A passion for trail running, ultras, mountaineering, snowshoeing, hiking, and other outdoor adventures

Monday, July 20, 2009

Catching Up...and Getting Back on the Trails!

Well, it's been a few months, and the blog's been a little abandoned! Chalk it up to injury, lack of racing, travel, whatever!

I should have written a recap of my May MMT disappointment (DNF at 65) while the memories were fresh. I still plan to, and have begun at least calculating my splits from AS to AS. There are surely things to be learned from that one from a race strategy point of view. I'll dwell on that later, but the one lesson that sticks in my mind is not to be caught in that sort of limbo of running a 100 on short notice with less than ideal preparation. The whole waiting list phenomenon can throw you for a loop.

I was simultaneously probably overraced yet undertrained in terms of weekly mileage/time on my feet from going through the whole mini-taper/race/mini-recovery cycle too many times. In particular, had I known I was doing MMT, I wouldn't have done Bel Monte and Zane Grey fifties in a month, and particularly the latter only 3 weeks before (with the Canyon mega-hike to boot!). Instead, ideally I would have done maybe one fifty somewhere in the 5-8 week out range. I probably should have just let MMT go and focussed instead on Tahoe and Cascade Crest. But I was just itching to do a 100, and get another 100 finish, and felt like I had a good string of races and winter and spring of training to make it happen. But hindsight is 20/20, huh?!

Anyway, back in early May I strained something on the medial side of my right knee doing pigeon pose from yoga at home. Just would get really sore and stiff from sitting or sleeping in certain positions, though running itself was ok. Almost kept me out of MMT, but I think it got masked a little by the pre-race taper. It held up fine during the race (can't blame the DNF on that!). But I shouldn't have rushed back after really just a week, with a 3 hour run in the Palisades followed by some speedwork a couple days later. By the time I got to Brazil in late May, I knew I needed some more time off.

But the week off in Brazil didn't do the trick. It came back as I resumed training and started back into speed, did a 2 1/2 hour run in Iberapuera Park in Sao Paulo, etc. So then I get back mid-June, am still waiting for my doctor's appointment which isn't supposed to be for another few weeks, and face the Bighorn race just a few days later. A couple days semi-hard training convince me to bag Bighorn trip, and to stop running and just cross-train till I see Dr. Coleman. By the time I see him, and then get back my MRI a week later, I've had another 10 days off, and with no more pain have resumed training for a couple days as I await confirmation of his initial diagnosis of a meniscus tear and probably surgery. But....no tear! No nothing, really! Just take it easy and watch that "high-impact" stuff.

So since I got that news on the eve of July 4th weekend, been building back the running, have been to the Palisades maybe 4 times, in Harriman this past weekend, mileage back up to the 40s or so, just did 5.5 hours in Harriman yesterday. It's going well, and leg strength is coming back and it now feels like I never left the trails. The accent has been on hillwork on the trails. Have been easing back into yoga, and also into lower-body strength work, the last week or so. In the meantime, swimming and biking enough that it feels as if I were tri training!

So...I opted to cancel the Tahoe race too (RD had said I could drop down to 50K, but 7/18 seemed too soon and too far a trip). Instead signed up for HURL Elkhorn on 8/1 in Montana. Psyched! In meantime, it was the aquathlon last weekend, and it's Escarpment this coming one. And I even signed up for a sprint tri for 8/15 two weeks out from Cascade. Not the best taper plan, and it was a weak moment, but it's been two years, and I feel like I can do a shortie. It's also forces me to keep to my plan of relying more on cross-training to build fitness and lose weight and not over-rely on running as I build back the running for Cascade.

Aquathlon went pretty well. A few minutes better than in '07, and 5 slower than in '06. Seems as if the swim/transition split improved, as the run itself was a little slower. Felt pretty unsettled in that confusing start as people got tangled up and the buoy we had to round before heading south/downtown kept getting pushed out further from us (by the current? or by just the force of people swimming toward it and bumping it?). Anyway, after continuing on to try to reach it while others just cut the corner, I finally gave in and headed toward where we needed to go. Felt like it was going to get washed all the way to the George Washington Bridge!

The swimming rhythm got a little better mid-way, once I solved the water in goggles issue. It was a little choppy, and at times I wasn't sure whether to stay closer to shore or further out as there was a wide swath of swimmers. Anyway, the transition was ok. Had forgotten to leave the cap so I had to do without, and this year I didn't try to get fancy and go sockless (which gave me bloody feet a few years back). Nor did I use the fancy no-lace shoes, just the regular shoes and socks.

It felt strange to run on pavement, though it was the familiar tri sensation of passing runners who seemed to be almost running in place (like they must have felt passing me in the water!). I was no speed demon, maybe averaging 7:30s, but I passed a good 20 or 25, and no one passed me. I had had only one very easy speedwork session since before my last layoff, so I was breathing hard. But I still had enough gas to pick it up and catch a few runners in the last 1/4 mile or so and even a couple the last 100 yards. A kinda nice feeling I hadn't had for a while!

All in all, I feel like I'm in a nice training groove. The knee has been just fine. I don't think about it too much at all. I know it's a tall order to rebuild fitness to face the very tough task of finishing CCC in under 32 hours, but I kind of like the challenge (easy to say now, it's still almost 6 weeks out!). I'm trying to recapture that nice groove of intense training combined with good tune-up/re-build fitness races that I had last August before Iroquois. So far, so good, but the big tests lie ahead!

Boy how I missed the trails, and not being able to run. It's SO nice to be able to plan races, build toward goals, and feel "dialed in" again after that depressing hiatus! Don't know how good you've got it till it's taken away for a while!

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