January 17, 2008

RNR Arizona Half Marathon Race Report

Yesterday the story finally ended.

Normally after a weekend race I'm ready to post a race report Monday morning. But this one was a little different, so the race report is a few days delayed. Let me explain.

The PF Chang's Rock n Roll Marathon was on my sights since late summer. It was to be my Boston qualifying race, my breakout event. I was gunning for a 45 minute PR performance that I was confident would be cake.

But things didn't go exactly like I thought they would.

First, in mid fall I had a mild IT band flare that cut short my long runs for a month. Then in December I had posterior hip pains that necessitated another 2 weeks without running. When I ran again, on January 2, there was a new and unexpected pain with every left foot strike.

Now last August I suffered a right foot 3rd metatarsal stress fracture, but that completely healed and is pain free. So I was NOT expecting this new left foot/ankle pain. The pain cut short my run on the 1st to 4 miles, then the following day the pain continued and cut my run to 3 miles.

I decided not to run any more before the RNR race and drop from the full to the half. On Friday, 2 days before the race, I ran 3 miles to see if it was better. It wasn't. I decided I would run anyway.

Race morning Sunday I lined up at the starting line nervous about the ankle/foot but intoxicated with the excitement that comes with these huge races. I LOVE mega-races. I positioned myself in the 3rd of about 30 corrals, opting not to go to the 1st corral like my race number suggested I should.

We started and the ankle/foot hurt immediately but was tolerable. Before the race I had rubbed 2 different pain relieving creams on it and taken (yes this is a raceday no no but I was desperate) ibuprofen. I think without the pain relievers I wouldn't have made it as far as I did.

5 k came in under 22 minutes and I was feeling good with only a little pain. But by 5 miles the ankle was hurting more, and by 10 k the pain was sharp and starting to limit my pace. 10 k passed in just under 44 minutes (which interestingly is still the fastest 10k I've ever run - ever...).

By 8 miles my pace had slowed and I was limp-running. It is such a terrible feeling when you start to drift back into the pack, knowing that all the work you put into the early mile is going for naught. And I drifted. Way back...

Miles 10-13 were at 10 minute pace, and I was miserable. I didn't pass a single person after mile 9. I considered walking, or dropping, but I knew that when I stopped running I would barely be able to walk and that seemed even more unbearable than running with the pain.

Those last few miles I kept thinking about Momo's post about her friend with cancer who still runs religiously and about taking running for granted. I was going to finish this, because I could. No matter the pain, I still could.

I was able to get a little bit of a kick at the finish to cross the line at 1:46.

When I finally walked post-race, I could barely put any weight on the ankle and I was suffering. I hobbled over to collect my gear and went straight to my rental car. I considered waiting for my peeps, but my misery didn't need to be shared...

I got on the interstate and drove solo for 250 miles to the Grand Canyon. I hadn't planned the side-trip, but I needed some time to reflect, and I needed some instant inspiration to pick me up.

Let me tell ya the GC is a damn good place for inspiration! When I left the race in Tempe it was mid 60s. When I got out of the car at GC it was snowing with 4 inches on the ground and 30 degrees, blue skies (mostly) and crisp crisp crisp. I hobbled around the South Rim for a couple of hours and felt the morale return.

This race meant nothing, and that's how I needed to treat it. There will be more races, there will be a time when I'm not always injured.

I got back in the car and drove the 250 miles back to Phoenix, then hooked up with friends old and new for a fantastic dinner and poker.

And life was good...

I returned to Alabama Monday and met with the orthopedic surgeon Wednesday. The xrays show a fractured calcaneous - the heel bone.

6-8 weeks of no running for me, but the bigger question is how do I keep from getting injured so frequently in the future? Already I never run more than 30-35 miles a week. I do a ton of cross training. I've decided to start taking calcium supplements. And I'm going to have a stride analysis when I can run again. But beyond that, I don't know....

So there it is... Anticipation, Loss, Excitement, Defeat, Inspiration, and Hope...

Life is good.

Thanks for joining me for My Daily Spin. Next time I'll tell you about the latest (surprise) additions to my family!!


rocketpants said...

ohhh...that really sucks! Injuries are never any good. But DEFINITELY get your gait analyzed after you get better. I just got back today from my PT where he looked at my gait and we are seeing all sorts of things that have contributed to some difficult running in my past. Maybe even consider a dexa scan and see what your bone density it?

Donald said...

Bummer about the foot, DV. Best wishes for a speedy recovery.

Lisa said...

The GC is gorgeous! I've always thought that places like the Grand Canyon can make you feel so small when faced with it's grandeur yet also make you feel a part of it. They are great places to contemplate!

I'm sorry about your foot. Hope you heel fast.

momo said...

sorry we didn't get a chance to meet up after the race but it sounds like you and jenny and the crew had fun sunday night!

i had a stress fracture back in 2000 and started taking calcium then - plus extra estrogen, although i don't know that you need THAT. :-)

hang in there, hopefully they'll get it all figured out. maybe this just means you'll have to spend more time on your bike!

IronMatron said...

I think the biggest way to prevent injury is to address a problem right when you feel it. Granted, I don't actually do this, but I know it would be good if I did. We endurance athletes are so committed to our training that we won't acknowledge that an injury is coming on until we are practically crippled.
That said, Good job gutting it out and finishing.
The GC is awe-inspiring!
Take care of that foot.

IronJenny said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
IronJenny said...

Ouch! Your heelbone - that's kind of an important part of a runners anatomy.
Maybe you can use the time to work on your swim, play with the kids, improve your poker (tee-hee- like I'm to go-to person for tips), reqcuaint yourself with your bike...
You're right life is good. These 8 weeks will pass in no time.
Take care,