Sunday, August 22, 2010

Rollin' with the Punches

As I was gearing up for Cascade Crest, which is in less than a week, Owen, John and I did an out and back on the Wonderland Trail. It was awesome! I can hardly wait to do the whole thing. Whenever I am at or on Mt. Rainier, I really feel like I have gone somewhere magical. It's such an amazing place. We were traveling through clouds and sun, snow and rocky shale, sledded down on our bums on the snow in places and saw a mama bear, her cub, a mountain goat and a bunch of marmots.
It seemed like the perfect run post White River and pre CCC100. I was feeling like with all the challenges I have had this year with my leg, I have finally accepted the fact the year with regards to running was not as I hoped it to be, but that I had learned a lot of things about myself, what drives me, how to stay inspired and how to feel the love for running again.
The following Wednesday, just over a week ago, Owen and I take the dogs to Cougar Mt to run an hour or so just to enjoy one of the remaining summer nights at Cougar. I was feeling pretty good, had to stop a few times at the start again, but was feeling pretty good. As we rounded a corner with a few miles to go, Ella turns around and runs towards me and BAM, right into my knee. Ella has a huge head, she is part pit bull and weighs about 65lbs. The impact sent immediate pain up and down my leg. I stopped, sweared and bent over in pain. I could not put any pressure on it for at least 10 minutes. I could not believe my (bad) luck. When I felt I could put pressure on it, I hobbled back to the car. When I got home, I iced it and put Traumeel on it. I have been doing this ever since. Initially, I thought that it was just a funny bone type thing but after I tried to run the next day, I realized that the damage was much more than I had anticipated. I have been to ART therapy a few times and now the swelling has gone down and I can squat without pain. I did not run for a whole week, instead I went swimming and rested, which was not easy. I tried to run last Friday. I went 4 miles and I can honestly say that if Cascade Crest was this weekend, I would not have started. There is no way I could have run 100 miles with that level of discomfort. I worry that if I do it, I will cause more damage to myself. It's a hard thing to decide. I still have a few days to decide what to do which I will measure by trying to run a bit either every day or every other day. I'm about to go out now for a run and I am hoping for the best. As I am processing the possibility that I may not be able to do CCC100, I am realizing that this year is really trying to teach me patience, acceptance among many other things. With this time off, I've experienced a lot of emotions but ultimately, I have come to the conclusion that this setback is a personal disappointment and in the grand scheme of things, I try not to let that disappointment get to far out of balance with the other things that are important to me. Ultimately, you win some and you loss some, that is life. Right?

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Suffer-Fest 2010, A.K.A White River 50 miler

I've attempted White River 3 times. The first time I was successful. The second time, just last year, I had a DNF at Fawn Ridge, mile 31, on account of breathing issues and my third attempt was just this past Saturday. Last year I was disappointed with not finishing the run and have since addressed what caused the breathing issues. Initially, it seemed like I had asthma. However, after numerous Dr.'s appointments and tests, the diagnosis was Vocal Chord Disorder. Yup, my vocal chords were inflamed and out of sync making it hard to get air. I've been on medication and to speech therapy to help me breath during symptomatic times. That being said, my biggest concern with going to WR this year was the pinched nerve in my leg, not breathing. I thought the pinched nerve would effect my run but just how much I wasn't sure. I was prepared to go, have fun and have no time goals, just enjoy myself. It seemed a few of my friends have been experiencing a wan in enthusiasm for their sport and so it was nice to commiserate with them about that. I was excited to just go out to such a beautiful course, see some friends and run on the trails.

Right before start time, I decided that I would run for about 5 minutes to see if I could induce the pain that comes in the first 3 minutes of my runs. But after 5 or minutes, that pain didn't come. I thought I might be lucky at the start so I lined up with all the others and got ready to go. It was great to see everyone at the start. There is something special about WR I think. Since it is USTF National Championships, lots of people come out to run and some compete for the prize money.

Off we went at 6:30 AM, running on the dirt road to the single track. After a few minutes, I was walking. No problem, I thought it might happen, no big deal. Once I recovered from that, which didn't take too long, I was running again. I was a bit behind on the single track and found myself trying to pass people and get into a groove. I was feeling pretty good up the first climb to Noble Knob, chatting a bit with some people and getting into a good pace for me. I got past Ranger Creek and was headed for Corral Pass, mile 17. I love this out and back because it's the only out and back. I got to see the elites zooming past me, it is so impressive! I got to see Owen on the out and back and he looked good. I had caught up to Ronda and it was nice to see her and chat with her, it seemed like she was having a good day. At the turn around at Corral Pass, I was feeling pretty good for the next couple of miles. Then I noticed that my breathing was starting to act up and it seemed more difficult to get air. I slowed down and practiced my breathing techniques I learned. I was struggling a bit but thought that soon enough a downhill would be coming and I could recover. When that downhill came, I just focused on breathing and letting gravity take me down the switchbacks leading back to Buck Creek. Once I hit the flat ground, my breathing got bad again. So I walked and breathed, walked and breathed. I got to the half way point, well mile 27 or so, and fueled up. I headed back out to the SunTop trail head. Last year this is where my breathing really became an issue. I decided to just slow it down and concentrate on breathing. I reached the trail head to the climb to SunTop and from here on out, White River became a suffer-fest. I could not get my breathing back, I slowed down, stopped on and off, drank, ate, took salt tabs, etc. It didn't matter if I walked slow, walked fast, stopped, ran, I just could not get it together to breath well. As I approached Fawn Ridge, I actually stopped before the aid station to get calmed down. Laura Houston was there and remembered what had happened last year and was happy to see I was in better form. I said yes.....I am glad too....

I continued up to SunTop and was just miserable. I knew I was dehydrated b/c I had not peed yet. I was wondering how I could be dehydrated as I was drinking lots and taking salt tabs. I was actually drinking Succeed from one of my bottles, which I never do, I usually only drink water. I thought, if I can just make it to SunTop, I have another downhill and I can recover and let gravity take me down. I did make it up, what a relief. I fueled there and headed down to Skookum Flats. I was a balance between discouraged and determined. I couldn't give discouraged too much power as I had gone into the run without expectation for myself except to finish. I was determined to finish as I did not last year. I tried not to focus on the fact that I wasn't having a good run and focus on the fact that I WAS running....and be lucky for that. As I ran down the logging road, I knew I would finish and was hoping my breathing issues would subside. However, once the road flattened out, I was in trouble again. Ronda came flying past me, she looked great. Once I got the the last aid station, I was pretty wrecked. Eric Sach dowsed me with some water and sent me on my way. The last 6 miles were absolutely dreadful. I could not breath well at all and my leg acting up. I kept focusing on the fact that each step, no matter if it was walked or run, was a step closer to the finish and I would eventually make it. FINALLY, I saw the road. I came out from the trail and the finish was right around the corner. I don't think I have ever been so relieved to see a finish line before. I squeaked in at 9:57, 41 minutes faster than my first attempt. I was thankful that Owen was there at the finish line, he and Leslie calmed me down and I got my breath back. I couldn't figure out if I was being stupid, stubborn, tenacious or ????? In retrospect, all that doesn't seem to matter. It's funny how less than 24 hours later I can forget about the problems I had and feel good about the finish. I am very happy with a finish, happy to have gone under 10 hours, happy to have gotten 9th place and happy it is over! Also, the next time I struggle like that, I will remember's was a good learning experience. Congratulations to everyone for running WR, it's not an easy course, but it is beautiful and satisfying. Results and photos here: