Down But Never Out: Deanna’s Marathon Recovery
Deanna McVay is a Gainesville native, a mom to three children and an avid runner who participated in her first marathon at age 33. While training for her first marathon in 2015, Deanna became a patient of the UF Health Running Medicine Clinic and the UF Health Sports Performance Center to help prevent injuries.
Deanna has run 12 marathons in her running career, including the New York City Marathon and the Boston Marathon. After her family moved to Tallahassee, Florida, she began to have severe pain before, during and after exercise. She was desperate to find relief and found a medical professional to treat her quickly.
The Path to Finding Relief
Eager to get back to training for her next marathon, Deanna saw a doctor in Tallahassee to treat her pain. After four weeks of treatment with no relief, she called the UF Health Running Medicine Clinic to make an appointment. Even though the clinic was 130 miles away, Deanna was confident in her doctor, Kevin Vincent, MD, PhD, and his ability to treat her pain and get her running again.
“Deanna presented with anterior hip pain and a tendon tear,” said Dr. Vincent, chair of the University of Florida Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation and director of the UF Health Running Medicine Clinic. “With further imaging, we diagnosed her with a fibular stress fracture.”
A stress fracture is a small break in a bone caused by overuse or repetitive stress. They most commonly occur in the weight-bearing bones of the foot and leg.
After one clinic visit, Deanna had an accurate diagnosis and a treatment plan to get her running again.
“From there on out, I knew I would drive anywhere to see Dr. Vincent because I trusted him, and he was exceptional at diagnosing injuries and getting me back to my sport quickly,” Deanna said.
With the high-quality and attentive care Dr. Vincent provided, Deanna was able to start running again. This was important to Deanna because running is an integral part of her life.
“Running makes me a better mom and a better leader at work because it is a stress reliever,” Deanna said.
Dr. Vincent and the care team at UF Health kept in contact with Deanna to make sure she was continuing to run pain-free. Deanna’s message to those who experience pain while running is simple: Don’t wait.
“We, as runners, are stubborn and want to work through the pain,” Deanna said. “I would have been back sooner if I hadn’t waited to seek medical care.”
Dr. Vincent mirrors that message.
“I’ve had runners come in with multiple injuries because they kept working around the pain until they had to stop,” Dr. Vincent said. “I encourage my patients to make an appointment if the pain is greater than mildly uncomfortable or continues after running.”
Getting Ready for the Boston Marathon
In March 2022, Deanna was getting ready for her fifth Boston Marathon appearance. As a veteran of the sporting event, she was well-prepared and excited to try for a new personal best. Ten days before the big event, Deanna suffered an injury and it became painful for her to run. She called Dr. Vincent’s office to get an appointment as soon as possible.
Dr. Vincent was able to diagnose Deanna’s pain quickly: a hamstring tear. This is an injury to one or more of the muscles in the back of the thigh.
Although she wasn’t able to recover in time for the Boston Marathon, Dr. Vincent was able to coach Deanna back to light physical activity without further injury.
“He got me set up with a treatment plan immediately and I noticed I got back to my full strength pretty quickly,” Deanna said.
Crossing the Finish Line
In September 2022, Deanna ran in the Berlin Marathon in Germany, qualifying for the Boston Marathon with her strong finish time. Six weeks later, she decided to run the New York City Marathon just for fun.
“After I finished the New York City Marathon without re-injury, I knew Dr. Vincent and his team had diagnosed me and provided the right treatment plan,” Deanna said. “I’ve been down a few times, but Dr. Vincent has ensured I have never been out of the race.”