Last Sunday, I ran my first race (a 5k) in quite a long time. (So this race report is coming better late than never, huh?) As many know, I’ve been plagued by a recurring calf injury for the past three years, but it finally seemed to take a turn for the better when I started seeing a new PT last February. Though it’s taken this long to be able to race– and I’m using “racing” in the loosest of terms– hey, I’m back at it (ish)!
I’ve been running consistently between 1-3.5 miles since July-ish while maintaining my now 8-months-and-counting of daily strength and PT exercises (zZZzzzZZ). The goal for a while has been to do a Fall 5k, but I was hesitant to register for something too early. And by “too early,” I mean I was waiting for my body to implode at any moment. Pesky calf.
Overall my leg has been feeling better, but the pain has not completely gone away. Even short runs require a couple days of recovery. Progress has oftentimes been followed by setbacks, so registering for a race was kind of a leap of faith. I knew I wasn’t in “race shape,” but was dying to be a part of the race-day magic. So, naturally I recruited two friends to run with me. (Long story short, only one friend ended up racing. As for the other… well, she twisted her ankle days before the race and, when she decided to pick up her bib just ’cause, she saw her bib number was 666. UMMMM.)
Fast forward to race week. Crazy days at work left little time for worry, but when race eve arrived, in came the nerves. Oh yeah, and I had Indian food for dinner, which I do not recommend. Oops. I tossed and turned all night, but woke up energized and excited for the event. I mean, I was getting to wear my Oiselle Team singlet for the first “official” time! HELLZ YEAH!
I started off slow for two reasons: 1) This was supposed to be a “fun run” to get in the racing spirit without compromising my overly-sensitive healing-but-not-yet-totally-healed injury and 2) Since I’m not in the best shape, I didn’t want to start off too fast and burn off all I had too soon and pretty much die in a struggle fest of epic proportions.
I felt good for the first mile. Wide-eyed, strong, slow and steady, focusing on form. I repeated “head up, wings out” (an Oiselle mantra), which helped keep me from hunching and generally reminded me to soak in the scene and enjoy the miles.
Not long after Mile 1, I was reminded why one should never choose Indian food as their race eve meal. Perhaps it was the food, or maybe this would have happened regardless, but I started to feel a tightening and burning sensation in my stomach. Thankfully it didn’t escalate to vomming all over the place, but it made the second half of the race uncomfortable to say the least.
The last mile of the race was a cruel out-and-back in which you turn a corner, are forced to pass the finish line, and continue running for what seems like 923892382 hours out and back to the finish line again My body was hurting, but all I could do was try to focus on the task at hand and remind myself that it would be over soon and I would be pissed if I didn’t give it my all while I had the chance. I had no choice but to fly.
As I rounded the corner of the out-and-back, I could see the finish line in the distance. Positive: “yay, the finish line! I’m almost there!” Negative: the view was deceiving and the finish line was still about a half mile away. Lungs burning, stomach burning. But, some way, somehow, I was able to really kick it into high gear for that last .1 mile. BOOM!
Crossing the finish line, I saw the timer read 29:xx. WTF! I was expecting to finish the race in ~35:00. Official time ended up being 28:12, which is insane. Seriously, WUT.
I’m proud of my effort and feel lucky to have had the opportunity to race again in what I hope is one of many to come. Not surprisingly, every muscle in my body was extremely sore for the next two days. Ouchie. But ye olde injured leg actually felt okay during the race and even a couple days later, though now smarts a bit. After beating it to a pulp, it’s probably going to continue needing R&R. As for my next race? We’ll just have to see.
Ultimately, though the journey to full recovery is not yet over, I couldn’t have stuck with it for so long without my teammates. They’ve made me feel like I’m never alone in this sometimes-daunting process. From their badass feats resulting in all-the-inspiration to encouraging me at every turn, I’m honored to be a part of a group that both supports me and pushes me to get back out there. These women are the real deal and prove every day that hard work can pay off. Thank you, thank you, thank you and LET’S DO THIS, BIRDS!