Running since December has been rather extraordinary. My body has really adapted to distance running. Recalling back to the time when I was starting up again after tendonitis, mid-last year, there had always been discomforts that I'd refer to as each part of my body "reporting in for duty". First there'd be discomfort in one heel, then an oddness in a knee, then both would fade before a twang in my arch and a tightness in my buttock, which would, too, fade. And then by the end of my runs I'd be a little ginger. But things have changed. I remember, with some surprise, that when I finished my first 30km run I didn't have any real muscular or joint problems - my only ailment had been an impressive blister.
My previous blog detailed a surreal run. I'd chosen to run both One Tree Hill and Mt Eden and managed to smoothly run it, finishing 18km's at a scratch over 5 mins/km. I would have been happy to run 18km at 5's even without having running up central Auckland's two most significant speed bumps. It was scarcely believeable to myself because after coming down the mountains my general pace wasn't slowed at all. I ran throughout the following week, making a new 10km personal best (4:36m/km pace).
Perhaps it bred overconfidence. Last Saturday I tried running One Tree Hill and Mt Eden again but as a 21km loop to mimic a hilly half-marathon like I'd be running in March. Again surreally I was running far too smoothly, at about 4:52 mins/km for the first 18km, and not feeling bad for it. I plowed down from Mt Eden and felt a sensation in my knee, but ran further and it disappeared; I went into cruise-control on Mt Eden road before charging down the Valley Road slope. I knew that after that I'd just have the gentle undulation of Dominion Road to take me home and clock me into what would have been my best half-marathon distance by some way (around 1 hour 42-43 minutes, my previous best 21km was a flat 1:47). But it was just as I was starting to think about stardom and the home straight that I was brought back to Earth.
I now know that runners with too much mileage should be careful going around corners. Shortly after going around the 90 degree corner of Valley and Dominion I felt a "pressing" sensation on my calf. It wasn't pain, per se. As with other ailments I ran a bit further to see if it changed, but it didn't. I stopped and stretched it thinking it could be cramp and tried running again, but it was perhaps even more evident. It felt a little bit like pain. And so I walked back the final three kilometres home and RICEd my calf.
So now four days down I've been resting and recovering. There is no longer a sensation of injury so I've started doing strengthening exercises and might try a jog on the weekend with stretches. I've got the settled mind though that as long as I heal properly, I have enough fitness to do a great half-marathon in seven weeks. It is a slightly similar situation to last year when I'd achieved the breakthroughs to finish a half-marathon months before the event, and even with the curve ball of incorrect shoes and IT band sydrome, I still recovered to exceed my expectations.
But it's a good week to rest: Our company conference is coming up in two days and last week I was informed I should do a 15-20 minute presentation with a focus on Academic Quality. I have about 36 hours to really move my interesting ideas into something beyond burbling bluster. It does however give me a chance to do something I enjoy about my job, public speaking. It gives me the chance to show a different side of myself than people see in the office. It gives me a chance to present vision, as well.