Thursday, June 21, 2012

The Western States 100 is upon us

There is a definite buzz in my head in anticipation of the upcoming weekend. I must have learned of the Western States 100 not more than a year ago. I probably didn't think much of it at the time (other than "wow, humans can run 100 miles?")  and yet, here I will experience a good portion of it this Saturday thanks to Kevin and newly made ultra-runner friend, Dave from Florida. 

Our Saturday will start around 2am when my mom (good sport as she is) drives me and Kevin up to Squaw Valley for the 5am start of the 30 hour race. Kevin's dentist runs the safety patrol for this race and graciously Kevin and I offered (mine was more of a beg) our leg's services. Glenn was more than happy knowing that Kevin was now an Ironman and capable of the duties necessary for the task. 

We will run about 30 miles in the mid-back pack of runners to ensure safety (imagine that!) Thankfully Glenn didn't require references as to the quality of my nursing skills... This will be my first time running at this altitude and my first time on this part of the course. I will most definitely stop for photo ops and I'm giddy at the thought of watching these crazy bastards (I can say that because I wish I was one of them). 

After 8 or so hours I hope for food and ice. Because 20 more miles will ensue around 10pm or so when Florida Dave gets to Green Gate. I met Florida Dave on day 2 of the WS training runs Memorial weekend. I fell into my groove early on..and Dave ended up behind me. We got to chatting, as you do, and I learned that Dave flew out from Florida for the 3 day trainers before the debauchery that was to take place this weekend. Well, apparently I was good at faking it because Dave thinks I'm strong enough to pull off 50 miles within a 24 hour period without the same muck that took place at AR50.... I hope Dave doesn't have the sappy story of "I had to drop my pacer back there because she's crying and vomiting on herself". Dave, if you do, I apologize up front. Because if this does happen, I'll probably be cursing you at the time. 

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

DNF club

As was said on Sunday by a fellow runner: "Well everyone has to have 1 DNF, you just got yours out of the way!" I hope this is true because I never want to experience that walk of shame again. Everything was going great. The trail was sufficiently tough but I was getting through it. Even the extra loop the 50K'ers had to do was an enjoyable slog. I was running up the hills, slowly, and cruising the descents. I felt my ITB start to flare up a bit around mile 12 or so. I ignored it. In the past I've experienced this before and sometimes it does go away as with most aches and pains that come with distance running. For example, the beginning of the race the lateral of my right foot was talking a bit. This is something I've had come and go since spraining my ankle over a year ago. But it warmed up and a couple miles later I didn't feel a thing. This was not the case for the ITB. It spoke and then it yelled. And then I talked myself into pushing just till the aid. Got there, filled my water and as soon as I walked on my knee did the buckle it does when there is the stabbing pain of the ITB. A new friend, Joe, I had been playing leap frog with noticed this immediately and asked if I was OK... "um.. the ITB is talking". He used it as an excuse to walk for a bit. He took off and I followed suit lagging behind. It was a climb and typically the ITB doesn't scream when climbing.. It had gone into a light manageable whisper. I climbed for maybe mile and then the 6 mile descent began. As soon as I tipped forward the knee had that ice pick jabbing sensation on the side and I yelled a 4 letter word through the trees. I kept going hoping it would go away but it didn't subside. I stepped on a root sticking out of the ground and rolled my left ankle (thankfully trail running has acclimated my ankles to such stress) and there went another 4 letter word down the mountainside... By this time my state was succumbing to the pain and I started questioning whether or not I wanted to hobble the next 6 miles to the next aid station or walk back 2 miles from the aid from where I just came. 

I stopped and took out my phone, turned it on and not surprisingly there was no signal. I started thinking about Kevin waiting for me and my sub-5 attempt. At that point a sub-5 was already not manageable but had my ITB been OK perhaps sub-5:30 would have been do-able. I started playing a risk vs. reward scenario in my head. I have another 50K planned this Saturday, that I never intended on "racing" and the following Saturday is the much anticipated safety patrol for Western States. Safety patrol is priority for me at this point. 

I walked a bit more down the hill but it was screaming and so I made the decision to turn around and start walking back the 2 mile walk of shame to aid. I've been playing a game in my head ever since. If I would have just walked it out for 10 minutes, would it have enabled me to keep pushing with a walk/jog to the finish. The answer is, of course, yes I could have done that. It would have been painful but I would have finished what I started. I guess I find solace in that being that its Tuesday and I'm still walking funny and have symptoms of ITBS, perhaps DNF'ing stopped me from doing further damage. I see the Healer, Dr. Chu, today to get the deep tissue work over I need and hopefully a motivating pep talk on how to proceed. If I must, I'll drop the 50K to a 25K this weekend and make it a slow enjoyable run. 

The good in all of this is that the next time I blast a 50K it will be all that more fulfilling. 

Saturday, June 9, 2012

I'm back!

What I've been up to: 

Last weekend consisted of hiking Mt. Tallac in Tahoe. I'm thankful to Kevin for introducing me to hiking, something I had never done before (why hike when I can run?) I thought hiking would be a light workout, something pale in intensity on the workout scale when compared with running. That is, until, I lost the hiking trail on my way up Tallac and found myself bouldering up the side of a mountain! The three of us that broke off the group included Jacob, a 12 year old, myself & a man named Brian, who had hiked Tallac a number of times but was his first time in about a year. 

On the way up Tallac Jacob had mentioned he had hiked Half Dome before. He is definitely tougher and stronger than the average 12 year old. Knowing Jeffrey, his dad and person responsible for the trip to Tallac, it must be good genes! As soon as we started with the bouldering Jacob took off up the mountain. I kept turning around and asking Brian if we were going the right direction, "is this the correct trail??" while grasping with all muscles of my fingers clenched around the protruding rock. "I can't tell from this angle" he responded a few times before I figured as long as we were going up we would eventually summit. 

About 4.5 miles and 2.5 hours later Jacob and I were enjoying views from the tippy top of 9700+ feet Mt. Tallac. Jacob expressed he had never bouldered anything like that before. He has an adventurous future ahead of him. 

The following day I was cycling around the massive Lake Tahoe that I, even at 9700 feet, could not completely wrap my eyes around. It seemed a bit more daunting from that angle. My mom and I successfully completed the ride in around 5 hours (riding time) and could not have asked for more gorgeous weather. Previous years were not so lucky.

Tomorrow brings about the long awaited Skyline to Sea 50K which I hope to break 5 hours. I have not been on a training regimen since CIM last year. I'm enjoying the break from being on a dedicated plan and I find that I enjoy running enough that I don't necessarily require a plan to complete the races I sign up for. However, not being on a specific plan does leave me nervous about finishing a race with a time goal in mind. I didn't even look at the pace that would be necessary to break 5 hours until this morning. While not impossible, an average 9:30 pace will be difficult..but then again, that's the point, isn't it? The Western States 100 training runs (day 1, namely) had enough descending to amp up my quads to take a licking tomorrow. And a recently discovered hill in Folsom, thanks to a new runner-old friend of mine, has me slogging up hills, not fast but with ample speed to keep an overall descent pace. 

I figured this morning with an 18 week training plan, thanks to the one in the back of Dean Karnazas' 50/50, my journey for a Boston Qualifying CIM will begin end of July. There will be lots of tweaks to this plan. The first "long" run starts out with 7 miles, which I've been gladly doing and then some a couple times during the week. Most importantly will probably be doing the 2x/week speed work. 1 interval workout and 1 tempo workout. Fellow runner and friend, Derrick, recently joined Buffalo Chips and speaks highly of the speed workouts he's been doing with the group. I think I will follow his footsteps there and join sometimes in August.

Until the more intense speed workouts begin, I will fancy myself doing races/rides with nothing more than finding peace and pleasure within them. This race is calling my name and although I haven't signed up yet... I have a feeling these 50 miles will see me: 

10,000 feet of climbing sounds like a good sufferfest! I hope the next couple weeks will lead me to a wise decision on this.