Friday, April 24, 2009

Is that... Progress?!?

After the string of aches pains and injuries before Lavaman, I decided it was time to strip my run training back down to the basics and start over again. I spent two weeks just trying to build myself up to 'normal'. Doing runs three days a week but only on the treadmill. First with my brace and then without. Everything seemed to be going ok. Then came the 'big' test. On the 18th I did a 10K.

I came into this race wanting to learn a bit more about myself. I wanted to take what I had learned from Lavaman and see how it felt while racing on my own. Could I push a bit harder? Can I spend more time outside my comfort zone then I did that day? Plus I thought it would be interesting to see how my run performance would be when not proceeding it with a swim and a bike ride :)

So Saturday we got up at the 'Butt-Crack' of dawn and headed up to Columbia for the Old Mill 10K.  My husband and his son were also entered and it was kind of exciting because it was the first time we had all done something like this together.

In case you aren't familiar with this area, Columbia is a tiny town in the Sierra Foothills, that has been turned into a State Park.  From their website:

The Gold Rush to Columbia, California began on March 27, 1850 by a small party of prospectors. News of the discovery spread and they were soon joined by a flood of miners.
Unlike many 
settlements that have changed with the times, Columbia, California seems to be frozen in the 1800's. Today, Columbia State Historic Park is the best preserved of California gold rush towns.
As a popular destination for school living-history programs, special family gatherings, or a year-round getaway, Columbia State Historic Park offers a unique blend of museums, 
displays, town tours, live theater plays, and shops, restaurants and attractions.
When I read about their 10K I thought it would be a nice easy 'fun run' for our family to try as a first time.

We arrived an hour before out start time and picked up our race packets.  It became very apparent that this wasn't a run that was used to people coming from 60 miles away to participate.  We got a lot of "Who's kid are you?  Should I know you?"  looks from people.  But everyone was very friendly and helpful.  A short wait in line and we had our t-shirts, ribbons and race numbers.  We pinned each other and then went for a short warm-up.

The time leading up to the start was easy going.  We watched them launch the three races that were starting before ours.  It was fun to watch the casual folks file in for the 2 mile run.  One older couple were there in jeans and t-shirts saying "We may as well get our Sunday walk in today!".  Then the LITTLE kids lined up for their 300 yard run.  We had entertained ourselves watching the 3-8 year olds, 'warm-up' and 'stretch' with mom and dad before the race.  They were all so serious as they lined up to start.  The starter told them "GO!" and they were off... kindof.  A little girl and boy had gotten tangled at the start and crashed to the ground upsetting them both.  And one little guy just stood at the starting line looking confused.  They untangled the two 'crashers' and both of them started running again but the little boy lost at the starting line just started crying when dad said "come on!  let's run!".  They were all so cute! :)

After that was the start of the kids mile.  These were the 'serious' 14 and under runners (most probably 10 and under).  They got started without a hitch and we were left to just wait for our race to start.

Finally 9:15 rolled around and we were ready.  I got my Garmin ready, unsure how accurate or regularly the mile markers were going to be on the course, and with a pace goal in mind.  I wanted to run for a full mile at a time, with 1 minute walk breaks in between.

The first mile was a gradual uphill climb.  I put my head down and just kept chugging.  My husband had been battling plater faciitis and didn't want to injure himself by running so he kept pace with me by fast walking (Yes, I run that slow :)) The run course was a funny thing - winding it's way through city streets and even parking lots before finally coming out on the highway shoulder.  The way was VERY well marked and there were volunteers at all the right places to make sure everyone got through the higher trafficked areas.  The hills were taking their toll on me though and I was struggling to keep running.  But I didn't let my doubts win though and kept on running.  I slowed to a walk at the first water stop right at mile one.  The water felt great and I had two cups because it was starting to get warm out there.  They were calling out times as people passed and I learned that I had finished the first mile in just over 14 minutes! whoo hoo!  I left the water stop at a quick walk feeling really good about my race so far.

It took me a little bit to figure out that somehow I hadn't set my watch program right.  It didn't signal me to start running again after one minute.  I made quick alterations to my plans and figured I would start running at 1.25 and I did.  The route continued to climb and it was getting hotter.  Luckily the scenery just got more and more beautiful!  The hills were an amazing shade of green where they weren't completely covered with wildflowers.  The houses hiding in the hills were amazing, each one left my husband and I going --- "Oooo I want that house!"  I just kept pumping my arms and moving my legs.  I dropped to a walk again at the two mile marker (matching my watch exactly) and started evaluating the route in front of me.  The gradual rise was giving way to a brutal hill.  I shook my head and looked at my partner.  "I'm going to have to walk the hills" I admitted.  He just shrugged and told me "Whatever you need to do".

There was nothing else I could have done.  Near the top of the hill I checked my watch and I was only managing and 23 min/mile pace and yet my heart and breathing were worse then when I had run that entire first mile!  I took half a second to catch my breath and then started jogging down the other side.  At mile three was another water stop and again I took two BIG cups of water.  They called our times again but I was too focused to pay much attention - it was over 30 min.  After that was another climb, then another drop and then a field?  We just kept following the arrows and the volunteer's directions and we were pointed through a fence and onto the airfield.  The race route went through the airport and two of the runways! (How's that for small town - lol).  I started out thinking the run across the grass would be easy, but I was wrong.  The grass was cut, but had a weird springiness to it that made it almost like running in sand.  Somehow I had lost my husband, and when I looked around mid-field as I hit the 4 mile marker I was surprised that I couldn't see him anywhere.  I started walking again as the path pointed to what looked like a nice shady spot under some trees.

Shortly after passing through the trees and starting back on a road again I heard noise behind me and turned to find my husband running to catch up with me.  He hand sprinted through the grassy part.  I gave him a quick kiss hello and we started back into our pace.  I found out that what was separating us was that I was running the downhills - whereas he had to slow down the on the downhills because they hurt his foot more.  Before I knew it we were back at the mile one water stop which was also mile 6! Almost done and I was going to finish in GREAT time.  I picked up the pace a little more.  It was a gentle downhill now and I tried pushing myself to give just a little more.  At one point I started to really feel the effort and thought about dropping to a walk but thought - NO I'm going to finish this strong, I'm tired of leaving gas in the tank.  So I kept on running.

As we turned the corner to the finish line my husband started piling on the speed.  Even on his worse day and my best I can't keep up with him but I turned it up a notch too.  He came in the finish line well before me, but turned around and waited in the shoot for me to cross the line.  I was thrilled to have finished in 1:39:25 - and again, was NOT last!  That's just over a 16 min/mile pace and considering that the grassy airport area was the only part of the entire route that wasn't uphill or downhill, I was really pleased with those results!  And best of all, I had ran the entire thing without my brace on - and was pain free!

Oh and my Step Son - for whom this was his first race EVER -- he took first place in his age group! :)  He wants to know when we're going to race again.

The next few days of recovery were a little tough.  All the downhill running had really made my hips sore!  But it was normal muscle soreness that went away after the allotted time.

This week I've been back outside running again.  I've started back with a couch to 5K running plan with the hope that slowly building the miles/minutes will keep me from ending back in that 'bad place'.

Yesterday I was starting to get the lower leg pain that had plagued me all during my Lavaman Training. It was frustrating. I went for a run with my new running partner (My Great Dane Zeus), and came back in pain. I quickly grabbed ice when I got home and wrapped both legs in it. Once they were comfortably numb I got into a position that stretched the painful area and just sat there for about 10 minutes. Then I loaded up on the ibuprophene before heading to bed.

I woke up this morning with that familiar sense of dread. What's it going to feel like when I put my feet on the ground? I wiggled my feet a little under the covers....hmmm. That's strange. I threw my legs over the side of the bed and sat up. Then slid forward and started to put weight on my feet. Wow - really strange. I stood up and took a step. HUH!? where was the pain? I took some more steps... oh heck yea! I mild twinge in my foot is all that's there. No tight calves, no heal pain, no icepick in the side of my foot!



  1. Sounds like a great job. I am glad back at it!!

  2. by george - that does sound like progress!! excellent!! and i love the races in those small towns - i'm going to be doing one that i think is going to be very similar in temecula next weekend, i'll be one of the only "out of towners" -- and now that you are stepping up the running you may want to look at taking some extra vitamins for your joints -- glucosamine & chondrotin