After being an endurance athlete most of my life, today I realized that I am at last a mature one.
This morning when standing up after cleaning the cats’ litter, I did something funky with my knee. It felt as if my ligaments weren’t properly aligned as I brought them to a straight position and they pulled a bit. The weather outside is absolutely gorgeous, I just got my bike back from the repair shop, and I had some miles planned for the afternoon… but I chose to not ride.
The time missed from potentially seriously screwing up my knee far outweighs the time missed from not going on a ride or a couple while I rest it. Hurrah, maturity.
Trail running is stupid. My stance is firm on this despite a wobbly ankle.
Was having a great race (I was with the guy who finished 8th) when halfway in I came to an off-camber, downhill, and sharp turn. It happened in a flash so I don’t know if it was related to a root or rock, but the bottom of my right foot was pointing left for an instant and it hurt. I hobbled to a walk and quickly realized this wasn’t the kind of ankle twist that you can walk or run off. Race over, man.
Being halfway through the race also meant I was as far from the start as possible. I hobbled my way down the single track trail, pulling off whenever I heard footsteps behind me. Being a great race, there were a lot of footsteps behind me so that .5 mile off the small trail took forever. Luckily, it was fire road after that, but the first post I came to was marked “1.75” (the race started at 0). I figured it’d be roughly a 30 minute walk, but I didn’t properly account for hobbling as opposed to regular walking. It took FOREVER. On the way I found a nice walking stick to take the load off my foot, and as I neared the end a group of three women from the race met up with me in order to give me company for the remaining bit of the walk. Portlanders are the best.
Once I got home, ice and ibuprofen. With any luck, this’ll be a 2-3 day thing and I’ll be back out to race next week. Already feels a tiny bit better, but I’m still hobbling around and am not able to ride today (last day of the month – was supposed to ride 50 miles in order to complete 1250km in July so extra bummer to not reach that goal).
So trail running is stupid, my ankle hurts, I’m failing a monthly goal, and blah. I suppose I’ll live.
Another race down. Fortunately, this went much better than the last. I went out rather slowly and picked my pace up all the way through the finish. Pacing myself, a novel idea, no? I don’t know if my result was much or any better because I beat some people I had lost to last week and lost to some I had beaten last week. But I felt better about it so I’d have to think I ran better.
Anyway, this course was more of the same. Up a trail, down another, back up again, and back down again. It wasn’t until the final downhill that I began feeling fatigued. I had run with another guy the entire race (we got to chatting after he slipped and fell trying to pass me on the inside of a turn – it had rained) and once he got by me around Mile 2, I kept pace with him and was even gaining towards the end, but as soon as we hit that downhill he flew away from me and caught and destroyed the two folks we had seen off in the distance the whole race. In that final downhill mile, he put 30 seconds on me. Pretty nuts.
So yeah, back to the fatigue bit… Running downhill is harder than uphill. On that final stretch, my quads and left foot couldn’t handle any more pounding so I was more or less sidestepping the whole way down. I went just as fast as everyone other than the guy who blew everyone away, but it’s clear I have much room for improvement there. Unlike riding elevation, where I suffer on the way up, but my weight helps me on the way down, you seem to suffer for having extra weight both ways when running (up because duh and down because of the pounding). I’m sure my muscles will harden up with more practice, which I’ll be getting over the next ten weeks or so of weekly races.
I no longer hate trail racing. It’s clear I’ve got a lot to learn (I’m sure there are best practices for running up and down that I could stand to read up on), but my body isn’t hating me as much as after last race and I’m sure it’ll only get better. Do I love it? Not quite yet, but I’m also not ready to rule it out as my next addition.
Trail running hurts, and there really is no cross-training for it (unlike road racing, which is more about cardio [that I can get on the bike]). I’m in great shape, but not for this and it showed. Up and down, and up and down turned out to be the murderer of quads, hamstrings, and calves. Two days later and I’m walking pretty funny. I’m pretty sure I used and spent muscles that I didn’t know existed.
So… This was my first ever trail race. I realized that when they asked the crowd at the start who was new to trail running and maybe 2% of the other folks (capped at 100 runners) and I (without hesitation – then I second guessed myself, but realized it was in fact true; after hundreds of races, this was new to me) raised our hands. I’ve run on dirt before, but nothing in the DC area comes close to the trails out here. Rock Creek might be considered a trail out this way, but it would be in the “flat” category. In preparation, I ran once the month prior and had three other runs on my trail shoes since moving west. Totally prepared for ~5 miles up and down trails on a 1100ft ridge.
Why did I do it? Heather’s coworker told me it was awesome. I suppose it could be at some point, but I’m not there yet. I think I may be too much of a numbers person; you can’t really pace yourself by time, you never really know how much further you have to go, and you can’t compare one performance to the next. Those are all things I love about road racing and cycling; they’re so quantifiable.
Not too much to say about the race other than I went out a bit quicker than I probably should have, walked up a massive hill with said coworker of Heather’s (he caught me there and pulled away the rest of the race), and am not too pleased with my overall performance. I guess my expectations should have been a bit lower? Bah. I suppose I could blame it on riding my bike for a full day a few days earlier, but I honestly felt pretty rested otherwise I wouldn’t have even showed up so “bah” on that too. All was not bad, though; I won a free pair of socks that are pretty awesome (wearing them now) and valued at 1/3 of the series entry fee!
So my running will now consist of these weekly races, which combined with the fall series that I was brilliant enough to already register for (have to get in early) will occupy me until the end of October, and a weekend maintenance run of 2-4 miles.
I’m hopeful that things will get better as my body learns to do what it has never done before, but… ow… and the races only get longer from here.
This year marked our 4th Race for Hope. This being the 7th year it has been held, we’ve now been to more than not. That’s neat. Edit: 17th year. I’m bad at reading. We had a pretty big team this year and raised over $2000. Was great to see all the friends, family, and “family” out to show their support.
I’ve not had a great off-season or on-season of training so I knew I wouldn’t be besting my 18:25 from last year. Things are coming around training-wise, but definitely not at full speed yet. A short run at 6-minute mile pace yesterday confirmed it, but I was still going to go out at that pace and see what happened.
Unfortunately, I forgot my GPS watch in my bag so was stuck using my phone for pacing and timing duties. Not ideal, but it should do a decent job. Following the line-up and survivors’ walk, we were off. Based on experience with this race, I knew a ton of traffic lined up at the front and would slow me down so I got very near the front, which resulted in only a few elbows and a second or two lost. I got into what seemed like a good pace (my app is pretty inaccurate for current pace), and went…
Through Mile 1 in 5:55. Alright! Except I knew I couldn’t keep it up. I was running next to a younger kid who was staying with me, but varying his pace wildly. Always annoying. He fell apart, but had one of those great strides that you know has potential; I’m sure he’ll crush me in years to come as he matures, but I digress.
During Mile 2, we did an interesting thing… NOT TURN WHERE WE USED TO. New course. Ungh. I loved the old course. The new course is probably a little more scenic, but when you know a course like the back of your hand, it helps. It was mildly windy and the new route put us in it more. Bummer. I could tell folks were getting gassed and knew Mile 2 is where you pick up the spots because typically nobody has anything left for Mile 3 (except for me last year). Made a little push, got a handful of folks, and through the 2nd mile in a race time of 12:10 (6:15 mile).
And then my lack of training kicked in. Mile 3 was tough. My form went away, I got passed by two guys, and knew I had nothing left. There was one guy closing on me late and I even waved him by to let him know I was done, but apparently he was even more done and I was able to keep him at bay. Through Mile 3 in… I don’t know. Probably another 6:15 or so. And then a final little push to the end to finish in 19:15. I think the course was a little long as my GPS says the 5k went by in 18:55, but it could have been my phone measuring wrong. Either way, I’m pretty pleased.
The results have me where I recrossed the line later with Mom, but I’ve submitted a correction that will get me 23rd place (edit: 22nd), 3rd in age group, and 1st from Oregon 😉 Next year I’ll have to get back in the Top 20 and find that sub-18 I’ve been searching for. No moving, no injuries… Let’s do this.
I shouldn’t fail to mention that my eagled-eyed wife spotted Fred Armisen (guy from Portlandia) at The Willard! What are the chances of bumping into him in DC rather than Portland? Funny stuff. I regret not shaking his hand as he hopped into his cab.
On our way to NC now! Vacation!!! Thanks again to everyone who came out and/or contributed! See you next year!
5k. Basically in our backyard. 19:40. Didn’t feel bad, but that’s 1:15 slower than May. I finished 20th or so, which is about what I deserve placing-wise so it may have just been a slow day for all of us.
Next up is another trail 4-miler (I did one last week as well, but didn’t write about it) on the 4th followed by a few bike races in the week and a half following it. Based on where my wrist is, they may need to be cancelled, but I’m going to hold onto hope for now.