Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Post-race slump

The payback for the trail race in the middle of our marathon training had to come.

In the days following the race I didn't feel especially bad in any one place. Just tiredness. Okay, well that's not exactly true. My knees felt tweaky. My back hurt a little. My blister did it's own thing. Nothing unexpected though. But as the days past I think the biggest problem was tightness.

By Tuesday I managed to get myself down to Lake Merritt and put in a slow and really rough recovery run in gusty and somewhat hot conditions. I threw in lots of walk breaks and a few times they weren't really walk breaks. More like just straight out walking. I cut the distance short to 3 miles (planned 4) and felt proud of myself for even getting out there, but NO fun was had, for the record. My main complaints at this stage: inside of right knee had a little pain left over from the weekend and my calves felt stiff.

Thursday morning before work I took on my 8 mile mid-long run with much better results, running from home to the lake, 2 miles around, then reverse. I felt tired, but basically I felt okay. And I love this run, especially early in the morning. The city rises over the course of the run's elapsed time. There's lots of people out doing their thing. It's Oakland at it's best.

Friday I skipped the first run of my training. There was supposed to be a 4 mile run in there that just didn't happen. Patty had run even less than me this week, still fighting ITB soreness around her knee from the race. So together we convinced ourselves another day of rest would do us good.

Saturday we had our 16 miler. It was horrible.

It was all a little disastrous from the beginning. With no relatives around this weekend we called in a play date we were owed. But there were two problems: Firstly, it ended up on a Saturday. Usually we do our long run on Sunday and besides, another day of rest would maybe have helped. The second problem was we ended up dropping Kelly off at nearly midday, which is neither good marathon practice, nor our idea running time food-wise (where was lunch? oh yeah, we ran for 3 hours instead!), nor the coolest time of the day. It was warm.

On top of that we made up a route with the following criteria. 1) Flat! 2) Long. 3) Few cross streets 4) close by, we didn't have time to drive anywhere. Enjoyable was not on the list. The result was we used the trail that runs along the bay from Emeryville, near the IKEA, north to the horse racing track, looping all over the place (into Chavez park twice and Berkeley Aquatic park once) to get 16 miles out of it.

Now, this might not seem so bad, with it's San Francisco views, but it is also right next to I-80.

Bike path between I-80 and the bay

The run started with us having to park a mile from where we'd planned to start. Curse you 'Chevy's customer parking only' signs. This made all the mileages I'd marked on a map a mile off. This was okay for a while, but by the time we'd run 10 or 11 miles, the math was too complicated. Seriously, it was.

Cesar E Chavez Park near Berkeley marina

The real problem with this run though was none of the above. It was my achilles of all things. I'd never heard a thing from my achilles. Never. Until just ONE mile into this run when it started to hurt out of nowhere. By mile 8 it was painful. Each step was a knife stab in the back of my heel. Interestingly, it was much worse to walk than run. So I ran. Now I look back on it as amazing I even finished this run. Each time conditions are not ideal we look at it as a good experience for the marathon, because things will get tough there and just like this run I will just have to tough them out as best I can. I just hoped that when I was done I'd walk again one day.

In the last few miles my foot still hurt but I'd stopped listening to it. It was best to keep moving. But a sense of fatigue descended on me which is hard to put into words. If they could bottle it, I think it could have dropped an elephant. But we maintained pace, such that it was, and got the job done. 3 hours and 14 minutes. 40 minutes longer than we'd ever run before. Fallback week ahead, thank God.

We got home and we both took an ice bath and I started 72 hours of rest, Advil, elevation and ice. My achiles seems to have responded, with a couple of solid runs (4 miles and 8 miles) in the past couple of days with no pain. My guess is an overly tight calf caused the damage, so I'm hoping if I keep up the stretching and stay off hills for a while, I can steer clear of that one going forward.

Although we love the trail racing, we're just not strong enough to do it in the middle of this kind of mileage build up. So we've decided to skip the Woodminster XC race this weekend and maybe do a run out on the Iron Horse trail (paved, relatively flat) this Saturday with our running club. After that there's two big runs (18 and 20 milers) with a fallback in between and then the taper! Let's hope, NO MORE SLUMPS!

1 comment:

MK said...

Hey Peter,

How's training coming? I saw your brutal 17.5 mile trail run workout. That sounds tough. I bet you'll be a lot more ready for this marathon than me though. Flat Florida is nice, but it's really hot these days. Already 80+ at 7am. I hope you're knees and feet are healed. I thought I would just check in and say hello and keep running. We're almost there! I'm getting really excited :)