Though I have been remiss in blogging lately, I actually haven't been remiss in running...well, mostly. But since I'm working on dedicating any time away from the office to becoming a professional beach bum, I haven't been as vigilant about keeping up on blogging about my athletic pursuits.
Last Sunday, I was too unmotivated to run, so I made the decision to delay it until Monday. Although the weather was beautiful this weekend, there have been a couple of odd humid days (which you know I love), so on Monday, I decided to follow some of Cool Running's advice for beating the heat and planned to break up a thirty minute run into three ten-minute runs. I'd had a nagging pain in my right knee for a couple of days, so I'd also picked up a knee brace to run with. My first ten-minute run went pretty well. It was definitely hot, but I made it just over a mile in the ten minutes, so I felt pretty good. My knee was sore afterwards, but I pushed on for the second ten-minute run around lunchtime, slowing my pace to account for the increase in temperature and running in the direct sun. After that, I was really feeling some soreness in my knee, so I decided to nix the third run for the day.
The following day was week three (week two for me) of the Ocean Running Club's Summer Series 5k. The weather was beautiful, but despite this, I had little to no interest in driving thirty minutes north to run 3.1 miles. My leg hurt and I was in a bad mood, and I just felt like sitting on the couch and watching tv. But of course, Coach J got wind of my malaise and threated to come down here to kick my butt, so off I went. I tried to psych myself up for it, first watching the kids one-miler (which, by the way, is not billed as a kids race on their website. And I think that's why there was one adult running in it. He came in slower than my one-mile time would have been, so I felt pretty good about that). The first five kids to finish were all girls, which meant a lot of cheering from the crowd. But as I looked around, I realized that again, most of the group was serious runners. I had high hopes for myself in my age group, since when I registered I was only the second one on the list, but I was still feeling my amateur status. We finally lined up after the 5k racewalkers had taken off - and let me tell you, they may look funny, but they are FAST - and again, they told those of us who "weren't competitive" to head to the back. I like starting in the back anyway, because I'd rather pass people than be passed. But it's a little disconcerting to run with the group that has strollers and dogs with them, and they're keeping pace. Also, when you only pass one racewalker the whole time. That's just sad.
Anyway, the race got underway, and I pushed it. I knew what my time had been the week before, and I wanted to improve on that. After all, my first two 5k's were much faster than last week's, though I am trying to take into account the fact that they were both in early May, when it was cool and overcast, versus high 70's/low 80's in the middle of July. The first mile was tough again, but knowing the course helped a little. I tried to start out slower than I had last week, and managed to get to the first mile at about 10:12. I knew I'd really slowed down after that in week 1, so I tried to keep my pace, and came in to mile 2 at 21:14. Not fast, but better than the previous week. At this point, I felt like I was running through a rain forest. Even though it was less humid and cooler than the previous week, it still felt tropical for a run to me. I kept telling myself that the end of the trees and the finish was just around the corner, and finally it was. Despite being one of the last few to come in (still no idea of overall placement, because they don't post full results), I managed to come in at 33:03 and 101st overall. Unfortunately for me, two other girls had signed up in my age group and both had come in much faster than me, so I was fourth out of four. I have a long way to go if I ever want to be fast.
Afterwards, I was dripping with sweat and hurting. My knee pain had morphed into knee pain, plus some sharp and dull calf pain, so I was super excited to drive thirty minutes using that leg. But I knew a lovely ice pack and some ice cream awaited me at home, so that was good motivation. I was glad that I'd be taking a couple of days off, and figured rest, Aleve, ice, and sports cream would make the difference. Unfortunately, though my knee seemed to loosen up, my calf seemed to get worse every day. By Friday, I had a dull ache constantly, with sharper pain whenever I was walking, especially on stairs. Very strange. I decided to nix Friday's run in exchange for more rest, but yesterday, I knew I needed to get another run in before Tuesday's final ORC Summer Series 5k if for no other reason than to be able to tell myself mentally that I could do it. I thought stretching would be in order, and I've been trying to motivate myself to return to yoga, so I did thirty minutes of yoga last night, took some Aleve, put on some sports cream and headed to bed.
When I got up this morning, my calf was worse than yesterday. I still knew giving a run a shot would be the only way to know if this was a sidelining injury or something I could work through. I wanted to do a 35-minute run, and although I normally like to hit a certain distance with that, I decided that the more important thing was just running. My leg actually felt worse when I put on my sneakers, which I thought didn't bode well, but I headed out anyway and started running.
Strangely enough, though both my knees hurt (which they always have), as soon as I started running, I couldn't feel the calf pain anymore. There was one point in the run where that whole section of my leg went numb, but otherwise, it didn't really hurt. Because of my love of sleep, I was running later in the morning than you really should in the summer (though I wasn't the only one out there), so it was pretty hot. But I trudged along, doing my best and not running much slower than my normal pace (which, let's be honest, is pretty darn slow already). I turned around at 17 minutes, and around 20 needed a walking break. Cool Running's website says walking breaks can be important for new runners, and I still consider myself a fairly new runner, having been at this for only 5 months. After three minutes of walking, I picked up the pace again, and took another two-minute walking break with five minutes to go. I finished the last three minutes pretty strongly, and was surprised at how good my calf felt. Even stranger, it's been fine the whole rest of the day. I can feel a twinge of residual pain now and then, but it seems that the run actually helped! I also followed it up with another round of yoga, and plan to do some more tonight, so we'll see how it holds up over the next couple of days and during the last 5k. And although I think it's been good for me to do something structured like the ORC Summer Series, I'll be glad to get back to more of my preferred MWF routine the following week so I can sleep in without guilt on the weekends!
In other running news, I'd like to direct everyone to a blog from another Hamilton graduate - Tim Marman's sister is running in the NYC half-marathon to raise money for the American Cancer Society. Tim was diagnosed with cancer just before Christmas of 2008, and has been chronicling his battle on his blog, Beat My Cancer. He was recently able to announce that he's currently cancer free, which is awesome, but since there are so many people still battling this terrible disease every day, I think it's important to continue to support the cause. So check out Ally's page here, and please donate. I know it's tough in this economy, but even $5 can help. She's about $500 shy of her goal, and I think it would be awesome for her to blow by that!
Also, another Hamilton graduate, Carlin Mallman, will be running in the Chicago marathon this year to raise money for Team McGraw, on behalf of her mom, who's been battling a brain tumor. She kicked butt in her fundraising and I know training for a marathon is TOUGH, so if you wanted to donate to her cause, I encourage that as well! I think it's pretty awesome when running and good causes come together!
This week, I've got the ORC 5k on tap for Tuesday, and then I'll do a Friday run again. But right now, I have to nurse today's sunburn and do some yoga!
** As an addendum, I just noticed that ORC DOES in fact post the full race results. For my first 5k, I finished in 33:22. Last week's results are yet to be posted.