Saturday, April 10, 2010

Fastest 5 Mile Orbit

What a difference a day makes!

Based on this data, I am fairly certain I completed the last 5km in exactly 21 minutes (finished the last 3 miles in 20:28.57). Not bad for someone concerned about his foot...which, by the way, was not a factor today.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Not On The Right Foot

On the surface, my post-L.A. marathon recovery has seemed to be going very well. My pace is quicker. I feel fitter. However, if you have been following my recent entries, you may have noted how often I refer to issues with my right ankle.

There is a pattern: My foot feels great when I start running. At some point it starts to bother me, but not enough to abort. I finish strong. Foot hurts off and on for the rest of the day...and even more so the next morning. I skip the next day. If it still hurts, I skip another. Then I wake up feeling great...only to start this pattern all over again.

Actually, the pain is not really confined to my ankle. Some of it reminds me of PF, but along the outside edge of my foot (as opposed to the arch). It especially hurts when I first step down on the hardwood floor in the morning, so I roll out the pain using a tennis ball. The ankle feels a little click-ish when I roll it to loosen it up. At times there is tenderness in front of the ankle. Occasionally the heel of my foot stings. The pain is worse when I am barefoot or wearing slippers.

Some of these pains are not new. Some may not necessarily be from running. I first noted pain along the front of my ankle after catching my toe-edge while snowboarding a few years ago. I have rolled this foot inward a few times while running on uneven pavement. The PF-like symptoms are more recent (as in during my last month of training for L.A.). The heel pain started after the marathon.

What is relatively new is having any of these pains while running. I think the Long Beach Marathon was the start of this phenomenon. If I remember correctly, the next time I even noticed any ankle pain was during the latter miles of my longer runs leading up to L.A. And now I am noticing discomfort in my right foot at some point during every run.

I find myself paying close attention to how my right foot feels all day long. Sometimes it bothers me while I walk. Sometimes it bothers me while I sit. Sometimes it does not bother me at all.

I do not want this to become something serious, so I have elected not to run since doing a 5 miler on Tuesday. Considering I do not have any races scheduled, I can afford to play it safe. I just do not want to lose my post-marathon speed boost. I probably will run this weekend. If I am smart, I will not run a 10+ miler until I am absolutely certain the pain has completely gone away.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Easter on Burma Road

I find it hard to believe that between my marathons at Long Beach and Los Angeles, I did not step upon Burma Road even once. The last time I ran upon my favorite local trail was last August, when Valerie and I lamented the damage from a recent wildfire. This had been my prime destination for hill training and impact sparing, a challenging five mile out-and-back, a picturesque shortcut through Portuguese Bend Nature Preserve. My training options, especially my number of long distance routes, were significantly reduced without it.

This morning, Valerie and I have returned. Spring has sprung, not quite erasing all evidence from last year's fire, but triggering a dramatic recovery. Black trees contrast with an El NiƱo-fueled bloom of yellow wildflowers. Occasional splashes of purple dot the hillside. I am quickly reminded why I love running here.

I fly down the hill, completing my first mile in 6:03. I am a little disappointed that I did not crack 6. Perhaps I would have had I not stopped to appreciate the surroundings.

As I reach the lowest point on the trail, I am amazed by the amount of erosion. The top soil has completely washed away, revealing grooves etched in Palos Verdes stone. The uneven and jagged surface wreaks havoc on my weak ankle. The surface softens during the steep climb towards the gates of Rolling Hills, but one dip needs cones to warn how much has slipped away.

As I continue my ascent around the bend, the trail appears even more beat up. I thought potholes were bad on the streets throughout L.A. County, but the pits formed here are deeper, potentially ankle twisting. Though it is not hard to find footing while climbing, I must remember to be extra careful when I traverse back down.

I quickly catch my breath when I reach the halfway point...and wait for Valerie to catch up. She says that she did not remember this hill to be so steep or long. I remind her that this half mile climb has always been tough for both of us.

Valerie takes off ahead of me since I plan to stop for pictures on the way back.

Once again, I fly downhill, pausing at the treacherous spots to record pictures and avoid injuries. I complete 5km shortly before the final climb towards Del Cerro Park with a split just under 22 minutes. This is not as fast as my previous post-high school best, but, given the inclusion of a steep half-mile-long incline, it is far more impressive.

The etched rocky surface once again aggravates my ankle and the incline increases the pain. As I complete mile 4, a man on horseback passes me. My pace is dropping...I could use a one horsepower boost. A woman on horseback passes next, her steed spewing road apples on the ground in front of me. I make a mental note to never draft behind a horse. With a half mile to go, I finally catch and pass Valerie.

Upon returning to Del Cerro Park, I am surprised to learn that I have completed the out-and-back averaging exactly 8 minutes per mile. This is by far the fastest I have ever completed this trail run. I guess I am still benefiting from a post-marathon speed boost.

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