Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Cool and Not So Cool

It's Tuesday night and tomorrow is going to be an exciting day. It's my daughter's first day of kindergarten. It's hard to believe I've had her in my life for 5 years and now she's starting school. Today we got to go by the school and meet her teacher, see her classroom, and fill out mounds of paperwork. Her class is absolutely adorable and I've heard nothing but wonderful things about her teacher. And I must say, what makes this even more special, is the fact that I went to this same school in second grade in 1978. I never thought that 31 years later I would be taking my own daughter there.

The other exciting thing that will happen on Wednesday is Pat and I will head to Colorado for the Leadville 100 this weekend. After we drop Caitlyn off we will hit the road. My mom is in town and will pick her up and probably do something special like go out to lunch at McDonald's and then have ice cream. I'm excited about this weekend but I must say, I'll be lining up on that start line at less than 100% healthy. Cool was my downfall. And new shoes. Here's the story.

Running at night is cool. I guess that's why the 12 Hours at Cool Night Run is really cool. Last year was my first time doing this event and it was also my first night run. I was running on an injury so I decided to just do 3 9 mile laps for 27 miles. The first lap is done in the daylight giving you a chance to get to know the course then you gently enter the darkness as the sun sets over the golden hills.

RD Nancy Warren giving last minute instructions

This year would be different. I had a strong run at TRT 2 weeks before and wanted to have another strong run at Cool. My coach wanted me to do a 4 hour run on Sat and another 4 hour run on Sunday. Instead I ran 9 hours on Sat and 1:30 on Sunday. Sometimes I don't follow directions so well.

My plan was to do 4 laps for 36 miles. I figured that would be a good solid run without taxing myself too much. Plus I was having a periformis issue that was causing pain down the back of my right leg. One thing I didn't mention in my last post was that I did TRT in a brand new pair of shoes. Now, you might ask yourself, why would someone do such a thing. Because sometimes I'm stupid. I figured they were the same exact shoe I've been training in so why not do a long run in them. I didn't figure in the fact that my other pair has a couple hundred miles on them and the new ones had, well, zero. That could cause a problem. Since I didn't put together the connection of 50 miles in a brand new pair of shoes and the periformis pain, I decided to do another long run in the new shoes as well. Yeah, like I said, stupid.

Nancy Warren got us started right at 7pm and I quickly settled into a nice pace and was happy that my leg felt pretty good. It wasn't long before I started thinking about doing an extra lap. I must say that the majority of time was spent debating whether to run 4 or 5 laps. Last year's run was magical. It was my first night run and since I was injured I was happy just to be out there. I didn't care about time or distance, I spent 15-20 minutes at the aid station at the end of each lap just relaxing and having a good time. This year was different. I was thinking about time, distance, and a certain 100 mile race looming on the horizon. Needless to say, it wasn't nearly as relaxed but the further I ran, the stronger I felt. My lap times were very consistent and I kept my time at the aid stations very short.

Running through the golden foothills at sunset is an amazing experience. As the sun sinks and the shadows grow long through the black oaks, the temperatures cool and you can feel your energy increase. The course is mostly rolling dirt roads with only a couple steeper hills that I had to walk. I also started thinking maybe I could place in the top 3. I didn't recognize a lot of big names at the beginning so I let my ego start rolling.

I was getting a bit faituged by the end of the 4th lap but decided to push on to lap 5. On the backside of the course at Norm and Helen's aid station, a woman showed up shortly after I did. Hmmm, where did she come from? And how many laps has she done? I decided to hit the trail. She was not far behind and I noticed she was slowly gaining on me as we walked the hill. Now, I didn't run over 40 miles just to get passed in the last 3. So I started running where I had been walking and discovered I could put some distance on my pursuer. I was also surprised to find that I was still climbing strong. The legs felt great.

Horses make way for the runners

I reached the top of the hill and decided I wouldn't stop running until I crossed the finish line. I would treat this like it was the end of Leadville and push myself harder then I wanted to. If that lady wanted to pass me, she would have to work at it. When I got to 1 mile to go, I knew I had it. I continued to push and crossed the finish line in 9:07:10. I debated about doing the extra 5.5 miles to the back side aid station but I already had my Western States 50 mile qualifier so I called it a night. The lady behind me came into the finish laughing that I must have really wanted to stay ahead of her because she really ate my dust. Turns out she did 4 laps so I was ahead of her by a full lap. Oh well, it was good to push myself. However, after seeing the results I was a bit disappointed. I finished 4th female but if I had run that extra 5.5 miles, I would have finished 2nd.

I got cleaned up, visited a bit, then headed home. The sun was rising. I had to pull over about 25 minutes from home and take a quick cat nap so I didn't fall asleep while driving. I got home, crashed on the couch for another hour before the family woke up and we headed to Incline Village. I wanted to get in another run but I noticed my right knee was pretty sore. So while my family played at the park, I ran up Tunnel Creek to the flume trail and back down. It was only 6.5 miles but it was a strong 3.25 mile climb with a painful descent.

We had a nice lunch at Steamers in Kings Beach then headed home. By Monday, my knee was really hurting. It felt like a very tight ITB. I got a foam roller and rolled it, iced it, and started the Ibuprofen routine. I ran easy on Monday and Tuesday but it was very painful. So I stopped running. My coach asked if I had done anything different and I told him about running 100 miles in a brand new pair of shoes (TRT and Cool). He ordered me back into my older shoes and I finally tried running again on the 14th. I ran 1 painful mile. Things were not looking good for Leadville but we went on with preparations to go.

I finally seemed to turn the corner on this past Sunday. I ran 4 miles but in a type of pain that I can work through. I've also been seeing my chiropractor trying to get my periformis taken care of. Things seem to be better in that department as well. So here's how things stand 4 days before my first 100 mile run: my leg/knee still hurts but I think/hope it's something I'll be able to work through on race day. I've run about 13 miles in the last 3 weeks (since Aug 5) but I'm hoping my fitness hasn't disappeared (notice a lot of "hoping" here?)

So my diagnosis is this: an over-use injury from running 2 50 mile races within 2 weeks of each other (one with 10,000 ft of climbing) in brand new shoes which aggravated my ITB and periformis. I'm hoping (there's that word again) that I was able to rest long enough that it will be fine on race day. At least I'll be well rested :) It's definitely not the type of taper I was shooting for.

I'm pretty convinced that if I had run the schedule my coach wanted me to, and was smarter about breaking in a new pair of shoes, this wouldn't have happened. But I let my ego get the better of me at Cool and I ran more than I should have. Will I ever learn? I'm sure nobody else has ever done anyting like this before.

I'm headed to Leadville with the intention of finishing. But I'll be smart. There's a difference between pushing through pain and pushing through an injury. I hope I will know the difference.


Peter Lubbers said...

All the best in Leadville, Catherine. Too bad about the injury, but like you said, you'll be rested and ready to go!

GRETCHEN said...

Don't beat yourself up too much about the shoes. I don't know what your coach said about it, but it seems fishy to me that just because they were new they would cause that kind of issue. It totally depends on the shoes of course, but most modern shoes don't need much break-in time.

Anyway, I bet all the rest was a good thing. No one ever tapers enough in my opinion. :)

I hope you're feeling great on race day and that you are able to feel excited about the day. Just try to enjoy the excitement of the whole experience and know that you'll do whatever you can to deal with any issues that come up. I have a feeling you are going to do great!

Good luck, and I'll be sending good thoughts your way!

Catherine said...

Thanks guys. It'll be fun. Relentless Forard Motion!!!