Sunday, December 2, 2007

Course de l'Escalade

My so-called friend, Christine, challenged me to run the Course de l' Escalade shortly after convincing me to train for next summer's Geneva Triathlon. At the time I think I readily agreed. But as the date crept closer, my resolve began to wane.

"We'll see," I would say whenever the subject came up.

In the interim months since accepting my first physical goal since pregnancy, the realities of a fifteen year break in training had become abundantly clear. By mid-September I could only run one minute and walk for one minute seven times in a row. Any more and my knees would object with a painful debriefing that would linger for days. I had even suffered my first minor injury, a tendonitis reminiscent of one I had experienced during university when I was running 30 kilometers a week, not three.

Enter my personal physiotherapist--me.

My assessment:
Symptoms consistent with patello-femoral pain due to patella maltracking and concurrent ilio-tibial band (ITB) tendonitis.

Recommended treatment plan:
Ice: 10 minutes, three times a day
Twice Daily Stretching: quads, hams, gluts, piriformis, 20sec x 3
Strengthening 3 times a week: weights with focus on strengthening vastus medialis to correct patella maltracking

Enter the worst patient I've ever treated--again, me.

The truth is, I hate weight training. It has to be the most mind-numbing sport known to man. But for the sake of my personal goal I persisted for seven weeks--then quit. Four weeks later I re-injured.


The Escalade was only three weeks away. I'd paid my 30 franc. I'd passed on the cancellation insurance. Worse, I wanted to run it, injured or not. I was officially hooked.

This is why I never aspired to treating athletes--they just don't listen.

So, for the next three weeks, I behaved myself. I iced, I stretched, I cross-trained--even weight-trained-- and yesterday morning boarded the tram for the big event without so much as a hint of knee pain.

Over 27,000 people were registered to compete in this year's race, 1,685 of which would be running with us. Crowded in at the start line, my fingers were clammy and I needed to pee. The boom of the starter's pistol was a relief.

The course was a hilly double loop following the cobblestoned streets up through the vieille ville. Spectators lined the route and leaned out of windows, sipping vin chaud and nibbling roasted marron while cheering us on.

"Allez, allez!"

It was nothing short of fantastic. I ran the whole way, sprinted to the finish, and can walk without pain a day later. Now, if I can just keep to the advice of my physiotherapist, I'll be there next year, too.

We'll see...

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