Sunday, April 15, 2012

The Infamous 2009 Race for the Roses Stress Fracture Half Marathon

Remember my new staple: The Sunday Flashback?   I wanted to move all my old race reports from my mini-blog over to here to populate my new "Race Reports" page, and slowly but surely, it's filling up!  For posterity's sake, I'm keeping them EXACTLY as I wrote them, with perhaps a bit of reflection (in italics).

I haven't been going in order at all, so let's go back for a second to my very first big race: my first marathon in 2008.  So where we last left off, I had run my first marathon without any trouble.  I kept running for the rest of 2008, doing a 5k or two, but nothing else really special.  I did get my beloved Garmin Forerunner 305 for Christmas that year!  I was still running in clearance shoes and not tracking the miles on my shoes though.

When 2009 rolled around, I started training for the inaugural 2009 Seattle Rock n Roll Marathon (the full!), aiming to hopefully PR and ideally sub 4:20.  Along the way I decided to run the Portland Race for the Roses Half Marathon.  I had ambitions 3-year plans back then (that have since been thrown in the garbage) of qualifying for Boston.  The plan was 2009: sub 4:20, 2010: sub 4:00, 2011: sub 3:40 (that was my BQ time back then, now it's 3:35).  As you already know none of those things happened, mostly because of what you're going to read below!

This happened in April, 2009.  My huge goal for this race was to sub 2, my previous best half marathon time was 2:06 at the Whidbey Island Half Marathon in 2008.  And now you're ready to read this!


So do you want the good news or the really really really really devastatingly bad news first?

Good news.  I did it!  Shattered my goal (perhaps shattered is the key word? or broke?) of beating 2 hours.  It is amazing that almost a year ago exactly I ran the Whidbey Island Half Marathon in 2:06:42 (AP 9:50) and this year I beat that time by 18 minutes in 1:48:23 (AP 8:16).  And I am confident that time would have been at least a minute or two faster had the below not occurred.

I have a broken fibula.  I am devastated.  I'm guessing that the "shin splints" that bothered my left leg last week since last weekend's run was really the start of a stress fracture, which culminated at mile 7 of the race.  I was feeling GREAT until mile 7, overdressed because it was the most beautiful day ever, out enjoying a really nice race.  At mile 7 my ankle started hurting a lot, and I contemplated quitting, but I don't quit, which I now know was a TERRIBLE decision.  It hurt a lot with every single step and its all I thought about, but it was bearable.  At mile 12 I almost cried because I knew I would finish, but that was premature since at mile 12.5 was probably when the actual full break occurred, as the pain was no longer bearable and I hobbled to the finish line as best as I could.  Terrible timing as that was one of the few hills up to a bridge where there was a terrible headwind as well. 

Praying that it was a tendon strain or something minor I hoped it would be better the next morning (but deep down I knew it was probably a stress fracture, but never thought it was an actual BROKEN bone). Couldn't sleep last night because it hurt so bad, couldn't really walk, so decided this morning to head to the ER.  They did x-rays and sure enough, broken fibula.  No longer just a stress fracture, a full broken bone.  Poor doctor had to see my enormous bawling breakdown when he told me I couldn't run for at least 6 weeks [this ended up being more like 6 months]. 

On a splint/soft cast/crutches now - I see the orthopedist on Friday and I'm praying I'll get a walking cast [I didn't]. I have so much more to say about everything, and I just hope I can be positive and not get too depressed through this.  I cant even imagine not running, I'm going to need to do some upper body exercise or SOMETHING or I will go crazy, I know. 

I was bawling as soon as I crossed the finish line and took no pictures.  This is also the only picture I took the ENTIRE time I had that cast on.  That's how much I hated it.
Why did this happen?  I dont feel like I upped my mileage quickly at all.  I do feel like it was a mistake to run hard last weekend and this weekend, and that I should have switched to the new shoes sooner.  But other than that, I honestly don't know why this happened or how to prevent this from happening in the future.  Perhaps I'm susceptible to bone issues.  I'm just really depressed, Rock n Roll is for sure out, I just hope I can run again someday and that this never ever ever happens again.  Has this happened to anyone else?  If so, any tips, ideas as to causes, etc. would be so greatly appreciated.  I'm going to have to fill those hours of running doing something!

Splits: 8:04, 8:11, 8:21, 8:39 (the hill!), 8:17, 7:56, 8:02 (when it started hurting), 7:58, 8:04, 8:23, 8:27, 8:15, 8:41

Total Time:  1:48:23  (AP 8:16)  SUB 2 at least!


I plan to do a post someday all about stress fractures and recovering from them, but this was the worst.  I've had many running injuries along the way but this one definitely takes the cake.  I was out for almost 6 full months that year, in a real cast, with real crutches, and then a real boot... it SUCKED.   Seattle Rock n Roll was my first ever DNS (did not start for those of you lucky enough not to know!) and I never want to go back there.  EVER.  And I need to remember that every time I feel the smallest inkling of an injury or that constant desire to run a million miles every day.  I've also become way more diligent about shoes, tracking my miles on shoes, upping my mileage so slowly, etc.  Basically this injury has turned me into a complete running hypochondriac!

What's been your worst running injury?  How did you get it?  Ever get injured DURING a race?