10 MILE BRIDGE RUN, Sept. 20, 2008---OR...10 MILES RIGHT OUT OF THE BOX.
While I wouldn't recommend anyone else doing this, the best thing for me to do was wear the new shoes I bought Friday night for the 10 mile race on Saturday morning. You'd think I would know better, having run now for more than 20 years, that when it feels like I am running with boards strapped to my feet and my hip aches with every step that I don't just need new shoes, I am way past due for them. Some things you just never learn.
So after last week's 3 runs, all of which resulted in a bone jarring hip pain during and after each run, I knew I had to get the shoes. I planned to get them on Saturday AFTER the race, but after the misery I went through on my Thursday night run, I knew it was the shoes and not just something else going on. I had iced, stretched, and used the tennis ball all week, with some relief, but the hip pain was nagging and lingering, so I knew. Instead, I bought the shoes Friday after work Friday night, at the same store where they had Friday night packet pickup, brought them home, and wore them around the house for a while. At that point, I still did not really plan to wear them the next day, but after an uncomfortable night because of my low back/hip pain, even after ibuprofen, icing, and heat, I figured I would decide whether I would wear them in the morning.
Once I picked up my old shoes this morning, I knew I was wearing the new shoes, no matter the consequences. They felt stiff and looked really beat up. I figured the worst I would go through would be toe cramping, but that would beat 10 miles of my hip aching, and maybe having something get screwed up and lingering into next weekend's half marathon. I was going to take my chances.
It was a perfect almost fall day--upper 50s at the start, mid 60s at the finish. The only complaint about the weather was the high humidity, around 80%. I soon felt this in the first mile, where it was a little difficult getting the breathing under control. I purposely hung back at the start to keep from getting that out-of-breath feeling, but it was happening somewhat anyway because of the humidity. Soon, the pack ran away from me, as usual. The walkers had started 15 minutes ahead of the runners, so my first goal was to pass them. I stuck to a 8 1/2 run, 1 1/2 walk, because that seems to get me through runs of that distance or longer without much training and without totally losing pace sooner than I wanted to. I had really hoped to be running a little stronger by now, but it has only been less than 3 weeks since my virtual race run/bike/swim extravaganza, with two back-to-back 120+ miles on the bike and close to 20 mile weeks running. My long run last weekend did not go well because of the hip pain, so I was just going to have to back off a little and do what I could do.
The route is a very familiar route for me, because it encompasses most of my training run routes and winds through an older part of town that was my stomping grounds as a kid. The only complaint about the course is that about 50% of it is on rough, uneven pavement, making it feel more like a trail run on pavement than a road run. I am so prone to turning an ankle or tripping over cracks in the road that I was constantly zig-zagging around the worst parts. Only a couple of small hills, otherwise almost flat.
At the first mile marker, I was under 11:30 pace, and that of course included one walk break, so I was happy with that. Then I did something I NEVER do: hit the split button on my watch. Or at least I thought I did, and maybe I did, but the next time I looked at my watch, it still had the same time as the first mile split, so I must have stopped it. Dang! Don asked me recently what my splits were at Steelhead on the run. Splits? I never do that. I don't even know how to do that. He couldn't believe it. I am split challenged, and today proved my point.
I quickly checked the actual time on my watch and decided I had probably missed timing about 3 minutes or more, so then had to reconfigure my run/walk plan. I can tell you right now, I'm not doing that again. The biggest nuisance for me was to constantly see a "2" for split when I was trying to check the actual time in seconds. My watch switches back and forth, but still, it was just too annoying for me. Just give me the chrono time and that's all I need.
Just after the third mile, I saw Don being course marshall at one of the corners. This was also close to where we would enter Riverside Park, and run on the bike path along the river. I had managed to pass a lot of the walkers before 3 miles, so I was happy with that, but the first male runner was on his way back just after I passed 3 miles. Oh well, I never said I would be fast.
In fact, after this, you could see returning runners for the next mile and a half since the route through the park was out and back. Eventually I started seeing the women in my age group, all on their way back. This was my first race in a new age group, but I still didn't fare any better. These women are like hens--the older they get, the tougher they are. So I figured unless they went through at least 10th place with medals, I would be going home with nothing today except the pleasure of getting to run in such wonderful weather.
Shortly after entering the park, I could hear footsteps right behind me again. I had passed quite a few people before 3 miles, but now I could hear someone close behind. And the way the shadows were playing tricks with me, I kept thinking I saw two people coming up behind me. I finally turned and saw one woman, who apparently was running from one side of the path to the other. She said she was just pacing off me--and she was walking! Talk about feeling like a snail! But I still stuck with my run/walk plan. I was feeling fairly good but was hungry. I could feel my stomach growling. I had one Gu with me, figuring they would have more at the aid station in the park, but no such luck this year. I was glad I saved it then, and decided I would have to wait until I hit the 5 mile mark to use it.
As we ran through the park, you could still see evidence of flooding from last week's heavy rainfall. Most of the path itself is high enough to not get any flood waters on it, once the spring thaw and rains subside, but the playgrounds were like islands, with river water coming right up to the cork like material they use under the equipment. But they also rerouted us away from the river and up nearer the soccer fields, where again the road was rough, bumpy, and filled with holes. That made it more difficult for me too because again I had to run around all this stuff. And at this point, the only woman who passed me since mile one came by, and I realized there was no way I would catch her so put it out of my mind.
As we were finally nearing the turnaround, I could see that part of the parking lot, near one of the boat ramps, was completely under water still, so I think there was a course change and we had an out and back on the bike path instead. Here I finally passed some more runners, and at the 5 mile mark passed some more. Then I took my Gu and more water, but knew it probably wouldn't really kick in for another 20 minutes. I really wish I had had one more before this and one for after but this would have to do.
As I continued on through the park, even with my run/walk ratio, I managed to pass everyone in front of me on the bike path. As I headed off the path and back to the street, I was really starting to feel the whole race. Maybe if I had had a better run last weekend, I might feel better today. But who ever knows? I was doing what I could do. I passed Don again and said "You'll probably be out here longer than I will!" I know he was enjoying seeing all the people he knew--all in front of me, including the 80 year old guy from here who has run probably about 100 or more marathons.
By the time I hit 7 miles, I was seriously wanting this to be over. I was worried I would fall apart too soon, and my goal was 2 hours or less. Because my chrono time was messed up, I really wasn't sure where I was timewise, but could only guesstimate. I held on through the next water stop and around the corner from that, but that's where mentally and physically I just had to walk off my break time. I could see two people far ahead on the street, one walking, the other shuffling, and I wanted to at least pass them. However, that didn't happen until almost mile 8, so I held on for another block or so and then had to walk again. I really wasn't feeling that great but knew I had to keep going or I wouldn't make my goal time. So on I trudged, finally passing another guy who was at a walk, and continued until after one of the last bridges on the route. Here, I took in some gatorade to see if that would help, but I think it was too late for that. I held together until I got around the corner, almost missing the turn, and then walked out of my interval time again. I was calculating my time and started figuring I wouldn't make it but would be close. So then I allowed myself to just relax and forget about it.
I was getting a little crazed here though and wanted to see that 9 mile mark in the worst way. Then it was run/walk, run/walk through the last mile. I was pretty spent, even though I knew I did not finish in 2 hours. Actual time: 2:02:27. Even if I had run 2:27 faster, it wouldn't have changed my place (last in AG) and the next closest was 1:40, so there would have been no catching her anyway.
So hopefully this will be a good training run for the Scotiabank Toronto half marathon on Sept. 28. That's all I wanted from this anyway. And the good news was not one minute of hip pain and no toe cramping either until after the race!