Race Schedule

2018 Races…TBD!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Sucking Air

You know that deep, grumbly feeling you get in your stomach when you're suddenly really hungry?  After a good morning effort, it comes a little earlier than usual, and with slightly more vengeance.  You suddenly HAVE to eat.  You know that feeling?

I got it this morning...and I loved it because it meant that I ran

I love that feeling because it is always preceded by a run.  And today I ran for the first time since Rocky Raccoon 100, over two weeks ago.  It wasn't really pretty, per se, but I was moving, and that made me happy.  I saw my doc, Dr. N, and then my PT yesterday and both said I should try some running.  Albeit cautiously, and on a treadmill at first, but running nonetheless.  My PT had me run on the treadmill last night to see how things looked and it was fine, but I didn't count it because it was only 7 minutes :)  They had me run 30 seconds, walk 30 seconds, rinse and repeat, to see how everything felt.  Back of my knee felt fine, actually non-existant, so that was promising.  This morning, I woke up to the back of my knee feeling...sore?  I dunno, it felt like something, so I was a little concerned, but I'm thinking it was just soreness after being used for the first time in over two weeks :)  So, Geof and I headed down to the gym to play on the treadmills for a bit.  I followed the "rules" that PT gave me and did a walk run; Geof was running like he was on fire.  Starting with 30 seconds walking, 30 seconds running, I then moved up to 30 seconds walking, 2 minutes running.  I could feel the back of my knee creeping in while running and that was pissing me off, but it wasn't painful so I kept at it.  I was having flashbacks to RR100, and was getting sweaty palms worrying about my calf exploding to twice its size again.  Blech.  After 15 minutes I decided it was enough for me and I wasn't interested in causing any damage, so I switched to all walking.  But not just any walking...

Badass walking!  I wasn't doing some Sunday stroll on the 'mill, I cranked that puppy up to it's highest incline, 15%, and power-walked that biotch outta town!  I was huffing and puffing, and it felt amazing!  The knee was fine, non-existant once again, and I was breaking a nice little sweat.  It felt so good to move like that and really exorcise the demons.  I've decided that I want to add this into my Leadville training...put in an hour a couple days a week of straight speed-walking at 15% incline.  Take that, Hope Pass. 

My quads and glutes are doing a happy dance as I write this.  They are thanking me for taking them out and getting them moving.  You are very welcome, lower extremities :)

That's the story morning glory.  Hopefully, I can keep doing this and keep adding on and get back in the game sooner rather than later.  A muscle sprain is a weird thing, and a slow healing process, but I can't complain too much.  It's another excuse to get some ART :)

Crash, out.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Taking It In Stride

If nothing else, that is one thing I've learned over the last several months.  You have to take it in stride.  Ultra distance running and the way we adapt to it is so unpredictable.  I don't know for sure what caused the realization, and the subsequent adoption of it.  But I'm very glad to be where I'm at right now. 

Injury is tough when you're an active person, particularly for an ultra runner.  You can't do what you love to do, and you certainly can't enjoy nearly as much ice cream and Girl Scout cookies while injured...it would make the return to running that much more challenging :)  Maybe a big chunk of my ability to handle this go-round in stride is that my goal winter race is finished and now behind me...and I have another 6 months until my next biggie, Leadville.  So I don't feel the need to rush anything I guess.  I dunno.  Something like that.

I pulled the popliteus in my right leg while running Rocky Raccoon 100 a couple weeks back.  Painful as a mutha in the wake of it.  And it was ugly; all bruised, and fat, and ugly.  The popliteus is a snarky little fella that hangs out underneath your calf musle, horizontally, just behind the knee.  It's an injury usually seen in peeps who've been in side-impact car crashes...or trail runners who repeatedly traumatize the outside of the knee in a short period of time :)  Enter, me.  My calf muscle actually appeared to atrophy.  It had no tone on the inside portion of it.  Weird.  And it still feels slightly bruised, but it's mostly back to normal (visually) now.  My PT said my healing has been a lot faster than they anticipated...they gave me three weeks to feel and look how I do now, less than two weeks later.  Kudos to my ultra-trained bod :)

I am back to walking normal, and feel very little pain in the affected area (thanks to some great sports massages, sleeping with my affected leg elevated every night since, wearing a compression sleeve daily, icing, and an arsenal of PT exercises performed daily).  The body is a funny thing, I tell ya.  But it's interesting to learn all about it and figure out how to troubleshoot, figuring out cause and effect, and all that good stuff.

All that said, I am on the bench for the time being.  And you know what?  I'm okay with that...for now.  Other than this whole pulled muscle thing, I feel completely recovered from Rocky Raccoon, which is very promising.  I feel good.  And when I can run again, I'll be ready.  Right now, I'm thinking of passing on any shorter races in the interim (except for Minnesota Voyageur 50M), and really focusing on Leadville.  I love the 100 mile distance, it's so ridiculously rewarding.  But, we'll see.  Once I'm running again I may be really race-happy!

For now, one day at a time, taking it all in stride.

Crash, out.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Rooty Raccoon: 100 Numero Dos!

It's amazing what ordinary people can do if they set out without preconceived notions.--Charles Kettering

It all started when Geof and I began talking about running a 100 mile race together in 2010. I quickly set about searching for a course that would make it easy for us to do that without having to worry about a crew or pacers, or a ton of drop bags. It also needed to give us enough time to recover and properly ramp up for Leadville Trail 100 in August. Enter: Rocky Raccoon 100, in Huntsville, Texas. Rocky is run on a mostly-single track 20-mile loop (run 5 times for 100-mile runners), covered in pine needles, dirt and of course roots.  At first, we kept it on the back burner since it was in February and was going to require not only training through the thick of the Chicago winter, but would also mean only a couple months of training, if that. Hmmmm. Then, one night it came up while hanging out with Brian and Kelly. That's all it took. Brian was on board to run it. Now we just needed to get in some decent long runs before we made it official. Since Windburn Six went so well back on January 9, we decided to make it official.

Fast forward 4 weeks. We're sitting pretty on the plane, I'm studying, Geof's reading the paper, Kelly is working on her laptop behind me and Brian is chillin'. We're goin' to TEXAS YA'LL!!

So, in all honesty, Geof and I were pretty under-trained for this little adventure. We are talking bare bones. We had about three 20 mile runs under our belts, some 10-15 milers and no speed training. Lots of frustrating runs in the snow and ice, early mornings and long Saturdays and Sundays spent running. I think I went into it with 150 total training miles. Who DOES that?! I'll say now that I do NOT recommend training for 100 miles like that, but we wanted it so bad, and that's all we were able to squeeze in. We managed :)

We shared a room with Brian and Kelly the night before the race, in Huntsville, Texas, where the race was taking place. After dumping our stuff at the motel, we headed up to the Walker County Storm Shelter for packet pick-up and the pre-race pasta feed. It was so much fun to run into so many familiar names that I now had faces to put with! I met Alan Geraldi and Joe Judd in line for packets. Jim and Vicki Halsey were there as well. Jose San Gabriel came up to us in the dining area and introduced himself. It was great to see the Yargers again, and a bunch of other peeps! Bob Ayers (whom I met at Vermont last summer) was rooming with fellow CHUG Tony and joined us for dinner. Bob did a smashing job out on that course, congratulations dude! RD Joe Prusaitis gave a little speech about the course, along with a few other folks and then it was time to get our eat on. The food was spectacular! Not to mention the chocolate cake. Is it possible to OD on cake? Kelly and I managed to :)

After dropping our Dam Road AS drop bags in front, we headed back to the motel to prep everything for the morning. Lots of shuffling around, laughing, chatter, gear comparisons, bottle prep, Brian soaking his feet in the tiny sink, me spouting the virtues of Drymax Max Pro socks, deciding between trail shoes or road shoes to start and general laughery. Around 9:30 we hit the lights and settled in for our last night of sleep for the next 48 hours.

Around 3:45, the alarms started going off and we were up and at 'em.

Getting the Pearls ready...Brian and I in our matching Zensahs :) Photo courtesy of the Lovely Kelly Roe
RD Joe warned us that due to the record number of runners (over 700!!) the parking was going to be really tight and to plan on arriving early if we wanted to park within a 1/2 mile of the start/finish area. (He also warned us about the roots.) So we planned on leaving around 5:00 (6:00 start) for the 10 minute drive to Huntsville State Park. When we got there, the traffic was already backed up through the main gate, but we managed to make it in pretty quickly all things considered and found a cozy parking spot right near the f'real bathrooms. We ran into fellow CHUG Scott Jacaway (of Badwater badassness) and took a picture.
About to head to the start/finish area...almost time!! Geof, Brian and Kelly

I stopped at the potty due to nerve build-up and then we made our way over to the Dogwood drop bag area to put our drop bags in line to be organized by the volunteers. It was buzzing, a veritable ultra zoo! Geof and I used his big roller suitcase as our start/finish drop bag so that we didn't have to worry about not having any of our stuff, much to the dismay of the volunteers :) But it was super handy for us throughout the day! Once everything was set (sidenote: oh man, I'm getting goosebumps just recounting all of this! So exciting!!), we joined the 340 other runners at the line to await the cue to start. But first, a couple of pictures:
Geof and I just before the start (Photo courtesy of the Lovely Kelly Roe)

CHUGs were out en force! Geof, me, Brian, Ed Kelly, Terry
Photo courtesy of the Lovely Kelly Roe)
Before we knew it, a massive clump of eager runners began to head up the trail, in pursuit of a very common goal: to achieve that which few conceive as possible, and all in the name of a buckle. The air was thick with excitement and anticipation of the day's events. It was all percolating through me, like it was the first time. I remember distinctly the way I felt starting Vermont, and this was just like it. And this time, I was going to be running side-by-side with my better half, sharing the whole experience together. What was the day to hold?

It was cold as balls at the start, but we knew it would warm up throughout the day so we were in shorts, jackets and gloves. I decided to start in my new trail shoes, La Sportiva Wildcats, and Drymax Max Pro socks. Some of the BEST $20 I've ever spent. Those socks saved my feet. I got two blisters in the whole race, neither of which I was even aware of until I took my socks off a couple hours AFTER finishing. I'll take it!

Weaving through the mass of runners was a bit of a task at first, but not as bad as I anticipated it being. It was dark for an hour and a half after the start, so we donned the headlamps. The trail was littered with roots. Some spots they were clumped together and it was a constant gamble putting your foot down in the dark. But, for the most part, the roots are spread out along the course and easy to avoid, as long as you're looking out for them. And it's not like they were hidden, they were all pretty well exposed.

That said, I bit it three times in the first two 20-mile loops (the 100 milers run five 20-mile loops). Good thing I've learned how to 'crash' as each time I was headed face first, but managed to twist each time and land on my right side and keep my head off the ground. Each fall was on the same spot though, on the outside of my right knee and shoulder and by the third fall I was bleeding from the impact and a big purple bruise had formed on that spot. But, I didn't think it was that bad as I was up almost as fast as I went down every time. In the picture below, I had just had my first spill and a bunch of leaves and pine needles were sticking out of my right compression sleeve, lol, but the photog managed to cut that part out :)

The first couple of loops went without incident, save for the three big falls :) The first loop we pulled into Dogwood (start/finish) in 4:05, right around where I imagined we'd arrive. The second loop was around 4:30 when we came in and it had warmed up pretty nicely, enough that I ditched my Moebens and jacket. Arriving after 40 miles:
Pearls! Yep, wore 'em the entire race :)

G and I coming in after 40 miles (Photo courtesy of the Lovely Kelly Roe)
Looking for our dropCASE at Dogwood (start/finish) amongst the sea of hundreds of drop bags (Photo courtesy of the Lovely Kelly Roe)
We figured it would probably be dark by the time we came in from 60 miles, so we grabbed headlamps and changed shirts. I put on a fresh long sleeve and decided to change into some fresh Drymax Max Pro socks. The bottoms of my feet were really aching for some reason, so I also changed into my Brooks Glycerin road shoes for the duration. I figured that the Wildcats were probably a little less cushioned and the terrain is hard-packed dirt for the most part, so that had to play a role in that...and the fact that I hadn't run 40+ miles since Javelina pacing back in October :) The road shoes felt glorious on my feetsies! I kept on my Zensahs since they were keeping my legs warm. We spent the most amount of time at any AS at Dogwood since we did clothing changes, but every other AS was in and out, if we didn't skip it altogether. We always saw Brian within 10 minutes at Dogwood, so it was fun to touch base and chit chat a bit. Seeing Kelly standing there each time we pulled into Dogwood was also a major lift. She was always smiling and welcoming us with hugs. Thanks Kelly! Coming into the Park Road AS on our way to closing out 40 miles, we crossed the road to Amy Lane's open arms, shouting my name. Man was it good to see her! We've run a number of races simultaneously, and been chatting through e-mail for awhile now, but we'd never met before, so it was fun to finally meet. Amy has got a fantastic spirit (as Geof would say) and incredible energy and a bubbly personality. That's the sort of thing you want to experience midway through a long race! Thanks for your encouraging words and smiles, Amy!

I managed to stay upright the remainder of the race, for the last three loops, thank goodness. I realized each time I fell, I was looking up to see the front runners pass us on the out-and-back portions and I would catch the heel of my trail shoe on a root. So I vowed to keep my eyes DOWN no matter who was running by and that worked out pretty well.

Coming in after 60 miles, it had gotten COLD. And we put on fresh layers before heading out. Brian showed up a little after us and he mentioned he was getting blisters, but was going to gut it out anyway. We enjoyed a cup o' ramen and then headed out before the warmth could suck us in.
Geof, Brian and I...60 miles down, ready to chase the final 40! (Photo courtesy of the Lovely Kelly Roe)
Miles 60-80 is where my wheels came off. And I'm not talking a couple were loose and just needed some tightening, I'm talking all four wheels, flying off, in every direction, broken axle, and no gas in the tank. I remember having a tough time during miles 40-45 at Vermont, so I held off longer this time, but it just made it even worse. And I blame it on the night. We had not factored in just how LONG the night is in the middle of winter...13 hours of dark hell. More than half our time running was spent in the dark. Down in Texas, they don't play around with their night. The forest was already a canopy, so we had no moonlight, and the dark was just so dang...DARK. And it was cold! I was pissed off. The beam from my headlamp was making me feel nauseous for the first time ever. I was hungry, but not really. Oh, I should mention my nutrition: we were both drinking cafe latte flavored Perpetuem and had stashed baggies of 2x concentration at both Dogwood and Dam Road so that we would only need to re-up every 2 hours or ~10 miles, and exactly the amount we'd need the whole race. I had plain water in my Nathan Intensity hydration pack that I sipped on in between sips of Perpetuem. I had a Gu or 2 Clif Shot Bloks per hour. I started out with 1 S!Cap per hour, but after noticing how puffy my hands were after the first few hours, I switched to 1 S!Cap every 2 hours and within an hour after changing that, my hands were back to normal the rest of the race. Sweet! It was very cool out and I don't sweat very much, so I guess I didn't need as much salt. I barely ate anything at aid stations, save for a few cups of ramen in the coldest hours, sips of Geof's hot chocolate, and a couple pretzels at one stop. I think that about sums it up.

So around the peek of my dark, awful pit of awfulness, I sucked on a Ginger Chew and felt so much better afterwards. My head was a little spinney and my stomach was responding in kind, but I knew it was due to my headlamp, and just pure exhaustion. I pulled out a second headlamp to carry in my hand and try to combat the tunnel vision, but it didn't help much. I hadn't ever experienced this feeling while running and I was freaking out a little in my mind. I was starting to fall asleep on my feet! This is happening on and off within miles 60-80. Geof would be up and I'd be down, and then I'd be up and he'd be quietly down. We balanced each other out very well. He let me have my spells and I gave him his quiet when it was his "turn". If I started tripping, he'd suggest I have some caffeine, so I'd down a Double Latte PowerGel and feel infinitely sharper within minutes. When we reached Dam Road for the first time at mile 66ish, I was deep within battling little demons. Mike Potter was always there ready to help out and fetch whatever was needed. This guy is super-volunteer and I am so thankful to have had him there. It was a lift to see him smiling and at the ready every time we came into Dam Road. I was sinking, fast at this point, and cold, and hungry. The 10k loop ahead of us was by far my least favorite part of the course, and I was dreading it big time. After we grabbed more batteries and some soup we were out again. I reached my lowest point here. I started crying, uncontrollably, while running. I didn't want to be there; I wanted to be sleeping, under warm blankets, surrounded by food :) It felt like I was stuck in this awful nightmare, running in circles. My only saving grace was having Geof by my side. I had to keep reminding myself, "you PAID to do this! You WANT to be here! Suck it up! Stop being such a brat! You're over halfway done!" At the halfway mark of the 10k loop, there's a tent with a dude sitting in it taking numbers. It's not an official stop, but as we pulled up to him, I asked if I could lay down and Geof says, "You're NOT stopping! C'mon!" Right then a guy pulls up behind us and announces he's dropping to which the volunteer says, "not before we talk about this Gordon." We were out, and I could not stop thinking about that guy. I felt like we needed to put as much space between ourselves and that DNF, kind of like it was an epidemic. Just keep moving forward, it will end soon; keep on moving.

Eventually, after somehow pulling myself out of that dark place, I began to feel better. We could smell Dogwood and 80 miles was about to be under our belts. I decided that once we reached Dogwood, I was going to change into tights and grab another layer. I also decided I needed to shut my eyes for a few minutes. So while Geof hopped in the bathroom, I crawled into the car with the heat on full blast and slept for 15 minutes. Geof was close behind me. That nap was freakin' AMAZING. I've never done that during a race, but always heard about other peeps doing it. Thank goodness. The thought of dropping had entered my mind before that nap, but as soon as I shut my eyes, I thought to myself, "you're going to sleep for 15 minutes. Then, you're going to get up and finish this effing thing, because that is what you do. You don't give up." I remember smiling to myself right then "because this is what you DO."

We dropped our other clothes in the drop bag and headed out of Dogwood for the last time. Hundred mile runners, heading out!!

Ever since just before mile 40ish, I had been experiencing a funky pain behind my right knee, in the popliteal area. It felt like I couldn't extend my leg all the way, like there was a hug knot behind my knee, trying to keep it bent. As long as we were running at a decent clip, it didn't bother me, but at night there was a lot of walking going on, so it was bothering me a good bit, but not even close to enough to warrant stopping. Heading out for miles 80-100 I could really feel it since my muscles had stiffened up a good bit during our nap. By the time we pulled into Dam Rd. at mile 86.2, the darkness had descended upon me once more and this time instead of suffering through it, I asked Geof if I could get 5 minutes and a blanket. There was one chair open and a gracious volunteer dug up the last blanket and I was out cold for 20 minutes. I opened my eyes to Geof sitting there asking if I was ready and noticed that the sun had begun it's journey upwards. I exclaimed loudly that the sun coming up! It was seriously like I had just had a massive shot of life injected into me. I took off my headlamp, grabbed a sip of soup and then we were off up the 10k loop. I've read about people experiencing some sort of new awakening when the sun came up on the second day, but I hadn't experienced it yet. But I was about to. I was so happy I wanted to cry. It felt as though I had just begun running because suddenly I wanted to go fast. The legs were rested feeling, the pain behind my knee was non-existent, my head felt good and I was bursting with energy. We peeled down that trail like bats out of hell. Geof said it was all he could do to keep up with me. Honest to goodness, we were pounding out sub 8:30 miles. Dancing over the roots, making turns like maniacs, it was as if my feet weren't even touching the ground. I felt amazing! I was breathing relaxed, felt smooth and everything was effortless for those 6.5 miles. My hat was messing up my view, so I flipped it backwards so I could see better. I was totally channeling Karl Meltzer.
Around mile 91, at Lake Raven, I was channeling Karl Meltzer with my backwards hat :)

We pulled into Dam Road for the last time. I removed the headlamp I had around my waist, dropped my North Face jacket and ball cap, and grabbed a beanie for the final 7.4 miles. Mike Potter prepared oatmeal for Geof and I, which we downed in a matter of a minute. It was completely light out and people were starting to pour into Dam Road from both directions. Hans-Dieter Weisshaar (the 70-year old living legend, this would be his 120th 100 mile finish, in 12 years!) was sitting by us, drinking something he had pulled from his drop box. I leaned to the side to see what it was he was guzzling...it was freakin' Half n' Half! No joke! Hilarious! That's seriously old school. We thanked Mike and the volunteers then headed up the road to finish it out. It was thrilling knowing that we were going to finish. We could smell the barn! We did a good bit of solid running, mixed with fast walking. Coming into Park Road, Lynnor Matheny was there and snapped a picture for us, then we turned and headed out. Hans had passed us for good with a measly 4.4 miles to go. I was freakin' elated! We were going to do it, f'real! As we rounded the final corner, and crossed the last road, we could see the finish line and the small gathering of people hanging around for their runners. All but the timing tent had come down so it looked completely different, but we didn't care. We were finishing, together, and fully intact. We crossed the line in 28h:46 minutes, a 40-minute 100 mile PR for me. Greeted by Tammy and Lynnor's smiling faces, and Joyce Prusaitis' open arms. Joyce handed us our buckles and we just stood there looking at them. I was lost in a daze. Amazing. We did it :)

We headed over to the car and were greeted by Brian and Kelly. I quickly began to tighten up and suddenly I was reminded of my right leg pain and now it was really locking up on me. We poured ourselves into the back seat and made a beeline for the IHOP in town for breakfast. In typical fashion, I was hungry without actually being hungry so I picked on some eggs and bacon while everyone else devoured their breakfast, lol. I was completely overcome with the enormity of our accomplishment and kept zoning out thinking about it.

After picking up our drop bags from the Storm Shelter, we drove back to Houston to the hotel Brian and Kelly were staying in overnight to shower up before our flight that night. Only after peeling off my tights and compression sleeves did I realize just how bad my right leg was...from just below my knee, on the back, down to just above my ankle it was completely black and blue. I wanted to scream in horror, but instead I just cried about it like a baby :) It looked awful, and it was the same size as my thigh. Talk about alarming! What on earth happened?! I was able to walk and put weight on it, so I knew it wasn't broken. Nothing I could do about it then. We cleaned up, said our goodbyes to Brelly and grabbed the shuttle to the airport. After a delicious burrito dinner, we got on our plane and I slept like a baby the entire way home :) Man, I was tired!

Monday, I decided to go see Dr. N to make sure my leg wasn't going to fall off. Turns out I sprained my popliteal muscle (it's a tiny little guy that helps you bend and extend your lower leg. That, combined with the time on my feet caused the intense inflammatory response and massive swelling. After a week of icing, compressing, elevating while I sleep, taking a cab to work, and then an amazing appointment with my PTs last night, my leg is back to normal, visually. It's still super tight behind my knee, but I need to keep stretching it out really well and elevating at night. I'll be just fine :) No more pregnant leg or sock muffin-top!!! (I don't own rights to the phrase "sock muffin-top", that zinger belongs to Kelly :))

So, that just happened. With a week since starting out on that intense journey together, I love thinking about everything we experienced. The good, the tough, the ugly. Geof held up amazingly well, and I was the wallower at points :) In the wake of it, he's managed to recover marvelously. What a stud; that's MY man! I never doubted our ability to finish it, but it sure was tough for me at times to push on. I've never been that emotionally charged and challenged in a race, and now reflecting on it and the fact that I got through it further emphasizes the fact that you can do anything you put your mind to. You just first have to decide that it's possible. It also emphasizes the virtues of the 20-minute power nap!

I'm not sure I'd go back to Rocky Raccoon...those effing roots sucked! The organization and the volunteers are hands down probably the best I've experienced. The course was easy to navigate, long enough of a loop to not get bored with it, convenient, runnable. I just can't get over how long the night was! Wow. But, hey, you never know, it was our first one together afterall :) and that makes it one for the books.

Warning: mushy gushy message follows. We had done it together and we were no worse for the wear. How many peeps can say that? I'm guessing not many. With a 62% finishing rate this year, it was pretty cool that we both finished, together.  Thank you for sticking with me, G, and for not lamenting my slow pace :) I look forward to so many more of these together. Hundred mile couple, comin' in!

Check out Geof's account of the race here: Rocky Raccoon 100 Mile...Check!
We did it!! Couples who race together, finish together :)
Photo courtesy of the Lovely Kelly Roe)
Crash, out.

You might also like:

Related Posts with Thumbnails