I ran the 5K associated with the AIDS Walk in DC this
morning, finishing in a time of 20:00 flat.
Meh. Kinda a good news/bad news
The good news was that I got to run at all – for the past
two weeks or so, I’ve been dealing with weakness, stiffness, and pain in my
lower right leg. The pain would move
all around – being in my posterior tib sometimes, and my soleus sometimes. More concerning was the weakness in the calf
and foot – I would noticeably hobble for the first half-mile before working out
of it. So I cut back on the running
drastically, and the pain decreased, but the weakness got worse and worse. The weirdest aspect was my increasing
inability to do single leg squats on my right leg – I’d collapse on the first
squat, struggle on the second, and then be fine thereafter. Take 60 seconds rest, and repeat, and same
exact thing – failure on the first, and then improvement.
Luckily, I have a great physical therapist – I met with her
on Wednesday, and she decided to try some (quite painful) nerve release work at
both the L5 vertebra and just below the back of the knee. The next morning, there was still some
stiffness, but I was once again able to do single leg squats. I got aggressive and ran 6 miles on
Thursday, including some strides, with some lingering weakness and unevenness
in my stride, but no real pain or hobbling, so I decided I’d try to race on
Saturday. Got to the race, and managed
a 3 mile warmup without too much trouble, so I thought I’d race. I did note that my warm-up strides at the
end felt a bit weak and sluggish, and I had a weird low blood sugar type feeling,
but nothing of great concern.
The race started (I made a point of lining myself up front,
ahead of the guy with high tops, a sweatshirt, and his timing chip still
attached to his bib) and we were off.
My right leg felt a bit weak, but then evened out. The course was a fairly fast and flat one,
but I tried to hold back and play it conservative, especially given how
sluggish I felt, settling into a pace that felt reasonable, even slow for a
5K. A high school girl blasted by me,
and I let her go, figuring that high schoolers aren’t always the best at pacing
themselves. I noted that my legs felt a bit off, but the right calf seemed to
be holding up well.
I held my steady pace as we turned off of Pennsylvania
Avenue onto 3rd street, and then things got a bit weird, as I heard
someone screaming “No – they’re supposed to go down Washington Avenue”. (map of
what race course should have been here) I’m not sure quite where we went (my
primary focus was on the high school girl ahead of me), but I think we went
down 3rd Street instead to either C or D. Mapping it in retrospect, I think if we did go down C or D, it
only added a tiny bit to the course – about .02 mile, so not that big a deal
(the Garmin read 3.18, but I’m sure a lot of that was due to the inaccuracies
inherent in the device). Plus, we all
ran the same course, so it didn’t affect the placings.
Another disconcerting thing was the lack of mile markers – I
was expecting mile markers, and so didn’t set my Garmin to auto-lap. So no splits.
About 2 miles into the race, the high school girl started to
tie up, and I passed her, taking the lead.
I felt strong.
Then we made the final turn back onto Pennsylvania, with the
finish line in the distance.
Frustratingly, I suddenly began to slow. Another woman passed me, and I tried to go with her, but my legs
just locked up. And it grew worse and
worse. By the last minute or two of the
race, both legs were locked up, and I was nearly walking – it was a desperate struggle
just to cross the finish line.
I’m really not sure what happened here – possibilities
include a) that I simply went out too fast (though it didn’t feel that way), b)
that I mentally lost my focus after getting passed, c) that I have some
lingering nerve issues, d) that I’m fighting off another bug of some sort
(maybe the sluggish feeling), or e) that all the time I took off from running
over the past 2 weeks did hurt my fitness.
The weather was absolutely perfect, and the pollen counts were low. My breathing didn’t feel like a limiting
factor during the race, though I had a very hard time catching my breath post
race (took about 10 minutes). I dunno –
if I had to guess, I’d say it’s a combination of loss of fitness from the time
off and mental loss of focus.
I really wish they had mile markers, so I at least knew my
splits. Oh well.
I ended up second woman overall, and first in my age group,
and 18th runner overall.
Well, that would have been if they gave awards. :) Turns out, they only
gave awards to the top 3 runners overall, so effectively just the top 3
men. I probably would have been more
upset had I won the women’s race; since I didn’t, I just see it as one more
“meh” thing. Oh well. I reevaluate, and push forward.