April 27, 2018

Like a Sharp Knife Into the Back of My Leg

Running In the Red Zone - Heart Race at Xterra race

Being a runner has its advantages. You can pretty much do it anywhere. City streets, mountain ridges, country roads. You can even do it on a cruise ship.

Then there are the disadvantages. One being the lingering tendency toward obsessive compulsive disorder. Like the need to monitor everything possible under the sun. You know, like distance run, elevation gained, resting heart rate, max heart rate, calories, hydration, cadence, weight, pace and sleep, among other meaningless metrics.

A couple weeks ago I kind of threw all this in the toilet and went out a ran in a 15k (9.3 mile) Xterra race in San Diego. I was supposed to do a 50 mile race on the east coast the same weekend but cancelled on account of a snow storm in the forecast. As I was driving to the race I started to think about how fast I could run it, given I only needed to run 18.6% of the 50 mile distance I was supposed to run. Fast I remember thinking.

I started in the front of the pack and quickly found myself running at a pace I haven’t run since...uhm….high school? But it felt so awesome! I was flying down this single track trail with all these young speedsters. The adrenaline was pumping through my veins like nitro glycerin into a dragster. Sparks were surely flying behind me. Then I glanced at heart rate. 178 bpm!

I don’t think I’ve run over 170 bpm in several years, the last time being when I injured my Achilles tendon and spent months on the road to recovery. But this was different, I thought, as I pounded down the trail. This was a race! So after a couple of miles battling it out with other runners I simply stopped looking at my heart rate.

Around mile 6 and 7 things were going amazing and I started passing other runners. Then it happened. It was like a knife going into the back of my leg. Sharp, sudden and serious. I immediately started walking, preying it was just a simple cramp.

No such luck. Oh, well, I thought as I walked the next two miles. Sometimes things happen for a reason. Especially when being a bonehead.  

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