Tuesday, October 22, 2013

The "Let's Go 510k": No More Horsing Around with a Toe Injury

And they're off at the Let's Go 510!  Look closely and you can
see me in the middle with the grey singlet
(Photon from Brazen Racing)
I found myself walking up to the starting line of the Let's Go 510 10k thinking, "Just try to finish".  If I ever went to the starting line in any race with the goal to simply finish in any race in my 30+ years of running, I can't remember.  Of course, finishing any distance race is an accomplishment in itself, but I've been fortunate to complete all but one of the nearly thousand races I've ever entered.

The source of my concern wasn't my fitness, the race distance, the course, or the weather conditions.  It was my little left index toe.

For the past couple weeks, I've felt great in my half-marathon training leading up to the Monterey Bay Half-Marathon in November, but my little index toe on my left foot had other ideas.  A couple weeks ago, I'd notice it would be sore at the end of runs.  Then, a few days later, the pain would start to flare up 5-6 miles into a run.    I never gave it too much mind and really didn't do things like ice it down like you're supposed to do to keep it from getting worse.   Before I knew it, it would start hurting after a mile of running and the pain during a simple 6 or 8 mile run would require me to stop every 2-3 miles to flex my toe and let the pain subside a bit so I could manage to get home.  Some time off and sort runs of 2-4 miles helped but it was still hurting. There I was at the starting line of a race I signed up for weeks ago as a tune-up four weeks before the Monterey Half-Marathon.  The idea when I signed up for this race weeks ago was this 10k was be a test of my fitness with four weeks to go before the half-marathon.   Instead, it turned out to be a wake up call on just how bad my toe had gotten and how little I had really done to treat the injury. .  "If you can't run a 10k now, how are you going to do a half-marathon in four weeks?" I was asking myself sitting in my car putting on my racing flats, fifteen minutes before the start.

The crowd was excited enough from the fun atmosphere surrounding Berkeley's Golden Gate Fields horse race track where the race stared and finished.  "Here's goes nothing," I thought as the starting gun went.   I felt OK through the first mile, with just a dull ache in my toe and came through the first mile in 6:03.  A little too fast, but I concentrated on maintaining 6:10 pace as we ran alongside the Berkeley Marina and into Cesar Chavez Park, coming through mile 2 in an encouraging 6:07, the toe increasingly feeling more sore.   A guy in the East Bay spirit of things wearing an Oakland Raiders t-shirt pulled up to me and we battled through the slightly uphill third mile in 6:22, the toe feeling worse but still bearable.  I was actually more concerned with my faltering pace and holding off the Oakland Raiders guy than my toe at that pint and pulled away from him around mile 4, coming through in 6:10.  Not only was I pulling away from that guy, but my toe was actually feeling a little better and I'm thinking, "Hey, I'm going to finish this thing."

That's me on the Golden Gate Field Horse Track.
I'm going to finish!  (Photon from Brazen Racing)

Unfortunately, my reduced fitness due to backing off with the injury showed in the last couple miles, as Oakland Raiders caught and passed me big time just before mile 5, and I struggled through the last mile, slogging to the finish on the Golden Gate Fields Horse Track in 39:01.  But h, that still took 11th overall and first place for the old guys 46-49 age group, and that's still pretty good.

The rest of day I got serious about icing my toe every couple hours and also started applying Zim's Max Freeze, this gel I got as a free sample a fews months ago from the Zim's Max Freeze folks in hopes I would promote it on this blog which I never got around to really testing.  The day after the race, the toe handled an 8 mile training run OK so it looks like I've turned the corner with the toe injury and more diligence, I should get to the Monterey Bay Half-Marathon starting line OK.  And since Max Freeze seems to be part of the solution, I'll say "Thanks Max Freeze".

So time to get this toe thing straightened out and bring on the Monterey Bay Half-Marathon!

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