Sunday, February 6, 2011

Overheating in a Tank Top ... in February (or, Race Recap: Kaiser Permanente Half Marathon)

A few months ago I woke up with a stabbing pain in my left heel. I figured I had a bruised heel and it would go away. After consulting with my friend RoadBunner (a totally certifiable running consultant in my book), she warned me that it sounded like a classic case of plantar fasciitis. I rolled it on a tennis ball, bought some orthotics for my shoes, iced it every night, and continued to run 6 days a week.

Two weeks ago, I was riding the bus to work and got a charley horse in my right quad while just sitting there reading my book. I thought the months of hobbling on my left heel was getting to my "overcompensating" leg. Only the pain didn't go away, and I sometimes had a hard time putting weight on it altogether. My quad never hurt to the touch -- it only hurt when I stepped on that side. I massaged it, iced it 4 times daily, and continued to run on the days it wasn't totally unbearable.

I asked a physical therapist about my leg and the result: It's my right IT band. It's weak because my right leg is about an inch longer than my left leg, and all the running on pavement is jarring it in weird ways. My right sartorius muscle knotted up because it was tired of making up for my weak IT band. His suggestion: Take a few weeks off of running, roll my sartorius and IT band on a foam roller, and stick to running on trails for a while when I get back into it.
This morning was the Kaiser Permanente Half Marathon & 5K here in the City. I registered for the half a while ago thinking that if I didn't make my sub-1:50 goal in L.A., I'd try again here since my training was up and the two races were close to one another. I ended up making my goal in L.A., and a promising 10-mile race two weekends ago lead me to think I might even be able to squeak out a sub-1:45 half marathon. Then my satorius bonked, and I had to re-think my goals for today's race.I woke up and the pain in my heel was pretty noticeable. I rolled it on a tennis ball before getting my body out of bed, made breakfast, hobbled outside to gauge the weather (my computer said 63 degrees at 6:00am!?!), and changed my mind from wearing my black Punk Rock Racing shirt into my yellow, yet-to-be-christened-at-a-race Marathon Maniacs tank. It was going to be a warm day, and I didn't want to have a repeat of feeling too hot, like I did when I ran the 13.1 Marathon in L.A.

I ran to the starting line of the KP Half, noticing only some minor twinges in my right quad, but appreciating the warm-up miles. I lined up with the 1:45 pacer (an ambitious goal I was more than willing to back out of), had my best half marathon to date, and then ran home.

The starting line near the De Young Museum.
Yes, I wanted to at least go for it.
I can't remember the 1:45 pacer's name, but we chatted briefly as I asked him about the course tangents. He ended up playing a pretty cool role for me late in the game.
Mile 1 (8:00), Mile 2 (7:33), Mile 3 (7:59), Mile 4 (7:44)
Usually I start races out too quickly and after "banking" time on the first few miles of the 13.1 Marathon - L.A., I figured I'd go for that strategy again. But when my Garmin beeped 8:00 at mile 1, I needed to pick it up to bank anything -- my goal for the race was to run 8-minute miles, and I already cut it too close right off the bat. Luckily by mile 2, the crowd thinned out and we had a nice little downhill, so I was able to bank some time as we squared around Panhandle Park.

Mile 5 (7:52, first gel), Mile 6 (7:31), Mile 7 (7:43), Mile 8 (7:57)
After a relieving downhill stretch in Golden Gate Park we hit the Great Highway, where the out-and-back portion was seriously brutal. While there was at least some shade in Golden Gate Park, there was nothing along the highway -- no wind, no clouds, nothing but the hot pavement glaring up at us. I slowed down at a few water stops to swig some cold water (the Citrus Nuun I had in my bottle was warm and disappearing quickly), and dump the rest of the water on my head. It seemed to help in cooling me down. I couldn't get the thought out of my mind that I was overheating, in a tank top, in the first week of February, in San Francisco!

Mile 9 (8:03), Mile 10 (8:02, second gel), Mile 11 (7:56), Mile 12 (8:06)
I struggled a lot on the Great Highway. The footing wasn't the best in places, and the stiff heat made the miles seem like they were dragging on forever. At mile 11 the 1:45 pacer passed by me. "Oh no you di'int!", I exclaimed, hoping he'd recognize me from the short chat we had earlier in the morning. I was feeling a bit nauseous, and told myself I'd let him stay in front of me until mile 12, allowing myself to watch his steps, let him pace me, and not think about the race elements for a few minutes. I listened to my music and counted to 8 with the beat, and concentrated on his footing. For a while the pacer was a good 20 feet ahead of me, but I never let him get any further than that. After the mile 12 marker, I made a break for it.

Mile 13 (7:48) and .24 (1:53)
Right as I passed by the pacer, he said, "You will have 45 seconds in the bank! Go!" -- this guy was on his game! My watch showed that I wasn't doing the best job with tangents, but he knew exactly what I had left based on the remaining course and his watch's reading. While I didn't need him to push me during the first 11 miles of the race, he was watching my back the whole time. When I needed his consistency, he was right on par. And when I was ready to leave him, he was so supportive! I cranked it on the last uphill through Golden Gate Park, gagged about 10 times on the final stretch, and finally let my guts go after crossing the finish line.

It was perfect.

There was no bling for this race; but my Garmin reading is satisfying enough. :)

Official Time: 1:44:11 -- a 3:33 PR; three half PRs in three months' time
Average Pace: 7:57 min/mile (7.5 mph)
Overall Place: 946 out of 5,923
Gender Place: 211 out of 3,161
Division Place: 53 out of 650
Air Temp: 74F, sunny

13.24-mile splits (7:52 min/mile, 7.6 mph)
1: 8:00 / 7.5 mph
2: 7:33 / 7.9 mph
3: 7:59 / 7.5 mph
4: 7:44 / 7.8 mph
5: 7:52 / 7.6 mph
6: 7:31 / 8.0 mph
7: 7:43 / 7.8 mph
8: 7:57 / 7.5 mph
9: 8:03 / 7.4 mph
10: 8:02 / 7.5 mph
11: 7:56 / 7.6 mph
12: 8:06 / 7.4 mph
13: 7:48 / 7.7 mph
.24: 1:53 / 7.6 mph

Even though it appears I'm running better while injured, I'm not totally stupid. I'm going to take a week or two off of running, buy myself a foam roller, and I'm going to do some yoga, hiking, and biking while working on these issues and easing myself back onto the trails. I'd like to think I know how to read my body's signals (even though my race times are telling me differently), and it's time for a break.


  1. Congrats on the great race. I hope you enjoy your recovery break. The foam roller can work magic and I always break it out when things start to feel a little wonky.

  2. ok you are officially my idol. that is an incredible race! sometimes this year, i really want to hit 1:45. BREAKING 1:45 would be amazing.
    keep with that foam roller, it's magic.

  3. Wow, that is amazing! So, what's the secret for all of the PRs? Do you think it's your training (if so, are you doing something special? lots of speed work?) or do you think it just has to do with how you're pacing your races?

  4. Great job! Awesome to have another PR!

  5. Congrats on a great race and pushing through. You've earned your rest.
    Yoga is great for recovery. And yes, our temps in CA are crazy this winter.

  6. Sounds like Cali is agreeing with you - great Job!! Do you ever miss running in the snow, bundled up, .... ;-)

  7. What a shame there was no bling! But DAYUM! That is a seriously stellar time.

    Now go take care of your jacked up leg. (One of my legs is shorter than the other, too. The difference is mainly in my hips. Chiropractic adjustments help.)

  8. nice job!!!

    my heel has been sore when i first wake up and take those initial steps. hope it's nothing!

  9. I'm always really sore after an adjustment too, but only for a day or so now. Two max. When I first started going to him, I had to go several times within a couple of weeks and I was sore all the time then. I thought the same thing you did: "This is worse than before!" But there was a crazy difference when the soreness went away. Now I only have to go whenever I feel like I need it. I'll just start feeling off balance or crooked or something. I can't really explain it. It's not all that often. Last time I went was in November and I still feel good. Hope you feel better soon!

  10. Here's a link to an article with some pictures on typical foam roller exercises. Good luck!

  11. whoa - great performance, despite the hurt! after you reading your post, i think there's a lot we can chat on. my chiro is always checking my leg length because one always happens to go longer than the other. sigh...and you are so right - roadbunner is a great running consultant!

  12. Rock Star!! I wish I had seen you out there. I had my eyes peeled on the Great Highway but I wasn't sure which shirt to look for. I was going to wear my PRR shirt, too, but opted for a tank which was a good move with the heat.

    Anyhow, congratulations on an awesome few months of running! I can't wait to see how you cream the marathon later this year :)

    Oh, and I WISH I was a running consultant. Obviously, I've have just been injured multiple times and know how to google. Ha ha.

    I'm up for a hike one day if you like!

  13. This is incredibly random, but here goes..

    When I was taking anatomy I was having a hard time keeping all the different muscles straight, but the sartorius was easier because I thought it looked like a seatbelt across your thigh, and my first car was a Taurus, and that sounds kinda like sartorius. So...

    Seatbelt muscle -> Taurus -> Sartorius


  14. Congrats on your PR~!Super impressive considering the injuries, but even without - awesome.

    Sounds like we have similar issues with our legs. One of my favorite stretches for the IT is on youtube:

    I use it all the time when I start feeling the IT band twinge. It has done wonders for me.

  15. S-M-A-R-T
    and totally amazing, I so knew after our Friday night chat there was NO freaking way you were just going to run along gently, you cant, you are a maniac, and an awesome one at that, our "Fast Friend" say Ron and I :)

  16. CONGRATS! damn girl you're on a roll and kicking ass and taking names! I like it :)

    enjoy your little break and I hope your "injuries" feel better asap!

  17. Congrats on the PR! You rock! We'll have to meet up at a DSE race soon!

  18. That is so awesome!! A sub 1.45 is such a great milestone. Any time you can run a race and have your pace start with a different number it is great.

  19. Great post! Wish I had known you were out there -- I was cheering people on with my "Run like zombies are chasing you" signs! :) Nice job on a very hot and uncomfortable day. (And I am SO GLAD you finished healthy and strong and safe -- wish all runners that day had done the same.)

  20. you are on fire girl!!! AMAZING job. I have a feeling your next marathon is going to be very very good :)

  21. That is NOT an average half marathon time!

    Way to go!

  22. Fantastic job on the PRs! Good job choosing to take time off. Be well.

  23. You are so badass going after and achieving your PR while injured! Can't wait to meet you in SF!