Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Stepping Back

Rock Bottom. Ground Zero. Nadir. All-Time Low. These are not words that one would wish to use to describe the results of a recent important race or, in this case, a series of recent important races. But, that’s exactly the sort of lingual ballpark I find myself in after my current string of personal worst performances capped off by this weekend’s USATF-NE 10k Championships in Newton, Mass.

Going into the race I knew my hamstring wasn’t 100%. I had tweaked it 2 weeks back at Pineland Farms, aggravated it again during a hill workout 3 days later and sent it hurtling off the deep end 4 days after that at Pack Monadnock. So, even after a full week of not running, it wasn’t much of a surprise when I felt that familiar twinge about a ¼ mile into my pre-race warm-up.

Knowing that I was not likely going to score in my age group anyway, I only showed up at the race to support my teammates, feed my addiction to beat-downs, and keep my chances at receiving a USATF-NE “Iron Runner” jacket alive and kicking. I had done the first 3 races of the 7 race series and I wasn’t about to let the fact that I couldn’t lift my right leg (without a shooting pain) keep me from running a mere 6.2 miles. That would be foolish!

Stupid Jacket
In the starting corral I sheepishly walked past all the runners that I usually race with and stopped about half-way back in the pack. This part of the race is filled with all kinds of runners. There are older runners, out-of-shape runners, barefoot runners, stroller–pushing runners, chatty runners, chubby runners, recreational runners and just plain “rec-ked” runners (like me) jogging for jackets. This one was going to leave a mark.

You're going down, buddy.

At the gun, I walked up to the starting line and then began my 10k limp of shame. The leaders were out of sight within the first minute and from then on it was just a question of how far back I would fall. As it turns out, trying to run 9 minute miles with an uncooperative leg is a lot harder than it looks. Although, to be honest, from the spectator’s perspective, I can only imagine what it looked like!

But, not as bad as this guy.

At the halfway point I picked up the pace a bit (to a touch over 8 minute miles) in an effort to just get the damn thing over with already. The pain increased, but at a certain point the leg just became numb. I almost stumbled near the 4 mile mark because my right leg (which was now nearly dragging) couldn’t clear an ant that was crossing the street. At the 5 mile mark I caught up to Tom Cassetty and we pushed each other to the finish. Needless to say, Tom beat me with ease.

The Results showed that I finished in the bottom half of the standings for the first time ever in my running career. My time of 52:07 (8:29 pace) put me in 523rd place (out of 988) and exactly 100th in my age group. This was my worst ever 10k by more than 8 minutes! It was even slower than the two 10ks I’ve done up mountains! And, it was more than 15 minutes slower than my all-time 10k PR. How slow was it? I was only a couple sloppy strides past halfway when the winner crossed the finish line. Ouch!

Yup. Everyone in this team picture beat me.
Needless to say, I’m going to be taking a break from running for a little while to figure this thing out. Hopefully I can get myself fixed in time to salvage part of the Summer before the all-important Fall racing season begins.

Until then, “Hello Mr. Bike & Mrs. Pool. We’re going to be seeing a lot of each other, I’m afraid.”


  1. Take your time. Be patient. Wait till you are fully healed if you do not want it to come back


  2. Be careful! I tried running through all sorts of stuff as you know, but running on a "numb" leg sounds vaguely familiar to my last month of being a real runner nearly two years ago. Do your research and find the proper therapy and be smart (don't run on it)! 52:07? I might have been able to keep up with you on my limited training! You have to get to the bottom of this. Good luck!