It's not just that I haven't written in a while. I haven't run a step in two weeks. You see, I am a training cliche. I am very well aware of the dangers of increasing mileage too quickly. I have read the books and the articles and have even experienced the problems this type of overzealousness can cause. However, because I am a moron, I was able to convince myself that an overtraining injury wouldn't happen to me this time. After all, I am an experienced runner. I have run races from 5k to 100 miles. I have learned from my mistakes and the mistakes of others. I'm tough and can push through the discomfort and soreness that comes with adding more mileage to a weekly routine. Yup. That's what I told myself. That's the attitude that made me decide I could go from running 30 miles a week to 70 miles a week in a little over a month. Like I said, I'm a moron.
Two Saturdays ago, I met Tim at 4am for a 4 hour run. It was a good run. It started off with some light drizzle and a lot of fog. As we got closer to sunrise, the fog was replaced with a steady rain. Because of the unseasonably warm winter the rain was rejuvenating and not too cold. We plodded along nicely until about mile 19 or so. My left hip had been feeling tight and then it started to hurt. I don't mean a normal 19 miles of trail kind of ache, I mean it H U R T. I couldn't run. I had to stop and stretch and then walk for about 10 minutes. Eventually the pain eased up enough for me to run the last few miles back to the car. I got home, took some ibuprofen and stretched, but the pain didn't get much better.
I was supposed to run 20 the next day with Wendy, but decided that I should take an unscheduled rest day. Monday morning, my hip hurt so much that I felt like had to drag my leg as I was walking across the parking lot to my office. The pain was constant for the first few days, even sitting at my desk. I tried doing some light calisthenics at home, but even that aggravated the problem. Lots of rest and ibuprofen followed. By the end of two weeks I was pain free, except for a few strange twinges every now and then.
Yesterday I was supposed to run 30 miles with Tim, starting at 5am. I had told Tim about my difficulties and that I would only be good for 15 or so. When the alarm went off at 4:15, I knew I wasn't going. I was afraid of what 15 would do to me. Per Tim's request, I waited until just before 5 to send him a text, so as not to tempt him to bail as well. I was not happy with myself all morning. I hated that I had bailed on the run. I hated that I hadn't run in two weeks. So about 1pm I laced up the shoes and headed out for a quick 40 minute run from the house as a test. I felt tight and awkward for the first several minutes. I kept telling myself to take it easy and not put too much pressure on the leg too soon. My plan was to run out for 20 minutes then turn around and head back. By the time I turned around I had loosened up and was feeling pretty good but still very cautious. As I got closer to the house it started to rain. Running in the rain is one of my absolute favorite things to do. I have always loved rain. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy a vibrant blue sky as much as anyone, but a rainy, overcast day just makes me smile. I long to be out in it, listening to the rain drops pop off my hat as my feet splash through the puddles forming on the ground. I heard it said once that there is no such thing as bad weather, just inappropriate clothing. I couldn't agree more. So as the rain started, I didn't want the run to end so I added a loop around the block before heading in. When I got inside I checked my route on Map My Run and was very pleased to discover that I had run 5.13 miles in 43 minutes.
Feeling encouraged by my success, I wanted to try a little more distance, so this morning I went out to Umstead and ran the 12.5 mile loop from the Umstead 100 course. I finished in 2 hours and felt pretty good. I'm pleased with my recovery. I was tentative and relaxed but had several moments of feeling light and easy on the trail. I have to remind myself to take it easy and not be too aggressive too soon. I'm still planning on running Black Mountain Marathon in 3weeks. (I am on the waiting list for the Mount Mitchell Challenge, which is the 40 mile option that summits Mt. Mitchell before turning around.) I initially had some serious aspirations of running a fast (relatively) time there. I have been forced to adjust that down to an injury free finish. However, because of my flat learning curve and propensity for moronic decisions and delusions of grandeur I'm pretty sure when I get there I'll decide I can set some sort of absurd PR. Oh well.