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Sunday, January 27, 2013

Here We Go Again ...

After an almost 21 day long downtime from running to recover from a knee injury, I finally laced up and ran yesterday. Though it was short of a week from the actual intended time I was allowed to run again, it was utterly liberating to hit the roads again. I absolutely missed running!

But I had to really convince the wife that I was good to go again before she released the shackles from my legs ... LOL! She's been making sure I recovered properly and not sneak out the house in the wee hours of the morning to run, not that that would ever happen seeing as how even an earthquake couldn't wake me up in the mornings!

Jamie, who will be running the Gold Coast Airport Marathon in July decided to organize a training group to run on weekends. The group wasn't catered specifically for those running the GCAM and anyone who was training for a 10K, half or full marathon was welcome to join in. Even a newbie to running was welcomed.

I took that as a great opportunity to ease back into running again. Besides the fact that it's always fun running with a group of running enthusiasts, it would serve as a perfect platform to start my marathon training plans for the Standard Chartered KL Marathon in June.

What I like about group training sessions like these is the amount of knowledge and tips you can gather about running. No matter how much you think you know about running, there is always something new to learn from sessions like these, especially from the more seasoned runners in the group.

The first session saw a turnout of about 15 runners. After the initial tips from Jamie and the warm up session, the group headed out for a slow and easy 7km run, seeing as how this was the first training session. The agreed pace was exactly what I was looking for since it was my first run in almost 3 weeks. The legs were feeling fine after the three week rest but I wasn't about to push it and risk a recurrence.

I planned a slow 6:30-7:00 pace and actually managed to keep to that, at least for a while anyway. After the second or so kilometer, the legs actually felt pretty good and I decided to increase the pace a little to see if there would be any discomfort to the knee. The good news was, the knee was holding out just fine. But not wanting to really push myself, especially on my first day back, I capped the pace to somewhere between 6:00-6:15 all the way back to the end point.

While still a little sluggish and far from my best, especially stamina wise, I was pretty happy with the outcome. It's still a long way to go before I get back to where I was but the signs look good, barring any recurrence of the injury. I'm going to have to remind myself to go easy and not rush into things. I have this stubborn and impatient streak in me, which is why I get injuries pretty easily.

I haven't signed up for too many races in the first quarter of the year with only the Brooks Half in my race calendar. That leaves me about a month or so to get in gear for that race. The second half will definitely see me doing the SCKLM, a race which I have targets and goals to achieve, the Shape Men's Health run, a race of sentimental reasons, the PNM which will probably see me doing the half marathon this time simply because I see myself being involved with loads of work for that event.

My plans for the year is to put in a lot more time for training and target specific races with gusto and put all that training to action. I'm also looking at doing the Penang Bridge Marathon this year but have not made any decisions on that yet and might also partake in the Powerman again, sprint of relay, not really sure yet but chances are on the relay again if I can find a rider for it since I'm not that adept at cycling.

I will not be taking part in much 10K or less events cos I personally think some of them are priced too high but won't mind helping out as a volunteer for these events if given the chance. At least that way I can give back something to the sport.

With that said and done, it does feel good to be up and running again and am looking forward to what the year has in store for me, running wise. Let's hope it'll be an injury-free one!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Patella What?

My bad running start to the year seems to be on a continuous motion for me. It looks like I sustained more damage to my leg during the MPIB run than I initially thought and it's going to see me sitting on the sidelines and forbidden to lace up for at least 3-4 weeks!

The recently concluded MPIB run wasn't a race I was happy with, performance wise, what with suffering cramps and not getting up to speed at all during the entire race. But little did I know that would be the least of my worries.

The entire Sunday after the race saw me hobbling around the house in pain, especially at the back of my right knee. I put it down to the usual post race pains and aches but when I was in a lot more pain throughout the entire night especially when trying to straighten my leg, I knew it wasn't your usual run of the mill post race pains.

I could walk normally albeit a slight limp but whenever I tried to stretch or straighten my right leg, I got this sharp jolt of pain along the inside back of the right knee. Popped a couple of ibuprofen's and dabbed on some Voltaren gel and hoped that would cure the darn thing but no luck. It was even more painful the next day.

The wife forced me to make an appointment with a sports specialist and after some digging, I located one right in Subang itself from the Runners Malaysia website called Sports Backcare Specialist run by Dr. William Chan. I made an appointment and got myself diagnosed this morning.

After a lengthy tests of prodding, poking, pressing, squatting, bending and whatnots, along with X-rays and an ultrasound scan, it was discovered (up to 95% certainty) that I have a patella meniscus tear and tendon sprain of my right knee and will have to be completely off from running for 3-4 weeks!

You should have seen the look on my face when he said that. It was like I had no life left, what would I do, where would I go? I think Dr. Chan was pretty used to the look of despair I gave him cos he said that's the look most runners give him when he tells them they have to take time off from running. From that point on I seriously don't remember half the things he was telling me about my injury. I was totally zoned out, all I could think of was, no running for 4 whole weeks?!!

4 whole weeks, doc?!!! Pix credit to knowgriefersblog.
Let's just say that I'm not at all happy by this development but at the same time I'm glad that I listened to the wife and got it checked out. I probably would have aggravated it and made it even worse if I persisted in running through the pain. Besides, I don't really have any races at least until the 3rd of March and this will give me time to recover and rest the entire body.

This puts a huge damper on my training plans and my fitness level is definitely going to take a big dip. I'll have my work cutout for me once I start training again. With the right and 'smart' training plan, I should be back to some semblance of form just in time for the Brooks Half marathon.

This forced sabbatical will also give me a chance to take a step back and analyse my training plans for the future. I believe I've been pushing myself too hard (and the wife agrees wholeheartedly) with trying to achieve too much that I don't realize I'm not a young wee lad anymore. This old body cannot take the abuse that it could a couple of years ago.

Running is supposed to be fun and sometimes being too competitive and hard on myself tends to take the fun out it though I won't admit it. The wife tends to remind me of that sometimes but I only hear what I want to hear. I guess that's what you call being in a state of denial. It's time to put the 'fun' back into running once I recover and get my priorities right.

Let's face it, I'm not going to get on the podium ever, unless all the other runners take a totally wrong turn somewhere during the race and get lost, so why am I constantly putting pressure on myself and in the process ending up with more and more injuries? I want to be running way into my old age and the way I'm going, it's going to be very unlikely that will happen.

This injury is really a blessing in disguise and hopefully I'll learn from it and come out of it a better and 'smarter' runner. At least the doc said that the injury didn't come to a point where I would have required surgery. That would have been really horrible news. This is like a wake up call for me. Till then though, the next 4 weeks of the rehabilitation regime I've been given by Doc Chan takes centre stage.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

MPIB Run 2013: Race Review

Disappointing. Lacking. Painful.

That clearly sums up my horrible race start at the MPIB Run for the new year. I'm not going to beat myself over it though and will just move on and work on improving what I've lost. The past four weeks has seen me doing very laughable mileage, not intentional but due to injuries and it clearly showed in my fitness level which was also laughable.

The wife and me got to the race location early cos with the closure of the Bukit Aman car park, we knew parking was going to be a hot commodity. In fact we were a little late cos the moment we got a parking bay at the Lake Gardens car park, the place filled up instantly. Another 5 minutes too late and we would have been in trouble.

What?!! You took how long to finish a 12K?!!
Took a short warm up run at Lake Gardens and headed to the race start location with the wife who was there to lend support cos she opted out of this run. The race started on time and I opted to go into a conservative pace and pick up later on in the race. Save the energy for the hills, that was my plan but fate had other plans.

Right from the start I knew my race was in trouble when I couldn't even get up to speed. Trying to maintain my regular start pace was an effort and I wasn't even 2km into the race! By the time we hit the first set of hills, I was panting like a pervert on steroids! Damn, I've still got 9 freaking kilometers or so to go, with a lot more inclines thrown in and I was in trouble already.

I had little choice but to push on. The pace was all over the place and it was basically like that for the entire race. By that time, all I wanted to was to finish the race, to hell with timing, not that I had any choice in that matter. Though suffering, things were going okay until around the 8km mark when I was struck by cramps in my right thigh! I was flabbergasted, I'm getting cramps at the 8k mark of a 12k race and I knew at that point my race was officially ruined. No way in hell could I salvage any semblance of a decent race time.

I just struggled along with the run/walk method for the last 3km and prayed that the finish line would appear soon. And after 1:12:41, a whole 7 minutes off last year's timing, I finally crossed the finish and hobbled over to collect my medal.

The pain is clearly evident on my face ... pix courtesy of Lina.
A lot of work needs to be done to make up for loss training time and this drop in fitness level. I don't have any races signed up till March and I'm going to use the time to get back to proper speed and fitness. The training proper restarts from next week and I'm going to put my entire being into it but of course not to the point of getting injured again, something that happens easily to me. Getting injured was the culprit for this dip in form in the first place.

After the race, I met up with Ivan and Adeline of Skechers Malaysia, together with Yvonne and chit chatted about, what else, but running shoes ... LOL! A congrats goes out to Yvonne for 4th placing in her category.

I also gave the Skechers GOrun 2 its first race test and while my race outcome wasn't so good, the shoe on the other hand worked well. Though a tad bit narrower in fit and I had to lace them a little looser to cater for feet expansion, I hardly felt the shoe on my feet. For a lightweight shoe the cushioning was awesome and the grip on the downhill stretches, some of which were pretty steep, was excellent. Now if only my results had done justice to the shoe.

Took some photos with Lina before taking the long walk back to Lake Gardens to meet the wife who was doing her training over there while waiting for me to finish.