This past Friday was the first long run of the marathon season. The run was scheduled to be 22km, but since I have not run more than 15km all off-season, and even that only a few times, I decided to alter the route slightly. My altered route would total 19km, and depending on how I was feeling at the end I would possibly extend it a bit. I call it a long run, because it is my longest since my last marathon. However, my coach does not call it a long run - he says long runs are only called long runs if they are of a distance of more than a half-marathon (21.1km). Anything less is only a medium-long run at best.
I met with a couple other guys who were going to run part of it and then turn around, as they were not going to be running more than 14km. We were running the Lamed Hey route from RBS, being starting in RBS across Road 10 to the 375. Up 375 to Elah Junction. Across 38 to Bet Shemesh, and up to RBS. The run includes two major hills, one being the hill of Zechariya and the second being the Tzeelim hill up to RBS.
After my running partners broke off a bit after Tzomet Aderet, I continued the rest of the way on my own. We were getting a good run. I have not run with a watch in a long time, but now that marathon season is back I decided it was time to start monitoring my speed and distance more accurately again. A few quick glances at my watch let me know that were were running at a pretty fast pace. It is not unusual as that stretch of road is at a slight downhill angle and it is easy to not pay attention and run much faster than normal without realizing.
After they broke off and I continued on towards Elah Junction, I suddenly felt a sharp pain in my left calf. It felt almost like a small bruise, but I am pretty sure it was a slight muscle pull. Nothing specific caused it - I didn't misstep suddenly or trip or anything that i noticed. The pain just suddenly appeared. I stopped and stretched it out a bit, and then kept going. it still hurt, but I had to get home, so my only option was to keep going.
The only thing I could think of that caused it was perhaps running too fast, It is a classic mistake at the beginning of the season. Thankfully, it was not bad. I was able to continue on, slowing down a bit. i made it up the entire Zechariya hill respectably.
Only when climbing the Tzeelim hill did I have to stop and walk a bit as the pain increased with the hill. I got to the top and finished the run at 19km and did not extend it. Obviously the pain increased over the day, but then over Shabbos it began decreasing. i still feel it slightly, but it mostly gone. I expect by tomorrow I should be running again.
Besides for the pain, the timing worked out after I turned at the Elah Junction that I saw a beautiful view of the mountains just after sunrise with the sun over the Elah valley and the mountainous backdrop. It was stunning and the air was beautiful and cool. The run was beautiful, albeit slightly marred by the slight muscle pain. If everything goes well, it looks like it should be a great season.