Tuesday, April 03, 2018

running of the beavers ~ a mooving race report

not a beaver.
my mom and her brother grew up on a farm.

they were raised, i surmise, by parents who had neither time nor tolerance for whiny children.

i say this because when i was a kid, any time i would show insufficient courage over a scraped knee, or a raccoon on the farmhouse roof, or getting bucked off an actual calf, one of them would call me a "big calf."

"it's a long way from your heart, ya big calf."

"it's not going to hurt you, you big calf."

"you know what you sound like? a big calf."

and so forth.

i'm sure they thought they were helping me.
fast forward a few decades, i'm now four-plus weeks into a running-related calf injury. every time i go out to run, in addition to an underlying concern about re-injury, i can still hear that old farm philosophy (OFP): it's a long way from your heart, ya big calf.

while true, physiologically, this observation is not particularly helpful, running-wise.

rather than defer to charming OFP stoicism, i engaged in some new-farm pragmatism: when in doubt, google it.

an overview of the medical literature tells me that regardless of their proximity to the heart, calf injuries can adversely affect running! 

i also learned that "old man's calf" is a thing, and it's sometimes related to the plantaris muscle/tendon, which i didn't even know existed!

(unaddressed in any of these studies is the negative effect on sanity experienced by 
not-running runners. i ran just 16 days in march, including a stretch of eight consecutive zero-days. insanity level: bananas.)

semi-related: for the second time in four years i was unable to run the chuckanut 50k. this is dismaying for several reasons, not the least of which is the $95 down the drain.

tangentially related: i'm signed up for the sun mountain 50k in may, the backcountry rise 50k in early september, and a very theoretical 100-miler in late september. none of these events will be run (by me) without lots of base-building on a healthy calf.

ergo, about a week ago i decided my calf was healed. don't @ me.

after a few days of cautious, mostly comfortable short runs, i ran a slow 10 miles last wednesday, an even slower 6 miles thursday, and a sloth-like 3-mile hike with the dogs on friday.

saturday i ran long. and ran a 5k race.

(disclaimer: as training plans go, this one is endorsed by no one credible.)

the running of the beavers 5k is a fundraiser for ballard high school, held at a lovely waterfront park a little less than 5 miles from our house.

my thought was to do a slow warm-up run to the start, very conservatively run the race, then run home at a leisurely pace

this would total up to a safe and sensible 12+ miles on the day.

safe. sensible.

(shakes head, sighs.)

i failed. 

i raced the race. 

i didn't mean to...it just happened.

starting as planned, i ran with a friend i hadn't seen in months. he was also coming back from an injury, and what better way to while away a slow 5k than with a fellow injury-rehabber?

(pauses uncomfortably...)

i dropped him after a quarter mile, because i'm some kind of monster. 

after that i rabidly began looking for people to catch and pass, because i'm an idiot.

in the moment, it was glorious. the course was completely flat, the calf didn't hurt, and i was picking people off right and left.

in retrospect it was not great, because it was so very dumb. risking days or weeks of additional pain for the sake of a fleeting 5k over my much-bigger goals for the year?


(makes a disappointed, embarrassed face.)
update: it was during an easy recovery run two days after racing at wallace falls that a week-old calf injury turned into a weeks-long issue.

yesterday was day two post-running of the beavers, and with well-deserved worry i set out to test my luck leg. though unwarranted, apparently i've gotten away with my poor running judgment.

this time. 
on reflection, it's clear that my overarching problem is not being insufficiently recovered ~ it's being insufficiently smart.

and, after many years and many miles, i'm still a big calf.
running of the beavers 5k


30/292 (overall)

3/22 (M 50-59)

hoka clifton 4

song stuck in my head the entire time: "don't look back" ~ boston

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