Wednesday, April 24, 2013

There Is Always Hope


On April 6 I ran my first race since injuring my foot last November.  It was the Allerton Trails 10k held at Allerton Park near Monticello, Illinois.  We chose this race for my wife--the half marathon--as a substitute for Quivering Quads which filled so quickly.  I decided to run the 10k to pass the time as I waited for Pat to finish and to test my legs and foot.

This was a "B" race for me; I trained right through it without tapering.  Of course, I had goals for the race, but I was not looking for a great finish time.  It was a test to see how my training had progressed, having taken so much time off to recover and rehabilitate.

I have been frustrated by the training setback.  2012 was my fastest year ever and I was hoping to continue to improve and complete my first marathon.  That all has been postponed.  While I am not at the level I would like to be, I am improving.  My speed and endurance are progressing consistently.  As far as my foot is concerned: I can run and complete my workouts without limitation, but I need more time to recover.  The foot has been sore consistently for 24-36 hours after each run.  At least it does not bother me much while running.

So, on race day, I was fairly confident I would do okay.  I was going to push the pace if possible, but I would mostly be evaluating myself.  The race started with about one mile on pavement before we entered the mostly double-track trails.  I started off quickly to bank a little time, thinking the road would be easier than the trails.  We also started downhill, so it was easy to go fast.  I settled into a slower pace on the trails. They were dry and mostly clear of debris, roots, rocks, etc.  There was one section on grass that was soft and uneven and scattered with mole runs that was a bit tricky.  Otherwise, the course was not very technical.  About halfway through, I tried to pick up the pace, but I was red lined; I was at my limit.  However, my foot felt fine. This was very encouraging since my injury occurred on a trail run.  The final mile was back on the road, uphill this time.  I was still able to push the pace a bit.

I finished under 8-minute mile pace which was my goal and my foot felt fine immediately after.  I was actually fast enough to earn third place in my age group (I was also in the top 7% overall.)  I was hopeful, but not optimistic about placing.  Hopeful because of the cool Foo Dog awards they were giving.

As I recovered and waited at the finish line for Pat and our friends, my foot started to hurt again.  In fact, I limped around the rest of the day which was upsetting.  However, I woke up the next day feeling fine.  So, overall, the experience was enjoyable and encouraging.

In the weeks since the race, my foot has continued to feel better thanks to the Graston treatments from one of my colleagues (possibly more on that later.)  I continue to go farther and faster with less pain.  I will be running a half marathon in Champaign this weekend (it was supposed to be my first marathon...) and I am starting to set goals for later this year.  I am feeling nearly normal again, thanks to smart training and my sports medicine team.


Race summary and review:

1. Beautiful park, probably more so later in the spring and summer because of all the gardens.
2. Challenging, but doable course.  The easiest trail run course I have done thus far.  Rolling hills, but a few flat sections too. I was told the half marathon course was a little tougher due in part to a long section of uneven ground in an open meadow.
3. Nice medal.  I liked it because it was gold instead of silver or bronze in color.
4. Unique age group awards.
5. Good food after the race: Great Harvest Bread Co cinnamon rolls.  LOVE them.  These rolls may be the reason I returned to run Quivering Quads the second year.  As a fund raiser, a group was grilling hot dogs and salmon burgers too.
6. Inexpensive: the half was only $40 and the 10k was cheaper.  That's the price with tech t-shirt.  I think it may have been even cheaper for early registration.
7. One complaint: I had difficulty finding trash bins.
8. Maybe two: chip timing would have been nice, but that is just being picky.

Conclusion: I and everyone I talked to would return to race.

Allerton will also host a 5k and 10k on May 11.  A third race will also be held there, but I cannot seem to find any information on it.

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