2016: A Two-Race Year

Purple carrots

Super weird superfood: purple sun carrots

The snow isn’t flying and the running is fun for me right now. And yet, now seems as good a time as any for a “year in review” for my running. The one race I have left, I’ve been advised not to run.

This is why this post is full of photos of produce: I didn’t do a whole heck of a lot of racing, this year. Not that much running, comparatively speaking, happened either. Well, evidence (diagnoses) might point to the notion that perhaps too much running happened, in too short a time. Bah, the folly of overuse injuries!

To wit: My plan at the onset of 2016 was to smartly train for and then do the Superior 25k race in mid-May, and do a few fun 5k races over the summer. For the fall, I had signed up to do the Loony Challenge: the 5k, 10k, and 10 mile races that are part of the Twin Cities Marathon Weekend festivities. Lastly, I wanted to do at least 3 laps (~21 miles) at the IceBox 480, in November. This plan was loosely outlined in my year-in-running-review, last year, here.

What actually happened: I did a good amount of training for, and ran the Superior 25k. Shortly afterward I was diagnosed with a stress reaction (a pre-fracture) in my 3/4th metatarsal area. So: swimming, hiking, and biking filled the fun hours of the summer (when I wasn’t in the plastic immobilization boot), and I was able to run in the 5k on October 8. My physical therapist recommends that I skip the Icebox: my foot and body won’t be ready for that aggressive (hilly and uneven) terrain.

It’s possible that I brought the injury upon myself, by not doing enough trail miles, prior to the Superior race: life got in the way and my longest run took 2.75 hours, when the race would have me on my feet for around 4 (3:55 was my finishing time). Also on the list of regrets/lessons: the foot pain I had on two runs in the three weeks prior to the race was strange and severe. Severe enough that just reducing my running dramatically, rather than forgoing the race completely, was maybe not the best choice.  I also was not doing much in the way of strength training.


Take a bite. I dare you!

It’s also possible that the problems started before 2016. As part of the physical therapy I have undergone since The Unbooting, I had a running/gait analysis done in early September. This informed me that I, at least on that day, didn’t have very efficient form: I wasn’t engaging my left gluteus medius, I wasn’t pushing off with my right big toe and also my right arm swings a lot further (back) than my left one.

The last one is the only one I knew about and maybe it’s the only one that existed before my foot injury. Who knows? Maybe the glute and toe problems were ticking time bombs. Maybe they can explain my epic number of falls at last year’s Big Woods Run?

Today: the glute strengthening, toe-activating and general balance work in my physical therapy continues, and I’m up to 3.3 road miles on my 2-3 weekly runs. I enjoyed spending a lot more time on my bike this summer, than in past years. I’ve even gone on what feels to be my first “group ride” with a few friends, during which I discovered a lovely route to Stillwater from Saint Paul. And this, on a bike I’ve had since 1985!

So… produce pictures. Steve did most of the work, including the highly successful rabbit-proof fences, but my reduced running schedule also allowed me to spend a little more time with our garden. One thing I’m sure it allowed for: planting some pumpkin and sunflower seeds, in the front yard. Those vines, fruits and that majestic stalk have been beautiful, strange things to come home to, each day after work.

We also had a heck of a cabbage harvest: batches of kimchi and sauerkraut are a-bubbling in the basement, right alongside Steve’s latest batch of beer. So many new and wondrous things we grew this year: carrots, cabbage, pumpkins, and Hungarian hot wax peppers! Some golden oldies we also have been eating this week: three varieties of tomato (or just one new weird but sweet and small hybrid of all three), jalapeños, Anaheims, radishes, and beets.

Theory becomes reality: less running equals more gardening time.

The Great Pumpkin

The secret stash