Sunday, August 20, 2006
One race, two race, good race, bad race
The first thing I heard this morning was rain dropping on the AC unit. In it's steady drumming I was thrilled - I like running in the rain and if it was raining, it would be a good race day. Unfortunately, it stopped but left a wet, heavy blanket of humidity that wrapped around me and dragged me down.
Gazelle boy and I joked a lot at the start - how he had to beat the tough tattooed boys of the Brockton x-country team and if he got beaten by someone pushing a stroller there would be no end to the taunting. He started at the front, I started in the back and we were off.
The course had 9 turns in it and were pretty well marked. It wound through the neighborhood behind Brockton High School, through the parking lot, around the soccer field and back through the other parking lot to enter the stadium with a finish by running along the warning track and crossing at home plate. Even though it was a road race, it was really an all terrain race: asphalt, concrete, mud, grass, gravel and clay. As I said, this was done under a gray sky with a blanke of humidity wrapped around us all.
I started well. Again I went out a bit too fast, finishing the first mile in 11 and change. I knew if I didn't slow down, I'd be burned out too quickly so I did the one minute recovery walk so I could start again at my pace. It's a good way to reset my pace and I was doing fine until I hit the soccer field.
Because it had been a soaking rain, running over the uneven edge around a soccer field was not a happy thing. About 1/3 of the way through there I lost my footing and righted myself before falling - but not before I felt my knee do something odd. I started walking with little checks to myself: is it swollen? No. Is it red? No. Does it hurt? Well, it's a bit tender and sore. Should I run? Let's give it a try... probably not.
I passed the two mile marker at 24:24 (double Jack Bauers) thinking, "Damn, I'm on pace for a PR." So I tried running again - nope, not gonna happen. I tried to walk quickly - not quite race walk, but briskly almost marching. That was OK, so I was going to finish and not let the inner loser drag or a sore knee drag me down. I tried running for a couple of minutes ("Just to that cone..." "You can make it past the women with the stroller...") but the knee was unhappy and now the ankles were also unhappy because I realize I'm not distributing my weight properly.
I slow it down a little and keep moving. Some guy from the running club putting this on thinks I need encouragement - but it grated on me this time. "Just jog and walk, you're near the end and you can do it."
"I hurt my knee."
"You can make it."
"Listen, I twisted my knee on the soccer field. Is there first aid at the finish line?"
"Oh... can you make it?"
"I'll make it - just I should ice it when I finish."
He scampered off - I assumed to let someone know.
Again I start thinking, "This is almost over - can I run to the giant baseballs?" Then I walked to the 3 mile sign and decided, "Dammit, I'm going to run to home plate." I ran the last .1 mile around the puddles on the warning track and finished in 44 and change. Not my worst time but it certainly isn't the PR I wanted and was on track for.
Crossing the finish line I asked for ice for my knee. (Remember the guy who scampered off...I never saw him again.) It took a little bit but finally someone brought me a bag of ice. DH got me some food and I sat with my leg up, icing it down for about 20 minutes.
Gazelle Boy won his age group and came in 10th overall. He got a cool trophy with a spinny thing on it. Unfortunately, the spinny broke and DH is going to figure out how to fix it so it's spinny again. DH and the youngest did the walk. The youngest said they would have done much better if DH didn't stop to ask to look at the race volunteers' maps three or four times.
In the end, it wasn't a good race for me (obviously), but it was for Gazelle Boy. DH and the youngest had fun - so overall it was a good thing. We didn't stay for the ball game, it's not until 5 pm and we were worn out.
As I was sitting there during the award ceremony, I got hit with an odd thought. If Tek is my virtual coach and he's out with a knee injury - does that mean I should hire a new virtual coach since I now seem to have one? But then I realized I could never fire Cap'n Tek - he's the best. But I suspect I'll be seeing him leaning on his crutches with a stop watch in his hand and a whistle around his neck on future runs. No more namby, pamby, whining inner losers. Cap'n Tek is going to banish them as surely as he keeps A-Rod in control after showing him who A-Rod's daddy truly was (two words: glove wash). Tek will whip me back into shape and get me going again, of that I'm sure.
So I'm home and I'll keep the knee up, eat some ibuprofen and read the Sunday papers. Tomorrow I'll swim and see how I feel. Hopefully I'll be back to normal by Tuesday and take it from there.