Still a Spectator But Hope Makes a Cameo

Twilight 5k

I continue to be sidelined by this achilles issue.  Friday night, I traveled uptown to watch many of my friends compete in the Twilight 5K.

It killed me that I couldn’t run in it.  The achilles felt much better – there was no pain walking around – but I didn’t want to risk re-injuring or exacerbating things.  I intentionally wore street clothes and made sure not to take a change of running attire so I would not have the option of signing up.  It’s a good thing I did this.  When I got there and saw John Compton registering last minute, I so wanted to join him, and probably would have had I been standing there in running clothes.  As it was, I had no choice but to watch.

I saw and chatted with many of my running pals – Wayne Lee, Leonard, Chad Randolph, Todd Hartung, Todd Capitano, and more.  I saw my fellow master Eimear Goggin – she and I spent the week throwing together another last minute team of masters which included such ringers as Stephen Spada, Leonard, Kathy Rink, Gordon Bynum, Clayton Venhuizen (who became a master when he recently turned 40), etc.  It would take one seriously loaded mixed team to beat this one – nobody did.  We (I was the honorary coach) won, making our CRC Mixed Masters team 2-0 in Run For Your Life Grand Prix events.

I stood near the start and cheered everyone on.  From my vantage point, except for the 10 seconds or so when some little kid bolted into the lead, John Compton (Johnny C as I like to call him) looked like he led from gun to tape.  Shortly after the start, I made my to way to where the final turn would be and hung out there, ready to coax finishers into sprinting to the finish.

I don't know who was crazier, Clint for borrowing someone's kids to push in a stroller, or the parents for letting him push their kids. But based on what I saw later in the evening, I vote for Clint (photo courtesy Kati Robertson).

Johnny C looked to be jogging around the final turn, just behind the police car escort.  A few seconds later, Paul came sprinting in, with his customary fiercely determined grimace on his face, followed by some kid (results show him to be Chris Sunde) I didn’t know with Aaron mere steps behind.  I screamed for Aaron and tried to encourage him to catch that guy, but Aaron kindly let the kid get top 3.

Aaron opting to pump up the crowd instead of chasing down third place. A terrified lady and her child scurry across the road behind him (photo courtesy Paul Mainwaring).

1 by 1, my running friends came through as I loudly cheered for them.  On the one hand, it was cool to see what everyone looks like finishing – usually I’d be in the race so I never get to see the folks that finish ahead of me.  On the other hand, I felt like a fat, crippled loser not participating.

Afterward, several of us met at The Pub at Gateway for dinner, a few brews, and good conversation.  Things got a wee bit crazy later in the evening, somewhere around the bewitching hour, but (as far as I know) everyone had a good time and all made it home safe and sound.  I had some really good conversations and I got to see one of the strangest things I’ve ever witnessed in a bar (and believe me, I’ve seen some strange things go down in bars!)

I got a glimpse into what life might become if I ever lost running and it wasn’t that bad – I could survive without it (but hope I never have to!) and even enjoy myself on a race night.

On A Mission 5K

Saturday morning, I made another attempt to run.  I failed.  I ran 2 minutes, the achilles hurting every step of the way.  I walked back to my car, got in, and shot straight to the Y.  Back to the elliptical drawing board.

Running and drinking are pretty much inversely proportional in my life.  The more running I do, the less drinking, and vice versa.  So when I am sidelined, I tend to drink more.  Beer is dead calories.  So, less running + more beer = weight gain.  I stepped on the scales yesterday and was shocked to discover I’d put on 10 pounds in 2 weeks!  I gasped when I read the scales (okay, that’s not completely true – what I actually did was curse loudly.  I wrote ‘gasped’ in an attempt to avoid upsetting my more conservative friends.  Sorry gang.)  Weight gain = slower running times.  Add this to my list of woes.

But I tried to forget about this as I drove to watch my second 5K of the weekend.  My friend Todd Spears is the race director for the On A Mission 5K.  I was going to set up a Charlotte Running Club table.

I showed up about 7:00 PM with the race set to start at 8:00.  I set up my little table complete with the Charlotte Running Club banner and cards folks could fill out to join the club.  The skies were partly cloudy and the temperature was perfect, in the high 60’s – conditions seemed nearly perfect.

But by 7:45 or so, some ominous clouds started forming off in the distance.  By 7:50, they hovered dangerously near.  By 7:55, as Todd called everyone over to the starting line, lightning and thunder ensued.  Todd hustled everyone into the church (Crossroads, site of the start) as the skies opened up.  I sprinted to my car (pain free, oddly enough!) and drove to the nearest bar to wait the storm out (and again I must apologize for upsetting my conservative pals).

I assumed Todd cancelled the race but I read on Facebook, mere moments ago, that they held the race later.  I will have to talk to him to find out the details!

Sunday

This morning, I walked around my condo and felt zero pain in the achilles.  I decided to try to run.  I threw on my running gear and hit the road.

I was downright ecstatic when I felt no pain during the first few steps, then through the first mile, and finally throughout the entire 6.5 mile run.  Sheer joy.  I vow to never take running for granted again.  For the last year or so, I have been so obsessed with getting faster that I’ve taken for granted how fortunate I was to be able to run at all.  If I never get faster again, I plan to be okay with that.  This doesn’t mean I won’t constantly strive to get faster – it just means I won’t beat myself so much up if my times don’t drop.

So the plan now becomes to proceed with caution.  I think I will alternate running days with elliptical days for the foreseeable future.  I will ice the achilles after every workout.  If things go well, I can start ‘real’ training – incorporating speed work, tempo runs, intervals and the like – again in a few weeks or so.  The only big events on the horizon are Hood to Coast and the Blue Ridge Relay, and they’re not until late August and mid-September respectfully, so I have some time.  In the immediate future, I will focus on dropping this excess weight.

Hopefully, I am nearly finished with this injury detour off the intended route on the road to Boston.  I hope to see you all back on the roads, trails, and tracks any day now!

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