How many times have we planned things out, maybe in great detail, only to have change thrust upon us without notice? Often, I suspect. This is the way life goes! I believe the saying is “life happens when we are busy making plans.”
My latest wrecking-ball-to-plans happened last weekend at the Clearwater Marathon Weekend 5K. Six weeks prior we decided to visit Florida to escape the frigid Vermont cold in late January, historically the coldest time of year. So, we made plans to visit St. Petersburg and Siesta Key, where temps then are usually in the 70s with lows in the 50s. I saw a 5K on January 29th, organized by none other than Millennium Running, the Bedford NH operation run by John and Jenn Mortimor, who regularly host USATF-NE Grand Prix events. I knew the race would be well organized. So game on!
It turned out Florida had a cold spell this year. Iguanas were falling out of trees and race morning was just 40 degrees. The wind was horrendous to boot, between 25 and 30 mph, gusting at 40+ — putting wind chill in the mid 20s. Just pinning on numbers in the dark for the 7 a.m. start was challenging, as well as deciding how much clothing to wear. My choices were limited – I hadn’t even packed tights – just light shorts. My legs were cold but I expected to weather that. The wind created havoc for everyone, and the start was set back 10 minutes. Then we were off.
The course was an out and back, with the first mile winding through the park, about half with the wind, half into it. Then we turned onto a road that went towards a rather steep bridge, with the 200-meter ascent directly into the wind. We were hardly moving, with side gusts making it hard to run straight! The halfway turnaround gave us respite from the wicked headwind but the tailwind had most of us overstriding and descending way too fast due to gravity and a zest to make up time. Not smart!
Maybe it was the cold; maybe an inadequate warmup; or just fatigue from travel. But right after coming off the bridge with 1.2 miles to go, I felt a knife go into my quad. This was not a recurring injury — it had been 45 years since straining a quad – my continuing issues have been with hamstrings. But there it was. I stopped, rubbed the quad a bit. Tried running and that wasn’t going to work. Even walking hurt. But I needed to get back to the start. A light jog, at maybe a 13:00 minute pace, seemed the least aggravating option and at that pace, I finished.
Now, three days later, I’ve been biking and water running without issue. I’ll try some short runs before flying north. This race was supposed to be a buildup after five months off from racing for the spring USATF-NE races, beginning February 13 with a 4M race hosted by Millennium Running. Will I be able to do that? Maybe, but the time goal I set needs to be revisited. It’s too early in the season to get waylaid by a recurring injury. For sure, the list of 2022 races I was aiming for are in jeopardy.
So, these best laid plans are scuttled. Will I learn from this and be less specific about racing goals? Maybe. But more likely, I’ll revise the plan after I see how the quad responds and press on. I’m an inveterate planner professionally and recreationally. Guess it’s in my blood! And I should not be surprised when roadblocks appear. Afterall, “life happens when we are busy making plans!”