In April 2015 I stopped going to yoga class because I couldn’t fit it in anymore on top of swimming, cycling, running and working. In hindsight that was the point when my running came undone.
After a few months I suffered from shinsplints and further down the track plantar fasciitis. 3 yoga classes a week had kept my legs supple, my tendons stretched and my body aligned. Without those classes and due to being extremely slack with doing post-run stretches (i.e. not doing any), I started down the path of a good year of pain.
I hated running. I saw a physio and another physio, changed my shoes, rolled my feet over golf balls, spikey balls and did all sorts of exercises. Nothing helped long-term, the pain kept coming back.
Thanks to a clever and caring friend who suggested a stretching app, I started religiously doing my stretches after every run. A 15min routine going through all the major muscles and tendons. And it worked. Since going back to running about 6 weeks ago, I haven’t had any plantar fascia issues. I run, I stretch, and when I wake up the next day, I can walk like a normal person and am not in pain as soon as my feet step onto the ground.
So my coach and I decided to put some running races in my schedule over the winter months, just to keep the training interesting and give me some fun little challenges.
Today was my first running race since last year’s New Year’s Eve run in Innsbruck.
Today’s castle run in Memmelsdorf (about a 10min drive from my house) had a 3.8km hobby run option which seemed perfect. No need to get all ambitious and suffer through 10km…
Race prep was mainly on point, except for not having the ideal dinner last night. Next time I will change that, because it might make a bit of a difference :-).
Anyway, back to the race: 25 people signed up for the short run, because the 10km were the main race of the day. 11 women in the 3.8km, with most of them 10+ years younger than me. It being a ‘hobby run’, it wasn’t meant to be very competitive, but when I line up at the start line, I’m going to go all out.
‘never aim for top 10, always aim for the win’
And a quick survey of the competition and listening to their pre-race banter told me that I had a chance. But you never know how fast those track and field club athletes are…
2 laps around the castle was the goal. I had done a 1.7km warm up jog, because while it was a wonderfully sunny morning, at 4 degrees Celsius (40F) it wasn’t really on the warm side. We started with a 20min delay which meant I was hoping and skipping on the spot to stay warm after taking off various jackets and my track pants.
I prefer to race in shorts, no matter the weather. My legs need the freedom to move and particularly when it rains, wet legs are better than wet tights!
So there I was, in the first row, full of ambition, wearing my pink socks and waiting for the start gun.
When it went off, I started way too fast, but used those first few hundred meters to create a gap. I couldn’t keep up with the first guy, so let him go and tried to settle in at a 4:15min/km pace. But then came the first incline and that pace dropped right down. At the top of the hill, reaching the castle, I thought my lungs were going to explode. My heart was pumping ridiculously fast and my legs were screaming. (my current training is done at a low heart rate and a pace of 5:50-6:30min/km).
I loved the downhill and recovered somewhat, but knew the second girl was not far behind me. A quick dash past the hubby and onto the second lap. I was still in the lead for the women and intended to keep it that way. So I forced myself up the hill again, at least I knew now what to expect. At the top someone called out to me that I had a 50m gap to the second girl.
I tried to use the downhill section to increase my lead and was beyond excited when I saw the finish.
The second guy who had stuck with me all the way decided to surge and passed me on the last 100m. I think he could have raced faster but probably knew he had no chance to win, so just kicked my butt at the end when I had nothing left. He went annoyingly slow in the finishing chute when we weren’t allowed to pass anymore, but once I crossed that line I was done.
First woman, third overall – oh the glory! I was so glad it was over and to have a chance to bring my heartrate down to normal.
Given my victory, I decided to stay for the prize-giving and got a mug and a few seconds on top of the podium.
First running race in 11 months and after a long and painful period of injury and to come back with the victory (even if it was a small field) felt really good. I think I’m starting to fall in love with running again, which is timely actually, because there isn’t much else to do outdoors during winter in Germany when it comes to triathlon training…
Next month I’ll line up at the starting line again, let’s see what happens… 🙂