Friday, March 2, 2012

Freezer Run in Iowa

I’ve always been a winter runner, opposed to any type of exercise that involved a treadmill. One of my goals for 2012 was to do a race every month of the year. That meant finding a January race. I was told only hardcore runners do a January race in Iowa.

The race was the Freezer Run 5K in the Amana Colonies. For those not familiar with the Amana Colonies, it’s a group of settlements of German Pietists in Iowa, comprising seven villages. It’s now a tourist attraction with lots of great shops and even a brewery.

I hadn’t run all week due to a bout of flu, but I hoped I had regained enough strength to gut out three miles. Temps were in the 20’s, with a wind chill of 8 degrees that morning. I picked up my race meat bag (Amana has a great meatshop and smokehouse) and downed a coffee for a little morning heat and jolt.

The course was flat, an out-and-back between two villages. I did a nice easy pace, hoping not to awaken the IT band gods that had cursed me since my marathon. I saw a man running in only shorts and shoes. He was quite hairy so maybe that kept him warm. I didn’t get passed by any dogs or baby strollers so the cold must have kept them away.

I had only run 1.75 miles when my IT band began to hurt. I started to wonder if I had really screwed up my body in my marathon two months ago. I tried to do a one-legged jog. I could hear someone coming up behind me. A speed walker went by. Seriously? This is what I’m reduced to?!

It was very depressing. Like the flu earlier that week, my body was failing me. What if this was it? What if I could no longer run? I wondered what I would do if I could no longer be a triathlete or do the things I loved. What would be my identity? Being out here seemed to be the only thing that made me feel alive. I guess I would have plenty of time to contemplate the future. For now I needed to get across that finish line!

I finished and then snacked on coffee cake and cookies (I know, not a proper post-race, but I needed comfort food!). I enjoyed the camaraderie of my fellow runners and headed home. I had to accept that my IT band was not going away. I had to make a call to a physical therapist. My body wasn’t invincible and all the toughness and determination in the world was not going to change that. I just hoped 2012 would be the Year of the Comeback. To be continued……

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