Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Midnight Sun Run: From Hobbled to Cursory

By late May I was cruising along with a solid mileage build-up (60 miles the week before Memorial Day) when my hip went out leading to some intense low back pain. I've probably had 15-20 injuries in my career (setbacks forcing at least 2 weeks off) and this by far was the most painful. I wouldn't even wish this upon my enemies.

Speaking of which, at about the same time my back went out, I got into an online argument with a cabal rather oblivious posters on one site, and one of them linked my blog, calling it "sad and pathetic." That may be, and it did make me feel a little bad, but then again, the poster had a link to their blog, which was something rather pornographic--so, well, at least I'm pretty wholesome.

We'll move on.

The back was really bad and it got progressively worse during the last week of May. By June 1 I couldn't tie my shoes or get out of bed. All that I wanted to do was sit on the couch and not move for hours, but they say that's bad for you. So I walked some, which wasn't too painful. Things hit rock bottom on the 2nd of June, so I hobbled into the local med clinic and aske for Help! An osteopath did some manipulations and pops here and there, which provided great relief. I started running gingerly a few days later, but the pain came back by the following weekend, so I scheduled a visit to the physical therapist, who also did some manipulaitons to straighten my pelvis and spine. Voila! A near instant cure. Since then I was able to put in consecutive 40 mile weeks. Felt like a minor miracle.

Things felt so good on the 16th I jumped into a local 5k, and was surprised to find that 5:37/mile didn't feel that bad. I finished in 17:32--decent for 49.

So last week I was pretty excited about the Midnight Sun Run 10k, my favorite local running event. Normally, I can throw those race calculators out the window for 10k, knowing that can usually just add about 30 seconds onto the 5k and double it (thus finishing about 45 sec to 1:00 faster than predicted).

Things didn't quite work out that way--my first two miles were 11:38, right on 36:00 pace, but by the time we turned onto University Avenue (maybe 2.4 miles), I could tell that holding 5:50 or better would be tough. Although, I was in perfect position (4th and 5th) I made a fateful decision to ease back, hoping to have a strong 4th and 5th mile. The guy I was with pulled away, and I wasn't too worried about masters placing because I had remembered from last year that he was in his late 30s.

So I just mosied from mile 3 on, at about 6:05/mile pace, taking in the increasingly drunken crowds from about mile 4 through 5.5. One other guy passed me and I didn't put up much of a fight, figuring that 6th out of 3,200+ would be a decent finish for a guy who was crawling just 3 weeks prior. So I finished safely in 6th, thinking that I had the masters title wrapped up for the fourth consecutive year.

All was good until I saw the official results on Tuesday. I even double checked last year's results to see that the guy I had been running against in 4th was 38. But, DOH! He must have had a birthday last week because this time he's 40! Easy to say in hindsight, but I coulda woulda fought a little to a lot harder had I known.

Well, I still got a W the 45-49 AG, and will get a pretty cool ceramic plaque to complete a set of four, but I'm kicking myself for not sticking with the pace (the result may well have been the same, because I wasn't feeling on that night, but then at least you know that gave it a fighting chance). So at this advance age, I'm still learning some pretty fundamental things--take nothing for granted and fight for every place in races that have meaning to you.

Overall, it was a good experience but I might try something different next year.