Saturday, August 10, 2013

caught up

Last report of 3.

Mohican - 3rd attempt

2013 had been an odd year weather-wise and I have no complaints about this summer.  Even with a cooler than normal August last year, there have been 30+ fewer days this year where the temps have reached 90 here in Louisville.  It's been (so far) the coolest summer in recent memory.

So, back in June, I had several major factors in my favor entering Mohican:  normal temps (rare) on race day, a gut somewhat under control, injury free, mentally re-focused (from Massanutten) and some rare training days in June when it's usually too hot to even think about it.  I felt really good about my chances.

However, stupid me couldn't sit still taper week & decided to do some Spring cleaning & moved some heavy boxes around.  I didn't even realize what I was doing till my back went out -- just what I didn't need before a race where I DNF'd twice because of severe back pain!  Dumb! Dumb! Dumb!  So that's my race & report in a nutshell -- DNF with back problems -- again.

A couple notes about the recorded time above:

At the 50 mile mark, I was feeling good with a time of 12:43 and had over 19 hours to finish the 2nd half.  But my back started shutting me down around the 100k mark & by the time I got to the aid station at mile 73, even baby steps were painful & I called it quits.  Since they were the last aid station before the end of the loop, I believe the aid station captain was reluctant to take anyone back (this was about 1:30 a.m.) -- so I had to join the other disabled runner who was lying on the ground on a blanket.

About an hour later, another runner in really bad shape came into the aid station.  Since I tried & was able to stand without pain, I told them I would give that runner my blanket spot & try to walk it in (it turned out to be a slow & painful trek w/many breaks & wished I hadn't tried it!).  I had shut off my timer when I stopped at the aid station & for some reason (hoping for a miracle?) restarted it when I left, so that's why there's a discrepancy in the times.

Next up:

I've postponed all my construction projects around the house this summer due to my back & have been getting alot of back rest.  I used to call my running nemesis the "fickle" back -- I never knew when it was going to flare up.  I've dealt with it most of my running years and now, after a short absence, it has returned.   Since I no longer perform heavy lifting on a regular basis (using wood as a primary source of heat), I feel (& hope) this is just temporary.  Maybe I'll find out when I try Woodstock next month . . .

Friday, August 9, 2013

catch up - continued

After the mental disaster at Massanutten, I could hardly think about anything else.  I figured the best medicine to help get over it was to run another race as soon as possible.  I looked at the calendar & saw a familiar race in Mohican in June, so I set my sights on that race, although twice before (2008 & 2009) it was too hot for me & I also had major back problems.  I mostly don't consider Mohican each year because of that heat (mid 80's to low 90's).  So for it to be a possibility this year, I figured I needed to cram in some heat training. 

I looked for a shorter race in the heat that wasn't too far to drive to and found a 50k in Tennessee: the inaugural Music City Trail Ultra just outside Nashville.  As the date for this race approached, it was clear it was going to be what I was looking for:  forecast was for 89 degrees w/partly cloudy skies, humid and a chance of thundershowers.  I've NEVER finished an ultra where the temps have reached the mid 80's, so I knew it would be a challenge just to finish! 

I camped right at the start/finish line.  It was a hot & muggy night.  There were over 200 that signed up for the 50k, 25k & 10k -- a pretty good turnout for a first time running.  The RD had carved out a rugged course in what seemed to be a rarely frequented nature preserve & consisted of gravel roads, fire breaks and ancient logging roads, with a small amount of seldom used single track & a little bushwacking.  I heard it took months to knock down the brush & weeds to fashion out the trails.

Early in the race on a firebreak, pic courtesy of Chris Bosh:

The ticks & flies were the worst.  The flies weren't the usual deer flies I'm used to.  They didn't seem to bite as much but I've never encountered so many flies (kept the mouth closed). These were like huge houseflies (small horseflies?) that you could knock 2 or 3 down with every swing.  Aid station workers were pulling ticks off my legs even though I had soaked myself with repellent (probably lost it with sweat & going thru the streams).  I also ran over a long black snake before I knew it, as I thought it was just a stick.

I could hardly make heads or tails of the course from the small map on the website.  I couldn't tell which direction the race proceeded and on which trails -- turns out this would affect my race.  I came across 2 confusing intersections.  The 1st one I lucked out as a group of runners came up on me & after a consensus, decided the way to go (I would have went the wrong way otherwise).  At the 2nd intersection, I was by myself & with another 50/50 chance, I took the wrong way.  Ended up with about 1 bonus mile after double tracking twice.  I think if the people who marked the course went in both directions on the out'n'back sections, they would notice the markings can look alot different going in the other direction.

The skies were mostly cloudy with periods of sun thruout the day.  This kept the temps down (only 85!).  The sun only seemed to come out when I was out in open & then it felt like 110.  But what helped the most was the unexpected breeze.  Occasionally there would be a hint of rain in that humid breeze -- I finished the last mile in a downpour.  Had it reached 89 with partly cloudy skies & no wind, I would NOT have finished this race.  This was the hottest ultra I've ever finished.  I survived the challenge (w/the lucky break in the weather) & felt I was ready for an attempt at Mohican.

1 more catch up report to follow . . .

Saturday, August 3, 2013

catch up

It's been almost 4 months since my last post . . . where has the time gone!?   Really, I had a mental collapse at Massanutten in May & have been so depressed over it, I haven't been able to write about it till now.  The race will probably haunt me forever.

my physical status:

I recovered from my shin splints back in April.  I don't think I had a stress fracture as it would've taken longer than the 3 weeks it took to recover from the injury.

With my night time "position" therapy my gut continues to feel better -- this has been the greatest news to me!  I still feel there's a restriction or temporary blockage somewhere down the line.  I don't expect I'll ever get the real medical reason or treatment for this malady.

Stubbed my 2nd (& longest) toe very hard late April & jammed the bones all the way back a couple joints into my foot.  Usually I just crush the toe, but this pain is at a joint 3 inches back into my foot.  Hurts the most when I step on a rock at the middle of my foot.  It's still continuing to improve.  Jamming toes & the fear of breaking my toes is the main reason I abandoned my Vibrams years ago.  Maybe if the trails around my house were less technical or I ran races mostly on non-technical trails, I would train in them.

My back is the main physical ailment at the moment.  Moved some heavy boxes (stupid) & totally messed it up in mid June.  I haven't recovered & currently cannot run as long as I'd like to.  Back pain was the main reason for my DNFs before my gut problems took over.  I thought I had gotten rid of the pains when I got rid of the wood stove a couple years back.  Wood may be cheap to use, but it's not worth it by a long shot.

I've attempted 3 races since my last post, but to shorten this today, I'm just going to post about one race right now:

May 18 - Massanutten - Land of the ROCKS - DNF

Back in the Spring, I had plans to visit my brother in Virginia and while I was there I would try running Massanutten again.  Losing 3 weeks of training with the shin splint injury, I would only have 3 weeks instead of 6 to prepare after Potowatomi.  I debated it, but decided to go ahead with the race, although I didn't think I had a chance to finish it.  I believe it was this thought that was the actual reason for my downfall -- not mentally into it!

Also, another reason I believe contributed to my downfall:  the crazy 4 am start -- because of the excitement, the only time I can get good sleep before a big race seems to be between 3 & 5 a.m. & this race won't let me get any of that sleep. 

Felt great at the start with no signs of my previous injury.  In fact, I felt great all day up to the halfway point under "unusual" conditions -- there were very thick clouds with the threat of rain & temps were near normal (rare) -- nothing like the hot & humid weather in past years & were super conditions for me.  By nightfall, I was a couple hours ahead of my previous attempt 2 years ago.  In that year I was battling cutoffs. When it gets dark though, it's tougher & on the 2nd half of this course it gets even rockier (I didn't think that could be possible!).

At about 4 a.m. around 73 miles on what was the rockiest section of trail that I've ever been on, I had a mental breakdown!  I had ROCKS on the brain.  I didn't want to take one more step on any rock.  Every step seemed to alternate up or down & required the utmost attention & it being 24 hrs into a physically & mentally demanding race, I just couldn't handle it any more. Unbelievably to me now, finishing was not a high priority then!  No disabling physical problems -- yes, I was tired, but not overly so and although my jammed toe foot hurt, it was still at a tolerable level.

After that mindless decision, I continued to battle & curse the rocks (25 to 30 minute pace) for the next 2 very long miles.  I even passed 6 runners (actually I believe 3 runners & 3 pacers).  I then ran into a gravel road & coasted downhill 2 more miles to the aid station & dropped.  The fellow who took my number said I would regret it, especially since I was still 2 hours ahead of cutoff -- and he was right.  By the time I caught a ride back, I was in a state of depression.  Enough said.


2 more reports to follow . . .