Sunday, August 2, 2015

I Survived My July Race Schedule

When I wasn’t fully recovered from my groin injury at the end of June, I started to worry.  My July race schedule was brutal. 

I started the month with the Firecracker Triple over the July 4th weekend.  I was actually feeling OK going into the first race.  I was slower than usual, but mostly because my fitness level isn’t what it was last year.  It didn’t help that it was in the 90s each day.

I ran the Cook Park Marathon in 4:26:42.  While I can’t say I was happy to be running slower than 10 minutes per mile, I didn’t have any major discomfort.  The next day, I ran the Foot Traffic Flat Marathon in 4:36:23.  In this race, I started having noticeable groin discomfort in the late miles.  After a bathroom stop, the pain went away.  I finished OK, but I was worried about how my groin would feel in the third race.  The Stars and Stripes Marathon, predictably, was a struggle.  I was slow from the beginning, but halfway through the race, I started to feel some soreness.  At first I ignored it.  Then it got worse, and I was forced to stop and put on an elastic bandage.  I also switched from slow running to somewhat brisk walking.  After walking nine of the last ten miles, I finished in 5:55:39.  That’s one of my slowest times ever, but at least I finished.

During the next week, I only ran once.  I ran one mile and stopped, because I could still feel some soreness.

On July 11, I ran the Eugene Curnow Trail Marathon.  This race was challenging, even for a trail marathon.  On the advice of my physical therapist, I ran the whole race wearing an elastic bandage.  Trying to run with the bandage over difficult terrain was uncomfortable.  At times, it was downright painful.  I finished in 5:56:11.  I was happy to break six hours.  Even if I had been health and well-trained, I would have been doing well to break five hours.

After the race, I felt surprisingly good.  Apparently, the discomfort I felt during the race came from trying to move my leg in ways that the bandage wouldn’t let me move it.  The bandage did its job.  I didn’t make my leg worse.

I felt so good in the next few days, that I got overconfident.  I went for a training run without wrapping my leg.  I ran harder than I had in two months.  The next day, I realized I overdid it.  The soreness came back with a vengeance.  I did one more short run before my next race.  This time, I went back to wrapping my leg and running slowly.

On July 19, I ran the Revel Rockies Marathon.  This race terrified me, because it descends roughly 4500 feet.  I realized in May that my groin bothers me most when I’m running downhill.  For the second straight week, I ran the entire race wearing an elastic bandage.  I wasn’t sure how that would go.  Would it constrain my quads too much, making downhill running difficult?  Would the imbalance between my right and left legs put undue strain on my knee?   Even going downhill, could I run fast?  I hadn’t run a single eight minute mile since April.  As it turns out, I felt surprisingly comfortable running downhill in the first half of the race.  I wasn’t as fast as last year, but I was running mile times between 7:15 and 7:30 and feeling OK.

The second half was more difficult.  As soon as I hit a brief uphill section in the middle, my loss of fitness became evident.  In the later miles, my lack of downhill training also played a factor.  After a slow second half, I finished in 3:51:50.  That’s 43 minutes slower than last year.  The good news is that the bandage once again seemed to protect my injured muscles.  I had more soreness in my quads than I did in my groin.

Over the next five days, I didn’t run at all.  I did some PT and cross-training, but otherwise I just rested.  My last race of the month was the most difficult of all.

On July 25, I ran the Swissalpine K78.  When I entered this race, I expected to do a significant amount of hill work to get ready.  Going into it without hill work and without even having the same overall fitness that I usually take for granted, I had to worry about whether I could finish.  I worried about how my groin would handle running through the Alps, but I worried more about not having the required fitness.  I ran with my leg bandaged again.  I was slow, but I finished.  I crossed the line just 25 minutes ahead of the 13 hour time limit.

I survived my July race schedule.  So now what?

I don’t have another race scheduled until August 16.  That gave me three weeks to finish healing.  I got off to a poor start.  In the first two days after Swissalpine, I was still sightseeing in Switzerland, and I did way too much walking.  It was probably good for my sore quads, but it left my groin feeling sore.  Since then, I’ve been mostly resting and doing PT.  After one week, I feel a little bit better.  I’m hoping after two more weeks I’ll feel a lot better.  After that, I go back to racing every weekend.  I need to be healthy, but I’m not sure if I will be.

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