I had a nice weekend. One last hurrah for summer. Reba and I went to North Wildwood last night to stay with teammates Bill and Eileen at their place in prep for this morning's run. Good pasta loading meal in front of the tv and the Olympic marathon.
This marks at least the fourth time I've run this little race. Stone Harbor is a shore town and the race starts and ends right by the beach, runs around some flat town streets, and while the course is easy the weather never is. That, combined with it being in a training month, never makes for a particularly good performance. As I've been hinting over the past week, I didn't expect this year would be any different.
And it wasn't. I spoke today for the first time to David, the guy I'd battled for the Grand Prix championship in 2006. I nosed him out for first by a very small margin that year. Its strange because, as the scoring is all based on age graded times, we competed against each other but never really raced each other. I'd invariably finish several minutes ahead, but his 12 years on me would render our finishes very close once our ages were taken into consideration. Its telling that we both talked about how it takes longer to heal as we get older, and I went on, probably a bit too much, about my current ailments.
The gun sounds and we run through the cannon smoke that wafts over the course start. No sooner did we get through this than my heel starts to nag. Its runnable but I know I'll pay for it after the race. I start easy and pass the numbers of people who started out too fast on my way to a 5:56 mile. I feel okay and say if I keep sub 6 minute splits I'll be satisfied. But mile 2 comes in at 6:04 and both heels are hurting now. At the 5k mark half the field turns off to finish and the other half turns around to backtrack on the course. The split is about an 18:45 and I now will be satisfied to finish under 38 minutes.
The turnaround lets me see where I'm at. Five guys in front of me, and to my surprise David is about 10 meters behind me. This sucks, as we are battling it out in the Grand Prix again this year and on one hand, our virtual tie means he is giving me an age graded ass-kicking, and also means that, given the shape I'm in, he might beat me outright. The next two miles were run hearing his footsteps, and its only after the five-mile mark (30:30) that I finally start to lose him. One guy with a big kick passes me at about the six mile mark and I finish first master in 38:09.
Reba and I proceed to have a nice breakfast and afternoon at the beach, slowed a bit by my badly aching heels. I'll have to take this situation day by day for now, but if I had to guess I'd say that this acute phase will die down pretty soon, but that I'll have a tougher time shaking the inflammation for good. So it'll be rest and jogging for awhile. Right now, the prospect of this and an abbreviated or non-existent fall season doesn't particularly bother me, but I expect that these emotions will rollercoaster. But I get ahead of myself. A day at a time, so as the miles decrease my pondering how my running future will look will likely increase.
And thanks to several folks who offered their assistance to me in various forms post-race, especially to Mike who dug up a bag of ice for me and Reba, who had the patience to hang with me on the beach as I walked at the speed of a two-year old.