Downtown Burlington 10k: without my partner; with a cheering section.

by nomeatbarefeet

This past weekend was the 3rd running of the Downtown Burlington 10k, a race that both Katie and I were very excited to run for two reasons: first, we both love Burlington (and Vermont in general) so being able to run through the downtown and along the waterfront was going to make for a beautiful run; second (and more importantly) Katie’s sister was due to give birth the week before the run and we wanted to be the to see our new niece.

Jon, Inez, and Elliot

Jon, Inez, and Elliot

While we did get to see the new baby, Inez Eleanor Medick, only I was able to run because Katie had sustained (what we think is only) a bruised foot from the HMRRC Anniversary run. The bone under her big toe has been very painful since that run, and while rest and ice have helped somewhat she did not want to risk further injury-primarily because she wants to run the Jonathan Auyer 30th Birthday 30k on October 16.

So while I did not have my running partner I did have a great cheering section as Katie brought our dog Arlo along to the race. The day turned out to be beautiful, a bit warmer than normal but no rain and open, sunny skies. The course started in front of City Hall, went down to the bike path along the water, and then cut back towards downtown, finishing back in front of City Hall. Most of the course was flat, which made for rather fast times. The route to the bike path was downhill, and then on the way back to the finish we encountered some rolling hills, ending on a downhill on Church St.

While my time (42:02) reflects a fast pace, it proved to be a rather odd run: I was only just into the race when I felt my left calf seize up. Now, I’ve felt a calf cramp before, and this was definitely something more—it really did seize up. I felt it tighten and tighten and tighten to the point of wincing pain. “What the heck is going on?” I screamed in my head. I cannot explain why it happened. I was able to run through the pain, as I did not feel it was a serious injury but merely a cramp. Despite this, I am left in a bit of a quandary.

So…a little background. When I began running longer distances in VFFs earlier this year I experienced what lots of newbie barefoot minimalist runners experience when they do find themselves in the grip of TMTS (too much too soon): my calf, specifically the soleus muscle, tighten up to the point where it was unbearable to continue walking, let alone running. When reading up on this kind of injury I found that it is most likely the result of engaging the calf muscle too much when landing on and then pushing off with the forefoot. This is a common thing for runners who are new to barefoot and minimalist running: because you can no longer heal strike you overcompensate by landing on the forefoot; this, in turn, leads to pushing off with the forefoot and engaging the calf muscles, which leads to sore, and possibly strained, calf muscles.

But I have been regularly running long distances for quite a while now. I have “broken-in” my legs to the experience of pure barefoot and minimalist running. So why would my calf *calves* seize up to the point of such serious pain? (*Turns out that my right leg is just as painful the day after.*) There are two possibilities. Both are unlikely, but the latter seems more plausible. First is that I had not run much the two weeks prior to the race. I had felt a very slight pain in my left knee after the HMRRC Anniversay run (probably form my ITB pulling on it). As such, I decided to take it easy and not do to much. Second, and more likely, I had slept on a couch the night before the race, and had to contort myself into various positions to fit on it. This meant keeping my calves in both flexed and un-flexed positions for long periods of time. If that was the case, the cramp would not really be the result of the run itself—thus it would not be an injury caused by running so much as an injury caused by sleeping wrong.

Regardless of why my calf seized up, it made for difficulty walking both the rest of the day and the day after. We still haven’t decided whether to run the Voorheesville 7.1 mile race next weekend, but if we do it will certainly be at a slow pace in preparation for the 30k two weeks later.

We have both grown to love the 10k distance, so I hope that next year both of us can run this race. It was very well organized and had great volunteers, the course was basically flat and fast, and the shirt (long sleeve) is good looking and super comfy! If you get a chance to run the Downtown Burlington 10k I highly recommend it.

Here are the pictures from the run.

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