their immediate generosity. Aww, we runners are the best!
Anyhow, when I got home tonight I immediately hit the couch for some quality time with an ice pack and a celebratory chocolate milk. Tonight was fantastic because my run went well but I think more importantly, I sooooo needed that boost of having a successful run. I totally admit I've been a total Negative Nellie all week and have been expecting the worst from this injury. For someone who deals with injury, pain management and recovery on a daily basis because of my back problems, I am the worst for handling the injuries that happen out on the road. I felt pretty sad this week thinking of how I might not be able to train properly and therefore might not be able to do my best at the BMO marathon and now the Run for Water Ultra...tonight's run was just the boost I need to feel back in the game.
Okay, so that was a really long post simply about having a good run. But when a good run is the one thing that restores your motivation and reminds you of why you spend all those hours pounding the pavement, I think it deserves a few extra words. :)