Monday, July 6, 2009
Anyway there really seems to be no lingering effects, it is quite amazing how quickly the skin dries out and gets quite hard. So yesterday, the pups were itching to get out, so we went to Jordan Lake for a walk on the small loop of the ankle breaker trail (2.7 miles). I did jog a few hundred yards, but a very steady slow walk for the most part.
Today I went to the gym for a strength workout at lunch time, and decided when I got home to jog the 2.7 mile route. I took it easy going down hills just to stop the toe from jamming into the front of my shoe (probably what caused this thing in the first place), but other than that, and a slightly lower pace than normal, I felt really good. Couple more like this, and by the end of the week, I expect to be going round the bigger 5 mile loop.
Feels good to be out there again.
Saturday, July 4, 2009
The power of listening to your body: I knew something wasn't right, I needed to do something about it.
The power of knowledge: There were people there who had run many more miles than me at much higher altitudes than me. I asked their advice.
The power of being smart: I followed their advice.
The power of big toe nails: I miss my left one :( and if I still had it, I would be out running tomorrow.
The power of good gear: I've finally got the right combination of shorts, shirt, hat, socks and shoes. Plus all the accessories - vest, water bottles etc. I don't see me changing too much on future runs. Unless you are a gazillionaire who thinks I would look good in a T-shirt bearing your logo, or something.
The power of electolytes: 'till you don't have enough, you don't miss 'em. But if that balance goes out of whack, beware!
The power of placing: You don't know how good that feels until you have done it, regardless of the depth of field and number of elites. Did I say I came THIRD??
The power of caffeine pills/coca-cola: Oooh baby. The wonder drug combo.
The power of volunteers: Without people willing to give up a Saturday and/or Sunday, the race wouldn't have happened. As well as practical stuff like water or fuel, the encouragement received was invaluable. If you stumble across this site, I thank you!
The power of companionship: Having a friend to run with and keep me company through the tough hours makes a huge difference. As I type, I'm raising a glass to you Frankie! Cheers!
The power of family: Jess - bet you didn't think that running 50+ miles would become my obsession when we met 24 years ago this month! Thanks for indulging me in my mid-life crisis. Big Hugs, and I'm raising a glass to you too. xxxxxxxx
Friday, July 3, 2009
The start of the swampy bit, I came to dread this bit - up or down as the day wore on.
Here is what I do remember – Overall I enjoyed it. Sure, there were down moments, but the up moments more than cancelled them out.
Jess and I flew into Denver; I think we landed an hour or so late having spent a good chunk of time doing loops somewhere in the Colorado sky due to thunderstorms. Now, I got really irritated waiting for 45 minutes for the baggage – I particularly liked the excuse that they won’t move bags during a thunderstorm. I didn’t know that.
Anyway, we finally got to the hotel in Laramie where we met up with Frankie who had flown in from California a few hours earlier.
The next day was spent chilling with a brief walk around town and of course a trip to Wal-Mart. The weather that day became absolutely miserable in the afternoon. We made a sacrifice to the Ultra-Gods, and begged for a dry 24 hours the next day. It worked.
Frankie and I arrived at the race HQ over an hour before the race start, fully caffeinated and ready to go. Well, as ready as you can ever be.
At the pre race briefing, we were warned that “there’s moose on the trail” – that’s fine, but I would have felt better had we not been reminded that more people are killed/injured by moose than bear. Thanks for that!!
Before we knew it, we were on our way. At this point, 24 hours seemed a very long time in the future. The course was a 5.9 mile loop with varying terrain which we ran in alternating directions. The first part was a single trail – not too technical, which came out by the camp ground and the trail at this point was ‘double-wide’, flat and a good running surface. We would soon come to the first water crossing, which had a 2 x 4 to walk across. During the night, I slipped off this, and found the only way to cross without losing my balance was with a stick to keep me upright. There was another water crossing a little further up, but this could be jumped. A sharp right turn (which we missed in the middle of the night DOH!), preceded the start of the longest climb of the loop. The website says it is a 1.6 mile climb where there is 700’ of elevation gain. This climb had the prettiest part of the course, where we crossed a couple of meadows, and the ugliest part of the course where we traversed what was basically a swamp. You could try and go around it – and occasionally we could get through without getting our feet too wet, but more often than not, you would end up ankle deep in thick mud. Certainly when it was dark, I concluded it was safer to just plow through the mud rather than risk slipping by trying to bypass it. Coming down this part on even laps was just as tricky.
After the mud, there was one more steep climb to the ‘summit’, where the mid-point aid station was located.
The next part of the loop was heavenly, nice and flat with good footing and some pretty views. Shame it only lasted for a mile or so though.
The next part was mainly down hill back to the race HQ – some fairly steep ‘downs’ (and the occasional steep ‘up’), and every now and then the trail could get quite technical. After frying my quads at Umstead, and the Boogie, I took it fairly easy on the down hills.
And that was it – back to the parking lot aid station, turn around and go back the way you came.
After maybe 4 laps, I started to feel pretty rough, my stomach was bloated, and every time I drank, I would want to throw up. Add in to the mix that I hadn’t peed for a couple of hours (despite plenty of drinking) and lower back pain, I was beginning to get a little concerned. Having read this article a couple of days earlier, I decided to seek advice from the organizers who have a better clue about running at altitude. Bottom line was (according to them) that I need to treat a cool day at altitude the same as I would treat a hot day at sea level. You can dehydrate and lose electrolytes just as quickly. They recommended doubling the Endurolytes I was taking, and sitting out the race until everything started to function as normal. That took somewhere between 90 minutes and two hours. It was big relief when I finally needed to go to the bathroom.
It was great to be out on the course again, and at this point, I actually felt pretty strong.
The sunset was beautiful, but of course that meant night was coming. I have run at night a few times before (most recently at the Boogie Marathon), but I think it felt much lonelier in the hills. Frankie had lapped me while I was sitting out, so we would get to bump into each other once per lap. Sometime about 10:30 pm, I had just left the main aid station, and Frankie was just coming in – it made sense to run together through the night, so I slowed right down, and she caught up with me at the mid point aid station (where I sat and rested for a few minutes, and put a band aid on a hot spot that had formed). We ran the rest of the race together.
Through the night we would talk about everything, anything and nothing – it was really great to have company again. I know that at one point, I hit a low – no idea what time it was, maybe 2 or 3 in the morning. This is where I learnt the power of caffeine pills and coca cola. Combined, they make a ‘wonder drug’, I certainly perked up, and other than maybe one more mini-low on the second to last lap (again cured with the ‘wonder drug combo’), we got through it all.
In conclusion, there were a lot of lessons learned, and I will post those later – but I enjoyed this race, and it has further fuelled my desire to go to the next level and finish a 100 miler.
Oh, I came THIRD. Did I mention that?
Thursday, July 2, 2009
Wednesday, July 1, 2009
"Yep", he says, "You're going to lose the nail". He then drained off a stunning amount of fluid. A couple of seconds later, he trimmed my nail............... or that was what I thought - well he was trimming it, but all the way down to the quick. He was right, I did lose the nail! (I just didn't think quite so quickly.)
I won't take any pictures, that wouldn't be fair on anyone who stumbles upon this - it doesn't look pretty.
Apparently everything will harden up in a couple of days, just need to soak it in Epsom Salts, and add Neosporin.
I think that now that I have lost a big toenail, I am a REAL Ultrarunner :) It's like a badge of honor or something.
I'm still working on a write up for the Laramie run. Hoping I will get it finished in the next few days.