Saturday, March 29, 2014

a year in my shoes

I’m currently training for the Flying Pig ½ marathon in Cincinnati and it is time to replace my shoes.  I typically get very excited to get a fresh pair of running shoes, but this year I’ve been dragging my heels a bit; my current pair of running shoes represents a lot of hard work, toil, pain, snot, sweat and tears.  I had ACL surgery in July 2012 and wasn’t cleared for running until after it got cold out.  I remember those first tentative jogs in one-minute intervals at LaSalle’s track on my way home from work.  I was elated and terrified all at the same time.  I felt so vulnerable and I realized just how much MORE work I had ahead of me if I was going to achieve my dream and run a ½ marathon as I had been planning to do later that year.  If I could train for and run a 10k with a torn ACL, I could totally run more than twice that distance with a repaired one! 

Once my muscles got used to jogging again, I was allowed to move from the track to the asphalt and gradually increase my milage.  At that point, I treated myself to the newest version of my favorite running shoes: the Asics Nimbus!  Last year’s version was wildly colorful and bright and they were just the encouragement I needed to put in even more hours at the gym and to start taking spinning and dancercise classes the gym to rebuild stamina and coordination in my right leg.  I remember my first successful 2-miler—it was cold and rainy and I ran faster than I had ever before my surgery thanks to the new strength and power in my legs.  I couldn’t have been happier.  Unfortunately, I developed pretty severe patellar tendonitis and then runner’s knee which I spent most of the summer working to banish.  I went thru two braces and tried a variety of exercises that were supposed to help my knee.  In the end I credit the 500 miles and many hills that I biked over the summer with rebuilding the strength around my patella that has enabled me to run brace-free for months now.  

So pretty, clean and colorful!!  They totally make a girl run faster! ;)

This fall, I started building my miles again and speed soon followed.  It also helped that I started treating my exercised-induced asthma that I realized I had after more than a few difficult hill-climbs on the bike that left me wheezing and winded for miles after.  Through all of this, my shoes were there, providing the cushiness that my knee needed and the colorful speed that my legs craved and my lungs were finally able to give.  Their wild colors elicited comments from older, awed onlookers who often cheered me on my way.  I felt fast, strong, unstoppable in them.  I had a few 5 and 6 milers during that time and was doing okay.

In December, I signed up for the Bob Ronker’s running spot ½ marathon training group and have been training for the ½ Pig since Jan. 11.  I’ve run a lot of miles since then.  Although I’ve been struggling with a hip issue since the start of training and can’t always log as many miles as I want, I have run every single long run and at least one week-day run.  A few of them had to be logged from the safety and warmth of the gym, but I did them all.  The 7 miler, the 15k (9.3mi) and today, the 10 miler.  My bright shoes have carried me through all of those miles: providing traction on the ice, a bounce in my stride, a beacon in the dark and cushion to my nagging hip issues. 

It was with some resignation that I went into the Running Spot to replace the shoes that have carried me from my first ½ mile back to my first double-digits ever.  These shoes are more than a piece of footwear, they are an inspiration to me.  Unfortunately, they didn’t have any Nimbus in my size (common problem for a size 11), but it was a good opportunity for me to try on a few other styles that the one I’ve been buying for the past 4 years.  I still wasn’t sold though, I’m waiting for my Nimbus to come in, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it! 

While I’m sad that my current shoes won’t get to carry me across the finish line on May 4, I’m glad that they carried me along a significant portion of the course today and that they carried me from a beginning-again runner to a runner who is on the verge of running her first successful ½ marathon.  Thanks for all the miles!!

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