Friday, June 5, 2015

Chelonian chicanery

I have been brought low by a turtle.

I set out for a trail run on Saturday, May 30th - just an easy 10km along the Mill Run Trail from Riverside Park. I was, as is usual for a Saturday, a bit short on time; I was trying to make it for a swim that evening, and had about an hour and a half between the time I was setting out and the time I should be in the water.

I trotted along through the heat and humidity, setting out just as the last drops from a riotous line of thunderstorms fell, and had to stop after less than 4mins because of what I saw on the path before me.

Well hey!

Despite my time constraints, I couldn't resist pulling out my phone to get the shot above. It's not every day you see such a thing along the trail, and even more seldom you see a turtle right in the middle of the paved section of path where you can get a really good look.

Knowing I still had about 9.5km to go and even less time to complete the run now, I took off again...apparently with a little more alacrity than I should have.

My right leg started to hurt, right where the hamstrings attach at the hip.


But I am a stubborn fool, and continued to run. I ran past Beaverdale Road, noting a sign that said the Hesepeler end of the trail was closed for emergency bridge repairs. Having seen similar signs in the past and been able to continue on, I sallied forth.

I made it as far as the bridge that seems to wash out every year, and discovered that the trail was, in fact, very much closed.


So, I set back off toward Riverside Park. The soreness seemed to dissipate a bit as I ran, and the sun came out. I ended up stopping again by a trailside wetland to snap a shot of another wee turtle catching some rays.

Right in the middle

Setting off again from having stopped was nasty. Whatever I had done was stabbing me right in the groin, but it eased as I settled into my stride. It wasn't bothersome until I stopped again and had to re-start: the accelerations were brutal.

But, because I'm an idiot, I refused to settle for just getting back to my car. I ran a couple of loops around Riverside Park, traversing the boardwalks through the wetlands, to make up for the shortened trail run due to the absence of bridge.

Inhaling deeply of the phlox-scented air.

I went for a swim - rather shortened due to my lateness - then had some dinner & rolled into bed.

Awaking Sunday morning, I could barely walk. I went back to the pool, and while swimming was fine, flip turns were painful. Just making it up the stairs to the Johnson Centre was damn tough.

We had brunch with friends later that day, and that was about it. I sank into a deep hole of pain and glumness, unable to go for the run that would surely help brighten my mood. I went to bed early, thinking the best thing I could do was catch up on sleep to help me heal.

Monday I began some rehab exercises and decided to try riding a bike. I wasn't sure if it would be possible, and even if it was it might not be a great idea. The possibility existed that a contributing factor to the injury might have been riding my mountain bike to & from the farmers' market on Saturday morning; I'd laid down power on the pedals in a way I hadn't for quite awhile, both to childishly pass another cyclist I'd spotted (because YES YOU GOT CHICKED) and to climb the big honkin' hill we live on.

And enjoy some lovely trail.

Monday's spin around our neighbourhood with Tanker was delightful. I rode my old mountain bike, as I wasn't sure about being clipped in. A sunny, mild evening laden with the scent of flowers from some of the impressive gardens in our area, gently turning over pedals as I noodled along with my sweetheart. If all recovery could be like that, I'd never complain about being injured. My damaged leg felt fine while riding, and was doing at least 30% better than Sunday. We went for a stroll after dinner and I did another round of rehab exercises before getting to bed fairly early again.

By Tuesday the leg was feeling even better, with very little remaining soreness. I decided to push my luck. I hadn't taken my tri bike for a ride since Lakeside in mid-September of last year - 8 months prior. I wanted to know if it was possible to ride it with the damaged hamstrings, as getting down in aero does require pretty good hip mobility.

And taking pictures in aero is even trickier.

Fortunately, that felt fine. Better than fine, really - I came off the bike with zero soreness, feeling like the ride had actually helped stretch and work out the damage. I had even laid down a bit of power on the pedals, and everything responded positively to the test. Brilliant!

Wednesday saw me back on my old pal Dusty for some commuting, feeling absolutely no pain in the damaged leg during the day; I was probably about 90% back to normal. I'd had a total lunch ride fail the Wednesday prior due to multiple flats, and wanted to get back to the beautiful trails I'd found through Mississauga that take me almost all the way from my office to my Mum's front door.

This sucked.


I gave the injured hamstrings a bit of a tweak trying to take off quickly from a stoplight, but it didn't feel too bad once I got to Mum's house. Since it was National Running Day, I decided to give it a whack once we got home. I laced up and trotted around our neighbourhood with Tanker following on his mountain bike, getting an easy 5km under my belt.

The good news:

1) It didn't hurt as badly as Saturday's run.
2) It didn't require me to alter my stride.
3) My leg didn't seem to hurt any worse afterward.

The bad news:

1) It did hurt. With every damn step.
2) I woke up Thursday with some soreness.


I decided I'd just go for a swim Thursday evening rather than risk running, but then the pool called to let me know there'd been a fouling and lane swim would be cancelled. So, what the heck? I decided I'd get the last of my bicycles out for a ride with my sweetheart.

Sunset spinning

This also gave me an awesome opportunity to finally get my new socks out for a test ride. 

Best. Socks. Ever.

So that brings us to today. I continue rehab exercises, and have spent a thoroughly ridiculous amount of time sitting and wiggling around with a tennis ball under my butt. There's still some residual soreness, but it's probably sitting about 80% functional. I really hope I can say the same come Sunday afternoon, because this weekend will be a true testament to my idiocy and stubbornness.

Tomorrow morning I'll be lining up with zero open water swim training, precious little cycle fitness, and a running injury to race the MultiSport Canada Woodstock Sprint Triathlon. This is why I needed to know if I could ride my tri bike - I'll have 20km of hills to contend with whenever I manage to flail my way out of the water. Hopefully the beneficial stretching and warmup effect I felt on Tuesday will help me through the 5k trail run to finish off the race.

Then, because of a quirk of scheduling, I'll get up Sunday morning and make my way up to Bingemans for the Heels & Wheels 5k. If the run at Woodstock doesn't do me in, the rolling hills of the trails through Stanley Park Natural Area may.

But really, it's all just for fun anyway. I knew when the two races landed on the same weekend - both having changed from their traditional dates for 2015 - just 2 weeks after the Sulphur Springs 50k, there was no chance I'd be performing at my peak for either of the events.

I'll just keep my fingers crossed that I don't end up damaging myself any further, because the summer is just beginning - there's a whole lot of racing left to go!

Thus, easy does it. Slow and steady...just like a turtle.

Which is different from any other race, how?

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