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?