RACE REPORT! THE "OH THANK GOD" RACE
Oh. Thank. God!! That's all I can say.
Are y'all bored of hearing me whine about my knee yet? Because I sure am. Whiny whiny Trevor Trevor, it's been driving me nuts. And you too (probably).
But, as we know, my knee hasn't been going well.
I had my first trail race last Saturday. I was rightfully terrified. I had only managed a few runs in prep and couldn't go longer than 1.5kms (that's one and half, not 15) without pain. Uphill was the worst, and the prospects of facing a large elevation trail race were daunting.
Enthusiastically, I had registered months ago for the 10k option. On race day, I decided that was optimistic and bumped it down to 5km. My friends Alex and Alex (they have thus far resisted being called "Alex squared" or "double A" ) took off on the 10k route, leaving me with my painful thoughts for another 20 minutes or so before the start of the 5k effort.
I warmed up like never before. Stretch this twist that flex here extend there squat jump fart turn shake it all about, everything I could to try and get some heat into my legs.
20 minutes passed in a flash, and race start was here.
I lined up at the back, way way way in the back. And of course the race started with an uphill. "Well, we'll know straight away" I thought to myself. I don't know who "we" is, but I thought it.
Start horn goes, I basically start crawling. I'm running, but not running. Hit that uphill, and my entire face just grimaces expecting the pain.
But none came.
I was hard up to believe it. I stayed slow, very slow just in case. Uphill became down hill and down hill became flats. I stayed way way way backed off. Like, way. I didn't trust my knee. It had been a finicky bastard that liked to lull me into a false sense of security.
My watch beeps, first km over. So far so good.
"Stay backed off Trevor, don't you test anything" I keep repeating to myself. I'm also searching for the softest ground, taking mud over rocks, and rocks over pavement.
Look down, I'm at 1.6km. The furthest I've run pain free since Ironman 6 months ago. Confidence is building.
The race takes a gnarly turn into the bush and we are faced with very steep accents. Those kind of accents where you step high more than run up. I'm starting to pass people. I'm starting to pass a lot of people. They're struggling and while I'm working, I'm not blowing up.
2km, still going uphill. No pain, time to start pushing.
My body is strong. My endurance is down but not nearly as bad as what I thought it would be. I'm able to bound up the inclines. The whole time I'm lazer focused on technique: "hips square, feet planted, legs tracking forward and back, no overlap" over and over and over I'm doing my own head to toe evaluations. The knee twinges....
I immediately relax everything. I don't stop moving, but I force my face, my neck, my quads, my calves,my feet to relax on the go. The knee relaxes. False alarm.
2.5km passes, the course starts to turn downhill. I decide to stretch things out. Let's see how bad we can make things. The sucking-in-air-to-see-if-a-cavity-still-hurts approach to knee pain.
I unleash. Using that downhill to my full advantage. I drop my running pack and spike my heart rate. 2kms to go let's finish it out.
I run the wrong way, but I stop and get back on track. I hit it hard.
The course runs through a cemetery. "Was that weird?" you may ask. Yep! Never run a race through a cemetery before, don't really want to do it again.
By kilometer 4 I'm on a 4:30/km pace. Fast for me. Very fast for me. Downhill assisted of course.
Race finish, no pain. Confident through the roof. I needed that, I really really did.
The next day everything hurts, but it's the right kind of hurt. Stretching, strength and rehab continues, but dare I say the worst is behind.