December 3, 2017

The Slow Road Back

Instead of packing and unpacking and scrambling to figure out laundry, logistics, food, transport, etc., we've been living a very easy home-bound home-cooked healthy life for the last 4 months.  Sure, there have been drive-away overnights for work or family, but nothing that's really thrown any sort of wrench into our plans.  And certainly nothing requiring a flight.

One of many slough views from the Capitol Corridor Amtrak 
between San Jose and Sacramento.
It's been gloriously easy and relaxing.

E has been taking advantage and dropping minutes off his 5K PR every time we run one.  He's been working out regularly, alternating calisthenics and running, and coupled with our healthy home-cooked meal regimen, he has lost 12-13 pounds.  I, on the other hand, despite eating roughly the same diet, and working out probably twice as much time, have only lost 6-7 pounds and haven't come close to setting any PRs on anything... Ah, testosterone.  Such an unfair performance enhancing chemical...

The gorgeous Sacramento train station with its mural
celebrating Sacramento and the Big 4 and the role of Railroads in 
California's history. 

Anyways, I wanted to record what my slow road back to fitness has looked like since we got back from our Sabbatical, in terms of races.

Peachtree 10K 12:30/mile pace (hot & humid)
Wharf 2 Wharf 11:30/mile pace (cool & humid)
Race to the end of Summer 10K 11:21/mile pace (warm and humid)
Rock 'n Roll San Jose 10K 10:47 pace (cool & dry)
Crissy Field Park Run October 5K 10:22/mile pace
Crissy Field Park Run November 5K 9:55/mile pace
Turkey Trot 10K 11:08/mile pace (2m40s walking due to cramps)

Vacaville (literally, cow-town) from the train, as advertised.
Unfortunately, I have been suffering from a pulled glute/hamstring.  I really aggravated it at the November Crissy Field Park Run, and it definitely slowed me down on the Turkey Trot.  Since Thanksgiving, I've been doing nothing but easy slow runs (I jogged in the 13 min/mile range while watching my friends run fast at track club last week) and lots of rolling and stretching.

Wholesome Murals in Sac-town.
This left me the night before our CIM relay with 7.2 miles to go and no idea of what would be possible.  The CIM relay had a couple of things going for it -- my section looked like it had a net elevation drop of about 175 feet over 7.2 miles (garmin says 286 ft of loss and 101 of elevation gain).  I am a better downhill runner than flat or uphill runner.  Also, it looked like it would be 45F for the whole race, which is right in my sweet spot -- I can run in a t-shirt and shorts at this temperature and let my very hot operating temperature keep me pleasantly functional and warm.  Cardiovascularly, I was feeling fit.  But, in hindsight, my leg had been bothering me and getting worse on hard efforts since at least SJRNR if not before.

Brother-in-law drove me to the sunrise start
(we saw an awesome super moon, but no pics)

My goal was to keep it below 10:47/mile, which I thought I should be able to do so long as my leg held up.  Of course, I had sweetheart visions of coming in sub 10:30/mile or even having a miracle day where my leg didn't hurt and I could keep it below 10:00/mile.

@RunSRA knows how to put on a race --
check out that line of porta-potties at the start!

Folks -- I can now confirm that my left leg is officially messed up.  I had been in denial and was excited to wake on Sunday and test it out.  After getting dressed, it felt better than it had in at least a month, possibly 2.  I did some mild stretching and then made my way to the start.  Mile 1 was a nice easy downhill of reigning it in at 10:12, but I could already feel it starting to tighten.  And that's what it continued to do over the rest of the course.  I finished my relay leg at an average 10:47/mile for a Garmin distance of 7.3 miles (vs. the 7.2 if I'd hit the tangents).  But it hurt.  And 7.3 miles shouldn't hurt.

At the start, look to the left,
pace groups for every 5-10 minute finishing time.  Impressive.
Back at her house after my leg, my sister was shocked to see that I couldn't even get my fingers to within 2 inches of my toes when I tried to do some straight leg stretching towards my left foot after the race -- nothing like family who know how historically flexible you've been to remind you just how bad off you are.  I also had some nasty chafing on my right bicep under my t-shirt sleeve cut-off that stung like hell in the shower, likely from pumping my opposite arm across my chest/bodyline to try to compensate for my lame left leg.

Sometimes, our tortoise flips herself.
She struggles for a while but can't right herself.
In the wild she would die.
We flip her back over.
But, seriously.
We are all doing better than our tortoise at life.
I'm bummed about my leg.  But, reality is a thing.  So, I'm going to accept that if I want to actually heal and be able to run any faster, I need to maintain my cardio while also taking time to do some massage, yoga, time off running, and possibly PT to fix my left leg.  I even found an ART specialist to see me tomorrow, so that should be painful, but good...

In the spirit of this, I thought about early registering for the Oakland Running Festival Half Marathon (thanks Jen for the discount).  This is because I suspect my plans for the Kaiser Half have a strong possibility of needing to be scrapped to fix my leg, and I'm thinking the smart play is to try to heal up and convert down to the 5K.  But, I decided I'm better off playing it by feel.  I do hope to complete an early spring half marathon.  Just not sure where.  So wish me luck.


Jen said...

Take care and hope ART does wonders!

Biting Tongue said...

@Jen -- Actually, it did (fingers crossed)! I feel so much better after 1 session. I'm wondering why I didn't do this earlier. Totally planning to head out for an easy slow run tomorrow vs. yesterday when I thought I'd have to take at least 2 weeks off completely.

Jen said...

Glad to hear it! Hope your test run reconfirms that!

Arvay said...

The inverted tortoise description sounds like a metaphor for something...

bt said...

@Arvay -- subtle, right?