Chapter 3 – Hurdling
So where did we leave off? Ah, yes… with me on a half marathon experience high putting in my first 5 mile run.
Now anyone who knows me knows that I have zero tolerance for cold weather (which is pretty much anything under 70 degrees in my mind) So starting training for an event in the fall/winter was simply out of the question. Fast forward to the following June when a combination of consistently warm weather and the promise of free time courtesy of summer vacation led me to rekindle that notion of half marathon training. With no real plan, I started to increase the frequency, duration, and speed of my runs. Over the span of a few weeks I began to feel some positive cardiovascular improvements, muscle growth, and an overall increased sense of pleasure while running. However, at the same time I also began to experience some ankle/foot pain. I attributed it to a rite of passage into long distance running as I had seen and heard Nick and Eric describing various ailments as they packed ice onto their lower extremities. I continued moving forward and with each run relied on endorphins to push me through the increasing pain. The afternoon of the last day of school, I decided to sprint right into vacation with an extra hard run and by the next morning the pain came right back with extra gusto. I gimped through the weekend, google searching every common foot injury I had heard of. I like to believe that I have a pretty high pain threshold (thanks Mom!) and generally avoid making doctor visits, but after three days of constant pain and three nights spent tossing and turning in discomfort I finally caved and went to see an orthopedist. An examination and x-ray revealed that I had run myself right into a calcaneus (heel) stress fracture. I left the doctor’s office with a prescription for 6 weeks of rest, double daily dosage of calcium, and a highly fashionable fracture boot.
Needless to say, I was frustrated and disheartened. Adding insult to injury was Nick and Eric’s befuddlement over my decision to continue running once the pain began. Not being one to complain (over medical woes at least!) I had never mentioned the nagging pain to them prior to its apex. “You guys are always complaining about your aches and pains and you keep running!” I argued defensively. They countered with “That’s because our pain comes after running…. not during!” Little did I know that there were acceptable and unacceptable pockets of time for pain. “Fortunately,” I now had six weeks to get schooled in running.
All summer, I kept my conditioning up with lower impact cardio (cycling, elliptical, etc.), but by the time I received medical clearance to run again the race season was winding down and so was my motivation to train for a half. So, I tucked my fleeting dream away and returned to just casual 2-3 mile runs, with my only competitive event being completing my second Turkey Trot. Like so many others, I often seize the new year as an opportunity for new beginnings. When in January I sat down to write my 2011 goals, listed under the wellness category was completing a half marathon. I decided to strike while the inspiration was hot and immediately began “training.” My aversion to the cold weather was still strong as ever so I committed myself to treadmill runs. In my mind, the doldrum hum of the machine was far preferable to frostbite and hypothermia. My training “plan” was based on nothing more than my own beliefs of what would increase my distance and stamina. I started at 5 miles again and every couple of days would increase my distance by half a mile. I was running 4 days a week (2 longer runs and 2 shorter runs) and before long I was running 8+ miles and logging 20+ miles a week. I could feel my fitness levels increasing and I felt incredible. So incredible that I registered for the Philly Rock and Roll Half Marathon for September. So incredible… except for that reoccurring pain in my left hip. But I wrote the pain off with a “no pain, no gain” mentality. My less than enjoyable fracture boot days were overshadowed by the ecstasy of the long run. About a month in, Nick and I attended a dinner party hosted by Eric and his wife, Amy. Eric and I inevitably got into a conversation about running and when I shared my plan with him he lectured me on the importance of cycling in your training (varying your distance, having harder weeks followed by easier weeks) In one ear out the other it went… I mean what does he know, he’s only a professional in the field! Eric, who makes my stubbornness look weak, recognized my close-mindedness and concluded with “I don’t want to hear it when you get hurt!” “I won’t” were my famous last words.
My Mid-Winter Recess from school arrived in mid February and with it came the opportunity to take advantage of an empty mid-afternoon gym and monopolize a treadmill for an hour and a half at a time. My hip made its feelings about these 9.5 mile runs very clear and by Friday the only way to get my hip to stop hurting (whether running or not) was to grit my teeth through the first two miles until the endorphins kicked in and dulled it. That afternoon I went to visit my parents and by the time I arrived I was in major pain. Not wanting my parents to know (my mom had insisted that I give up running after the stress fracture and there is nothing worse than mom guilt!) so I barely left my chair at their kitchen table and when I did relied on countertop or wall support. I kept up the facade with Nick when I returned home that night, but by the next morning I was in such crippling pain that I could not bear any weight at all. After hours of hopping around on one foot and a constant influx of Advil I finally broke down in tears and confessed to Nick just how much pain I was in and how long it had been happening. We both realized that medical attention was a must, which on a Saturday night means the emergency room. Our visit to the ER was seemingly useless as x-rays were inconclusive. I left with orders to see my orthopedist and get an MRI and a pair of crutches which would at least allow me to enough mobility to go back to work on Monday. I followed doctor’s orders and saw my orthopedist who sent me for the MRI. By now a full week had passed, but no relief was to be had (only sleepless nights and cringing with every movement) The MRI results held the explanation… I had a femoral neck stress fracture. Two stress fractures in less than a year… not the start to my running career that I had envisioned. I was once again ordered to six weeks of rest and continued use of crutches (needing a laugh… envision me trying to maneuver around my classroom on crutches with 20 kindergarteners constantly at my feet). But this time I got the added warning that one wrong move could result in the need for surgery due to the high risk associated with this particular type of stress fracture. I was consumed by worry, regret, and self-loathing. Oh, and did I mention I was supposed to be walking down the aisle in less than 4 months?!
To be continued..
And if you stuck it out with me through this you deserve a rest (and recipe) now too!
Guacamole and hummus are two of my absolute favorite foods. Aside from being incredibly tasty they are so versatile. They can be a dip, a sandwich spread, a pizza layer, a pasta sauce… and they can whipped up in minutes! I was recently making a salad and decided to throw in both avocado chunks and chickpeas. As the two flavors mingled in my mouth I started to daydream of combining these two in their most beloved forms. And thus guacammus was born and it was all I hoped it would be… creamy, flavorful, and satisfying!
The scoop on guacammus:
- Chickpeas lend a healthy dose of protein which aids in muscle recovery
- Avocados are loaded with potassium (double that of a banana!) which helps keep you hydrated and aids in recovery
- Both chickpeas and avocados are high in fiber which is essential for sustained energy and fullness
- Unsaturated fats, like those found in avocados, can stave off injuries (like stress fractures!)
- Dip pita bread wedges and/or fresh veggies in guacammus and you’ve got a winning combination of carbs and protein
a Martha Stoever original recipe
- 1 (15 oz.) can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 1 avocado, peeled and pitted
- 3 cloves of garlic, peeled
- 1/2 serrano pepper, seeded
- 1/3 cup cilantro, loosely packed
- 1 TBSP olive oil
- 2 TBSP lime juice
- 1/2 tsp salt (more or less to taste)
Combine all ingredients in food processor and blend until smooth.
Serve with crudités and pita bread wedges/chips.