Wow, has it really been a month and a half since the last blog? I started a new job recently as a PE coach for a local elementary school and it is mostly full-time, so I've had to do some adjusting. It is such a blessing to be able to help kids work on physical fitness ... if only they realized how important it is to start young and stay on track. It is challenging and exhausting ... just like running.
I have competed in two recent races and it is amazing to be able to run hard again. I did Nite Moves last week (both the 1K swim and 5K run), and this week I did the Westmonster 5K. Although I haven't fully recovered from my Achilles injury, I didn't feel pain during the races. I did feel it afterwards though. My biggest challenges regarding getting back into racing is that my injured leg still lacks strength so at times I experience severe cramping in that calf muscle, and I haven't been able to do any speed work yet because it is still just a bit too much. I have entered these races feeling unprepared but look at them more as steps toward getting back to where I should be. The great part is being surrounded by a huge and dedicated community of runners and athletes who are so encouraging.
By way of race reports, last Wednesday was the first time I ever participated in Nite Moves. For those who aren't familiar with Santa Barbara's Nite Moves, they are a series of races that go throughout the summer every Wednesday evening. There is the option of doing a 1K open water swim, a 5K run, or a combination of both (aquathon). I did the aquathon. So fun. I am a much slower swimmer than runner so I inevitably came out of the water with the urgency of having to catch up. Getting the dreaded wetsuit off was the biggest challenge of the night but once I got on the run my rhythm smoothed out and I had a great time out on the course (out and back course, up hill on the way out, downhill on the way back). It ends up being a 3.5 mile race so is just a bit more than 5K. I think I had a smile on my face because I was running ... in my Newtons ... fast ... with no pain. It was good to get that "first race back" under my belt. Never mind the fact that my calves were sore for three days from the shock of what I asked of them.
The Westmonster 5K was an evening race as well and was a beautiful cross-country course all through the Westmont College campus in Montecito. The campus is breath-taking ... and hilly ... so therefore the race was breath-taking too. There was a great turnout of around 200 athletes including college and high school students. The course was tough with some significant hills and a variety of surfaces (asphalt, dirt, gravel, grass, all-weather track). I think it would be fair to say that the track was the only level ground on the course. Because of a lengthy warm-up, I again can boast that my leg felt perfectly fine during the run. Afterwards is another story but that's all a part of recovery. I think I had to ice three different body parts that night but felt good by the next day (an ice bath would have been more efficient). There was great participation from the local running group and from what I saw everyone had a great race.
There are a lot of local events coming up in the next two weeks and I'm hoping to compete in most of them. This weekend is the McConnell's 10K. This coming Wednesday is another Nite Moves and I will do the 5K run only this time, and the following weekend are the Santa Barbara Triathlons (long course and sprint course). I am going to be doing the all-women's sprint course.
It's hard to come back from an injury. Not only do you have to heal but you also have to go through the struggle of getting back to race-ready shape. It's always an uphill climb, but as runners know, going up hill makes you stronger. It's worth it to keep climbing.
As far as training, I have still been careful to cross-train between running days. I have been swimming twice a week and weight training once a week. I have begun doing intervals and hard running on the treadmill and will soon be back out on the oval. I include a long run and a tempo run each week and if needed, a lighter paced mid-distance run (all outside in the open air). With each opportunity to train I am so very thankful that I am able to.