Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Dead Last

As the saying goes, there's a first time for everything. And on Sunday, it was my turn to place dead last in a 5k race!

You're probably wondering - how did this happen?? Well, I'm so accident prone that I managed to strain my calf while walking down my apartment stairs. The initial pain was bad although initially I thought it might just be a cramp. The pain lessened after a few minutes and I managed to hobble down the rest of the stairs. But I knew something was off. 

As the day continued, I was able to walk but couldn't do a calf raise without discomfort. I went to bed hoping for a miracle and when I woke up Sunday morning and got ready for the race, I still thought there was a chance I could run. But doubt crept in as I drove to Mom's house and when I got there we talked it through. My main concern was making the injury worse by racing. Even though I wasn't planning to go all out, racing always takes a toll on the body - even when it's healthy.

I learned this lesson a few years ago when, similar to this situation, I had a mild calf strain the week of a race. But instead of skipping the race, I decided to line up and give it a try. I told myself I could always slow down if my calf started to bother me. And it did. But so suddenly that I had no time to remedy the issue. I can still remember the stabbing pain in my calf and how I could barely walk after, let alone run. Racing had made the injury worse and it took me out of training for a few weeks, effectively derailing any summer racing plans.

 No idea how I ran the rest of this race. I certainly paid the price after!

After listening to me go back and forth on whether or not I should try to race, Mom gently suggested it might be best to not run and that she would walk with me. As always, Mom knew best. I was having trouble letting go of the race, but once she suggested walking and offered to keep me company, it was an easy decision. 

Since there was no need to do a warmup or line up in just the right spot, Mom and I took a few selfies by the penguins (the race was at the local zoo) and went to stand at the very back of the pack. My heart still raced a bit when the race started but nothing like it would have if I had been running!

I heart penguins!

Even though Mom and I started at the back, I didn't think we'd actually finish last. But within the first mile it became apparent we were bringing up the rear. There were a few people in front of us that were run/walking but they were getting further and further ahead. Also, we couldn't walk very fast because of my calf. It didn't hurt during the race but was a bit stiff so I wasn't super mobile. At this event, there was a separate walk event - but only 3k distance - so Mom and I were two of only a handful of other walkers. And they were all moving faster than us!

About two miles into the race, Mom and I were all alone. We couldn't see anyone in front of us and didn't even know if we were going the right way. Finally we came across a volunteer and he looked shocked to see us. I guess we were way behind everyone else by that point and he assumed there weren't any people left on the course! He got my bib number and radioed ahead to volunteers on the course to let them know we were still making our way toward the finish. Ha! 

However, a lot of volunteers had already left the course and signs had been removed so Mom and I ended up taking a wrong turn. We had to do an extra loop of the course and by the time we got to the finish line, all the other 5k participants had finished and the timing mats were down. I guess when you finish dead last you don't get an official time! ;)

Although you might think finishing a race in last place would be a depressing experience, it was actually quite the opposite. Mom and I thought it was pretty funny to be so far behind everyone else and told ourselves someone has to be last in every race and it was our turn! It was also really nice to get to do the race alongside Mom and we shared a lot of laugh during the 1 hour and 15 minutes it took us to walk 4+ miles. 


My calf is still healing but I think I'll be able to get back to some easy pace running this week. I'll take it slow, knowing dead last is certainly not the worst that can happen :)

My questions for you:
  • Have you ever finished last in a race?
  • When injured, do you run, walk or call it a day and stay in bed?
  • What's a bit of wisdom you've recently received from your mom?

- ST

16 comments:

  1. Take if from me. Rest that calf and don't push it. Doing a warm up jog for Tae Kwon Do a year and a half ago, I felt a pop in my left calf. After a few days of rest it was feeling better and I was doing some practice kicks and I felt the pop again. It was the middle of the GLM winter series and I was to stubborn to sit out. So I hobbled through the remaining races between each one nursing my calf that had some minor tears in it. After the series was done I was done running for a few months going to rehab a few times a week. That calf is still slow to recover from hard runs but it keeps getting better. I had a running tattoo put on that calf last fall with all my distance completions to remind me of my struggles with running.

    Don't push yourself and talk with your coach about it and follow his advice. You don't want to make your recovery longer like I did. There will be more races.

    I know it still feels great to cross the line even though you are not at your best. Get well and you will be running strong again in no time!

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    1. Thanks for the great advice, Bob! I think you're absolutely right - better to be careful and take it easy for a few days now rather than jump back into full training and risk having a longer unplanned break later on.

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  2. Oh, Sun, I'm so sorry you weren't able to run the race. You had such an amazing attitude about it though! That is super cool that you and your mom had such a fun experience and still completed the race! And you even have matching tank tops!! So cute :) I've came in last a couple of times, I think they were all in 9th grade, my first year of running. And I got lapped on the track a lot. I was kind of a soft runner back then and for one of them I even up and quit because I was last and it was "hard"...gosh that really makes me cringe thinking of that terrible attitude now! Yikes. Gotta start somewhere though I guess haha :) I hope your calf heals fast like you!

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    1. Mom and I are total nerds with our matching run outfits :)

      You've come so far since your 9th grade self! I can't imagine you getting lapped now or quitting halfway through a race!

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  3. I'm sorry you wern't able to run the race as you would have liked. I'm even more sorry you have a bit of an injury to get past.
    But I LOVE your attitude, you are right, someone always does have to come in last, and might as well get your turn out of the way:)
    I still think it is cool you even tried, and the fact that you decided not to give up and finish anyway even though you knew you were at the back, big props to you for that!
    Just watch your next race you'll end up going out and winning:)
    Hope that injury keeps healing and you can get back at it soon, take care with it!!!

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    1. Thanks Kristy! I think it's on the right track for healing. I managed to get in a few very slow miles last night and will continue to take it easy the rest of the week.

      Although I won't make a habit of it, I do really love walking 5ks. It's a whole different experience - I recommend everyone give it a try at least once :)

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  4. I got lost during a 50K, added 8 miles to the 31 mile race and was the last female finisher. I've had a lot of laughs over that one, too!

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    1. Oh no! I can't imagine eight extra miles added on to a 31 mile race. Brutal!!

      Congrats on finishing though - that sounds like a beast to push through at the end :)

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  5. You had some quality time with your mom, a nice walk at the zoo, and you didn't injure yourself further. And you have a great story too. It all sounds good to me! :-) There will be a lot more races. I hope your calf is better!

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    1. Thanks Cathy! I do love walking events on occasion - my favorite is actually Briggs and Al's. Mom and I have walked that one for years and we always get Starbucks and just enjoy the miles. I look forward to it every year :)

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  6. So sorry you weren't able to run this. But I've got to say, if there isn't a time limit for the course, volunteers and race officials shouldn't be tearing down a race until the last person crosses the finish line. That's very discouraging. I understand if there is a time limit on the course, but if not? Shame on them!

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    1. I think they didn't realize Mom and I were still on the course since we were so far behind everyone else. But I agree, it made me sad for people who normally finish at the back of the pack. I'm not sure I'd want to race again if I constantly finished after a course had been torn down!

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  7. sounds like you got to spend a good quality walk with your mom which i think is well worth it. also good that you didn't push it and make your injury worse! we're all really bad at that... aren't we? :)

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    1. So true, Nikki! I was sure tempted to run but in the end it's best I didn't. I think I definitely would have made it worse!

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  8. Sorry to hear you were unable to run this race. I am shocked they broke down the course before you finished. You had a great attitude about it, and so nice you were able to walk the race with your mom (great matching tops ;)

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    1. Thanks - Mom and I love the Oiselle Flyte tanks! :)

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