Post-Injury Firsts

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The aftermath of a cold, wet run.

I have some exciting “firsts” to report! First, on Sunday I ran my first 3-miler since my injury. It took me…a lot longer than it used to but that’s OK. I am still doing 3/1 intervals (3 minutes of running, 1 minute of walking) and my endurance still has a long way to go, so I’m not at all worried about pace. I did notice that the two times I stopped (and paused my watch) during the walk breaks – once to fix my nasal strip which eventually fell off anyway and once to take a rock out of my shoe – the following run interval felt 1000x better and easier. I don’t feel like I rushed myself through the 1/1 or 2/1 interval weeks at all, but it definitely feels better to walk for longer than a minute after running for 3, or just pausing altogether. But nothing hurts, and being tired and out of breath is something I need to overcome!

My other first was yesterday running on pavement for the first time since my injury. I wanted to get up early and run before work, because my evenings have been completely consumed by work (to the point I started keeping a log so I can see how it affects my training) and I didn’t want to run into the issue I ran into last week where I didn’t stop working until late into the night and then was way too exhausted to run. But it’s a vicious cycle. Working all this overtime in stressful situations has my heart racing non-stop lately, and I struggled to sleep Sunday and Monday nights (and last night if you’re keeping score at home) which meant feeling groggy and terrible when my alarm went off both days. Monday I still made it to my training session with Sadlo – which was good because I had to bail on Friday morning after working past 11pm the night before – but a morning run just wasn’t going to happen yesterday. Instead, I ran right at 4pm and ran to the reservoir instead of driving there. It’s exactly a half-mile each way and I did the full 1.5-mile loop around and then a little more around my neighborhood for a total of about 1.25 miles on pavement (mostly sidewalk) and 1.5 miles on the gravel path. And I felt fine!

Honestly, the worst part was that it was sleeting and so windy but I was also overdressed or perhaps just spent too long before heading outside to fiddle with my headlamp, dressed in all my layers in my very hot apartment. I got outside already sweating and that only got worse once I started moving, but it was SO windy and cold. It was supposed to be snowing but at one point it was sleeting so hard sideways to the point that I had to close my left eye while running around the reservoir. I really do prefer truly cold temperatures because then I know how to dress properly. When it’s a mild 36 degrees but dark and raining/sleeting, it could feel like 15 degrees or it could feel like 45 degrees once I start sweating, so it’s a tough temperature to dress for.

I was feeling really strong and confident about running on pavement with no pain, and then I whacked THAT spot on my tibia really hard with a bag of canned goods I was packing into my car for Thanksgiving. It still hurts today despite icing it, but I’m 95% sure it was from my clumsiness, not from the pavement.

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Last year’s turkey trot

Tomorrow is the annual East Longmeadow turkey trot. I honestly don’t like this race at all, but it supports a very worthy cause – the Open Pantry – and it’s the only turkey trot around my hometown. I really do like the tradition of working out in the morning before stuffing myself with turkey and mashed potatoes and rolls and ALL THE PIE. I think the only years I haven’t worked out Thanksgiving morning were the two years in a row I hosted in my apartment and cooked everything myself, so there was no time to leave those mornings. But yeah, this race is pretty lame. There’s no before/after anything – no beer, no snacks, no program/announcements, no DJ, possibly not even an awards ceremony (?). Granted it IS a holiday and most people are rushing home to cook, but it’s typically a frigid day and there is one women’s bathroom with maybe 3 stalls because the start/finish is at a factory where I doubt there are more than 3 female employees. So the line takes forever and the factory has no heat and I’ve honestly debated pulling down my pants between cars because my rear end is no warmer peeing inside.

The course is boring and frankly unsafe. You start running WITH traffic (my biggest pet peeve about other runners) on a stretch of a busy road with no police, and cars get way too close for comfort. Then, you end up on a bike path which is rather narrow and – the first year I ran it – so icy. They didn’t treat it in advance of the race and I was SO sore the next day from stabilizing myself with every step. You end up back on another busy road, once again running WITH traffic. I don’t know why they don’t just reverse the route so at least you can always see the cars that whiz past you. Then it’s back to the narrow bike path until the finish line. Not a fan.

My biggest complaint is that there are no water stops. Even though most runners don’t need water during a 5K, it’s still pretty unusual for a race to not have a single water stop. I always end up being in a weird place in my training this time of year, and definitely can’t handle 3.1 miles without a sip of water. So I have to bring my handheld bottle and at 8 degrees with a -2 wind chill, it might not be of much use to me!

All of this complaining applies a lot more when I’m actually racing. Tomorrow, it’s all about getting in a run that I’d be doing on my own anyway. Aside from walking most of the race last year step-for-step with my dad because I was dealing with my raging hamstring issues/pain, this may very well be my slowest 5K since I started running in 2015 and I’m A-OK with that.

I also need to add that this race always has great long-sleeved shirts. I still wear my orange one from 2014 and my grey one from 2017 all the time, and I’m really digging this year’s maroon one. I was one of the first people at bib pick-up today and ended up with Number 26 (.2?), so I feel like that’s a sign. And they were giving away Asics socks to the first handful of people and Brooks swag (chapstick and can coozy).

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