Sunday, November 13, 2011

End of the Season

Well, it's been a long time since I finished up any race reports for the remainder of the year so now it's only appropriate to do an end of the year summary. Since McDonald Forest 50K I ran the Western State training camp over the Memorial Day weekend where I suffered a fall that required a short period of recuperation.

The first day at the training camp went fine. There was too much snow int he high country to run the usual Robinson Flat to Forest Hill route, so they drove us to a point beyond the river crossing and we ran down to the river, up Cal Street to Forest Hill and then out to Michigan Bluff and then back to Forest Hill. Since I have done these routes several times before and all I needed was some training runs for my races later in the year, I didn't care about the changes. It was actually a lot more interesting to run Cal Street backwards. It started to rain a bit towards the end - I was a bit peeved since I wanted to run in California to get away from the rain the the Pacific Northwest. Go figure.

As usual Karen picked me up at the airport and we did the weekend together. She, however, tanked on the first day and finished at the first pass through Forest Hill after having barfed her way up Cal Street. I found out about it after I got done. She was in fine spirits by then and raring to go the next day.

Day two was the fun run from Forest Hill down to the River and we ran this together. It was a great day. The weather was nice and the trail was in good shape. After we got to the river we even saw some rafters fishing and then shooting the rapids farther downstream. We took our time and shot some video and yelled back and forth to them. By the time they were lined up for the rapids, a number of other runners stopped on the overlooking bluff to watch with and we all cheered them on.

We got back onto the trail and weren't but a quarter mile from the river crossing when I tripped and crashed into a rock strewn horse shit-filled mud puddle. I broke my fall by planting my right knee right onto a sharp rock. I would venture to say that this is the most pain I have ever been in running. Well, falling. I had a circle of people surrounding me in no time but I couldn't speak to tell them I was probably OK, except for the leg amputation that would likely be following later in the day. Damn, that hurt.

Eventually I was given a hand up and I limped over the the concrete spillway to rinse off my horse-shit muddy body and inspect my wounds. Deep gashes in my right knee proved that my spectacular fall and moaning were not in vain. I rinsed and washed off my clothes so I could stand to smell myself before we made the rest of the climb up to the waiting buses. Luckily I was still able to move pretty well despite the swelling I was getting and the blood that was dripping down my leg was good for show.

After we got to the top, RD Greg (who's previous career was as a PA for an ortho clinic) gave me some supplies to scrub out the wound and inspect for whether stitches were in order. In the end we decided that I probably would be OK letting it just heal on its own. He gave me an ice pack and we shot the breeze talking shop about various medical issues while we waited for the bus.

After an evening of dressing changes and ice applications I awoke the next morning to decide if I could run the last 20 mile section on the training runs. Well, I was pretty swollen but my joint seemed unaffected so I decided to ready myself and assume I could do it. The first few miles were mostly downhill and the constant jarring and pulling sensation of the swollen front of my knee was painfully nauseating. By the time I realized I was stupid to even be trying this I was committed because there was no way to get back to Auburn except by trail. I figured I'd have to bail at the first aid station. Karen left me in the dust and I hobbled at the back of the pack.

Eventually the trail flattened out and the flats or climbs didn't feel too bad. After about 5 miles of a warm up I felt I would be able to finish and so I did. My knee looked pretty bad but at least it was holding my up fine, but for the crushed soft tissues I was moving OK. I eventually passed Karen and made my way fairly quickly to the finish. Where...they had already removed the port-potties. I really had to go and there was no where to do my business in the residential environment. Crap. So I found Karen's car and drove myself to a near by fast food restaurant where I grossed out all the patrons who saw me walking in with my hamburger knee. I'm sure a number of them decided they really weren't so hungry after all. I got back to the high school track and Karen was waiting for me wondering where the heck I ran off to...with her car.

The aftermath of all this required me to take a few weeks off running to allow myself to heal up. Then a long planned trip to Europe interfered with my running schedule. Karen, Rodney and I went together and at the beginning we had big plans to get up early every day and run. We did so twice in Amsterdam. Then we ran in another Dutch city, Tillburg. Then I ran in Brugge, Belgium. I got out again for a 10K in Germany through the rolling hills and woods near a friend's house and then did 10K in Dresden. So, for three weeks, that was it: six 10K runs.

Once I got back into my routine in late July I had precious little time to gear up for Waldo in August. I hate that race. I always say I'll never do it again every time I finish and then sign up again the next year. But there's something I love about hating that race. It's a big deal for me. It seems like 62 miles shouldn't be such a big deal these days but at that race it really is. Finishing is always sweet and I keep hoping it will seem easier the next time. It never does. And this year I was particularly worried about doing it on so little hard core training.

I did my usual late July weekend at the race location to help out on trail work and again do precious little running.

I took the early start as usual and decided I'd just have to run smart and be conservative in order to finish. How fast I finished wouldn't be an issue. I just wanted to cross the finish line and not feel like barfing the rest of the evening as I have after several other Waldo finishes. I ended up falling behind my splits fairly early on but I was taking more time at the aid stations to make sure I was managing my nutrition and bodily functions well enough. I used a few minutes each time to rest adequately before moving on. The weather was helpful - it didn't get too hot nor too cold. I never felt really great but I never felt really bad, either. The wheels stayed firmly in proper driving position and I came across the finish line in one piece. I was 45 minutes slower than my PR of last year but I still arrived in time to get my hat. I felt well enough to hang around for a long time afterwards to eat and visit before crawling off to bed in the Ultramobile.

After Waldo I kept up the training consistently and entered my final running event of the year, Autumn Leaves 50 Mile, just south of Portland. I got to camp out in the ultramobile the night before the race and rode my bike the few miles from the camp ground to the race start at the other end of the park. It was surprisingly not that hard to ride back afterwards, especially since the return trip was in the daylight instead of the dark. The race consisted a 6.25 mile loops, mostly an out and back with the last mile looping away and off on trail back to the start.

I ran pretty hard all day and since all but about 10 miles total (the last mile of each loop) was on paved bike route rather than dirt trail my feet got pretty sore. But, pavement being much faster than dirt, I suspect it's not surprising that my time was a PR for me at 9:06. I came in 5th out of 22 women and 30th out of 73 overall. I only fell once (in the dirt in the dark on the first time through the trail section) but it only slowed me down a few seconds. With about a mile to go I passed a woman who had stayed just ahead of me all day. She was at the last aid station complaining that she was feeling bad so I took the opportunity to put the hammer down and leave her in the dust. I beat her by over 2 minutes. Ha. It rained all day before the race and started again the evening after but was mercilessly dry for the entire run. Since there wasn't more than a 3 mile distance between aid stations I never carried anything with me. How wonderful that was! No pack, no hand held bottle. Joy.

Since then I've decided to take a month off of training. I am still running some but not following any particular plan. Most of my mileage is with Rodney while he's walking the dog. Psychologically it's a good break for me and I look forward to feeling like getting back into training in December. I'm in the Western States lottery and after December 10th I'll be able to plan my races for next year. So far I'm likely to do Hagg Lake 50K again and the Pacific Rim 24 hour run. Other than that, I have yet to decide. There are so many opportunities and I look forward to another amazing year. Longevity in the sport is the mirror goal to finishing ultra distance races and I feel like I'm managing that aspect of my training well.

1 comment:

Jan said...

Hey, Kate....good to read your descriptions of your runs (although I winced looking at the photo of your knee and reading the description of your fall on the manure covered rock). I hope your tetanus shot is up to date! Reading it made me realize that running is a pretty solitary activity. You describe people you run with but it still feels like you are really alone and relying on yourself for so much of this. (I mean the aid stations and the volunteers are great, but it is really you, your shoes, and the trail.) Keep these stories coming. They are too far and few between.