Sunday, March 23, 2008

Volunteering at Rucky Chucky 50K

(ed. note: results can be found here)

Yesterday dawned beautiful as I arrived in Foresthill at 7:00am. It was hard seeing runners preparing themselves for a fun (and for some, long) day on the trail knowing I wasn't to join them. But I quickly found myself handing out t-shirts and finally being able to put faces to so many of the wonderful names I've read about in the ultrarunning circle.

Beverly Anderson-Abbs was there ready to destroy the course. Popular bloggers Scott Dunlap, Peter Lubbers, and Mark Tanaka were also there sporting nifty camelbacks. Lots of talk about the first (and last) 14 miles being without aid due to the inability to reach the aid station because of winter rains washing out the road. But one thing about ultrarunners, they tend to be self-sufficient and able to deal with adversity when needed.

From l: ? (sorry), Bev A-A, and Scott Dunlap

After a short speech by RD Robert Mathis, the runners headed off down Main St; next stop Rucky Chucky!

RD Robert talking about the importance of water

Mark prepping his watch

And they're off!
I hadn't given much thought to what happens at an ultrarun after the runners take off. Usually it's pretty straight forward for me, you run until you finish. Being on the other side of the coin as a volunteer opened my eyes to what goes into putting on one of these events. It's all about the food! Lots of food. After getting the raffle prizes sorted out, I found myself on KP duty, preparing chili, spaghetti, green beans, salad and a myriad of other things. A young boy whose parents were both running was in charge of the Cuisinart and he was happy to cut up anything we could give him. He was a big help. Before we knew it, we had about 8 crock-pots full of food, warmed and ready for the 111 runners who took off about 4 1/2 hours earlier (there were 85 solo runners, and 13 relay teams of two).

Linda Mathis, Linda Bennett, and Matt on KP duty

Sorting out the raffle prizes
With the food preparation done, we got ready for the finish. Francesca Stone, her friend Isabella (?), and myself were in charge of recording runners and their times as they finished. I was in charge of keeping track of over-all winners plus age groupers. The runners were kind enough to space themselves out nicely that it was never a problem keeping track of everyone.

Mark finishing strong
Mark Tanaka was the first solo runner to make his way back up Main St in 4:43. He was full of smiles and seemed quite surprised that he had won. His quote: "if I'd known I was going to win I wouldn't have snowboarded so hard yesterday". He cracks me up. His phone didn't get any cell reception so I loaned him mine so he could call his family and tell them the good news. It was fun getting to know him after reading his hilarious stories on his blog.

Hey honey, guess what!
Beverly Anderson-Abbs was the first woman to finish and was 3rd over-all in 4:50. What an incredible athlete. After getting cleaned up she parked herself near the finish line to watch others finish and visit.

It soon became apparent that the weather was taking its toll on runners as the day warmed up. Most of the time there was a nice up-canyon breeze blowing that I hope psychologically helped propel runners up the hill. Scott Dunlap finished a little slower than I expected (but then that's silly because I really didn't have any idea what to expect and it turns out he finished 4 minutes faster than 2005) and after hearing his story, I understand why. I'll let him explain his trailside antics on his blog. Let me just say that a couple hours after he finished, he was still sitting at the same table where he planted himself after the finish :)

Scott Dunlap finishes in 5:17

Peter Lubbers stops his watch at 5:45
Around 3:30 I decided to call it a day and get home to my family for some easter egg decorating. I really missed not running but I know I made the right decision. Especially after seeing how much I was able to help. It really made me feel good knowing I was able to take some of the load off of Robert and Linda who do so much for the sport of ultrarunning. Hopefully, the next time I see them will be as a runner. But in the meantime, I encourage anyone who has the chance to, volunteer at an event. It'll open your eyes.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Running Update

Hey folks. Some of you may have noticed on the right side of my blog under the race schedule, I've changed Rucky Chucky 50k to volunteer. I've had a couple visits with my physical therapist and there's definite progress but not enough to suggest that I'm well enough to run a very hilly trail 50k. I'm ok with it. If I volunteer at RC then it's an extra week of healing and increases my chances of doing the American River 50m on April 5.

I've never volunteered at a race before and I'm really looking forward to it. My schedule is so hectic and bizarre that if I have a day off to do a race I definitely want to run it. It looks like there are going to be some great runners there and I'm looking forward to seeing them longer than just a quick hello at the start (I never see them at the finish because they're long gone by the time I get done :) RD Robert Mathis was kind enough to fit me in so I'll be helping with check-in and timing at the start/finish.

On the running front, I did an easy 1/2 mi on Sunday on the treadmill after I did a hilly, fast walk and it was quite painful. The pain is pretty much gone when I walk, climb/descend stairs, or cross-train but the pain during that short run was very discouraging. However, I was feeling good today so I tried running again and it felt really good. I did an easy 6 miles with a few walk breaks and the final 2 miles were pain-free. There were actually times I found myself not even thinking about my leg! So maybe this is the beginning of getting back into the running saddle. Now the key is to take it easy and not come back too fast and re-injure myself. Easier said than done.

So I'm keeping AR50 on my race schedule. It has a 13 hour time limit and I'll probably need all of it. But that's ok. The jacket will be worth it!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

And The PT Said........

Well, I finally got to see my physical therapist yesterday. After a battery of tests checking strength and flexibility, interviewing me about signs and symptoms, trying some deep tissue massage (ouch) and ultrasound, the preliminary diagnoses is "soft tissue injury". I'm still going to get an x-ray this week to rule out stress fracture but all the signs are pointing away from that.

So that's good news! He even thinks I'll be feeling really good by 4 weeks of continued cross-training and letting the leg muscles heal. He did say I could run but discourages it because the continued pounding just keeps the tissues irritated and delays healing.

My plans for the next 6 weeks have really been up in the air waiting for this diagnoses. I ran 120 miles in January before developing pain in both lower legs. I backed off the running, only running 60 miles in February and only 5 miles in the last 10 days. After this last rest period the pain in my right leg disappeared. Appears that it is healed. The pain in my left leg was just as bad even after not running on it for 10 days. I'm scheduled to do Rucky Chucky 50k in 11 days. I'm still undecided about it. If I am pain free relatively quickly, I'll probably run it (I'm stupid that way). If not, I'll volunteer. The bigger question is American River 50M in just over 3 weeks. I feel like I'm in good shape cardiovascularly but I just haven't put the miles in. I also don't want to injure myself so bad I can't run the Big Sur marathon April 27th. I'm running it with my 2 cousins and don't want to jeopardize it. So I guess I'll just stay in limbo and procrastinate making any decision until it gets closer.

I must say that deep tissue massage on an injured muscle sure doesn't feel all that great. As the doctor dug his thumbs into my muscle and my whole body tensed and my facial muscles flexed into something probably not that flattering looking, he told me to go to my "happy place". I must be a runner because my happy place involved running even though I was going through a whole bunch of pain because I ran too much.....a vicious cycle.

On Saturday, my family went to Placerville to visit more family. On the way back I managed to convince my dad to stop in Cool so I could check the results of Way Too Cool 50k. It's a "who's who" of ultrarunning, all the biggest names were there with some impressive performances. You can check out the results here. The runners had the best weather to run in. Cool in the morning then about mid-60's. Beautiful day. As I looked around the finish area I saw a lot of smiling runners.

So there it is. Overall, it is good news and I hope to be back running the trails soon. In the meantime, I'm really enjoying being back on the road and mountain bikes.