For all 5 people who read this blog...
On Saturday, 11/12, I "did" (I'm not calling it raced since I didn't feel fully recovered from the 50k) a rather hilly 25k about 15 miles from home (note to self: I should go run there more often). It was on crushed limestone trails in Palos Park. I'd done the fall version of this race (Paleozoic Fall) 2 years ago, but the course that year wasn't as hilly as this year's model.
In *my* version of training plan, I predicted 3:15, allowing to having done a 50k just 2 weeks before, in other words, it would be a nice, easy, long run. Coach put down 2:45, and said that if it took me less time than that, to run later to make it up. He also said to go out nice and easy and run hard on the second half.
I looked at this and thought, well, that would be really nice if I could do all that. I made an elevation map of the race a week prior and here it is:
I've been nursing an issue with my right leg for a little over 4 weeks that has made walking down stairs (or running down steep hills) a little painful. I've been testing out different hypotheses as to what it is, but didn't have it figured out by the race, either that or my fixes hadn't yet kicked in.
So I went into the race figuring that the downhills might be touchy. Anyway, prior to the race, it appeared I was the oldest female registered for the race, and I didn't count on any other old ladies showing up. Also, the morning of the race, we finally had our first frost! But it wasn't that terribly cold, which makes for good running weather.
I wore my CW-X tights, trail shoes with gaiters, a light thermal top, a wind vest, light gloves and a lightweight hat. I get cold pretty easily, and since I knew we'd be in the woods, and there was wind, that I probably wouldn't get too hot. I laugh at people who show up in shorts for these things. Kudos to them, but you will see me in tights even with temps in the 50's!
I carried 3 hours worth of Infinit, figuring that would last me for 3.5 hours if something went horribly wrong. Although my right leg was giving me fits at home before the race, once I got there and started running, it felt fine to run on. So this is why I suspect it's more a nerve thing, but I digress.
I started out easy, and experienced hills pretty quickly, some that were so steep (10% grade plus--see here for what different grades look like) that it was hard just to walk up! About 40 minutes in, there was a large puddle, or should I say a pond, on the trail. Trying to go off trail through whatever was growing was not possible, so we had to run through it. Wet feet! Yay! At least it wasn't cold enough for this to cause problems, but of course I hoped I didn't develop any blisters because of it.
About an hour in, my legs felt absolutely dead. I did a 1:30 run on Wednesday and a 3 hour ride on Thursday, and by the end of Friday, I'd racked up 13.75 hours of training (M-F), and I'd run a 50k 2 weeks before, so this didn't particularly surprise me. Still, it gave me pause as to whether I had enough fuel onboard and the night before. I carbed up at dinner on Friday, and on race morning, I had my typical egg, English Muffin, and a can of Coke. I suppose I could have tried to choke down more calories, but I didn't really feel I was out of fuel. So I just soldiered onward.
I did have to stop to pee (and poop!) about 1:10 in, but it was quick (and dirty ha ha). Since I didn't want to lose time (I don't think this cost me more the 30 seconds), I just pulled up my pants, knowing I'd probably chafe, but too bad. This probably contributed to the feeling of dead legs I'd had earlier, because after this, I felt a bit better in the legs department.
I got to the halfway point exactly 1:30, and thought, OK, so I can do this in 3 hours. There were at least 5 people milling around the one aid station. Because there was a 50k going on at the same time, there was candy, pretzels, cookies and assorted other stuff, but the people who were there were 25k runners, and it made me laugh that they were all chowing down! I just refilled my water bottle, chugged 2 cups of Pepsi (not Coke, but still YUM!) and got out of there. I think that because of my quick stop, that put me ahead of 3 or 4 people.
Now, coach told me to go hard on the second half, but I seriously didn't think that was possible. Still, I got it in my head that I could walk less and just keep it going and that might allow me to negative split. Since the course was an out and back, I was going to face the same hills and such on the way back.
After maybe 2.5 miles on the way back, I could see 3 more runners ahead of me, and I was closing in on them, and that got me motivated to try and pass them. All it took was really powering up the steep hills and then resuming running immediately at the crest. I seriously enjoyed passing people on the uphills, especially since I needed to take it easy on the downhills because of my knee issue.
And the knee issue was there, but it wasn't bad, and besides, the trail was leaf covered, so you couldn't tell what you were running on, so I ran gingerly on the downhills anyway. On the plus side, my quads never hurt during the race!
So I did pass those 3 people and was re-passed by only one person. Because of the wet feet, the little gel toe separator that I have to wear to prevent my right foot from hurting from the Morton's neuroma came off the toe and was moving around in my sock. But it stayed under my small toes, and I knew what it was, so I just acknowledged it and kept going. I hoped the ball of that foot wouldn't start to hurt, and it never did.
As I got close to the end (based on my watch), I failed to recognize where I was. Funny how that works in a trail race! Same thing happened to me in the 50k--I knew I was close, but nothing looked familiar! But I kept seeing the trail marking, so knew I was probably going the right way, until I saw the orange plate that said, "Aid station 1km." I'd only seen this for the 7.5 station, and in my dazed head I thought maybe I'd made a wrong turn. But a girl came up on me and said we were 1km from finishing and then I was happy! I didn't look at my watch the entire second half, just tried to go a bit faster than on the way out, and when I finished, I'd gone 6 minutes faster for the second half!
So 2:54, and I checked on my 2014 result for an easier course and it was 2:57, and I thought I was in BETTER running shape 2 years ago! So yay, thanks Coach! Turns out I was the oldest female finisher, so I won my AG and got a nice beer glass, and I was 21/34 women overall, so not too shabby!
Well now back to my knee...when I got home from the race it hurt like a mofo. I iced, then later in the day stretched and then yesterday...no pain walking down stairs! So I've concluded that what's going on is a seriously tight/messed up soleus, with maybe a little participation from the popliteus. So, I keep on my stretching and trigger point work and hopefully lick this thing in short order. I know my knee was a bit wonky since it's been trying to readjust after correcting my foot mechanics. So today, I'm just left with sore quads--but not like after the 50k.
And now back to the rest of my training shit...look what I did for WEEK ONE WITH THE COACH:
He doesn't give me strength workouts (that's on my dime), but still, that was some serious shit! Honestly, when I saw it at the beginning of the week, I was like, "OK...sure..." but then I did it! Also, I must add that this week I also started my extra strength work towards my handstand and pullup goal, and that made things entertaining with all the swimming--my serratus have been yelling at me! I really didn't feel recovered from the 50k all week, but I suspect that by tomorrow, I'll be all good. The 5k swim I did yesterday was a bit in slow motion, but it felt good, and it helped to shake out my legs.
So it's onward and upward to see what I can accomplish this week. I am already liking this coaching thing and think I will be motivated and coached and pushed to new levels of fitness! One day at a time!