If you’ve been following my training page for the past couple months, you’ll see that I spent a lot of time this Spring (and late Winter, really) preparing for a 10 mile race in downtown Washington, DC.
There were ups and downs. Injuries and successes. I’m starting to learn that running is a really good way to know your body and to learn how to listen to it – and the consequences of not doing so. Last year when I ran a half marathon, I had resulting issues with patello-femoral pain syndrome in my knees – due mostly from accelerating my training too quickly. So this year I came up with a very specific training schedule and started earlier in the year, with the hopes of avoiding having PFPS issues again. Well, in that respect I succeeded, but this year it was my shins.
I suspect that the beginning of the issue had to do with treadmill running. I rarely use treadmills, but given that I started training in early January it was pretty much a necessity. Running distance on a surface you’re not used to (even if it’s softer than what you’re used to) can cause issues. By February, I was up to 6 and 7 miles, and coming down with some severe shin splints. So I dialed back to 2 miles for awhile to recover – thankfully I had built extra weeks into my training plan to account for just this sort of thing. I slowly, tentatively, built my mileage back up. The shin pain was still there, it never fully went away, but it was manageable. I bought some supports, and got strict about recovery – rest, ice, compression, elevation. It helped.
I got to the point where I was running 12 and 14 miles the weeks before the race so I was pretty confident going into it. The day of the race was fast approaching. We had planned our baby shower at the in-laws house for the day before the race, so I had to figure out the details for Sunday (race-day) morning.
I came up with a complicated, if thorough, plan. Understandably, my third-trimester wife wasn’t too keen on the idea of standing around all morning and using port-a-potties while I ran. So I said alright, I’ll park the car in Arlington (a VA suburb) at my office, and metro down and run the race myself. Then I’ll come back out, shower at my office, and meet her and our parents for brunch. I can leave extra race food and drinks, and ice packs, in a cooler in the car so I have everything I need with me. Sounds perfect.
Except, in typical fashion, I overslept. Planning to get up at 5am, I instead slept right through my alarm and woke up at 7:15am. The race had a gun time of 7:45am, and I live about 20-25 minutes away from the starting line.
I didn’t think I could make it. I was furious at myself, upset. Amanda got up, told me to get my shit together and get in the car. All plans out the window, she drove me downtown where I quickly laced up and was on the course before I even knew what was happening.
And I’m so thankful she did. That race, though I ran it alone, was one of the most fun times I’ve ever had running. The field was an incredible 23,000 people. The course was beautiful. The weather could not have been better. Crisp, slightly chilly, and blue skies as far as you could see.
I wasn’t worried about my time. I knew I’d hit somewhere around a 10 minute mile pace, and that’s all well and good. I’m not a fast runner, and I’m pretty comfortable with that. If I get faster, great. If not, whatever. I’m still going to enjoy the journey. So in the meantime, I did stop to snap a few pics with my phone.
My favorite part of the race was the tail end around Haines Point. You can see the course map on the training page if you’re interested, and you know DC a little bit. When we came to Haines point, the road narrowed and the trees overhead made it feel like you were just running through a tunnel of Cherry Blossoms. It was great.
As I rounded the 7th mile at the end of Haines Point, there was a rogue aid station – a guy had set up a picnic table with a sign that said “FREE BEER AND OREOS.” There were also TONS of costumes – someone ran in a gorilla suit. Another ran dressed as a bottle of ketchup, with the words “CATCH UP” written on his back. I love race culture.
At the 8th mile, the Washington Monument became visible over the tops of the trees and the end was in sight. And that meant brunch… was so close I could taste it.
After the race was over, I stopped running and only continued to work out in a pool or on an elliptical, hoping that my shin issues would recover quickly. They didn’t. So as it persisted for over a week and a half even with no more running, I started to become concerned that I might have actually gotten a stress fracture.
I decided it was worth a trip to the doctor to get some x-rays, but thankfully no fractures were to be found. The pain still continues, though. I am working on an exercise routine to specifically address it.
Concurrent with my race training, I entered into a Biggest Loser contest at work – to the surprise of more than a few coworkers. I’m pretty tall, so when I put on a few pounds it takes awhile to show, but by the time January rolled around I had put on a full 20 pounds on top of my regular weight since Amanda first became pregnant. There was awhile there when I was gaining faster than she was.
I knew that I had this training program coming up, and I knew that I could easily adapt the right lifestyle to lose that 20 – it is that more active lifestyle that I typically have anyway, and really it was the slipping off of it that was the exception.
So I catalogued all my food and my training. I didn’t change my diet (much – okay, I cut back on beer a good bit). And over the period of my race training I ran 189 miles, and I lost 19 pounds in 9 weeks.
The winner of the competition was announced today, she won with a 13% total loss. I tied for second at 10%.
It would have been nice to win and all, but my goal weight to lose was 20 pounds and that’s just about exactly where I wound up. So I’m pretty pleased with that.