What is too much? Since I am older than when I started running long, does that change how much is too much? In the last six weeks, I have done six races.
The first weekend was the Strides for the Handicapped. Of course, for me that was not enough. I met Pam for a two hour run at Bluff Point. Beautiful run in the early morning. After we finished, I drove over to Camp Harkness to run the 10K part of the Strides races. I went into the race saying that I would not run hard and amazingly, I did not. I ran with Karen Short for the first three miles and then I turned around to help a lady who was pushing her husband in his wheelchair. She was struggling up a hill and I had to help. I believe that her name was Susan; do not remember his name. I helped her up the hill and she said to go ahead, that she could handle it from there. So I ran to the finish line and turned around and headed back out to give Susan a hand. I met her about a mile and a half from the finish. So I added an extra three to four miles to the 10K. I felt great and enjoyed the run.
The following weekend I decided on Thursday that I was going to run the Hartford Marathon. Julie White was running it as a training run; she is going to run her first ultra, the JFK50 in November. So I decided that I wanted to help out. The day was beautiful and and we ran the 26.2 miles in 4:22:30.
The third weekend brought the Penguin 5K. Now, five kilometers is not bad, but the Thursday before I decide to try to play with my stride, working on running on and off of my forefeet. It can be difficult and trying, but I did it and the problem was that I strained my left calf. Friday it still was sore and I was worried about running the race. Saturday morning I ran the race. During the warmups, the calf was not bad, but I planned on running easy. Fat chance! The calf did not bother me and I took off. That was bad, but it wasn't because of the calf. After the race, I turned around and ran the course again (slower). By the time I finished, my left hamstring was killing me. That took too long to get over and made the race the following weekend something of a problem.
The Bimbler's Bluff 50K. I had not run this race before and had been looking forward to running a course that Jerry Turk had laid out. It had rained the day before, so the course was wet and muddy. Just what I like. I have written about this race so I will skip the facts and just say that I again enjoyed the run.
Taking a trip to run a race is normally a solitary thing for me. Carol does not go to races and pretty much does not like to associate with runners. She is not hostile toward runners; she just does not like running. So when she goes with me, it is pretty neat (at least for me). We took a trip to Washington DC with four other couples, taking Amtrack down and back. Riding the train is an easy way to travel. No worries about traffic, staying awake, able to eat and drink when you want and, on the plus side for me, being able to play a game of cribbage or two. Carol was going with to be able to see some of the sights-she had no intention of going to the race. So the Run Geek, Run 8K was a lonely run for me. NOT!! I ran from the hotel to the race start, ran way too fast for the first 4 miles and died in the last mile (8K = 4.98 miles). Came in fourth in my age group; not bad but the other people in our group did pretty good. An age group first, two seconds and two thirds. Not too bad for our little group.
Last weekend, I tried to run the Stone Cat 50 miler. So this was the final straw, at least for how I am feeling now. The biggest problem going into this was work the week before. I had to work second shift and two of the days I worked to 12:30 am and 3:00 am Wednesday and Thursday, respectively. Friday evening I left work at 9:30 to drive up to Ipswich, MA. I got to the hotel by 11 PM and was in bed by 11:30. So when I got up at 5 AM, I was pretty tired still. I did not feel bad and did not think that it would affect how I ran. The race started at 6:15 and I felt pretty good. The course has changed since I ran it 8 years ago, with more single track and starting and ending in a different place. Running through the woods in the early morning (it was very cold-I had planned on wearing one lightweight poly shirt and ended up wearing that shirt plus another lightweight poly shirt plus a light jacket shell. I kept them on, even when it warmed up a little later in the morning) was awesome and I was moving better than I expected. The first loop went by in 2 hours and 10 minutes. I went through the start/finish and headed back out still feeling pretty good. About one-third of the way through the loop, I slipped on a rock and twisted my right knee. It was, at the time, a minor pain and I kept on going. Unfortunately the pain stayed and continued bothering me, with the pain increasing the farther I went. I started having to walk for stretches. When I would start running again, it took a couple of minutes for the knee to loosen up enough to actually run without a limp. Another problem that was occuring was that I was favoring the right knee and unbeknownst to me, I was hurting the left knee. But I am getting ahead of myself. I kept on trying to run only to have to walk to relieve the pain. I took the one Advil that I had, but it did not help. By the time I finished the second loop (in 3 hours and 10 minutes) I had pretty much decided not to continue on. The guys at the aid station tried to convince me to go back out and I started, but turned around immediately and went looking for Gilly, the race director. He convinced me to do the 1.2 mile loop that the marathoners do at the beginning and that gave me a finish in the marathon with a fleece as the finishers gift. I left soon after and my left knee started to let itself known almost as soon as I got into the truck for the ride back. I will be visiting the doctor to have both knees looked at.
So did I do too much in such a short period of time? Is it just age creeping up on me? I am not sure yet, but I do know that I want to get back out there and run. I will just have to do like Pam for a little while and limit my running for a little bit to shorter runs. Once I can.