It's been 4 weeks since I went on my first walk without crutches! I will not forget that day. I walked 0.25 miles at a time, resting a few minutes in between intervals, for a total of 0.78 miles. I knew in that moment, it was going to be a long road...but it was a journey I was mentally ready to tackle. After five weeks of depression through my non weight bearing phase, I was just happy to be wearing two shoes. I went home that day researching walk races in Columbus (that's when I found the Gary Smith Worthington Classic). I didn't want to commit yet. I just didn't know if my body would be able to walk three miles.
As the days passed, and my walking improved, I knew I needed something to motivate me to keep going...so I registered! I was SO excited about it. I felt my foot responding well to my rehab, and my pace kept getting faster. It was such a confidence boost! That is, until last weekend...
Ugh, last weekend. So stupid. I went for my "long walk" last Saturday and my ankle wasn't feeling great. My pace was slower, and my body felt awful. Every walk after that was worse. I was so discouraged. I experimented with different foot inserts, braces, etc. to try and find what worked for me. I was getting mixed signals. Two days before race day, I finally decided that I would don my ankle brace but not use my shoe inserts. My ankle seemed to be at its best in that situation. Too bad its best wasn't that awesome.
As race day approached, I was less excited and more confused about how my body was healing.
I went into race day with a plan. Not so much a race plan but a pre-race plan. I noticed this week that my ankle felt it's best 30+ minutes after finishing a walk and stretching. I decided to get to the start line early for a 1 mile warm up. I might have looked a little goofy, but I brought my yoga mat and all of my rehab gear. I put my mat on the ground by my car and did all of my stretches and rehab exercises. I made sure I had at least 20-30 minutes between finishing this process and starting my race.
I actually enjoyed the walking course. It started by the street near the Thomas Worthington track on an incline. I didn't mind the little hill (P.S. Those things we consider tiny inclines when we run are so much more significant when you are walking!). My ankle seems to respond well to uphills so it actually made the start very positive for me. After circling around the stadium, we connected to the Olentangy Trail. That part was nice because of the awesome shade. The sun was blazing today!
Somewhere around mile 1 [15:57], we exited the trail. This was my favorite mile mostly because I met a nice trio, a chiropractor and a couple. They were asking about my pregnancy and injury so I spent some time sharing my story. They noticed I kept saying "yes ma'am/sir" and knew I had to be from the south. I found out the couple lived in Arkansas for a few years, just 30 minutes from where I grew up! That was very refreshing for me and helped me to relax a bit. I walked with the trio for just over 1.5 miles until we approached another incline. As we approached the incline, I had already been dealing with moderate ankle discomfort and more severe piriformis pain on my good side for about a mile. I had to let them go because I simply couldn't hang! My discomfort worsened after the incline but I didn't want to give up. I kept the trio in my visual field to motivate me. They were able to push me to a faster mile 2 [15:19].
The last mile was all about getting to the finish line without passing out. I was getting so hot, and Baby Boo Deux was starting to push like crazy. Before the race, I decided to put my bib on my shorts in case I needed to strip my shirt off (ain't no shame in that game). I was SO CLOSE to taking off my shirt when I hit a nice shaded area with a slight breeze. It was glorious. After exiting the trail at mile one, it was all residential streets until around 2.25 miles. At this point, we were back at the school and just needed to circle around and back to the track. It was also at that point that my ankle pain seemed to subside. My piriformis was still on fire, but I didn't have as much discomfort from my injury! This really got me going!!
When I saw the track, I was so excited! I hadn't looked at my pace that entire mile, but I could tell I was starting to pick it up a bit. I could hear a friend (Amanda or Theresa, I'm sure) scream my name! I zoomed around the corner and entered the gravel area just before the track. Gravel doesn't fly in my situation so I opted for the grass. Amanda met me and walked me almost to the finish. I asked her about her race, found out she won, and got SO EXCITED that I had to finish strong. I ended up with negative splits (does that even count in this situation?!) with mile 3 being [14:32]!!!!
I was limping like crazy when I finished, but I didn't care. I did it! A week and a half ago, I would have told you I would get between 45 and 47 minutes for my finish time. After my horrible decline this week, I was fully expecting to get closer to 54 minutes. My official 3 mile walk time was:
My Garmin had 3.02 miles in 46:03. In running, not so much a difference. In walking, it meant 13 seconds, dang it!! I was extremely happy with my result. It's exactly in my goal range prior to this past week. I feel like I learned a lot about my ankle from pushing myself today. Even though I was very uncomfortable during my warm up and for the first couple of miles, my ankle really eased up the last mile. I've been so afraid to push myself this week because of the pain. About 45 minutes after I finished, I had NO PAIN in my ankle. It felt great the rest of the day. My discouragement this week has turned into encouragement because of this race.
I want to send a special congrats to a couple of friends. Amanda was first female and Theresa was third!! They are so amazing!
For now, I'm focusing on the 18 days I have to rehab before attempting to run again.