The Right Decision

About six months ago I registered for a race. This wasn’t just any race however, I registered for the Endless Summer 6-Hour Run, an ultramarathon.

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My good friend Mosi is the race director and the proceeds benefit the Semper Fi Fund, his charity of choice. This is the 3rd annual race and the previous two years I was unable to run it due to other commitments. This year I put it on my calendar early and looked forward to finally running it.

After I returned from vacation at the end of May I knew it was time to ramp up my mileage. Due to an injury earlier in the year my mileage had only just returned to its normal 30 miles a week so once home from Peru I knew it was time to crank it up. And then last week my knee caused me problems. Again. So I backed off on the mileage and started doing my exercises. And things are feeling good again.

But now it’s the end of June and I’ve only got four weeks till the race. Not only that but next week I’ll be out of state visiting some friends and family and so while I intend on running (in hopefully cooler weather!), I don’t envision getting in any long runs while I’m there. Which means I would return and only have three weeks to try to ramp up my mileage enough to compete in a 6-hour race.

If I were in peak shape and my knee were feeling 100% I would consider doing it. Unfortunately that’s not where I’m at right now and I can’t risk injuring myself again for this race. So with a sad heart I emailed Mosi and told him I was withdrawing from the race and to give my spot to the next person waitlisted. I know it’s the right decision, the smart decision, but still, it sucks. There was a time when I would have just powered through the training and powered through the race but having suffered my first ever running injury this year I’m just not willing to do it anymore. I guess with age and experience come wisdom, right?

First & Last

Last night’s Tracky Tuesday brought 400 repeats with a twist. Here was the workout:

1 x 400: full rest

2 x 400: jog 200 between the 400s, full rest after the set

3 x 400: jog 200 between the 400s, full rest after the set

4 x 400: jog 200 between the 400s, full rest after the set

5 x 400: jog 200 between the 400s, blissfully done after the set

I got the track and after a couple of warmup laps which may have not even been needed because it was in the mid-90s with humidity to match, I launched into the first 400. I clocked a 1:36, which is my usual pace for a 400. My knee felt good but not great so I decided to run a bit conservatively, not pushing myself too hard. This meant that most of my 400s were in the mid-1:40s and while my lungs and heart had plenty of juice and wanted to push, my legs tired a little quicker. I likely could have kept the 400s in the 1:30s but I didn’t want to risk pushing too hard and repeating last week’s TT workout. So I ran a solid pace, but nothing too extreme. Until the last set that is.

It was an exhausting workout, the humidity and heat drained my energy even more but I was determined to finish the workout on a high note. I jogged my last 200 and pushed into the final 400. Nikki jumped in after about a hundred meters and ran with me. She pulled ahead of me yelling, “Come on, Courtney!” As we rounded the final corner I said, “Drop back beside me and then push!” She obliged me, dropping beside me as I picked up the pace and sprinted in with all my might. I stopped my watch as my lungs heaved, drawing in thick air. I ran my last 400 in 1:36, the same as my first of the night. It was the perfect way to end a workout.

Just What the Body Needs

Last week I had a temporary setback. I did my PT exercises and I went for a fun run and things felt good. My knee had a tiny twinge but nothing more. I was happy to be feeling better.

Friday morning I hit the gym, hitting the weights and doing an absurd amount of push-ups. (I seriously hate push-ups, I think they’re torture.) That night, along with 300 other people, I biked the streets of DC. I wore a bright white tank top and adorned myself with glow sticks.

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I rode through the streets of DC enjoying the absolutely gorgeous weather and the absolutely gorgeous full moon.

Firefly Bike Ride 026I enjoyed the sights of the city I call home and by the end of the night I’d biked about 20 miles. I went to bed at 1:30am, thoroughly exhausted.

The next morning I woke up and went for five mile run. I wanted to reduce my mileage a bit, back off and see how my  knee felt. I set off on a comfortable 8-minute pace. At my turn around point I felt great but deciding to play it smart, I turned around rather than keep going. At mile 4.10 I got passed by a guy, not a big deal but it’s not often I get passed while running on that trail. I caught him at mile 4.40, at the stoplight. I have a fast start, so when the light turned green I surged forward and he quickly fell in behind me. Knowing I didn’t have much more to run I decided to make him work hard to pass me, which is why my last mile was clocked at 6:59. He passed me when my watch beeped, indicating I’d hit the 5-mile mark and my stopping point for the day. I smiled to myself. My knee felt great but my ego felt better. Sometimes, that’s just what the body needs.

Slight Setback

Earlier in the week my knee pain came back. It sucked.

I wallowed in self pity a bit. Then I gave myself Wednesday off from working out with the exception of doing my PT exercises for my knee. I took my dog to the dog park that night and enjoyed the gorgeous weather. I had a glass of wine with dinner and I tried not to think about my knee too much.

The next day I hit the gym, lifting weights and doing with my PT exercises. That night I went for a fun run, sans watch, with a group of friends. We hit some paved roads and wooded, dirt trails. I ran easily, never thinking about my pace or my speed or where I was even going. I just ran and I paid attention to my knee. And while it didn’t feel 100%, it wasn’t hurting like it had been earlier in the week. And by the time I finished the 6-mile run there was only a small ache – just enough to let me know that it wasn’t quite back to where I needed to be.

So I’ll back off on my mileage and do my exercises every day. I’ll leave my watch at home and just enjoy running. I’ll focus on running pain-free rather than on pace. I’ll view this as what it was – a temporary setback. Not an end to my running career. This knee injury may have reared its ugly head again but I will not let it beat me. I will not be stopped. I will keep running.

Running Fail

Last night was Tracky Tuesday and a pyramid workout was planned: 400, 600, 800, 1000, 1200, 1000, 800, 600, 400. We’ll do several versions of this workout throughout the summer and they are always wonderfully brutal.

On Saturday I ran 11 miles at an 8-minute pace. My left knee had a small twitch in it so I made sure to do my PT exercises after my run. Sunday I went to yoga and that afternoon again did my knee exercises. Monday morning I ran 5 miles at an 8-minute pace and felt a more prominent twitch in my knee so once again I did my exercises. That afternoon, after I’d done a strength training session at the gym I did my knee exercises.

As Tuesday progressed I became aware of shin splints in my right leg. While at the gym that afternoon I did my knee exercises and thought about the night’s upcoming track session. I decided I’d still go and I’d just see how I was feeling – I could either do an abbreviated track workout or I could just muscle through it.

I got to the track late and ran a quick warm-up lap. My knee didn’t feel great and neither did my shin but I still decided to give it a shot. I took off on my first 400, my shin and knee hurting with every step. I finished in 1:35 (my usual 400 time) and Mike said, “You okay Courtney? You didn’t look too good out there.” With that statement I realized that my knee pain was causing me to alter my stride so much that it caused shin splints. And I also realized that continuing to run that night was foolish – it would cause me more pain. And so I spent the rest of the time walking laps and cheering for my friends who were completing the workout.

But I’m frustrated. I’m mad. I spent months resting and rehabing my knee and now here I am, battling the same damn thing. I had just returned to my pre-injury running levels (30 miles a week) and was getting ready to ramp up my mileage for the 6-hour ultra race I have at the end of July. With the way my knee is feeling I’m going to have to seriously reconsider the race. With the way my knee is feeling I’m going to have to drop my mileage back down again and then slowly, once again, build it back up. So I’m mad and upset and frustrated. I was feeling great and running well and I wasn’t even overly concerned about the fact that my speed hasn’t come back yet – I was just happy to be running again and feeling good. Except now I’m not. And that really, really sucks.