Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Sun + Running = Happy!

Knee is still sore.  Had X-Rays, no call back from the doctor.  Probably rules out stress fractures of any kind.  I don't think they were on the radar anyway.  I am in line for an MRI, not sure if that takes weeks, months or years.  I am hoping weeks.  I think there definitely is something wrong.  Having said that I ran for an hour on it today and it feels better than before I ran on it - must be the sun :)

We have had 2 sunny days in a row.  That makes 3 total for the month of May I think.  Sore knee or not, running and sun makes me happy.  I think I will begin training for Haliburton Forest.  What is the worst that can happen!? :)

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Bummed Out!

It has been a been about a week and half since I last ran.  Last run was the 50 mile race.  The soreness was quick to leave and I was back to the gym a couple days after the race, but my knee has been very sore.  I really think something is wrong in there.  I have a doctor's appointment on Thursday to find out what I should do.  I am hoping a scope is not needed, but I don't see what else could be wrong.  I typically run/play through whatever injuries I have but this one seems different.  I feel like there is damage done that requires medical attention.  When you live in my part of the world, the running season is as short as the winter's are long.  I really don't want my season to be cut any shorter. 

On a more  positive note I made a decision that I definitely am up for the challenge of a hundred mile race.  What better race to start with than the ultra of ultras.....pause for effect...Western States.  Yep, I'm an idiot, but I dream about running that course and since it is a lottery, I may as well start to apply.  If it was a perfect world I would run Haliburton Forest 50 miler this fall under 11 hours to qualify, apply to the lottery in November and  be running Western States June of next year :)  If I don't get in via the lottery my backup plan is either Leadville or the Canadian Death Race I think.  The back up plan is always negotiable but Western States would be surreal.  Crossing my fingers that the knee is not serious.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

2011 Wascally Wabbit Ultra 50 Miler Race Report

Wow!  What an experience.  First off, hats off and a big thank you to Jodi Isenor for organizing an excellent event and his dad for keeping track of all our times.  The course was a very nice mix of everything imaginable for a trail race.  The scenery was awesome!  I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of trail vs logging roads and ATV trails.  It was exceptionally marked as well.  I have the world's worst sense of direction and I didn't come close to going off course - even when I was zoned out :)  Secondly, the volunteers deserve more credit than any of the runners for staying the course of 10 plus hours with the most fierce crop of black flies I have ever witnessed.  The volunteers were exceptionally supportive and helpful.  Finally, before I get to my specific experience , I was blown away by the talented 50 mile runners - 3 of which finished under 8 hours on a course that was anything but easy.  I am used to being a middle of the pack runner, but on this day I was by far the back of the pack.

Turns out I may have been the only 50 mile runner there not training for a 100 mile race later this year.  I was tempted to put a100 mile stop on my list, but after this event, I realize what a huge accomplishment 100 miles must be.  I think I will try another 50 miler, then 100 km event before 100 miles.

Sorry, back to the race report...the course consisted of 5 laps of a 6 km loop, 9km loop, finishing with a 5 km out and back.  There were advantages to this:  no need to carry gear, you passed your gear every 6 km and 9 km.  You knew what terrain awaited you after one full lap.  The biggest disadvantage was numerous chances to quit :)  I absolutely loved the course and it was a great first 50 mile course for me since I didn't have a crew, I could setup my lawn chair and gear and have at it.

The first 6 km lap started uphill and passed a nice water dam on the right hand side of the trail, it was a sandy ATV trail I think - quite soft.  It then turned into some very technical single track through the woods - very nice trail.  It was quite wet in spots but I managed to stay dry for the entire lap.  Once out of the woods it was back onto a rocky ATV trail uphill and onto a logging road - again uphill.  It is funny that after several laps I began to look forward to the uphills to hike and not run.  Mounds were uphills by the end of the race :)  The logging road then went downhill and turned off onto a double track trail that I dubbed the pipeline.  The trail followed a massive white pipeline which I have no idea of its contents...looked to be a normal waterline of some sort.  For some reason I found this part of the trail tough even though it was not so technical.  But once you were done this section you were pretty much back at the start line.

The 9km loop was my favorite even though it begins with a 4-5 km stretch uphill - with a few sections that are flat or downhill - however for the most part it was completely uphill on logging road with several very steep sections - and a nice lake on the right hand side towards the top.  Once at the top however, it was very nice trail through the woods with a really nice downhill over dirt, rock and water. The first time I came down with some music cranked in my ears - I realized what trail running was all about and that I really don't care to run on asphalt ever again.  I had a grin from ear to ear and I think I may even have been laughing it was so much fun.  I couldn't wait to get to the top again :).  Once were down and out of the woods on this trail, you looped back onto the logging road to go downhill back to the start line.  What goes up must come down.

So once the full lap was completed, I was still on track with the plan to finish under 10 hours, however, I realized that I hadn't trained very much for hills and I didn't train on trail - sooner or later my times would drift.

By now, I realized as well that the rest of the 50 mile runners were way faster than me and I would be running solo most of the day.  I did run several laps with Bruce from Dartmouth, a very nice man with whom I had much in common.  He took several pics throughout the day as well- anxious to see those.  After 2 and half laps I was still on pace to finish under 10 hours but I was slipping a little each lap.  I met another woman on the trail who had finished her 2 laps for the 30 km race but was going out for another 6 km for fun.  What a trooper, she has only been running since November and was already doing 30 km races and was registered for a 50 km next weekend.

The rest of the race was more or less bearing down and getting the miles in.  My energy stayed good but legs were getting tired and sore.  Mentally I was fine until halfway through lap four.  I was a bit down when other runners were onto their last 9 km and I was just finishing my fourth.  My wife and sister in law showed up about this time.  My wife is used to seeing me pretty upbeat.  I was down, a little frustrated and was getting the stupids as well.  She is also used to seeing me about mid pack and I am dead last :)  She approached Jodi after I left for the 9 km loop to tell him I am not myself.  Jodi being a very experienced runner reassured her I was just down a bit mentally but physically I was fine (not !@#$ed up as he put it).  Good thing, thanks Jodi, I bet she would have come out on the course after me :)

After the 4th lap, my stomach could not take in food or gatorade anymore.  The best I could do was Pepsi and water.  I need to work on nailing a nutrition plan.  Not as easy as you would think after 8 plus hours of running.  I felt very good my last loops of 6 km and 9 km, probably because I knew they were the last laps.  But I was proud to still be running and not solely hiking - which I had mentally prepared myself  to do if the legs weren't there.  I finished the last loops and went back out for my final 5 km out and back.  One of the volunteers paced me back on his bike from the turnaround I was glad to have the company.  When I got to the finish, my mom, dad, kids and brother were there.  What a day!  My daughter and son said:  "Daddy, you have been running for a long time!"  I quickly put them back in the car before the black flies flew away with them.  10 hours and 31 minutes later I accomplished my first 50 mile ultra marathon.  Yes, Daddy was running for along time.  An experience I will never forget.

Thanks again to Jodi and all the volunteers as well as my family (my wife in particular) and friends for putting up with my training and running obsession.  Can't wait to do it again :)  Yes Jodi, that is a plug to make it annual :)

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

About to Pee My Pants

Stoked to be three sleeps away from running my first ultra marathon!  I took a week off to rest my knee, consulted a physiotherapist as well as my doctor.  I am fortunate to have a doctor that runs ironman triathlons.  Got lots of running advice as well as medical advice from him.  He told me if my knee deteriorates to a limp during the race to call it quits.  Not sure if I can do that - I am stubborn enough to finish what I start.  However to hear it come from someone who understands the training effort and excitement of the event and damage that could result - it weighs more heavily on the decision.  As a result, I was really bummed out about the knee situation, how it felt and having to rest it for a week.  Yesterday I ran for an hour and fully expected it to swell up like a balloon afterward.  It felt a bit nasty for first half hour of the run - meaning I was really getting down thinking I would have to make the call to not race.  If I couldn't do an hour without soreness how would I do 10 hours.  Then the strangest thing happened....my knee started to feel better, and better and better.  By the end of the run it felt strong and pain free.  I tried to reason in my head that it must be inflammation starting thus reducing the grinding and pain from grinding.  However I waited for it to swell and it has not.  I do not understand what is wrong with the knee.  Very strange.  When moving about throughout the day, I feel sharp pains every so often in the inside of my knee but to walk up and downstairs it doesn't hurt at all.  Anyway, I don't care why or how it feels better - I just care that it does.  Now I am crazy excited about the weekend!

Friday, May 6, 2011

Not the Only Kukoo in the Nest

So it appears I am not the only crazy wanting to run as far as I possibly can in one sitting.  The organizer of the Wascally Wabbit Ultra 50 and some of his associates appear to have created the race to have a 50 miler under their belts in order to run the Vermont 100 Miler later this year.  Excellent! so happy to hear other runners in this neck of the woods have interests similar to mine.  It also appears, one of the other runners in the race next weekend is planning on running Haliburton 50 miler this fall.  It would be nice to know someone else going.

Regarding my knee... I saw a physiotherapist this morning since I was concerned that the pain encountered after my 'final push' weekend of back to back long runs lingered along with a fair amount of inflammation.  I am pretty sure I can run through the pain however - I wanted a third party assessment of whether or not I was going to cause permanent damage of any kind.  My legs had very little fatigue after the back to back runs - however my knee was very sore and swelled - so it wasn't just discomfort from a lot of mileage. I have also sprained, hyper-extended and torn cartilage before and it didn't feel like any of the above.  I have experienced IT band issues and it didn't feel like that either.  If I had to lean towards one of these injuries,  it would be a cartilage tear which had me concerned.  Better to have it checked than linger in my mind.  Would I listen to sound advice or not is another story :)

Either way, her assessment doubted a tear which was mostly what I was after.  The interesting part is that she is an avid runner and feels the injury is sourced in my back or hamstring.  When she mentioned hamstring, I was all ears since my right hamstring plagued my running a bit last year.  I vowed to work on my flexibility this season but as of yet, I have done zero to improve on that.  I was told by a few post race RMTs that I had some of the tightest hamstrings they have ever seen - nothing to brag about of course.  Last time I checked hamstrings are not abs.  So I am to rest and stretch before trying a light run again.

Harder than you think.  My brain and body are yelling at me to run and get those last miles of tapering in.  My psyche tells me I cannot lay low for almost 2 weeks prior to a race.  Stay tuned to see how it all works out.