My post-surgery 5K time improved again yesterday when I did the Valentine’s Day Dash race in Seattle’s Green Lake area. But that wasn’t the biggest deal to me. Neither was the fact that it was my 140th race since 2001.
It was more significant that I crossed the finished line in a slow run, with full weight pounding on my left ankle. And that I actually ran/jogged/trotted about 0.25 miles of the event, as well as pushing myself hard in the 2.85 miles that I walked. The small bit of running I did in this race and in the past week is the first I’ve done since my ankle surgery Aug. 19.
The end result was a 48:02 time and a 15:30 mile pace, which is progress in that it’s been less than six months since the surgery. (My earlier post-surgery 5K times were 1:01:16 on Dec. 19 and 51:06 on Jan. 1.) Full results of the Green Lake event are here.
The health and stability of my ankle has greatly improved in recent months, allowing me to walk much faster and easier, do the elliptical machine now without any pain, and ride my bike whatever distances I can handle. But I’ve been very cautious about trying to run. Another way to put it: I’ve been damn scared to try it.
That’s because when I walk places sometimes still, it feels like I could use a can of oil to squirt in my leg to get it to be more flexible. The hitches and glitches in walking had made me put off running. On the other hand, my flexibility is so much better than it was, going downhill is much less of a problem, and when my ankle is warmed up, I can actually walk pretty well.
So, I kept thinking, what would happen if I broke into a run? I was too chicken to try it on my own. So in my most recent visit to my physical therapist on Feb. 7, I asked my PT Rebecca White to help me see if I could do it. She took me to a soft Pro Club treadmill, had me do some walking to warm up, then cranked up the speed to a point where I had to break into a run or tell her, “No, I can’t do this!” She knew I wouldn’t do the latter.
As I grabbed the treadmill handle bar with both hands, I picked up my feet and gave it a shot. It felt … interesting. I tried this very same thing a few weeks ago, and my ankle did not feel solid, and I quit after a step or two. But this time, I felt some strength and some … spring. Rebecca only let me do about 0.05 of a mile, but I got a taste of how it felt.
Two days later, walking on my own in my neighborhood, I was still a bit scared to break into a slow run. But somehow I did it, and jogged about 0.10 of a mile in a 3.6-mile walk.
With that behind me, being able to run some in yesterday’s 5K was a bit less scary. I had decided beforehand that I would run some at each mile marker, as well as the last 0.10 of a mile to the finish line. I pretty much did that. It felt good to run, even carefully, across the finish line.
Last night and today, my ankle has been sore, but not extraordinarily painful. Should I be running at all? Dr. Anthony Lo, the podiatrist who did my surgery, told me in my last visit to him in November to “start pounding” on it. He told me it was ready to be tested, and was stronger than I might think.
My PT feels that I can perhaps run some 5Ks up ahead and walk/run longer races (maybe my 21st marathon?). She pretty much knows that I don’t harbor any dreams of making the Olympic team (at least not in 2012, tee-hee). So I plan to tread carefully on this bad ankle, and continue the cross-training that I do.
I need to devote my exercise time in coming days to my bicycle and stationary bike. I plan to do the Chilly Hilly ride on Bainbridge Island on Feb. 26, so I must train for riding up those hills. It will be my third bicycle event, and maybe the most challenging.
Thanks for reading. Till next time.