Here's the best news: over the last 2 weeks, the knee/IT band has been a non-issue. I haven't had any pain and only minimal tightness. That Dr. Jamie cat really does know what he's doing. Really, the limiting factor right now is my calves. The complete gait change is really taxing them, but they seem to be getting better with each run...and foam rolling. Needless to say, I'm very optimistic.
Onto the numbers...
4/22, Sunday: 5 - 40:44, Highland Green. This was actually my first successful attempt at three consecutive days. Calves were definitely barking by the...well, beginning, but they never got any worse. Soooo windy.
4/23, Monday: Off
4/24, Tuesday: 8 - 1:06:11, Neighborhood + Patriot Commons + Mt. A HS. My left calf, especially, bothered me for the most of the day on Monday, so I wanted to play it safe and stay close to home. With this odd configuration of laps/loops, I was never more than a mile or so away from home if things went south. The calves held up, but it wasn't pretty. I was somewhat miserable for most of the run. The wind didn't help. However, I ran 8 miles. That was a huge milestone.
4/25, Wednesday: 5 - 41:37, Highland Green. Calves were about the same as the previous day, so I just gutted it out. Still windy. Chased a hawk for about a half mile along the dirt road section. Went to see Dr. Jamie in the afternoon—didn't even look at my knee. That was awesome. My calves wish he looked at my knee.
4/26, Thursday: Off
4/27, Friday: 5 - 39:34, Highland Green. After treatment and a rest day, my calves felt pretty decent. It was windy again, which seems to be a theme. Nice to hit this loop in under 40, comfortably. In the past that's been a benchmark for my level of rest/fitness. I think that might change moving forward, since I'm already feeling so much more efficient with the new gait. And, I felt like I had it rolling pretty good this day. Dr. Jamie gave me some pointers, which helped a lot.
4/28, Saturday: 6 - 45:50, TARC Spring Classic 10k, Weston, MA. In December, I registered for the 50k not knowing that I would be sidelined all winter. With that distance out the window, I was excited to learn this week that I could switch distances. I'd already paid; I might as well run. I was confident that my knee wouldn't be an issue but was a bit curious to see how it would react to 6 miles of all trail. My only plan was to run as fast as my calves would allow. I definitely wasn't out to race.
After leaving the kiddo with my parents for the day, D and I made our way to Weston arriving in plenty of time to register, wait in line for the porta-potties, change and listen to the pre-race meeting. But, somehow, I barely made it to the starting line. I ran across the field and took a spot on the front of the line, just as the race director yelled, "Go!" I settled into a comfortable pace and just cruised along. By the mile mark, I was in fifth place and was already bracing myself for the "sandbagger" comments to come. I traded places and conversation with a guy in Five Fingers, Josh, for the next couple miles as we enjoyed the trails and the real estate. The course was great: flat, mostly smooth and a good mix of double and singletrack. It had a ton of turns, but was marked flawlessly. We passed another runner around 3 miles and at right around 5 miles, I was behind Josh but starting to feel that race itch. I may have been pushing him a bit as he jammed his right foot hard on a rock. Remember those Five Fingers? He slowed quite a bit, and I jumped around telling him that "I'd let him cry by himself." About a quarter mile, I found myself really opening up my stride and moving at a pretty respectable pace once I hit a dirt road. I was just getting a great rhythm up, when I hit a boggy, rocky, wet section, which was probably a sign that I needed to dial it back. I cruised comfortably into the finish a very distant third as the first place man and woman were already posing for pictures with their awards. Plus, the majority of the stronger runners were running the longer distances, so the place was irrelevant. I was just happy to feel so comfortable and smooth. My calves felt the best they'd felt yet, and I'm already thinking about incorporating more trails back into my runs.
The rest of the day was a blast. I broke out the camp stove to grill up sausages and sketchy turkey burgers. Jamie and I may have downed a beer or two. I definitely got sunburnt. Hats off to the Trail Animals for hosting a terrific event. Hopefully, we'll get to another of their races soon. Of course, I wasn't just there to get fat, as I was race crew for D. She finished her third 50k battling a completely shut down stomach for the last 10 miles. She ended up 4th woman in 4:52. The Trail Monsters were well represented with Erik in the 10k; Brenda, Christine, Kate and Ann in the marathon; and Blaine, Nathan and George in the 50k. I hang out with some awesome people.
That's a lot of words for a 29-mile week, but it's great progress. On top of that, I've also been semi-regularly getting the core work in. I can't get to the 4 times a week range, but I'm averaging twice a week. I hate it. I do believe the knee is behind me, and I'm looking forward to a continued easy ramp up of the mileage. It's really nice to be running again.