The short story is: I did it! The longest distance I’ve run since my hip injury in January of this year. I can’t believe it’s taken me until December to be able to run 6.2 miles again, but it has. I think I’ve learned at least a little patience along the way. Not a lot, but I think even a little bit helps.
I suppose whatever evil demon was lurking in my haunted leg got scared off when I blogged about him, so he decided not to make an appearance at the 10K this past weekend. I’d done a one-mile test run Thursday night and had no ill effects, so I figured the race was on. If it bothered me, I could always DNF, or I had the option to divert to the 5K course at about mile 2.5. I felt a little creaky all over (thanks no doubt to two weeks of full rest), but I had none of the weird pains that had worried me so much. I think it’s gone now; knock on wood.
I showed up at the race just barely in time to check in, dump my race bag back in my car, and pin on my number with five minutes to spare. Perfect timing, if you ask me. My runner friends S. and K. were there to race with their sweet little baby boy. S. was running the 5K with him in the jogging stroller and he was bundled up in a fuzzy little hoodie and was all grins and giggles even at 7:30 in the morning and seriously, I think I felt something weird in my ovary region. But I digress.
In my injury rehab process, I have been taking it slow (following the advice of my PT) and thus have done absolutely zero speed training this entire year. In case anyone is curious about what happens when a person completely stops doing speed work, I have your answer: a person gets slow. Very slow. Like over 15% slower than a person used to be.
I knew I had to just go with it and try not to care. Like before, I found myself wishing for a tee-shirt that said “recovering from injury” on it in huge letters as a kind of public excuse for my slowness. When it comes down to it, of course, this kind of thinking is all about ego. It wasn’t that I was worried I’d come in last or they’d close the course before I could finish or that somehow the race wouldn’t “count.” It was just that I am used to seeing one kind of pace and now I’m seeing a totally different one. I can do my best to accept it — that’s just where I am right now and I’m grateful to even be out there — but there’ll always be a little part of my brain nudging and poking at the sore spot on my ego. It never 100% goes away.
So I tried to make the most of the downhills on this very rolling, hilly course and let gravity pull me along. On the uphills I concentrated on my form and let the glutes I’ve been building do the work to power me up. It worked: my butt was ridiculously sore for two days afterward. But my hip flexors? Nary a peep out of them. (HELL YES. PHYSICAL THERAPY FOR THE WIN!)
In the end, I finished about eight minutes slower than last year, but I felt satisfied in the end.
Although this was a tough race for me, I’m really happy with how I did. I think I did the absolute best I could give where I am right now. I think my plans moving forward will be to stay consistent with my mileage for a while and start incorporating just a little speedwork at a time as long as I don’t aggravate anything. Maybe by the time I sign up for my next race, I’ll be ready to start thinking about time goals again. Ooooh boy.