Way back in January ie. BCS (Before Calf Strain), I signed up for a race series (5, 10 and 15K) organized by a local running story. My physiotherapist had ordered full rest so I was unable to run the 5K (I volunteered instead). But I was hoping I’d be recovered enough to try to run in the other two races of the series.
So let’s rewind to my past weeks running. I had been incorporating some run-walks over the last 3 weeks and been progressively shortening the running portion. Last Sunday I did my longest run of the year -> 7.5 miles with 5 min walking warm-up and cool-down and a little over an hour of run:walk (3 min:3 min). It went pretty well. No major pain. But it made me realize how much endurance I’ve lost over the last couple of months. During marathon training, I was able to knock out these runs pretty easily before breakfast. Now, not so much. But I did it. And was a little sore the next day. But apparently that is normal and shouldn’t be a cause for concern right now (doctor’s advice).
I then had two more runs during the week. I like to call them progressive runs ->basically increasing the run portion over 5 intervals (Tues: 3:3, 3.5:2.5, 4:2, 4.5:1.5, 5:1 and Thurs: 4:2, 4.5:1.5, 5:1, 5.5:.5, 6:0). By the end of the week I was able to run 6 minutes straight. So I was totally prepared for a 10K on Saturday, right???
Honestly, I went back and forth a lot about whether I should run this race at all, and how I should approach it if I did. The last thing I wanted was to set back my recovery by re-injuring myself for some random race. I didn’t make up my mind until Friday where I convinced myself that I should take it as an opportunity to push myself a little and see where my fitness and calf health are at. My aim was to finish healthy, run comfortably and ease back if I was feeling anything. It might not have been the smartest decision I’ve ever made but it was the right one for me.
So I picked up my packet on Friday night. At this race you get a mug instead of a shirt which I think is pretty cool.
Race time was 8.00 AM and the starting line was only a 10 minute drive from my house, so I was able to sleep in until 6.30 AM, get ready (in my souvenir shirt from Twin Cities) and eat a small Lara bar (I’m pretty sure I got it as a free sample from some expo).
I also ran my first race in my new Saucony ISO Triumphs. They are pretty bright!
Parking was pretty easy -> plenty of spaces in a nearby residential area. The race starts and finishes at the running store.
This is pretty cool because you can hang out in the wonderfully warm store right up until race time, and check out all the shoes and apparel you want but cannot afford.
The weather was sunny but still in the mid 30s at start time. My feet were a little cold for the first mile or so, but by the end I was feeling pretty warm (I wore my Nike running tights along with my Twin Cities long sleeve shirt).
We started right on time. It’s a pretty small race (about 300 people) and everyone had great racing etiquette by lining themselves up by race pace (no walkers at the front!), and is advertised as a flat course. I think my Garmin registered just a 60 ft gain in elevation over the whole race which for SLC is pretty amazing. It’s hard to avoid the hills around here. The course was an out and back to a park (where I
do used to do my mile repeats). We did 1.5 laps of the park (it’s about 1.5 mile around) and then headed back. One interesting thing was that we had to cross the rail lines for a UTA Streetcar. On the return leg, I saw the lights go red and the streetcar pass by just in time for me to cross without having to stop.
Post-race there was water, Nuun, coffee, bagels, granola bars and some cuties. No donut holes this time! But one big plus was the free massages that were available. I’ve gotten these after my last half and full marathons and think they are amazing at getting the healing process started so I treated myself this time too. At 9.30 AM we had the awards mixed in with raffle prizes. Some lucky highschooler walked away with a $125 gift card.
As for my race…..I wasn’t totally confident that my calf would last the full 6.2 miles. And I wasn’t sure if I would need any walk breaks. I decided to go out at a comfortable-ish pace and take a walk break if I needed to. The first 3 miles ticked by pretty nicely – and with amazingly even splits. Bonus: no sign of calf pain. Added bonus: I was racing (well kind of) and actually passing people. I guess I’d forgotten how much I enjoy that aspect of running. Added added bonus: I was running sub-8 min miles.
Mile 1: 7.51
Mile 2: 7.48
Mile 3: 7.48
Things started getting a little harder at mile 4. Probably because of my total lack of training for basically all of January and most of February. I mostly tried to talk myself into keeping going. Things slowed down a little but I was still feeling pretty good. In fact, I experienced my first calf twinge coming up to the mile 6 marker. I was actually pretty surprised that it held out for that long.
Mile 4: 7.59
Mile 5: 8.00
Mile 6: 8.03
Final time: 49.15 (7.56 min/mile pace)
I finished 16th woman overall and placed 4th in my age group. Not bad for a post-injury run with almost no training.
This race was a huge confidence boost. I felt pretty good except for those last 0.2 miles. And although my endurance is not where it used to be, I’m still pretty happy with my cardio -> even pacing, sub-8 minute average, and knowing that I had more in the tank if I had to push for it. All in all, a pretty good race.
I spent the rest of Saturday on a runner’s high. Rolled out my calves a couple of times and did my PT exercises. I felt a little calf tightness but of the knotty muscle variety and not the torn muscle kind. Now back to my run-walks and some easy-paced runs.