Just catching up the last few weeks.
On November 14th the plan called for a 17 miler. I was anxious to see how the exercises were helping my knee.
For the first 5 or 6 miles, everything was great. No pain. But then around 8 miles I started to feel it again. I run a loop so have the option at 9 miles to turn for home, or to keep going. After stopping and stretching, I reluctantly turned for home. The pain was minor, but I didn't want to risk it. With 3 weeks to go to CIM, not the confidence boost I was hoping for.
Looking at my running log, the start of the knee pain coincided with a new pair of running shoes. The kayano 15s had been my 3rd pair in a row, and had checked out okay on the slow-mo video, but still - it seemed a little too much of a coincidence. That afternoon I went back to the running store, got a refund on my orthotics (they'd come with a 4 week guarantee), and used that money towards a new pair of kayano 16s. It may just be mental, but if it helped - I was all for it. Worst case I had 2 pairs of shoes I could rotate.
Sunday off, I went back to treadmill running on Monday. The shoes felt great, and so did the knee. I'd get off every mile or so and do one of the stretches the physio had given me for a few seconds. I ran 6 miles Monday, 6 on Tuesday and even managed a double on Wednesday (6 in the morning, and 6 in the evening), and another 5 on Thursday. If I didn't have a marathon in a few weeks, I wouldn't have been pushing so hard, but I was feeling no pain.
Then at the weekend I tried another test outside. I adapted the plan to run 17 miles again. This time it was a lot better. For the first 8 miles I didn't feel a thing. At 8 I had to stop at some lights, so used the break to lie down and stretch. Then I ran another 3, and then stopped again to stretch. I did that 3 times in total. Either my knee was getting better, or the stretching was 'fixing' things each time. I ran the 17 miles, and ran them pretty quickly. Partly the exuberance of getting out side with minimal pain, and also because I was foolishly trying to make up for lost time and training, but I ran them @ 7.38 pace. I know, I know - not smart, but for me it was a big test. With a marathon in 2 weeks, if I couldn't get through 17 miles at a pace that was 20 seconds / mile slower than I hoped to run in the real thing, then I should be thinking about dropping out. I iced the knee afterwards.
The next day the knee was a little tender so I took the day off - in fact to be safe I took 4 consecutive rest days. Then it was Thanksgiving Day (and my 41st birthday !) and time for the 4 mile Turkey Trot in Wash Park. The anniversary of my first race last year.
The weather was great - forecast to be close to 70 later in the day, it was in the 50s at 10:15am as we lined up. I'd met 4CHI - Phil - and his brother before the race. I thought I was fairly close to the start line, but when the gun went off I had to spend a good minute weaving through the joggers. 10,000 runners were estimated although many unofficial. I didn't have much of a plan - my ideal was to get under 25.52 - the time for the AA wave in the Bolder Boulder, but with the limited training and knee issues - I didn't want to push it too hard. I tried to maintain a 6.28 pace to get there, and was successful for 3 of the 4 miles. For some reason the 3rd mile came in at 6.40. I didn't feel bad - perhaps just not concentrating. So I finished in 26.07 - nearly 4 minutes faster than the year before, and enough to place me 9th out of 322 in my AG. The best news - no knee pain at all.
The next day it was a little tender again. I'm seeing a pattern here. No issues on the day, but a little sore the next. I did go for a very gentle recovery run and met another runner on the trail from out of town needing directions. I ran with him for a few miles and we chatted about Boston. Immediate common ground - one of the great things about the sport.
The next morning, on a whim I logged into the 'injury section' of the runners world board. I looked for anyone with advice for my minor knee issue. And found it in bunches ! My injury is also known as 'runners knee'. There was a lot of advice from others who'd had it and beaten it. There was also some great information on how to tape it. I learned about the McConnell method and found a video on youtube that showed me how to do it myself. I hadn't planned on running that day, but taped my knee and went for a half mile jog to see how it felt. Amazing ! No pain - nothing. Just a few pieces of tape to pull the knee cap back in line, and it felt good as new. I ended up running close to 7 miles and would have run further if we hadn't had plans.
Finding this taping method was perhaps the final piece of the puzzle. I'll rest and take things easy this next week, and then tape the knee on race day. The advice from the boards very much mirrored what the doctor and physio had said. Rest on it's own likely won't help - I need to stretch the IT band and strengthen the quad. I'll spend much of my December doing that so hopefully I'm good to go in January. The taping is a little bit like a safety blanket - giving me the piece of mind I needed, and also preventing further inflamation. The tape is literally doing what the stretching and muscle strengthening will do - pull the knee cap back to the correct positioning, so the beauty of it is that it's not masking the pain - it's preventing it.