Or, "The Day Where I Realized Running In The Rain Isn't So Bad"...either title is fine.
Yesterday, many brave souls (60 in all) braved the nasty, nasty rainy weather to complete runs of all lengths...from 11 miles (that was me, and more on that later) to 16 miles (that was Steve who prior to yesterday had run 8 miles as his longest run ever) to 22 miles (that was Troy and yes he is the man), to 32 miles (that was Tim and he really is the MAN!) at the Bartram Forest Trail Run. This is Kevin's 4th year hosting the event and in doing the math, the exponential growth in participants makes me wonder how many more years it will take for this thing to rival the big league races. Kevin puts on the biggest spread of food for such a small-town race...grilled cheese, soup, salty potatoes, FM's fudge, pretzels, chocolate, gels, and much much more. The trails consist of a 5.25 (more like 5.5 yesterday as we dodged all the puddles) figure 8 on well-packed trails (except when it rains...and then it's mostly just a soupy mess). It's a great place to run, and if I don't end up cutting my left leg off, it will definitely be a race that I will run again next year.
As for me, I started whining about it on Friday. I had never run in torrential down pours, or thunderstorms, which is what the weather experts were calling for. I didn't know what to expect, I was scared, and I just really really didn't want to do it. But, by Friday night I had decided to just suck it up and finish what I had set out to do. Which was run the 20+ mile "fun run". You know runners have to be weird folks when they call 20 miles "fun", right?
We arrived at the Forest and Deb was kind enough to let me borrow her lucky rain coat. Actually, I don't think I ever really asked her if I could wear it...it was more of a begging and pleading situation, as I own not one piece of rain gear. I waited for Tim to come in on his 2nd lap of the day, while Troy took off to complete his 20 + miles. Tim arrived, changed shoes, got some food, and he and Steve and I took off for our first loop. Steve had worked a 24 hour shift the morning of and really had intentions of hanging out at the pavilion and being a cheerleader. He has nice legs for being a cheerleader I guess. At any rate, the subtle peer pressure in the air got the best of him and he decided that he'd run at least one lap with us. Peer pressure rocks. LL Cool J, also known as Leora Jooster, joined us as well for the fun of it all.
That first lap was a breeze for me. We ran, walked, and talked. Mandie, Tim's wife, asked me later "what do you guys talk about for hours on end?" This time we talked about thug life, what happens when it's that time of the month and you have a race to run (yes, the guys were in on the conversation), and what happens when it's that time of the month and you are stuck in the woods with bears (the guys instigated that one, and we were told that our chances of being attacked increase substantially). I slipped and fell in the small creek we were supposed to jump over, while LL decided yesterday was a good day to jump in mud puddles. We told really corny jokes and on more than one occasion told that part of Tim's brain that wanted to quit the whole race to SHUT UP! I think we used more choice words than that, but it must have been effective because he rocked out the E-N-T-I-R-E 32 miles. The entire time we were running lap 1, I was certain that 20+ miles was in my future. I felt great!
Right at the end of the first lap I started to get some of that dreaded nagging knee pain. We weren't running fast and we were taking walk breaks so I wasn't sure what the problem was. At the pavilion I made a pit stop for the bathroom and for some BioFreeze to the knee. I figured I might as well catch the pain in it's initial act rather than waiting for another lap and risking more pain.
Off we went on the 2nd lap, Steve in tow because peer pressure really is a bitch. LL was still hanging on and I couldn't stop thinking about that stupid knee pain. About a mile into the 2nd lap I decided (actually I was TOLD by Tim) to stop thinking about it. So, I did. And we just ran and walked and watched LL run with her pants down around her ankles (she had two layers on) and made Steve do the "I've never run this far" happy dance at any moment we could. But, the knee pain was still there.
About a mile from the pavilion we were running down a hill. I wasn't going fast but for some reason my left shin muscle began to tighten up. I stopped and walked. I stopped and stretched. I stopped completely. I'm not sure what happened. It was like the forest started to cave in on me as I couldn't shake this "new" pain and just standing still was making the "old" pain feel even worse. Tim and LL continued on, while Steve hung back with me trying to talk me through all of it (by the way, running really IS the best therapy). As we walked and ran and walked and ran that last mile, I could see that my little journey in this forest was ending. I could barely put any pressure on my leg and as I tried to limit the pressure on my knee, my foot began to ache. I really just wanted to lay down and cry my eyes out. But, since I had already cried over running last weekend, I decided to just suck it up and call it quits.
There is no other way to put it.
How many weeks in a row have I been able to squeak out 10 or so miles before my leg just completely shuts down on me?
I've been icing, elevating, resting, etc. I EVEN tried Tim's voodoo potion of a witch hazeled soaked ace bandage last night. I thought it was feeling better during dinner but this morning woke up with the exact same pain I had while I was running. Crap.
I'm really sick of trying to diagnose the problem myself, all while missing out on those much needed long runs, so tomorrow morning I am cashing in my frequent flyer miles at Piedmont Sports Medicine and demanding that Brian fix me. Pronto. Okay, so demand may be a little strong, but really, I have got to get this problem solved. Before I drive my own self crazy.
Yesterday was a good day for a lot of folks. Troy got another long run in, Tim became an ultramarathoner, and Steve ran farther than he thought he could. As for me and the running, it was not a good day. But, the one thing that did come out of yesterday was that I realized I could run in the rain. And not melt. Or die.
Have a great Sunday.