Just a 4-miler
When you are in the endurance world long enough, a 4-miler may seem like a pretty short race not worth to get excited about. However, this one may have easily been my most important 4-miler in quite a while. I certainly felt that pressure.
My hip injury
Let me back track just a little bit for those of you who don’t know about this. It’s been 9 months since my last race. Last year was a bust after May, because I realized the hip that had been bothering me since February needed to be addressed. I had to cancel the rest of my season after finding out that I had to deal with a tear in the hip labrum complicated by a cyst that had developed. I also suffered from an old tendon injury in my quadriceps of the same leg. It had taken 4 months to be properly diagnosed.
I started talking to people and found out about a surgical option as well as a stem cell treatment. I found that surgery would be a highly invasive procedure that would require a long and painful recovery. From the people I talked to surgery didn’t promise very good results. To the contrary, the stem cell treatment was minimally invasive providing fairly quick recovery with a high chance for the desired results. That’s what I went with and after just twelve weeks after the initial treatment, I was pain free and thrilled to fully return to swimming, biking AND running!
Between traveling and scheduling, it took until early December to reach that point of being able to start a return to running program and therefore this specific 4-miler became a highly anticipated test of the strength of my hip.
My race report
I did not think I was nervous. After all, it was “just” a 4-miler. My heart rate betrayed me and I could tell the second the gun went off. As soon as I ran through the starting line, my heart rate elevated and remained at a high level throughout the entire race. A grin started spreading on my face. I was freakin’ excited. I was racing and I felt good!
It was tough to hold back with the first mile pretty much just going downhill. I focused on my cadence and my heart rate and tried to feel out THAT point. You know, the one where you just know you can’t possibly run any faster, but are in control of how you feel. The second mile was mostly flat, but my heart rate kept creeping up.
With two hills coming my way (1 small, 1 massive), I needed to slow down a little bit. The first hill was super short, but at 4.5% incline it felt like somebody had put the brakes on. From the top of that hill, I was able to maintain my high heart rate and increase the pace again, at least for ¾ of a mile, before the 6% grade hill hit. I had to walk three times… Clearly, I was not ready for hill running yet. However, my endurance had built up enough that I could really increase my pace from the top of the hill, all the way downhill to the finish line – just another mile away.
As soon as I came through the finish line, I went to the results tent to check where I came in. I couldn’t believe it. It didn’t seem right. I now figure Charlotte’s fastest weren’t racing the 4-miler! Ha! I came in second in my age group and was lucky enough to take 1st place. Turned out the leading lady in my age group won in the overall female category.
Most importantly though: I remained pain free throughout the entire race! And the final analysis of my race showed that I haven’t even lost that much from where I ended last year. A few points on my lactate threshold heart rate and 10+ seconds on my threshold pace. Nothing I can’t gain back with a few months of dedicated training. I am ready to pick it up a notch. Clearly, there will be hill repeats in my future!