February brought another month of unseasonably warm temperatures and great running weather. It also brought a setback in the training in the form of a groin injury. After returning home from a Florida vacation that permitted me to run every day in shorts, I returned to six inches of snow on my scheduled long day. Temperatures were warm so I got the Yak Trax out and had my wife drive me out to the Western Reserve Greenway, an old rail line that had been converted into a bike path that traversed from northeast Ohio to Cincinnati. The snow had been packed down by snowmobile traffic and for the most part the trail was shielded from the wind by trees. The Yak Trax helped, but after about 3 miles of the scheduled 7.5 mile run, I felt some pain in my upper leg.
It's not unusual to have some soreness the day after a long run, but when the pain occurs during a run it is not a very good sign. I cut the run short and called the honey to change the rendezvous point. This occurred on Sunday and by Wednesday it felt much better, so I headed out for a quick 3 miles at lunch to test it out. The leg felt great and I hit the first mile under 10 minutes. Mile 2 slowed down significantly and before I reached mile 3, the pain returned. Three days prior to the first 5k race of the season and I have to shut down the training again.
Saturday February 18th: First 5K race of the season and I'm waffling back and forth about competing in the "Running Out of Our Mine" 5K race in Wampum, PA. Since four of us were making the trip, I decided to go and decide after I had a chance to warmup. Since the race was in an old mine that had been re-purposed for boat and RV storage, the temperatures were a constant 55 degrees and we got there in plenty of time for a warmup run and stretch. The leg felt good, but I was still a little apprehensive about going 100% in a race environment and risk setting the training back even further. I finally decided that I would treat this as a training run and just take it easy (at least for the first mile). I was running with grand daughter Lexi and and we hit the mile 1 mark at 10:15, slightly slower than my usual race pace, but slightly faster than my training pace. I could feel a little tenderness in my leg, but not the sharp pain of the two previous workouts.
Mile 2 was exactly the same pace as mile 1 and the leg felt better so I told Lexi that we were going to pick up the pace a little. The harder we ran the better the leg felt and we were steadily passing other runners who were fading at the end. When the finish line was in sight, we picked it up even more but Lexi had more in the tank than her dear granddad and beat me by two seconds. The groin stiffened up a little on the way home, but it felt pretty good but I'm going to give it a couple of more days before resuming full training.
The Orange Hat Running Club
Earlier in the month, I had emailed one of the board members of our local runners club to find out when they would be publishing the new year race schedule. In the course of the email exchanges, I had mentioned that I had seen him with a small group of runners occasionally. The group called themselves the "Orange Hat Running Club" and got together on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays for runs of 5-6 miles. They graciously invited me to join them, an offer I gladly accepted. They said they usually run about an 11:00 per mile pace, which fit perfectly in with my training program. On Wednesday Feb 22nd, I joined them for the first time. Their plan for the day was to run 5 miles on a course that featured several challenging hills. Up to this point most of my running had been on fairly flat courses. We ended up with an average pace of 10:34, a little faster than I was used to, but it was still a conversational pace. The guys told me of another larger group that met on Saturday mornings for even longer runs. I told them I would skip their Friday session and check out the Saturday morning group, but reconnect with them the following week.
The Saturday group was a much faster pace but Warren, the leader of the Orange Hat Club ran with me while the faster pace group quickly put distance between us and were soon out of sight. The run got challenging at about the five mile mark, but I fought through the wall and eventually finished the 7 mile run, my longest in 3 weeks.
Total mileage for the month dropped due to the injury and the resulting downtime, but my overall fitness is continuing to rise.
Week 1: 23.54 miles; Average pace (10:59); Longest Run - 7 miles
Week 2: 20.44 miles; Average pace (10:49); Longest Run - 3.9 miles
Week 3: 6.05 miles; Average pace (10:36); Longest Run 3.1 miles
Week 4: 20.93 miles; Average pace (10:44); Longest Run 7.02 miles