Things have been a bit quiet on the blogging front from me lately, mainly because I just haven’t run since picking up an injury around my spring marathon. There’s only so much that can be written about the frustrations of not running and the woes of losing hard-fought-for fitness before the blog becomes a) a bit boring and b) rather repetitive, so I’ve not been writing anything. Now that the situation has improved, I’m back!
It seems crazy now to think that just a couple of weeks ago I hit a low point. Things just weren’t improving enough and I was becoming convinced that my short-lived running career was over. Physio had made some difference, but progress was slow; sports massage was helping, but not enough. It was time for a new approach. Steve was studying for a diploma in Functional Performance and a friend of his who was teaching the course agreed to assess my problem. Almost immediately he picked up a problem with the movement of my left foot which has clearly been the source of my ongoing injuries on my left side. He took me through some exercises and used a “scraping” technique on both my foot and the huge knot in my leg I’ve had since the autumn, finally breaking it up without any discomfort – it was amazing!
Straight away, everything felt better – and I do mean everything. Movement just felt “nicer”, even where I hadn’t realised there was a problem. With fingers firmly crossed, I headed out to run a mile…and felt fine! I tried a second mile…nothing! The only problem which presented itself was a lack of conditioning in my legs after all those weeks off, which meant I got weary rather quickly. This much more positive step meant that I would be able to run (rather than walk!) in the 5K fun run I had signed up for during the first week of my holiday to Florida.
Dad had signed all of us up to this untimed 4th of July fun run weeks ago, and recently I thought I would be walking it with my mum (walking round events such as this is actively encouraged in the USA), however as Independence Day dawned, I was toeing the line next to my sister, with dad and Steve nearer the front, ready to run as much as I could. It was to be an interesting test of my fitness, not just because of a lack of training, but because even with the early start (7:40am!) the Florida humidity builds quickly and it feels like even your eyeballs are sweating!
As it was American Independence Day, the first thing that happened was the singing of the national anthem, then the gun went off and we were underway.
This was a huge race of several thousand participants, so there was a bit of bobbing and weaving to get running room at the start. I found it hard to gauge the right pace as my body tried to settle into my normal pace, but I knew there was no way I could maintain it in the heat and with my current level of fitness so tried to pull back. Around the 2 mile mark, I started to find it tough. In a way this was quite disappointing, but reminding myself that this was the first time I’d run properly since mid-April soon dispelled the disappointment: running slowly and taking short walking breaks is vastly superior to not running at all, so I simply relaxed and enjoyed the feeling of running again.
The race took place at Winter Park and the course was largely around a residential area. It was absolutely flat as a pancake, which was good for me at this point, and there were a couple of double-back sections where you could see those ahead/behind you on the course (apparently dad spotted me, but I was “in the zone” (i.e. “suffering too much in the heat”!) and didn’t notice him.
There were two water stations on the course, but having run in Florida before I was prepared with a running bottle of my own. At the water stations, the water simply went down the back of my neck to cool me down! Then after the finish line there was watermelon (of course, hence the name of the race!), water, bananas and sno-cones (which I had simply to let the ice cool me down!). Souvenir tech tops were given out at packet pick-up along with our race numbers so there was no jostling to be given the right size, the top was waiting in the car for me to put on.
As you can see, it was a real family affair! After the race we all headed off for a breakfast buffet at the Ponderosa before heading home to enjoy some time by the pool. If only race days could be like that at home!
Overall, it was an enjoyable event. Yes, I had a tough time but that was only to be expected. What’s important is that I can run pain-free again and can now work on regaining my fitness and conditioning ahead of the Great Scottish Run in September. I’m nothing if not tenacious, and am looking forward to getting back into proper training.