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Jessica Podell

New York, NY
  • Jessica Podell in the photo 1
  • Jessica Podell in the photo 2

Most people who know me know how much I enjoy running. I haven’t always been a runner but since moving to New York City in 2011, I found that it was a good way to get fresh air, relieve stress and exercise all at the same time-- a feat that is incredibly rare and greatly needed when dealing with the hustle and bustle of the big city. After participating in smaller races of 5k’s and 10k’s I eventually ran my first half marathon in April 2014. Overcoming that obstacle was an accomplishment in itself. But from the time I started running, it had always been a dream of mine to run a full marathon and that first half marathon was ultimately just a stepping stone to accomplishing my goal. I eventually went on to complete 7 half marathons with a few smaller races along the way to keep my body moving. In the summer of 2015, I finally found the confidence to register for the TCS New York City Marathon. Over the course of the next four months I endured a rigorous and stressful training program and found myself in the best shape of my life. Unfortunately, three weeks before race day while out on a training run over the 59th Street bridge, I felt a horrible pain in my right knee. I found myself holding back tears as I hobbled down the bridge in writhing pain trying to find a taxi home. For the remainder of the day I tried to find it in myself to accept that I would probably not be running on November 1st, but something in my heart didn’t want to give up. Against my better judgment I decided not to see a doctor like I probably should have. Instead I sought the help of a physical therapist friend the next day. She worked on my knee for about 30 minutes and whatever had caused the unbearable pain in my knee the day before had been fixed, or so I thought. I finished my training program and found myself standing on the Verrazano Bridge ready to check off a box on my bucket list. Around mile 6 I felt a snapping sensation across my right knee and knew the next 20.2 miles were going to be painful, but I was too determined to give up on what I had set out to do. While my time wasn’t what I had hoped for, I did manage to finish my first full marathon. Over the next week following the race I found myself in horrible pain unable to sleep through the night much less walk to work. I finally decided to see a doctor and figure out what I had done. After a visit with Dr. Allen and an MRI, I discovered I had a horrible runner’s knee with scar tissue built up from years of poor training habits, iliotibial band syndrome, tendinitis of the patella and a mild sprain of the meniscus. Dr. Allen suggested cortisone injections and physical therapy. The cortisone injections were unpleasant to say the least, but after two visits to HSS radiology I was ready to start my physical therapy with Julie Khan. Over the next three months, Julie helped rehabilitate my knee and taught me the proper way to strengthen and train not just my injured knee but my healthy knee to make sure I wouldn’t have to go through this nightmare again. There were many days when all I wanted to do was give up, but Julie managed to lift my spirits and give me hope that I would run again. After 3 months of grueling physical therapy I found myself being discharged from treatment and ready to run again. For most people simply being able to walk pain free again would have been enough, but completing an endurance race would be an indicator that I was truly “Back in the Game”. I spent the next 2 ½ months training for the Air BnB Brooklyn Half and Julie was there along the way giving me advice and reassurance that I could do it. Not only did I cross the finish line, but because my physical therapy made my legs healthier and stronger than ever before, I broke my personal record and finished 7 minutes faster than I had ever completed a half marathon before. While I may not have had the race I hoped for when I ran my first full marathon in November 2015, I am excited and looking forward to running the 2016 Chicago Marathon and hope to do so in less than 5 hours! Thank you to Dr. Allen, Julie and HSS for getting me back in the game!