Saturday, February 11, 2012

So where I have been the last 5 weeks?

That is a very good question. I wrote about half of my race report within the 2 weeks following Harbison. That was the decent half, where things weren't great, but had not completely fallen apart. Finally finished it tonight. I've been here, just have not had much time at all to complete it. I knew it wasn't going to be pretty when I did, but still.

My "recovery" was surprisingly fairly quick - after taking 4 days off (that worked last time I had ankle/lower leg pain), I still ran 20 miles in the next 4 days (1 day off in there). Thought I'd get it all back and just keep motoring on.
However - my motivation was sapped. I was tired of struggling in these 50k's/ultras. How to move on?
I started doing a circuit training class once a week.
I added back in a 4th day of running (the hills around ICAR).
Added speedwork back in (on the FIRST 3:50 marathon pacing schedule)
All that seemed to do (or maybe it was just the overall timing) was make my legs very heavy and weak. Long runs were Not happening. Cut all of them short since the race to 9-13 miles.
I did my longest run on the trails at Lake Conestee, which was a much better place to run than I expected. Did two full "laps" of practically every trail.
After 4 weeks of struggling (except my speedwork/tempo runs have been decent the last 2 weeks) with weak legs, I decided to take an easy recovery week. No circuit training, no extra hill run - just a speedwork session and a 6mi tempo run.
So far so good...until last night.
Out of the blue, a cramp in my right calf woke me up from a deep sleep. 20 hrs later, I still feel it. Tomorrow is my "long" run, so we'll see how it feels. Heading back to Conestee - it's closer/quicker than Paris Mtn.
Part of my motivation waning has been do to my desire to be at home with the family. My little girl is three now. Enough said.
I also do not have a single race scheduled. During Harbison, I obviously gave up on the Mount Mitchell Challenge. I don't believe in myself to do the long runs just yet needed to train properly for any race of any distance, and I don't have the speed to enjoy a shorter race right now.
So what does that leave?
Doing my FIRST training plan, but without the longer run. I'll stick to 10-13 miles each weekend, but focus on my speedwork and tempo runs. Getting my speed back is my new goal. For what - I am not sure. Keep my mileage around 30/wk though. May have a 1-day relay with Team DNR in April (Southern Blue). Brother wants to do Tough Mudder in SC in October...unsure right now.
We'll just see how the next few weeks go!

2nd Harbison 50k Trail Race Report

Saturday January 7th was the 2nd Harbison 50k Trail Race outside Columbia, SC. Got down there an hour before the 7:30am start and quickly got my bib, technical race shirt and pint glass. Although starting temps were comfortable in the mid 40's, it was expected to reach into the 60's as the day progressed. At least the aid stations were numerous on this double loop course to keep us all hydrated.
3 weeks after my last 50k, I was unsure how I'd do on this one. I was hoping I would not have IT band issues as I had last year (and 3 weeks ago) but a finish time near last year's would be nice.

After the pre-race instructions by the fire, we started on a short gravel road before quickly getting on the single track trails. We were warned that these first miles were easy - but that did not stop many of us from going out a bit too fast - even those of us out here last year. The 5.8mi first section was constantly winding with small ups and downs. I felt decent but wondered if I was going out a bit too fast. Without a GPS (not that I truly trust them anyway), I did not have much of an idea other than comparing my times to last years splits.
Long line of runners early on.

Still a bit crowded on the nice trails
There were some long lines of runners and I stopped to let two sets pass me before the aid station. Made it a bit crowded, but I was in and out in no time, and 1 minute ahead of my 2011 pace.

I knew from last years race that each of the next 3 sections would take about 40 minutes each. It helped knowing where I was on the course, but I realized I wasn't feeling that great and was hoping for the next aid station a little too much. No pains, but just slowly increasing leg fatigue. Course was still enjoyable as people passed me every so often. Played leap-frog with a number of runners as they obviously spent more time at each aid station. Came thru the next aid station (mile 9.4) another 2 minutes under 2012 time. That would not last.
Third section was the most difficult (of course it's all relative) with the "Spiderwoman" section. It's a short (.75mi) section that goes up, loops around, and comes back down. I wasn't pushing thru this section - just getting thru it - and that was fine with me. Next aid at Mile 12.7 and the last section had a nice view overlooking the Broad River and some rocks. Picture time!

It was early here that my legs really began to fail me. Thighs weren't just weak - but getting sore. This just confused me. I know I had run a 50k 3 weeks earlier, and I had a cold the full week before (that kept me home yesterday), but sore?! I was also getting a hot spot on a toe...but held off doing anything about it. I came to the halfway point aid station and in my desire to not stay long, left it without even thinking whether I needed anything out of my drop bag. 50 yards out of there, I realized it - stopped - thought for a moment about dealing with my toe, then continued on.
Halfway in 2:50. Faster than last year, but that last section seemed shorter (don't remember the difference, but it was a good 5 minutes faster).
The second half got worse and more miserable by the mile. Lower/middle back started to hurt and didn't let up. I dealt with my toe at mile 15 or so and as soon as I sat down and bent my leg to remove my shoe - a fierce cramp shot thru my thigh. I have Never had a cramp like that during a race. And at Mile 15? I was in trouble.
No blister on that toe, but I loosened up my sock and that was at least taken care of. That cramp though - man that hurt. (I'd feel the resulting soreness from it for the next 3 weeks).
A few people I knew were behind me would come into the aid stations as I was leaving them and we did that for few a few aid stations until they finally caught me near the end.
My legs were sore enough that I couldn't even run the flats. The soles of my feet began to hurt at mile 21 and didn't let up either. The first half I was doing 10-11 min miles...I came out of the halfway AS doing 14's. Slowed to 16's thru Spiderwoman. The last 4 miles, my lower left leg became so sore I could not run the downhills either and walking was only with a limp. I had been able to at least shuffle thru some downhills prior to that, but those last miles were brutal. A handful of runners passed me the last miles and I could do nothing about it.
I never doubted I would finish - not once. A few people asked how I was and with all my issues were surprised that other runners had dropped out in obvious better shape than me. There was no reason not to finish this. I was in pain, very uncomfortable with my lower back, but I really wanted that "bison 50k" pint glass!

So - finish time of 6:39:57, only about 2 minutes slower than last year (yes, I struggled last year for a while too). I did run in the last 100 yards or so to make it look good.

I was not a happy camper. It was good to see some people though (Jason S, Jason S, Seth, Dan (RD), Viktor, Bo M, Joe P, William S, +) and the volunteers were always SO Helpful! Thank you!! I still ove this course and if I ever get my confidence/motivation/ability back to doing ultras, this will be on my list.

Where do I go from here?
Stay tuned...
View of the finish area