Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Continued Rehab of a High Hamstring Injury--Summer Update & a Race Recap [Carmel 5K for Haiti]

August 03 2015.
[If you are just interested in the Race Recap, skip below to the line that reads, Race Recap. Carmel 5K for Haiti. Geezer Division.]

Despite having a major setback ten days prior to the Boston Marathon, I was able to run it and finish. As noted in the story posted at the time, it was a grueling ordeal but I was glad I had run it. I ran the entire race, finished it and, as far as I could tell, did no additional damage to my injury. I took the rest of the week off but by the following Saturday hit the exercise bike and did a few strengthening and stability exercises. The next day I thought I might jog a couple of miles but gave up after 1 mile--too much pain! For the next week it was training in the gym or the occasional swim.

I was finally able to resume reasonable training runs on the towpath on April 30th. The towpath has quarter-mile markers over much of its distance and is essentially a mixed gravel/dirt path along a canal.

On Thursday, April 30th I was able to run about 3 miles, with the last 2 miles in about 18:15 [9:07.5 pace per mile].

Friday, May 1st--stability, strengthening and flexibility exercises at gym and at home.

Saturday, May 2nd --4.5 miles overall 9:12 pace but included 2 quarter miles on way out in 2:10 each [8:40 pace] and the last mile was 8:59.

Things continued well for the next several weeks, alternating training runs with gym days or rest. By May 8th, I could run the last mile in 7:53. By the 13th I was able to throw in a 7:36 mile. On May 21st I ran on a paved rail trail, the Monon, north of 96th Street. The 6.5 mile run included an intense middle with a 1:41 quarter, followed by 2 minutes active recovery, folowed by an 89.1; then a 3:15 half mile; then a 3:09 half mile; then an 87.6 quarter and an 85.3 quarter mile. I did extensive stretching before the first quarter mile and then between the two half miles  and then before each of the last two quarter miles.

On Tuesday, June 2nd I planned a ladder run on the towpath--5.5 miles and it included  a 1:42 quarter; 3:19 half mile; 6:45 mile; 92.5 quarter mile..plus a gym workout later in the day. Mission accomplished and all felt great at the end of the day.

I thought, at that point, I had the thing licked and it was now just a question of tuning up. Hah!

On Wednesday, June 3rd, I made a mistake. I should have taken the day off. But I was overconfident and had remembered when I was training for the marathon that some of the plans suggested doing a fairly hard workout the day before a long run. [The idea was to run hard the day before so you would actually take it easy and run slow on your long run.] So I thought I could chance a long, easy run and planned to run around 8+miles easy. But after 4 miles, the old pain came back and my stride deteriorated. Did I stop right away? No--but I should have. I did cut the workout short, running only (Hah, again) 6.5 miles. It seems like I am on a razor's edge; any little mistake can sink me-there is no room for error.

The next day we were off on a 10-day road trip,,,which is never good for injuries so the timing couldn't have been worse. Needless to say, things did not improve much. For the next few weeks I was stuck at unsatisfactory workouts with too much pain (not only in workouts but in day-to-day activities). I could only run workouts at a 9 minute per mile pace or so. Sometimes for short bits I could get down to 8:50 or so but that was it--too much pain.

Eventually I decided to contact my Physical Therapist, Brad, whom I had worked with in 2014 when the injury first hit. I knew at that time, working with them, I was able to improve rapidly. So on July 2nd I had my first day of P.T. Since that time we have been working assiduously on the it band and the gluteus medius--a mixture of massage plus exercises. And I moved to a regime of no impact cross-training [stationary bike and elliptical]on alternate days and 1 day off per week. After taking a break to visit my son Matt in Colorado and doing light hiking in the mountains and on the flat, things were a little better. But progress has been very slow. I am still not back to where I was on the 2nd of June. I also do a set of stretching and stability exercises every evening and visit the gym after training runs for a little bit of stability and flexibility exercises using their equipment. So i am working pretty intensively. We have fine-tuned if it seemed like one of the exercises was not working that well, leaving me stiffer than is desirable.

Finally by Wednesday the 29th of July I was able to run a 3 mile workout in 25:30 (9:00 for the 1st mile, 8:30 for the 2nd mile, and 8:00 for the third mile). It was not pain-free but the pain was generally down in the 1-3 range. That's what we are aiming for in all workouts, keeping the pain at 3 or below.

Based on that workout,Brad and I decided it wouldn't be crazy to try running in a race as long as I was willing to run it with the same constraint of keeping the pain at 3 or below. So I entered a local race, the Carmel 5K for Haiti. We decided it would be good for my psyche as long as I didn't set myself back.

Race Recap. Carmel 5K for Haiti. Geezer Division. The 5K is a low profile local race; that's what I was looking for. Also it was for a good cause, as are most races. That's a plus, at least I would be contributing funds ot a good cause.

I did not know for sure that I would even be able to finish the race so the lower profile the better. I figured there was little chance I could break 25 minutes so figured I had no chance at any age group prize. I hadn't realized there were some other races around to draw off the stronger runners but that's what happened. It was advertised as shady and flat--Being flat is good for my hamstring, or rather hilly is challenging, and being shady is definitely a plus in August in Indiana. As it turned out though, race day morning was almost perfect, with temps in the mid-60's under clear skies. As I was walking to the registration tent, I looked over my shoulder and saw the pale, nearly full moon, outlined above a row of trees in the light blue sky of early morning-a perfect picture and a good omen, I hoped. By the time I returned with my iphone, the moon had set, so no pic. But I can call it up in my mind--a nice memory of the day.

Registration Tent and Finish Area at Carmel 5K for Haiti--Carmel IN August 1 2015 (with carnival rides in background) [Picture by The Running Professor, Paul Carlin]

 I did my dynamic stretches and then got my easy warmup jogging in. As I was jogging about the parking lot, one of my old running buddies, Danny, who is a few years younger, and not too far off my pace when we are both fit, hailed me. We talked about old times and I learned that he wasn't sure how he would do because he had strained a muscle trying to get his truck out of the mud a couple of days earlier. But I pretty much discounted that. Danny always has a story to tell about some ailment or disaster, but he's a tough runner; he almost always runs well. After a few minutes, he gave me a wave and took off up the road; I figured he was doing a quick loop but I didn't want to extend my warmup beyond what I had planned.

When I got back to the starting area I ran into two other old running buddies, Bill and Greg. Bill's 64 I think and Greg is 65 but they are not as strong runners as Danny. Still I had them figured for 23-25 minutes so there go the top 3 places in the 60-69 year age group. [Unlike some other races where 5 year groups are the norm, smaller races like Carmel often just do ten year age groups.] They were telling me that now one of them would miss out on the podium because of my being there; they figured even if I was injured that Danny and I would beat both of them so one or the other would have to settle for 4th-bummer. I told them they did not have to worry about me that I had probably no chance of breaking 25 and little chance of breaking 26 minutes. As it turned out, I was right and they were wrong, although not in exactly the way I thought.
Looking toward the Refreshment Table and Beyond it the Starting Line at Carmel 5K for Haiti--Carmel IN August 1 2015 [Picture by The Running Professor, Paul Carlin]

Eventually we lined up for the start and I saw Bill and Greg a couple of rows ahead of me. I stayed back because I figured I'd be pressed to keep up with them, especially at the start. I didn't see Danny but assumed he was starting up closer to the front, as I would had I been fit. The gun went off and I was jogging with the moms and the teens and the kids. I could see Bill's orange singlet up ahead, or so i thought, and decided I would try to keep him in sight for a while at least. After about three quarters of a mile or so I saw that singlet coming back towards me and I wondered if I had been mistaken, maybe that wasn't Bill. When I pulled up even with him there were a few people spread across the road between us and I did not get a good look at his face. When I went by the first mile in 8:31, I concluded I must have been mistaken; that must have been some other runner, and Bill and Greg must be up ahead yet.

I was keeping the pain down, but there was definite stiffness in the attachment area and I knew I couldn't do a full stride, so just keep going at that pace for the next mile I figured. When I passed the 2 mile marker in 17:02, I figured, dang that's a steady pace...a couple of minutes too slow per mile but a heck of a job staying on pace. I figured then, like my workout on the 29th, I'd be able to accelerate and run close to 8 minute per mile pace over the last 1.1 miles and then at least maybe break 26:00. But not so, when I tried to accelerate I ran into a very stiff hamstring attachment area. To keep the pain below 3 I had to settle for just a very slightly faster pace. At that point a mom and her young daughter, a pint-sized little girl who couldn't have been over 9 years old, pulled up even and then passed me. The mom was saying, "Are you doing okay sweetie?" And the kiddo was nodding yes--a future Molly Huddle (I hoped). Anyway I continued apace and finished without any great burst of speed. I figured Danny, Bill and Greg were far ahead. When I crossed the finish line, my watch said 26:17. At least I finished the race, my first since late April when I ran and finished the Boston Marathon.

I was a little disappointed as it was about the same speed that I had managed in my workout the Wednesday before the race; I had hoped to break 26 minutes at least. But one of the lessons I am learning with this prolonged injury period is to be grateful for any progress and running and finishing a 5K race is a mark of progress. And at least I ran the last 1.1 mile at 8:22 pace.

After getting a little liquid refreshment and a banana and a bagel, I found Greg and Bill and we traded stories, not much about the race except the Bill said he never did see Danny. But then Greg said Danny came zipping up from behind him in the last 100 yards, whooping, "Come on Greg-let's finish up with a bang!" So I figured my earlier surmise had been correct except that Danny must have really been hurting; ordinarily he would beat Greg by a few minutes. Still I figured the 60-69 podium was Bill, Danny, and Greg in that order.
Greg Hueber and Bill Kirsch -Two Great Guys--Waiting for the Race to Begin at Carmel 5K for Haiti--Carmel IN August 1 2015 [Picture by The Running Professor, Paul Carlin]

After hanging around for a while, the announcer apologized and said they would not be able to post results for a couple of hours and that he would mail out any awards. So I congratulated my buddies on a good race and headed toward my car. On the way I ran into Danny who said, "I miscalculated--thought the race was at 8:30 instead of 8--heard the gun go off and by the time I got back to the starting area I figured why even bother putting on my number, I just took off after the tail end of the pack. I don't care much with this race anyway--just a good workout." Danny's a hoot! A great guy, but there's almost always something. So then I figured the podium was maybe Bill, Greg, and Paul and wondered if they gave prizes to the top 3 or just the top one I figured with my luck, Bill would be the only one to get a prize. But I had no gripes. Overall it was a good experience. Great to run in a race again and good to finish.

Imagine my surprise when I fired up the computer a few hours later and checked out the 60-69 age group and there was my name next to #1, with Bill 2nd and some other guy 3rd. I lucked into a top age group finish! I could hardly believe that Bill and Greg let me get away with that one. And I thanked my luck that Danny miscalculated as he would surely have skunked me by a wide margin! That reminded me that I am a pretty lucky son of a gun.

So onward and upward. The Personal Best 5.0 Miler is next weekend in Broad Ripple in Indianapolis--Will I run it? Maybe--We'll see how the workouts and PT sessions go.

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