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Huntington WV, 2010

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Joined: 28 Dec 2011
Posts: 30
Location: San Antonio

PostPosted: Fri Dec 30, 2011 6:17 am    Post subject: Huntington WV, 2010 Reply with quote

Hope y'all don't mind, but since there's not much posting going on right now, I'd like to share another story. I used to be an ok runner. Qualified for Boston twice (2001 and 2004) with a PR of 3:16. Used to think anything over four hours was awful. Now I would love to break four! Anyway, this was my low point, last November in West Virginia. But I have come back, so maybe this will give some encouragement to anyone who is currently suffering with injury and self-doubt. Written January 2011...

You've heard this before - worst marathon ever.

The hamstring pain I had been experiencing was exacerbated by the Grand Rapids marathon. Afterwards I couldn't run at all. Terrible pain (impact trauma) each time I landed on my right leg. In hindsight I believe the problem was caused by my shoes. Normally when my shoes wear out, I start experiencing Achilles pain (sometimes heel, sometimes tendon) and immediately replace the shoes. But that didn't happen - instead the pain was in the hamstring. These shoes (Nike Lunar Lites) were weird in that they have a huge waffle-like cushioned heel. Actually I liked them while running, very comfortable. I had less than 400 miles on them, but I did see that the right outside heel was severely worn. Threw them out after Michigan, but the damage was done. Tried massage, heat, cold, time off, stretching. These things helped, but the pain would never completely go away. Unfortunately I had already paid the airfare for West Virginia. Rather than quit, I decided to take a full seven days off before the race. This time off lulled me into a false sense of health, as there was no pain while walking.

Barb, Joseph and I flew into Charleston, then had an hour drive to Huntington. Strangely, one of the most painful things on the hamstring is driving, especially long distances. This was my first clue that I was in trouble, as I had to pull over twice on the way, just to stretch out. Ah, try not to think about it...

Stayed downtown at the Pullman, which had a good view of the Ohio river. Ate lunch at the Marshall Hall of Fame Café - good food and all kinds of cool Marshall University memorabilia. We later met John and his son Chris for dinner at Jim's Steak and Spaghetti House. This place was in a time warp - waitresses dressed from the 1950's or 1960's, no credit cards accepted - just an old fashioned and bizarrely cool place.

Race morning was very cold. I tried to keep it nice and easy, hoping for a steady 10-minute mile pace. The course has an early extended section through a park. Feeling pretty good so far. Perfect day, and not very hilly at all, especially considering this is West Virginia. We then run out on a long straight road away from town. At the 15.5 mark, you turn around and head back. I am not feeling any hamstring pain at all. In fact, both of my legs feel numb. That's weird. Then at mile 16 I stop. There is no hill, no heat, no obstacle. My body just wants to stop. I have felt like this before, but usually it's around mile 22 or 23 or 24. This time I still have ten miles to go. That's too far. And I think of quitting.

I try to run, but can only go for a minute or two before I have to stop and walk again. Repeat. The internal debate on whether to continue rages. Clearly there will be no health benefit in running the next ten miles. Also, my family will be very concerned when I don't show at the expected time. John must be way ahead of me by now, and it would be rude for me to inconvenience everyone by making them wait for my walking carcass. But mainly, this really sucks and I want to be done. On the other hand, if I quit now, I would have to come back to West Virginia later - not that it's a bad state, but it seems like a huge waste of money to go home empty-handed. Don't be a quitter, I tell myself. Actually I use a different word, we'll leave it unsaid!

Mile marker 17. Seems like it took a VERY long time to get there. This is a waste of time, just quit now. There are water stops, but alas no aid stations. Crap, I don't know where I am, so there is no way to take a shortcut back to the finish. Keep going. Mile 18. God this is torture. I see a clock at some store, and calculate out that I might be able to finish in five hours, maybe. I know the course eventually goes back to the park. If I can just make it to the park and the shade... Mile 19 (I think), and then the turn towards the park. Made it this far, might as well finish.

This is also one of the few intersections on the course where you can see the other runners who are maybe four miles ahead. And there is John! Great, I can let him know that I will be late! "John!" He hears me and turns, and I watch him nearly get hit by a car! He later thanks me, but I can't help but think that I may have also caused the problem. The policeman directing traffic also turned towards me (perhaps his name was John too?) and then failed to stop the cross-traffic. "Five hours" I yell. Ah, now I don't have to worry about Barb and Joey worrying about me.

At last I enter the park. Great tall trees, huge leaves flying about - I am able to get lost in another world and forget about the pain. Way back here among the really slow runners, it is often solitary. I am too slow to pass anyone, but then again anybody behind me must also be slow and unlikely to pass me. Then I hear leaves shuffling behind. What the heck? A girl passes me, doing that power walk thing with her arms swinging. Hey, I think I'll try that. Nope, she quickly gains ground and is soon out of sight. Ok, I suck at walking too, but at least I can still run faster than I can walk.

I reach Marshall University. At mile 25 you might be handed a carnation to place on a memorial. But not when you are this slow - the flowers and the volunteers are long gone. Finally I enter the football stadium, where I am handed a mini-football. Originally I was looking forward to this part, but after five hours, four minutes and 55 seconds, I'm just not that into it. Cool medal. Great course. Perfect weather. Too bad I couldn't enjoy it!

Afterwards my abs were really sore. Apparently I was subconsciously tensing on each step to avoid the hamstring pain, leading to the sore abs, quads, and calves. This extra effort must have sapped my energy early, leading to the zombie-like state at mile 16. On the plus side, my hamstrings were no worse for the wear - just the same old regular pain.

The next day during the drive back to Charleston, we stopped at the Blenko Glass Factory in Milton. Awesome place. There is a viewing area where you can watch the workers in action. If you're ever in the area, I highly recommend stopping here.

The race was November 7. I spent the next two months trying various treatments, with limited success. I reached a plateau. Couldn't run faster than 10 minute mile pace, couldn't run further than six miles, and that nagging pain was always ready to appear any time I drove a car. No speed, no endurance - looked like my running days were over.

Desperate, I opted for that quackery known as chiropractic on January 13. Did a one hour session. The guy did a bunch of weird tests, popped my back, adjusted my spine, and stretched me. Said I could go ahead and start running again. Amazingly, I did a ten mile run that weekend. The next weekend, I completed a 25K race with a pace of 9:35. I feel like I have a second chance. And so I will be attempting state number 38 on Feb 19, in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. We will see what happens...


Today I no longer believe my hamstring issues were the fault of the shoes. Nor do I believe that the chiropractor was the saviour. My hamstring really didn't recover until I tried deep tissue massage. My running didn't improve until I reverted back to cushioned shoes and heel-striking (I had been trying to go minimalist with a neutral foot strike). This may not work for everyone of course, but there is always a chance. Happy New Year, wishing you all a healthy and successful 2012.
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Joined: 24 Jun 2005
Posts: 1194

PostPosted: Fri Dec 30, 2011 6:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Cool! Thanks for posting this. I think I know what it is that you called yourself... I may have used that same word on myself once or twice...

I'm fascinated by the minimalist backlash. Not that barefoot running is bad for everyone, but it's not good for everyone, either. I think we'll hear more stories like yours as time goes by, too.
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Joined: 14 Jul 2005
Posts: 4469
Location: Alexandria, VA

PostPosted: Sat Dec 31, 2011 1:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

been there (Huntington, WV), done that (also ran while injured)...

I'm afraid that the worst thing is to feel that so much money has been spent that you HAVE TO FINISH THE MARATHON. I would say 'run' the marathon, but too many times I've done the death march thinking that while the 'state' might be just wonderful I will not be coming back any time soon. I have been using deep water running for over a year now and (as an old woman) I fnd it really helps keep me (relativly) injury free. Be careful letting those shoes go to long.

"We run, not because we think it is doing us good, but because we enjoy it and cannot help ourselves..." Sir Roger Bannister

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Joined: 24 Jun 2005
Posts: 1676
Location: Athens, Ga

PostPosted: Sat Dec 31, 2011 3:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I am going for 50 states too. I have also ran Marshall but I loved it. I wasn't injured thou. Happy you finished the race and now on the road back. I am a back of the pack runner and the year I ran Marshall someone had brought back some flowers so I could place them too. Keep us posted with your up coming races. Welcome....
Logan's, T.S.'s, Lucy's , Conner's, Grace's, Wesley's, Zack's, Abby's and Claire's Grandma
Maniac #1016
And Charlie.
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Joined: 26 Jun 2005
Posts: 3414
Location: NC Mountains

PostPosted: Tue Jan 03, 2012 11:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

BWHAAHAA. I ran Marshall that year. It was my birthday and supposed to be a really fun time. NOT! I finished way after you and I wasn't even injured. Just old, fat, and slow. By the time I finished there was no food or drinks left. Laughing

Hubby and I also stayed in the Pullman and ate at their resturant. That part was very enjoyable.

Glad you figured out your shoe/running form problem!
Marathon Maniac #712
51 marathons
41 ultras
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