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Last year I decided to do what I always said people were crazy for even thinking about attempting. Running a marathon. A marathon is 26 miles or 42km. To put it in perspective, 42km is basically running from Horseshoe Bay on Hwy #1 till Barnet Hwy. Man, why did I ever do that to myself? Oh, and I managed to convince my friend Nicole to train with me!

We started training the first week of January until the Marathon which was on May 4th last year. Every Sunday, we would meet the Running Room group and we would set out on our latest running adventure. Every week would be a different route so that our minds never set in to the boredom. We ran north, south, east and west. It was amazing how the km’s we covered never seemed daunting. We ran our longs runs at a slow pace which apparently is meant to build blood volume and to increase muscle strength, endurance, and aerobic fitness. You got used to running a half marathon plus every weekend. Running in a group definitely made it easier as you were constantly chatting with different people throughout the training runs. I missed out on the one training run I was most excited about though. They all did this crazy run to Deep Cove that was about 34km. I would have loved to do it! And Nicole, who had been in Australia for a couple weeks, basically arrives the night before, goes to bed, wakes up and completes it with amazing energy! I was their moral support that day though! Taking pictures and giving high fives at the end. Rewards were donuts from this amazing bakery in Deep Cove!

My training was right on schedule to run the marathon in 4 hours 15 minutes. A decent first time marathon time. But things started to unravel as it got closer to the race. I got really sick with a deep cough making it tough to run. Even worse that the cough had completely gutted the muscles between my ribs making it hurt every time I breathed. I missed one long run but was out for the next one despite how badly it hurt to breathe. The next week I was running on the treadmill and something popped. It was a sharp pain that went away almost right away. I tried to run again but the same thing happened. I thought it was nothing so set out on my long run that week but within 5km that popping sensation happened again. I said goodbye to my fellow runners and walked nervously back to my car and went straight to the doctor who sent me to physio. Apparently, I had Iliotibial Band Syndrome. The IT band runs from the hip along the outer thigh and attached just outside of the knee joint. It works to provide stability  to the outside of the knee joint during movement. During overuse, the IT band can cause friction that will eventually lead to a sharp pain that honestly scared the crap out of me each time it happened. How does one get rid of ITBS? REST! Well, that wasn’t an option for me so as I said what can I do in the next 6 weeks to make this go away and continue to run the km’s I need in order to run on May 4th. I spent the next 2 weeks in between physio, chiropractor (who did trigenics on my IT band) and did my km’s in the pool. I can’t even tell you how mundane and boring water running is. Strapping on a water belt and basically running like you would outside from one end of the pool to the other. I would wake up in the morning and hit the pool for my shorter runs (basically would go in circles in the diving area for 40 min) and then on Sundays when everyone was meeting at the Running Room, I headed to the aquatic centre and do the same thing but would do it upwards of 3 hours. Back and forth. Back and forth. People thought I was nuts! But unfortunately, the pain started to come back in the pool so I had to stop. The race was in 2 weeks and when I went out to run an easy 5km to test my knee, I still was getting the sharp pains. So I decided that I wouldn’t run again till the race. I went to chiro and physio every second day for the next two weeks, hoping that it would be enough to get me through it.

Race day I was crazy nervous. I had my IT band taped which basically meant I taped it into a position where it shouldn’t cause the friction. I also bought an IT brace that basically did the same thing as the tape but I wanted all hands on deck. 7:30am the horn blows and off we go!!! I felt like we were sprinting. I wondered if I would be able to maintain that pace in order to finish the run in 4:15. I couldn’t. My muscles started to give on me at 15km so I had to slow the pace down and let me group go. Nicole stayed with me at the slower pace but I could feel the pain in my IT area start and we had only done 15km. How was I going to complete another 27km’s. We went from running 10 and 1’s (run 10 min and walk 1) to 5 and 1’s then to 5 and 2’sthen I think it became more walk than run. And Nicole still stayed with me. I remember getting to the half way mark thinking, oh my god. Seriously, there is still that much left? We ran passed Nicole’s parents cheering us on and some friends. Then my mom. As we crossed the Burrard street bridge into the last 10km or so, a friend walked/ran with us. The crazy thing is, i didn’t walk with a limp. It didn’t hurt to walk. It only hurt to run. And so we trudged on. Turning around the point on 4thwas so exciting, I knew we were on our way at that point. I tried to run a little more without much luck. And still Nicole stayed with me.  We had sort of been flip flopping with this older women who was sort of shuffling along. She would be ahead of us, us ahead of her and as we rounded on to Pacific heading home, I heard this sound coming from behind us and saw our shuffling woman so I turned to Nicole and said “HELL NO!!” and we ran the rest of the way through the finish line holding hands as we did and in a time that was well…very slow. My whole body ached especially me knee and my feet.  But it all didn’t matter because we had finished and Nicole stuck with me the entire time. Her support got me through it. Through the pain. I can’t even express how much that meant to me. I have no doubt that I would not have finished if she hadn’t stuck by me. I am so grateful to her.

The next few days were interesting. Everything hurt. Walking. Sitting. Standing. Going to the bathroom proved interesting (and you female runners know what I mean) I walked backwards down stairs because it hurt less. I have never seen a blister so big as the one on my foot…I had to wear flip flops for a week. But through all the pain before, during and afterwards, it was an amazing thing to have accomplished. For the longest time I said I would never do another one. I actually stopped running altogether and said I had “broken up” with it. But I couldchange my mind. I am running another half marathon at the end of June. I have remembered why I like running. So who knows, it might just be on my list of things to do in the near future.

I look forward to getting out and cheering everyone on this weekend!

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