So my Track Series is over!!
Well it was actually basically over the last 100m of the 2nd race but I will go into that shortly.
This will be a pretty straightforward and short post about a fun event that I enjoyed training for (really even more than the races) and also how trying to train hard in a different pair of shoes got me hurt.
So I will refer back to my previous post on why I wanted to race a track series. There is just something about it. I like the feeling of running fast, of that anaerobic pain and of having my muscles get sore in a different way. Plus I really liked how quickly more workouts went. It was a really nice change not worrying about planning out my day around a 3 hour run. My weekend workouts were hard and mentally tough but generally only take 40 – 50 minutes. It was great.
But what also happened over time was the plantar fascia on my right foot got tighter. I took to transitioning to my track spikes slowly and over a few months (starting out with just a half mile in them for a few good weeks and eventually building up to a bit over 3 miles) and I thought I should have been OK with that. I am a big proponent of slowing transitioning to any new type of running (like my slow and successful transition to barefooting) but I got “bitten by shoes again!”.
So my training went really well and I enjoyed it and I PR’d the 2 mile (12:59), the mile (at 5:42), and the 800m (2:39) in training and both actually felt pretty good. I did a lot of progression 3 milers and mile repeats and some 800’s (and even a few 400’s) but never did train the 100m or 200m. I was hoping that they would be the races that I dropped from the series but it ended up that I couldn’t. I felt like I was getting in good shape but about 6 weeks out from the races starting getting this tightness in my right plantar (near the heel) immediately after my runs and it would take a few days to feel close to 100%. I didn’t think it was a great thing, but thought perhaps it was part of the transition to spikes. Well it wasn’t…
I didn’t know if the St. Louis Track Club was even going to have the series until about 4 weeks out from it starting (which is why I was planning on doing my own version) but when I saw that they were doing it I was excited. It made training fun again to have something different to shoot for and I did actually have one specific goal in mind.. and that was hitting 2:30 in the 800m and doing well in my age group for the series, well one somewhat came about but the other wasn’t meant to be.
There are five races in this Series (the 3000m, 1500m, 800m, 100m and 200m then finally the 400m). They were once a week on Tuesdays nights (except the 100m and 200m which was the same night), and follow the progression in races that I detailed above.
I was feeling the plantar a decent amount going into the first race but didn’t really think much of it. The 3000m went pretty well. It was a tough race. I ended up actually running a 3250m because of the amount of passing I had to do, but sometimes that it just the way that it is. The 5th and especially the 6th lap were really hard. It was crazy humid and I felt like I was drowning at a certain point. It is a hard distance to know what your right pace is, but I do feel like I left it all out there and was happy with it. Plus it was a PR because it was my first 3000m! I ran a 13:05 and I was happy with that because I really ran over 2 miles. It was what I had in me that night. To be honest I was hoping for closer to 12:30 but I was cool with it. Plus I was the only one in my age group that night, so I got first place 🙂 and started off the series with 50 points. My right foot was pretty sore that night and the next day.. so I wasn’t sure how that was going to play out.
The next week was the 1500m and I was a bit nervous about that race.. not particularly nervous about my foot but the mile (or 1500m) is just a really painful race. That night I found out that there was another runner in my age group so I had someone to chase. My foot felt really tight as I was warming up (oh and my warmup for all of the races was 1.5 miles progressively getting faster) so I was a bit hesitant but had trained for a while for these races and wanted do my best. I was going along at a good pace but my foot felt really tight and I just wanted to get it over with. The other guy in my age group was about 3 seconds ahead of me with about 300m to go (and I tend to be able to accelerate at the end) so I waited until about 250m left and pushed it. Well with about 100m left I felt this sharp “zing” go through my right foot and I knew something not good had happened. I sort of stood there for at least 5 seconds in pretty significant pain, but I really wanted to finish that race. So I sort of hobbled in as best I could.
My foot hurt! It was hard to walk on it. I knew something was wrong, I knew it was something to do with my plantar and I thought I had partially tore it. Just walking to get gas in my car later that night was brutal!
I was seeing my sports med physician (he is a chiropractor that specializes in sports related injuries, is phenomenal and almost always knows exactly what has happened to an area of the body by feeling it) a couple of days later anyway, so I waited to hear what he said.
At first he thought it was a very minor tear where the plantar attaches to the calcaneus (the heel basically) but after another couple of weeks he decided it was bursitis (which is actually better really). He told me to not run on it before the next race and to see how it feels for the 800m. If I didn’t feel right during the warmup, then he said he wouldn’t advise me to race. I really wanted to give it a shot because I was still in the lead overall in my age group (50 points for the 1st place in the 3000m and 45 points for 2nd place in the 1500m) and just showing up and giving it my best shot got me some points.
Well I knew immediately during the warmups that I was not going to be racing that night, but was still wanted to try to do the race.. it was only a half mile after all.. how much more damage could it do. So I “raced” at about 8:00min pace (I have run some miles in a marathon faster) and was the last in my heat but got 40 points because I was third in my age group. So I was still leading overall. I knew that the next week races were going to determine the overall placing for the series. I thought if I healed up enough that I had a chance. Just had to wait and see.
Based on my chiropractors advice I didn’t train that next week but just waited until the races. The thing is I was hoping to drop one of these races from the Series before it started because I hadn’t trained specifically for them and don’t really know how to run them (I know “just run as fast as you can!”.. I know I get it but it is obviously more than that) but I had to try my best at them (if the other guys in my age group showed up) because I lost points at the 800m. Well I was able to put in better paces than at the 800m but definitely did not have full use of my legs. I was one to two seconds behind the guy in my age group both times. The thing is I was accelerating faster as the races went and he didn’t seem able to get that next gear. Oh well.. by getting 2nd in both of those races I assured myself of 2nd overall but of no chance of getting first even if I felt 100% at the 400m (because one of the events is automatically dropped). So I decided (especially since I wasn’t 100% and didn’t see any point in potentially hurting myself further) to not do the 400m.
It was a bummer to get hurt and have it have the impact that it did, but I was still happy that I did the Series. I got two PR’s! and I finished 2nd overall in my age group. I really enjoyed the training (and the journey is the reward right?) and feel like I learned a lot of things along the way that I can apply to training for other events. I guess the truth is though that I do feel like it would have been a very good battle for 1st place if I would have been fully healthy. I am not at all going to say I would have won if healthy.. no way that is not me.. he won fair and square and my hats off to him… but we were close in the 1500m and I ran his 800m time in training, so it would have been a very good battle I think. I would have liked to really have had a go at it but it is what it is. Maybe another time.
As far as my foot goes… I think I maybe simply need to be barefoot or in zero drop shoes to ensure staying 100% healthy. The negative drop of the spikes (and they are also very tight and sort of crush your feet.. which may have had an impact as well) and the way that they do force you into a slightly unnatural gait had an impact on my right foot. The thing that stinks is that I actually learned to really like them. It is a really fun feeling running in spikes and you are definitely faster in them (faster than barefoot.. I will say that) but since my track season is over, I will be putting them away. I think if I ever do use them again it will be in a much reduced amount but it won’t be for some time for sure.
My foot is a lot better. I would say 80 – 90%. My last two 4 mile barefoot runs have been ok. A bit of soreness afterwards but much better. I think I will be 100% in a week.
Well now that that adventure is over.. I decided what my next will be! And what an adventure it is going to be.
I have signed up for my first 24 Hour race!
I will be detailing this race, my desire to do it (what a great blog post it will make! :)) and the basics of my training very soon. I will have weekly updates on my training as I prepare for this New Years Eve race.
Good Grief… what have I done!
Best of luck in your training,