The double race weekend (September 7th/8th) continued with the MEC Half Marathon on Sunday. I heard about the race thanks to Kenny and it seemed like a great way to get a “glorified training run” in. You can’t beat the $15 price tag, which included a marked course, chip timing, post race refreshments and even some unexpected swag.
Hubs and I showed up early to get in some extra mileage. I was feeling pretty tired, stiff and sore from the previous day’s 10K so I took it very easy and started feeling better after 5K. We chatted with Kenny a bit before the start, talking goals and laughing at the impossibly small start corral. Gotta love strolling up to the start line just minutes before the race. After lining ourselves up, I also had the pleasure of bumping into former-blogger Quinton who some of you may remember.
Hubs had decided to run with me since he needed to keep the pace easy, so I was happy to have some company on an otherwise lonely course. The runners spread out fairly quickly as we made our way along the paved paths of Tommy Thompson Park.
I originally wanted to aim for marathon race pace, but after racing on Saturday I decided that would be a bit too aggressive. I aimed for something in between MRP and my usual long run pace so I could hopefully get in a bit of a faster long run on tired legs. I was cruising with a bit of effort around 5:30/KM chatting with hubs and hopping around the puddles and rocky sections of the course. The sun was out and it turned out to be a much warmer morning than I had expected; we were working up a good sweat already.
About 5K in, I noticed that my achilles was “angry.” I was feeling a bit of discomfort/tightness on the left side, which I attributed to wearing my low-support Kinvaras the day before. I often wear them for speed work or short races and sometimes feel some slight tightness the next day in my heel/achilles, but it usually feels back to normal after a day or 2 in my regular stability shoes. This time, I could tell that it was different. As the kilometres ticked by, I was feeling it more and more and by 7K, it actually felt like a hot spot on the back of my leg. Slowing down didn’t help, so I chatted with Hubs who re-affirmed what I already knew: I needed to quit. We were headed back toward the start/finish line at this point since it was a two-loop course, so I had the perfect opportunity to stop.
I had to make the “walk of shame” to turn in my chip to the officials instead of making the turn-around with everyone else. I stretched gently, took advantage of the complimentary post-race massage and then picked up an ice pack from medical while I waited for Hubs to finish.
It was hard at first to accept my first DNF in 7 years of racing, but I know without a doubt that it was the right decision. Sometimes you just have to know when to throw in the towel. This event was not important to me by any means and I was not willing to risk my upcoming races. I was able to see a physiotherapist the next day who determined that my heel joint had actually “slipped” out of place, which was causing the aggravation in my achilles. Continuing to run could very well have caused a full blown case of tendinitis. Thankfully, she was able to loosen everything up and pop it right back into place. Almost immediately, it felt perfectly fine. I took it easy and ran less than planned on Tuesday and Wednesday to ensure that everything was 100%, but I’m happy to say that we are back in business. I’m so glad that I had the sense to listen to my body and swallow the DNF.
As for the shoes, they are most likely the culprit. Switching to low stability shoes threw everything out of alignment, which is what caused the issue. I’ve been wearing Kinvaras occasionally for at least three years so I’m not sure why I had trouble this time, but I will definitely be retiring them for now.
And now, it’s time to move on!