Dallas, Texas - A somewhat cold Sunday morning on Young Street began a new beginning in mindset with my half marathon adventures. In celebration of the beginning of the Spring and recently turning 42, my, "touring" of downtowns led me to the great state of Texas. The city of choice this time, Dallas. The variety of race, the Rock 'n' Roll Series. This would be 6th RnR run and my 9th overall.
Honestly, I was a bit apprehensive about this one. If you read about my "failure" to finish the race at the Adrenaline Run a few weeks ago (Feb 27), I was not even in the condition to finish a 10k (6.2 miles). Now here I am in Dallas. What on earth?!? Would I be able to make it?
Well for the record, if I would have pushed myself (which I easily could have), I most likely could have finished the Adrenaline Run. The problem would have been the aftermath. That was a race I was trying to sneak in during a brutal work schedule. I registered and planned my work schedule in December 2015 for the Dallas event. The half marathons for me are the what pro golfers consider, "majors" or the big time events in my vocabulary.
With what occurred in OKC in late February, what did I do differently in preparation for Dallas? I can say in one word, "rest". For the first week after the A.R. experience, I slept! I stopped trying to push workouts when I was already fatigued. I made sure to CONSISTENTLY get to 7 to 8 hours sleep each night, while listening to my body. By "listening" I mean I challenged myself at a minimal level. The workouts were not necessarily easy but I wasn't going to be excessively sore for day on end either. I progressed at the rate my body would allow me to at this time. The results of the strategy spoke for itself. The combination of rest and slower, progressive conditioning (helping to insure joint stability), not only got passed the 10k mark but to the finish line as well.
CONFESSION: EXTERNAL v. INTERNAL PERFORMANCE
Between Adrenaline Run 10k and Rock 'n' Roll Dallas, there was a 3 week period to make corrections. I already mentioned the first week after the A.R., there were no workouts whatsoever. In the 2 weeks remaining weeks, for running conditioning, I did not do anything over 6 miles. I was able to get back to that distance without any problems. It is amazing what you can achieve when you rest properly.
What is the purpose of me mentioning this? RnR Dallas is a half marathon, a race distance of 13.1 miles. This would be my 9th half, so I knew I was capable of the distance. The main question was, did I have the endurance? The picture below gives you the answer.
Rest is no joke. This was one of the biggest eye openers for me. Though I wasn't conditioned fully for the half, I had virtually no joint issues and did not feel fatigued until the 10th mile. This is a vast improvement from the experience 3 weeks prior.
Here is a confession though...if I truly would have listened to my body, in the name of health, I would have stopped at the 10th mile. The 9th mile in Oak Cliff had quite the hill and it fatigued me. I ended up walking a portion of that hill. The video I love to reference (External Performance v. Internal Performance), applies to me as well. If this were a training run, I would have stopped. The protocol should have been, stop, rest, recovery, challenge a little more next time (internal performance).
On this day though, I wanted that cool looking race bling though (external performance), regardless that my body was giving me initial fatiguing signs. These "signs" were the following,
- Minor Cramping
- Minor Foot Pain
- Calf Strain
- Lower Back Tightness
From a health standpoint, that doesn't make sense to continue going. There was no financial gain to be had by my "performance" and I am not an endorsed athlete in the traditional sense (I sponsor myself). I am a professional that specializes in injury PREVENTION. I should be practicing what I preach, right? We can override our sound thinking at times when we really want something. I am no exception to the rule. For me that was the 9th piece of half marathon bling awaiting me 3.1 miles away at the time. I'm human as well and can get caught up with the situation.
I don't want this to sound negative or overdramatic either, as if I were in immense pain, I would have stopped. I'm simply pointing out that what I SHOULD HAVE done was stopped at the 10th mile IF a healthy run (determined by minimizing injury) was my TRUE goal. This day it was about performance and it inherently has an elevated risk of injury.
As for the finish, my pace slowed the last 5k of the run. Mile 12 on the Houston Street Bridge to the Reunion Tower Lawn (finish line) seemed to take forever (more like 13 minutes). I did have some minor physical issues at the end for making the decision to push on after 10. I had mentioned on my Instagram post, I knew going in, I was not going to be at my best. I was happy to have the overall stamina to finish though. I was even happier I finished with minimal injury (lower back tightness, stiff legs, limited left ankle rotation, and quite sore all over).
Before leaving for Dallas, I booked a Muscle Activation Techniques (MAT) session with Daren Kosters for the day after the run. I knew I was going to need it. I also put on compression socks for 24 hours AFTER the race. The studies[1, 2] I have read have shown that there is benefit in doing so. If I may provide an immediate takeaway here - plan every part of your run (pre-event, event, post-event). Recovery is equally as important as the run itself.
DALLAS WAS MY "BEST" RACE!
I consider Dallas my best race by far. It was far removed from my best time. I was actually 19 minutes slower than my personal record (PR). However, if you have been reading my blog, I no longer gauge success in these adventures by time (external performance). I seek to see if I am healthy at the end as well review the following questions, did I take the time to meet new people? Did I take time to really SEE the sites? (especially the running course - Reunion Tower, Dallas Convention Center, Deep Ellum, The Margaret Hunt Hill Brdige, the Bishop Arts District, Houston Street Bridge, and the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders 🙂 ) Did I enjoy myself? The answer to all these questions is YES!
ALL IN PERSPECTIVE
I could have pushed myself to get a faster time but I woul have skipped out on the all the sites, sounds (the live bands and dj's that make the RnR series) and the most important thing, the new running enthusiasts I met. At the end of the day, these races are both an advertisement for my wellness services and a glorified workout. If a new personal record happens to occure, that is fantastic. If it does not, that is okay as well. I am not defined by a time on the clock. The main pint for me is, did I have an EXPERIENCE while staying relatively healthy. The answer was yes and THAT is why Rock 'n' Roll Dallas has been my best race to date.
I would be remiss in not mentioning my first participation in a We Run Social gathering was a big part of making Dallas my best experience. They are so POSITIVE and fun to be around. I love this culture of positivity that has been created by that group...then again, I am part of that group now. 🙂
1. Journal of Sport Rehabilitation 2001, 10, 11 – 23