Sunday, June 13, 2010

Strikes and Gutters

Amazing what can happen in a week...

A week ago today I had a fantastic run. It was one of the most enjoyable 20k runs I've ever done. I dropped in to an easy quick pace and never felt tired. It was one of those runs that makes me love running, a scenic out and back from my house past Kitsilano Beach. I was passing people effortlessly and it didn't even seem like work to hold a good pace.

Then on Tuesday, another good run. This was my out, back and to work run with hills. Not quite as good a pace, but with the hills and so soon after a fast 20k I was pretty pleased with it.
Somewhere between then and now it has all fallen appart. After this decent morning run in to work, and a bit of a deadline-driven stressful work day, we went out to see Joe Cocker and Tom Petty. Both bands were surprisingly good and we were up pretty late. But I was in good shape to handle another busy day at work on Wednesday. I think Wednesday is where things started to go off the rails. That evening Nora bumped her head. Hard. So Katie ran her to Children's hospital and I stayed home so we didn't have to wake Eliza up. But I couldn't really sleep, and Katie and Nora didn't make it back until morning. (Nora is fine, but it is good we brought her in). So I was in terrible shape Thursday, running on a two night sleep deficit with extra helpings of stress.

But having had a fantastic string of runs I thought I should get in a lunch run. It might even make me feel better, I told myself. Heck the ultra-marathoners go without sleep that long and never even stop running, so buck up! So, off I go on my 7k loop around Lost Lagoon. It wasn't even raining, all that hard. Yet. But rain it did. What started as a refreshing cool mist turned into a dump. I wound up with my shirt and shorts stuck to me like a Corona T-shirt on a girl-gone-wild. I spent the first half of the run trying to keep my pace high and shield my iPod Touch from the deluge by holding it face down, cupped under my left hand. 

That didn't work. Almost exactly half way into my run, on the other side of Lost Lagoon, my iPod turned itself up to eleven and could not be adjusted. Moisture had found its way into the volume rocker switch and shorted out the contact that turns up the volume. I paused the run and started playing with it to see if I could get it to work, but my stomach dropped as the iPod spontaneously rebooted. Losing the run data was the least of my worries. A water-soaked iPod spontaneously rebooting can't be a good sign. I tried to power down, but it rebooted itself again. 

Thinking the iPod was likely fried, I figured I'd hoof it back to work and see if I could dry it out. Unfortunately, as soon as I started to run my left calf knotted up really bad. It was all I could do to make it back to work. I had to run/walk just to make it back in. It was the worst run I've had in years, after nothing but improvements for a couple months.

So the iPod works fine once it dried out (pro tip: put wet electronics in a bowl of dry rice to draw the moisture out). I gave myself a couple days rest, and my calf has been fine. So, I figure it's time for a repeat of last Sunday. I gear up for a long easy run. It is a beautiful day and I have a fresh soundboard recording of the Phish concert they played last night. I was excited to zone out and cover some miles. But two kilometers in I felt a twinge of pain. It got progressively worse. After pausing a couple of times, it was clear that there was no sense in pushing myself, and I hopped on the SkyTrian by Science World, and then a bus up Commercial. Run over...


I'm thinking lack of sleep and stress caused the calf problem in the first place. I hate to call it an injury; it is just some soreness and inflammation in a muscle. But then I guess that is what an injury is, isn't it? I'm wondering if the high stress and lack of sleep could have elevated cortisol levels in my system. Or maybe I was just so tired and distracted by the rain and malfunctioning iPod that I was running with terrible form. Maybe I was just pushing too hard too soon after long mileage.

Either way it is going to keep me from running. I think I should lay off until Thursday or Friday. Guess we'll see how it goes.

As a wise man once said "Sometimes you eat the bar. And, well, sometimes he eats you."

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