If the miles behind me could be put into words before you, you would feel my efforts, my struggles, my desires. Most of all you would see my joy. Watch me from afar run the trails and hills and miles upon miles and you will see ...

Monday, May 31, 2010

A Positive Update

After waiting yet another two weeks from my last podiatrist appointment I've again set out running thirty minutes at a time in the trail. So far it seems that things are okay other than the predictable discomfort of not really running for six weeks.

Friday night around 11pm I tuned in to the Comrades Marathon website to watch the race live. I sat in awe for two hours. I don't know what it is but I can sit and watch that kind of stuff - marathons, ultras, Tour de France, Ironman - all day long on the tv/computer. I marvel at the skill these world-class athletes have. The commentators' verbal skills and knowledge of the athletes rivaled that of any I've ever heard. It was a little tough watching the runners knowing I could have been there although the chance of starting back at square one was the chance I didn't want to take. I woke up in the morning and immediately checked the winners' times and to watch the finishers coming through the line. Again it was hard not to imagine myself finishing and making a fool of myself in front of the camera to people back home. Technology - ain't it great! With an hour to go before the 12 hour cutoff there were still 7,000 runners to come in. The finishing line at this time looked like the start of the Vancouver Sunrun where 50,000 people are all moving towards the start line after the gun goes off. If people in North America think ultrarunners are crazy, ultra races must be as commonplace as the marathon in the rest of world. How else do you explain the number of runners who started the event? Another comment on the coverage: never once in all the time I was watching did the screen "freeze", "overload", "fail to load", or in any way, shape, or form inhibit people from watching. That sort of thing seems to happen a lot on other webcasts I've tried to see over the years especially for the Hawaii Ironman. If their webcast gets overloaded with hits from friends and family of 2000 athletes watching from home, how does the Comrades site do it for over 20,000??
In honour of the runners who did the race I took off on the bike and covered 92km in about 3 hours, almost 31km/h average speed. The winner of Comrades ran 89km in 5:29, over 16km/h. Amazing.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Sad Update

Okay so the longer the break from writing the longer the blog, right? A lot has happened in the past couple weeks so hang on, here we go.
So in the past couple weeks I was toiling and stressing over whether to go to South Africa for the Comrades Marathon. Was my foot healed up enough? Would it be able to go 89km without fracturing again? Was it worth taking the chance and setting myself back another six weeks?
Even though it's been seven and a half weeks since my last long run of 20 miles, it's only been four with the walking cast. Not supposed to have been running at all for four to six weeks I went out a few times last week just to see what was what. I started with a 17, 19, 30, then 45 minute run. There was definite discomfort in the foot but it didn't feel like a sharp pain or one that was getting worse. Weird thing too was that it didn't hurt more afterwards or ache later on in the day. Having said that I went to the podiatrist on Monday for a check-up.
He was at first not happy seeing me without the cast on but that was only because I was out doing stuff that didn't take too much walking. He also didn't think my small runs was such a good idea, either. The topic of running Comrades never came up and I never offered that I was still thinking about it. He said I should do another two weeks in the cast and stay on light duties at work for those two weeks. Well, having gone back to the hall on Saturday it was too late for that but I would try to stay in the cast as much as I could. Really. What kind of scared me straight was his statement on how I could be running along, feeling not too bad, then all of a sudden feel that sharp pain in the foot of the bone fracturing again. Not a pretty thought.
So It was after my appointment with him that finally pushed me over the edge to dropping out of Comrades. It was a supreme struggle with myself to weigh the pros and cons of going or not. I'm barely in shape now to run, let alone do 8 hours or more. I didn't want to hurt myself further and get set back another month. That would have taken me to the beginning or middle of July which would have killed any chance of doing Fat Dog and give me barely six weeks to train for the Tour de Mont Blanc. As it is now I should be able to ease back into things in a couple weeks, get a decent base of trail running, do Fat Dog as an easy, easy long run then hopefully be able to climb 31,000 feet at the end of August. Comrades has been on my list for a long time and may or may not get done next year. It'll remain on the list and it might take me 15 years to be there for the 100th anniversary. I could only be that lucky to be healthy enough to still run that distance then.
On the training side of things I've been staying out of the pool just because of sheer boredom. The bike has been my forte since the weather has been so decent. I've been hitting the three hour mark quite consistently with a bunch of two hour ones thrown in. Last week I was just at the halfway mark, about an hour from home, when I had to stop at an intersection due to traffic. What I'd done a thousand times before somehow escaped me and instead of clipping out of my left pedal and resting my left foot on the ground, I ended up unclipping and leaning to the right (right foot still clipped in) and was about to fall. I managed to forcefully get my right foot out of the pedal to avoid the crash but in the process heard the snap of my plastic cleat on the bottom of my shoe. I quick exam proved what I feared: the tip of the cleat (the Look type) had broken and there was no way to clip in solidly to the pedal. Quick assessment: no bike shop anywhere close, an hour from home, no sag wagon to call (not that I would anyways, goes against everything I believe in). Good thing I didn't have to be anywhere in a hurry. I basically had to keep downward pressure on the pedal the whole way and if I hit a bump my foot would fly off the pedal. The novelty wore off in a hurry but I made it home safe and sound. Luckily I had a set of older ones that I'm now using.
So the plan for the coming weeks is to get pain-free then hit hit every trail race I can, time permitting, as training. That's right, run the race, not race it. If I'm going to drive somewhere like Chuckanut or the North Shore to do a training run, I might as well do a race where I don't have to think about the course and there's aid along the way. I'm going to do that all through the summer and fall as well. Not that I'll be 'racing' because I learned the hard way a couple years ago that too much racing doesn't do my body good. If that goes okay then I'm going to approach next season the same way - race my way to fitness!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Fourth time the charm

Finally I've done the first (metric) century of the season on the bike. In honour of the Miwok 100km trail race held yesterday in California, which I did in '08, albeit probably around 106km due to my route error, I thought it only fitting seeing as I couldn't run the distance, I'd ride it.
After three unsuccessful attempts at riding 100km this year I did it yesterday - 100.19km. The three other failures were because of time constraints and one morning I had to be at Hannah's softball so needed to cut the ride shorter. The distances I did were 91km, 95km, and 97km. The 97km was a killer - so close. I don't do junk mileage as I think it's ridiculous to go around the block a few times just to make a certain distance or time. I plot the route out on a map and go and do it.
Yesterday was a beautiful afternoon aside from the wind. It was blowing from the southwest so heading east was a joy. Knowing what to expect coming home I thought I'd hammer out and take it easy on the way back. The average speed eastwards was 33.3km/h and at the end of the ride it was 32.1. It seemed like I had the headwind coming back and with the hills and all returning I figure the wind was coming more from the south so not directly in my face. Pretty happy with the effort of the last 20km which were a mental grind and killing sore lower back. Ah, the joys of the ride.