Sunday, November 12, 2006

Stomped By a Calf at the Bison Stampede

Short version. Everything was going spectacularly until just after mile seven when I felt a pop in my right calf and simultaneously a pain in my right hip followed by an excruciating pain in my calf. This was followed by 6 miles of pain and a slow finish. Still I finished. My time was 2:09:53.9 which is an average of a 9:55 pace. Not bad since I ran the same race in 2:09:41.0 last year without an injury.

Mile 1: 8:34.3 avg=158 end=157
Mile 2-3: 17:10.3(8:35.1) avg=162 end=161
Mile 4: 9:05.8 avg=162 end=165
Mile 5: 8:44.6 avg=167 end=175
Mile 6: 9:46.5 avg=169 end=172
Mile 7: 9:51.8 avg=170 end=167
Mile 8: 10:32.6 avg=162 end=159
Mile 9: 10:25.9 avg=154 end=166
Mile 10: 9:02.7 avg=163 end=161
Mile 11: 9:46.1 avg=164 end=142
Mile 12-13: 25:52.0(12:56) avg=142 end=158
Mile 13.1: 1:05.8 avg=160 end=161

Longer story:

I woke up at 5:15 am and checked the weather. The temperature was a crisp 42 degrees which rose to a perfect 49 degrees by the race start. The race started at 7:30 and I quickly settled into a comfortable pace and was pleased to see the first mile go by in 8:34. Mile 5 included a long steep downhill followed by the beginning of the first steep hill and I was surprised that the two averaged out to an 8:44 mile. The next couple of miles were just survival but as I crested the big hills in the middle of the course my legs recovered almost instantly and I was able to pick the pace back up. The big hills were followed by a few small rollers and while I was going up a small hill my calf suddenly gave up the ghost. It was really strange because there was no warning, no tightness, and no soreness. I was just running along trying to keep up a good pace and as I my right foot landed, bang!

It hurt so bad that I considered dropping out of the race but if I didn't finish then I'd be out of the distance challenge. So I walked along to see if it would loosen up. The pain in my hip made me wonder if it was actually the calf muscle or it was referred pain from my sciatic nerve. I tested it out by starting a slow jog. I was limping but I was gradually able to pick up the pace and smooth things out. By mile 10 I was back down to a 9:04 pace and I was at about an 8:40 pace when I hit a gentle rise right before the 11 mile marker. Even though it wasn't even a hill the extra stress was too much and the calf suddenly exploded in pain again. While I was stretching out on the sidewalk a policeman came running up to make sure I was ok. I must have looked like I collapsed.

With two miles remaining I couldn't run any more. It felt like I had a steak knife stuck in my calf. It was really frustrating because otherwise I felt terrific and I was so close to the end and if I could only get jogging again I could still beat my time from last year. But when I tried running again the pain was too much. I simply couldn't raise up onto the ball of my foot. But I figured out that I could lock my ankle with the toe up, rotate my leg outward, and jog along without using my calf. It still hurt but it was manageable. I hobbled over the last couple of miles at a ridiculous pace but I finished.

So now I'm barely able to walk and wondering how long it will be before I can run again. I don't think I did my calf any favors by running 6 miles on it after it pulled. I'm pleased at my conditioning and my pace for the first half of the race and am quite confident that I could have kept it up for the whole race, but I'm bummed about the injury.


Sister Mary Lisa said...

Oh man, that stinks about the calf injury. I hope it's nothing permanent or debilitating for a long time..

Bull said...

I think it will just be a minor setback. I've pulled my hamstring a couple of times and a groin muscle once. The first hamstring pull was really bad and took a couple of months to recover. The other two were minor and only took a couple of weeks. I think this one will be fairly minor as long as I give it a chance to heal (which I will).

Sister Mary Lisa said...

That's good. I also forgot to mention how I liked the witty title to this post...very good!

MattMan said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
MattMan said...

What do you think went wrong here, Bull? You think maybe you over-trained or, progressed too much in too short of a time, or what?

Bull said...

Good question. I'm not really sure. I've been pretty careful to ramp my mileage slowly and have been making every other week an "easy" week with a back off in mileage so I don't think I ramped up too quickly. I started ramping way back in the first week of August. Last week was actually exceptionally easy because I skipped Tuesday and Wednesday because of the state marching band competition.

I've also been monitoring my resting heart rate in the morning to make sure I don't overtrain and it has been a pretty consistent 53-56 bpm so I don't think I'm overtrained.

Perhaps the problem is how I adjusted my runs after the days off. I normally rest on Monday and Friday and run on Tuesday to Thursday and Sunday. On the Tuesday after really long runs I go pretty easy on Tuesday, run hard on Wednesday, and go relatively easy on Thursday. On other weeks I run long but easy on Tuesday, hard but short on Wednesday, and long and easy with accelerations on Thursday.

Last week was an easy week so the plan was 7 miles on Tuesday, intervals on Wednesday, and 7 miles on Thursday without accelerations. But since I missed Tuesday and Wednesday I ran 7.5 miles on Thursday, did an easy interval workout on Friday (2x800), and then ran 3 easy miles on Saturday.

The Saturday run before the race is normal to keep my legs loose and practice race pacing on the track. What stands out now is that I never gave my legs a chance to recover from the runs on Thursday and Friday.

Hmmm. Thanks for the question because I think that that answers what happened. I should have skipped the Friday workout and given my body a full recovery day. I apparently didn't give my legs a chance to recover and rebuild from those runs before the race. Given the extreme hills in the race, which really punish the calves, the muscles just weren't ready for the stress.

I was too focused on getting some miles in after the missed runs and not focused enough on quality recovery time. I thought that keeping Friday's workout short would be enough. Live and learn.