it has been 6 months since my last post. Where does the time go??? I'd like to say that my fiance moving here from London and our recent wedding has taken up all my time but I can't:) It's more of the fact that my running has been kind of lame and I really had nothing to say about it. So in a way I'm in the same position I was 6 months ago when I made my last post - hampered by setbacks and fighting for race fitness.
Second half of last year I had an issue with over training then a calf injury. Made it to the start line of the Quad Dipsea at the end of November, slowest finishing time ever but I did so in high spirits because I had realistic expectations and had a great time. Instead of taking my usual break from running in December I just trained right through since I had spent enough time off my feet due to the injuries. Everything was great until I got the flu in February, put me in the emergency room and knocked me out of running for two weeks. I bounced back from that nicely and then a sciatica issue late March/early April put me down for another 2.5 weeks and it was another 2 weeks just to get back on my long runs. Two steps forward, one step back. Frustrating to keep losing what have I built up, especially when it takes me so long to build my speed and hill climbing abilities.
After finishing Quad Dipsea last year. That smile says "haha, I got away with it!" Photo courtesy of Chris Jones.
So here I am, a few days out of Bighorn 100, feeling inadequately prepared for the distance. Three weeks ago I did a solo, hilly, 52-mile run (to the top of Mt. Tam and back). I did it on a tired body with not enough sleep. Mind was flying high but body was in the dumps. I was destroyed after that run and it took me 12 hours (11 moving). It gave me an honest assessment of where I am physically - slow but able. It was gratifying to know I could cover the distance despite my reduced speed. It was also great to know that up there, I still know how to keep it together. It's true I'm less willing to tolerate what I used to tolerate, like pain that comes with prolonged intensity or the patience to deal with running on a sleep deprived body or undesirable weather however during that run it was like old times. Kept it moving, stayed positive and handled the details; nutrition, hydration and motivation. It hurt, it sucked but I enjoyed most of it. It never felt right from mile 1 and I ran the whole thing with a sore posterior tibial tendon, same one that bothered me the last 45 miles and kept me out of sub-24 at 2011 Western States. It was totally fine the next day, it's a very weird ailment. I just kept telling myself the last 50 at Bighorn will be worse:)
Like last year, I've been ambling along as best I could despite setbacks but unlike last year I've stayed involved because. I have company this time. My wife who could run around circles around me when she first got here in January, even ran a 1:45 half-marathon a couple of weeks after she arrived, had a relapse of her thyroid condition. Her hyperthyroid issue gave her the ability to eat whatever she wanted and still lose weight but she had no energy and had a high heart rate (we once recorded a resting heart rated of 190 - crazy right). Then there is our friend Janet Thompson who has a bad ankle issue that has her not running at all and she had to clear her racing schedule. The three of us have been volunteering and hanging out at races. We've also been seen at Devon and Nathan's new bakery in San Anselmo scarfing down baked goodies in their outdoor patio. Life's been rough. Masha is now on the upswing with her new meds taking effect and Janet has been recently cleared by her new podiatrist, Dr. Hannaford, to go on easy trial runs. In fact we just signed Masha up for her first 50k (she's completed a 30k before), the Northface Endurance Challenge in December.
At Lake Sonoma, volunteering with Greg Lanctot and Janet Thompson at a water only aid station. Photo courtesy of Masha Sharoglazova.
Masha at Lake Sonoma. Photo courtesy of Janet Thompson.
Unfortunately I'm not where I wanted to be when I thought of this year back in November but I am damned excited to have the chance to start Bighorn. I thought when the sciatica hit that my summer was over. I thought at first that it was a hamstring strain that developed into a tear after I did some heavy chores/moving despite the symptoms increasing. I couldn't tie my shoelaces for four days, even sleeping was an ordeal in the wrong position. I was a DNS at Lake Sonoma 50 (a race I've been wanting to run the last three years) and I declined the chance to run Quicksilver 50-mile when I got off the wait list. Luckily it wasn't and huge thanks to my wife who said "go see a professional and stop self-diagnosing via the internet". Wise, wise words. I don't know everything but I act like I could when paired up with my computer and google. You know what they say, a little information is dangerous.
Lastly, I just want to send a big ol'hug and shout out to Olga Varlamova-King. Olga reached out to me when I was a young pup in this sport and helped guide my training. Later on I got the chance to learn from her directly when we participated in events together, sometimes as her pacer, sometimes as a fellow runner. One of those times was at Bighorn in 2007. It was both our first time and we had planned to do the whole thing together, pacing each other throughout the run. I learned a lot that day. I'll pass on two; don't take your time at the aid stations unless you really need it and walk like you run - with purpose. She wore me out on that run, running after her leaving the aid stations (her 30 second stops vs my 2 minute lounge time, running after her when I get dropped trying to keep with her walking. Since 2007 a lot has happened in Olga's life, life changing events, injuries, etc but she has always managed to come back strong and swinging. Last weekend at San Diego 100, my favorite all-time 100, she came under 24 hours on a very hot day. 188 started and only 82 finished. She would state later in Facebook that it was worse than 2006 "Fire and Ice" Western States. I was there too in 06, I can believe it. Olga is impressive because she is a strong person on and off the trail and after all this time she is still kickin' ass. Continuing to drive forward through all the ups and downs. I'll think of you this weekend my friend, hopefully hours ahead from our splits from 07. Wish me luck!
Till next time….
Olga, descending to the river during the 2007 Bighorn 100.