Frustration and Elation

Saturday, January 24, 2009

This morning I was supposed to do a long run. After 2 weeks of nibbling on 5Ks and 10Ks on BHS sidewalk or on the treadmill, I needed to pig-out and take on at least 15K, preferably on wide, quiet roads inside tree-lined expanse. To reach 21K would be truly rewarding; to go beyond, almost an impossible dream. The long run is like sleep to me - as I daydream my body rejuvenates itself and my mind calms down and meditate.

I needed and missed my long run badly. After 2 weeks of refining my foot strike and strengthening my weaker left foot through short, slow practice runs, I checked on treadmill last Wednesday if I was ready to run longer and maybe, a tad faster. I started with a small goal: finish 10k at pace of around 7:30min/km without heel, mid-foot or ankle pain, and I would have a pass to do long run on weekend. Easy I told myself. With enough rest my legs felt like new. I felt so good running . At many points I would feel eureka moments and silently scream inside: Yes, yes, that how should you move your feet and legs! Capture and commit to memory whatever it was your doing! Imprint in your psyche how good it felt. Run like this and you could run forever!

I felt so elated I become emboldened to slowly raise the speed. There was actually a speed range where the higher it was the better my running became. I figured I was in the zone. I was so consumed by the process that towards the last 2 kilometers I was already running beyond my psychological barrier of 6min/km. In fact, in my last 500m, I was sprinting on treadmill at less than 5:30min/km. The best part was there was no sign of pain. No pain, only elation.

The pain greeted me in the morning. It was like my legs were deadweight. First I asked: Could it be stress fracture? I progressively applied pressure on various points to check if there was wincing pain, especially toward the bones, but there was none. I just felt slightly sore near the shins and had knots on portions of calf. All the discomfort were in my problematic left leg by the way. After encounters with intial symptoms of plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendinitis and metatarsal concerns, was shin splints next? As I redo my foot strike, am I supposed to acquaint myself with the litany of runners' pains? Truth was for the past few weeks I have been reading and boning up (pun intended) on foot and leg anatomy. I was so afraid to be sidelined for long by injury I figured I should be aware and do I my best to prevent it. My mind, instincts and gut told me the pain was simply sore muscles. As I change my foot strike, I figured other, lesser worked muscles were now being engaged. I hope. I figured the worst was over - my biggest concern was the delicate midfoot bones and Achilles heel. The discomfort has moved to the bigger bones, which could better handle stress, I reasoned out. Overall, the level of pain has lessened since last month. If it does not go away within February, maybe it would be time for consultation.

After two days of rest, Saturday morning came. My legs felt better but teeny-weeny discomfort was still felt near my shins. I did not want to take chances so running was out of the question. So what should I do with all the energy built up inside me during two days of rest? I decided to simply bike my running frustration away.

The thing I loved about cycling vis-a-vis running is that no matter how hard I biked, the worst I can get from it is the feeling of being tired. Sometimes my quads would complain a bit but it was really nothing important. I even take pride in the quad pain. It meant my muscles are getting bigger and that I would be a stronger runner. Cycling uses the bigger muscles and puts less direct stress on them. You want long runs? I shall do long rides.

I decided to do intervals, er, laps. I did 5 rounds of 11kms each and dutifully timed myself. Just when I was about to finally use the lap function on my Garmin, the device ran out of battery. That the juice ran out only reminded me I was not doing outside runs lately. Anyhow, with my digital watch I recorded my times. I had the following times:

Lap 1: 34:54
Lap 2: 30:40
Lap 3: 29:56
Lap 4: 28.56
Lap 5: 28:55

Not bad I think. I compared it with the times of October mini-sprinters. Some of the Top Ten finishers had 28, 29, 30, so I guess pwede na times ko. Ooops, I haven't added the transition time pala - maybe 2-3 minutes? Buti pa sa biking, kahit once a week lang ako nagpa-practice, pumi-PR ako. My last lap time in that route was 31min. Last time I did this route on an actual race was the Oct mini-sprint where I had an already improved time of 38min on my mountain bike. Of the ten minutes I shaved, I wonder how much was due to training and how much was due to bike? My records showed that my best practice time for the mtb was 31:32 on that course! Uh-oh, I better train more so I can squeeze more juice from that road bike investment.

I had a good ride - 60kms including my cool down romp! This is the longest I biked in a single session! Twenty kilometers na lang baka pwede na ako sa Half-Ironman. Hahaha. Baka. For now I celebrate. The best part of my late morning till over lunch ride was getting to practice how to harness gravity to become a more efficient rider. I had a blast crouching and moving forward to speed down the road. The speed fast rising on my cyclometer only added to the thrill.
Finally I threw away my aversion to wearing shades and I could now ride faster with the wind and not involuntarily cry from taking on dust and micro-particles.

Thank God my Saturday turned out well. I hope to have a Happy Run with my dog and friends tomorrow Sunday.


Anonymous January 25, 2009 at 4:16 PM  

Nice training bro...when,where is the half ironman?Do you have any idea how much is the registration fee for that?

God bless.

Rico Villanueva January 25, 2009 at 9:01 PM  

Thanks, fellow runner-in-christ, :-). It's on Aug 23 in CamSur. Do not know the fee yet.

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