14 March 2009

long distance running with a sore ankle

I’ve been busy the past couple of days with work, juggling three direct mail campaigns at the moment and planning the next one which rolls out next month. It can get wildly stressful at times.

But the good news is—my vision is back! I now have new glasses which, sadly enough, make me look like the nerd I used to be in college. And even better, Dr. Santos has informed me that I can go back to wearing soft contact lenses by next week, but I would have to buy brand new ones that have my new eye grade. My glasses will serve as back-up so that I don’t end up overusing my soft lenses.

Last Sunday evening (March 8), I was scheduled to do a long run of 7 miles, or 11.26K. I was nervous about completing the 11K+ because that would be the farthest distance I’ve run so far. So there I was in Legaspi Park with A, doing a lot of warm-ups in preparation for this torturous distance.

The first few kilometers were good enough; I was running at a relaxed, average pace of 7 min/km and I was mentally prepped to complete the targeted 11.26K. But by the 6th kilometer, I started to feel a very bad soreness in my left ankle. It wasn’t the regular kind of sore; it was the alarming kind of sore. I think I unconsciously placed a lot of stress on that ankle especially when I ran on the park’s curved paths. The landing of my left foot probably wasn’t correct to begin with. So a little past the 6th kilometer, I felt a throbbing kind of pain, which I tried to ignore at first. But the pain intensified, and I was forced to stop and limp my way to the nearest bench. I took off my shoes and socks to massage my ankle, which was feeling sensitive but not sprained, thank God. After a few minutes, I put on my shoes again and decided to try running the rest of the 5 or so kilometers.

I stopped after two minutes of running. The ankle pain wasn't going away.

In my 28 years of existence (haha), I've had my share of injuries, both major and minor: a cut on the bottom of my chin due to a bicycle accident when I was a kid (and I had to undergo stitches on the chin); a fractured left collarbone from judo; normal bruises on the knuckles from boxing PLUS a very bad two-week bruise on the rib from a sparring session; deep cuts on the knees from various accidents, like colliding into some stupid huge rock underwater; and a benign dermoid cyst the size of a human fist which had to be removed from my right ovary through surgery. Basically, I am one of the most unfortunate people you'll ever get to know.

At that point when I felt the bad soreness in the ankle, I knew I didn't need another injury. I was already vision-impaired to begin with--but an ankle sprain would completely prevent me from running. So I stopped running that Sunday night, out of fear that I would be stuck in bed with a sprained ankle and miss out on an entire summer of races including the Condura Run.

Of course, I cussed a bit when I forced myself to stop. Couldn't help it, you know. I was upset about not finishing the 11.26K. If I was forced to DNF on an actual 11K race, I would have probably died of embarrassment.

Monday morning found me gloomily contemplating on the unfairness of life while I semi-hobbled around the office. Even though I had iced my ankle and shins Sunday night, I was still somewhat sore the next day. And to think I wasn't even running super fast that Sunday.

On Tuesday (Week 3 of the SmartCoach training program), I was scheduled to do an easy run of 5K. I was anxious as I stood on the park's running path with a slightly sore left ankle, praying that I wouldn't be too injured to complete a standard 5K run. As my own way of behaving nicely, I ran very slow that night (close to an 8 min/km pace), gauging my ankle every time my left foot hit the pavement. I was careful not too put so much stress on it. In fact, I was so busy paying attention to my footstrike that the 5K went by almost unnoticeably.

I was ecstatic to be running in such miraculously good condition, and then and there, I decided to do an open run: go past 5K and see how far I could go without feeling any pain. By the 9th kilometer, I was getting super tired, but my ankle was still fine despite the soreness, so I was thinking to myself, yeah, Gina, just keep on going. Who knows, you'll probably make it to 11K.

I finished at 11.33K after an hour and a half of continuous running, and my first thought was: Thank You, God.

I'm no regular churchgoer but I do have my own personal way of communicating with Him. The entire run felt like one long prayer--although I didn't really ask God to make me reach 11K. I only hoped to run as far as I could, and He gave me the will to finish 11.33K.

When life gives you lemons, well, make lemonade the next chance you get. Haha. I may not have finished the planned 11K that Sunday, but Tuesday's long distance run was the sweetest one I've had so far, sore ankle and all.


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