Monday, July 25, 2011

Limberlost Race Report ... Injury and Training update .. BR 100 next weekend

Limberlost 56k race report
This is going to be a short race report because this ended up being a short one for me. I have begun to feel that if Charlie Brown was an ultra runner this is the kind of season he would be having. You know the kind where whatever could go wrong will go wrong. How did I become the hard luck peanuts character anyway when usually I share more in common with Snoopy.

We headed up to Limberlost on July 16th. I would run the 56km as a last long run / training run for the Burning River 100 miler. Kim was running 28km as she ramps up the distance for her upcoming Pikes Peak Accent. I ran this last year and really love the trails here. Challenging and somewhat technical but also really beautiful.

It was a nice sunny day, great weather although it would end up getting very hot. Before you knew it we were lined up and ready to go. My plan was simple I would run the first 14km loop moderately fast, loops two and three easy and the fourth loop hard to finish it off.

The first loop went well. The trails were as nice as I had remembered from the year before. I ended up running with Stephan M. for about 7 km then dropped off a little as he was moving just a bit to fast. My HR was higher then I wanted but not to bad and I ended up finish the loop in 1:35 minutes right on schedule. A quick refuelling and refilling of the bottles and I was back out again.

A couple of km into the loop I noticed my stomach was a little unsettled, not a big deal but it did give me a small eureka moment. I realized that my nutrition problems the last few races are more then likely caused by the ensure I was taking. I ran using ensure in long races last year but never in really hot conditions. I now believe that heat + ensure = stomach issues for me so if I am right this could really help at Burning River.

I was feeling good now, it was hot but manageable and I was cruising along totally oblivious just like the Titanic until wham, I steamed head long right into the iceberg. Running along one of the flattest non technical areas on the entire course I stepped on something (no idea what) and rolled my ankle over badly before hitting the ground face first. I got up quickly nothing seemed broken but my ankle was hurting. Not so bad I couldn't run at all on it but bad enough. For #&*% sakes!!

I ran along slowly for the next 6km trying to see if the ankle would numb up or the pain would recede but no luck. It was slowly getting worse. At 25km I knew that the writing was on the wall. I could run slowly and still finish the race. I had run fast early and even walking I could get in before the cut off. The only problem with that was my ankle would be far worse for wear. I decide to shut it down and ended up walking the 3k out to the start / finish line.

Man this sucked. I felt really good except for my ankle which was only kind of hurt. I decided to take some time, tape the ankle up and see how it felt. After I got it wrapped I headed back out for a third loop. It felt no better then before. I contemplated continuing but I had a lot of time to think about things as I walked out the last part of my second loop. This was suppose to be a training run. If I kept going there was a real good chance I would hurt myself more and it might end up costing me my goal race at Burning River. I decided to error on the side of caution ( wow I know how unlike me is that!) and shut it down for the day. I turned around and walked back to the start finish.

Kim had a really good race and seems to be over her heel injury. Way to finish it strong honey.

Training / Injury update
Its a week later and now I know I made the right choice. My ankle is still hurting some but is improving every day. I got about 35 miles of running in last week and it was only mildly sore. With almost no running this week during my taper I am hoping it is fully recovered by race day.

I am really looking forward to the Burning River 100 this coming weekend. After such a tough go of it at the Mohican a little redemption is hopefully on the menu. Its looking like its going to be a hot one but hell it is July so what can you do. We will head down Friday with 4 other Ontario runners so should be a blast. Misery loves company.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

What does failure teach you anyway

After a couple of weeks of decompressing (read sulking) from my DNF at the Mohican I thought I would try to figure out what I learned from that experience. This ended up being no easy task. You always hear that there is nothing that leads to future success better then past failures and the lessons learned there. Although I do agree with this for the most part I would argue that success leads to future success better then failure does. That said some things must be experienced to be truly appreciated. If that wasn't true I wouldn't run these 100 milers I would just read about them and watch some videos. Mission accomplished.

Optimist or Pessimist
I think what you take away from a race / performance like this depends on how you see the world. There are those that see the glass half full (what went right) and those that see the glass half empty (what went wrong). Then there are people like me who just see half a glass. I think that to give an honest evaluation you got to take the good with the bad so here is what I learned.

1) I really suck running in the heat.
I should have learned this lesson last year after Niagara and Creemore but the message seems not to have gotten through. I just don't run well in the heat at the start of summer. I seem to do okay once I adjust to the heat later in the summer but I suck during that adjustment time. I tend to melt down quicker then the Wicked Witch of the West in a thunderstorm. Luckily this is solvable so its sauna training next April for me no matter what race I am gearing up for.

2)Volume training works for me
All the many many miles that I put in over the winter actually did work for me. True I basically had no life but hey something has to be sacrificed on the alter of extreme stupidity so human sacrifice it was. The higher mileage did work for me just not in the way that I had anticipated. Logging the extra miles I expected to run my next 100 milers in a faster time as I would be able run stronger later in the race. Unfortunately I didn't actual run much faster due to stomach issues. Still I think that it will pay off speed wise in the near future when I don't end up spending a lot of time at aid stations puking.

What those many miles did do for me though was speed up my recovery from long races and protect me from injury. Last year I got injured in all 4 races that I ran that were over 100km. Nothing serious but still they caused breaks in training that I didn't really want or need. This year so far no problem and my legs have bounced back really quickly after races.

As an added bonus my wife still talks to me ..... sweet

3)Focus and proper prep is everything for me
My lack of focus going into the Mohican was probably the biggest mistake I made. After being so sick at Sulphur I think I got tentative on this one. Going into a race just looking to finish does not work for me and on the few occasions that I have tried this it has gone badly. I need to come out fairly hard and push early to get my head into the game because if I don't I never will find a groove. Even with races that are being used for training runs I try to run hard for a while early before pulling back. If I don't the run has and will become an epic disaster for me. I become a runners version of the Hindenburg, going down in a huge burst of flames.

My prep was okay for the race with the exception of one big mistake. I did not instruct my crew properly on what to do if I decided to DNF. After running five 100 milers and 24 hour events over the last year I had began to take it for granted that I would just push through no matter what. The thought that I might DNF never really even crossed my mind. Talk about arrogance especially for a guy that runs middle of the pack times but thats the truth. The idea that I might drop was never even a consideration until I decided to drop.

In my first few races Kim (and pacers if I had any) were told to not let me drop unless I required an ambulance. I told them to do everything possible to make me stay on the course until race officials pulled me. After a number of successful races I stopped giving these instructions so when I actually decided to drop I left Kim in a really bad position. She wasn't sure what she should do. By the way this in not a criticism of Kim at all. I blew it by not being clear on how the situation (which she had never been in) should be handled. She took me at my word that I had to stop running. Nobody should take me at my word, ever.

4)Nutrition whats that all about
Okay pretty simple, I had my nutrition down to a science. Then at Sulphur I had major stomach issues. At Mohican I stayed on my nutrition pretty good for most of the race but aid stations were problematic later in the day. I had stomach issues again but I think this was mostly due to heat exhaustion. It wasn't the same kind of nausea I had at Sulphur. I think my nutrition is solid but I guess I will find out for sure at Burning River.

I am also going to pick up a camelback with extra pockets so that if I run into another situation where I am not getting what I need for food from aid stations that I will be able to carry more of my own nutrition.

5)DNFing when you can still keep moving is bad
Should be self explanatory but really isn't. I had no idea that dropping would have the effect on me that it did. I was a second guessing, grumpy, pissed off, pain in the ass, miserable guy for weeks. I never want to feel like that again. In my only other DNF there was no issue for me, when 46 out of 49 runners have to drop due to insane weather you know that there was really no choice involved. This time it was a choice based on getting into a dark place and then convincing myself not to keep going as I wouldn't make the cutoff anyway. Now I do think that I probably wouldn't have made the cutoff but who can say for sure. If I had kept going even at a zombie shuffle pace and got pulled from the course I guess I would know and there would be no second guessing.

When I DNF again (and it will happen as thats just part of running ultras) I am going to be sure that there is no other choice.

Limberlost this weekend
Will be running 56km at Limberlost this weekend as a last really long run in getting ready for Burning River. I ran it last year and it was some of the nicest trail I have ever run on. It will be 4 times around the 14km loop for me. Going to run this with the same approach as PYP, loop 1 hard, loop 2 and 3 more laid back, loop 4 try to crank it up again. Should be a blast.

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