Let me just start off by stating that I am a road runner. I am not now, nor will I ever be, a trail runner, which is too bad because there are some great trails in the Blue Ridge Mountains outside of Charlottesville. The 10k trail race this past Saturday almost killed me.
The Powhatan Christmas Tree 10k trail race was very hilly (not just rolling hills…some were very long and steep!) and the trail was at points a single track technical trail. I can see how some–those that don’t have joint injuries–enjoy that type of running. But it is certainly not for me, especially now that I am trying to actively recover from my articular cartilage injury of my right knee. Most of the time I am able to run up to 15 miles because I am very careful about my posture and how my feet hit the ground. It helps to be on a somewhat flat surface, like a road or treadmill, for that.
Jumping over streams, roots, and rocks hurts my knee.
Running up and down steep hills over and over again hurts my knee (especially the DOWN).
Feeling my feet/ankles turn because I am running in mud and over rocks hurts my knee
When I had the idea to run this 10k, I felt so good about it. About one week after the RnRLV half marathon I’d be doing a 10k. How perfect is that? Well, it would have been if it had been a road race. But it was a trail race. And I ended up looking and feeling like an ass. My time is completely unimportant here, but I finished right at 1 hour. I had to walk a lot of the last mile, not because I was tired (not even close), but because my knee was killing me. I’m talking pain that I haven’t felt since August. The fact that I wasn’t careful and I did that to myself makes me want to punch the wall.
But what is done is done. My knee still hurts today and it is making a very strange grinding feeling/noise. I will just try to get back to what was working for me before in terms of active recovery: treadmill and road running. The [down] hills are the big problem and I need to make sure that the surface I am running on is relatively flat and predictable.
Ok, aside from my own personal issues with trail running and my injury, the race was such a breath of fresh air (literally and metaphorically) after Las Vegas last week. It started at the Powhatan County High School at 9am. Powhatan County is about 20 minutes north west of Richmond. When I woke up it was 26 degrees. 26!!!!!!! I knew it would be a cold race so I decided to wear my long Nike running tights, SmartWool socks, a Nike fleece-lined turtleneck, and running jacket.
By the time the race started and the sun came out I felt warmer and decided not to run with an ear warmer and gloves (really good idea because I warmed up considerably while out on the course).
Powhatan high school was a nice, new, big building where they handed out bib numbers, t-shirts, and gloves (with cute Christmas trees on the palms). It was a really nice, peaceful, and comfortable start–and finish–for the race. I felt like I was in the lap of luxury after last week’s post-race debacle in Las Vegas.
I was able to sit down in a nice warm environment and stretch my legs. After about 20 minutes, they called us to the track to start the race. You can tell how small the race was by how they lined us up for the start 🙂
The course took us out into the woods, past a x-mas tree farm, around a lake (where there was an incredible amount of mud…I thought my shoe would get stuck!), and up and down some really nasty hills. We also had to jump over 2 streams. Even with my biggest leap I was still only able to make it most of the way over the streams. I had some pretty soggy shoes by the finish. Let me just repeat again that if I had a healthy, biomechanically sound running body I would probably really like trail running. I just don’t think it’s the best for me with my injury 😦
You can tell that I wasn’t really happy after the finish line (my knee was hurting!)
After finishing we all went back up to the high school where they had an amazing spread of Panera bagels (every type you can think of), bananas (yellow not green this time), and hot coffee and chocolate. I had a chance to change and talk with some people before listening to the raffle and heading out. It was a really nice experience and it’s too bad I had such a crappy race. Damn you knee! I left around 11am and was able to drive into Richmond for some holiday shopping. It was a really nice Saturday despite the knee issues!