It was a long run, so I’m afraid this is going to be a long post…. Let’s start with the morning of the race. There I was on the start line at 4:45 AM. The sun was coming up and all I could think about was the 100km of road in front of me. It was the fifth edition of the Hida Takayama Ultramarathon, held annually in Takayama, Japan. As a non-Japanese visitor, I felt a bit like a stranger in a strange land. But it didn’t matter. We are all equal on the starting line when stripped down to the bare essentials.
I was running strong, stronger than ever. Finding gears I didn’t know I had. Pushing harder on longer runs. I noticed improvements on my heart rate which corresponded to the feeling that I was running faster with less effort required. I was recovering quickly from hard workouts. My weight was down to lower than ever, maybe even lighter than when I was in high school 25 years ago. My marathon PR of 2:56 would be easy. Maybe it would be closer to 2:50.
In my last post I mentioned that I was suffering from a strained hamstring. I mentioned that I might not be able to run in Macau or that I might not be able to run as quickly as I had hoped. But a weird thing happened. Three days before the marathon I had to do a fair bit of walking around work and by the end of the day I noticed that my left knee was sore. No big deal, I thought, but then I woke up during the night with some fairly noticeable pain! A day later, two days before the marathon, I could not walk without feeling sharp pains coming from my inner knee area. WTF??? How did that happen? After running 70 mile weeks, how did I get injured from just walking around? I searched the internet and figured that I was suffering from an inflamed bursa (I still don’t know what it was for sure). My theory is that after I injured my hamstring, my muscles tightened up considerably and that put some strain on the knee (you can read about the chain reaction effect of hamstring and knee injuries if you check around). So I iced it like crazy and that seemed to help, but as time ticked by I was fairly certain that I was not going to be running on Sunday.
I suppose that all adventures must have their moments of crisis. For me that was last week when I managed to tweak my hamstring. Nothing serious. No dramatic popping sound and searing pain. Just a niggle and the feeling that something was definitely not right. With only two weeks to go until the marathon, this was definitely a worry.
It was a good week of training, more or less. That is until this morning when I pulled my hamstring on my last long run. Two weeks out from the marathon. Shit!
Just finished the longest run in this marathon training schedule that I’m following: Pfitzinger’s evil 18/70 from the book Advanced Marathoning. It was a 22 miler and I managed to run an average pace of 7:17 per mile. I felt tired for the final 4 miles, but definitely could have kept going and completed the marathon distance if I had to. So that finishes up a 70 mile week which feels pretty good.
This week I didn’t feel much like running. Work was stressful and I found myself not getting as much sleep as usual. Running started to seem like a chore and I felt myself slipping back into some old habits. Instead of waking up early to run, there were a few days when put it off until later after work. Instead of drinking a cup of herbal tea and stretching before bed, I found myself sitting in front of the computer, knocking back a few beers, and even dipping into the scotch a bit. I started telling myself that running is interfering with work and causing me more stress instead of alleviating it.