After my trail marathon I did the usual rest and recovery - five days of no running and then some easy runs for a few weeks. Then just as I started my first tempo run in an attempt to get back to training, I hurt my foot. I don't remember turning my ankle, but suddenly my foot hurt just below the ankle bone. It was sore but I could run on it, so I kept going and figured it would go away. It did not. I managed four miles before deciding to cut my run short and limp home.
I iced it and took ibuprofen. The pain seemed centered on one spot, so I worried about a stress fracture, but that didn't really make sense. The next day I saw a doctor and she said it was definitely NOT a bone problem. It was ligament damage. Take time off, blah, blah, blah... So I did.
But I had two races already signed up for; the first one only 12 days away. The pain faded to a dull roar in 2 days, but then it just kind of stopped improving. I could walk with minimal pain. A jog would hurt a little. Not too bad. But not getting better. It reminded me of plantar fasciitis and other foot ligament problems I have had, all of which took over 6 months to heal.
With those ailments, I ended up running through them eventually, as running did not seem to make it worse. So I'm guessing the same here - Loooong recovery period. Nagging pain.
So I didn't run at all for the 12 days and then lined up for a 5K. This race was part of my annual golf weekend with my hometown buddies. We golfed Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday in Palm Springs,, followed by massive eating and significant drinking. So I waddled to the 5K on Saturday EVENING with about 8 extra pounds in my belly, and weariness from 4 days in the sun. I was running with three other friends including my brother, and we figured to all be close to the same pace. Of course they had the same handicaps as me with the golfing and eating and drinking. My foot problem was a handy excuse but I can't say it really slowed me down. Normally I would hope to win this competition but with post marathon and injury downtime and no speed work for the last six weeks and a sore foot, I was lacking in confidence.
The race was "Run with Los Muertos" in the tiny town of Coachella in the desert (home of the large concert event). It was tied with a Day of the Dead festival with a parade and concert and art fair. 95% of the people there were Hispanic and all the announcements were in Spanish - no English. It was fun to see all the little kids in costume and face paint. The race was about 300 people, and not too competitive. It started after sunset and they had lights on the route. It was kind of fun running in the dark.
Strategy: Well, my warmup was OK. Felt like crap at the beginning but after a mile or so I felt about normal. The foot hurt a bit but I wasn't limping. The dry desert air was very noticeable so I drank a lot of water before and during. I hoped to run about 7 minute pace and see if that was workable and go from there. Also planned to run with my 3 buddies (and beat them) if possible.
At the start my brother set the pace so I followed him to get into gear. Once the crowd cleared I saw we were right about 7 minute pace and it felt doable. The first mile I was working pretty hard, but it was a race after all. Pretty normal for a 5K. Right about a mile (which came in at exactly 7:00) I started to notice my breathing getting heavier. Brother started to pull in front and I couldn't stay with him. It was hard enough to just keep going. Then another friend rolled by. I hung on him for a few seconds but then he pulled ahead. Ugh. My pace was 7:15 in mile 2 and I was suffering. I tried to maintain for a while but then buddy #3 breezed by me, along with some other people. I was clearly not going to be able to beat any of these guys. So I downshifted. Eased off until it was more like tempo pace. Still working but at a pace I felt I could hold. Not dying. The towel was thrown. It was just about getting to the finish with something respectable at least.
I hit mile 2 in 7:45, but my pace bottomed out just over 8:00. Once I got to within 1/2 mile of the finish I started to pick it up, since I now had some reserves. I caught a couple people and tried to finish respectably strong. Mile 3 was 7:34. The course was short (I had 2.98 miles) so my time of 22:10 was not even that good. On the plus side, my foot never got worse - it was just a nagging pain, and it wasn't any worse after the race either. So I just accepted the defeat and will use it to motivate me in the future.
Now I am going to take another two weeks off (maybe?) and hope this improves. Then I'll do my usual and run through it. Because I already signed up for a Turkey Trot. And then I'll need to start getting ready for Atlanta...
On the other hand, my golf game made huge improvements as I played the best golf of my life and got two huge PRs. I shot a 103 and didn't finish last every day, and can now reasonably consider breaking 100 for the first time. So that was nice. It was a fun weekend with the guys, and I also got to see Loopster Peg for a few hours so that was great.
Life is good.