A Two-Faced Long Run

I was supposed to do run yesterday, but life happened and the run got pushed to today. Turns out the weather was much better for it today anyway. The sun was shining and I ran in a t-shirt and shorts. The temps are still very mild so I didn't get started until late morning yet didn't have to endure any heat. 14 miles were on today's schedule and the only instruction my coach listed was to run with no watch. Normally I would *love* this, BUT...the Garmin that I ordered 4 months ago finally arrived and I was anxious to take it out for an inaugural run. So I set it to display Distance only and I set out to see where my feet would take me.

Originally, I wanted to run these miles in Palo Alto and include a loop around The Dish. Since time wasn't a goal for this run, I could slog up the soul-crushing hills of The Dish and not worry about pace. Sadly, this plan didn't happen (but I am tucking it away for a future run) so I just ran around my neighborhood. Since everything else about this weekend run was going contrary to plan, I decided to keep things impromptu and didn't map out a route.

It is not unusual for me to write out blog posts in my head while running. Of course, by the time I'm done, I usually don't remember a word of it, but today I started out thinking that I could write a post about this run called, "Musings on the Run." I started to make mental notes of things I could write about, like:

• "Vanilla-flavored Accel Gel isn't too bad at all. It's a little sweeter than what I'm used to, but I'll definitely eat it again."

• "Hey, this paved hill up The Bump isn't too hard at all. And it's .20 miles long - good for hill repeats. Add in the trail path that circles the top of The Bump and it adds up to a mile. (Note to self when needing to add on more mileage)."

• "Time to take some Hammer Endurolyte pills. What the... They *vaporized* in my pocket!" All 4 pills were completely gone with crumbled remnants of what was in them left behind.

• "I know there's a dog park at the bottom of The Bump, but does that entitle every single dog to be unleashed?! Leash the crazy ones!"

• "I'm giving cyclists the entire path, why do they have to crowd me?"

• “Ew, ew, ew Strawberry Kiwi Accel Gel does NOT taste good! Do not buy more of these!”

• "I can't believe how clear it is today. I can actually see San Francisco!"

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{that's san francisco on the horizon}

I had nowhere else to be today and generously took breaks to take in the scenery. In fact, if you look at the Elapsed Time for this run, it was probably closer to 3 hours. I stopped at the dog park to watch the dogs run around and play with each other. Talk about pure joy. I paused while running through Coyote Point to watch some of the golfers putt on the green. I even sat on a bench and watched airplanes approach SFO. There was something very relaxing about it. I genuinely enjoyed this run.

Until Mile 11.5

At the start of the run, the area under the shoelaces of my right foot hurt. This isn't something new and I even mentioned it in last week's race report. Sometimes it goes away after a couple of miles, and sometimes it doesn't. Today it didn't. But it didn't hurt enough to make me feel like I needed to stop. However, the pain that showed up in my right knee at Mile 11.5 did…eventually.

I've gotten really good at diagnosing myself and I am fairly certain this knee problem is from my IT band. After last Sunday's race my IT bands were super tight. I even cried when my massage therapist worked on them. I started the week being pretty good about stretching and foam rolling, but then slacked off towards the end of the week. Today’s knee pain didn't feel structural, rather more muscular which makes me think it is IT band related. That or my gait was off from my foot pain - maybe both, who knows.

I made it to Mile 13 but that last 1.5 miles weren’t pretty. I felt like if I continued to push on the 14th mile I might actually end up hurting myself and there was absolutely no reason to do that on this run. So I made an executive decision to walk the last mile home.

This is where this blog post could have been renamed "The Walk of Shame." But honestly, I didn't feel shameful about it at all. I did however reset my Garmin because I didn't want the numbers from the first 13 miles tainted by the final walk home. {...yes, that's me being OCD...}

Once home, I did some light stretching, including a good 10-minutes of Legs At the Wall and noticed that the pain I had been feeling in my hips and glutes has drastically been minimized. I think doing the physical therapy exercises (PTX) I referenced in this post is helping and I hope it will eventually help my IT bands.

After stretching I filled the bathtub with cold water, dumped a whole bin of ice into it, threw on a sweatshirt and climbed in. In theory, I know all the benefits of ice baths and why we should do them, but I don't think I will ever get used to them. I lasted 5 minutes then emptied the tub and filled it up with warm water, dumped some Bath Therapy into it and enjoyed the warm bath much better than the ice one. So much so I even nodded off for about 15 minutes.

I've since done a little more stretching and my knee is already feeling better. Aches and pains are inevitable with running. It's not a matter of "if" but rather a matter of "when." But part of the whole training process is learning how to manage them, and this run, is just another one to add to the learning experience. And this is just another thing that I love about running - it forces me to keep learning about my body and my health. What works for someone else may or may not work for me. It's a continual trial and error process...and it definitely keeps things interesting.