The hamstring’s connected to the…

This weekend was a lesson in a) how far I’ve slid in especially my flexibility training, b) muscle connectivity, and c) the affects of the polar vortex on my running.

AKA the Credit Union Cherry Blossom Ten Mile Run.

In spite of several out-and-backs (which drive me crazy) and Hains Point (this is the peninsula that never ends…), I really do love this race. I was really excited to get picked in the lottery again this year as I love the DC area and going provides me with the chance to see friends there.

As last year, I got myself all set to follow Coach Jenny’s run/walk a half marathon plan…but then this little thing called the polar vortex happened. And getting my butt up to go run in the sub-20 temps in the dark OR get my butt in gear enough to be at the gym when it opened just didn’t happen like it should have. I have no one to blame but myself.

Still, my last few runs had gone well – especially the long ones – so I had gone from the pre-training goal of beating last year’s time to the polar vortex-induced goal of “finish before you get swept or they close the finish line” and back to “well, try to meet last year’s time”.

The weekend started out great – took the train down Saturday morning, met V, a fellow Tough Chik and a “classmate to be” from the Great Alaskan Running Cruise 2014 to head over to the expo. Apparently the predicted 2 hour finishers are divided between the green and purple corrals. Last year I was on the “better” side of the line and landed a green bib. This year I was in purple – so I knew from the get-go my only wiggle room I was going to have time-wise was whatever I managed to create myself. Lunch with E, a former roommate, and then over to B and J’s where I spent the night.

Sunday morning, J dropped B and me off at the Metro station – B was my cheer squad this year rather than running. We met up with V, but missed P – another Toughie. Got into the corral and soon enough was headed off. The weather was just about perfect – 40s at the start and probably in the 50s by the time I finished (I don’t think it was 60s that early). I started off great and was feeling strong. Then somewhere around the out and back that goes under the Kennedy Center, my breathing got a little off. A couple of puffs on the inhaler and things started looking better. Saw B as I began the trek to get to Hains Point, and at point I looked good according to her. But all too soon, my lesson in muscle connectivity was about to start.

My left hamstring felt a little tight, but some walking seemed to help that. Until it spread a bit into my hip and groin. Blah. Then the calf got a little tight and I felt a stinging pull in my ankle. At that point I eliminated the run intervals for a bit to see if things would start to feel better. I’d periodically try adding in some running, but by then my right leg was getting in on the ouchies and twingies act.

I knew there was no way I was going to meet last year’s time at this point, so I reverted to “don’t get swept” and “finish before they close the line”. And Hains Point loomed ahead of me. The trees were closer to out than last year, but even if they were in full bloom I can see it being a “ok, this is pretty…now get me off this point!!” thing after a few minutes. BORING!! Made even moreso by having to walk because at this point my achilles was feeling very tight if I tried to run, and I was not about to sacrifice my Alaska trip by snapping it when I was not coming close to last year’s time.

FINALLY I was off Hains Point and heading to the finish. Saw B as I came up the hill. She “taunted” me with “Come on! We’ve got brunch to get to!!” but said that all things considered I still looked good, and I’d kept my pace very consistent from the last time she saw me (lesson between this and WDW Marathon…my walking pace is VERY consistent).

Then it was the turn to the finish. I did want to try and run across the line, so I tried to time it so I wouldn’t lose steam. Thankfully – especially because while not numb, I couldn’t exactly feel my right foot hitting due to the muscles all around the ankle cramping – I made it running and with about 12 minutes to spare before the line was closed.

Not my best race, but definitely a well earned line. And lots of lessons learned. I’m resting today, but tomorrow’s XT is for sure yoga. And I will not end a running workout without Coach Jenny’s flexibility routine any more.

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