Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Lining it up

Shin update: feeling much better today.  Only a few times did the winks of pain make their case.  Actually, today was the first time I'd really tested the leg as I needed to mow the lawn, and it felt fine.  I've been taking calcium/Vitamin D and icing (ice massage) twice daily which seems to help.  The icing is brutal though, and I can feel the small bulges on the bone really when I run the ice up and down.  Whatever helps though, right?

In any case, I've been able to look at what I'd like to do during what I consider the fun run season, basically late fall/winter.  Hopefully, I'll be back up and ready for some shorter races in October along with some soccer, and I'm planning on hitting up the BC 10 spot in the hood here, then a possibility of some sort of double/triple in November with combos of HRBC Half/Incline Beer Mile/CC6K/FSIV on 11/10 and 11/11.  December, as per ususal, will be heading up for the Fat Ass in the norse country and the Fat Ass in the south in January.  My focus for December and January is to get some solid hill training/tempo work in and be in good shape come February.

February is slotted for an event that has been on my bucket list for at least 2 years now: Orcas Island 50K.  I think I've previously made mention of the fact that I really, really like running in the PNW, and this is up there with the best events offered in the area.  Check out the photos from Glen Tachiyama here.  Then, most likely, I'll be heading to Salida for the marathon again, and hopefully this year I'll be in shape.  The real kicker is that somewhere in March - May, Rachel and I are going somewhere to celebrate 5 years (which will actually lapse 12/9).  I've got 2 50's I'd like to run in that time (Jemez and Zane Grey) but likely won't do one, and Zane Grey is the hardest to get out to, so that's likely not going to happen.  There are a few 50's in CO during that time (Fruita/CP/Quad Rock) but all are double loops, and I just don't like the double loop, but the 25's in any would be fine, with QR the best course by far.  So, we'll see about all of that.

June is pretty well locked with the Golden Gate Dirty 30, pacing my best friend at Bighorn, and then San Juan (another bucket list race).  The rest of the year is lottery dependent.  Of course I'll be hoping to be picked for Hardrock, though that is rather ominous coming off two 100 DNFs.  Cascade Crest and Wasatch are high on the list, lottery dependent. If I don't get into Hardrock, I think I'll leave July open for some more fun high country projects like this year.

In any case, the injury has let me spend some more time than normal looking at how to align the race schedule for next year.  I'll only go back to a race if it's one that I really like (Salida, Jemez, Mt. Werner Classic), with one exception (Fruita) as the wife really had fun out there, so we might head back out.  Looking forward to getting back running.  Mostly I want to explore some new stuff on my backyard trails that seems to be just coming to my attention.  I'm also looking forward to some of the smaller fun stuff we've got this winter, like the Hardrock lottery party.

Lastly, I'm throwing a party for my wife on 9/30 at our new place at 5:00PM.  Rachel's running her first ultra and we're still newly moved in, so come hang out on our back porch and welcome my wife to the club.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Run Rabbit Run DNF


So, if you read that, I will ensure you that I feel about as unaligned with that post as I could be.  I actually am quite happy and content with myself at the current moment.

So, what happened? Let's start at the beginning.  Leila, Donnie, and I had made our way to the starting line and surprisingly quickly we were charging up the ski hill on a route I was really not prepared for (but secretly loved), a Jemez style trek up the ski hill (only with better footing).  All the way to the top I was simply trying not to kill myself and I settled into a decent pace just in front of Nikki Kimball and Ashley Arnold.

When we approached Mt. Werner, we had to do a short out and back to the aid station then down the trail towards Long Lake.  This was the best part of the race for me (fun wise) because I love that trail, and I was running with Leila and Donnie on the front range express train.  We nearly made the wrong turn down Fish Creek Falls where a ton of people went wrong, and to be honest, it needed to be marked better.  I've been on this section of trail a lot, and I still almost went the wrong way.  There is flagging on all of the trails (3 way "Y" intersection) but nothing indicating which way to go (for reference, you needed to go right, then right, then left, then left as you hit the intersection 4 times).

Wearing a pack, I made it out before the others and ran slowly down FCF to the high school, eventually reconvening with Leila and Donnie just before the school.  By the bottom of FCF I was feeling pretty sick, odd because I'm typically pretty solid there, and then after getting through Olympian Hall and up the ski jumps I puked my brains out.  It was pretty awesome puking too, four points of contact puking.  After that, I needed to lay on the trail for a second and get my shit together mentally.  I saw Mike here and saw his awesome stitches, he told me he was probably going to drop due to the wound pulling on his knee pretty hard, but Mike would go on to finish like a boss.

So after my little bitch session (these are real things), I slowly made my way down to Cow Creek.  I had made my peace with having a good race and just focused on having some fun.  Unfortunately, the volunteer at the previous aid station misheard me (or more likely, I misspoke) and my water had been filled to 15oz instead of 50oz and I was out of water for about an hour or so.  After regrouping at the aid station, I began my best section of the race.  I ran really well all the way to the top of the ski jumps, went quickly through the aid stations and started up the climb to FCF.  The lower section is steeper, but just past the bridge I was able to start running and ran most of the rest of the way to Long Lake.

At long lake I ran into Donnie, and we left together towards Summit Lake.  I was feeling good and decided to pick it up to stay warm, but could really notice the pain in my left shin (it had been a dull pain until then), and after leaving Summit Lake and starting the long downhill, I began having real trouble.  I stopped and tried to stretch, but to no avail.  The pain became pretty strong, forcing me to walk sections and then about 2 miles above Dry Lake I was really having trouble putting pressure on it.  I got myself into Dry Lake and attempted to wrap up my shin with duct tape and left down towards the high school.  Looking back, I probably should have dropped there.  I knew in my head that it was over, that this was an issue I couldn't work through and it would get better.  That said, I really didn't want to DNF, so I went on.  Stubbornly, I kept going, even though I had a hard time walking.  Saw a bunch of friends, including Leila on her way to 3rd place, and was generally miserable.  I muttered some choice words, then laughed at myself, because, well because I paid a lot of money to do this.

Sometimes, when you're having such a rotten time you eventually move past the point of sourness to the point where every bit of additional misery simply becomes comical.  So, the closer I got to SHS, the better my mood was and the more pain I was in.  My shin was throbbing, but I was otherwise fine (it appears to have all the markings of a stress fracture, but not super severe. Swelling is almost gone, and the bumps on my shin have subsided a bit).  My legs weren't overly thrashed, and I was happy.  I promptly DNF'd at the aid station, and ate some bacon with Eron (Donnie's wife), before getting a ride back to my stuff at Leila's condo.  If it was another weekend, I would have stayed for the post race festivities, and I felt bad for not staying to watch my friends come in, but this was also the weekend of Oliver's first birthday and I needed to get back home to help get the place ready.

On Sunday (day after the race), we had bunch of friends over for Oliver's birthday and I really enjoyed just hanging out on my back deck with friends and beer.  Thanks to everyone who came out for that, especially those that had to come all the way down from the mountains and out of town.  I can't imagine I'll ever have a better day after a DNF.

In regards to the race itself, there has been a lot of chatter about issues folks had with the race.  My only issue was that the course felt contrived.  Going through town was not really necessary, and the east side of town (the loop) certainly isn't an area that necessitates the diversion.

So, I was a bit disappointed with the event for that sake, not at all for my own issues, which would have happened in any case.  I really hope they make some major changes to the 100, to bring it up to par with the 50, which, in my opinion, is world class event.  The course layout simply left a lot to be desired, and created some unnecessary confusion, especially since there is so much else to use.  Time will tell if I come back to it, but I'm hoping for luck in either the Cascade Crest or Wasatch lotteries, so those would be my first choice.

Congrats to all who toughed it out all the way to the finish, and Karl for just schooling everyone.  Makes me laugh when I re-read my pre-race plan of sticking with him! That lasted for about 30 yards :)

And, again, Kieran wins the beer for guessing the correct amount of women to finish ahead of me: 4.

Live and learn, right?

Monday, September 10, 2012

Run Rabbit Run Contest

There have been some calls for me to post some sort of prediction contest for beer as I've done in the past.  Those have resulted in me owing a lot of beer, so we'll do a different kind of contest this time.

The Game:

Predict how many women (from the "hares" field will finish ahead of me).

Closest predictor will win a sixer of Punk'n.

There is a catch.  If you post a prediction, and I manage to not get chicked (not likely), you owe me a beer.

Deal? Deal.  Let's run.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Revisiting the past

A lot of the time folks don't want to revisit the past, but recently an old schoolmate posted a photo I took (with an actual camera containing FILM!) that I had lost from the summer of 2005:

Tiger's Nest Monastery. Paro, Bhutan
During that summer I spent 6 weeks building trails high in the Indian Himalayas in a small village called Daragaon 15 miles south of Kangchenjunga. On the way out, we looped through Darjeeling and then to the Kingdom of Bhutan.  While in Paro, we made our way up to Paro Taksang, one of the most incredible views and experiences of my life to date.  Check out some other photos.  The story behind the monastery is equally interesting, though neither does justice to the act of being there.

View from the bottom
In any case, I was thinking about what it would be like to go back as a runner, or an ultrarunner more specifically.  There are some incredible hikes and remote outposts in the most mountainous terrain in the world, a place where they don't start naming peaks until they hit 18,000', but logistically it would be a massive challenge.  First of all, with children, a wife, and a job, it is difficult to travel anywhere.  Second, Bhutan is a very intensive experience with stringent rules (though supposedly relaxing year by year).  When I was there, you were required to travel with a state appointed guide, though I imagine if you worked hard enough to prove you were there for the pure athletic and aesthetic experience, you could swing it.

Just a bit of reflection, though I do imagine that I'll keep my word to return to the Himalayas at some point.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Here we go again

In 9 days I'll line up for a 100 mile race for the 3rd time looking for my 2nd finish.  This is the time where I typically start feeling a bit unsettled.

I think it's likely normal for 100 mile novices like me because there is nothing more you can do to prepare yourself physically for the challenge, and a host of things you can do to derail whatever success you have perceived in your brain as a "goal".

My taper? Well, my taper hasn't started particularly well, but there was nothing I could do to change that.  My wife and I bought our first home a week ago and spent the better part of the last week moving all of our crap over to the new house.  I did my last real long run last Saturday night and I felt terrible.  With all the moving of boxes and furniture, and my skinny runner ass, I was just exhausted.  Perhaps I'll just have to go with the Joe Kulak method.

 I've been trying to get some good sleep, though Oliver has made that difficult with some late night/early morning rousing due to sickness.  So, I'm fairly resigned to picking up whatever he's got. Damn kids.  Otherwise, things have been going really well, and I'm not injured which is really all you can ask for.

So, what are my goals?  I'm not really sure, and I'm not entirely certain how I should go about it.  My results this year have been the full bag; great, decent, and terrible.  I'm confident about finishing (which is something everyone always says, thus cliche, but important nonetheless).  Otherwise, with a new course/race, there is no historical precedent to look at to gain a decent understanding of where I could be.  Going into Leadville last year, I knew I could look at the historical times of people who I'm usually finishing near in other races.

Looking to finish in a certain place is a fool's errand, and besides, the race is stacked.  I have some concerns with regards to ruining my race early.  First, the initial climb is steep, exposed, and starts at 1PM, which could make it pretty hot.  Then, there's the fast miles from mile 7 to mile 40 where an overstepping of my fitness could set me up for a brutal second half.  The fact that most of the run is at night actually doesn't bother me at all, as I really enjoy running at night on trail and it is something I practice quite often.

Where does that leave me? Who knows, but I think a sub-24 finish would be a solid time on the course, as it is at Wasatch.  In regards to that place question? I'm realistic, and like Leadville, I think a top 10 finish would be simply my best effort on my best day, but likely not in the cards.  I'll worry about that when I get back to Summit Lake.  So, perhaps I'll just follow my Hellgate race plan: follow Karl Meltzer early and see how it feels.  Besides, if anyone knows how to run a strong 100 it's him, right?