Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Post-Leona Divide Taper

What a drag. Shin splints to keep me off my feet. Icing and more icing.

And then, to top it off, I was motorcycling to a church meeting and my GXR slid out from under me in a wet gutter as I turned into the parking lot. Now, some unresolved bloody parts and foot injuries. Members of my stake were surprised to see a bishop lying bloody on the edge of the parking lot, much less riding to a meeting in the first place. That's what I get for a rice rocket.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Running the Leona Divide 50

Finished: 10:47:37, 94th place out of around 200. 13th in my age group.

This was a difficult race. It was my fourth ultra, third 50 miler, and second 50 miler in five weeks.

According to a statistical study performed by Greg Wang Leona Divide is one of the more difficult ultra races. I didn't know that when I signed up.

I arose at 3:15 a.m. to eat an easy breakfast and tape up my feet. It was a quick drive to the start. I live 30 miles away, down San Francisquito Canyon Drive and McBean Parkway.

We all assembled in the Lake Hughes Community Center. Everybody was friendly. It was nice waiting out the race start sitting in a nice warm building on a chair talking to people. I am usually huddled around a barrel or campfire.

We started at 6:00 a.m. It was light enough to see without a lamp. I was concerned when almost all the runners were running in colder weather gear; I was running in lightweight summer gear. The starting temperature was about 50 degrees.

We were off. There were more than 200 runners at the start. It was like starting at a marathon, so many people. The beginning was a wide truck trail with a long ascent. On the descent on the truck trail as we approached the Pacific Crest Trail, I did one of my two face plants as I was looking behind me for the runner trying to catch me. A severely scraped knee with blood pouring into my socks attracted the attention of race volunteers and other racers the rest of the way. Much later, a very kind volunteer mopped me up and a fellow runner gave me some Neosporin at an aid station.

We connected with the Pacific Crest Trail. I stuck to the running guides painted on the trail but I was totally disoriented. As I later examined my route from the GPS marks, it does not resemble what I thought I was doing.

As we got into the more technical parts of the Pacific Crest Trail I started to lose ground against other runners. Lots of uphill and switchbacks. As the race wore on, the interior corners of the switchbacks in the dry stream beds were tough on the legs. On one of the descents a 20-something woman passed me and I had a great time keeping up with her for about 5 miles. I blew out of the aid station leaving her behind, but she passed me about three miles into the next ascent. At about mile 25, the woman who would become the lead female finisher passed me in a blaze of speed. I guess I can say I had a good head of steam for the first 25 miles or so.

The country was dense chaparral, a very dense brush composed of several different kinds of vegetation, including acacia, Manzanita, and some bushes I couldn't identify. The high country included a few pines here and there. In some parts of the more cool and shaded areas there was lots of poison oak, a vine that would intrude into the path or drop from a bush or tree. For parts of the run I had to dodge this stuff.

I could also see why the other runners were dressed more warmly. On the very first major ridge we crossed it was darn cold; we ran in fog and clouds and wind. I needed long sleeves and gloves.

Two things began to plague me. Shin splints in the left shin. I had taped up the right shin where I had some problems and it was fine. At the end of the race the left shin was swollen and looked reddened, almost like a broken leg.

I also swallowed a Gu packet about 15 miles out. I never use gel but I thought I'd try. I suffered from a really bad case of the runs for the rest of the race and probably became dehydrated. I lost 1/2 hour dealing with the runs problem not to mention groaning in pain, especially in the pounding descents. Too much information, I know. I will spare you the gross details.

The most interesting part of the race was near the end as we ascended to the last ridge. This was running on top of a mesa. The trail was twisty and technical, and in bright sunlight. In days past I have frequently bicycled through the area and it looked familiar -- something over 4000 feet.

Our turnaround at about mile 30 was a campground.

As one can see from the chart, I really labored up the last ascent. Four or five people passed me. Two of them, whom I had been in front of by over an hour previously (based upon seeing them in turnarounds) asked me if I was OK because I was going so slowly. It was sunny and warm. But, did I passed a couple of people. I was probably dehydrated and my left shin was killing me.

The last four miles or so was back on the truck trail and semi-fast running. I needed more water but I didn't spend much time at the very last aid station. I wasn't carrying enough water -- just 1 liter. Three more runners passed me; how unfair life was.

I finished at the Lake Hughes Community Center and had a nice rest. The volunteers asked me if I was going to pass out but I sat in a chair and downed about three liters of Gatorade and soup.

I came in 94th place. Nothing to write home about, but all in all it was so much fun -- almost every mile. There are times in life when it is wonderful to be alive -- on my board with one of my sons at the top of Shireen at Snowbird, jumping the Cornice at Mammoth with another son, and dozens of miles into an ultrathon. Today was one of those days. But, dang it, an hour too slow.

I came home, passed out cold, and freaked out my wife when she had a hard time reviving me. I came to, hearing "I'm calling 911" and then for the next three minutes I stumbled around trying to demonstrate that there was nothing wrong with me. Doc said -- low blood pressure.

Recovery, however, has been tough. Every day in the week after the run I suffer from miserable shin splints in the left shin. (What the heck are those, anyway? Painful way to bedevil somebody in complete shape.) I can’t run; I can’t prepare for my next one.

April 27, 2008: One of the comments is from a chiropractor who recommended new shoes. I saw a running specialist, Phidippides Encino, and Jeff there said I was overpronating with my Soloman XAs, and recommended heavier Brooks. We'll see. I have to ice. Meanwhile I am limited to my bicycling.

But, I love the run. I love it.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Musings Before Leona Divide

This Saturday, I'm running the Leona Divide 50. It is about an hour's drive from my house, northwards. Part of it will be run on the famous Pacific Crest Trail, which I hiked as a boy in Washington State and have occasionally crossed and recrossed in the Sierras.

We've had almost record heat temperatures this week, and I worry because I do not like running in heat. When I ran the Salt Lake Marathon a couple of years ago in 80 plus temps, I came in at 4:17, my worst time by far. But, I'm hoping things will cool down.

As I gear up in the weeks before, especially last week, I get my odd instances of tendinitis and wonder if it will beset me. But, I'm pushing it. Twelve miles 4/14/08; I rode my GXR (whipping it up to 90 up the Old Road at 5:00 in the morning)to the trailhead at East Canyon, ascended to the water tank and descended Weldon Canyon to the Oak Tree Gun Club area, with about two or three miles of road work down the Old Road. Getting dang hot; I am getting dehydrated and I don't like carrying water.

For the rest of this week (April 16), I am in what is known as "taper" mode. Sleep in, no running, eating well. Life's great.

And, then, there's the Lakers. Atop the Western Conference. Really, isn't life wonderful? Who could ask for more except that they really must commit mayhem against the Nuggets or Dallas or the Warriors. I'm hoping my partner whom I split my season tickets with will let me have some playoff seats.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Signing Up for Future Runs

So, I've signed up for the Leona Divide 50. April 19, 2008. Maybe if I post this here I won't back out. My first-place age finish at the Buffalo Run 50 gives me a little more incentive.

I've also signed up for the May 10, 2008 Malibu Creek 14 mile run, which I will run with my wife and son-in-law, as well as a June 20 Bighorn 50. My brother Dave will be running the 100. I just don't have the guts to do a 100 yet and am probably getting too old.

As of Saturday, April 5, I'd been battling the flu for five days. I went out running ill and made a lackluster ascent of the Newhall Beast. An old injury, a shin splint, is starting to affect me as well. But, I hope to put in 60 miles in the coming week.

I was able to make the 18-mile ascent April 8, 2008 to Ye Olde Missile Base, but the next few days are going to be consumed with work. Feeling good, though. The miles just melt away.