|Photo by Donna Sajulga-Tablos|
I finally started to find my grove again. I have been getting up before 5 am to meet a few awesome training partners (Alanna and Kim) at the park for early morning miles (7-9+ of hills). I started speed work back up with Dave once a week and we work very hard out there running things like 20 x 200, 15x300, etc at sub-6 pace. I train three private clients for 30-60 minute sessions after work or on Saturdays. Enzo, my dog, has turned into a running machine and managed to log 51.6 miles in 7 days to my 90 miles. (But sadly, starting this week, the humidity has become too high to allow Enzo to train with me even at the earliest morning hours. He goes for walks and swims now until the temperature is under 65 and the humidity is low).
I decided to head out to the 12 hour, hoping to log a bunch of miles, but primarily to have fun and NOT get hurt. It is hard to make "Not Get Hurt" a goal at a 12 hour because it is almost inevitable that something is going to hurt out there if you run hard. But right now, I am just not interested in an extended recovery period, since I finally feel like am training well again. It was only last week that I dropped my app in the mail for this race, so this was not something I trained hard for and I really wasn't sure what to expect.
On Tuesday, after running (and falling down) with Enzo in the morning, meeting Dave for speed work in the late afternoon, and then training a client after him… by Wednesday morning my achilles were upset. But on Thursday the weather was pretty bad so I took a light day and felt better.
Late Friday night, I threw some clothes in a backpack with a box of gels and two handheld 10 oz bottles. I just planned on using whatever was at the race. I was not really concerned about my achilles by race day. I was more concerned about it getting up to 80+ degrees, but ironically the heat did not bother me this time.
I chose the 12 hour because going to a BUS race is like attending a group run of familiar faces. There are regulars that attend almost all the events and the competition can be fierce even if the events are small. BUS events are simply my favorite events to run, even when I have a bad day.
The Gun went off and I started sub-9 pace. There was really no need to go faster. By mile three I started forcing myself to find a spot to use as a walk break, knowing there was no way I would be running 12 hours non-stop. I found a nice rhythm and once my pace settled to 9:40 per mile, it just stayed that way for hours. It was nice to have about .05 walk up a hill towards the S/F and run the balance of the course.
My legs felt strong. I was using a bandana soaked in ice water for cooling and it was working well. I was taking a gel per hour plus all the liquids I could drink each lap with out stopping… a cup of gatorade some laps, a cup or two of water, a cup of coke. I was eating a few (like 2) potato chips when feeling a little hungry. I had some melon when available.
I spend several miles with Tim and Joe and this is probably what distracted me from my achilles issue for so long. Joe was actually a lap ahead of us and running an amazing race. Tim was not himself and although I have a tendency run his pace when we start, I usually fade and he usually does amazing work by the end of the events. I hope someday to be able to hang on and finish a race with Tim.
When I finally ended up running without the guys, I ended up in a hilariously well-timed game of leap frog with Lauren. She would run the entire loop, pass me on my walk and get a lead on me. I would catch up to her on the run and pass her back. Lap after Lap we did this, but I noticed that I was catching her slightly sooner and sooner. Because I was walking already and she was not (meaning she eventually will need to walk and I may not since I was already walking) I knew I had the ability to move ahead. After I passed her with enough time to walk up the hill and resume running again without her catching me, something happened and she slowed a bit. I assumed she was adding a walk break in now.
At this point it was about 4 hours into the race. I could feel my achilles getting sore, but things get sore in ultras. I was coming up on my marathon split. As a turned a corner, I felt something in the back of my left achilles pop, like when a knuckle cracks… not like a tear. That was new. It was not accompanied by terrible pain, but it did not feel good. As I finished the lap, it was hurting.
I alway keep some tylenol in my backpack, but rarely take it. Today I decided to give it try just to see if whatever was irritated might feel better.
I was caught by Byron and ran some with him. He is a very supportive runner and one of the very first people I remember admiring from the ultra running world. We talked about how things were going. I was trying to stay positive and not mention my achilles hurting. I really just hoped it would stop.
By hour 5, that one tylenol was futile and I really had no interest in medicating myself through 7 more hours of running. I took an extended walk break to see if walking was less problematic. It was not. IT hurt more to walk and then it hurt more to run. And that was all I needed to decide that I was done.
I walked the remainder of the lap, and at 33 miles in 5:25 I reported that I was done for the day.
I got some ice on the achilles and stayed for a little to be social. That is when Trishul and Kaaren arrived. Two amazing massage therapist who tend to show up just when I need help. Kaaren was generous with her time and took a look a my achilles. She stretch my calves our and just touching my achilles signaled shooting pain. She informed me that it was swollen and it made not sense to irritated it more.
I thanked her for her time and for validating my decision to stop. As disappointing as it is to stop so early, unless I am prepared to manage an injury, lose training time, miss out on running with the partners and clients I look forward to running with each week, I know better than to run though significant inflammation and pain.
It is now Tuesday. I rested with one mile Sunday and three miles on Monday. I am already back to 9+ miles in the morning with hill repeats and plan for speed tomorrow. Pain is now only fading soreness and tightness that is subsiding and clearly resolving.
Ego may be bruised, by I saved my achilles and saved my Fall training cycle. So overall a I got a really solid 33 mile LR and successfully avoided an injury and down time. Not a bad day.