Sunday, August 16, 2009

Feeling Too Good is Dangerous to My Health

A thought on the evening of Sunday, August 9th:
"It's only been a week since the 100 miler...I expected to feel much worse."
A thought on the evening of Sunday, August 16th, one week later:
"I feel much worse."
The thing with running your first 100 miler is that you also get to experience your first recovery from a 100 miler. The first week was about what I had expected, general soreness and stiffness, and a lack of energy. By the end of the week, I was beginning to loosen up and run without much pain. In my addled little mind, I decided I was mostly recovered. Hey, I observed that Mark fully recovers from a 100 miler in roughly 15 and 20 minutes, so couldn't I be ready to run hard again after a full week? So, I canned my recovery plan and went right into 'training for Akron Marathon' mode. Are you wondering how that played out for me? Here is the recap of what should have been week 2 of my recovery.

The week started inauspiciously, with a moderate 6 mile lunch time run in Independence. In anticipation of speed work on Tuesday, I concentrated on trying to open my stride which was still a bit compressed. On Tuesday, after work, I started my warm-up with a slow mile from home to the Solon High School track, and added another mile and half. Some of the regulars were not there, but I did talk with E-speed and Nicole. E asked me if I wanted to pace her at the Perfect 10 Miler on Sunday. She said she was targeting around 6:30 pace. I gave it a non-committal, "I'll see how I feel and let you know." As usual, before doing my mile repeats I ran 6 x 100 yard stride-outs. I increased my level of effort with each, starting with about a 60% and running the last at about 85%.
I toed the line for my first mile, with one goal...keeping it under 6 minutes so it would not be a total embarrassment. Wayne called out the start, and we were off. It was a very thin field, just Mark and I. I actually didn't feel bad for the first lap, my breathing was good and stride was opening up. The second lap was more difficult. My stride was good, but I was having trouble keeping the turnover. Midway through the third lap, I was thinking I would not be able to finish the mile, maybe not even the lap. I tried to concentrate on staying on my mid-foot, keeping a slight forward lean. I made it through that lap, and I don't remember much of the forth lap except that I was trying to stay as close as possible to Mark. On the backstretch, I felt the nausea creeping up my throat. I held it together, and since Mark was taking it easy we crossed the line together. 5:23.68 I kept moving, barely, hoping that the urge to throw-up would pass. It did. And I thought about what had just happened. The fastest mile I have run since in easily 30 years. Where did that come from?
We took a little longer than normal to recover from that first mile, then started the second mile. I knew within the first 100 yards that my second mile was going to be a struggle. I had used it all up in the first mile. I could not hang on to Mark, and fought hard just to hold a 2:45 after two laps. The third and fourth laps were, well, quite unpleasant. I finished with a 5:40, and believe me that could have been much worse. Again, I felt like tossing my lunch but kept moving until the nausea passed. After trying to recover for the third mile, I told Mark I was done. I did a couple of slow miles and headed home.
Wednesday was a nearly idyllic frolic in the woods. I reran a section of the BR100, starting at Alexander Road. Not as much fun as the last time I was there, but still a good run.
On Thursday, I went to the North Chagrin Reservation for the Twilight Trail 8k. The race has an unusual format. Instead of everyone starting together and sex/age group awards being given based on finishing time, the starts are staggered based on sex/age. Because of that, there are no age group awards. First through third men and women across the finish line win. There is also a two-runner team competition. I ran it in 32:32 and was the first man across the finish, so I took home the $60 prize money. Nice. E-speed and her friend Nicole won the women's team competition.

Feeling the effects of a tough track Tuesday and race Thursday, I ran a moderate paced 6.7 miles through Glen Willow after work on Friday. Saturday was a beautiful morning and I arrived a little early to run a warm-up mile or so with Wyatt before the rest of the Lock 29 group started. We did a comfortably paced 11.4 miles, then Wayne decided it had been too comfortable. He commented that, back in the day, we used to run hard for the last mile, and this group had gotten soft. Paul was the first to bite, separating from the group and picking up the pace. Then Mike R. took off and passed him. I caught Paul and said, "We have to catch him", so we really picked up the pace. The three of us covered the last mile at a 5:45 pace.

That set the stage for a very tough Sunday. At the track on Tuesday and again at the race on Thursday, E-speed had asked if I might pace her at the Perfect 10 Miler. I said I would have to see how I felt in a few days. On Sunday morning, Wyatt and I met at Jeff's house at 6:00 AM and ran the five miles to Brush High School, where the race would start. I was surprised by the humidity and heat so early in the day, tough conditions for a race. Wyatt was registered to run, but Jeff and I were just going on as bandits, using it as a tempo run.
I talked with E's coach and he told me how he wanted me to pace her. Go out fast, 6:20 pace or lower, then back off and eventually average out at 6:30 for the ten miles, which would be a 1 hour 5 minute finish. I found her near the start, and within a few minutes we were off and running.
The first few miles were fast, 6:16 and 6:20 I believe. We backed off a little and by the half way point, we were right on the 6:30 average. After 5.5 miles, I peeled off and retraced the route for a few miles, looking for my sister-in-law Lisa who said she would be running the race. I didn't find her, and I rejoined E between the 7 and 8 mile marks. She was looking strong, and I just tried to keep her on pace for her target finish. We were passed by Tracy M. who was really running strong, but she couldn't pull away and we passed her again within a half mile or so. When we approached the stadium for the finish, I peeled off and E ran the last few hundred yards to cross the finish within seconds of her target time. Well done on a tough, hot morning.

After a little break to watch some of my other running buddies finish, Jeff, Wyatt, and I ran back to Jeff's house. That run was tough for both Wyatt and I. Jeff had been smart about his tempo run, backing off at points to give himself some rest, so he seemed fresher. I was totally tanked by the last mile, the cumulative effect of the race, plus 100 miler 2 weeks earlier, and a week in which I pretended I didn't need to back off and recover from that 100 miler. Thankfully, we were able to shower at Jeff's house, then catch up with Sue and Lisa and friends Alex and Chris for breakfast at the Original Pancake House. Great food, and lots of it, but much too long a wait for it. The rest of the day Sunday, I couldn't get the energy to do much of anything.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Burning River 100 Mile Photos - Still no race report

I apologize to anyone who might want to read a race report, but I have been hesitant to try to write one. Maybe after a little more time, I'll attempt it, but for now, at least I have these photos to share.

The start at Squires Castle in Willoughby Hills, at 5:00 AM on Saturday. The beginning of an amazing adventure.

Early in the day, running with Patrick McGlade. He told me about his plan to run across the country, 26.2 miles a day, from California to Georgia. Good Luck, Patrick! He ran a great race and ended up 5th overall.

Approaching Alexander Road Station, 31 miles into the race and my left ankle was making me regret every step. That pain started at about 12 miles and continued until about 36 miles. My lower back was starting to ache, probably because of the fuel belt which I typically do not wear.

Between Alexander and Station Bridge, approximately 34 miles. At Alexander aid station, I decided that the fuel belt had to go. I grabbed a water bottle in each hand and ditched the belt. Running without the fuel belt did reduce my back pain.

Station Bridge aid station, mile 37. I had a couple of PBJ's and refilled my water bottles with Heed. From there, it was a very hot run on the tow path where there was very little shade to the Carriage Trail loop, then back on the towpath

Creek crossing in Brecksville, around 44 miles. I was feeling OK here, having run through the ankle pain and back ache. Of course, a few miles after this came my biggest screw-up of the day. I lost the trail, and lost about 45 minutes retracing my path to try to find it.

Boston store aid station, mile 56. Sue is waiting to hear what I need, but I am just too busy shoving watermelon into my mouth to talk.

At the Pine Hollow aid station (mile 75.1) with Paul Romanic, my pacer for miles 60.6 through 81.6. It was good to see Tim McGinty here (he took this photo.) He would pace me from Merriman Road (mile 93.5) to the finish (mile 101.2). Paul did a great job, reminding me to keep trying to pick up the pace, and keeping us on the trail in the dark when it is so easy to make a wrong turn. Thanks Paul.

Crossing the finish line on a hundred miler feels approximately 4 times better than crossing the finish lines at a marathon.

Just after crossing the finish line, with my pacer for the final 10 miles, Tim McGinty. (Thanks for taking me in, Tim!)

Done, having some coffee and waiting for Chef Bill Bailey and his crew to fire up the griddles and make breakfast. Thankfully, no one took a photo of me laying on the stoop in front of a store in the plaza, looking like a homeless guy.