Two Years and a Half Marathon
In a couple weeks it will be two years since I had my peroneal tendon repair surgery. I decided that running the Provo River Half Marathon, which is 13.1 miles, would be an excellent way to celebrate this anniversary. I ran this baby years ago, before I hurt my ankle, but since my injury made running more than about half an hour too painful to stomach, I haven’t even considered running it since. It therefore seemed like a very fitting way to commemorate my ankle being back in the big time.
I have been training for the last few months with Jason for this race. We started our training by jogging our usual 3 mile runs and then upped the distance we traveled each run by about a mile roughly every week. This strategy seemed to work very well though I did get a few complaints from Jason when we progressed to 9 and 10 mile runs; he had never attempted to run anything that long before. Although a half marathon is a somewhat daunting undertaking, surprisingly we were able to find a few crazies interested in running this long race with us: my dad, his friend Steve, and my friend Fran.
The Provo River Half Marathon was last Saturday. We had to meet at the finish line at 5 AM to catch a bus up the canyon to the starting point. Man that was early! The bus drop-off, which was at the top of South Fork, was already crawling with many of the 2,000 race participants by the time we got there.
I saw a couple of unusual things while we were waiting for the race to start. First, a deer that wasn’t afraid of the masses of people at all was wandering around and actually trying to get people to pet it. Never seen that before. I also saw a man turn around in a field that was just off a section of a road where over 1,000 waiting runners were clumped together; he pulled up his shorts on one side and urinated. Sure, I don’t think anyone got a good view of his parts but come on! There were trees everywhere so all he had to do is go a few more feet into the trees and no one would have been able to see him. Seriously dude, no one wants to see you taking a whiz. Have some dignity man!
The race started at 7:00 and the first 10 miles down the canyon were lovely. There was a nice cool breeze and the sun was still hiding behind the mountains so it was very pleasant running weather. The last few miles things got a lot more challenging. At that point the sun started blazing down, the wind stopped, and it became very hot. The increasing temperatures combined with the strenuous ten miles I already had behind me resulted in some serious dehydration that last stretch so when I finished the race I wanted nothing more than a tall glass of water. I have been a runner for many years, certainly long enough to know from experience not to drink a whole bunch of liquid after a tough and dehydrating run like that. Unfortunately, my thirst won over my common sense and I pounded down a bottle of Gatorade a few minutes after I finished the race even though I thought it would probably make my stomach hurt. To my surprise I felt fine after chugging it…until I got home about half an hour later. Then, all of a sudden, my stomach started severely protesting its lot in life. This wasn’t the first time I’ve felt sick after a run though so I thought it would pass. I guess in a way I was right because it did eventually pass but only after I had thrown up almost all of the Gatorade I had stupidly drunk.
Besides the last few miles being a crap fest and my post-run vomiting episode, which was a first for me, the race was an enjoyable experience and I don’t think I would be opposed to doing it again. I was about 10 minutes slower completing it this time than I was the first time I ran it but I was a lot less sore afterward this go around. I may be older and slower now but I guess my muscles are tougher.
How did my moody ankle hold up? It handled the race pretty superbly. I had very little issues with it while I was training and during the race itself it didn’t complain at all. After the event it started swelling a bit and it is still a tad more swollen than normal even now, days later. The overexertion also made it achy for a couple days after I put it through that race madness but all in all I’m happy with its performance. This race reminded me just how much my ankle has improved. It is much more resilient and content than it was last summer when I was training for just a 5 mile run. Now, a year later, I’m able to run 13 miles with no pain and just a few days of swelling and tenderness afterward. That may seem like a hollow victory to those of you who have two fully functioning ankles but from where I’m coming from it seems like a pretty sweet success.
So final ankle analysis at the 2 year mark? The doctor told me all the swelling in my ankle should go away after a year or two. Here I am two years out and it is still swollen, though less so than it used to be. My ankle also doesn’t have its full range of motion back yet; it continues to get that rubber band feeling when I stretch it from side to side. But I’m playing soccer again with very little discomfort and running longer than I have been able to in a decade. So, although I wish my repaired ankle performed and felt like my other one, I am so grateful to not have any restrictions on my activities anymore that I don’t mind a little aching or inflammation now and then so much.