Thursday, April 21, 2011

Everybody Hurts, Sometimes

Tonight was just one of those nights. I ran 8 miles in 1:15, a good distance and good pace. But almost from the start, this was not a good run. Sure, I'd slacked a bit this week, and I can't blame that totally on weather, but from how out of breath I was feeling within the first mile, I'd have thought I hadn't run in a month.

My calves also started hurting very early in the run. This isn't completely uncommon for me, but I thought I'd done a good job stretching. By the time they loosened up and felt better at about mile 5, both of my quads were quite sore; both ankles were aching, especially on the turns; and there was a dull pain throughout most of my right foot.

After quick trip to the emergency room, medical professionals determined that I would live through the night.

A few weeks ago, I posted about how I'd unexpectedly, after a very short night of sleep and extremely stressful day of work, pulled one of my fastest runs ever completely out of nowhere. This was the counterpoint to that -- a very painful run that I didn't see coming. I'm not sure if I didn't stretch enough (I thought I did), paced myself badly, actually have some undiagnosed injury, or if it's just a case of "sometimes I've got it, sometimes I don't", which is what I'm leaning towards now.

I don't always feel great when I'm running -- I usually don't, in fact -- but if I'm feelling this bad I usually cut it short, but tonight I was afraid that due to weather and the holiday weekend it might be awhile before I could get back out there. So I continued, miserable the whole way.

Both during and after my run, I was reminded of another of my least-enjoyable runs: the fourth leg of the 2010 Baltimore Marathon Relay.

I was running the fourth leg of the relay, a 7-mile leg that began at Lake Clifton High School (don't ask me where that is...I was bussed there) and ended between lovely Oriole Park at Camden Yards and whatever they call the Ravens' stadium these days. The three out-of-town members of "Earn Your Donuts", Chris, my sister Emily, and myself got up very early that morning and walked from our hotel to the sports complex to meet the fourth member of our team, Ada, a Baltimore resident. From the moment I woke up, I just didn't feel great. Headache, stomach felt awful, and oh yeah, it was freezing and windy.

Since I -- the most experienced racer in the group -- had arrogantly positioned myself to take the last leg, which was one of the two longest, I had to wait several hours for the baton (actually a timing chip) to get to me. About halfway through my wait, I started to feel much better...until I started running.

The seven miles felt like 15. I was out of breath from the beginning, and all the parts of my legs that hurt tonight hurt then. I finished my leg in about 1:07, which is right around my average, but it was miserable. I marveled at people who were 19+ mile into a full marathon who were doing better than me. When I passed someone, there was no joy in it -- they were on mile 20 and I was on mile 2.

While I was busy choking, everyone else on our team ran a great race. Chris, Ada, and Emily all finished their legs of the relay well below the times they'd estimated. I didn't beat myself up over it -- there were some unique circumstances (namely, waiting around in the cold for four hours before running) that affected me that race, but it was a wake-up call. I tightened up the rather slipshod training I'd been doing for the Philly Half Marathon and ran great race, probably my best, there.

Tonight's run needs to serve as a wake up call, too. Not to train harder, since there's nothing on my schedule longer than 10K till November, but to make sure I find the time to do all of the stretches and knee exercises I learned in my physical therapy.

This was just a bad run, but if I don't do a better job sticking with my PT, I'm flirting with injury.

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