Race Day! 07/11/21
Well, it's been one interesting week! It started off with the Four on the Fourth where I placed 121 of 900+ runners in the four miler that I had been training for the last few weeks. I ran it in 28:45 with a 7:12 pace. My previous race at Basin Harbor, a 5K, was completed at 21:47, 7:02/pace. To this point, Basin Harbor was the fastest I've run followed by the four miler in Bridgton.
On Monday, after the race, I got up early and ran 8 miles around the lake. I felt like it was a really good run until after about an hour of sitting on the beach. Unfortunately, I got that old familiar feeling. Soreness on the left side of my left knee! Yes, you heard that right, not my right knee, my left! That left me extremely frustrated. I spent six weeks rehabbing my right knee to only have what appears to be same injury on the other side. So, I took the next three days off.
By Friday, everything felt good. I was supposed to do a hill training run with the owner of the campground but it ended up raining so I didn't go. When the rain stopped later in the evening, I went out for a four mile run. It was a complete disaster. I started off fine, 7:43 first mile but by the second mile, my left knee started to flare up from a tight IT band causing friction. I started to slow, 8:26 second mile, 8:29 third, 9:12 fourth. I got back and kind of just sat on the couch staring at the ground for a while. I knew what this meant, my left IT band is tight, my knee is flared up, I'm in this once again for the long haul. Bummer.
Right when I really started to feel good about my running... I was pacing well, hitting some sub sevens, and really becoming competitive. Now back to dealing with injury.
So... I had a race Sunday night and by Saturday I didn't think I was going to be able to run it. I couldn't walk down the stairs without debilitating pain and even walking to and from the beach was hurting. Saturday night, I just decided I'd sleep on it and see how I felt Sunday. I didn't do much of anything except rest.
When Sunday rolled around, I woke up feeling better but the pain was still there. I had a decision to make. Run through the pain or not run and rest. I decided to run. This wouldn't be the first race running through pain I thought, I did it at Shelburne when I rolled my ankle. But, despite running that race at Shelburne, my time suffered because of the injury. I ran that race over 25 minutes when I completed Montpelier only weeks before in 24. I really didn't want to see my time suffer so I tried to get creative. I needed to find a way to rig up something that would take away the pain temporarily so that my time wouldn't suffer.
In my bag, I had a compression band that's meant to go directly on the IT band above the knee. When I had my right IT band injury, I used it in Montpelier and in some virtual races. Because I was in the middle of a flare up, putting the compression band on the IT band directly wasn't going to do anything. In the middle of a flare up, the pain is on the outside of the knee just below the knee cap on the left. So, I took the compression band and put it below my knee cap with the part that goes on the IT band right on the bone on the outside of my knee and I tightened as hard as I could. I tried it in my camper and went outside up and down the stairs... it seemed to work - no pain. So, that was the plan!
I showed up to the race at 5:15pm, got my bib and shirt and started to get ready. I put stuff on and then put the strap on below the knee as described above. I started my warm up routine and I ran up and down the road. No pain! Things felt good. At 6pm, the race began and I started out up the first hill with some pain. As I hit the level ground, the pain worsened. Shortly after, we crossed the street onto Windham Center Road. Once I crossed the street, the pain just went away. I can't really explain it but I think the compression wrap being on the bone directly and being so tight actually prevented the friction causing the pain. From this point on, I had no pain at all. I ran the best 5K I've ever run! I placed 7th of 33 runners and I finished with my best time ever at 21:41! 7:00/pace. I ran a 7:13 first mile, followed it up with a sub seven 6:40 second mile, and a 7:31 finish. Once again, as I've been doing throughout this journey, I made most of my passes going up hill. This course by far had the biggest/steepest hills I've done. I'm thankful for all of my hill training because I did not expect hills in this race. I went into this race without scouting the course and it ended up being the toughest course I've run!
So, like Shelburne in May, what could've ended in disaster ended in a great feeling of joy and accomplishment! I hit another personal best and I did it by getting creative and finding a unique way to stave off the pain from my IT band injury. I could tell when I was lined up that people around me were looking at my knee thinking, "what type of wonkey thing does this guy have going on!" LOL, it certainly wasn't conventional but it worked and they weren't smiling about it when I passed them going up hill... "on your left !"
It ended up just being a great night! It was the first race I've done at night which made the preparation interesting. Normally, I fast before my races and just worry about my fluid intake, for this one, I obviously had to eat because of the 6pm start. So, I ended up fasting in the morning, drinking a liter of water, followed by a half of turkey sandwich at lunch with a blueberry banana protein smoothie with avocado. I drank another half liter of water in the afternoon and had a protein bar two hours before the race. When I arrived and started to get ready, I drank another 12 ounces of water before running the race.
What's next? Well, I don't race again until August 7th when I return to Shelburne, Vermont for the Race Vermont Series. I was invited to run Casco Days in a few weeks in Maine but I'm not going to chance it with this injury. I really want to do well when I get back to Vermont. So, I'll continue to cross train, work on strength and conditioning, get some work in at the chiropractor, keep up on my diet, and try to get this second IT band injury out of the way in 4-6 weeks.
As always, thanks for reading!