Yesterday I ran my first “running- only” race in over two years! Success!
A Year Off:
My triathlon training and racing took a big hit this year when my foot did not heal up well from the December surgery I had to remove a bone spur from the back of heel (Haglund’s deformity). The doctor expected a 6-8 WEEK recovery period until I could start training again…unfortunately this was not the case, and I had to scrap most races and goals I had this season. A follow-up MRI a couple months ago indicated that despite some really nasty scar tissue, everything is “structurally” OK- no damaged connective tissue (the achilles is fine). The doctor gave me the OK to train normally. However, I was skeptical because it was SO painful. Since then I’ve been gradually building up run volume and intensity, and finding that whether I do a 3 mile jog, a track workout, or a 12 mile run, the pain doesn’t get worse and has in fact been subsiding little by little… I’m no where NEAR where pain-free, but the good news is that I’m managing and improving!
I volunteered for this race last year, and I knew that I wanted to run it this year- it was extremely well-organized, affordable, and the course was beautiful! A trail running race during the fall? Um, yes please! It did not disappoint!
It was a chilly morning, and as I opened up my “winter workout” gear tub and searched for my trusty fleece-lined running tights and jacket, I pulled out no other than my Pearl Izumi thermal tights and thermal barrier jacket… I have had these two items since 2007 or 2008 when I was training through the winter for the Boston Marathon. Pearl Izumi gear may be a little pricey, but so worth it and they last forever!
I warmed up looking a little like an eskimo… 2 layers of tights and 3 shirts along with a hat and gloves. When it came time to line up at the start, I shed down to one layer and ditched the gloves. I am definitely rusty at this whole “racing” experience… 6 minutes before the start of the race, I realized I left my race belt in the car, .25mi away! OOPS. I did a mad dash to and from my car and made it to the start while they were singing the national anthem phew!
As the gun went off, I relaxed into the crowd as we maneuvered our way onto a single-track trail. I loved breathing in the crisp air, taking in the beautiful fall colors, hearing the leaves crunch under my feet. My mind instantly remembered what “fast” running felt like: my turnover was quick, I drove with my knees, engaged my glutes, and stabilized my core. I smiled a little bit, thinking “So THIS is what I’ve been missing out on!” I high-fived and exchanged words with friends and training partners who I passed and was passed by… there was no where else I’d rather be on a cool, fall morning!
The trail was especially challenging for my foot, but I managed just fine. As the field thinned out and the course got a little more “rough,” I found myself surrounded by a little group of fast runners, which motivated me, especially since a couple “technical” parts of the trail made me a little nervous! We worked together and caught a couple runners ahead of us, then we fell into our own zones and separated. There was a strong, consistent runner ahead of me and I was using her as a pacer for the last mile, until I biffed it when I tried unsuccessfully to jump across a little gulley- OUCH! I hobbled up the little hill, jogged it out, then ran my way to my first “running race” finish in 2 years!
I am happy to report that I earned a sweet 3rd place age-group award- I’ll take it! Steve blazed his way to FIRST in his age group- I’m a proud coach!
I had a great time afterward enjoying the coffee, pancakes, and chatting with old and NEW friends (Sarah and Rachel!) I’m looking forward to more races and lots of training to come- I’m back!