It’s an overcast and humid day here, but the heat broke, which is a relief. It was about 70 degrees with 85% humidity at race time this morning.
My hip injury has been getting steadily better. My trainer gave me some great exercises to help relieve the problem and I had a few low pain runs this week. It took about a week for my legs to feel less leaden after the half marathon on June 22.
For better or worse, I decided to run the 4-mile local race today with some small goals in mind.
1) Beat my time from last year
2) Related to #1: no walking
3) Run by effort and keep it conservative
4) Don’t make the injury worse
I didn’t do as well on #4 as I’d planned. It’s mostly an issue if I sit for any length of time, which seems to aggravate the pinched nerve. But this race did have some hills that I wasn’t as running-form conscious as I was at the half marathon 10 days ago. It’s about 12 hours post-race, and it’s ok so long as I keep moving. It also seems that it gets better when I sleep, so it must have something to do with how the area is compressed when seated.
This particular race in 2013 continues to be my least favorite race memory, which — considering another race concluded with vomiting and overnight stomach distress and I nearly quit my last marathon in gastric misery at mile 18 — is saying a lot. July 4, 2013 was a completely off race for me for no discernible reason. After about a mile and a half, I had to start taking walk breaks. I think I took over 12 of them over the course of the remaining 2.5 miles. I finished in a disappointing 36:43.
Although I’ve run a few more 4-milers since my lousy race, last year’s 4th of July race still bothered me. I didn’t need a PR — I just needed to run the course clean and solid. This ended up being my second fastest 4-miler and it was run at a conservative pace. I’m improving even if the time isn’t necessarily reflecting my training. I ended up 20/224 (top 9%) in my age group.
Below is a graph of my pace over the race course, with the blue line being this year’s performance, red being 2013. You can see that there are similar fluctuations in pace across both years and those correspond with the hills. It doesn’t show all the walk breaks in 2013 because I only had the data points in .1 mile increments, but you get the idea.
This year I managed a nice, even effort and I finished in 33:24 (my Garmin gave a time of 33:04 since I started it when I crossed the start line, not when the gun went off). I wish I’d run faster because, duh, I always want faster times, but my effort level was exactly where I wanted it to be given my injury. I’m 16 weeks out from my next marathon and I need to be completely rehabbed to effectively pursue my training.
Sometimes you have to scale back to run smarter and achieve the bigger goal.
Now that I’ve adequately redeemed myself at this race, I probably will not run it again in the future. It’s got some logistics that I really dislike. They had more than 4,000 registrants, many of whom are novice runners or walkers, yet they do not have a starting timing mat nor even the loosest of pacing corrals. Which means the rookie runners/walkers all line up near the front because they want to cross the starting line at the gun and not end up with the added time from starting further back. Heck, there were slower runners WITH STROLLERS at the front. This is all dangerous as hell and annoying to boot. It’s hard to get into a rhythm for the first half mile while you’re dodging and weaving around people who should’ve been instructed to stand further back. I have no problem with walkers or slower runners in races — hell, let’s have all the people participate! But do it in a safe, considerate manner, for crying out loud.
I stood closer to the front than last year, but it was still too far back. I worry about being the slowpoke for those faster than me, so I want to stay out of their way. Unfortunately, many of those in front of me were not the speedsters. I lost about 20 seconds in that first mile, which wasn’t a big deal since I wasn’t going for a PR, but with a wonky hip, I wasn’t thrilled to be worrying about someone run/walking stopping abruptly in front of me and causing me to wrench my hip in a bad way.
At any rate, I wasn’t the only runner unhappy about this set up judging from the grumbling I eavesdropped over the course of the first couple miles. If the extra timing mat is too costly, the least they could do is have poster board signs made to show runners how to line up by pace. I realize many people will ignore these and line up where they want anyway, but I think it would help.
I may be running a 5k in a few weeks with a friend who runs 9:30-10:00 miles, and I think that will be a lot of fun. Plus at that speed, and the super-flat course, it will be a recovery run pace for me. That race is also local and has about 1,500 participants. It’s organized by a different race logistic company than today’s race. I don’t think they had a timing mat at the start either, but people seemed to mostly abide by the pace signage that they utilized. I really had a good race at this one last year. Plus they gave out whole boxes of Freihofer chocolate chip cookies in the goodie bag!
Meanwhile, I will continue to do the exercises assigned by my personal trainer and get Active Release Therapy with my chiropractor. Check out my torture device made of two tennis balls and some fancy duct tape.
What’s your biggest race organization pet peeve? You know you have one.