Winter’s End 4.5 miler

I ran the first event of the Wyoming Valley Striders‘ Triple Crown yesterday–the Winter’s End 4.5 mile run, on the Penn State Lehman campus. It was a wonderful event. First of all, registration is in the heated and comfortable student center, with REAL bathrooms (whoo-hoo!) Second, advance fee was only $8. Third, you get a hat or gloves instead of yet another useless cotton T. (If I run all 3 races in the Triple Crown, I get a Frank Shorter performance shirt–now you’re talking). I got a nice knitted red hat with the event embroidered on it. Fourth, the setting is absolutely gorgeous. It’s a lovely campus, surrounded by barns, fields, and beautiful big houses. The course is rolling and varied, part on asphalt and part on dirt road, with essentially no traffic at all. There are wetlands, gorgeous old trees, and a lovely pond. Bucolic! And fifth, free massage afterwards–more on that later.

I had a good run in terms of competing with myself. My low-bar goal was not to be dead last, and my personal goal was to beat 50 minutes. I did! The clock was at 49:17 when I crossed the finish line. When they posted the results, I showed up at 47:24 and was thrilled–but I think they skipped someone and put me in the wrong place. In terms of competing with others… every time I’m in a race I’m confronted with being the SLOWEST fit person possible. Not that I can’t get fitter, and losing 10 pounds would help, but I’m in way way better shape than the few people I manage to beat. Only 3 people came in behind me. And I run good races–I don’t go out too fast, I expend my energy evenly, I really pour it out at the end and don’t leave anything on the road, my form is decent, I have fun with it. I’m just as slow as molasses in January, as a turtle just out of hibernation, as a snail in the sun… whatever you can compare it to, I am SLOW slow s l o w… But who cares!

So after the race, Active Performance Chiropractic was doing free massages. I told Dr. Armillei that I didn’t have any particular complaints but I am inflexible and hate stretching. He asked me to try to touch my toes and I showed him how far from the ground I end up, with pain up and down the back of my legs. He had me lie on one side and then the other, while he jabbed his thumb into the side of my upper thigh. Meanwhile, he had me stretch my leg out and down (the technique is called Active Release). It hurt quite a bit while he was doing it, but it didn’t linger. After just a few minutes of that, he had me stand up and try again, and I gained probably 4 inches of stretch, just like that! He explained that my sciatic nerve is entraped by the piriformis muscle and stretching doesn’t help when that happens–I need to massage and release the nerve, then I’ll be able to stretch. I was very, very impressed!