Well, here we are – January 2nd already! How does that happen? I feel like I’ve been preparing to write this blog forever, and now, it’s suddenly here and time to begin. You may have already read my post from yesterday, about a favorite TV episode of mine. But today is Thursday, and this just so happens to be a special sort of Thursday, because I had a race yesterday.
Now, you’re probably thinking about how crazy I am right now. Why would you want to run a half marathon on New Year’s Day, which is basically a day set aside for being lazy and hungover? Well, if you know anything about me, you’d know that I was unlikely to be hungover, no matter what my plans were the night before. And what better way to start the New Year off right than a nice, brisk morning race?
Oh, was I ever wrong.
First of all, you’ve probably figured out by now that I live in Minnesota. This race was called the Polar Dash. And it was frigid. When I woke up yesterday morning, it was -8 degrees.[i] Luckily for me, there wasn’t much wind. Unluckily for me, I hadn’t been keeping up with my training schedule like I should have been. It’s hard to make yourself go outside before dawn when it’s below zero to try to get four miles in before work. So, there’s the setup for this story.
Full disclosure - the picture is not from yesterday. With all that happened, I forgot to have H take one. But I imagine I looked similar.
H and I arrived with the perfect amount of time. He kissed me on the forehead and wished me good luck, then went to the other side of the starting line to see me off. The course was a double out and back, so he had a plan that would allow him to see me run by three times before meeting me at the finish line. I was feeling pretty good at the start (once I got the feeling back in my toes and fingers from waiting around). But less than two miles in, things started to change.
I’ve never had great knees, but since I’ve started running, I thought I was taking care of myself very well. Something different happened yesterday. Something I’ve never felt before, and hopefully won’t have to deal with in the future.
Shooting pains. There were terrible shooting pains in my knees. By the time I decided it wasn’t worth it to cry with every step I took, I was still two miles away from the finish line. I called H (thank goodness I was using my cell phone for music), and he started walking toward me, meeting me with about a mile to go. He walked with me to the finish line, helping me hobble along while I leaned on his shoulder, tears streaming from my eyes the entire time. Never in my life have I felt pain like that, and there is nothing that would make me want to relive it. I could feel the pain in both my ankles, and both my hips. It was like the outsides of my knees had little bows that show pain arrows in both directions. I was miserable.
Thankfully, two of the race volunteers got me a medal and then drove us to H’s car, parked a couple of blocks away. I was shivering from walking in the cold (when you dress for running, you’re not warm enough unless you’re running)[ii], and could hardly put one foot in front of the other. When we got home, H made me eggs while I tried to warm up in the shower, and then it was a couch day, with alternating snow compresses (my dad’s idea, instead of ice cubes) and ibuprofen. And Grey’s Anatomy. Lots of Grey’s Anatomy.
Today, I am mostly stiff, but there is still pain in every step. I called a sports medicine clinic, and have an appointment for tomorrow afternoon, to make sure I’m not going to injure myself worse when I start running again. Because yes, of course I’m going to run again. In my mind, that race was a failure – I didn’t finish strong, I finished weak. People can reassure me all they want – I am going to need to do it again. But taking care of myself is definitely going to come first. I’m only six months away from my marathon! And if I need to take a break for a while to heal, I’ll do it. Because that marathon is happening.
Welcome to 2014, everyone! And I hope your New Year’s Day was less painful than mine![iii]
[i] I want to point out that, when it’s below zero and you’re running, you can’t tell it’s that cold. It’s only when you stop that you feel it.
[ii] On a related note, there was a guy who ran the race in his underwear. Yep. Below zero, no clothes. He had some sweet tattoos though.
[iii] As painful as it was, H was wonderful through the whole entire day. I am a lucky girl.