I toed the line for my final Indy Mini on Saturday May 6, 2017.
The journey to that final start line has been frustrating and painful.
It all started nearly a year ago when I experienced some pain in my knee. I had run 3 half marathons in 2 months, while not totally unusual for me, it was a lot of running, so I figured I just needed a bit of a break. I focused more on biking over the summer.
But the knee just didn’t get better. In fact, it seemed to get worse.
Race recap, Running
goals, half marathon, Indy Mini, mindset
Even though this is my 2016 Santa Hustle race recap with a race date of December 18, 2016, the full recap had a beginning back in the summer.
If you’ve visited here before, you may have seen mention of my knee arthritis diagnosis. The problems started after my Chicago half marathon the end of May. It threw my whole running world into a spin. What started as a little pain that I thought was just overuse and needed to rest became a diagnosis (after 2 doctor opinions and x-rays and MRI) that I have arthritis in both knees. It just happened to be exhibiting in one knee.
Prognosis: Arthritis. Bad knees. Learn to manage it. Which has meant drastically reducing my running mileage and also changing some race plans.
I had registered for the Santa Hustle Half Marathon as soon as registration opened up. Which was early June. (I had also registered for a November half marathon on January 1, 2016. I had to change that to the 5K.) I’ve done the Santa Hustle as long as they’ve been doing the half in Indianapolis (2012 to be exact!). We’ve also taken advantage of the discount rate to stay at the JW Marriott even though I’m only about a 30 minute drive away.
2016 was supposed to be no different. I registered for the half and booked our room. All in June. Before doctor appointments and frustrating diagnosis.
Ok, so fast forward. I was hopeful that I might be able to get back to the half marathon distance by the end of the year, but it just wasn’t to be. I’m back to running, but my knee only handles about 3-5 miles at a time and no runs with less than 24 hours of recovery in between. So I’m doing a lot of cross training and stretching, etc.
I made the decision to back off to the 5K in November. The race organizers were happy to accommodate my request. I was a bit bummed, but I was thankful I was able to at least do that.
Christmas is my favorite time of year. Running is my favorite thing to do. I always looked forward to this event. I load my ipod (yes, I still have a little ipod nano that I use! Don’t judge me! lol!) with Christmas music and enjoy 2 of my favorite things.
And then Winter happened in Indiana. Last year at this event, it was so warm that I wore a tank top for the half. This year, we had cold temps, snow, and ice to the point that on Friday before the Sunday race, organizers cancelled the half and committed to only the 5K. All participants had the option to run the 5K as well as claim their half marathon medal and do the half as a virtual event on a day when the weather was more cooperative.
Can I admit that this decision made me feel a tiny bit better? I confess that skipping this half was a bit discouraging for me. It’s been a favorite the last 5 years! So now that it wasn’t even an option, it made the day a bit easier.
We stayed downtown on Saturday night and visited the State Museum that is across the street from the hotel. We ate at TGI Friday’s (another ritual!). The 5K didn’t start until 9:30AM. I waited until 9:10 to leave the hotel and walk over to Lucas Oil Stadium for the start of the race. This was the coldest and most slippery part of the day! I safely arrived at the start line about eight minutes before the start.
It was cold and windy, but I was layered up. The temperature was 17 with a “feels like 2” reading. The course was out and back and seemed to be over in no time. My mantra is always “The faster I run, the faster I get done”. On this day and in these conditions, I did my best to follow my mantra! I finished in 28:00 flat and in the top 10 in my age group. No complaints. Certainly not my fastest 5K, but I’ll take it! I grabbed my medal and a few treats to take back to the hotel and just kept moving.
I wrapped up the morning with a hot shower and a Starbucks and later watched our Indianapolis Colts win big over the Minnesota Vikings.
It ended up being a good day and another good memory on Santa Hustle day!
Have you ever run a Santa Hustle event?
How cold is too cold for you to go out and run?
Race recap, Running
5K, Christmas, goals, mindset, santa hustle
Oh the difference a year can make.
Last year at this time I was sharing my Monumental Half Marathon recap. I struggled with my finish time and questioned why I couldn’t get under 2 hours like I was used to when running my half marathons. Fast forward to the spring 2016, and I ran 3 more half marathons. You can go back and read about the Hoosier Half, the Indy Mini, and the Chicago Half. And then my running came to an abrupt halt.
After the Chicago Half I had a bit of pain in my knee, so I decided to back off. I took to the bike (thank the Lord I love to bike!). But the break from running didn’t seem to help. In fact, the knee kept getting worse. When I tried to do a short run, there was pain. Finally I went to the doctor. After x-rays, MRI, etc, the final diagnosis is “bad knees”. I have arthritis in both knees. It’s a chronic condition that isn’t going to get better. I have to learn to “manage” it, according to the doctor.
Devastating to say the least.
I spent my summer biking a ton and hardly running. I walked some. I kept meeting up with the Roadrunners, because you gotta have your fitness family, right? I’d walk most times and try to run a bit here and there. I worked on stretching and strengthening my knee and the muscles around it. Wednesday I had my final appointment with my physical therapist who told me I was good to go and that I’d just have to monitor and manage.
So here I was. Saturday morning. Toeing the line to race for the first time since the end of May. And I wasn’t in the half marathon that I’m used to running. I was running the 5K. I’d only run 3 miles a few times in the weeks leading up to this event, but I had signed up back on January 1st, and I was ready to race! I had originally signed up for the half, because that’s what I do (did I mention the half is my favorite, and I’ve completed 58 of them??). Reluctantly, I changed my entry to the 5K. I’ve never showed up at a race that offers a 5K with a half or full and done the 5K. I’m a cardio junkie, a distance girl. Sign me up for the miles!
But not this time.
Race morning I met up with local runners in Shelbyville, and we drove to the race site together. (We made our token stop at the Hardee’s located where we enter downtown Indy. It’s a race morning tradition!)
I feared I would be sad that I wasn’t running the half. I thought I’d have lots of emotions to deal with when I saw all the runners take off, and I was left behind to run the 5K. But you know, I did okay. I still felt that same race day excitement. I still felt the awe of the energy surrounding me and the energy within me. I was still overcome with gratitude to be running, and maybe even more so, because just a few weeks ago I wasn’t sure I’d be ready to run at all on this date.
I took off a bit cautiously and planned to be conservative with my pace since I hadn’t tested out this knee much over the last few months. From experience I know that speed work just aggravates injury. But everything felt okay. I didn’t feel any tugging or pulling around my knee. It felt good to be out in that race atmosphere. I had set a goal for that race if everything felt okay, and I was able to achieve it. It wasn’t close to my best 5K time, but it was good for this season that I’m in.
I finished with a smile on my face. I grabbed my stuff from bag check so I could put on a sweatshirt and buy a cup of coffee and watch for my friends to finish the half marathon. Not once did I feel sadness that I wasn’t part of the bigger race. I was just grateful to be there and satisfied that I’m still a runner.
Do you have any race morning traditions (like our Hardee’s stop?? lol!)
Have you ever had to change a race entry from a full or half to a shorter distance?
Race recap, Running
BeMonumental, mindset, monumental marathon