Monday, May 7, 2012

Rock-N-River The Second (& Bidwell...since I never got around to it)

The 2nd for myself, anyway. Turi, 1/4 of the aptly named Team Library Dork, has done this race every year since before he was born. Or something like that. I paced him last year in the half, and have watched other years from the sidelines. I'd only run in 2010, and because of good company, enjoyed the hell out of it despite getting a lashing the last mile. That year I ran 33:01. It was my best 10k since running a pr of 2001. I was quite healthy back then. You might even say robust. Not so much anymore, which is why the 33-flat was nice. As of February of this year, it had been my (then realistic) goal to get back to the 33's in this race. I knew the course. I liked the course. Despite the elevation, it's fast. Pretty flat, with an ever so slight uphill on the way up, and then the return trip back Downtown. I ran a negative split in 2010 despite imploding a little towards the end. But alas, it was not to be. The last Wednesday before the Bidwell Classic 5k a couple months ago, I did what was to be a pretty normal speed-workout, trying to get a little turnover back after taking a good portion of the summer & fall off. I completed the workout, and felt what at first I thought was some extra tightness in the hip flexor area. By that night, I thought maybe a mild strain. Next day...not so mild. Luckily, I hadn't been running 7 days a week for months, so I had a built in day off before Bidwell, and an easy day the day before. My hip did not respond as I'd hoped, but I kept my doubt mostly to myself as we traveled to Chico on Friday. Race morning dawns, and while still fearful, I'm pretty sure things will loosen up at least a little as I warm-up, stretch, and run (and they did, to an extent). I may not have been able to generate as much power as I'd liked, but basically felt ok with race-pace. The first mile went by in a pack of 6, including Scott & Zack, two other Reno runners who I had ocasionally been training with. Last year's champ, Nick, stared to pull away in the middle mile and Zack and Scott went with him. There was a small gap, and another pack of 3, myself included. Though the first mile was dead on goal pace, I couldn't quite hold it as Nick extended his lead. Scott and Zack ran side by side to the tape, while I fought for 5th overall in 16:20. I had hoped to be closer to 16, but as of yet, had no idea the extent of my injuries. All was (mostly) forgotten as we dined at Sierra Nevada for brunch and Burgers & Brews for dinner. As long as I didn't stand up. As the days turned into weeks, it became obvious that this was severe if it was a pull, or was something worse. No amount of time off running seemed to do much good, and things like, oh...sitting, walking, standing, bending, seemed to keep it juuuust irritated enough to not heal. After a few weeks, I stopped in to get the opinion of an old PT friend, who sent me to "the hip guy". The hip guy took an X-ray of my left hip (with a little right in there for good measure) and the results (if not threatening to my passion and therefore my general mental & physical well being) were downright comical. All kinds of fun stuff. "You see this round bone here? That's supposed to be a divet. See this extra lump here? That's putting bone on bone every time you take a full stride. See this hanging off? That peice broke off...pre-arthritic, nerves on the end of bones hitting nerves on the end of bones"...yada yada yada. Too similar for my taste to what was going on originally with my heel and Achilles in 2001. That surgery (4-6 mo. estimated recovery) took 4 years from my prime, and despite a few brief glimpses, I've never been the same. My running career has been a daily balancing act, trying to minimize overcompensating for a dizzying amount of injury upon injury without turning into a sedentary...well, that is not an option. Cortisone was an option, and one that I took a couple weeks later, but even if it was more successful that it seems to have been, it is a delay tactic. Sooner than later, I'll be back in for surgery on my hip, so, you know, the bones fit together like they are supposed to. Unfortunately for me, the cortisone does not seem to be keeping the soft-tissue surrounding my extra bone from being angry. My plan was to buy myself a little time, in order to have a late summer and fall racing season, then have the surgery in November, so I'm not sitting on my ass or otherwise stuck indoors during the nicest parts of the year. I'm not quite ready to call it a year, yet, but it seems as if surgery may come sooner than then. I'll know in a couple more weeks.
Which brings us back to Sunday. I've run roughly 30 or so miles, TOTAL, since the beginning of March, and none of them very fast. I've cross trained quite a bit, and put on 10 lbs, though :) I'd only decided very recently to still run Rock-N-River at all, if quite a bit slower than planned. I can't run ONE 5:20 right now, let alone 6.2 of em...back to back. The fastest I'd dared to go, both because of the pain caused by the injury, and the fact that my lungs are not what they once were, is 18:38 and 19:11 for two seperate 5ks, four days apart. I didn't think I could hold those paces for 10, but if I was going to sign up and spend money, I was going to run as hard as I could in my condition. I figured a 39 & change, 38 on a really good day. Despite the size of the field, I didn't see many familiar faces up front. Still, when the gun went off and I found myself in front by the time we turned off Virginia Street, I was surprised. And anxious, right from the start. I do NOT belong here running this pace. But what pace was I going? I have a pretty good internal pacer when healthy & in shape, but that goes out the window when one hasn't really run in 10 weeks. As it turns out, mile one was a bit too fast. Though I had been cautious and already backed off a little, my mile one split was 5:58. My lungs could feel it. Still not a pace I thought would be leading this race, and also a pace I knew I shouldn't try to hold. I slowed down for the remainder of the out section, and while the lead had shrunk, I still led at the turnaround by a couple seconds, in 19:06 (6:10 pace). I was hurtin, but running scared too. I'd spent half the race in the front, and competitive instinct took over. I didn't want to blow it now! While there were no fast guys in the field, the same cannot be said about the ladies. Local national class runner Sarah Rattier was on me like white on rice after my 2nd mile slow-down. She'd stay there until pretty late in the race. We retraced our steps, but I wasn't getting splits (if there were signs at miles 4, 5, and 6, I didn't see em). I hadn't thought I could run negative splits this time, even with the slight downhill, but I proved myself wrong. As I turned back on Virginia, I was fairly certain of not only holding the lead, but running under 38, which I honestly didn't think I could in the shape I'm in. Final time? 37:24. 18:18 for the 2nd 5k. 6:10 the first half, 5:54 second, 6:02 per for the whole thing...and a whole lotta luck that nobody showed up. I think I'd have barely cracked the top 10 in 2010 with that time.
Can't say I mind, though. A win is a win, and it's been a while! Unfortunately, right before they were to start the awards, I noticed they had me in 3rd, with a teenage boy having run a 8 minute 10k (doubly impressive seeing as how thats roughly 18 minutes under the track world record) and a female without an age having run a 29 (also a world record)! I was fairly certain they'd get it fixed eventually, but we were hungry, and it looked like the only thing we'd be waiting for was a medal that looked nearly identical to the finishers medal, with a different colored strap. Guess 2500 x $40 ain't enough for more than that, right? As I thought, I'm paying for my transgressions today. I can't really do any more damage (it's already done), so it's just a matter of pain management and figuring out when to do surgery. I've got a follow up in a week-and-a-half. If I can't figure out the plan in a week, I'll reschedule, but I'd rather have it done one way or the other. We'll see. So, that leaves the immediate future up in the aor, though I know at the least I'll be travelling to the Buzz Oats No Excuses 5k on Memorial Day, and the Burton Creek Trail Runs in Lake Tahoe a few weeks later. Whether or not I run, I still have to figure out. Your "moment of Zen"...look up the results for RNR on the RGJ website. If you can make heads or tails out of it, kudos to you :)

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