I’m getting close to the end of my training for HURT. I don’t think I’ve ever looked forward to a taper quite so much. I feel strong and prepared, but I’m tired and perma-sore. Other 100 mile veterans tell me it means I’m ready. I really, really want to believe them. This is my 3rd attempt at this race. I’ve managed the 100K in the last two years, but this year the 100K cop-out isn’t even an option. Not that I want it to be an option. I want to finish this damn race, all 100 miles of it. My one goal for this year’s training was to stay healthy. It has not been easy. Not at all.
I had a fatty summer of running. It started off with pacing Alisa Springman for 38 miles at Western and built from there. There were weekends to Winthrop, a day in Yosemite, and a “fun run” with the Skagit Valley Runners. Then things got a little out of control. I had an unexpected 60 miles in Colorado and the killer Speedgoat 50K about a week later. I ran Waldo 100K and swept 25 miles of Cascade Crest the following weekend. Then I paced at two different 100s on consecutive weekends—Rich White for 38 miles at Wasatch and Alvin Crain for 30+ miles at Pine to Palm. I just about froze myself solid during the first and just about drowned during the second. Throw in a week of running in Moab between those two pacing duties where I got severely dehydrated and the result equals me exhausted and falling apart.
It took another weekend of running in Winthrop to realize things were not right. I could barely manage to keep up with Varner, et al during a whopping 4 mile run and running the unofficial Winthrop half marathon the next day took much longer than it should. I had both Alison Hanks and Candice Burt work on me and jam their elbows into my psoas and glutes that weekend to no avail. Frustration.
In 2008 I had a disastrous first 100 miles at Big Horn and ended up with a stress fracture on my left femoral head. It took months to heal and I’ve had hip problems ever since. Last year, I dropped from White River 50 due to psoas, hip attachment, gluteal medius… issues. With chiropractic help from Elite Sports and Spine and some massage, I was able to get through Cascade Crest. Things were better-ish. After all the running this summer, these hip issues seriously flared again. For awhile there, every run caused me to tighten up. My back would seize, both hips would feel solid, and my hamstrings burned. After a couple of weeks taking it easy and not running, I still couldn’t get back into it and I started to believe it was more mental. I’m tired of being injured and the thought of continuing to run through injury was holding me back, but it felt an unnecessary hold up. I needed to break through.
Enter Devon. Devon won the national 50 miles championships the weekend before I flew down to San Fran to visit and run with her every day. I love Dev. She never lets me feel slow compared to her super speed. I told her what was going on and asked her to help me and help me she did. She wasn’t a task master, she simply took me running and when I would fade or whine, she’d gently suggest I go a little farther. It was that easy. I mean, as easy as it is keeping up with those long legs, but it got me the results I wanted. I also earned a free session of Active Release Techniques (ART) by assisting with a video her sponsor Psoas Massage was making. A few days of running with Devon and one sesh of getting my hip ripped apart by one of the therapists and my mind was back where it needed to be—I felt like a runner again.
The ART session reminded me I should go back to Elite Sports and Fitness. I made an appointment with Dr Jeff Schwan and he’s been diligently putting me back together for a couple of months now. He’s thankfully focusing on my right knee as well. Somehow I forget it’s also bothering me. It compensates for my hip and takes some abuse. Things seemed to be coming back together; however, about a month ago….
Sisters Belated Halloween Party. A group of runners got together at Sean Meissner’s house for a weekend of running, costumes and general debauchery. I was stoked, although nervous because pretty much everyone at the party was a speedster and I’m a solid mid-pack runner. I’ve run with Sean and Amy Sproston before who’ve been great with me, but I was less familiar with everyone else and it always stinks to be the one person holding everyone up. Yet, it would turn out to be a nonissue. I hurt my back. Or rather, someone else hurt my back. It’s embarrassing, but hell, there were jello shots involved. Dear, sweet Chris is almost a foot taller than me and 50-60 pounds heavier. We were in Sean’s kitchen standing on a wet floor. Chris, with his tallness, picked me up to hug me and slipped on the floor and brought us both down. Lucky for Chris, I broke his fall. Not so lucky for me. At the time, I was worried about the fact I’d hit my head, but it was my back that was the true problem. When I woke up the next morning, I could barely move. It was clear there wouldn’t be any running for me that weekend. I hiked and it felt better when it warmed up, but any period of non-movement caused it to stiffen. I couldn’t bend down, had trouble getting dressed and lifting my right leg was painful. It hurt to the touch and I hobbled around like a little old lady. Chris of course feels horribly horrible and continues to apologize and ask how things are improving. He came out of the fall unscathed though he claims he bruised his heart when he realized what he’d done. (insert “Aw” noises)
I saw Dr Jeff the following Tuesday and he said I had lumbar strain and whiplash and that it appeared as if I’d been in a car crash. I cried on his table as he tried to adjust me and massage out the spasm-ing muscle with some menthol cream. Jeff taped me up with kinseo tape, so my back had pretty pink stripes. He told me to use a heating pad to loosen the muscle so I went home and did so. Oh, it felt so nice and warm, but never too warm. Later that night, being the good little patient, I started my prescribed stretching. I noticed the tape on my back was irritating me, so I pulled a bit off and took skin with it. Holy stinging hell. I left the rest of it alone figuring I should leave its removal to a professional. I decided the tape and heating pad was not a good combo, so skipped its use for the next couple of days. Wednesday, my skin was itchy under the tape and I couldn’t wait to get Jeff to take it off. Thursday morning I woke to go to my appointment and felt my back. Blisters. There were blisters under the tape, a good cluster of dime-sized blisters. What the eff? I felt like such a wreck. Jeff performed some minor surgery and it took a good week to heal everything up. Jeff says the remaining scars resemble the Hawaiian Islands. I take that as a good sign somehow.
I see Jeff weekly and do as he says. He’s pleased with my progress as he continues to work on my back, hip, knee and IT bands doing ART and graston techniques. All the bruises and scratches from trail running and his therapies are starting to make my legs resemble a 3rd grade kid’s, but it’s all working. And if I can quit falling on slippery bridges while out running which just aggravates things and if Chris holds to his promise not to pick me up again until after HURT, I should be good to go come race day. Things are going to be okay. I’ll probably fall apart after it’s all done, but that’s fine. I know where to go to get put back together again. HURT is going to hurt, but I’m ready for it.