I've already mentioned this, but, because I didn't take enough time to recover after the marathon, I've been dealing with some knee issues. When my chiropractor, Richey Hansen, gave me permission to try running again, I was only allowed to run 2 easy miles (on flat, soft surfaces) every other day. Each week, he re-evaluates my knee and tells me to what degree I'm allowed to increase my activity accordingly. It's hard to be patient, but it's just so good to get out there and run, even just a little bit. Last week, he gave me this 3-day cycle: 5 miles, 4 miles, day off. Of course, because I'd been feeling pretty peppy and had been pain-free for a couple weeks, I decided to do something that had the potential to be really stupid.
As I'm sure you've noticed, this post is a "Race Recap." Say whaaat? I have to preface this by reminding everyone that I have never claimed to be sane OR smart when it comes to my running. When I had my huge wake-up call about how I was essentially just spinning my wheels doing what everyone told me I should be doing and had, quite honestly, been miserable in my running for several years, I decided to do what brought me joy... whether it actually made sense or not. I was really upset to not be able to run the trail 10km at the GoPro Mountain Games this year, but I knew all the steep downhills would probably set my knee back a few extra weeks. So, I looked over the Colorado Runner race calendar to find something a little less crazy, in light of my injury.
I've been running quite a few of the Colorado Runner series races this year, so the Drennen's Dreams Foundation Splash Dash 5km sounded like a good idea. The elevation profile didn't look too crazy and I promised Alex (at least a billion times) that I would stop immediately if I felt even the slightest discomfort in my knee. I may be stubborn and crazy, but I like to think that I've gotten better at listening to my body and would be able to make myself stop if something was wrong.
Knowing I was probably in pretty bad shape, my plan was to start out no faster than 6:20 for the first mile. I figured that was a safe baseline pace for both my fitness and my knee. Well, in typical Amanda fashion, I got excited and competitive... and the first mile was slightly downhill... And I hit Mile 1 about a second behind the leader in 5:51. Oops. But, honestly, I felt completely fine. Not actually having any knowledge of the course, I thought to myself "No problem! I can totally hold this pace!"
Famous last words, right?
At about 3k, we turned the corner onto a long uphill -- an uphill that didn't really end until the finish line. I kept myself close enough to the leader that I thought I would have a reasonable chance of out-kicking her. The incline slowed me to 6:01 for the 2nd mile. Still, I wasn't too far off 1st place.
Then, the long incline combined with the fact that I haven't touched anything resembling a hill in the last month really got me in the 3rd mile - 6:30. My arms were numb and the leader was out of sight. I was running scared, not knowing if there were other women right on my heels.
I crossed the line as the 2nd woman (and 10th person) overall in 19:20, a minute faster than my first race back after last fall's achilles injury. Obviously, it's not a time I would normally be happy with, but considering I only ran 51 miles in the month of May? I'll take that as a decent starting point! And I had absolutely NO knee pain during or after the race, so I would consider the race a pretty big success.
So what's next? Good question. I'm going to be really careful with building back to normal mileage (last week was 20) over the months of June and July, along with working to address various weakenesses and imbalances that have contributed to my injuries the past few years. Then, if everything is going smoothly, I would like to start training for Marathon #2 in August. I won't commit to a race just yet, but I have a short list of options in the November-December range that look like promising possibilities.