Sunday, November 6, 2011

Season's End (remix) and Muddy Moab Madness

So there's good news and bad news. Having been trapped in a restraining boot for the previous 10 days, I finally was able to get into the Shana Fearnley at Nevada Orthopedics. I hadn't felt any ankle pain in about five days, other than the stiffness when I took the boot off at night. Shana reviewed the x-rays from St. Mary's, asked me to describe the events surrounding my injury, and thoroughly checked out my foot and ankle. She then informed me that she ruled out any fractures, but she noted that there was evidence of some mild bone spurs and arthritis both from previous injury and general use. So good news -- no fractures! St. Mary's seems to have given me a false positive. However, the boot probably did me much good and Shana advised keeping it around for future bouts with flare ups. And therein rises the bad news -- chronic ankle arthritis. Mild it is, thankfully, but I've experienced how painful that can be.

The lesson here is that I need to work on strengthening the joints and to pay attention to my stride. Most important, however, is the realization that I need to be conscious of the recovery time necessary following longer events and training efforts. This happened at season's end, after over 1,100 miles in my first year of seeking the ultra experience. I'm really not surprised, and can now use this for building into the 2012 season.

It feels good to be out of the boot, and now to enjoy a bit of post-season recovery and regeneration. Snow plows on the roads this morning, the early winter-like silence of snowfall broken by the crunching and scraping of the county trucks. I'll do some near-daily runs of very low mileage (3 - 4 max), splitting time between some low-impact elliptical and spinning in the gym (I'm testing things today on the treadmill). Jon at PT will help make sure that the swelling in the ankle didn't do much damage and I'll soon be ready to begin a winter schedule after Thanksgiving (my first real run of the 2011 season was Thanksgiving day last year).

October Totals: 159.1 mi (+21,220 ft gain); 31:58:24 on trail

Season's End Stats: 1,045.7 mi (+129,336 ft gain); 129:37:17 on trail.

These stats are based on my GPS-tracked runs beginning in late April and don't include 100 or so miles from December to April (who knows how many miles we traversed in the Congo). A satisfying and happy first season of ultras.

And now for something completely different -- a preliminary race report from the Colorado division of the Young Mountain Runners.  Dennis and Mary completed the rain-soaked, mud-slathered, and truly slick-rocked Moab Trail Half-Marathon on Saturday (Nov 5th).  Here's the story from Dad's post-race email:

The whole thing was kind of a low key small town affair.  You know, kind of like, 'Oh shit we're late'. 'Ready, set, go'.  Great people in support everywhere, however, even some that camped out in the cold rain last night to man the very remote aid stations beside their jeeps.  Much fun with all of them as we warmed a little by their camp fires.  You had to climb a slippery muddy hill just to get from the muddy parking lot to the start line.  And then climb another slippery muddy even higher hill to get from the creek to the finish line with people laughing and cheering us on at the top as we slipped and grabbed for willow branches. Did I mention mud anywhere in there?  Read on.
It was quite a new experience for us.  We have hiked in many different places and even places similar to this but when you combine the factors of a race (which usually means 'run'), rain, mud, soft sand, rocks on steep trail ascents, crawling up slick rock, sliding on your butt on an exposed descent, more mud, chill wind, 13.1 miles, and not to mention wading for 45 minutes in Kane Creek's icy water, there are things there that you just might not encounter on a normal hike on a nice day of your choosing. Couple that with the fact that the entire field of marathoners and 1/2 marathoners were churning up the mud ahead of us!  We praised that sole on the La Sportiva (Neutrons) trail shoes as it helped us cling to the slick rock wet with rain and the accumulated sand and mud from all those far ahead of us.
It was a great challenge and as the day wore on, and nothing got easier, we just clicked off the miles and forgot about time for the most part.  Tried to pay attention, as much as possible, to the incredible beauty of those wild deep canyons. So much of the slow going for us though is caused by watching very closely thousands of wet rocks underfoot. Younger folks handily move right on up.  Any clear, sandy, spot we turned it on to help our min/mile tally.
When the sweeper caught up with us checking for stragglers we knew we were the last in and knew we would run across that line no matter what!!  And then, about 1K from the finish, they put us back in the creek again and the frozen feet kept saying 'you aren't running anywhere, anymore'.  But we did; right across the line together.  Official time was 4 hrs 59 minutes.  Garmin GPS watch said we gained/lost about 2200 feet in 13.1 miles.
Learned a bunch about what we can do and we really enjoyed getting into long trail racing for the first time.  Easy ones don't tell you too much; this one was highly instructive!  Right now it is our PR for a trail 1/2 marathon.  Perhaps we can hope the next one is a fine trail with pine needles a few feet thick and a bright sunny cool day.  We won't learn as much but it was the kind of thing we were thinking about while wading, on a rainy day, a cold red rock creek draining toward the Colorado River in Utah.
Next race is a 5K road race on Thanksgiving here then back to Moab in December to close out our season with the Winter Sun 10K road race.
Sore. But what a wonderful feeling that is. Once again the days of training paid off.

Epic effort in the canyonlands! Success is measured in so many ways.  IWWD. 


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