I just ran my first race of the year! In fact, it’s the first race I’ve run since recovering from a tendon injury to my foot called plantar fasciitis. This condition refers to inflammation of the plantar fascia tendon, which runs from your heel to toe along the bottom of your foot. The name’s actually a misnomer. Since the plantar fascia is a tendon, it doesn’t have blood vessels, and therefore can’t become “inflamed” the way other body parts do. Instead, the condition is an accumulation of microscopic tears along the tendon which leads to long-term, chronic pain.
The only cure for this condition is rest. That means no running until it heals. Me being the genius that I am, I ignored my increasingly painful plantar fasciitis for two years until this past December, when I finally forced myself to give up running temporarily. It took months before the pain went away, and I finally resumed my training two months ago.
The awful thing about taking such a long break is that you suck when you finally start training again. Last year, I’d trained up to running 10k’s for my regular runs and wanted to build enough mileage to run my first half-marathon by this year. When I started running two months ago, I couldn’t finish 5k without taking short walks here and there. That’s why the Creeper Guy Incident pissed me off so much. That was the first run I’d been able to maintain a running pace for the full 5k. It represented a return to health after a long recovery.
So when I ran the Jammin’ Jog 5k a couple hours ago, I fully expected to suck by my previous standards (which honestly, weren’t that impressive to begin with). Boy was I surprised when I came up the last hill and saw the giant clock at the finish line, and realized I was going to beat my time from last year, for the same race! In the end, I shaved a whole minute off my previous personal best. Not bad!!
Just for fun, here’s a quick rundown of the race experience. The Jammin’ Jog is unique in that the race organizers get a bunch of Athens-area musicians to play for you all along the race course. It’s awesome! Athens is home to a vibrant local music scene. We are the home of R.E.M. and the B-52’s after all! The musicians on the race course are always a mixture of local amateurs and pros. There was an ensemble from a local high school, several dudes with guitars, and even a full string section at one point!
I decided not to listen to music on my iPod so as to enjoy the live music. I put on a favorite podcast episode instead (Drabblecast B-Sides #15: Connor Choadsworth, In Search of the Brain-Eating Nandi Bear, if you’re curious). It was easy to pop out an earphone when I heard music ahead.
I felt strong all through Mile 1. Shortly into Mile 2, I was very surprised when Jason appeared behind me! I thought he was far ahead of me, but apparently he’d taken a slower pace from the start and had been trailing me the whole time.
Mile 2 started to get tough as the ascent is a long, slow uphill that seems to go on forever. It was also the least-shady part of the course. Also, by that point, the runners had gotten so spread out that it’s harder to use peer pressure to push yourself. I got a little competitive with two 10-year-old boys who kept sprinting past me, then stopping right in front of me to walk. I could swear I remember them from last year.
I was hurting by Mile 3. I’d taken a downhill weird and my knee felt all twitchy. But Mile 3 actually loops through a course in the park that I’ve trained on before, so I was able to fall back on my training and coach myself through it. The only problem? Usually when I run that course, I run it in the OPPOSITE direction.
Anyway, glad to have a new record under my belt, and glad to be back into the swing of my training. Now it’s time to pick a new race to train for! Any recommendations? Preferably somewhere in Georgia, but I could be persuaded to travel if the race is really cool!