Friday, August 29, 2008

...then the other shoe drops

That is meant to be a rather oblique reference to feet and legs, not just the colloquial meaning of the phrase, in which something inevitable (and usually bad) happens following another event.* Anyhow, this morning the shoe dropped about two miles into my run, when my left calf spasmed about two miles in, for no apparent reason. I tried to walk it off for a few moments, then started running again, slowly. It still felt sore but was not unbearably painful.

I was, of course, slightly irritated. How could this happen right after I'd declared myself "ready" for the Maine Coast Half Marathon, and planned a long run for Sunday? (Which is still planned unless my calf doesn't get better, or gets worse, before Sunday.) I've always prided myself on my lack of injuries (except for the achilles tendon condition, of course). No knee pain, ever, even though that seems to be a common complaint amongst runners!

So I kept it slow this morning, without trying to squeeze in any "fast" miles as I frequently do these days, with the aid of the Garmin. I didn't even mind stopping for a moment when my phone rang.** I was standing on the sidewalk talking to my mom when I saw, coming my way, the "track team."

That's what I called them, because it was a group of males running together all dressed in the same outfit, gold shirts and navy blue shorts (similar to the high school colors). I stepped out of the way for them to pass, at which time I realized this was no high school track team. They were clearly older than high school age, and heavier (that is more muscular) than the lean (skinny) high school runners I've seen. And they were running slower than any high school track runners I've ever seen. (High school P.E. classes, that's another matter.)

I let them pass and get ahead of me before I followed. Even if they were slow (and they were), I didn't want to be ahead of them and have them pounding on my heels! I followed them and determined they were running about a 10:30-10:45 pace. If I hadn't been coddling my sore leg I would have passed*** them easily.

In fact, I still started gaining on them in Grand Avenue Park when they stopped to walk at the top of a slight hill! That put me in mind of the Whidbey Island Half Marathon, where I kept seeing Marines wearing shirts saying "Marines do more" and walking up the hills. I wanted to say, "Do Marines walk up hills?" but didn't have the nerve.

Oh yeah, because I had decided that these guys, not being high school students, must be from the Naval base. Who else would be out jogging in a pack in matching outfits?

A guy walking through the park said to me, "You can catch them, they're slowing down!" I responded, "Oh, I know I could catch them if I wanted to!" Then I got to the end of the park and turned back toward downtown, while they continued southward, presumably toward the footbridge that would take them back down toward the naval base.

I would write more clever things about chasing a pack of sailors, had I been up to flying past them in a blaze of glory instead of plodding along in their wake.****

Anyhow, I finished my run, 7.5 miles to Starbucks and then another half mile walk home from Starbucks. I'm calling it 8 miles.*****

I debated whether to treat my sore calf with ice or heat, and possibly ice might have been better but I chose heat, since that would allow me to take a hot bath and get ready for work, while ice would just take too much time out of the morning. I really felt this type of muscle soreness might be better helped by heat, anyway. Several hours later at the end of the day, my leg is still achy but not worse. I'm resisting the thought that it could be any kind of muscle strain or real injury, and I'm going with residual soreness from a cramp. I've been gently stretching it here at my desk and periodically massaging the back of my leg. I'll take another hot bath tonight and rub some arnica cream on it. I'm sure it will be better tomorrow and fine by Sunday. (I've always been an optimist!) I wasn't planning on running tomorrow, anyway.

Unless the sailors are going to be out again???

*Such as John McCain trying to steal Obama's thunder by choosing a woman as his VP candidate and announcing it the morning after Barack Obama's fabulous speech, when all attention should be still be focused on Obama's speech! (Just an example. No partisan intent... tee hee.)

**With my mother calling to vent about the McCain deal.

***Or chicked.

****Hahaha, that's a sailing joke, get it?

*****I get to count the last half mile because 1) I did it on my feet, therefore it was part of the run; 2) That last mile took 13:33 minutes, even walking half of it, which still puts the average pace within jogging standards; and 3) it's my run, so therefore I can include anything I want in it.


David William Peace said...


I can relate to the pain. I was running the 15k 30th Annual Tulsa Run, when at about mile 4 I thought my left femur (I think that's right) had started to crack. I had not started to walk in one of these races yet, and was determined to at least top my last PR. My wife and son were waiting for me at the finish line and I had been training like crazy for the goal of getting it in 60 minutes or less. It was becoming insane at around 11k and my body was starting to feel my compensation for the leg. At 12 K I walked for a minute and then started back to running, and I really had to dig deep to finish. I made it to the finish line topping my PR by 1 minute and proud as hell to pick up a finisher's medal (which they don't usually have at this race). Anyway, I don't know if it was the sudden practice of taking ice baths or something else I did during training, but the drive home was satisfactory. I saw what I was made of.
Thanks for reading,

David William Peace
ps- Hope to see you on Facebook.
Please check out my blog at

Michelle J said...

Hi Kristin,
I hope your leg feels better for your run sunday!!! I am finishing up a running streak! It will be 36 days of running!!!


Kristin said...

Hey Michelle,
I remember you were doing that - I thought it was just going to be 31 days! You've outdone yourself! Congratulations! (And take a day off!:)

Kristin said...

Oh my God! That is more pain than I ever want to experience. Glad to hear you recovered okay!

Laura said...

I never know whether to pick ice or heat, and usually end up doing neither!