The fourth and final race on my summer triathlon bucket list was the St. Paul Triathlon Olympic distance race on August 19. I've wanted to do this race for years, but it's just never worked out. I was excited to get one final tri in while ramping up the distance at the end of the summer. My body had other plans.
I have been training for the Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon for the last couple of months and have been really excited to see some of my pre-baby run times showing up on my watch. My coworker Laura is running her first TCM, and as luck would have it, she's right about my pace, so we've been doing a lot of our runs together. Once upon a time, I liked to run by myself. In the last few years, however, ESPECIALLY post-baby, I like having a partner. Long runs feel more like social time with an added bonus of exercise instead of something I sometimes dread doing and know it's taking time away from my family.
Ten days before the tri, I went on a long run with Laura. We only went 16 miles, but my sacrum, which has been a little achy lately, REALLY started to act up. It was one of those things where I had been feeling the need to go to the chiropractor for weeks, but I just hadn't found the time. This pain was unlike anything I had felt before. My entire sacrum hurt so bad that I couldn't sit down without pain. It hurt to lay on my back, walk, or bend over. Even the thought of running turned my stomach. Watching track races during the Olympics made me feel worse. I started to freak out that I had a stress fracture, and I went to a very dark place. Sacral stress fractures are relatively uncommon, but I had to eliminate most dairy this past year while I was breastfeeding secondary to Henry's sensitivity issues, and I sometimes take my ability to ramp up my mileage for granted. "Great," I thought, "I won't be able to run for weeks, even months, and we're going to have to be done breastfeeding."
I called my friend Sarah, a PT who specializes in Women's medicine to ask if she thought I should be wearing my SI belt again given the pain. That's when she informed me that she usually recommends that women wear the brace for 6-12 months after they're done nursing. Oops. I think that part was lost in translation. I haven't worn it since the marathon last fall.
I got in to see a sports med doctor 5 days after my run, still unable to sit comfortably. He confirmed that things were definitely out of whack in there and that it could be a stress fracture. He sent me for a bone scan. Radioactivity aside, it was actually quite a pleasant experience. Put a working mom on a small table covered in warm blankets in a dark room for 30-40 minutes, and it's no surprise that I fell asleep. They called me 2 days later to say that the test results were negative. Hallelujah! At that point, I had been without a run for a full week, and I knew things wouldn't truly get better till I could in with the chiropractor. Though I was starting to feel a little better, I knew the tri was out of the question.
The chiropractor confirmed that my right sacrum was really locked out of place and with a couple of maneuvers and a gloriously loud crack, he got it back. He and my PT friend both recommended that I continue to wear the brace since I'm at risk for it going out again, so that's what I'm doing. It isn't pretty, but I can tell when I need to tighten it in the middle of a run. It really is helping. It got me through my 18 miler last weekend and my twenty miler Saturday. It's looking like TCM #13 will be happening after all!
My 20 miler Saturday felt great! Well, "great" is a relative term. It felt like I ran 20 miles. I did the first 6 solo in beautiful weather along the Mississippi. They had the inaugural Women Rock marathon and Half Marathon, and I ran right past the start as they were lining up. I felt so excited for them. I'm curious to hear what people thought of it. I'd definitely consider doing it sometime. I finished those 6 miles with a ton of energy knowing the rest of my run was going to be good. Laura met up with me for my last 14, and the miles just flew by. I didn't really feel sore afterward, and I took this as a sign that my body is tolerating the mileage.
I've been strongly considering doing Surf the Murph 50 K at the end of October. I did it in 2009 and had a blast, and I've been wanting to get back since. Feeling OK after my 20 miler and the threat of increased prices after Sept 15 gave me the final push I needed. I signed up. I'm really making a point to to get some biking in on my non-run days, and I think keeping this up along with incorporating trail running in the next 6 weeks will get me there. My time won't be spectacular. It wasn't 3 years ago, either, but I still think fondly of that race, and I'd like to give it another go. I'd still like to do a 50 miler someday... maybe next spring? Is it too early to start thinking about next year's races?
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