If you’re a faithful SGG reader, you are probably super smart and extremely good looking, and you know I hurt my IT band two weeks ago during my first full marathon (look at that, I couldn’t even go one whole sentence without mentioning the marathon) and haven’t run since then. I went to the doctor last week and he gave me stretching exercises to do, recommended medication and plenty of rest. He also told me that I could run “but only shorter distances”.
I had bought my entry to the Coatesville Classic half marathon a few days earlier, back when I thought the knee pain was just an entra sore spot from the marathon (mention #2!) and not much else. Turns out it is something else and half marathons are definitely not prescribed as a cure or even relief for IT band issues.
But I can explain, I swear.
On Thursday, after nearly two weeks of constant pain, I could finally walk pain-free. I remained fully convinced I was going to do the responsible thing and not run the half marathon on Sunday, letting the registration fee go to waste (since it was too late for a refund). On Friday, still no pain. Along comes Saturday and, whaddayaknow, another pain-free day. So I thought “you know, I don’t have to lose absolutely every cent. I can go there, pick up my registration pack (which included a free t-shirt and a bottle) and cheer for the other runners for a bit”. Not a bad way to spend a Sunday morning, right? I don’t know, that’s not what happened.
Later on Saturday, I saw that the bit of the course that went through the inside of Kim Dotcom’s mansion grounds was only 3km into the whole run. That course change announcement that meant we’d run through his property was part of the reason I had signed up in the first place so I thought “maybe I’ll run those first 3 or 4km and then walk back to the start line and be done with it”. That shouldn’t be too bad. Plus, I’d picked up a St Patrick’s Day themed headband from the $2 shop the day before so that was my excuse to get a run in on that day. I matched it with a bright green shirt, green compression socks and even green nails (it may only have been 3 or 4km and I may not have a single drop of Irish blood in me but none of those are reasons not to get festive).
So at 7:30AM on Sunday, I lined up near the start line with all the half marathon runners, ready for my little jog up to Dotcom’s not-so-humble abode. My knee started hurting again before I’d even run 500 meters but there was no way I was going to step to the side less than a kilometer into it, so I kept going. Really, really, really slow. No, slower than that.
The rain was pouring and kept pouring the entire morning so the views weren’t as impressive as they would have been on a clear day but they were still enough to distract me. Kim Dotcom’s gardens are lovely – fake giraffes and all – and next thing I knew, we were leaving the mansion grounds and continuing along the course. I had assumed we would exit his property through the same gate we’d entered but that wasn’t the case and I was a little confused about how to get back to the start line from there so I decided to keep on going a little longer, hoping to see an ambulance or some sort of support car that I could get a ride with. Either none passed me or I was too distracted to notice them so I just kept running slow/ walking my way along the course. It’s described as Auckland’s “most scenic half marathon” for a reason. Scenic is just code for hilly but, for once, I was happy about the climbs (my knee didn’t hurt so much during those) and miserable in the downhills (which I had to walk because the impact on the knee was too much).
To cut a long story short, I ended up slowly running/walking the whole thing. My knee was sending me death threats at about kilometer 15 but I thought that, by then, whatever damage I could do had already been done. After getting through two-thirds of the thing, I wanted the medal.
The Coatesville Classic is, in my opinion, the best organised road running event in the Auckland region. It’s incredibly good value – my registration was only NZ$45 and it included the shirt, bottle and finisher’s medal (medals are rare in half marathons in New Zealand). We got free massages at the end, the race briefing at the start was funny and the course marshalls were some of the nicest I had ever come across, shouting my name and complimenting my St Paddy’s headband (while probably wondering what the hell I was thinking wearing that thing in the rain).
It took me almost a million years to cross the finish line (not really but, if you consider I’m very close to 2h when I don’t run injured, it’s a pretty big difference) but I was pretty pleased to have done the whole thing, considering I didn’t even start it thinking I’d do that much and I walked about half of the distance (maybe even more than half). I was actually genuinely surprised to not have been absolute last.
Of course my IT band is hurting again (although not nearly as much as it did last week). I’m back to icing it all the time, taking Voltaren and wearing my super sexy knee brace so I’m not expecting to run at all in the next few days. But you know what? It was worth it. The injury will take slightly longer to heal, of course, but I’m happy with the trade off, even if it means I now deserve zero sympathy from people because I clearly bring this onto myself. True. Although, technically speaking, the doctor told me to run “shorter distances” and you can’t argue that this is a 50% decrease in the distance of my last run, two weeks ago (marathon reference #3).
But I get it, I’ll calm down. I realised today that, in the last 4 weeks, I ran 3 half marathons and a full marathon (marathon reference #4), and that includes a solid week without running because of a cold (in between half marathon #2 and the full marathon – marathon reference #5) and two full weeks without running because of the IT band injury, between the full marathon (marathon reference #6) and yesterday’s half marathon.
No wonder I need a nap.