PHOTO - Midsummer Night's Mile in July, before all hell broke loose
I’ve been running year round since I was 15 years old. Granted, I wasn’t running A LOT of mileage back then, but the physical activity of running has been a part of my day-to-day DNA since Clinton’s first term. 2011 has been the most frustrating of all those 17 years. This frustration stems from the two stress fractures I developed in the summer of 2010. Essentially, I’ve had 3 “comebacks” since being diagnosed with said fractures, each more frustrating than the last. But, I’ve kept my head up and am confident that I can “comeback” indefinitely.
I raced only three times in 2011: a 5k in May, a mile in July, and a 5k in November. I won both 5ks and faired better than I thought I would in the mile. This proves I still have “money in the bank” – interest collected from years and years of running – and I can muster up sub-16 5k turnover with little effort. History indicates I can capitalize on these marks after just a few workouts. I tried to do just that, but in both instances I fell backwards after succumbing to further injury.My legs, apparently, can withstand running too quickly these days.
BRIEF HISTORY OF MY INJURY
Summer 2010: after a stellar spring season, I began to have discomfort in my right upper leg. Discomfort centered on inside of thigh/groin. Began seeing Sara Buckheit, profession stretcher/personal trainer. Her diagnosis: one leg is weaker than other due to muscle imbalance(s). I must stretch more.
September 2010: Problem doesn’t get better. MRI confirms two hairline stress fractures on the bottom of my pelvis. The fracture on the right side is more sever.
Autumn 2010: take 50 days off from running, fill vacuum with water running.
Late Autumn 2010: have slowly ramped up to 60-65 miles per week with little discomfort, but by Christmas, my leg is experiencing the same pain as it was in the summer. I am forced to take more time off.
January 2011: I visit Dr. Beck, a chiropractor in Arlington. Beck finds "multiple" muscle imbalances in pelvis, legs and surrounding areas. All of these imbalances likely caused stress fractures last autumn and will keep causing additional problems until I get them corrected. I begin a rigorous chiro routine.
Early Spring 2011: I start another slow, arduous mileage build-up filled with numerous ups and downs. Work/travel, a blessing in disguise, keeps me from doing too much too soon.
May 2011: I win a 5k race downtown and clock 15:57, which was essentially the time I was aiming for. Workouts begin again, but I am sidelined multiple times with a sore quad/glute. This is clearly a start-stop-evaluate-start type of injury.
June 2011: I am only running 5-6 days a week per the chiro. Workouts get better.
July 2011: race a mile, 4:27, but this “fast” track race causes sever hamstring pain. I am forced to take MORE time off and rebuild yet again. August 2011 begins comeback number 3. All leg pain/issues stem on centered on my right leg.
Autumn 2011: I am running 7 days a week again. My longest run is 18 miles and I am running 65 miles per week. I occasionally have leg pain, but said pain is few and far between.
November 2011: A foot pain develops, but this is unrelated (I think) to my right leg. I run a 5k Turkey Trot in 15:58.
WHAT I’VE LEARNED?
I’ve learned I am fragile. I have a great endurance and I can muster track speed with a few simple workouts, but my body may not be able to handle the work required to run well over an extended period of time…at least not as well as I use to.
I’ve learned I need to stretch; stretch rigorously and stretch often. I feel as if I can’t stretch enough, but I also get so tired of stretching and I honestly find it very difficult to concentrate on doing this. It’s funny, because stretching is so simple, yet I will find every possible excuse to neglect doing it.
Running aside, I traveled more this year than I probably ever have crossing the Mississippi River for work and pleasure about a dozen times. I tramped though marvelous National Parks and spent countless days in rural American towns. I've been very busy and this has kept my mind off of running.
Despite what I’ve learned, I’ve decided to retire from track racing and focus my attention on my two weakest race distance: 13.1 and 26.2, arguably two events that will take far more commitment/training discipline. It’s always been a dream of mine to run 29:59 for 10,000m (and a faster 5,000m), and if I ever get in “quick shape” again I’ll go for that, but I can’t realistically predict when that might ever happen so I think it’s more appropriate to focus on racing well on the roads over longer distances.
In the near future I plan on racing these proven PR-friendly and Red Fox endorsed races:
Sunday, 3/11 - St. Patrick’s Day 5k in Baltimore, Md
Saturday, 3/17 – Shamrock 8k in Virginia Beach, VA
Sunday, 4/1 – Cherry Blossom 10 Miler in Washington DC
Sunday, 4/29 – Pikes Peek 10k
The goal is to "race up" and get into PR shape by the time Cherry Blossom comes around. Two years ago I averaged 5:04s on this course. It'll be tough to do better this based on the training I've been doing, but I hope things turn around..
BLOCK TWOIf things go well in this month of racing, I’ll look to a second spring peak, centered around the USATF Half Marathon Championships in Duluth, MN.
In the fall, I am looking at peaking for the Twin Cities Marathon in October or Houston in January.
This coming Friday I head to Uganda, the "Pearl of Africa", and I'll be away for 20 days. In addition to Uganda, I think I'll have opportunities to see Kenya and Tanzania. I have no idea how much running I'll be able to muster once I arrive, but my plan is to string together a couple 40 mile weeks and run those miles hard.