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The Great Pumpkin Challenge 10k




At 9:30 am, I was lined up at the start of a local 10k race, The Great Pumpkin Challenge.  A race where I had set my 10k PR in 2012 a week after my first marathon.  A race, where last year, I had come within seconds of my PR.  Today, I lined up with no expectations.

Flashback to last year.  2016 was a training cycle disaster.  I went into 2016, tired, continually sore, over-trained.  I had run a marathon in Oct 2015 and fell short of my goal of 3:30 by 10 minutes after what I thought was a great marathon training cycle.  Instead of taking time off, I jumped right back into training.  I trained harder and harder and got slower and slower.  I ran 3 HM that fall and could not break 1:45 (4 minutes off my PR) no matter how hard I tried.  My final race of the year was the Great Pumpkin Challenge 10k.  I ran my heart out, came within seconds of my PR, and wound up straining my left hamstring and my left hip hurt too.

In January 2017, I finally realized that something had to give.  I took a recovery week.  I gave up on my plans to run the Boston Marathon again in 2017.  I was a DNS at Hopkinton in April.

I had been researching different training methodologies and decided to embrace Phil Maffetone’s heart rate training.  I would spend the next 2-3 months running at a HR of 125 (180-my age-5).  This would increase my aerobic efficiency and enable me to run faster at a lower HR.  This pace started out >13 min mile.  8 weeks into the training, my pace at this HR was a blazing 12 min mile.  My hip and hamstring felt marginally better.  

It was now the beginning of May 2017 and I had signed up for a HM in June.  Time to start training.  Only after 8 weeks of running super slow, I had lost all my speed!  Wait a minute!  All this slow HR training was supposed to make me more aerobically fit so I could run faster!  Aack!  I felt I had wasted 2 months of my running life! 

I dug in.  My hamstring and hip were continually sore and it was so uncomfortable to sit.  Driving was especially excruciating.  Then one fateful day, May 22nd, I was walking and caught the heel of my boot on the sidewalk.   When trying to keep myself from falling, I felt my left hamstring pop a couple of times.  I could still walk, but it was painful.  I figured I really pulled it now.

Of course I kept running.  My hamstring didn’t seem to bother me when actually running but afterwards in hurt.  I went to see an orthopedic doctor and was scheduled for an MRI in early June.   Diagnosis:  A high grade high proximal hamstring tear – 70-90%.    The DR thought I would probably be better off without surgery to repair it.  And I was all for no surgery.  But when I asked about the recovery time, his answer was anywhere from 6-12 weeks and sometime more.  Ugh!  I was able to do anything (but running) that did not cause me any pain. 

So, for the next 8 weeks, I cycled, I ellpiticalled, and I strength trained.  And I went to PT.   When I went back to the Ortho, he cleared me to start running 2 miles a couple days per week.  Running felt awesome and horrible all at the same time.

Slowly I built back up the mileage.  Long run is now up to 10 miles.  I don’t remember 10 miles being so darned far!  A couple of weeks ago I started introducing some hills.  My hamstring is still not 100% healed and hill repeats caused some soreness but I am told that is to be expected.  All in all, the hamstring has been holding up well.

Ok, enough history, back to today.  Going in to the race, I decided to let the day give me what my legs could do without re-injuring myself. I also didn’t look at my watch in fear of getting depressed.  The first 3 miles felt pretty good, I was working but felt limited by my lack of leg speed not by my cardiovascular fitness. It was flat for the most part.  The next 3 miles not so much.  I had forgotten how hilly those miles were.  My lack of hill training definitely made itself known.  I was struggling by mile 5.  I still didn’t look at my watch.  I really didn’t want to know how slow I was going.  I had formerly run negative splits on this course.  Not today.   The hills took their toll.  The first four miles were just under 8min.  The last two were 8:20’s.

And my time… a personal worst at 49.03min.  Almost 3min off my PR.  Good for 2nd in my age group though.  It pays to be old sometimes.  J  All in all, I am fairly pleased with the results.  It is much better than I anticipated.

And the best part of the day, you ask?  By far, it was the 1 mile fun run with my boys!

Age Group Award:59e29a9ff07e1_AGaward.thumb.jpg.f8ae0de9d254f357c4ab3ab156f03ec2.jpg59e29abe8d83f_GreatPumpkin.thumb.jpg.9207de215d5f104be5be62c5c94cd15b.jpg

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I hate reading about all of your struggles, but a PW trumps not running at all any day.  I have faith that you'll get back to where you want to be!

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All the work you've been putting into getting back is impressive. You've helped keep me accountable with my strength work. Cool kid pic - all #1's!

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It's good to see you back, and with cute kidlets, too!  I remember you as a consistently awesome runner, so I know how hard it must be to struggle against injury.  But you have such a great work ethic that I'm confident you'll be improving steadily, and soon!

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Driving still gives me nightmares!!

So happy you are back to racing and running distance. You'll get that speed back and so will i...praying....

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Excellent work on your rehab - such dedication! I'm curious what was in the race swag aside from the glass?

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No way!  I would have guessed 30s.  O.o 

So glad you recovered enough to run the race!  Must be all the cross training.  Congrats on the award.  Faster days aren't far away.

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Making a come-back can be difficult, especially when you want to run faster than you should. I am currently struggling with that. CONGRATS on your AG win and for a great finish! You are fast! I would love to do a sub-50 10K right now... Keep at it girl!

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