Today I ran the Summerfast 10k. It was my first race since suffering a second stress fracture, in the same foot, in all of 13 months.
The second fracture was pretty hard to take and I sat on my butt for a week doing nothing but accusing myself of it all being my fault. That really didn’t make a whole lot of sense when I looked at the big picture in regards to how I train though, sure there’s a lot of room for improvement but it just didn’t seem like stress fracture inducing stuff to me. I got back on the bike in the second week of no running and rode around Stanley Park Drive as much as I could which at first being on a crappy bike wasn’t much, and I wanted to murder that Prospect Point hill, but I ended up getting a new hybrid bike from my husband for my birthday which has allowed me to fly around the park and ride much greater distances and now I actually enjoy cross training.
I was originally told that I wasn’t going to be able to do this race by two physicians, and the fracture had already nixed a half marathon I was registered for at the end of June. My sports doctor and my physiotherapist had discussed my latest fracture and had decided that I was not allowed to run until I had seen a super fancy specialist. The specialist was booking for mid August at the time and my heart sank. Depression wise I had been holding it together pretty good, minus that first week. Alas, luck shone down upon me and due to my refferal being marked URGENT because of an upcoming race I have in Java, Indonesia, I got in on a cancellation for the very end of June. I was then ecstatic. I hoped that even if I missed the Summerfast that there was still a slim chance that I could get cleared for Indonesia.
I don’t know exactly what I was expecting out of my appointment with the specialist but I came out of it feeling underwhelmed. I had asked if it could simply be the case that I am someone who is prone to stress fractures, as had been suggested to me, and he said yes. It was one of the stranger visits to a doctor that I have had, the man fully knows what he is doing but it was just, different. I did come away from it being told that I could run again though. He gave me a two week run/walk/run program and told me that if I made it through that and then a subsequent 30 minute run with no stopping, pain free, then I was good to go and could race not only the Summerfast but the half marathon in Indonesia as well. He also suggested that I get a gait analysis.
The gait analysis although not cheap was probably the best thing I could have ever done for myself running wise. The appointment was state of the art, there are apparently only a few clinics of this calibre in all of North America, I’m pretty sure he said two in Canada. It was like being captured for a video game, so many cameras and you are covered in tiny ball like motion sensors from your shoes up to your hips and can see yourself moving as red dots on the screen. I LOVE SCIENCE! I ran at my average/preferred pace and then they pump it up a tad and take readings at both levels. 3-5 days later you go back and have your mind completely blown in a meeting where you go over your analysis. He immediately said that it was mostly good and that I was a formula one runner and he could tell I had been running for a while. How nice, I was very flattered as it is super scary to know you are going to watch yourself run or at least he had said it was normal to be weirded out by it, and I was. Seriously, the spandex they make you wear alone are enough to make most people not want to watch any playback.
A copy of the report was sent off to my fabulous physiotherapist and by the time I arrived for my appointment he already had all of my new exercises ready to go. Apparently, I’m basically strong enough now, but there are tricky technical things with my form that need work, these are endurance exercises that I have to do. I asked him to tape up my I/T band for the race because during my final 30 minute run it was fine but the next day it flared up on me. I really wasn’t sure how either of my I/T bands were going to hold up in the race given that I hadn’t ran 10k in ten plus weeks. Before the race, I’d also only had time for one run where I could start to try and work on the suggestions from the analysis.
During all of this injury business I still managed to achieve a goal that I had, I am now on the local store Distance Runwear’s racing team. The ladies portion of the team is sponsored by Oiselle and our singlets have just recently shipped so we will be all official soon and I’m ridiculously excited about it all. Today I raced in a fancy Oiselle tank and wore my Distance Runwear t-shirt until it was almost go time. By quite a bit, I’m the slowest runner on the team but that is extremely inspiring given some of the company I am in on both the female and the male side. I also feel confident that the team captain sees potential in me or he wouldn’t have said yes to me being a part of his project.
My 30, well actually it was 34 minutes of non stop running gave me a really good indication of how much my fitness level had or had not suffered. I was very happy with my energy level on that run and was super glad that I had spent so much time on my bike. It also let me know how I should pace myself for my race and so I went in planning to run a 4:50 min/km pace. I have been working hard on relaxing while I’m racing and not going out too fast and trust me that stuff is a lot harder than it sounds but today it went off without a hitch.
Although all of my splits were faster than 4:50 I still ran a very contained race, in the first 5k I was constantly slowing myself down so I wouldn’t burn out at 7k like I normally do in a 10, but I did it, normally I just go, I convince myself that I will still feel however I’m feeling in such and such amount of kilometers and I end up kissing my race plan goodbye thus screwing myself timewise in the process (not everytime but a lot). In the second 5k I let myself run a pace that was comfortable. I still felt so good and relaxed I was starting to wonder if it was actually me who was running. When I hit around 8.5k I turned it up a bit and put my last km in at 4:28. I came across the line in 47:21 which is an average pace of 4:45 min/km. I feel so incredibly good about this race, in the last 3k I chanted to myself “just stay relaxed, you’ve got this” over and over and it worked, I didn’t burn out and I finished really strong. This race has left me feeling quite confident that if I can get my form/injury issues under control that I am going to be able to drop my time down into the high 45s low 46ish range.
I have specifically left August race free so that I can concentrate on Indonesia, I don’t have enough time to properly train for a race of this difficulty let alone a normal half marathon, so I’m going to do my best to get as many miles in and as many ugly hills as I can between now and when I leave on September 1.