...like looking REALLY excited about giving poster presentations!!!
In any case, if you've never been to Vancouver, I can't recommend it highly enough. It's gorgeous & clean & progressive & one of the friendliest places I have ever been. My first trip to Vancouver was at the tail-end of our Alaska trip back in 2010, when we hung out downtown for 2 days & had tasty burgers, delicious cocktails, and chocolate fondue.
Chocolate fondue at Mink, July 2010
My second trip to Vancouver was not so much a trip to Vancouver as it was a trip through Vancouver on the way to Whistler-Blackcombe in 2011, which, again, if you haven't been and love amazing gorgeous outdoors/nature (particularly skiing), deserves a spot high up on your list. All you IronMan Canada athletes & loved ones making a side-trip, you are in for a treat!
am was back again for a research conference last week and also apparently marathon training since we go everywhere together now. Nelly recommended Stanley Park as a sweet running venue, so I kind of felt like I won the lottery when I looked at a map & realized our hotel was less than a mile away. The place is apparently a paradise of running trails (dirt, paved, hilly, flat, adventurous, mindless, you name it), so as soon as I realized how close we were my optimism re: actually getting in the miles this week improved substantially.
After we settled in & got dinner I decided to explore the park via the Sea Wall Trail, a flat, paved path that followed the edge of the park right along the water. I was supposed to do a 10-11 mile speed workout involving a set of hard 800s, 20:00 at marathon pace, then another set of 800s, but the trail was moderately busy, not super wide, and involved a good number of blind curves, which did not make me feel super comfortable about that (especially since getting taken by surprise & leaping out of the way in this case could potentially mean falling into English Bay / Vancouver Harbor).
Another fun thing I learned on this trip is that one of my colleagues just signed up for her first 10K at the end of August, and our PI, who right now is in the habit of running ~3 miles a few times a week, just signed up for her first half marathon in January as well as a series of 5Ks & 10Ks over the next few months to keep her motivated to work up to the distance. What this means is that people tend to be more understanding than maybe would normally be the case of my need to free up a couple of hours most days & come back disgusting & sweaty.
Now....here is the part where I hate myself. On Wednesday I had to fit my eight miles in between the end of work stuff & dinner reservations, which meant I was pressed for time. Not really that pressed for time, but I felt like I was, so as a result I wasn't paying as careful attention as usual to how I was running & where I put my feet, etc., and around mile 6 I tripped & came down really wrong on my left foot in a way that made my Achilles feel like it was about to snap. I stopped & walked it off & it seemed okay, so I finished the last two miles, but towards the very end it really, really started to hurt & I was limping on it a little when I got back to the hotel.
The next day it was sore but not as bad as it had been towards the end of the run. For most of the day it ached a little on & off, & then towards the evening started to feel better. The weather was gorgeous so I decided I'd jog around on it a little & see how it felt, & if it was more than the tiniest bit uncomfortable, I'd call it a day in hopes of being able to do my 17 mile long run on Saturday.
After a couple of easy miles, it felt completely fine, so I kept going, and when I still had no pain after ~3.5 miles I went, "Sweet!! Totally good to finish the 8 mile loop." But then, as inevitably will happen when you are a dumb-ass & don't bring money or card for a cab, I'd barely passed four miles when it started to ache. This made me nervous but was by no means awful, and since I was now 4 miles from the hotel, I just kept going. By five miles, it was pretty painful & I absolutely would have stopped if I wasn't 3 miles from the hotel in a strange city in the almost-dark. By six miles I was pretty much just going, "Bad idea. Bad idea. SUCH a bad idea. Worst idea EVER," & during the last two I was just kind of hoping my Achilles tendon didn't snap before I got home.
My easy runs usually average between 8:05 & 8:20ish & my last mile was ~9:30 which gives you some idea of just how bad it was. To me the reddest of all red flags has always been needing to modify your stride to compensate for pain, and there was definitely a lot of that going on.
I made it to eight miles without my tendon snapping, which left me about six city blocks from the hotel, which was close enough that I felt okay walking it in the dark. (Which, btw, still REALLY hurt.) By the time I got back I could not really put weight on my left foot without pretty significant pain, and both plantarflexion and dorsiflexion were extremely uncomfortable. Needless to say my 17 mile long run did not happen and I will probably need to stay off it completely until it's completely 100% better, which with a tendon strain is kind of anybody's guess.
So yeah. I'm kicking myself pretty hard because a) I should have given it another day before testing it out, b) I should have known better than to go out so far with a sketchy leg, c) I should have brought cab money so that I wouldn't have to choose between walking a bunch of miles in the dark or running them & making the injury worse, d) I worked so, so hard to arrange & schedule things this week so that I could get all my miles in around my work stuff, most of which ultimately went to waste, and e) everything has been going just so, so well up to now in terms of marathon training. ARRRRrrrrRRRRrrrrRRRRGGGGHHHH!!!!!
I've been trying to think about what I would tell someone else if this happened to them in week 10 of a 15-week marathon cycle, which mostly includes things like, "What's done is done. The best thing you can do is give it complete rest & let it heal," & "You can only make it worse at this point; resist the temptation to rush it," & "Yes, the lost mileage is annoying but your training so far has been really consistent, & in the long term this probably won't make a difference, especially if you cross-train for all you're worth until it heals." Because for some reason when it happens to someone else I'm able to be rational and calm and keep things in perspective. When it's me, though, somehow these things always feel like the absolute end of the world, and although I know all those statements are true, I kind of don't really care, because in case you missed it, THE ENTIRE WORLD IS ENDING.
(Okay not really, but that's totally how I felt Friday night.)
As of Sunday evening, I am safely back home in SF, and have no pain at all just walking around. Still, I'm going to give it until at least Tuesday without trying to run on it, and if that works out okay, then I'm going to get down on my knees & thank my lucky stars that three days and 33 miles was the only sacrifice the Marathon Gods demanded in exchange for my stupidity. Next Sunday is SFH2M, and even though I'm not "RACING"-racing, I still need to be able to run 18 miles without feeling sketched out.