Monday, January 9, 2012

ITB vs. Marathoner

20 days till the ING Miami Marathon, my 8th race of 26.2 miles or more. This one is going to come down to a battle between me and my left IT Band.

I had just started my taper when I ran the Joe Kleinerman 10K Saturday morning on a perfect, 47-degree day at Central Park. I ran with my wife Lisa and her cousin Victor, and I was on a great pace nearing the 5-mile mark. Then I stepped over to my left to slow down for a final fluid station cup, and suddenly my left knee buckled. I took a few gulps and then planned to resume running. My left leg did not oblige.

It would not bear weight. I tried again, still nothing. At that point my worst fear was that I may have ruptured my ACL or something. The pain was on my outside of my left knee. I had Cat Hill in front of me, so I tried dragging the leg up the hill walking. Then it was: run-walk-crawl to the finish, or common sense?

I saw an ambulance to my right in front of the Met Museum. I limped over, and told the driver and passenger, both EMTs, of my issue. I have to say that neither of them really had a clue. The female driver said, "Why do YOU PEOPLE always think you have to run through pain?" Serious? She wanted to take me to the hospital and I said no, I just need a lift to the med tent near the finish. They put an ice pack on the outside of the knee and did that. Then she called for a wheelchair, and I said absolutely not. The wheelchair was brought over, and instead the female driver got in and the person pushed her over to the med tent, like they were children on a playground? Worst EMT crew ever??? No running knowledge whatsoever.

Fortunately, inside the tent was a resident from Mt. Sinai who runs marathons. He immediately diagnosed IT Band tendinitis, so it is apparently an overuse issue. He wrapped it in ice, told me not to run for 2 days, said to "adjust your taper" so I would go easy this week and run a little more the next week depending on any pain. It was such a relief, although it still meant Miami is "questionable."

At that point I asked him if they thought it was OK if I went ahead and walked across the finish line, which was 40 feet away. I said I felt sheepish because I rode most of the last mile in an ambulance. He said I had raced hard for 5 of the 6 and "since you have been sitting in here, I would go cross it." That is no small deal, considering you need 9 scored qualifier races for exemption into the following year's NYC Marathon. I did, and finished in 1:27:00.

Right now I am reading up as much as I can on ITB, and any other insights from runners would be appreciated. Since I started running in 2006, I have learned all about plantar fasciitis, shinsplints, this and that. But this is my first run-in with ITB. I have been RICEing the knee the last couple of days, although I did dance my butt off at a cousin's 40th birthday party the same night as the injury. Probably not smart, but my side of the family is the dance side. We dance. In fact, "I hope you'll dance" are those song lyrics that used to be played all the time. I hope I'll dance across the Miami Marathon finish line in 20 days!

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