Monday, January 16, 2012

12:05 average pace for a walk?!? ... (Ok, with run breaks)

Wow, what a day.  I don't even know where to begin.  Yesterday was my first day back to running in three weeks, and it went ... okay.  Not great, though.  There was no huge sigh of relief, no exclamations of joy, no "Baby, I'm back!"  To say it succinctly: the shin still bothers me.  If it weren't for that, it would have been a thoroughly wonderful and enjoyable day.  As it was, it was only a mostly wonderful and enjoyable day.

The family and I got up early to make our drive to the start of this year's annual Samson Stomp 5K, put on at the Milwaukee County Zoo. Despite the early hour, both kids were really excited to be heading off on our adventure.

Ready to go!
Distance Dude and E. ready
to head out to their race!
The drive there took a while, and when we got there I was amazed at how full the parking lot was.  Apparently, there was a record number of participants for the event yesterday and with over 1,300 people in the 5K alone, I believe it.  Following the crowd through the zoo's main entrance building, out the back, past the penguins, and into the Peck Welcome Center, we finally found packet pickup.  For $14 each (pre-registration cost per person for a family of four or more), we got really nice long-sleeved, black t-shirts.  The kids were happy with the shirts because they had a picture of Samson the Gorilla (for whom the race is named) and pictures of ape and human hand and footprints.  I was happy with the fact that there was ample indoor space to wait for the race start (I had had visions of waiting outside in the cold with two young kids) and the fact that they had a Caribou Coffee tent in the Center offering free coffee.

As the first race neared, I got myself outfitted as best I could for the high-teen temps.  Distance Dude and I had discussed logistics earlier, and I think we got it figured out as best we could considering we had four people doing three different race events.  Luckily, everything was spaced out nicely, so there didn't seem to be too much stress.  First up would be the 5K, which I needed to finish in under 45 minutes to make it in time for Hubby's and E.'s 2-miler so I could hang out with the Little Guy.  They in turn had 45 minutes to finish so that Hubby could run the Quarter-Mile event with LG.

First up, the 5K at 9:30 a.m.  Hubby was going to take the kids through the Ape House, which was attached to the Welcome Center, while I "ran."  So, we said our good-byes, I found the bathroom, and then headed down the covered wood walkway, past the penguins again (I can only imagine what they were thinking about all the people milling about), to the start.  I made it with only a minute or two to spare, and then the gun went off.

The 5K

Even though I wasn't running,
I thought I could at least dress the part.
So, I really have to say that I liked the 5K event. Since I was planning on mostly walking (4 minutes walking to one minute running), I tried to align myself towards the back of the pack, but while I was back there with a bunch of strollers and such, it seems most people were still running.  So, how did I do?  Well, I was queen of the back of the pack.  Walking - such as I was - I was surprised to be around so many runners.  Even to the bitter end, I still had other run/walkers around me.  I am afraid I probably irritated a few people.  Sorry, folks!  I did try to stay to the side, but the fact is that wending our way through the zoo, such as we were, the course did bottleneck in a few places.  There was one spot in particular where everyone's progress ground to a shuffling halt as we maneuvered through a particularly narrow spot.  For the most part, though, the path was wide enough to accommodate everyone.  Having the chants of the Fire Department recruits coming up behind you was also motivation to keep going.

As far as my little walk-run strategy, I wouldn't say it was the best.  Very conscious of the fact that I needed to finish the 5K in 45 minutes or be late for the start of the 2-mile run my daughter and Hubby were doing, I really tried to walk fast, i.e., faster than I normally walk by far.  Aerobically, I did NOT feel challenged by the 5K at all, which is amazing.  I've gotten winded by trying to walk a fast 5K before, so I think that just goes to show that my lung capacity is still there.  Mechanically, another story.  I could feel pretty early on a band of tightness compressing around my calf and shin (along the line of where the injury is).  It didn't hurt while walking, it just felt tight.  That, of course, carried over to the runs as well, but despite that running felt great.  I've really missed it.  I spent my few minutes running really focusing on form and trying to keep it light.  Taking these little run breaks was a nice ego boost (undeserved as it was), because I was sailing past folks on the run.  Not just walkers either!  I was running past other runners who were simply at the back of the pack because they do a slower pace.  It was interesting to hear people talk along the way.  A couple of young ladies were talking about how hard it was to do the three miles and how they couldn't even imagine doing 13 - that's just dumb, I believe one said.  Others were encouraging each other on - you can do it, not too much further.  Others were simply struggling to control their breath.  I remember those days.  They weren't really too long ago.  It's nice to be reminded of all the gains I have made even while dealing with the setbacks.

The race course itself was a lot of fun, as it wends past many of the zoo's animal exhibits.  I wish I had taken more time to look up and around during the event.  I did see some mountain goats, though, and camels and caribou.  Apparently, according to E. by not looking up more, I missed the polar bears.  Bummer.  The rest of the animals would have to wait until after the run.

Finishing up the three-mile event, I ended up by stretching the last run segment from one minute to three or four.  I was ready to finish up by then, and, frankly, I didn't feel that bad.  I came in at 37:30, plenty of time to do a slow jog to the 2-mile start line where Hubby and E. were ready and waiting to take off.

The Shin

So, the shin.  Right after meeting up with the family, the Little Guy and I headed immediately back into the Welcome Center.  LG said he had a potty emergency, which somehow miraculously went away once we were inside and he saw the granola bars.  I got some Gatorade, coffee, and a granola bar, too, and we found a place in the crowd where I could try to stretch a bit.  That's where I noticed that my shin was not feeling too happy with my little event.  Feeling down along the outside of the bone, beneath where the patellar tendon connects, there it was - the soreness.  After a week of no soreness after exercise (even when I have been pushing and poking at it), it was a monumental disappointment to feel that familiar hurt after the 5K.

Little Guy ready to do his run - finally.  What a long wait
for the little kids.
Quarter-Mile Event

In any case, I needed to try to put my shin out of my mind and focus on getting LG to his kids' quarter-mile event at 11 a.m.  We had fun waiting by the monkeys for the race to begin, but as the time got closer, LG was raring to go.  I was kind of hoping to see E. and Hubby before LG's race started, but no such luck.  So, when the yell of Ready, Set, Go came, I was left to jog along after the Little Guy as best I could with the backpack on my back and worrying about the shin.

I needn't have worried too much.  LG is known for his slow, dawdling walk, and if there is any way to describe his run, it would be "slow and dawdling" too.  What he lacks in speed, though, he makes up for in persistence.  He ran the whole way.  It was just really .... really .... slow.  It didn't take long before I was coaxing him along - not because he was stopping, but because I just wanted to be done a bit sooner.  Thankfully, as we came around the corner to the finish, there were E. and Daddy cheering him on, so he gave a big burst of speed and sprinted across the finish to slap hands with the man in the gorilla suit and claim his ribbon.  LG's now convinced he won the race.  And, in a way he did.  We're always telling the kids that just doing the runs and finishing is the real victory - not to worry about where they place.

2-Mile Event

As for E., her first two-mile event didn't quite live up to her expectation it would seem.  She ended up walking most of it.  Hubby says that while they started out enthusiastically enough, her stomach started bothering her after the first hill, so then most of the "run" was spent walking and stopping to look at the animals.  I think it's funny, but I think E. was the most disappointed.  She puts a lot of pressure on herself to do things well and she hasn't learned yet how to handle it when they don't go as planned.  She did enjoy seeing the animals, though, and she did finish the two-miles.  I, personally, think that is amazing.  The course did loop around in the middle and she could have chosen to quit at that point, but she didn't.  She finished it.  I love it.

In Conclusion

So, after all of our runs were done, we spent a lot of time hanging out in the Welcome Center eating granola bars and rehydrating on multiple colors of Gatorade.  Then it was a quick walk through the Ape House again (for my benefit), a walk through the aviary, and then on to lunch.  We had thought to walk around the zoo a bit more to see some of the animals we had missed, but family consensus was that we were all too pooped and would have to save that for another time, perhaps when the weather is a little more inviting.

After several stops at fun places like REI and Trader Joe's, it was time to head home.  While the kids watched a movie in the back, Hubby and I had a lot of time to discuss my shin.  (Probably more than he really wanted to!  lol)  My feeling is that it might have been the walk that killed it - and Distance Dude agrees.  Power walking probably flexed my shin a lot more than running would have done - and seeing as I am not used to that, it could be the culprit for yesterday's woes.

Apparently, the Hubby thought I meant to do a 4-minute run to 1-minute walk for this event (gotta love marital miscommunication), and when I clarified what I had done, his response - Why would you do that?  Um, I thought slower would be better?  Anyway, I got home last night, iced the shin, and this morning it feels a lot better.  It's still a little tender to the touch, but I have to really poke it to illicit that response, so I'll take that as good.  (To be honest, both shins are sore this morning, so I know it was the walking that caused it.  Shame on me.  That will teach me to walk fast.)  This week, I'll continue cross-training and maybe try a run in a few days with a different pair of shoes.  It's time to mix things up a bit.  Who knows, maybe it is the shoes after all.

Me, Beautiful?  Sure, why not?

Finally, to wrap up this VERY long post, a blog I have started following (Neurosis of the Stay at Home Marathoner of 3 (Kids)) put out a challenge to post a picture of oneself when you feel "beautiful, or epic, or Galactically Bada**."  I guess the thought behind it is that because women tend to be so hard on themselves, it's time to take a good subjective view of things.  What do other people see?  Mostly, it's probably not as bad as we think.  I have thought about this for several days and had a few pix in mind I could post, but as it happens one we took yesterday fits the bill as well.

This is a picture of me at yesterday's race all sweaty and grungy after my 5K event right before sending E. off to do her 2-miler.  So, here's when I think I look the most beautiful: after accomplishing something hard but fun (read: running), enjoying time with my family, or while relaxed on a family adventure.  Generally speaking, I don't put a lot of stock in how people look.  (Clearly, or I would take more time with my own appearance.)  I don't wear makeup, I don't fuss too much with my hair, I don't keep up on the latest styles and trends.  I strongly believe that beauty comes from the inside, and there is no time that it shines through to the surface more than when you are happy and satisfied with how you are spending your time.  So, there you have it.

Happy Running!


  1. Ok, 1) I'm sorry about the shin. Bummer. Double bummer. I am a little afraid about what's going to happen on Saturday. I was looking at my calendar, today marks the beginning of my 5th week away from running. My Hot Doc made me take off 3 weeks... I took of 2.5 before even seeing him. My fear is the same as your reality: "what if..." SO Not sure if you have access to a provider, but have you considered seeing an ART Chiropractor? Theres only one in RVA, so they're a little hard to find, but they are "Sports Medicine Chiropractor"...
    2) Your race recaps (X3) are hilarious & real. OF COURSE the potty emergency went away upon sight of granola... it could happen to anyone.
    3) I love the photo. I often feel my best photos are on the finishline. I have to wonder why. I usually look like a crack addict. But on that same note, a galactically bada** crack addict....

  2. Hi there, I posted a comment to this already, but then I think I deleted it. I am so high-tech minded.

    First, thanks for the compliments on the reports, gba! I appreciate it. I love writing them, but I feel I ramble at times.

    I am looking forward to how your first foray into running goes. It sounds like you are doing all the right things, though, so I am hopeful that it will go well for you. I think you're way ahead of the game, because you are actually seeing a doctor. I am so injury prone that I have gotten to the point where I hate to go .... if I went for every injury, I would be there all the time! In fact, sadly, I am one of the most injury-prone runners I know. I'm still trying to figure that out. lol

    I'll have to look into the ART doc. I have been wondering if a chiropractor would be a good idea for me. I've never seen one, but I am just coming off of five or six years of carrying one child or other on one hip. I imagine that could have screwed things up a bit.

    Finally, I LOVE the crack addict comment. I know how you feel. I really enjoy your sense of humor. Keep it up!