I'm still trying to dig myself out of whatever hole I fell into after my last race. Actually, the descent started before that. Everything has felt off for a while now, and even though I'm over the worst of things, I haven't felt like myself. Saturday was a little better, though.
Since the last race, I had some minor health issues, possibly related to low iron, and a few foot and hip issues. Regarding the iron, my blood test came back mostly normal, just on the slightly low side of normal for iron. This might explain my recent blue mood and general lack of motivation. Things are improving. Unfortunately, I can't seem to do well when I reduce animal protein in my diet. I don't eat a lot of it anyway, but when I make an effort to move to a more vegetarian diet, I don't feel well physically. It's upsetting to me that I can't seem to survive without animal products, but I have found a comfortable way yet.
Two days before this race, The Taste of Louisville, I had a cortisone shot on the top of my left foot. My doctor told me to go ahead and give it a test in the race so that we could see if we're on the right path when it comes to diagnosing and treating the issues. We are. My foot felt loads better after the shot, so we know which tendons are involved and, hopefully, how to deal with the issues. Much of this related to scar tissue after the most recent surgery.
From the start of the race, I felt better than I did last year, and nobody cut me off or ran into me. Unfortunately, my hip popped twice within the first 800, which was scary and made me consider dropping out, but I pulled back a little and got into a less agitated stride. Because my feet are wonky, I don't have great balance, so when two people came up on each side of me, I wobbled first to one side and then over corrected to the other. Even though I didn't get all that close, I still felt like I was approaching these people's personal space, so I apologized with a quick, "oops! sorry." There was no response from either, so I assume things were fine.
It was a competitive race with a few really fast runners taking the lead. Heading into the middle section, I kept thinking I should be running faster, but I have zero sense of pace these days. I knew there was a lady right behind me and a few ahead; I just had no idea how fast or slow we were going. I'm not fit enough to make any sudden moves anyway, but I wish I could have made a few surges.
This time around, the desire to quit wasn't as strong, even when I was hurting. I didn't give in to the part of me that kept suggesting loudly I slow down and let the woman behind me pass or that I stop altogether, which was good, an improvement from a few weeks ago. Unfortunately, I just wasn't capable of digging very deep.
It was hot. In all my years of racing, I've never managed the drink on the go tactic, unless I'm out jogging and using my own water bottle, and even then I've had a few mishaps. Pretty much every time I try to take water during a race, it's a disaster. Most of the time, I end up with an empty cup before I have a chance to inflict any self-harm or reap any benefits. If I manage to keep some water in the cup after grabbing it, what remains usually gets shot up my nose, squirted into my eye, or tossed onto my cheek. Sometimes, rather than aim the cup anywhere near my face, it's better to dump the contents over my head, just to cool down a bit. This time, in two separate tries, I got two drops of water down my throat without choking. SUCCESS!
I was something like 45 seconds slower than last year, which sucks, but I finished in the top five for women and won my age group. My time is still embarrassingly slow, but I'm trying to be OK with everything. I say this because I know my capabilities and know I'm not reaching my goals, not because I think a particular time is necessarily slow. It's all relative. I can't help but be disappointed. What I mean it that it has been a long road with a lot of setbacks, so I know I'm lucky to be running at all. However, I'd like to be running more smoothly and with confidence instead of wobbling through a 5k that feels like seven miles. 23:12 just seems so slow, but it's also kind of a struggle for me to do even that at this point.
Probably the best part of the race was afterward when I ran into some friends. I didn't know they would be running, so it was a really nice surprise to see familiar faces. I'm so used to doing everything solo that I forget how nice it can be to have company, even briefly.