Sunday, March 27, 2016

Oakland Half Marathon: race report (sort of)

Posted by Rachel

This is the first year since 2010 that I haven't run the Oakland Marathon. As disappointing as it was to change my registration from the full to half thanks to a groin injury that I ran the LA Marathon on (oops), it was definitely the right decision.

Not running the marathon is less stressful in many ways than running the marathon. First, my aunt invited me on a bike ride the day before the Oakland race. She is training for her first 100 mile bike ride with Team in Training, and because I didn't have a full marathon looming I was able to accept! We rode Paradise Loop together, and despite the less than ideal weather it was a great ride!

Later that night after stopping by the expo, Chen and I conquered about a bottle and a half of wine between the two of us (even though she was running the full... but let's face it she's a champ) while watching the movie Bridesmaids. A pretty solid Saturday night if you ask me.

The next morning, Travers and I went out to cheer for the marathon start at 7:10 am. There weren't many other spectators out there with cowbells at that time, but it was fun to support the full marathoners and see a lot of familiar faces. The half didn't start until 9:10, so after that we had plenty of time go back upstairs, eat breakfast, foam roll, watch TV, etc. Then about 15 min before the race, we headed down to the start.

We didn't really have any race plan, but Travers and I had decided we would run at a comfortable pace together and just have some fun with it. I felt really good and I'm always inspired by the support of the community in Oakland, and we ended up going a little bit faster than I had planned (7:43 Garmin pace average, whereas we had talked about targeting 8:00). I was pleasantly surprised at being capable of finishing a half at that pace considering I had only run about 65 miles over 5 weeks since LA. My neighbors were there to cheer us into the finish, and I looped back just in time to see Chen come in at an awesome training run time of 3:48 (where's your race report, Chen!?). Then, of course, we had mimosas and got brunch. 

Recovery from the groin injury has been very, very strange. I took some time off and got a sports massage but was still in pretty severe pain for about 1- 2 weeks following that. However, I continued to ease back into exercise and, as abruptly as the injury started out of nowhere, it just started disappearing. I was worried after the half that running faster than planned would prove to be dumb, and my leg was a little bit sore later that day, but the injury has continued to improve since then. I don't feel any pain at all now when I'm running, and only a few times in the past week did I notice any tightness or sign that I had suffered an injury. So hopefully this improvement trajectory continues.

We also signed up for a few future races:
-Pacific Masters Swimming meet - April
-LMJS 4th Sunday run in April - took a training class and going to volunteer as a guide for a visually impaired runner at this race
-AMBR century ride in Tahoe (June) 
-Oakland Triathlon (July)
-Healdsburg Half Marathon (October)
-Oakland Marathon 2017 (Haha, yup. Determined to run the full next time.)

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Injury denial and a different perspective

Posted by Rachel

For a while there, I was thinking that as I got older and more experienced at running I was becoming better at making good/smart running decisions. It turns out, this is false.

So here's what really happened. About 2 weeks before the LA Marathon (while I was tapering), my inner thigh, outer thigh, and hip started hurting. Every single day when I woke up in the morning, it hurt to walk. At first, I dismissed this as one of the famous "phantom taper pains". The problem is it persisted every single day. The only good thing about it was that it would actually diminish as I ran. "It can't be a real injury," I thought. "Real injuries don't feel better after a run." Also, false.

Since I've already blogged about this, I think we all know what happened. I convinced myself this wasn't a real injury and ran the LA Marathon. In hindsight, I am lucky that the marathon didn't make this thing worse. In hindsight, I am also really lucky that compensating for this injury for several weeks didn't cause another injury.

This past Saturday, after almost a month of being in pain that would only disappear sporadically after exercise, I went to see my sports massage/bodywork guy. At first he told me I had a tight ligament in my hip (so far, this wasn't bad). Then, after working some more, he informed me that I had pulled a groin and had a bunch of muscles stuck together everywhere (causing the tight hip ligament and many other problems). At this point he was kind of looking me like I was a psychopath for running marathon on it, but saying no such thing. He fixed a bunch of the problems but told me I was to REST (walking only, no swim/bike/run) for 4 - 7 days so things could heal up. When I left his office, the first thing I thought was "Hmm, should I run the Couple's Relay tomorrow?"

The Couple's Relay is hosted every February by our local running club, where 2 people team up and run a 5k each. In mixed gender couples the girl runs first and the guy runs second. After all of my (smarter than me) running friends weighed in, it was decided that I would walk and NOT RUN the first leg. Travers was really awesome about it. I walked a 5k in 42:49 and finished behind a couple hundred people. The only person I beat was a lady carrying her dog, and Travers started his race after several teams had already finished both relay legs. But he stuck it out and supported me anyway - for better or worse, right?

Being in the back of the pack offers a different perspective. It's hard in a very different way than being "in the race". When you're in a 5k race, you're running so hard you feel like you're going to puke. When you're in back, there's nobody around. You're getting lapped, and you know those people will be enjoying the post race festivities long before you. The spectators on the course are cheering for the super fast people, but when you come by they look at you quizzically like, "hmm, is this girl really in the race?" This was a good experience for me because walking a 5k race was challenging in a completely different way than I expected.

In conclusion, this stupid injury helped me get over my post-marathon burnout real quick. Looking forward to getting back out there soon!