Saturday, May 19, 2012

Gold Rush & Joplin Memorial Race Report

Since my last entry things have been interesting. I began running again by starting with 1 mile runs and increasing by 1/2 mile increments. I had worked my way up to 4 miles. Three days on and one day off. In my infinite lack of wisdom I had decided that since I wasn't running that far I could run fast. Pretty much 5k pace for everything. That worked for several days before my body rebelled by throwing up a red flag. I felt the initial twinges of some tibial posterior (shin splints) pain a couple of days before the Gold Rush 5k. So I took a couple of days off. I showed up at the race, warmed up and came up with an idea. I would start dead last and see how many people I could pass. A buddy had invited me to run with him and his daughter at a slower, leisurely pace but I opted for speed. Bad idea. I must say that it was kinda fun passing 845 of the 906 participants. The race benefits the Bentonville Public Schools Foundation and is a short course near the Square. In addition to the race the First Friday events were going on. It was a busy night in downtown Bentonville. My first split was 7:16 pace. Given my zig zag route through the slower runners I was blazing. By mile two I slowed to 7:36 and then 7:38 for the last mile to finish in 23m20s. I earned third in my age group. Had I started near the front I would have placed second. There was a two minute difference between my gun and chip times. It was god fun. My first race back and an AG medal. I'll take that. But the next morning my shin was angry. 

3rd place AG medal Gold Rush 5k

I attempted a recovery run at a slow pace at Lake Fayetteville on Sunday and struggled through two miles before walking it back in. My shin was throbbing. I knew I would have to shut things down again and that I had nobody to blame but myself. I began a regimen of stretching, rolling (painful), icing and compression gear. After a week there was little improvement in terms of running. I tried a few jogs of 100 yards or so to test it out. It hurt. So I continued to cycle including a 30 mile hill course at a strong pace. A week and a half after the race I had an appointment with Dr. Scott Bennington at Maximum Performance Spine and Sports Rehab. I had an exam, an e-stim session and an ART treatment. It felt better. I returned two days later for an ultrasound session and more ART. This was three days before Joplin. The next day I rode for an hour at an easy pace and then laced up the kicks. I knocked out an chill 3 mile run on groomed trails and the shin felt pretty solid. I was in for Joplin. 

2012 Joplin Memorial Run poster, bib and medal

Plans for Joplin included meeting a running buddy, David Newman, at 0430 hours to travel up. That meant waking up at 3:30am. So with just two and a half hours of sleep I headed his way. After getting there we met up with a few other runners from our parts. This was the first inaugural Joplin Memorial Run (formerly the Boomtown Half Marathon). The event now honors the 161 citizens that perished on May 22, 2011 as a result of the F5 tornado as well as the first responders and volunteers that assisted in the aftermath. The start and finish is at Memorial Hall. After an opening ceremony that included honoring survivors and a moment of silence we were off. The course runs south parallel to Main Street before turning west towards St. Johns Hospital and down towards the river. And then turns back north up Schifferdecker and past the country club before returning back towards downtown. A good portion of the back half has a slight incline. The morning started off in the low 60s with a slight breeze. Not too bad. There were aid stations every two miles. I hit all but the last one. Before it was done it had warmed up into the upper 70s. The plan was to start easy and go from there. David and I both thought if things went well we could come in just under 2 hours. My training, to say the least, had been all but non-existent. A total of 28 miles of running in the last 28 days and 6 miles in the last two weeks with a longest run of 6 miles in the last 10 weeks. Really, I hoped to not completely rig up and fail to finish. 

My tribute to J-Town

By mile 3 my shin felt 95% I'd say. My concern at that point was my endurance and holding my form for 13 miles. David and I had slowly picked up pace through mile 4 and we were feeling pretty good. We kept it steady and continued slowly passing the field. As the miles ticked by we took turns setting the pace. By the halfway point I was right on time to match my PR. Could I hold form and keep it up? This is where the return leg and the slow, grinding inclines began. Before the race I had written (417) on my forearm. That is the Joplin area code and served as a reminder as to why I was there. We lived in Joplin for  a few years and moved the summer before the tornado. This was once my hometown. I glanced at it a few times during the back half. By the time we turned towards the finish I knew I could set a PR. I focused on my form and relaxing. Our splits were steady (8:30-8:45) but the effort was increasingly difficult to maintain. 
David and I picked up another runner, a local guy named John, that help us keep pace. He really pulled well up the final, long hill. With 3 to go I began to tighten the screw. David and John were right behind me. Then two miles left, I cranked it up a bit more. I began to pull away. The final mile I bypassed the aid station, let my feet go and opened my stride, I was sub 8 minute pace. The last quarter mile I picked a runner in front of me to reel in. She was pushing to the finish at a good clip. As soon as I pulled aside her she picked up her pace. I guess she didn't want to get passed. Competition is great. I gave her some words of encouragement to keep pushing, that we had this in the bag. I tried to pass her and she stuck right with me. Then she kicked it into overdrive. The race was on. I dropped the hammer before the final turn and she couldn't respond. David finished shortly after followed by John. After the race she found me and introduced herself. She thanked me for pushing her at the finish and told me it was her first half marathon. I told her she finished like a champ. Our splits were: 9:22, 8:49, 8:50, 8:33, 8:30, 8:38, 8:45, 8:42, 8:29, 8:36, 8:34, 8:17, 7:49 and 6:23 (for the final .10 mile). 

(L to R) Matt, Eric, me, Jody, Shannon and David

In the end our group did well. Jody beat her goal and finished in under two hours. David PR'd by 4 minutes and I did likewise by about a minute. Matt took 5th in his age group, Vince placed third in his age group with a 1h39m effort and Shannon took second in his. We shared some cold beverages in the beer garden, took some photos and then parted ways. It was a good day for a great cause. I don't know what to attribute my PR to since my training was so lacking in quality and quantity. The cycling helped somewhat to maintain my cardio base but, hours later, I can tell with certainty that my body is not use to this. It hurts. If it was a year ago I would swear I just ran a tough 50k race. Shannon said it is all muscle memory. Maybe so. I think my experience at Athens Big Fork Trail Marathon and Rocky Raccoon this past winter allowed me to reach down deeper into the well than most folks despite my fitness level. I'm now more stoked than before to get back in the swing of things and to see what awaits for the remainder of the year. Thanks to Dr. Bennington, David and the rest of our crew for the support and motivation.

Update: 05/20/12
A note on my recovery. My experience with compression socks/sleeves is limited (until yesterday) to the Zensah compression sleeves. I had used them both during and post run. For use during runs I did not notice any real difference in either performance or how I felt. However, for recovery use I thought they did help speed things along a bit. 
Yesterday I ran a half marathon. No big deal, right? Well, there was that stress fracture, the 10 weeks of no running, the tendonitis in my shin and my paltry training for the half I mentioned above. Everything below the waist felt beat up after the race yesterday. Mostly my quads and lower calves. I removed my Brooks ST Racer shoes (big thumbs up again on these) and slipped into my Sole sandals. I just bought a pair of these and really like them. Great post race option offering plenty of support and comfort. I would wear them for most of the remainder of the day. 
I used the compression sleeves in the car on the way home, took a shower, put them back on and left them on until bedtime. After another shower I slipped on my Vitalsox brand full compression socks. They look ambiguously gay being bright, neon green and coming all the way up just above my knees. It’s now 7am and I just took them off. I fully expected to be hobbling around this morning. My feet and calves feel fine? Yep. Just a touch of soreness in my quads. I am quite surprised and totally sold on the combination. Now time for some active recovery, I’m thinking a little walk, some pool time and rolling.