As much as I had been looking forward to Hyannis, I had worried about the after effects. When I ran a half marathon in the fall, I had finished strong and could have run again the next day if it hadn’t been for the painful groin pull that had me sidelined for three weeks. In preparation for Hyannis I tried to listen to my body better to know when to stopping pushing. Although I had complained all winter long about the lousy running conditions, it may have been a blessing in disguise that I had more cross training and less wear and tear out on the roads. Immediately following my finish in Hyannis I had felt a mild pain in my Achilles. It only hurt periodically on certain steps, and with nothing to pinpoint, I just iced the general area. For two days following the half marathon my body was tired but not in any sort of pain. I even did a kettlebell workout on Monday! Of course, I also took advantage of some post-half-marathon indulgences. Such as, yes I will have that extra beer, I earned it today! Sure I can eat that pizza, I just ran a half marathon yesterday! Chocolate? Why not! I earned it when I ran that half marathon last weekend! Yes, it was clear that I needed to get back to a routine, and thinking about my next running event.
By Wednesday I was back running with the group at work, although it may have been a day too soon because that periodic pain in my Achilles started to flare up again. We did a slow 3.5 mile run (actually I was the only slow one, and lost sight of the rest of the group for much of the run). On Thursday I had decided to test it out again on a 4.5 mile run at lunch. We were all completely nuts for running. It was less than 20 degrees, windy, and frigid. I don’t think I’ve ever been so cold running in my life. Our normal 4.5 route is an out-and-back, with the turnaround point being at an ice cream stand. We decided that one day this summer we are going to run to the ice cream stand and actually eat an ice cream, and then walk back. Ice cream seemed like such a foreign concept at that moment, since I would have preferred a hot bowl of chowder. My foot held up ok, with occasional flare ups. I decided to take a couple more days off and reevaluate.
Normally when I have to take time off of running, I incorporate other forms of exercise as cross training. In better weather I’m out mountain biking, but this time of year the cross training comes in the form of different machines and classes at the gym. Unfortunately over the last couple of days, my work schedule has gotten in the way of each of the classes I had planned to attend, so the only non-running activity I managed to get in this week was 30 minutes of kettlebell at home. (My goal is to someday return to the kettlebell class at the gym, and be able to walk upright at the end of the class).
Today I just couldn’t pass up an opportunity to go running. It was an unusually mild 50 degrees this morning with gusty wind, and with a heavy rainstorm headed towards us I knew I had a small window of time to sneak in a run. With the snow banks and lousy road conditions, I hadn’t been able to do one of my favorite local 5.6 mile loops all winter. I looked back in my running log and realized the last time I ran this loop was on Christmas Eve, the day I decided to count Christmas wreaths hanging on houses. A full 10 weeks had gone by since then, and I was eager to get back to my familiar run.
The route seemed different than I remembered it. The awful 3 minute steep hill climb only took about 2 and a half minutes this time (although I was still gasping for air by the time I got to the top). The roads were different, uglier. They were full of sand and debris from all the storms, and I spent a fair amount of time dodging puddles, thick streams of running water, and litter. My footfalls sounded like I was marching on sandpaper, and the frost heaves added another layer of complexity to my strategy of trying to keep my foot on a flat surface. Water ran down the sides of the roads, and snow banks still occupied the sidewalks, so my only choice in some spots was to run close to the middle of the road. Luckily it was pretty early on a Sunday morning and traffic was light. On such a beautiful morning, I would have expected a lot more foot traffic. I thought for sure I’d be meeting up with runners on every street, all as anxious and eager as me to hit the pavement on this spring-like day. Surely they all have the same level of cabin fever as me. Oddly enough, I never saw another runner. I never even saw Brown Dog, or the horses Pedlar and Skip. In fact, the only people I saw were two kids playing in the snow in their tee shirts and shorts. (You know it’s New England when you wear a tee shirt and shorts to go play in the snow when it’s 50 degrees). I enjoyed the run, even without any company, and finished in a respectable time. I was quite pleased that my foot held up well throughout the run.
Hard to believe, but my next half marathon – New Bedford – is only two weeks from today. I’ve never run the course before but I’ve heard there are a couple sizeable hills, which I can’t really say I’m looking forward to. I’ve never run two big races so close to each other before so I don’t know the best approach. I think for the next two weeks I will stick to my usual weekly mileage, try to incorporate a little more cross training at the gym, and one long run next weekend. Weather in March in New England can be anything from snow to 70 degrees so this will be a tough one to predict. I better start my dress rehearsals!