I love racing. I guess that is obvious.
I love the training, the nerves and anticipation of the course, the use of my sport for the benefit of local charities, the bonding with other runners, the sense of accomplishment after a tough finish and the first taste of that protein shake and bagel with peanut butter (my post-long run breakfast of choice).
So, when I got an injury 5 weeks before the BAA Half (at which I was hoping and planning to PR), I was quite disappointed. The doctor diagnosed it as Achilles bursitis, which, thankfully, it’s not as bad as Achilles tendonitis. The bursa are thin, lubricated cushions that serve as the points of friction between bone and soft tissue. It’s painful, but not nearly as painful as some other common running injuries.
The injury also happened two weeks before the Brighton Bangers 5k- super super important event to me given that it is put on by my running club! My doctor allowed me to do the race provided the pain stayed under a 5. I finished in 21:40, which was slower than my time for that course last year but better than I expected with an injury. This was the first race where I approached the finish line and my fiancé did not cheer for to “hurry up,” since he begged me to take it easy. In retrospect, I should not have raced. Mile one was a great split- 6:47- and I got confident that I could repeat last year’s performance, but then the injury kicked in and I had to slow down – 7:20 for mile 2 and 7:09 for mile 3. The foot hurt so bad afterwards that I could not do a cool down and instead of socializing, I went home to ice it. That being said, I still had fun and the pain subsided on the walk home. But overall, I probably should have just volunteered and stayed out of the race (but NOT RACING when others are running is so so hard :/)
So, when the Oak Square YMCA announced a Spinathon to raise money to help local families, I was super excited. For the past two years, spin has been a fun cross-training activity but it’s taken on an even bigger role during this injury. Spin classes have kept up my cardiovascular fitness while I am unable to run much, and in fact, I think they are quite more challenging than a lot of my runs! The sprints and hills mimic running workouts.
The Spinathon had an option of doing 1, 2, or all 3 hours. Eager for a new challenge given that I am not running a fall marathon and my half may be out of the picture (still deciding), I decided to try for the 3. My fiancé joined me for the first hour and we had so much fun looking over at each other. Prior to this, an hour had been my maximum for a spin session. After that hour, I took a quick break to say goodbye to Bryan and hopped back on. We switched instructors mid-way and just like a long race, hunger suddenly came on and I grabbed some Powerade and a banana. After the burst of Powerade, I knew I could finish the thing. I seriously need to have more sports drinks during my long runs and races, they help! The instructors were super enthusiastic, and one made us put our hands up and shout “woo!” during various points in the last hour. While my sprints were slower and my resistance lower during the third hour, they were much higher than I expected they would be. I kind of thought I would be barely pedaling toward the end, but that was not the case. As the instructors reminded everyone, our legs are stronger than we think! I also kept thinking of Iron Tony upstairs, attempting to break the world record for an indoor triathlon. If someone can run 26.2 miles on a treadmill, surely I can spin for 3 hours!
When I got off the bike, I felt a bit dizzy at first but not nearly as bad as I expected to feel. There were only a few of us who stayed for the whole thing, so we took a picture together. Even though we barely talked (I mean, it’s hard to hold a conversation while spinning), we felt a special bond after our three-hour ordeal.
While the soreness and dehydration were not as bad as a marathon (namely because I had constant access to water), the hunger was just as intense. I drank a muscle milk on my walk home, and called my fiancé to make sure he had bagels, peanut butter, and fruit waiting for me. On my walk home, I passed by people running a 5k and instead of feeling upset and angry about not being in it, I shouted “go runners!” It did not even occur to me until the next day that it should have been my last long run before the half-marathon. I had so much fun and felt so accomplished, I barely thought about my injury!
Moral of the story- there can be a silver lining in injuries. While I have always cross-trained, I never took the time to really develop a love for one of my cross-training activities or used one of my cross-training activities to benefit a local charity and meet other athletes. Cross-training need not be viewed as “cross-training.” It can become another hobby, another love. Indeed, that’s how I’ve come to see strength training/weight-lifting and spinning. Running is not the only thing I can do to challenge myself, to support a good cause, to stay in shape, and to meet other amazing athletes. While I expect to recover from this injury soon and resume normal training, this was not my last Spinathon!
Big thanks to Emily & Alyson for leading us, and to Bryan, as always, for doing the first hour with me and for feeding me afterwards! 🙂