An Overdue Update

It’s been a busy week, but I’m finally back on the West Coast and ready for a recap.  Tuesday I had another session at the Lounge, and talked to my massage therapist a bit about the further IT problems that week.  He felt that there was probably a lot of scar tissue binding up the muscle, which was in turn putting additional tension on the band and causing all the problems.  He spent most of the session working on my hips, and I found myself sore in some new places when I left.  I went to the gym that night armed with new shoes, with the idea of getting somewhere between 5 and 8 miles in, depending on how I felt.  My knee again felt sore in the first few miles, but it didn’t seem to escalate the way it had during the long run.  Somewhere around mile 4 it loosened up, and I was able to get in all 8 without too much trouble. 

Wednesday I was travelling all day, and on Thursday I decided to just focus on the strengthening exercises give myself one more day off running.  Friday I headed out for another easy run, and again decided that the goal would be 5 miles, and anything over that would be bonus.  The Caveboy lives in a very hilly, rolling neighborhood, which I generally consider to be ideal for a hill tune-up.  The climbs are all pretty short, but there is almost no level ground to be found anywhere in the 4-mile loop I usually run.  I was a little nervous about that, since slopes seem to aggravate my knee more than anything else.  I settled into an easy pace, though, and got through two full circuits of the loop without too much stiffness, which felt like a major victory.  It was the first time I’d been able to run on asphalt in two weeks without serious pain.  We went out for a quick 3-miler on Saturday, which I was hoping would keep everything loose without aggravating the IT band. 

Sunday was a perfect day for a long run—it was a cool 50 degrees with patches of sun breaking through the cloud cover.  We drove out to the NCR Trail, which runs from the northern suburbs of Baltimore all the way to York, Pennsylvania.  It had all the scenery I love—a meandering creek running along the trail, railroad trestles, and leaves that were starting to change.  Since the Caveboy wasn’t going to run the full 20, I ran a 3 mile out-and-back to start, and then met him back at the car.  He was talking to another runner, who had apparently dropped her car keys somewhere around mile 5.  I took some prophylactic Advil and we set out together, with a promise to track down the keys if we could.  (I love a run with a mission!)

About 4 miles into that leg, the IT band started up again.  Spurred on by the Case of the Missing Toyota key, I ground it out until we got to the 5 mile marker, and we took a walk break to search.  After about 5 or 6 minutes of scouring we decided to call it off, thinking that perhaps another runner had already found it.  Just then I caught a sparkle right at my feet, and picked up the key. This seems like a teachable moment for all of us runners:  Key fobs—get one, and the bigger, the better!  A Koosh ball would work well.  Just try to lose that in dry leaves.  The whole episode has actually prompted me to buy some snap hooks to sew into the pockets of my running gear.  I usually pin my keys into my pocket, and, while generally effective, this method does result in occasional stabbings and pokings.  I feel like the clips might be the answer. 

Anyway, either the walk/key search was enough to cool the IT band down, or the Advil kicked in just then, because when we started running again, I felt a lot better.  We decided to head back to the car just to be safe, but by mile 16 I was still feeling good.  We ran one more short out-and-back to make up the last four miles, and unbelievably, I had my 20-miler without further drama.  I realize that I did miss one more crucial point to the story, which was that I finally had the Chocolate Mint Gu, and it was fantastic.  Imagine a liquefied Peppermint Patty… it was that good.   

Due to some obvious lapse in my reasoning abilities when I booked my flights a few weeks ago, I had to be at BWI at 4:20 this morning.  That basically meant that after running 20 miles yesterday I got a grand total of 3 ½ hours sleep and got up at 3:30 AM.  (That’s the equivalent of having been up since 12:30 this morning in my current time zone, if you’re paying attention.)  I managed to sleep a bit on the plane, but I am in desperate need of some quality rest at this point.

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