Monday, February 09, 2009

Lessons Earned

It was August 1, 2003, just a few months after graduating Maryland. My intentions were to basically chill out for the summer, train hard, see how well I could do in some triathlons, before seeking truly gainful employment. Then in one fell swoop on a Friday morning at Hartshorne, I destroyed my ankle and running has never been the same.

But that's not really the point here, the point is that I didn't have health insurance at the time, and I had to scramble to get signed up for COBRA so I didn't have to pay out-of-pocket for what amounted to $15,000 of x-rays, MRIs, electronic bone stimulators, physical therapy, etc.

This past Saturday at the USATF Cross Country National Championships, I was sure I had done it again. On the 2nd of 6 laps I kicked my left ankle with my right foot as I slip-slided down the hill on the back half of the course. It was pretty swollen when I finished, and I was really having trouble just walking around on it the rest of the day. And once again I don't have health insurance (that ran out a week or so ago) so my only thought was "shit, I don't feel like seeing a doctor or getting an x-ray."

It doesn't feel a whole lot better even two days later, but I doubt it's really bad. It feels like the ankle is probably sprained, which isn't a big deal - but across the top of my foot it feels like there could be a ligament or two damaged. That would be annoying.

Anyway I'll worry about that later. The event on Saturday was a lot of fun, although the race itself wasn't as fun as last year in San Diego. The SD course was certainly more scenic, and despite being sick and partially hungover, I ran decent. Saturday was a different story. The course was much more difficult, but I have been feeling like I'm in decent shape and thought I could run alright. My plan was to go out slow and try and build through the race. Normally I'm one for taking off, trying to put some money in the bank and fading towards the end. This time I'd actually done what I intended to do - probably even going a little too slow. The first 2k came and I was feeling pretty good.

A kilometer later is where I knocked my ankle, and while I don't think it had too much affect on my race, it certainly didn't help. It's also really hard to get pumped up for a race in which you are clearly outgunned, and going to get stomped. So I slowed down gradually and by the end was barely above a jog. Meb flew past me around his 9k (my 7k) which is where I got passed last year, so it goes to show you how much harder this course is (since I was also running slower).

Some of my friends did pretty well, I was impressed with the performance of the Red Fox, who really had a great race, and their Georgetown team took home the team title. Even some of the pre-race favorites had tough days, it was in the mid to high 50s for temperature and the course was just sloppy. But anytime you throw a few Olympians into a race it's going to be a good time.

The post-race party was pretty fun - and after the party the Saucony troop of Julia Rudd, Brian Mahoney and Nate Jenkins, and myself and Kootman had dinner at the Rio Grande. Then the four dudes rolled down to Bethesda to the abode of some GRCers and enjoyed a little after-after party. Nate, a 2:14 marathoner, is ridiculous.

The next morning a few of us ran from Silver Spring for our long run. Joining us were Josh Glaab (23rd at the race) and Julia. I was surprised I could walk, let alone run, but I guess that was a fairly good sign. We ran down the Georgetown Branch Trail to Bethesda, then took Connecticut Ave into DC. We blew up some Subway bathroom and then hopped down into Rock Creek Park. While negotiating the steep, narrow, muddy downhill into the park, I definitely ate it and nearly smashed weiner-first into a rock.

We then took the trail along Beach Dr up to Military Rd/16th Street and then back to where we started. I did alright, but the last 2-3 miles were pretty painful for my foot. All in all it was probably about 15 miles, which was a little less than I hoped to do but better than not running at all. It was a really nice day, felt more like April than February. I haven't run down this way in a real long time, and I haven't ridden down there in a while either, so it was a good return.

For the week it was pretty low volume. I had planned on running a little less, and it was my first week under 50 in the last month and a half at 47. I only got in the pool twice and didn't get an opportunity to ride.

The week ahead, particularly with my ankle, may not be filled with much running. I want to take advantage of some potentially better weather to get on the bike.

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