This was the first Thanksgiving that Andy and I have spent in DC on our own, without family visiting. It was nice to have a relaxed approach to the long holiday weekend. On Wednesday night, I baked a pie and went to bed early. On Thursday morning I woke up early but had plenty of time to get ready for the race. We bikeshared down to Freedom Plaza, collected my bib and t-shirt (not a tech shirt but a long sleeve, which was kind of nice), and hung out in the warm hotel lobby/Starbucks steps from the start line. Easily the most low-key race start I’ve ever had.
My quad/hip strain is still not healed, after nearly two months of being sidelined. I’ve run maybe 6 times in the past two months and while I know I am getting better, I also know there is still something not quite healed. I wasn’t sure if I would be able to run and I certainly wasn’t “trained”, but I figured it was only 5K and I’d be happy if I could just run the whole time.And I was able to run the whole time. Because of the cold my legs felt sort of numb and I could tell that my quad felt off, but not really painful. Of more concern was the rib pain I developed after mile two. The same thing happened on a short run earlier this week, which I at first attributed to the cold and now realize might have been a side stitch? I guess I’ve never had a side stitch before so I don’t really know what they feel like, but I had pain in my right rib cage and felt like I couldn’t get enough air in. I slowed down and tried to breathe deep which helped a bit.
At that point, as we turned onto Pennsylvania Avenue for the final half mile, it felt like the finish line was somehow so far away. Yet once I crossed the finish line I couldn’t believe how quickly the race as over. 5Ks are weird that way. I’m much more used to trying to pace myself for a longer run or race, and not at all used to what it feels like to run short and fast.
Not that I ran all that fast, but considering that I have barely run at all the past two months, I was happy with my 28:34 official finishing time, or around a 9:09/mile average according to my Garmin, and a new PR. All the 5Ks I did back in 2007/2008 were just with the goal of finishing and not walking, with not much attention to my final time. So I knew a PR would be easy enough.
I know that in my peak of marathon training I probably could have broken 24 or 25; even on marathon training tempo runs I ran longer distances than this at a faster average pace. But, I am totally fine and happy with this time for now, and it was a great way to begin a relaxing Thanksgiving day. I’m thankful that I am slowly rebounding and able to run again.
Side note: in other running injury-related news, I went to a chiropractor for the first time this week, concerned about my lingering hip issue plus an incredibly tight and sore neck/shoulder thing that had been happening since last week (most likely stress-related). I thought maybe a chiropractor could help straighten me out, so to speak, and perhaps diagnose any underlying issues. The chiro I chose is covered on my insurance, so I figured if nothing else, I’d only be out a copay and an hour of my life. He also focuses on sports medicine and came highly recommended on yelp.
So I spent about a half hour telling him my troubles, getting my reflexes tested, responding when he dug into my muscles all over and telling him what hurt where. He diagnosed me as having major scar tissue in my hip and quad from muscle strain, very weak glutes, and knots and muscle strains in my neck and shoulders. I am going to go back a few more times for ART (active release technique) and graston technique sessions to break up the scar tissue and allow the muscles to heal properly, and I’m also to re-commit to foam rolling and glute strengthening exercises. Turns out I was also doing squats totally wrong all this time. I’m really hoping this ART business helps, and helps quickly. I like the idea of getting the scar tissue fixed so that I can return to distance running in 2013, without dealing with nagging injuries. Also, the chiro recommended that I use a tennis ball on my shoulders and neck by leaning into a tennis ball against a wall, standing up, and wow – that fixed my neck issue practically overnight. That alone gives me some confidence in his approach.
Anyway, back to Thanksgiving – after the race, we biked home and had a fairly leisurely day of cooking, drinking, music, reading, and movies. All in all, just about a perfect day.
Today, nothing felt better for the day after a day of running and overindulging than a yoga class and a walk outside. I am so thankful to have Friday off as a holiday, and that I actually used it as a holiday with no bits of work squeezed in here or there. Besides yoga, my main activities today were cleaning the house and reading a good book. Perfect.