Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Back to fun: not so fast, please!

This is a strange title, isn't it? Not quite Epicurean, rather ascetic. Or, worst, masochist, which I'm sure many people think of us, ultra running studs... ;-)

Let's backtrack 10 days first. As you know, I almost stopped running in December, not by necessity nor by pleasure, but to give my body and mental some rest, following Scott Jurek's advice and approach (Gimme A Break):
So the lessons learned from the Kenyans and the art of hibernation:
1. Take a hibernation break at the end of every season.
2. During the break, run as few steps as possible.
3. Eat well and don’t be afraid to put on a few pounds.
4. Make time for friends, family, and life outside of running.
5. Hibernate four to eight weeks or until fully recharged!
Well, in addition to eating a bit too much over the holidays, the absence of intense exercise gets me out of balance during that period and this tests my patience and coolness, I can hardly wait to resume training. However, this definitely provides a lot of extra time with family and friends, although I did spend some of it in airplanes and airports, like many in December... Anyway, on January 1st, I went for a run and, since I was in deprivation state, for a long run. The weather was foggy and chilly and I ran to the top of Black Mountain via Stevens Creek Park, Montebello Road, the Bella Vista loop and back through San Antonio Park and Cupertino, my usual 29.5-mile training loop.
First, it was such a thrill to get back to outdoor exercise. I started slow, at a 8 min/mile pace, and it felt good. I was very happy to see the Stevens Creek Reservoir almost full already.
The first 11.5 miles to the top of Black Mountain were fine, albeit surreal in the mist of the cloud. There I saw some sturdy picnickers testing their survival skills, at the very top of the mountain, in the cold and humidity and gusty winds. The insiders will recognize them...
At this point, a pain appeared in my right knee and I hesitated cutting it short, either running back or directly though Rancho, skipping the Bella Vista loop. But I decided to keep up with the original plan. The pain was bearable in the uphills but increasing in the downhills which I mostly had being at the top of Black Mountain. Back at the parking lot of Rancho, I still had 5.5 miles to go and, despite the flat street through Cupertino, I could barely run under 10 minutes/mile. I completed the 29.5 miles in 4hrs40 instead of the usual 4 hours when I am in shape.
Quite a disappointing way to start the season, despite the joy (and fun) to be back on the road and trail again. On Sunday, I decided to test the knee and it was really bad, I was back home after 1.5 miles. Trying again on Monday, I was thrilled that there were barely any pain despite running 6 miles. I skipped Tuesday and ran 8 flat miles on Wednesday, at Alviso, still without pain.

Then 6 fast miles (6:15 min/mile) on Saturday and 23 miles this Sunday with an out and back to the top of Black Mountain again. Phew, I'm relieved that my knee is ok, I am not sure what happened on Day 1. I really did not push the pace, just the distance, maybe it was still too demanding for my body after such an hibernation... Fortunately, it was not inside the knee but like an inflammation of the LCL (Lateral Collateral Ligament), but it passed after a few days, hence the delay of this recount of my New Year Day run and almost fat ass... A loud message of my body to listen to it more, to take care of the aging carcass, its engine (read the heart) and all the cables and wires (aka tendons and ligaments). The same way you need to ramp up slowly after recovering from an injury, I need to build up my training more progressively. And sharing so you don't rush either. Hence the title...
Anyway, here are a few other pictures on Picasa from this initial run of New Year's Day. I hope you had a less hazardous start of the year, running-wise, especially if you set healthy resolutions for 2011, which I wish for you. Again, happy, healthy, enjoyable 2011 to all! Oh, and a special happy 1/11/11 in case this means anything special to some astrologists or numerologists... ;-)


Susanne Kappler said...

Absolutely love the photos! Thanks so much for sharing.

Anonymous said...

Oui, les photos sont très belles, malgré ou grâce à la brume