Oh, how I have been anticipating this race for quite some time. Remember when I first mentioned it back here? I had some seriously high hopes for this race. Santa to the Sea had gone so well in December when I PR’d by four minutes, that I was really really hoping that with training (from a group and coach) that I would be able to break that goal of 1:50. Well, it didn’t quite work out that way, unfortunately.
Oiy, where do I start?
So, I joined a training program, run by the local running I group I go on a lot of my runs with, ie. Inside Track here in Ventura. I’ve made quite a few friends through the group and it makes running and training much more enjoyable. I had several friends that were really rallying behind me to help me get under the 1:50 mark and I was more than excited for it!
Everything was going great until I ran the half marathon at The Great Race. Something in that race did me over and my legs, more specifically my calves, soleus and achilles tendon, have not been the same. I spent a good two weeks resting up my lower legs and trying to get things back to normal. It was hit or miss with how they felt; sometimes they were insanely tight and would be hard as rocks when I was done running, but other times they were perfectly fine.
About a month before the race I considered not running the race at all. Not just because of my calves, but because I got a really bad stomach flu or something, and was knocked off my feet for over a week straight, dropping five pounds in the process. I won’t go into too much detail about that part, but it took a pretty gnarly toll on my body and I was more concerned about getting those five pounds back than I was about running the race. I was concerned about my health and my body enough to sacrifice my race entry and just be part of the cheering squad. I anticipated not being able to get my stamina back up for a distance like that, along with not being able to maintain my weight while quickly upping my miles after a loss like that. But, I took each day at a time and waited to see what I would decide.
(BTW, did I mention I ran SoCal RAGNAR?
Oh yeah…post to come on that adventure too!)
A week before the race I ran with my running group, who were doing eight miles, and I said that if I could do their eight plus two more miles I would do the race. I was running slower than normal hoping that would help my calves by not over exerting them, and it worked. I ran those ten miles at a nine min/mile average and felt great afterwards! So it was decided, I would run the race.
I took every precaution…ok, almost…before the race to ensure that I would be able to run it pain free. I probably should have run a few less miles, but I had an event I had to do for work, so some extra miles were required, but it was all good. Otherwise I felt great and was pretty excited for it!
So race morning Whit was nice enough to get up before 5am to drive myself and a coworker of mine to the start line. The race started at 6am so we had to get up at the butt crack of dawn! Luckily the start wasn’t too far away so he got us there, hung out for a few minutes, then went back home to rest up and chill before we ran to the finish!
Because I had anticipated running 1:50 I was put into the first corral (there are only 4,000 runners total for this race between the half and full marathon runners) and although I could have started in the second corral which held the two hour pacer group, I decided to start in the first wave, but keep my 9 min/mile pace and really focus on just finishing the race.
I felt pretty good for the first few miles, but then, then inevitable happened: I could feel my calves start to tighten up. They were feeling weird in various areas, but always somewhere where they had felt weird in the past. Anyhow, I tried to slow down even more, going down to 9:30-10 min/mile pace but it wasn’t helping, and actually hurting my hips because I was changing my gait so drastically to slow down. So I tried to vary the way terrain as much as I could by running on the dirt on the side of the bike path which helped a little bit. It also helped soften the ground by running on the dirt instead of the asphalt.
By mile 6 or 7 I was so frustrated with my calves I wanted to stop. I had so many things running through my head, was I making my calves worse? Would changing to my regular running speed make it better?Am I going to permanently hurt myself? I was on the brink of quitting, and it was killing me.
So, I basically gave into my need for speed, and sped up. I figured, the faster I got this stupid race over with, the sooner it would be done and I could massage out my legs and take care of myself. Probably not the smartest decision, but I didn’t know what else to do.
When I only had a few miles left I just took off. Mile 10 was my fastest and I’m pretty sure the 9 min milers that I was around were pissed because I cut an almost 8:00 min/mile split. At this point my calves were actually starting to feel normal (goodness gracious!) so I decided to try and keep it up to the end, since there were only a few miles left. Around mile 11 my tendon in my left foot (which I have been dealing with for years) started to really hurt so I had to stop and massage it. I helped for a bit and as much as I wanted to stop and massage it again, I really just wanted the race to be freaking over!
I was trying so hard to pick up the pace and when I could see the finish line, I was completely ready for it be over. I got a nice little “push” at the end though! And when I mean push, I literally mean PUSH! My friend from my track club had been behind me for several miles and when he saw me at the stretch to the finish line, coming up strong and fast behind me, he pushed my back to get me to come into the finish with him!
And for the first time since my high school cross country days, I wanted to puke at the end of the race. Actually, the last 50 feet or so of the race I don’t even remember running it. I think I kind of “blacked out” of sorts after my friend pushed me and the momentum just got me to the end! Crazy when you think about it…because the last two things I remembered was speeding up when he pushed my back, and then the girl at the end asking me if she could take my shoe tag off my shoe. I was like, what? I couldn’t even think straight!
Whit, two of my coworkers and a friend from my track club were all at the end waiting for me, but all I could do was bend over against the seawall and hope I wouldn’t lose my breakfast.
It took me a little bit to get myself standing up right, but I pulled myself together and took a few pictures with my friends. Btw, did I mentioned I was SOAKED?! Seriously, probably one of the most humid days we’ve had here in Ventura and it was race day. I looked like I had jumped out of the ocean instead of wanting to jump into it!
I somehow didn’t get a picture of Whit and I, but he was there the whole time too, being a great water boy and support at the very end. Poor guy had to stand there and hope I wouldn’t puke myself, and make the walk home! I did take him out to breakfast afterwards though, since he had to get up so early and cart me around!
It was an interesting race to say the least. Obviously it didn’t go as I had hoped, but I had finished, which was my ultimate goal in the end. I also had a slight goal of getting under two hours, which I did, so that was nice, haha!
When is the next race? I have a short 5k or 10k on the docket for this weekend, but otherwise I have nothing planned for the immediate future. I am really worried about this calf thing as I’ve never had a muscle problem as bad as this before (like my piriformis back in 2010) so I want to make sure I’m not damaging myself! In the mean time, I’m starting up Insanity again…or something along those lines. I am thinking of finding something similar to it though, as I really do need that rush from moving fast! Of course!