Well, I gave it my best shot. It's been a rough second half to 2008, but I decided last Tuesday to race today after 3 weeks off due to yet another injury to the right side. I figure better to try and fail than not try at all. Today several streaks ended for me, including an undefeated run through the 2008 Gold Country Grand Prix, and a 13 race win streak in the grand prix (including 2 wins over today's winner), dating back to June of 2007. This was also my last likely chance to win my 18th race of the year (I believe I'm 17 for 22), which would have beat my previous best of 17 from a largely injury free 2000. Although my fitness hadn't been affected as much as I'd feared by my time off, I had only tested my speed on flat terrain. Namely, a treadmill. After a couple easy runs, i was able to run 5:23 per mile for 4 miles (21:33), and on Sunday was able to run 16:25 for a 5k (5:17+ per mile). Factoring in the lower elevation, and adding in the terrain, I figured to be in between 16:30-17:00. After just a few minutes on course, I knew that would be unlikely. I'd tucked in behinnd the 5k & 10k leaders, and after running with them for a few minutes, they promptly dropped me at the base of Litton Hill. I would get no closer from here on out, and at times felt that I was closer to jogging than racing. I really struggled with the hills, both the ups (trying to hold a good pace without spiking the heart rate), and the downs (trying to take full advantage of possible speed without pissing off the hip). As it was, I couldn't manage either. I ended up running almost 2 1/2 miles of the race by myself, and finished a distant second, more than a minute off the leader. Similar to the Tahoe Relay in June, it was one of those races where it was such a struggle, that it makes you want to go back to the drawing board and figure out where to go from here. Do to the nature of my "injury" (ie-not knowing exactly what's wrong and therefore not knowing how to treat it), I'm not sure what's next. I plan on trying to train through at least next weekend so I can attempt a decent run at the XTerra Worlds in Hawaii on 12/7. After that, who knows. My 2009 plan is already being altered. I'd be fine with taking a month, or 6 weeks, or whatever off, if I knew that would be the end of it, but I don't. I DO know that I don't have the energy to keep playing the comeback game. I've grown accustomed to running at less than 100% since coming back from 4 years off in 2006, but when my battle in races is against my own body more times than not, maybe it's time to quit?
In 3 years of the grand prix, i've only been slowed by injury, which is both encouraging & incredibly frustrating. I was on a roll in 2006 (4 wins in 4 races), before a persistant hip flexor ended my training. I ran the final 3 races that year, but was close to a minute per mile slower. Last year I lost one race of 9(to today's winner) early in the year while getting back in shape after a 7 month layoff. After 7 weeks off (and 5 weeks in an air cast) this summer, I was able to get back to where I'd beenafter 3 months of good training, and actually beat my time from last October's "Colors" race by 42 seconds. No reason to believe i'd run so poorly the next month...but 8 days after that race, I could barely walk and only "ran" twice over 22 days...once in the Monster Run 10k, where my injury was hidden by the fact that the course was a muddy mess (so pretty much everyone was forced to jog), and a painful 6 miler a week later. My only immediate plans are "liquid therapy"...a mini stout taste-off after dinner tonight (Deschutes Obsidian v. Anderson Valley Barney Flats v. Mendocino Black Hawk v. Lagunitas Imperial). Yum. Looking forward to that, before heading to BevMo tomorrow to pick-up mass quantities of very expensive and very good brews.
To end on a positive note (I know, BEER is positive), Turi destroyed his old PR at the Sparks Turky Trot running 43 minutes, 18? seconds and Peter achieved his goal of breaking 40 on today's trail course by running 39:52, and now looks more than ready to break 3 hours at the Redding Marathon in January. Way to go guys!!!