Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Run the Woods 8K!

Yesterday I ran my first "running- only" race in over two years! Success!

A Year Off:
My triathlon training and racing took a big hit this year when my foot did not heal up well from the December surgery I had to remove a bone spur from the back of heel (Haglund's deformity).  The doctor expected a 6-8 WEEK recovery period until I could start training again...unfortunately this was not the case,  and I had to scrap most races and goals I had this season.  A follow-up MRI a couple months ago indicated that despite some really nasty scar tissue, everything is "structurally" OK- no damaged connective tissue (the achilles is fine).  The doctor gave me the OK to train normally. However, I was skeptical because it was SO painful.  Since then I've been gradually building up run volume and intensity, and finding that whether I do a 3 mile jog, a track workout, or a 12 mile run, the pain doesn't get worse and has in fact been subsiding little by little... I'm no where NEAR where pain-free, but the good news is that I'm managing and improving!

The Race!
I volunteered for this race last year, and I knew that I wanted to run it this year- it was extremely well-organized, affordable, and the course was beautiful!  A trail running race during the fall? Um, yes please!  It did not disappoint!

It was a chilly morning, and as I opened up my "winter workout" gear tub and searched for my trusty fleece-lined running tights and jacket, I pulled out no other than my Pearl Izumi thermal tights and thermal barrier jacket... I have had these two items since 2007 or 2008 when I was training through the winter for the Boston Marathon.  Pearl Izumi gear may be a little pricey, but so worth it and they last forever!

I warmed up looking a little like an eskimo... 2 layers of tights and 3 shirts along with a hat and gloves.  When it came time to line up at the start, I shed down to one layer and ditched the gloves. I am definitely rusty at this whole "racing" experience... 6 minutes before the start of the race, I realized I left my race belt in the car, .25mi away!  OOPS.  I did a mad dash to and from my car and made it to the start while they were singing the national anthem :) phew!

As the gun went off, I relaxed into the crowd as we maneuvered our way onto a single-track trail.  I loved breathing in the crisp air, taking in the beautiful fall colors, hearing the leaves crunch under my feet.  My mind instantly remembered what "fast" running felt like:  my turnover was quick, I drove with my knees, engaged my glutes, and stabilized my core. I smiled a little bit, thinking "So THIS is what I've been missing out on!"  I high-fived and exchanged words with friends and training partners who I passed and was passed by... there was no where else I'd rather be on a cool, fall morning!

The trail was especially challenging for my foot, but I managed just fine.  As the field thinned out and the course got a little more "rough,"  I found myself surrounded by a little group of fast runners, which motivated me, especially since a couple "technical" parts of the trail made me a little nervous!  We worked together and caught a couple runners ahead of us, then we fell into our own zones and separated.  There was a strong, consistent runner ahead of me and I was using her as a pacer for the last mile, until I biffed it when I tried unsuccessfully to jump across a little gulley- OUCH!  I hobbled up the little hill, jogged it out, then ran my way to my first "running race" finish in 2 years! :)

Age group awards! 
I am happy to report that I earned a sweet 3rd place age-group award- I'll take it!  Steve blazed his way to FIRST in his age group- I'm a proud coach! :)

I had a great time afterward enjoying the coffee, pancakes, and chatting with old and NEW friends (Sarah and Rachel!)  I'm looking forward to more races and lots of training to come- I'm back!


Colleen said...

YAY!!! Congrats Laura... I'm sure it felt good to be back!

Jennifer Harrison said...