03/27/13

Antelope Island Buffalo Run – My 2nd 100 Miler and a PR!

Antelope Island Buffalo Run

Antelope Island Buffalo Run

Six weeks ago I strained my soleus muscle in my calf while heading uphill on black ice on a 22 mile training run, when I slipped on the road and fell as a car was coming towards me. I was limping as soon as I picked myself up and immediately I worried all the training I’d done over the winter would slip down the drain as I recovered.  The injury was just a grade 1 strain, but it was bad enough I was not supposed to run or even take leisurely walks on it for several weeks. I knew the Buffalo Run 100 miler was fast approaching and instead of joining my pals on extended long runs to peak for the race, I watched my log book go week after week without a run added. It was a little stressful!

Thankfully, with a chiropractor, who is also an athlete working diligently on the calf to break up the scar tissue and encourage healing and frequent visits to my sports massage gal, I was able to recover in time for the race — barely! The longest run I did in those 6 weeks was a 13 miler less than a week before the race – and most of it was walking! Thankfully, my training had not slacked during the winter months, though and I had been in good shape prior to the accident hitting about 70 miles per week for the two weeks before I got hurt, so I was banking on my prior mileage and experience to get me through the Antelope Island Buffalo Run 100 for the second time!

To add a little more pressure to the day, the race was taking place from March 22nd – 23rd.  The 23rd is my youngest daughter’s 6th birthday, so I’d decided that the coolest gift I could possibly give to her would be the belt buckle after I crossed the finish line! I decided to be as conservative as possible to nurse the injury and hold back to increase my chances of just finishing the race so I could surprise my daughter at the finish!

In the days leading up to the race, I expected to be nervous or worried. I’d certainly been terrified the year before when I’d shown up at the starting line of AI since it was my first 100. This time was pleasantly different for me. Even with the worries about the injury, I felt relaxed, slept well and felt calm as I approached the starting line. I never assumed I’d finish, as these things are insanely difficult and even the strongest of runners can encounter injury, bonking, stomach issues and mental breakdown throughout the 25-30 hours on the course, but I did come to the race ready to give my best and to walk away with no regrets no matter what happened – and that acceptance of “what will be will be” put me in a good mental place.

We looked like tiny ants being herded by this buffalo

We looked like tiny ants being herded by this buffalo

One of the coolest things about the race this year was the huge turnout! Jim Skaggs puts on a great event and apparently word had gotten around that this was a 100 not to be missed! Last year there were about 60 people at the starting line and 34 finishers. This year, there were closer to 100 starters! The weather this year was much colder than last year! I’d woken up to see snow falling outside my hotel window in Layton, a few miles down the road. The winds were strong, even at the noon start and the clouds were covering up the sun. I was bundled up and ready to face a much chillier race than the year before.

Getting ready in the hotel before I saw the snowstorm outside. Added tights before the race.

Getting ready in the hotel before I saw the snowstorm outside. Added tights before the race.

I moved all the way to the back of the back as the racers lined up (Karl Meltzer, dressed in his signature Hoka One One white and blue tank and shorts rightly at the front) and reminded myself to stay back there for as long as possible to be conservative.  Almost immediately I caught sight of a pal of mine I’d met the year before – world-famous blogger and ultra runner Cory Reece!! He was festively decked out in a red jacket with a matching sock monkey hat that his young daughter had asked him to wear and his characteristic bright smile! I was thrilled to see him, since I knew he and I were similar paces and figured we’d get to share some fun miles together. I also said hello to my friend, Ed Eddinghausen (who as usual was dressed in his court jester outfit and also being cautious since he was coming off of a 160 mile race the previous week!)

karl leading race

I heard the countdown and we all took off! My five children were ringing cowbells and cheering on the sides and waved at them and blew kisses as I passed. My husband was taking photos and I smiled at him and said, “I love you!” just as I rounded the corner off the main road onto the path, passing a few buffalo standing just a few feet from the colorful congo line of runners.  I relaxed, checked my HR and settled into a super easy walk pace, sticking to my plan of playing it safe and not going out too fast.

Me and Cory at the start of  the race on the Fun Train already!

Me and Cory at the start of the race on the Fun Train already!

I soon found myself in some pleasant conversations with those around me and the miles just seemed to tick by rapidly. One woman recognized me from my blog (which was a nice surprise) and another gentleman shared that there were four generations of his family doing the race that day – including his 81 year old father! It was amazing to hear people share their stories and I had such a fun time getting to know some new trail friends.

When we reached the Elephant Head aid station and turned onto the path to do the out and back, the faster runners were speeding back already and it was fun to see the front of the packers duking it out! That is one of the things I love best about this race is the chance to see so many other runners out on the course and get a chance to say hi or give encouragement to those ahead of you or behind you! The vibe is always positive here!

I had the pleasure of starting this race with several other Boise Trail Runner friends which was also fun. 7 of us had shown up to do the 100, so during this section I was able to cheer for my faster friends, Ryan, Lyn, Sam, Sean, Emily and Amy and several other buddies I’ve met at previous ultras, which was fun! I was in great spirits and the calf was holding up fine as I reached the turnaround spot and leaned down to choose a sticker from the box (the way the RD knows you’ve actually gone all the way out to the turnaround.)  Cory and I were together here and word on the street was that there were some sweet Justin Beiber stickers in that box. Since we’re both parents of kids who might consider that cool, we decided to choose one of those. It turned out all the front runners were suffering from Beiber fever, though and all that remained were fairy princess stickers, so we each chose the prettiest fairies we could from the selection!

Just as we were finishing up, I heard heavy breathing (a rarity at the back of the pack this early in the race.) Cory and I looked at each other then looked up and saw Karl Meltzer himself running like it was a 5k coming straight at us! Our jaws simultaneously dropped to the dirt and star-struck, I squeaked out, “Um.. can I get you a sticker, Karl?” I don’t think he heard me since he had earphones in, but for a brief, shining, moment, I was shoulder to shoulder with Karl Meltzer (who was several miles ahead of me since he’d done the other loop section of the course first and was just finishing this bit up before heading back to the start/finish for the 20 mile check in) in a race as he hurriedly ripped a fairy right in half, slapped it on his bib and took off!  As the dust whirled in his wake as he zipped off, Cory and I just stared, wide-eyed at each other and he said, “What just happened?!!” I said, “I have no idea but it was SO blogworthy, dude!” and we both started to laugh like hysterical schoolchildren!

The bulk of the climbing of this course happens in the first 20 mile loop section that we were on (which we get to repeat from miles 50-70.) We were through the majority of the worst by about mile 12, when I started to feel the urge to let myself run just a bit to test out the leg (and have a little bit of fun.) I said goodbye to some of my pals and eased into a gentle jog. I could see my friends Sean, Emily and Amy about half a mile in the distance and decided it might be time to catch up. I didn’t rush, just let the ground pull me closer bit by bit and it was a lot of fun to finally find myself side by side with them about mile 13. I thought some of them would join in, so I just kept doing what I was doing, but none of them stayed with me. I saw my friend, Sam’s bright yellow shirt up ahead another half a mile and decided I’d focus on that next. I still walked every uphill and kept the pace conservative, but I was feeling really good!

As I rounded the fence back near the start finish, my husband snapped a couple of pictures of me and told me I looked great! I told him I was sticking to my plan (as my average heart rate was still about 30 points lower this year on this section than the year before.) I had done the first loop last year in about 4:07. With holding back, surprisingly, I did the first loop in exactly 4 hours this time! That was awesome to see! I checked my number into the aid station and then kept moving down the road, feeling amazing.

Coming in to mile 20 after the first loop.

Coming in to mile 20 after the first loop.

Despite the strong winds, the temperature started to feel a bit better through this section as we headed to the path along the Salt Lake, which is one of the highlights of the course! It’s just breathtaking with the snow-covered Wasatch mountain range in full view on the other side! There was a lot of mud through this section and my feet got a bit wet, but I didn’t mind. It was actually all part of the craziness of ultra running and I welcomed it.

I relaxed and enjoyed the scenery along the water. I love the trails on Antelope Island and most of them are very runnable, so I just enjoyed the day, staying conservative and doing plenty of walk breaks to keep things low key.  My family drove along taking pictures and cheering when they could see me which was very motivating! My 12 year old son, Wayne Jr came to run a little section with me and my youngest daughter, Savannah also got to get a nice hug here, which are probably my favorite photos of the day!

Wayne Jr and I running a little stretch together! A highlight for me!

Wayne Jr and I running a little stretch together! A highlight for me!

hug antelope

 

About mile 28 coming into Lower Frary Aid Station

About mile 28 coming into Lower Frary Aid Station

When I arrived at the Ranch at mile 33.3 or so, I was feeling like a million bucks. I saw my buddy, Vince Romney and his lovely wife Chris and we hugged and said hello! Then I headed into the (REAL) bathroom there and got myself ready for nighttime running. I put on my headlamp, pulled out my ipod (since I’d enjoyed hearing music through this section last year) and put on my gloves.  I sipped some broth, said my goodbyes and headed out. The first song that came on almost made me burst out laughing. It was ABBA’s “Gimme Gimme Gimme a Man After Midnight.”  My pacer (my friend Derek) was told to expect me at around midnight and it just seemed like a hilarious coincidence!

ABBA the 70's singing wonders got me through

ABBA reminded me that I’d be getting a PACER after midnight!

These lyrics really DO fit, if you think about it. I was by myself at this point and looking forward to some company to take me to the next day (and to the FINISH!)

There’s not a soul out there
No one to hear my prayer

Gimme gimme gimme a man after midnight
Won’t somebody help me chase the shadows away
Gimme gimme gimme a man after midnight
Take me through the darkness to the break of the day

It was starting to get really cold, but I had a smile on my face still. My feet (unlike the previous year) felt amazing in the Brooks Pure Grits and things were going pretty well. I did  start to fall behind on fueling/hydration here though. As the wind picked up, the sun went down and I didn’t feel as thirsty or hungry, so I was just taking little sips of broth at each of the aid stations and very little else.  I know better, but I was heading myself straight into bonkland.

At mile 44, I was back in the Mountain View aid station, huddled out of the wind and cold with two other male runners. We chitchatted for a couple of minutes while I sipped yet another serving of beef broth (my stomach was starting to really hate the sight of beef broth by this point but I thought the warm liquid and the sodium would help.)  As the nausea started to bother me from that point on, I slowed down. The winds picked up, the temperature dropped further (down to a real feel of 8 degrees by the middle of the night), snow had fallen twice already and I was starting to feel kind of miserable.  There was a lot of shuffling from miles 44-50.

When I arrived at the start/finish area and the huge tent with heaters inside, it was like seeing heaven! I was so relieved to step inside out of the weather. My watch said I’d been running for 11:18 min (which meant I was about 45 min faster on the first loop than the previous year, which was exciting!) My pacer was there and two other friends who were there waiting to pace other runners. I was so happy to see them all! I was shivering so badly and low on calories. Derek, my rock star pacer, quickly jumped into action setting up his little heater to warm me up. My friend Christine put a sleeping bag around my shoulders to help me feel warmer and my friend Jon started asking about other clothing I had to change into to warm myself up.  That’s when I realized that most of my running gear, fuel, etc was not in the tent. My husband and five children had left the island to head back to the hotel for a night of sleep and the majority of my things (including the extra batteries for my headlamp) were with them.  It was my own fault! I had not really gone over what I might need throughout the night and my husband had left me a small bag with the exact items I had mentioned earlier in the day I’d want – including one more light jacket and a pair of shoes and socks.  Amazingly, my friends quickly went into action, one handing me her extra thin jacket to put on, another (Derek) offering me his ginormous, thick ski coat he’d been wearing while he waited for me! This coat would take on the nickname of “The Man Coat” for the rest of the night. It made me look like I was still that 200 lb lady from 6 years ago and it made me feel like I was basking in the Florida sun instead of freezing my buns off on a stormy Utah night! It was exactly what I needed!

Picking up my pacer, Derek. He told me he'd drag me by my pigtails to the finish if he needed to. I appreciated his determination and his MAN COAT!

Picking up my pacer, Derek. He told me he’d drag me by my pigtails to the finish if he needed to. I appreciated his determination and his MAN COAT!

Derek told me to rest my eyes while I sat in the camp chair and he went to work making me a grilled cheese sandwich! I was so touched by the outstanding help of my friends and knew that they would help get me through the rough patch.  Unfortunately, I was so nauseated, that when he offered me the sandwich I picked at it and ate about two bites before I told him I was sorry but that was the best I could do at the moment. He had me sip some Gatorade and we headed back out into the night.  We’d taken probably 40 minutes getting my needs met so it was around midnight.

I was so slow through this section and not a lot of fun to hang out with I’m sure for Derek. I just slogged along in my man coat, putting one foot in front of the other, sucking on a peppermint trying to get the nausea to ease.  It didn’t. It got worse. I didn’t want to drink or eat so I think I had maybe 3 sips of broth and a couple sips of water for the next 20 miles as I walked over the mountains following Derek.

By the time, Derek and I were in sight of the 70 mile spot, it was 6 am (I’d been running for 18 hours) and the 50 mile racers were just starting. They came up the trail at us as a swarm of bright headlamps and thundering feet. I heard lots of encouragement as they passed us and it was a little mental boost.  My Garmin battery died just as I got into the tent and so did I. My husband was there, looking concerned (since I looked like a total wreck and was behind schedule.) All I wanted to do was lay down. This was my dark place for the race — the point where I just wasn’t sure I could find the will or strength to go on. I was so cold, just shivering – even in the man coat and multiple layers. I felt like throwing up, though my stomach was totally empty. I had no energy and I was tired and sore.

I wandered around looking for a place to lay down and couldn’t find anywhere. Finally I settled on the drop bag tarp. I just flopped to the ground, curled up in fetal position and lay there shivering.  My husband leaned over me and said, “Not there! It’s covered in water from a hydration vest leak or something.” I didn’t care. I looked up at him and for the first time, let myself shed a few tears as I told him how awful I felt and how worried I was that I could not finish in this condition.

Derek was already on top of things, having set up the camp stove again and was working hard at making me a grilled cheese sandwich.  Wayne went to find me some hot cocoa and within a few minutes, they started to bring me back to life – bite by bite and sip by sip.  That’s the thing about these races — many times nutrition is the greatest obstacle for the racer.  When you don’t get enough water, carbs and electrolytes into your system, it’s like having a car without any gas.  No matter how fast the car can go when it’s got some fuel, it’s a useless pile of metal sitting alongside the road when it runs out. That’s what happened to me — I was out of gas and they were doing everything in their power to change that!

Though I love running in the dark and actually do the majority of my training by headlamp, it had also gotten to me. So, I asked Derek if we could stay in the tent until the sun was out. I’m glad I did, too, because when the sun came up, Cory was just arriving back at the tent from his 70 mile stretch and I was eager for some company! It was exactly what I needed! We’d taken more than an hour in the aid station, but by the time I left (still donning the sexy man coat) I was a totally different runner again! I felt energetic, happy, revived and EXCITED to run again!!

Coming back to life with Derek, Cory and his pacer!

Coming back to life with Derek, Cory and his pacer!

Derek is a pretty funny guy and does great Jim Carrey impersonations – my favorite being his Vera De Milo one from In Living Color. He started doing his silly impersonations and had Cory and I and Cory’s pacer totally cracking up! He also started to signal to me every time we passed another mile by doing a heel click, which was freaking awesome! The mood became light, the conversation picked up and all of us felt alive again!

Derek did a great Vera De Milo impersonation during the last 30 miles to keep me laughing!

Derek did a great Vera De Milo impersonation during the last 30 miles to keep me laughing!

In fact, I warmed up from the beautiful sunshine (oh glorious sunshine how I missed thee in my darkest hours!!), that I had to remove the man coat a few miles later and get a pair of sunglasses instead! I was in great spirits after this.  Derek took total control of my fueling and started feeding me Cheese It crackers – just one at a time – and waiting for me to ASK for water. This was a good sign since before I could not tolerate anything.  I’d sip Gatorade, we’d run a mile and we’d do it all again. Over and over. It worked perfectly!

Fun times again with Cory who made the miles zoom!

Fun times again with Cory who made the miles zoom!

In fact, I couldn’t believe how AWESOME I was feeling. I was definitely tired and my right big toe was sore from smacking it hard into a rock in the night on the second 20 mile loop (Derek’s famous words when I yelped, “Hey, it’s just a TOE. You don’t need that for running” which had me laughing. I smiled at all the runners, hugged my friends along the way and snuggled my kids at the aid stations. I was on fire again!

Derek giving me the heel click signal each time we passed a mile!

Derek giving me the heel click signal each time we passed a mile!

In fact, it was a complete contrast to this same section one year before where my blistered feet had me hobbling the last 50 miles. I did have a few blisters, but nothing like the year before and that just made me count my blessings. By mile 94, I felt like I was going to PR. It seemed crazy, but true!

Derek was the perfect pacer for this race for me! He took amazing care of me, shared his man coat and kept me smiling to the end! I may owe him my first born as a proper thank you!

Derek was the perfect pacer for this race for me! He took amazing care of me, shared his man coat and kept me smiling to the end! I may owe him my first born as a proper thank you!

I actually tried to pick up the pace from that point, but just as I got to mile 97 a huge blister on my left foot burst and I gasped with the sudden excruciating pain! I tried to walk on it and couldn’t believe how painful it was.  That’s when I stopped, turned to Derek and said, “How in the WORLD did I run 50 miles with both feet covered in these last year?”! Sub freezing, windy weather, snow and bonking are NOTHING compared to this! I am insanely lucky that things have gone so very WELL this time!”  And that was my attitude the rest of the race.  I had to slow down the pace because of the blister, but I had a smile on my face.

Derek and I got closer to the finish line and I was passed by my friend Graham who was doing the 50 miler. Here is a quote of what went down at this point, that I had to share in his own words because he said it all so well:

Craziest most enjoyable finish for me yesterday…with 1/2 mile left I decided to push HARD and finish strong. I look up and see Christie Combs Ebenroth and we are like “hey there:)!”. Then Derek Call says “Go! Race him to the finish, Christie!” Sweet cheery Christie flips a switch and her normal friendly smile is gone, replaced by this…this look like I’ve just become a threat to her kids and all she loves and takes off! I thought what the?!? and kicked it up a notch…running mostly out of fear. It’s a good thing I did because a guy i had just passed decided he was going to run me down. I never expected to need a big kick at the end of 50 miles, but me and this other guy were in a 50 yard dash neck and neck like the gold medal was on the line, heads back full speed hoping our legs would hold out(well I was hoping mine would. and it was probably nothing like that, but it felt like it. Emily or Sam may have a much different take.) we crossed the finish line with nothing left.(I almost ran over Sam Collier andEmily Schuh Berriochoa watching the finish…I remember thinking, well if I black out at least I’m amongst friends)

So, it was definitely action-packed! As soon as Derek had told me to race, I went into final kick mode, loving the feel of pushing after slogging for so many miles — but I quickly remembered the plan — the fact that it was my daughter Savannah’s 6th birthday and saw the faces of my 4 other kids running towards me wanting to run across the finish line together the way we had the year before and I pulled back to let them catch up.

Derek’s two sons joined in, his youngest, little Cody, age 6 wrapped up in a blanket and we all held hands and ran towards the finish line together, grinning from ear-to-ear!  Just as we hit the second timing mat, we raised our hands up in unison and went down into a bow! It was totally awesome!

 

Coming victoriously over the finish line!! What a glorious feeling! What goes through your head the second time you cross a 100 mile finish line? "Woo hoo! The first one wasn't a FLUKE!"

Coming victoriously over the finish line!! What a glorious feeling! What goes through your head the second time you cross a 100 mile finish line? “Woo hoo! The first one wasn’t a FLUKE!”

Jim Skaggs handed me my coveted finisher prize — the black and silver belt buckle that says Antelope Island Buffalo Run 100 Mile Finisher – and I said to him, “Today is my daughter’s 6th birthday and this is her present from me.” And I turned and handed it to her. She looked up at me with her big blue eyes, her blond curls framing her tiny face and I saw the surprise in her face! Then she broke out into a huge grin, grabbed the buckle and threw her arms around me and said, “Thank you, Mommy!!!”

Happy Birthday Savannah! She was so excited about the buckle!!

Happy Birthday Savannah! She was so excited about the buckle!!

It was the perfect race! I’m so thankful the calf injury held up, that I stuck to my plan and that things went so well! I PR’d by almost two hours too!!!! Now, that’s a bonus!!!!!! Finish time last year was 30:11. This year was 28:24.  Not bad!

03/13/13

9 Days Until The Buffalo Run

woo hoo

Good news! The injured soleus muscle seems to be fairly healed up – and just in the nick of time! The Antelope Island Buffalo Run 100 miler is only 9 days away! I was really sweating weather or not the calf strain would heal up in time to even attempt it. I took two weeks off when the injury hit, then eased very gently back into using it — doing 31 miles of mostly slow walking in week three, a little cross training – some yoga, a spin class, lots of stretching and a few visits to my chiropractor for ART and Graston therapies and then slowly beginning to run again last week.  I also went to see my sports massage gal who does an amazing job of working thoroughly into the muscles, breaking up the scar tissue and loosening up my tight-as-can-be runner muscles to get me into a good position to heal in time for the race!

It seems to have worked! I have now been running some of my regular routes at paces that aren’t horribly different from before the injury. I’m taking more walk breaks and wearing compression calf sleeves and remembering to stretch after the runs — but I’m getting there!

This morning I ran with a group of friends, including my pal, Derek who will be my pacer at Antelope Island! It was exciting to be thinking ahead to race strategy and nutrition needs instead of holding my breath wondering if I would even be able to make the trip! I’m pretty pumped! The best part is that this year there are about 20 local pals from the Boise area heading down to Utah for the race! It’s going to be a party!!!!

My change in mindset from fearful injured runner to eager racer took a little bit of soul reflection and a big leap of faith, honestly.  Sometimes it’s easy to get caught up in the worry of “what ifs” when you’re facing the idea of testing the injury in a race. It’s a risk to move forward and trust that you’re healed enough to begin running again – it’s a whole other kind of leap of faith to go from barely running for 4 weeks to racing a 100 miler! I’ve decided to take the leap!

Here are some words of wisdom I ran across as I was making my decision that bolstered my resolve and gave me the courage I needed to move forward with my plans!

what could go right

It is better by noble boldness to run the risk of being subject to half the evils we anticipate than to remain in cowardly listlessness for fear of what might happen. – Herodotus

The time to take counsel of your fears is before you make an important battle decision. That’s the time to listen to every fear you can imagine! When you have collected all the facts and fears and made your decision, turn off all your fears and go ahead! – General George S. Patton

 

 

03/3/13

1st Trail Run in 3 Weeks!

Getting there!!! I was hoping to run the Cobb and Homestead trails on Lucky Peak this morning, but it rained last night, so I knew the trail conditions would be no beuno! So, instead I did the most obvious next best thing and ran from my front door right out onto the sandy trails near my house which are always runnable no matter how wet it is (which is awesome and convenient!) They are also fairly flat, so I knew that would be a smart place to further test the recovering calf strain and tight IT band.

The sky was gray and full of clouds. Some would say it was gloomy. I would describe it as perfectly peaceful.. still…. calm and beautiful. I really enjoyed myself as I ran through the rain-soaked sagebrush and enjoyed the fragrance of wet earth. I saw Canadian geese (made me think of you,Canada Steve ) flying overhead in a v formation as I crossed a red bridge over an empty canal and smiled thinking how lucky I was to be outside enjoying the day. I ran to Barber Park and crossed the bridge and noticed three swans, their heads tucked into their feathers, taking a little siesta as the shallow water rushed by.

I had walked the first 3/4 of a mile to warm up the legs, then ran every step until I hit the steep hill in our neighborhood (that I can’t run up on my best day.) Then I ran again right until I hit 8 miles and was at my front door. I turned back onto the little greenbelt near my house and walked another 1/2 mile to stretch the legs out nicely for a cool down. I felt totally pain-free during the run but did feel some stiffness in the IT band once I started walking. By the end of the half mile walk it felt smoother.

I have an appointment on Tuesday to see my massage gal and I’ll have her work over the IT band, hamstrings and calves. I think that should help. And, I’ll keep stretching each day and spending quality time with my foam roller who I’ve started to refer to as “Arnold” (said in my best Schwarzenegger voice!)

Elevation Gain: 306 feet. Ave HR: 158. Max HR: 185. 43 degrees. 87% humidity.

P.S. 31 miles for the week is almost in the land of “normal” again. Getting there….

03/2/13

6 Mile Test Run

I am learning

I am learning

I’d been planning for weeks to join in with a bunch of my trail friends for a nice, long (22 mile) trail run. This morning that run happened without me since I’m still slowly rebuilding after this calf injury (and the subsequent IT band problems I’ve had.) I felt kind of proud of myself for showing some restraint about that since I often suffer from FOMO (fear of missing out!!)

Fear of Missing Out is a real, medical condition! Who knew! ;)

Fear of Missing Out is a real, medical condition! Who knew! 😉

The sun was shining, the sky was baby blue, I saw the first sign of springtime buds on the trees and the birdies were tweeting – you know ACTUAL tweeting, not that silly “typing a message that all your “followers” will see” goofball human kind!

tweeting birds

Since this week’s recovery workouts went pretty well with adding short walks (2-3 miles) again, the short test run a couple days ago caused no issues and then having the spin class not cause a setback yesterday it was time to add another step forward – so today my plan was to run my usual neighborhood 6 mile out and back. And, that’s just what I did! I was very tempted to do the 6 on trails, since I miss them so much, but I know that the uneven footing, rocks and such may still be too much for my calf, so I decided to save it for the next step in my slow build up back to normal land, so I ran on the asphalt this time.

I walked the first half mile to warm up the calf and IT band, then started lightly jogging. I ran until the first mile was up, then walked a bit again (making sure not to overwhelm the recovering leg.) It seemed to be a good balance. I ended up walking about 2/10 after each mile beep so probably ran 75% of today’s “run” which is definitely progress!

I felt absolutely ZERO problems with the calf that had the strain, which was awesome! My IT band, on the same side, which has been showing more irritation since I hurt the calf 3 weeks ago did start speaking to me at about mile 4.5. I just slowed it down, walked a bit more and tried to stretch it out, but was fine to complete the workout.

I will see my massage therapist this week for a deep tissue massage and have her work over my IT band and calf to keep me on the road to recovery. I’ll definitely see my chiropractor next week for more Graston on the IT band if that doesn’t resolve it, too. He’s been able to keep my IT band happy for about a year and a half so I think this is something we can manage just fine since it’s just “tweaking” and not entirely locked up like it was a couple years ago in what I now like to refer to as “the world’s longest 50 mile run” at Wild Idaho that took me roughly 22:47 (that’s hours and minutes people and to put in perspective just how slow I was once I was hurt.. I had done the first 23 miles in about 5 hours and 20 minutes.. so that was a llloooonnng second half of limping once the IT band seized up and I was too stubborn to stop!!) That injury took months to fully resolve!

When I got back, I took about 30 minutes in my front yard, stretching, doing clamshells, Myrtle hip exercises, calf and hamstring stretches, butt firming work (my issues with the hip area/IT band stuff are partly because of weak glutes, so I am going to keep trying to add in stuff like this after each run!), then did 50 crunches and 50 girly push ups on the grass, while the birdies tweeted overhead. It was a lovely day!

Ave HR: 153. Max HR: 180. Elevation Gain: 119 feet. Felt: One step closer to normal, but still a long ways from confidently saying I can do that 100 in three weeks without causing injury issues to reflare up and set me back (now my focus is on the IT band more than the calf.)

3 weeks is still a long ways away in runner world, though, so it’s too far out to say for sure what I’ll decide about the race just yet. I can bump down in distance (to either 25k, 50k or 50 miles) until the Wed. before the race. I am also signed up for a 24 hour, flat-as-a-pancake loop course race the week after, so I am also having to decide how I want to handle that. It may be smarter to go easy at the first race (doing the 25k or 50k for instance) and then push more at the second race (where I get a point in a local trail series for every single mile I complete in this particular race which is much more generous than the other races in the series so it might be nice to take advantage of that.)

If I was feeling pretty confident and strong another fun idea would be to do the 50 miler option at Antelope Island Buffalo Run instead and try to do it under 11 hours (this one is a qualifier for Western States and I ran that first loop in about 12 hours last year during my 100 and felt like I was holding back, so if I felt strong, that might be the way to go.)

I have time to figure it all out…… All in all, things are going well, I am happy with the progress I am making and looking forward to an exciting racing (and directing) year ahead! The next race our little company, Final Kick is putting on is only two weeks away! The Shamrock Shuffle at Ste Chapelle winery in Caldwell, Idaho should be a really fun time and I’m looking forward to cheering on our runners and walkers as they celebrate St Patty’s day with 5k and 10k races through wine country, the sounds of a live bagpiper and green local brewery beer at the finish!!