ITB Saga continues

IMG_0517

‘She’s chomping at the bit so she is,’ someone said yesterday. I wasn’t anywhere near a racecourse or stables but lying flat on a physiotherapy table. The ‘she’ in question was me; the inference being that I was dying to run again, raring to go as they say (on racecourses). I was near the end of my third physio session in a week and the student physio who had just spent an hour pummelling my ITB and glutes with his elbows was updating the senior physio on my progress. I thought I’d been very good about the whole ‘don’t run for ages thing’ but I guess it’s still obvious that I want to run. Immediately!

IMG_6542 IMG_6544

I’ll rewind a bit. Last Monday, I walked the three-minute trip down the road to a physiotherapy clinic I had found online and got an appointment for that afternoon. I don’t know what I expected but I hadn’t really anticipated being told not to run for 6-8 weeks. What?! A week before, in the midst of moving and bidding farewell to friends, pets, and life as I’d known it for four years in KL, I’d cried over the idea of taking a few days off. To be fair, I cried about just about everything that week. But here in Kilkenny, I didn’t shed a tear or even try to appeal the jail sentence. For one thing, the ITB problem had been going on far too long so that even I, obsessive that I am, knew that running wasn’t helping me to get better. It was in fact making the injury worse. The other thing was that the physio’s offer to show me his scar from ITB surgery. Er surgery?! Yikes! OK, a few weeks off didn’t seem so bad after all, even if it did mean missing the half marathon in August and jettisoning all dreams of running in cooler weather, climbing up the Kilkenny Strava ladder. My choice of physio may have been haphazard but I was lucky to end up with someone who not only is a runner himself, but who has also had an ITB injury, though hopefully much more serious than my own.IMG_6540

Unlike in KL, the physios here are not averse to causing pain, and I’ve the bruising to prove it. The idea is to break down the scar tissue on the ITB and promote healing by sending blood to the area through deep tissue massage. There has been no mention of exercises yet though it has been agreed that foam rolling is a great idea. Everyone I mention ITBS to asks if I foam roll. Well I do. And I’ve started to do some body weight exercises on my core, upper body, abductors, and adductors, in the hope of not losing the little strength I had built up, and even perhaps building up some more for when I return to running.

Bruising
Physio-inflicted bruising on my thigh.

Initially I thought the timing terrible – to be injured when home, where I have no access to a bike (it has just arrive in Perth apparently) – but I’ve now committed to a routine of walking a 6km loop in the countryside everyday (see photos), and with the glorious summer weather we’re currently having, it’s impossible to feel sorry for myself. Sure, my cardio fitness is really suffering but I’ll just have to accept that. As long as my ass doesn’t go south, east and west too I’ll be fine.

Before I took up running I was a keen walker so it’s no hardship to return to it once more – temporarily – and enjoy the summer weather without breaking a sweat. The ITB feels sore from the physio but other than that, it’s impossible to know whether it’s healing or not. Any temptation to try run is quickly tempered by the thought of the scar on my physio’s knee, which I didn’t look at by the way. Sure, I’m chomping at the bit to get back out there, clocking up the miles again, but I know I need to be patient – or I might end up in the knacker’s yard! Or worse, be forced to become a cyclist!

 

A little bit back, a little bit forward

We’re in Ireland now, enjoying the cooler weather and eating our way through the tin of Cadbury’s Roses my mother has kept for us since Christmas.  I’ve tried running twice but a week’s break has done nothing to improve my ITB. Sigh.

When I left Oslo in 2010, I regretted not having taken photos of the walking loop I loved so much. My ITB injury, which allows me to walk but not run, offered me the opportunity last week to snap for posterity before we left, or at least until my iCloud implodes, images of the Mont Kiara loop. This was one of my regular KL running routes. Here’s a taster of the cracked pavements, traffic junctions, and urban chaos that I came to love so much:

 

I’m sure if I returned to Oslo today, I’d find my old walking loop unchanged except for an imperceptible heightening of the trees, lengthening of the branches. The Tanum area I loved so much is a development-free zone. The same cannot be said of KL. The cityscape there is constantly changing so I’m glad I managed to capture what was so familiar and make digital copies as a reminder.
Roses
And of course, the trick to moving is to look forward, not back. Today, I’m looking forward to my first visit to see an Irish physiotherapist as a week’s break from running has offered no improvement to my ITB problem. I ran 2.4 km this morning – gloriously fast, thanks to the cool climate – but that was all my ITB would allow before stiffening. I’m also looking forward to the arrival of the foam roller I ordered online as it’s been five days since my Malaysian one was packed up.
Other than that, it seems I’d better start looking forward to doing more walking, as after five weeks, this ITB issue isn’t going to be easily resolved. Pass the chocolates.

Before the packers arrive…

This week, the last in our house, I lost two toenails, sold my car, gave away two guinea pigs, and paid a man to stick needles in my hands and feet. First-world problems I know! Only handing over the guinea pigs made me cry though to be honest, tears are bubbling under the surface constantly, partly because I’m not able to run much, mostly because we are leaving. The reason for my running wIMG_6390oes is that my ass is still tight (see previous post). In fact, I have a spastic gluteus medius, which allows me to run around 4km, gets my hopes up that all the stretching and physio are paying off, then on the fifth loop of the course on which I originally started running three years ago, my butt tightens making my ITB feel rigid and causing pain on the outside of my knee. I haven’t run outside this loop around my house in weeks – it feels like months! I didn’t get to do a final run in any of my favourite places. Yes, yes, I know, first world problems! I missed the Cyberjaya Fireman’s Half Marathon and will miss my final much anticipated race, a 10km, this coming Sunday (my last!). Yet, my physio who is trying to release the pesky, spastic glute, insists that I continue to run through the injury. Rest, he says will not help. I should be glad I suppose, but with a life of 5km races stretching in front of me, I’m only partially relieved that the horrifying words ‘ Do not run for a week’ have not been uttered (other than by well-meaning friends :))

Acupuncture is a new departure, though one I wish I had attempted earlier than my penultimate week in Malaysia. I had my first session today and will squeeze two more in before we fly away next Friday the 13th. I can’t tell yet whether it has helped my butt or not, but it certainly was very pleasant to be taken care of for 45 minutes, needles and all. I think it will help my butt. Yes I do.

Tomorrow the packers arrive. I picture them like locusts descending on the house, eager to pack belongings into boxes before I’ve segregated things I still need (my running shoes(!)), and things that I can live without for the next two months (my television, the piano, a very long list of things). Luckily, I’ve opened a bottle of champagne that’s been in the fridge for two years, waiting for a worthy celebration; it can’t be packed so it’s a question of ‘waste not, want not’. As I said – first world problems:)

NM Galaxy 15km Series 2

IMG_6307If you love hills, you’d have loved the NM Galaxy 15km race route yesterday. The last time I did that route (Padang Merbok – Bukit Tunku) was my first race post-injury back in November, the 2XU Compression Run.  Yesterday’s event deviated, confusingly, near the end so that the 15km route turned into a mere 14km but more of that later. During 2XU, I walked up the hills, mindful of my PPT-afflicted foot and my low fitness level. Those hills are long! Yesterday I ran up them no problem thanks to some hill-training and the fact that I seem to have a new injury! Yes a route bracketed by injury. Running uphill offered some relief from the pain so I’m guessing that I was probably the only person running NM Galaxy yesterday who was dreading the downhill portions during which I experienced some sort of spasm sensation on my outer left knee which radiated from my buttock. I had to stop and stretch several times. Uphill was fine, flat was fine, downhill was hell! So, instead of the mantra ‘I love these hills’ which I’ve tended to use lately, I found myself chanting ‘I will run through the pain’ over and over. I tried to run this morning but the pain in my hip was too intense. Yes, running through the pain is rarely a good idea but it earned me enough prize money to pay for a couple of sessions of physio, so it was worth it. Maybe. Hopefully. Lets see what my phsyio says today. I suspect he’s going to tell me that I have a tight ass after doing that buns of steel video I found on YouTube. My tight ass is upsetting my ITB. Back to yesterday…

galaxy2prizeThe upside of running with what felt like a sore wooden leg – a peg leg if you like – was that I couldn’t really go very fast, especially downhill. So I didn’t feel nauseous – major victory – and quite enjoyed myself, peg leg aside. There was plenty of fuel left in my tank – and my belt bottles too – near the end so I was able to race to the finish and overtake a lady to come in fourth in the over-40s category. I was surprised to see 1:14 on the clock at the finish line but once I realised that I’d run 14 not 15km, that made sense. It wasn’t a PB but it certainly was one of the most enjoyable races I’ve run, tight ass issues aside.

Overall, this race was a big improvement on the first NM Galaxy race, which is no surprise as the organisers really were very open to criticism back in February and promised to do better. I’m glad to report that they did.

Galaxy2results

POSITIVES:

A prompt start. There was no loudspeaker or fanfare but if you turn up for a race, you need to take responsibility for getting to the start line on time without requiring that the organisers herd you to the start. I really appreciated starting on time at 6:20 and not hanging about nervously waiting for runners to assemble.

Bi-gender: Thank you for allowing the men and women start together. It was so nice not to have to run through all the male walkers.

Toilets: There were plenty of toilets at the Padang Merbok start area. In fact, the public restrooms, which have recently been nicely refurbished, were open. For 20 sen you could avoid any queues. I always carry 20 sen in my belt just in case; at times such as yesterday at 6AM it pays off. There were also portaloos at each of the four water stations I think. Thankfully, just knowing that they were there, meant that I didn’t need to use them 🙂

Water stations: Four water stations in 15km race is great. The distance markers on the ground in front of the water stations were very nice too.

Route: I love this route, even with the hills, as there is minimum traffic by KL standards and the city views, amid jungle foliage, are spectacular. Don’t get me wrong. I’ve done a lot of races and uttered many an expletive aloud in the Bukit Tunku area but I’ve grown to appreciate the hills and the relative calm amid chaos and concrete that running in this area offers. Mind you, I could have done without the monkeys tight-rope walking across a telephone line over my head but that was hardly the organisers fault!

Clock: Thank you for having a working clock over the finish line. Not all races in KL do this but I think it really is a great idea to see your time as you finish. If nothing else, it reminds you to switch off your timer on your watch (something I have often forgotten to do in the relief of crossing the line).

Organisation: Race-kit collection, baggage drop-off, medal hand-out, banana distribution, prizewinner reporting, all went very well. A massive improvement on Series 1!

Prizewinners: Placing-tags at the finish line, fairly prompt prize-giving ceremony with cash prices in envelopes. Another big improvement on Series 1.

Results: The results for all runners were available online last night. Results. Well done NM Galaxy!

Galaxy2podium3

ROOM FOR IMPROVEMENT:

Directions: I remembered the route pretty well from November so I knew where to go but I can’t say that this was obvious to the uninitiated. I think there were marshals at most of the junctions however at the point where the route deviated from the 2XU route, there was some confusion with runners, both in the 10km and 15km races, shouting at the traffic police, asking which way they should go. If there was a signpost, I couldn’t see it. I also heard complaints from 10km runners about the absence of course markers. Visible, clear signposts next time would be appreciated.

Distance: NM Galaxy is not alone in getting the distance wrong on a race. In fact, in my experience, it is very rare for a race here to measure what it is supposed to measure. If you don’t know the route well, an under-distance race is frustrating as you hold off on your final sprint – if you’ve got any puff left in you-only to find you’re over the finish line with a medal around your neck before you’ve even hit your top pace. That’s what happened me in Series 1. This time I knew where the finish line was, and wasn’t really paying attention to the distance reading on my watch –  without glasses checking my watch has started to become a challenge – ageing I hate thee! – so I was able to ‘go for it’ at the end knowing where the end was. I’m sure I don’t need to point out the frustration of an over-distance race. It’s kind of similar except you fall across the line, cursing under your heavy breathing about distance deception.

Water Stations: It was impossible to tell on approaching a water station whether the little paper cups contained water or isotonic drinks. Asking the volunteers, which was which, elicited nothing but blank looks and mute stares. I’ll admit I got audibly irritated with this but as I was using the water to pour down my back, I really didn’t want to take Gatorade by mistake!

Water: There was no water at the end of the race. None! I appreciate the banana but the lychee-flavoured drink you can keep next time. Ninety minutes after I crossed the finish line, I still hadn’t had any water. If you can’t afford to give it away, please at least let somebody sell it.

I’ve under four weeks left in Malaysia so I won’t be here for NM Galaxy Series 3 (18km). Unfortunately. I wish I was. I don’t know what racing will be like in Perth but I suspect it won’t be as good-humoured and relaxed as here. I certainly won’t be earning any money at it nor, I suspect, will I have access to free race photographs online. Of some things though I am certain.

I will really, really miss the running and racing scene in Malaysia. I’ll miss the warmth, the smiles, the inclusiveness of runners. I may even miss the hills. I said, may. And then there are the monkeys doing high-wire acts over my head. Australia, how are you going to top that for a race experience. I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

galaxy2podium

 Thank you to the total stranger who took the photos for me as I was on my own.