Wednesday, May 9, 2012

USA-TF 15k State Championship. Clinton, NJ 4/28/12

I wasn’t sure whether I would go to this race.  I was very busy finishing up some work during my "last week" of my grad school before this race.  I purposefully took more rest than ever this past week because I felt after my 67.5 miles last Saturday, I could use some time off my feet.  Why would I think this?  People like to remind me that resting is good?  Rest. Rest. Rest.  You run too much. You need to take it easy.  You are going to break…etc.  I hear that a lot.  Mostly from people who run a lot less than me.  I don't pay it any mind when it comes from non-runners.  I must admit I get a little annoyed when I hear it from runners who act as if they know more about what I need than I do.  Funny how people often like to tell others what to do, even if opinions are not requested.  Regardless, life was exhausting me, so I figured maybe some rest will make me stronger.

I had an average of 10 miles plus per day since 1.1.12.  I ran about 20 miles over the week, the lowest I have in a very very very long time. I got my papers done, closed my files at the Clinic, finished up organizing my therapy log, met with my supervisor for a final review and got my academic/professional life in order during my down time. I hoped I was well-rested leading up to this 15k.  If I had a great day, I could likely run sub-7 pace for the 9.3 miles.  After all, I ran a 1:28 20k only one week after a fast 50k in March.   

I started strong and hit mile 1 at 6:55.   I hit mile 2 at 13:50.  So far so good, but I could feel my legs were like bricks.  They felt so heavy and lacked spring.  Even though I didn’t break myself last weekend, I guess walking may be somehow as hard as running, since I was clearly not recovered. Or maybe resting too much just made my body too tight and not as pliable.  I was just not feeling smooth, strong, or fluid.

In hindsight, I believe if I just kept my mileage up, and varied my training paces, I would have shook out these cob-webs by race day.  Instead, I felt stiff and tight and tired.  At mile 3, I decided to just back it down and run about 7:15-7:30-ish.  People began to pass me.  I was able to run at that speed quite comfortably until mile 4 when my left PF started to nag.  This was not completely unexpected.  After my 5k two weeks back, I aggravated it enough to call off a 20 mile run, but I made it through 15 hours of an ultra and didn't have PF pain, so I felt I was ok.  By mile 5 my PF was so very angry and I knew I was in trouble.  I hit mile 6 and could not believe I was going to have to run 3 more miles on a foot that was bailing out on me. 

The pain had me rolling way out the outside of my foot.  I lost my ability to hold my pace.  If I tried to run up on my forefoot like my body wants to, the pain got worse at my heel.  I wasn’t sure if I should slow down or speed up.  I just wanted to hurry up so I could stop.  I knew I had a visible limp at this point and still miles to cover. 

I just couldn’t bear the idea of DNF'ing and felt that 10 minutes miles would be better than 0 minute miles for my psyche.  When I DNF a race to save myself injury, I get to live a physically pain-free existant between races struggling with the sense that I probably could have finished and still not have had any residual damage. I can beat myself up a lot for "quitting" especially when there is nothing wrong with my body the next day or two after I quit.  However, when I fight for the finish, and then suffer significant damage, I have to live with the ability to NOT train and race like I want to and that is equally as bad.  It is gamble for the lesser of two evils.  Sometimes things seem worse mid-race than they do later, especially in ultras, and quitting is not really necessary.  Sometimes thinks feel better while moving, like in short races, than they will feel once you stop and DNF may actually save something from reaching the breaking point.  I took a lot of DNF's last year "to help myself" and it didnt do much for my psyche or my race results.  I have finished every race this year and breaking the DNF streak became a sore of pride.  It became important for me to finish and see what happens.

From the start of this race, I kept double, triple, quadruple splitting my new tap screen (got to adjust that later), so I was missing all my lap splits, which is probably for the best.   I just focused on moving forward.  Runners tried to encourage me as they passed me…. “Come with me!" "You can do it!"  "Let's Go."  "Pick up the pace!” prompting me to respond “I’m fine.  You go on!”  People seem to think they are being helpful and motivating.  But from my position, having to force a smile and engage in a conversation about why I really don't want to tag along with them is not something I really wanted to get involved with. The nice part of me feels it would be rude to just ignore people who clearly think they are trying to help, so I offer some response.  I may be wrong here, but my sense is that  sometimes people don't want to be encouraged by those runners who are passing them.  I understand that this peculiar behavior of saying something encouraging to a person you are besting can occur for a wide range of reasons.  I am sure I am guilty of this myself, but I just try to not do it to others. 

I prefer to really cheer on those who are passing me. I figure sometimes people are training through races.  Not every race has to be a PR.  Sometime people just don’t want to discussing mid-race that they are in pain.  Some people don't want to hear how they are doing GREAT! when they clearly know they are not doing great.  I figure those passing me could be having a good day so I cheer them on. 

In this race, I just wanted to live in my misery and not have to force smiles or offer explanations to strangers who simply had good intentions and thought they were being helpful.  All I really needed was to stop moving on a painful foot.  

One runner caught up to me, but was still close to my speed.  She offered “How about we try to finish this together”. I knew her and she is usually ahead of me.  I finally reported, “You go ahead, I have some Plantar Fasciitis causing a lot of pain right now.  I just want to get this over with without doing more damage”.  She advised “Just don’t hurt yourself.”  I wondered to myself why she was even near me and then she admitted, “I have strained calf right now.”  I joked, “I’ll race you to the ice packs after the finish line!”  We leaped frogged each other on the way in. 

I was so very happy to see that park where the finish line resided. We have to run a lap around the parking lot before we get to the finish line.  I saw Beau, a runner on my Do Run Runners team. I desperately called out to him, "Can you find me some ice?"  I had no idea if he could, I just knew I needed it ASAP.   At this point, I tried to pick it up my pace, but I could not put any pressure on my toes because it tore at the heel.  I jogged around the path and finished the 15k in about 1:10:45.  Beau was there with a handful of ice. My hero!  I tore off my flats and packed it under my foot, so happy to just sit down and stop running.  I eventually figured out that if I stuffed the ice into my arm warmer, I could tie it around my foot.  Mark W., noticed I needed something for the ice. He darted off and found me a rubber glove.  I packed the ice in the glove and stuffed the glove inside the arm warmer and tied it around my foot.  I was good for a few minutes.  What else could I do?

After sitting and chatting, while secretly freaking out inside, I decided I needed to get home.  As I stood up I hoped I could walk.  I was disappointed to find that my steps were even more painful now than when running.   I knew I really screwed myself up, but I hoped I would be ok in a day or two. 

I called two ultrarunning friends on my drive home.  I like these guys.  They always encourage me to run more and never tell me to stop running when I am running well.  Both Ray and John concurred with what I should do to deal with this.  Ice, Massage, and careful deliberate stretching of the parts of the Fascia that are not painful. I now had my plan.

I thank Beau and Mark for helping me to get the ice immediately.  I am sure things could be worse if I didn’t act fast to reduce swelling and pain upon stopping. 

From now own, once I can run again, rest weeks are getting crossed off my list… well, drastic rest week.  I will still ebb and flow with my mileage, but is seems that there is no real reason for me to shut things down, even if others are uncomfortable with how much I run and constantly encourage me to "rest".  If I get hurt off a 60-70 mile week I can take it.  Getting hurt of 20 mpw is baffling.

My final time was 1:10:45 and I ended up 3rd in my AG.  This is not a bad result considering how I felt.  Hopefully it won’t take too long to get back to training again.  


  1. I hope you recover quickly. Take care!

  2. Glad to see that you've been running regularly, so I assume you are good to go. No way would my body have wanted to race the week after Hampton. And you are not allowed to point out how much older I am then you! :)