If you have been following any of my running you might have noticed that my running has taken a nosedive since June of this year. I hit a small burn out phase in June and decided to run shorter and do more resting than running. Then got a free entry into AFC ½ marathon and decided I needed to get some more miles in. I managed a few runs, but not with out some irritating shin pain. Generally it would warm up after the first mile and I would be ok, but then soon it was 2 miles, 3 miles and well then running just became frustrating because my shins were not ‘warming up’. I spent about a month and a half trying to run with no such luck. Had some fascia and ART (active release techniques) work done, which proved the muscle was severely tight, but it still didn’t seem to help. Which made me more frustrated.
Then low and behold I am getting my teeth cleaned (by my dental hygienist, who is a friend, runner and coach) mentions to me “sounds like an overuse injury” … Light blub goes off in my head… what do you do when something is overused? You REST!! Doh!! Why didn’t I think of that?!?! Thankful for her insight I decided to take a few weeks off of running. As hard as it was, it was also easy because running had become so frustrating and painful it wasn’t fun any more. So I spent the next few weeks spinning (probably not as much as I should have), doing Pilates and walking short distances a couple times a week because I just had to get outside!
Months ago I had signed up for the Mt. Laguna Marathon. This is one of my favorite events! I ran it last year and had SO much fun! It’s a challenging course, but beautiful this time of year. You can really see and feel Fall. The weather is pretty awesome too. A little chilly at the start, but generally it is perfect running weather the whole race considering a lot of the course is exposed.
Fast forward to November 6th it is race morning. I hadn’t run in about 4 weeks and prior to that I was struggling to run 3 miles so technically the last time I got any decent mileage in was back in September and it was only 10 miles, but I still struggled with my shins so it was more of a run/walk. I had decided I was going to run this race anyway… completely untrained. I knew it wasn’t going to be pretty and I knew I was going to be out there a lot longer than I was last year and a lot longer than I would have liked. I also decided if I had any sort of major discomfort I could always drop.
Race started promptly at 8am. I knew I had to start out slow, really SLOW. Thankfully one of my long time training partners Pete had signed up for this race too and we decided to run together. We were both in the same boat … he didn’t really train for this race either. It was going to be an adventure and just a fun day out in the mountains.
Miles 1-5 were ROUGH! The elevation! Not to mention the complete lack of training. What did I get myself in to?!? Can I do this? Should I be doing this?!? My calves are burning, my legs are tired, but I noticed I didn’t have any issues with my shins! This is GREAT. I didn’t want to hyper focus on my shins either so I just enjoyed the views and tried to soak everything in. There is something so peaceful about being in the mountains. It had been so long since I had been out there, I forgot how quiet it was and the beauty of the pine trees this time of year just speaks for itself. I love the smell of the pine trees in Mt Laguna. It is one of my favorite spots to run through.
Miles 5-10 we stopped for a few photos, walked a few up hills, and ran the down hills. I tried to keep a slow yet steady pace, remembering our goal is to have fun and to finish. It took me about 5 miles to feel like I was in a groove. My body did not forget how to run (Thank Goodness)! At mile 10 we hit the aid station were we saw a few friends cheering us on. It was great to see familiar faces! My husband told us after the race how concerned he was for us at mile 10. Apparently we looked like we were struggling. We definitely were (at least I was), but didn’t realize how much of it showed on my face.
Miles 10-14 …. 4 miles to the next aid station … piece of cake. I was feeling relatively good, despite the lack of training. My legs were tired, but I felt better running this section than I did the first 5 miles. Still no shin pain, which I was elated! We made it to mile 14 aid station, refilled, ate some watermelon and were on our way.
Miles 14-21 … this was the long stretch. 7 miles to the next aid station. I like to break up the races by running ‘aid station to aid station’. It really helps me mentally. This stretch has some long steep up hill climbs (which we happily walked) and a stretch of rocky technical down hill (which we cruised down at an easy pace). We did a lot of chatting and laughing and of course some photo taking on this section and that really helped the miles fly by. Before we knew it we were at the aid station! My husband said we looked way better at mile 21 than we did at mile 10 …go figure!
Wahoo… only 5 more miles left. It was really closer to 5.5, but who’s counting anyway. At this point my legs were sore. I could feel my quads from the down hills and my feet hurt, but I was SO EXCITED to know we were on the home stretch! We were going to do this! We were going to finish!! The last 5.5 miles were mostly flat, minus the hill coming out of the aid station and the major mile up hill climb to the finish. Pete has some hamstring cramping so we did a little bit of walking, took some photos, ran what we could and decided we should probably train for the next race. He was even talking about signing up for a 50 miler. HA!
We both don’t recommend running a marathon (especially out in the mountains) completely untrained. It was a bit more brutal than I expected and it wasn’t the brightest idea we’ve ever had, but it was definitely a fun day being out in nature! I am so happy Pete decided to run with me and we decided to stick together. Having the company and someone to talk to is always more fun. There is no way I would have been able to run that on my own with out a complete mental breakdown.
I am going to take another week or so off to rest and recover and then make a slow come back. I rather get rid of the injury now instead of consistently nursing it. No more spur of the moment marathons on the calendar for me. I am working on a plan to come back stronger and faster for next year so the rest of this year I will be focusing on building my base mileage again.
I didn’t necessarily have a nutritional plan going into this race like I typically do. I didn’t have any lows (other than feeling severely out of shape), but nutritionally speaking I didn’t bonk. I hydrated with Ultima, fueled with gels and enjoyed some watermelon and potatoes at the aid stations! I could tell after the race I didn’t hydrate enough during the race. As soon as we crossed the finish line I got an instant headache. To me this was an indication I didn’t hydrate enough during the run. I am glad it held off until I literally crossed the finish line. After the race I consumed water, tart cherry juice (for inflammation), homemade eggs salad, pomegranate seeds and a handful of pumpkin seeds to tie me over until we got home for dinner where I had a baked potato, tons of veggies and lots more water. Thankfully, the headache didn’t last long and seemed to disappear after I got more fluids in me.
Thanks to my hubby for crewing us, the friends that came out to support us, and all the familiar faces that were at the aid stations!! Most of all Thank YOU Pete for a fun and memorable race/run and for sticking it out 26.2 miles untrained with me.