One of the highlights of my recent trip to London was the British 10K. I had been looking forward to the race all spring and had even flirted with a sub-60 minute goal for the race – until I was sidelined with persistent hip pain in May. As I detailed earlier, I stayed off the pavement for a few weeks, bought a foam roller, and limited exercise to low-impact cardio. I logged a couple of runs in June, but I finally listened to my gut which was saying, “This isn’t normal soreness. This is pain.” I decided to see a physical therapist who has me working to strengthen my core and to engage my diaphragm to mitigate against fatigue which was causing bad form. I had more or less written off the 10K, but I planned to support Ashley and Melissa, so I suited up and prepared to hang on the sidelines near the loop-back on Embankment.
And then it started to rain. I couldn’t imagine drowning on the sidelines for the whole race as I was wholly unprepared without a jacket, hoodie, or hat. I decided to walk up to the start line with Ashley (which took a ridiculously long time since all 20,000 of us were in one queue), and figured I would start the race and then see if I felt any pain. I could always stop.
I set off at a steady pace of 10:15/mile, which is about 15-30 seconds slower than my pace pre-injury. There were a few sporadic raindrops, but when I rounded Trafalgar Square after 15 minutes, I felt pretty confident that I could go the distance of the race. I told myself I’d stop halfway, drink some water, and check in with my legs. Normally, my hip feels pain on impact, but that wasn’t happening, so I felt pretty comfortable and kept going.
Before I knew it, I was on the loop back to Westminster when the heavens opened with a persistent, ugly spitting rain. There was no going back (literally, I was already headed in the direction of the finish line), but I did keep the promise to stop every kilometer and make sure I wasn’t ignoring any pain. Midway through mile 4, I started getting tired as my legs were so out of practice (and the 3 drinks the night before weren’t helping either). Unfortunately, at the same time the race crowd was getting denser as runners were catching up with slower runners who started earlier, so there was quite a bit of weaving in the final lap.
I eventually spotted the sign for the last 2 kilometers around the same time I got a text from speedy Ashley would had just finished. I ended up taking walk breaks every five minutes for the last 15 minutes of the race, but crossing the finish line felt pretty amazing. I wasn’t exhausted; I wasn’t hurting, and I wasn’t embarrassed by my time (71 minutes)! 3 months ago I would have been disappointed that my pace was a solid minute over my average, but instead I felt happy that my endurance had kept up during my break and that my PT was keeping me pain free.
Admittedly, I was pretty sore on Sunday evening and through most of Monday, but it was mostly in my hamstrings and quads and not my hip. After several daily stretching sessions and lots of water, I felt back to normal after 2 days. I’m not planning on running another 10K sans-training, but it was a satisfying feeling to know that I could pick up my shoes and just.go.running. I don’t plan to really hit the pavement in a solid routine until early September when the fall calendar kicks in, but I’ve got my eye on a couple of races. Who knows, maybe it’s time to tackle something a bit longer? ;)