On Saturday I ran in my first half marathon since this past spring before my plantar fasciitis got way out of control. I still have a ways to go until I am back at the race times I was running earlier in the year but I am going to celebrate the progress I’ve made the last few months.
In my opinion, coming back from plantar fasciitis has been very similar to coming back after a stress fracture. In some ways it’s been easier but in other ways it has been even harder. It can be very tempting to run and overdo it with plantar because there is no set number of prescribed weeks to rest. It all depends on you. There were several times I did more than I should so I had to back up and start over again. In June and (the two times I ran in) July it was very painful to run. The Fast Firecracker on July 4th was definitely the low point of my injury. Every step hurt and after the race I was limping for days. After weeks of not running at all I tried and it was so discouraging to still feel pain. Swimming and biking kept me busy but it wasn’t the same. I knew as every week past that my running fitness level was declining. In September I finally accepted where I was and tried to look at the break as a good thing. Maybe all this time off competitive running was good for me?
When I thought I was making progress at the end of September I ran in the Arkansas 20k which was rough. I honestly can’t remember the last time I felt that bad at the end of the race. My finish time confirmed that I was a long way off my race times from just a few months earlier. I had hopes of running one or two half marathons in December but had no idea if I would be ready. The last few weeks I have noticed the biggest change and my foot is doing much better. In the last few weeks I attempted a few short speed sessions. (Tempo type workouts don’t bother my foot right now. Interval repeats aggravate it too much so I am avoiding those.) I did one longer wave tempo last Saturday which was a huge confidence booster. (15 miles total with 2 mi warm-up, 1 mi @ MP, 1 mi @ HMP x 5, and 3 mi cool-down.) It was after this workout that I decided I was ready to put myself out there and run another half marathon.
My good friend Kerri asked me if I wanted to go with her to Wynne, AR Saturday to run in the Midsouth Half Marathon Championship. I checked with John and it didn’t conflict with anything else going on with our family so I registered. Weather looked good- cold (mid 30’s) but I would much rather run in cold than heat!
The Midsouth Marathon and Half Marathon Championship is in Wynne, AR every year and is hosted by the Cross County Ramblers and the Muckas RRCA running clubs. I ran the half there 3 years ago and had a really good race experience. The course is fairly flat with a great slightly downhill last mile. It is very organized and for a smaller race venue they have a good number of support along the course. After the race there are shower/ locker room facilities to use and a big barbeque lunch before the awards ceremony.
Kerri picked me up at 5:40 Saturday morning and we got to Wynne just before 7 am which gave us an hour to pick up our race packets, use the restroom and warm-up.
I wanted to run strong and smart for this race. I knew needed to pace it just right. I did not want to completely fall apart like I did in the last few miles of the 20K in September. Every time I run a race I like to have a specific pace goal or pace range. My goal pace for this race was a 6:45. If my overall watch average time read a 6:45 when I finished the race I would consider it a huge success for where I am right now. Yes, it’s still 20 seconds off per mile from my PR but I will get back there when I’m ready. Patience. My motto this summer and fall has been you cannot rush the comeback phase.
At the starting line I ran into a client I just started coaching. He is already very speedy so I am excited to see how he does with customized training and coaching.
|Minutes before the start- I’m in the hot pink (Photo courtesy of Arkansas Grand Prix)|
|Photo Courtesy of Arkansas Grand Prix|
Mi 1- 6:48. It didn’t take long to settle in and find my pace since it was not crowded. There were a few guys in front of me but I couldn’t tell who was running the half or the full.
Mi 2- 6:43. I fell in with a pack of three other guys and just stayed a little ways behind them.
Mi 3- 6:37. The next few miles were along the shoulder of a somewhat busy country highway. I tried to run on the most non-slanted part of the shoulder I could find. I stayed right in with my new running pack.
Mi 4- 6:42. I was feeling good. At times I glanced down and sometimes saw current pace times in the 6:30’s . It was hard to imagine that I wouldn’t feel this good later when it felt so easy right now but I knew I had to save something for the last stretch.
Mi 5- 6:45
Mi 6- 6:52
Mi 7- 6:49. My only complaint with this race was the half marathon turn-around point. I saw two guys (one was my new client) heading back so I knew it was coming but I didn’t know exactly where to turn. Around mile 6.5? there was an aid station and a timing mat. There was also a little cone. I yelled to the aid station worker “Do I turn here for the half?” They didn’t answer so I asked again. Meanwhile, all three of the guys in my pack just kept running straight. If I had not run this three years ago I would have probably kept running straight and I would have missed the turn. Apparently a few half marathoners missed this turn and kept running straight. One guy went all the way to 13.1 miles before realizing he was on the marathon course. (I later emailed the RD and he said the timing mat must have been covering up the sign in the road that told half marathoners to turn. He was very kind and said they will fix this for next year.)
Mi 8- 6:42. As I headed back I saw more and more half and full runners passing in the opposite direction. They were so friendly and encouraging, shouting, “Great job!” or “First female!” I tried to wave and shout “good job!” right back to them. I love the spirit of encouragement among the running community.
Mi 9- 6:45
Mi 10- 6:47. By this point in the race I was no longer seeing any other runners in the opposite direction. I didn’t see another runner the rest of the race.
Mi 11- 6:52. I knew my pace was starting to slip and I started doing the math in my head. I really wanted to go sub 1:30. My watch went from a 6:45 average to a 6:46.
Mi 12- 6:50. I was getting tired but I talked myself through staying focused on my pace.
Mi 13- 6:29. I love the last mile in this race (nice little downhill grade) and excitement and happiness carried me through to the finish. I saw my overall watch pace change from a 6:46 to a 6:45 and ultimately a 6:44 which was even better than I had hoped. I know I will get back to where I want to be.
Mi 13.2- 1:12 (6:09 pace avg.). This race finishes around a track (LOVE when races do this!) and I saw the clock read 1:28 when I entered the track. I knew I had to kick it in if I wanted to make it under 1:29. When I finished I was all smiles.
Total Time: 1:28:57 (3rd OA/ 1st female OA). Official Results can be found here.
I ended up doing about a 4 mile cool-down (2 miles out and back) looking for Kerri. It turns out she was one of the runners who missed the half marathon turning point so she ran an extra 2.5 miles. She had a great attitude though and I know she will set another PR at St. Judes next month.
On our way home from the race we heard a report that one of the marathon runners collapsed at mile 17. We later found out it was Jacob Wells, a well known runner in the central Arkansas running community. He is also the race director of the Three Bridges Marathon (the one I did last year). He had to be med flighted to Memphis and is still in critical condition. Please keep him in your prayers! (Apparently it was a cardiac situation.)
Post Race Thoughts:
Coming back from any injury takes time and a lot of patience. It feels so good to be moving in the right direction. I definitely still have to watch my foot and continue to build up in the right way but it’s good to be back. This race was a great way to test my fitness right now. The St. Jude and CASA Half Marathon are coming up in less than 5 and 6 weeks so hopefully by then I can be even closer to my old half time.
And now for some random recent pics because I only seem to be able to blog when I run a race…
|My Halloween crew: A 50’s girl, Princess Peach, Mario & Luigi|
|My World Series date- Yes, I married a huge Giants fan who grew up in the San Francisco area. We are living in Cardinal territory here in Arkansas but we don’t mind!|
If I can actually make the time to write a non-race report post I would like to go more in depth on coming back after an injury- particularly plantar fasciitis.
Quick question for any runner out there who has made it through plantar fasciitis– what shoes do you train in? Race in? I am currently wearing Asics Gel Nimbus for training and they are really helping but I am wondering when I’ll be ready to race in something lighter…