The Running Man (part deux)

Back in October I wrote about training for and running in a 7k race, motivated by the almighty dollar (well, 750 almighty dollars). When last we heard from our protagonist, he’d completed his 7k run in 33 minutes and 13 seconds. Here is the story of what happened after that.

A few days after completing the 7k, I thought to myself “You know, you should probably read the fine print to make sure you qualify for the athlete rebate”. Well, wouldn’t you know it, but as it happened I actually needed to complete two races. So, on November 1st I emailed my sister-in-law (Melissa) and her husband (Vic):

“So…apparently I have to run in two races to get the discount.  The last one is November 9th at 10am (yay!) in Grimsby (booo!).” – me, to Melissa and Vic

Explanation of “yay”: I was happy that there was still a race yet-to-be-run in the calendar year, and that it wasn’t super-late in the season, and that it had a 10am start time rather than Stoney Creek’s 8:30am

Explanation of “booo”: Grimsby is farther away than Stoney Creek

Once again, Melissa was up for a race in the cold.

Now, in the couple of days after the 7k, I’d actually gone out and run 10k and 11k (damn you, habit!), so I figured that 8k wouldn’t be a problem. Unfortunately, while running at dusk on November 2nd I went through a wooded area and stepped on a knot of wood that was cunningly concealed by crispy Autumn leaves. My right ankle did its best Rice Krispies impression (in that it snapped, crackled and popped) while it turned sideways and I obligingly thumped to the ground.

I’m no stranger to ankle injuries, sprains in particular¹, and I know one when I hear and feel one. In that moment, I was relieved to have not broken anything, but quite legitimately pissed since I had an 8k in a week and wanted to improve upon my previous race. After a few minutes I got up, walked along a bit, and then slowly jogged the rest of my loop and cut the day’s run frustratingly short.

For the next couple of days, I kept the ankle elevated and frequently iced, and then on Wednesday I went for a test run (literally, ha). A little stiffness aside, it was actually pretty good. I iced it again after getting home to keep the swelling down, and things seemed OK on Thursday. On Friday I went for a short jog to stay loose, and although my ankle was probably only 80% it was sufficient for the race.

On Saturday morning Melissa and I went off to Grimsby for the run; once again, we were rewarded for our dedication with cold, driving rain. It was actually a pretty awkward temperature: somewhere around 5 degrees Centigrade. I was torn between going long-sleeve (and getting uncomfortably sweaty) and short sleeve (chance of being too cold). In the end, I went short-sleeve, and in retrospect this was a poor decision.

My race started well enough. As I’ve said before, I don’t wear a watch or any sort of pace device, and I don’t run with music, so I just kinda run. At Stoney Creek, I was very conservative and started near the back; in Grimsby, I started in the front third and was running at the pace set by those folks.

Things were going pretty well for 3 or 4 kilometres, and then I started feeling pretty lousy: I couldn’t settle into a groove, my running wasn’t smooth, and my legs felt really heavy. I took a brief walking break, something I hadn’t done at all in the previous race, and then tried to find my relaxed stride. Nope, not happening. Basically for the rest of the race I interspersed running with walking, with about a half dozen walking breaks in all.

Now, it turns out that despite the start-stop nature of my run, my time was a decent 38:13 and I finished third in my category. This suggests to me that my pace (while running, at least) was significantly faster than my race two weeks earlier, and perhaps explains why I felt so lousy. However, I believe the main reason I felt so uncomfortable was that I was too cold; were I to do this race again, or should the madness fall over me and I do other races in the future, I’m going to err on the side of being too warm than too cold².

With that race completed, I now qualified for Subaru’s athlete rebate program, and a few weeks later I purchased a shiny new white 2014 WRX hatchback. A couple of weeks after that, the literal cheque was in the literal mail:

The only payment I'll ever receive for athletics. I have an urge to invest it in a carwash (a tip of the hat to anyone who gets that reference).

The only payment I’ll ever receive for athletics. I have an urge to invest it in a carwash (a tip of the hat to anyone who gets that reference).

And so ends my brief stint as a professional athlete.

Thanks again to Melissa for joining me on these runs. Maybe I’ll tag along if you feel like doing any of the Waterloo series this year =)

¹Years ago I had a brutal high ankle sprain…a full year passed before I felt “right” again, and had recovered my speed, maneuverability, and acceleration

²I’ve subsequently done a few minutes of research into that heavy leg feeling, and it’s usually associated with overtraining or insufficient dietary preparation, although in my case I don’t think it was either

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Posted in Everything, Sports
One comment on “The Running Man (part deux)
  1. […] bodes well for my running career: “The scientists’ most unique finding, though, was not the length of the legs, but […]

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