Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Good Training and Sheer Exhaustion

I had a good plan in my head, run an easy 50-miler for training before Miwok. But what would be a plan without a hiccup...

I have this random skin disorder where I have benign tumors that form under my skin. They are harmless, painless, and only sometimes annoying. When my doctor realized that they are ALL benign, we decided that I would only have them removed if any individual one ever grew or there was a problem...just take them case by case. I know where almost all of them are on my body and keep a close eye for changes. A few weeks back one of them, on my upper thigh, became VERY uncomfortable. I went to the PA in my docs office, and she gave me a shot and some antibiotics. If it had been my doc, he probably would have cut it out then, but I was willing to give this a try. All seemed reasonable...it was still enlarged, but the discomfort went away. Well that was until a week ago. Yikes, it hurt. I called them back and asked them to go ahead and take it out. I went to the PA, again, and instead of just cutting it out like as had been done ALL over my med chart she was to try to cut it and open it up. I tried to explain that these are solid and cannot be opened up, but she was cutting away trying. After a bit she said that she was going to have to cut it out because it was solid....REALLY??? She did what is called a punch and got it out. It was a big sucker, lima bean sized. Anyway, enough of TMI, at the end of the ordeal I left the office with 5 stitches. She was kind enough to overlap two, knowing the position of the hole and the fact that I was planning on running the 50-miler on Sunday.

I went through the rest of the week in more discomfort than I would have liked. When I would sit down in the wrong position the stitches would pull. I didn't run more than 7 miles at a time the rest of the week, for not wanting to risk any swelling or issues. I had one once that got so filled with fluid post-procedure during a run that it looked like a golf ball under my skin. It was just fluid, but pretty scary.

Anyway, I went into Sunday with the plan that if my leg started becoming painful I would drop at mile 35 and call it a day. It was not worth being injured or having issues going into Miwok. This was a training run for me, not at all a race. I also went in with the mentality to take it very easy. Clea and I rode down together to RHR Sunday morning....bright and early. We left Austin at 4:15, which meant waking up around 3. I hadn't slept at all the night before, so I knew I would be tired later. As we drove down, we lamented about the unusual cold weather. It was 40. The nice thing was that it would be warming up to the 70s midday. The race started at 6. I told Clea on the way down, as well as my friend the race director, that if my leg was painful I was going to stop so please don't try to convince me to go on. I honestly wasn't planning to drop, but just wanted it said pre-race so that I didn't feel guilty if I had to make the decision. Unfortunately, me saying this planted the seed in Clea's head.

My plan was to stay with her for the out and back and at least the first loop. She runs very conservatively, so I knew it would be smart for an easy training run to go out with her. We are close in pace, but she starts much more conservatively than I ever do. It was good. We did a hilly out-and-back for the first 3.5 miles. It was dark, but by time we headed out for our first "real" loop we wouldn't need lights. It was perfect. We would hit this hilly section 4 times during the race. The rest of the course consisted of 25K loops with 2 aid stations and one at the start/finish. After the hilly section, the course consisted of tons of twists and turns, lots of little rollers, lots of weaving in and out of puddles, blinding pine needles where you would wonder if you were on the actual trail or not, and lots of arrows. There were arrows for the mountain bikers, arrows for us (so I thought), and ribbons all over the place. The course was well marked, I just didn't listen to the pre-race instructions with which pieces to follow. Reflecting back, I might have run a different course on each loop???

Anyway, Clea and I hung together for the first loop. It was great to catch up. We hadn't done that it a while, so it was really nice. The time was just flying. It fun to get caught by the front-runners in the 25K and 50K, they started an hour after us. We got to cheer for friends, and feel them FLY by. It sure does feel like you are standing still when shorter distance runners come by...crazy. At the end of the first loop, we headed back out. It was there that Clea started discussing that she felt burnt out and should have just signed up for the 50k. I told her that I totally supported whatever she wanted to do, and that if she didn't want to wait around for me that she could catch a ride with someone else heading back to Austin. Noone wants to sit around for a couple hours after racing. Shortly after she decided that she was going to stop, I picked up the pace just a little. I kind of thought she might come with me because making the decision seemed to put a bit of a spring in her step, but before I knew it I couldn't see her. I went through the last aid station of the loop and stopped for a picture in the water. I will post it as soon as Dinty puts it up. As I was covering the last few miles of the loop, I did a total belly flop over a rock. OUCH! I landed on my hip, quad, chest, and hand. I did a quick assessment, realized that my hand had a pretty good cut, but otherwise was ok. The chest did hurt, but I looked and all was ok in there :) I made the plan to clean up my hand before heading out on the last loop. Again, this was a training run, nothing to gain by not cleaning it up.

All I could think about as I was heading in was the hope that Shan had finished her 50K and would be hanging around the start/finish area. Thankfully she was. I came through and said, "where is Shan?" She cleaned up my hand, poured hydrogen peroxide in the cut, and wrapped a band-aid and tape around. I looked pretty goofy but not bad for a 5 minute repair. I have her a big hug...nothing like getting repaired from the 50K winner :) By that time Clea had finished and walked out with me. I told her that I was fine, was going to finish, but it would be a 3 hour loop.

I walked the ups and ran the downs of the hilly section in the beginning of the loop, and then I got my legs about me. I had my music on and was on my way. I could definitely handle this last loop. I took mental notes of the views on this loop, reallly appreciating the wildflowers as I headed into Sammy's aid station, and really trying to enjoy being alone. Again, not sure if I took all turns correctly, but I seemed to be doing ok?? I will go with the assumption that I ran pretty darn close to 50 miles, maybe a little extra maybe a little less...depending on where I turned. I just honestly was not paying close enough attention, and I haven't run out there in a couple of years. There were a couple of times during the race that I had no idea where I was, but within 15 minutes I would always seem to be back on some sense of course and would see someone every once and a while. I did pass the same guy twice in two loops, and that seemed weird to me...but maybe there were two guys with bright yellow hats? Who knows, but when I came into the finish I was happy for the good training day!!

The only discomfort I had from my stitches was some major chafing from the bandaid...yuck. Otherwise, I thought I had done pretty well. I hung around for a little while, and then headed on my way. I got home, and was tired. It had been a long day. My legs were tight, but more from the carride than anything else. Later that evening, I noticed my hip and quad a little achy from the fall. I headed to sleep, but it was an uncomfortable one.

So here I was two nights no sleep, sore more from the fall than the training run, and a really FULL Monday. It was terrible. I got up early to get some work done, then had to go to work, then went non-stop until 8:45 last night. I sat down for dinner at 9:15. My eyes were burning from being so tired, my legs had swelled, I had some beautiful cankles going, and the bruises on my quad and hip were throbbing. I was not in a good place. I actually fell asleep after dinner on the couch, and then slowly took myself to bed. What a hard day! Fortunately, I got up this morning feeling quite a bit better, and I don't have a crazy packed day!!

Lessons learned:
- See the doctor not the PA
- Keep moving forward no matter what
- Enjoy the day given, and appreciate all the help people have to offer
- DON'T schedule a 12 hour day of work after running 50 miles
- Be thankful to friends who are good to you!!

I look forward to running tomorrow, and I really need to take more pictures!!


olga said...

Yikes, stiches, then hand cut? All for a 50M Sunday?? Sounds like a plan:)
Good for you to make it through. Good luck at Miwok, hope its' gorgeous that day!

clea said...

Don't want to say much about this race....Grrrr....but I am glad you got your awesome training run in and finished it!! Thanks for the company this weekend. It was fun despite it all...

Erin said...

bet you were glad the pool was too cold to swim this morning. :) hope you are feeling better - get some rest!!

a.k.a.Moogy said...

Great report Mer and battling through those pre- and race issues. You always inspire me. Congrats on your great run. I probably belly-flopped in the same spot as you. Good times!

MikeW said...

Well done! Hope the cut heels quickly!