Thursday, June 30, 2011

Aftermath

Yeeeoww! I stopped and yelled this out during this morning's run on the Lester Rail Trail. The cause of this joyous noise was a sudden excruciating pain in my groin. It must have been what they call a groin pull. The pain went down my entire right leg.

The run - four 6-mile out-and-back loops on the Lester Rail Trail - had been going fairly well up until that point. It's too bad that that point was only about 150 yards into the run. What to do? I nearly walked back to the car in order to drive home and call it a day (at 5am). But no, I decided to try to gut it out, at least for a while. Sure enough, after some slow shuffling, I eventually got to a point where I could run again.

And speaking of pain, most of it went away fairly quickly in the days following Mohican. I say most because the pain in one particular body part (my heel) decided to linger longer. Yes, my PF continues to be as bad as ever. I wish I knew the exact moment in the race when it occurred, but I suppose it really doesn't matter.

Although I knew that Mohican would be a watershed for me, at least for 2011, I had in fact been running better (read: a bit faster) in the weeks leading up to the race. So it's not too surprising that I'm running relatively fast once again. I've got some tempo runs and speedwork sessions under my belt. It's just too bad that these types of runs hurt my PF the most.

Now I'll have to try to make something of the July 4th Twin Sizzler races in Medina. With a groin pull now to go along with the PF, it should be interesting.

I managed to get through today's 24. I even managed to run fairly well - under 8:30 pace, for the middle two laps. The fourth lap proved difficult, however. This may have been a result of all the other follies.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Mohican

I now believe it was the plantar fasciitis that got me. It didn't necessarily appear that way during the run. Sure, my heel hurt, but everything - every bone, muscle, tendon and brain cell - hurt as well. Every stride, every footfall, was painful. I'd felt this way before, but never with 87 miles yet to run. And that's the part that was hurting those brain cells. I think that by favoring my left heel, combined with the twisting, turning, uneven surface of rocks, mud and roots, I caused additional bio-mechanical problems that brought the house down.

Everything about this run was truly a love-hate thing for me. I loved driving down to Mohican the night before with friends Ladd, Frank and Marsha. We three guys had planned to stay together as much as possible for the first half. I loved seeing old and new friends at the check in, dinner and meeting Friday night. I've said it before and I'll say it again: ultrarunners are some of the best people I know. I hated not being able to sleep more than two hours in our tiny cabin due to the campfire smoke that was like being two feet away from a chain-smoker.

The start was okay. It was not too hot, but extremely humid due to the rains the night before and earlier in the morning. After a half-mile or so, we reached the single-track trail. I'd anticipated that there may be a slow-down as we 300 or so runners (about half were 50-milers; the rest of us were centurions) entered the trail. What occurred, however, was a total traffic jam. Who wants to totally stop running, when there are 99+ miles to go? Eventually, we started walking, single file, up the switchbacks. Since the race had started at 5am, it was still dark, so the line of flashlights traversing the winding trails was surreal.

After about 10 minutes of walking we began shuffling on some of the straightaways. There were some extremely muddy areas, and without trail shoes, I began having some difficulties already. As unique an experience that this single-file trekking in the dark was, I hated it. I had absolutely no control over whether I could run or walk; I absolutely had to do what the group was doing. Worst of all, when I could run, I didn't really want to - it was that tough out there already.

Even several miles into the run, I was still with groups of runners going single file. The larger group had broken into smaller ones, but it was still impossible to get around them. And I was still at their mercy in regards to walking or running. Naturally the steep sections were for the walking, but there seemed to be way too few flatter areas. I even asked Ladd at one point: "Do you think there will be any areas where we can run for more than just a couple minutes?"

Ladd, Frank and I were never far from each other. After a couple hours, we could finally stay together for a while and avoid those groups a bit more. It was probably about 7 or 8am when I started to notice the scenery. The woods were truly beautiful, and, now away from the crowds, I thought about how much I loved this.

But not for long. Things were already starting to hurt. Ladd said we were 13 miles in at about the three hour mark. This was actually a good, smart pace, but it was beginning to get tough for me to keep up. Not to mention painful. How would I be able to do it for 87 more torturous miles?

I forgot about all this for a while as we crossed a stream several times and then climbed up and over a small, muddy cliff. This half-mile or so section may have taken a half-hour or more. It was fun, but also frustrating. The rest of the terrain was also terrible, but that part was the worst. Yes, it's the old love-hate thing on steroids. There was actually a very nice running section between the dam and the covered bridge aid station, but it's too bad that this was only about a half mile long.

After that aid station I found that I couldn't stay with Ladd anymore at all. He wasn't moving that fast, but I just wasn't able to hold even that pace. My overall pain was increasing, and the humidity made it difficult to catch my breath. This was shaping up to be an anaerobic ultra run for me. I made a couple remarks about all this to Frank, but I think he was having at least some difficulty as well.

By the time we got to the final aid station before the completion of the first 27-mile loop (mile 22 or so), I was totally spent. I did get a word in to Ladd and Frank that I didn't know if I'd be able to complete the loop, much less start the next one. I don't think Ladd believed me.

At this point things got worse and worse. I had been thinking that perhaps I'd recover and at least go on to some extent. Before the start, I'd had no contingency plans at all; I was going to finish no matter what. Now that ever step hurt, I was nearly in a panic - wondering whether I could make it back for even that first loop. My movements were slower and slower and more and more runners began passing me. I knew several of them, and they tried to encourage me. It didn't work. There was just too much pain and suffering. I was hating every minute. It didn't help that when I did try to run I tripped and fell. This was on top of a few other minor falls earlier in the run.

Eventually I saw it: a way to get back quicker: a short-cut! This would eliminate the extremely vertical final two-mile section of the course. Since I was going to be dropping, I had no qualms whatsoever about taking this route back in.

The 25 or so miles had taken me six torturous hours. It was such a relief to get off those terrible trails. For all I know, I may have been the first to drop. But I didn't care one bit.

Now I've been in a lot of pain (still) and am unable to run. Regarding trail hundred-mile races, I'd say they're out of my system for good.

Couple additional thoughts:

$200 for this race was way too much. I'd even be saying that if I'd managed to finish. The aid stations and support were okay, but not to the extent that they justified this cost.

And 300 runners (plus marathoners later on) is way too many for these trails. 40 to 50 should be the maximum.

I was amazed at how much my well-meaning friends were disappointed for me (for, not in). They wanted to do anything and everything to help. But nothing would do. I only needed to get off my feet. And to never think about anything like this ever again.

I should also mention that Patrick Fisher was to pace me for the final 23 miles. I'd been thinking that there's be none better. He felt bad for me, but there was nothing he could do at that point, either.

It was great to see Debbie and Kathy there at the start/finish area. I was sorry to disappoint them most of all, but they gave me encouragement anyway. And a nice ride home.

I am amazed that anyone can complete a race like this. It's not just 100 miles. It's 100 miles over the roughest terrain imaginable. Yet, Ladd and several others did make it. I'm in awe.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Out of My System

Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately), that's the way I'm looking at this upcoming Mohican run. Maybe it's good to be apprehensive and anxious. I am, in spades. The thing about getting it out of my system is that the voices had been working on me for some time now. "You MUST do a 100-miler," they tell me. "The sooner the better," they go on. Assuming I can complete Mohican, I'll be able to silence those voices and move back to the normal ones. You know, the ones that tell me to run 3 shorter races over a weekend and such.

And this brings me to my goals:

1) Finish the race
2) Don't drop out
3) Run 100 miles and get to the finish

If I do accomplish all that, it would be nice to finish in a half-way decent amount of time - mostly because I get kind've tired at night.

One other thing: I hate trail shoes and carrying or wearing anything (that I don't have to for modesty). This means that I'm having trouble with water and that I'll probably run the race in road shoes. I'm just not a trail dog. Arf.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

... and Run Like a Turtle

So the whole thing goes,

Eat like a horse,
Drink like a fish... and
Run like a Turtle

This is one of Roy Heger's favorite mantras. One can do far worse than trying to emulate Roy, although I've joked with him that my goal is to be the exact opposite of him in every way possible. Just call me the anti-Roy. This is all the more interesting because many have compared Roy's appearance (beard, long hair, hippie clothes, etc.) to that of Jesus Christ. I suppose this would make me the anti-Christ, although I'm not really all that devilish. Okay, maybe a little.

This year, though, against all my most basic instincts, I've somehow managed to become more like Roy. Not in looks, mind you. But I've been running more and more miles, doing them slower and slower, doing them more and more on trails, and now I'm going to (be trying to) run a 100-miler. It's almost impossible to get more like Roy than that. Unless, of course, I was going to be doing multiple 100-milers. Or running them over impossible terrain. This one (which is tough enough) will most likely be plenty for me, thank you.

Back to turtles. I love running fast. Check that. I love being able to run fast. Of course in order to be able to run fast, one must run fast, at least at times. And this is something that simply hasn't been happening along with all those miles. I did manage 6:50 for two consecutive miles at the MCRR 'Quickie' a couple weeks back. And I also got down to sub-seven pace with the gang on the Lester Rail Trail the other night. I can't even call them tempo runs until I can do three consecutive miles at this pace, but these two efforts almost killed me. Today at the Trumbull HS track, I couldn't even come close. Heaven help me at Twin Sizzler and other upcoming shorter races.

So now I'm scared to death about next week's race, and I'm also afraid that I'll never get my mojo/speed back, afterwards. I supposed I should only worry about one thing at a time. Just call me Touche' Turtle. But ya doesn't have to call me Roy.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

I Lied

In an earlier post I said that I'd decided against Mohican. I'm sorry to say that I lied. I know this hurts my constituents and especially my family, so I'd like to apologize to all of them, and sincerely ask for their forgiveness. I also hope this doesn't spoil my chances for re-election.

After a better-than-expected run at Another Dam 50k, my excuses (not in shape, can't handle trails, heat, etc., etc.) dried up. So rather than continue to be called a chicken by Ladd and Frank, I went ahead and registered for Mohican. Lord help me..

Sunday, June 05, 2011

Another Dam 50k (Millenium) Run


You can just call me Millennium Man. That's because I wound up with number 1000 at this year's Another Dam 50k Run in Englewood, which is near Dayton, Ohio. I suppose calling myself Runner of the Millennium may be taking things a bit too far over the top.

"Just run real fast so that you're done before it gets too hot." This was my advice to anyone concerned about the anticipated heat for the day. We'd been hearing that the high would reach 94F. But they could be wrong, and even if they're right, 94's not really so bad, is it?

"Dan, do you remember the trails being this tough?" asked Ladd between huffs and puffs. My answer was, "Now I do!" It was just beginning to get hot. The first (of four) laps went fine, although the trails were indeed tougher than I remembered. One good thing: they were much less muddy than last year.

Ladd stayed with Jeannine as I ventured on ahead; Janet, Marsha and Charles were out there as well. I saw some of them coming and going from time to time. That's what makes AD50k so much fun. Not to mention the road trip aspect of it.

Yes, the trails were less muddy. Except for the second lap, that is. A brief heavy downpour occurred as I started that second circuit. The cool rain felt wonderful, and I was enjoying every minute of it. Then three things happened in succession: 1) the rain stopped; 2) the trails became muddy - really muddy; 3) the heat returned, this time accompanied by gobs of humidity. The mud was especially thick and heavy. All this made the second loop, which had started out so nice and cool, a tough (and slow) one.

The third loop, on the other hand, went extremely well. The mud had dried up as fast as it had appeared. The heat was still increasing, but for some reason that didn't bother me at this time. Roughly two miles of the 7.9 mile course are exposed to the sun. This includes the dam itself. The rest of the trails are nicely shaded; very nicely shaded. The one turned out to be my fastest, and it's where I felt the best.

So now, 3 hours, 30 minutes into the run, I had another hour and 10 minutes to finish in 4:40. Why is that important, you ask? Because 4:40 is the course record for men's grand masters division. Beating this time would put me in the record book and also net me a $75 gift certificate to a local running store. That's $25 for winning the division and a $50 bonus for breaking the record.

One hour, ten minutes is what I'd been averaging, so it wasn't an unreasonable expectation. Except, that is, for the heat. It was 11:30am, and the temperatures were really getting up there. It was taking it's toll, but I was going for it anyway. Gauging my pace on the times I hit the aid station, I had a chance as of the first stop, but almost not at all for the second. I never gave up the effort, but I just couldn't make it in the time I wanted.

The result was a 4:43. This was still good enough to place me 8th and 1st among the grand masters. It took almost forever to cool down and clean up. I learned later on that Dayton's high for the day was 98F! But running fast did get me out of the heat that much faster! My advice proved correct for a change.

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

And Now for Something Really Different

That would be, of course, a hundred-miler. Really different for me, anyway. And I don't take this stuff lightly.

It was ten years ago that I did Mohican. I've told everyone a bazillion times, but I may have never mentioned it here in the 'ole blog: Debbie, who was my support crew, made me promise to never do another one of these things ever again. In a moment of weakness, I agreed. The funny thing was that I wasn't that bad during or after the run; she was just worried about me.

Now, a decade later, Debbie is letting me out of my solemn promise. But I've decided not to do Mohican. It's Burning River or Bust. More on all this later - just wanted to get this out there.

A (Nearly) Midsummer Night's Run

It's a couple days past Midsummer, and our runner is generally recovered from his Midsummer Night's Run . It is, however, most def...