I’m running again for real, YAY! I say for real meaning I have put in some solid runs and my foot gets better each time. So far I have had no setbacks and I intend to keep it that way! On the treadmill I have worked up to 5 miles and on the road I have run up to 4, including runs on consecutive days, without issues and put in 16 miles this past week. Not a huge distance, but a nice slow return to full miles.
On Friday I decided to test out my foot with a 5K. Our fitness center holds races every month, but they are just for personal edification. They have a timing clock, people at key intersections to point the runners in the right direction (on the way out, but they disappear on the way back,) and a water stop at the turn around, but no bibs and no one to record your time but yourself.
I arrived at the gym early enough for a good warm up of a little over a mile with a couple of short strides at the end. Not only was I worried about my foot, but my RA has been flaring in my left hip from slipping on ice so I knew I wasn’t going to push hard. There was a small group of maybe 20 or so runners wearing various levels of clothing. When it is 27 degrees Fahrenheit outside, it is very easy to tell the fast runners from the slow ones. The slow runners look like they are dressed for an Arctic expedition and the fast runners are in shorts and sleeveless shirts! I was somewhere in the middle, but more on the bundled up side, mostly because I was afraid of freezing to death if I had to walk.
The “director” yelled “GO!” and about half the people heard him and took off, dodging around the confused people that were still standing still wondering what everyone around them was doing. They got the point shortly and we all trundled out of the parking lot and down the road.
One of the surprises that you find as you progress in distance running is that the distances shrink. The first time you run a 5K, it seems like an incredibly long distance, but by the time you are running 25 to 30 miles a week, 3 miles seems like nothing. Apparently, if you haven’t run outside in months, the distance stretches again and suddenly 5 kilometers seems like a million miles. By the time my Garmin beeped for the 1 mile mark, I felt like I had been running forever instead of 9 minutes! The one comfort was that the leaders were not passing me on the return yet.
Our path led us through the golf course that has big fountains blasting out of the frozen ponds. This has an effect like snow making equipment creating a mountain of snow around the jet of water so it looks like a little white volcano. On we went, out and around, winding down the crooked street. There was next to no traffic so I drifted back and forth across the road cutting the tangents, pretending I was in a competitive race. Next, the front runners started passing me. I’ve done this enough time to know that this did not mean I was close to the turnaround! One more curve and I could see the poor girl, bundled like Nanook of the North, handing out water cups. I had my own bottle so I didn’t take one, but I did thank her for being out there.
By this time, I was finally starting to feel fully warmed up and confident. The runner that had been pacing off me for the first mile and a half began to flag. I could tell he was struggling to match me, but as he was petering out I was getting into my groove. I realized after we wound back through the golf course that the orange cones and pointing people were gone. This was my first time through this part of the base so I was glad I could see a couple of runners making the next turn. Unfortunately, after I turned the corner, the runners ahead of me were nowhere to be seen. All the buildings on base look the same so I had a small panic moment wondering where I should turn, but finally found my way back to the gym. My final time was 28:13 which made me happy, but my splits were all over the map. I didn’t run full out and I felt a bubble in my hip most of the way, but my foot was okay and next time I can push a little harder. My total mileage for the week (Mon.-Sun.) was 16 miles with plans for 18-20 next week.
One last side note: I have started working with a personal trainer to balance my muscles, rebuild my calf, and strengthen more of my body. If it makes me a faster runner, that will be a great perk, but mostly I just want to be fit and healthy and fix the tilt in my hips!
Edited to add: PS No, I did not run barefoot :-) When it is below freezing I wear either Vibram Treks, or Teva Proton water shoes. For the 5K I wore the protons. I wasn't sure about the course and didn't want salty ice water seeping into my toes. The protons can be worn with regular wool socks and are basically a neoprene boot so unless you step in water up to your ankle, feet stay dry. I must admit though, my feet were actually to hot!