Why just half of a half marathon? Why not just run the 10K or 5K? Because I fully intended to run the full half marathon until my right hamstring gave me grief about 3 miles into the race. Not a sharp pain or pull or anything; just a tightness and soreness that gradually shortened my stride and caused some discomfort.
This was a low key local half marathon/10K/5K in Camarillo, mostly flat, about 80% on roads, 20% on a bike path, double loop course. I signed up for the half marathon about 4 days prior because earlier in the year I had purchased an entry into the Santa to the Sea Half Marathon on December 14th. That half marathon I didn't even make it to.
Let's go further back. On Saturday, the 13th, my wife requested that I put up additional Christmas decorations in the front yard. Somehow I managed to tweak my lower back while working on the candy canes. My back is not very forgiving...later that night I determined I would not be able to run 13.1 miles in the morning.
2014: A year that I turned 50 years old and...felt it! A year that had some promise at the beginning, but quickly fell into an abyss of lower back and sciatic nerve problems.
While the year was not a great one for my racing, I did manage a sub 38 minute 10K back in April and for the most part I've stayed healthy and my injuries, although frequent, were dealt with expeditiously.
So, back to last Sunday. This low key race started out fine. In fact, I found myself in the lead at mile 1, where I looked at my watch and saw 6:24. This pace seemed perfectly fine to me. It translates into a 1:24 half marathon, on par with the half marathon time I ran in February.
A younger fellow passed me by shortly after that first mile, and I made no attempt to stick with him. Having not done a wink of speedwork or shorter distance races for many months, I did not feel another gear in my transmission. But soon thereafter the sciatic nerve issue that caused me not to run the 2014 Los Angeles Marathon reared its ugly head.
The beauty of a double loop course is that it gives you the opportunity to call it a day mid-way into the race and move along with your day. That's just what I did. Having experienced this same hamstring / sciatic nerve issue in the past, I took it in (diminished) stride, stopped, stretched and drove off to enjoy the rest of the beautiful day that it was.
I do believe that sitting too much is not helping my problem. So I get up as often as I can, change chairs, sit on a pillow, occasionally work while kneeling on the ground on a pillow, etc. The issue appears to be a chronic one as it has taken me out of a number of races in recent years, so I'm grappling with how to deal with it. I do find my chiropractor is able to help. Perhaps more stretching would help.
BUT...today is Christmas, and after spending the morning with the family, I was able to take off for an hour long run on the trails, injury free. Just getting out there, running without pain, was enough for me to not have a care about the mediocrity which was the last 8 months of my racing, or lack thereof.