Bad Bass Half Marathon Report & A New Injury

18 Aug

I signed up for the Bad Bass Half Marathon, scheduled for two weeks after my first half marathon, before I ran my first half marathon.  It maybe wasn’t the brightest thing to do, but I felt like I could take advantage of all the training I had done by running two races (with just enough recovery time in between).  Plus, the long loop around Lake Chabot promised some pretty views and interesting trails that I’d never seen before.  Plus, Brazen Racing always has cool shirts and medals!

(all photos courtesy of the Brazen Racing volunteer photographers)

Before the race, I debated a lot on what gear and fuel to bring.  There were only four aid stations spread well apart, so I knew I’d need hydration and some fuel.  I wanted to go a little au naturale though, without the full race belt, so I settled on my handheld water bottle with electrolyte drink and one gel tucked in the pocket.  The one time I’d run with the handheld before all the sloshing annoyed me, but it didn’t really bother me this time; I think I was so focused on watching my footing the whole time that I didn’t notice.

If you read my Napa to Sonoma race report, you know that I dealt with some unexpected and unprecedented left knee pain.  I didn’t want to exacerbate any possible injury, so I took it really easy in between, running only three times for a total of 8.5 miles.  I felt a little bit of discomfort outside my knee at the end of each run, but not sharp pain, so I thought I’d be okay.  Boy, was I wrong!

I’m in the black pants, dark gray shirt and black headband.

The race started at 8AM, on pavement for the first two miles.  I didn’t have a whole lot of energy that morning, so I hung toward the back and let lots of people pass me.  Within two miles, my knee was already hurting and I knew I was in trouble.  I thought about turning around but really hated the thought of being a quitter, especially without having tried to get through at least a few miles.  I trudged forward.

I had read previous year’s race reports and looked at the elevation chart, and knew there was a giant killer of a hill at three miles.  When we made a sharp turn just after mile two and headed up a big hill, I thought maybe I had read the map wrong and this was it.  We went up about 200 feet over a half mile, and most runners, myself included, slowed down to hike most of it.  I had made a deal with myself before the race that since it was “just for fun”, I could hike whatever portions of it that I wanted to without feeling bad.  At the top, we turned and came down an even steeper decline.  Since my knee was hurting, I tried to keep my steps easy and quick, and walked some of the steeper downhill sections.

At mile three I was surprised that our course joined up with the 10K course.  They started 25 minutes after us but had run a mile less, so the back of the half marathon pack (i.e. me) met up with the front-middle of the 10K runners.  They all had a lot more spring in their step than me!  We went across a single lane suspension bridge (which I did not trust was designed to hold all those people at once), then made a turn and headed up the REAL hill, the one that goes up 400 feet over about a mile.  Most everyone was huffing and puffing and hiking their way up.

Just before we went up the hill, I heard what I thought was a goat.  There are a few companies around the bay area that rent out a herd of goats to eat up brush, and I guess the park had them on lease.  I really wanted to stop and turn back and see the goats but knew it wasn’t a good use of my time or energy.  Luckily, one of the photographers visited them!

I love you, goats!

The 10K turnaround was at the top of the massive hill, and I got to see the leaders rushing back down the hill, which was neat.  All of us hikers cheered them on.

The photographer told me to smile.  This is what he got…

Coming into the race, my goal was 3:00.  Going up that monster hill, getting passed by all sorts of people, my goal became to not finish last.  At the top of the hill, it changed to just finishing even if I was last.  Around mile 5.5 we came to an aid station and I saw I actually wasn’t last, so the goal changed back to not being last.  I drank some water and took my gel and carried on.  From there on out, I don’t remember much detail.  Some trails were wide and grassy, some were narrow and woodsy, and it was mostly overcast and a little muggy.  I chatted briefly to other runners and hikers who weren’t part of the race, and mostly just focused on continuing to move without wiping out on downhills.  There were lots of smaller hills, and eventually I was hiking up any and all inclines.  At some points I regretted not bringing my phone or a camera, as the views were pretty nice.  Here’s one captured by a volunteer:

The middle third of the course was near a marksmanship range, and at times the sound was so close that I was actually a little worried I might get shot on accident.  It was not a pleasant sound, and I was thankful when the trail turned away, only to find that it looped back around, and for many miles I would come around a turn or over a peak and hear the gunshots again.

At the third aid station I took some water and orange slices.  I don’t remember much about this portion other than being in pain and wondering how much longer it would take, and thinking this race that I was doing for fun was not, in fact, very much fun.  I did wear my Garmin, so I at least knew what distance was left at any given time.

After what felt like many more miles, I came to the fourth and final aid station, with only two or so miles to go.  I was feeling quite hungry by that point and the sun was coming out, so I came to a full stop and ate a piece of banana, some orange wedges, and a few cups of water, since my handheld was empty.  There was a bit of a decent afterward, which was tough on my knee but easy on the heart rate, and I could feel the food and water sloshing around in my stomach, which upset it a bit.

After a short while I came to a section I recognized, which is where I go to run hills sometimes.  I knew the path pretty well from that point on, and it was all paved, so I at least knew I would be able to finish.  My ambition to run at all was almost completely gone, and I found myself actually begging for hills as an excuse to walk.  I jogged what I could very slowly, and eventually saw the boathouse and knew that I was almost done.

I dodged geese and headed toward the finish line.  Most of the crowd had already dissipated, but there were a few nice people still at the finish line cheering me on.  No finish line photo – the photographers were already done, hah!  My official time was 3:21:26, and I am happy to report that I was not last.  I was second to last in my age group, and ahead of a few other people in other age groups too.  My average pace was 15:09; according to the Garmin my fastest mile was the first (11:25), my slowest mile was the fourth (up that monster hill – 19:01), and most other miles were between 13 and 16 minutes.

I grabbed a piece of bagel, some banana and a coconut water, got my bag and headed back to the car.  I had not realized that I parked so far away, and the walk back was all uphill!  Longest walk of my life, my legs were SO stiff and tired.

Me and mah medal.  (You can see my other medals in the back, I really need to get some sort of display mechanism now that I have a few!)

And, of course, the Brazen medal and shirt are always cute.  I had seen that some past year’s medals had a hook in the fishes mouth, and I was really glad it was hookless this year, as that would’ve made me sad.

My residual knee pain and stiffness wasn’t quite as bad as after the first half, but I knew I needed to get to the bottom of it, especially since I was about to start another round of half marathon training (more on that soon).  I went to see my doctor, who called in a physical therapist (I love that she’s not afraid to ask for a second opinion), who confirmed what I was thinking – it’s an IT band issue.  I’ve had left hip and glute issues ever since I started running but never had that telltale knee pain before, so I pretty much knew it would be my IT band, but wanted to get confirmation.  The PT said that strengthening would help, and to continue things I was already doing like stretching, icing and using a foam roller.  He said that as long as I was cautious and preventative, I could continue running, so that was really good news.  So far these past few weeks I’ve had a little discomfort in my mid-thigh and knee, but no sharp pain, so I’m taking that as a good sign.  I’ve worked a second strength training session in each week, aimed at strengthening my legs, glutes and core (with some arms and back thrown in for good measure).

I’ll write again soon about my next running endeavor, which is very exciting!  I’ll also do some catching up on food and weight loss stuff, since this blog has been all-running-all-the-time lately.


One Response to “Bad Bass Half Marathon Report & A New Injury”

  1. amandakash August 19, 2012 at 7:09 pm #

    Congrats on not finishing last! And I’m glad you’re smart and went to the doctor about your knee. Too many people would just ignore it and end up more severely injured. Good luck in your new training!

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