Recovery run #2

February 25, 2009

My recovery from Hagg Lake is going better than I expected; I was able to run six miles tonight, two or three of them sub-eights. However, running that fast did tighten my left calf back up again. Maybe it wasn’t the smartest thing to do. Too late now!


Recovery Run #1

February 23, 2009

Sweetie and I walked 2.2 miles yesterday and my left calf was quite a painful knot. Trying to jump up to touch the rim of a basketball hoop didn’t help at all. Yes, I am an idiot. Tonight I went down to run with my usual group. It started out rough — that left calf was just a tight ball of knots. But after a mile and a half, it felt a lot looser and things went pretty well from then on. I got in four miles at a pace somewhere between 9:30 and 10:00 and my legs felt a lot better for having done so.

My toes are also recovering and I have a grim suspicion that they may take longer than the legs. Not only do I have some blisters, but my right index toe nail is in sad shape, looking dark and feeling painful. The toes don’t hurt while running — good socks and a good pair of shoes seem to keep it out of trouble — but I’m walking around the house a bit gingerly.

Race Report: 2009 Hagg Lake 50K

February 22, 2009

When you live in Tigard, it’s a really long way to Hagg Lake. It wouldn’t be too bad if there were a good highway going straight to it, but you have to take some pretty slow roads instead. Of course, I’m paranoid about getting to a race late, so I ended up getting there an hour early anyway. I sat in the car a bit, used the porta-potties, and registered.

I was surprised to see T, a friend I hadn’t run into in a while. He was also running the 50K. Steve, from my PRC running group, was there as well. I also saw Heather Daniels in the crowd at the start. I didn’t say hi, because I wasn’t up for the “you don’t know me but I read your blog” introduction. Checking the results later, I saw she came in over an hour before me, as fourth-place female. I bet she didn’t taper either…

I chatted with a few other people huddling around the heaters set up in the covered picnic area. It was around 32 degrees for the start, but warmed up quickly during the day. No rain, partially cloudy. Two years in a row now the weather gods have shined on Hagg Lake. Even so, there was a rumor going around that the course was really muddy. I decided to change into my waterproof socks. As it turned out, though, the rumor was mostly wrong. I think there might actually have been more muddy trail sections than last year, but there was much less of the deep stuff. There was almost nowhere where you were forced to dunk a whole shoe.

And we were off. There was a dead skunk (not smelling bad) lying on the road about a quarter mile up the out-and-back hill. It looked unflattened and intact, and its arm was draped lovingly around a can of beer. Did somebody arrange this scene for us, or did that skunk really drink itself to death? I may never know. (Sadly, I am not the only one who thought the skunk was a highlight.)

Three miles in, back at the start area, I stopped for a pee and ditched my jacket and gloves. I ran the out-and-back and the first lap, a total of 17 miles, with T. He needed to change shoes and I decided to change socks, since the mud wasn’t bad and the waterproof socks (plus the toe-sock liners I wear under them) are really warm. I had an extra pair of Injinji toe-socks, but decided to change into regular Smartwool socks instead, since the toesocks take a long time to get on. I paid the price later. My toes came out a lot more beat up and blistered than they normally would.

After we finally got started again, T gave me the old “don’t feel bad if I drop behind” line and I told him he shouldn’t feel bad if I did, since he had been running pretty strong until then: he definitely dragged me to a faster first lap than I would have ventured by myself. (We were back in the start/finish area in 1:52 something, which meant we had averaged 10:07 a mile.) But I guess he had said what he said because he was starting to feel it. Not long after, I started pulling away and didn’t see him again until the finish area.

I would say I got to mile 24 or a little further before I felt completely out of gas. That’s two miles further than last year, and I got to mile 22 quicker this year as well. So things were, objectively, going pretty well. Objectiveness don’t count for squat when you’re arguing with yourself to get jogging again at the top of a hill you walked up.  

Speaking of which, I really need to more seriously train for walking up hills. My “power hike” just sucks. It leaves me as tired as if I’d just run it. And it hurts my legs to switch between the two. I’ve never seriously applied myself to training for this aspect of long races, and it would probably pay off if I did.

Other than that, I guess I had some pretty good “flow” going… I can vaguely recall endless jogging, keeping on going when it didn’t feel like I could, but just hours later the time seems compressed and the misery seems abstract. I think that’s a good thing.

I didn’t absolutely kill myself during the last mile like I did last year, but my level of pain and immobility when I was done felt about the same. I would describe that level as: “ow ow ow ow.” I panted and stretched and sat and bent over and huddled and moaned and shuffled around getting some food and drink. Olga saw me and wisely observed that I was “walking funny.” Driving home through the west-side traffic was not fun, but I made it. I enjoyed my ritual celebration hamburger later that evening, this time at Five Guys Burgers and Fries. (Good burger, bad bun, good fries, atrociously crowded.)

I am not running another ultra in two weeks. I’m looking forward to a spring and summer of marathon-length or shorter road races.

Official results: 5:39:58. That breaks the 5:42 PR I set two weeks ago, and improves on my time last year by 16 minutes. 10:58 pace, 62nd finisher, 50th male, 17th in my age group.

Short Hagg Lake Update

February 21, 2009

50K in 5:39:58, my second PR for the distance in two weeks! My legs feel like they got hit by a truck. Did anyone get the license plate?

New Theme

February 20, 2009

I’ve changed the theme I’m using for the blog. I hope the new one doesn’t make your eyeballs explode.

Five days to Hagg Lake

February 16, 2009

It’s five days now until my second Hagg Lake 50K. The conditions might not be too bad: forecasts call for a little rain tomorrow, then dry for the rest of the week until race day, when we are supposed to see some showers. If that holds true, it will be muddier than last year, but nowhere near as bad as we deserve for tempting fate with a lakeside trail race in Oregon in February.

I ran just 5.3 miles this Saturday morning; I was going to do eight, but after two loops of the downtown waterfront I felt like stopping. A little voice was playing over and over in my head… “this run isn’t going to help you in a week, all it can do is hurt,” and I capitulated. My legs and everything felt fine.

I had a bit of a scare the day before the run, with some very strange transitory shooting pain in my right leg, seeming to radiate from the top of my fibula, the hard knobby thing on the ouside of your leg just a little below your knee. (I didn’t know that was the fibular head until I looked it up. I had never even noticed that knob until I was feeling around for where this crazy pain was coming from.) Anyway, this pain would come and go, maybe every three minutes at its peak, and last for about five or ten seconds. Between, there was no pain at all and nothing tender to the touch. There were no particular motions that made it happen, and I could be sitting or standing when it did. It felt like a nerve thing, maybe. I found a few people on the internet with similar issues, but it doesn’t seem to be a common runner’s issue. It’s not IT band syndrome, it seems — too low and the wrong kind of pain. It stopped happening after a while, came back once more that day, went away again, and hasn’t been back since.

Huffing and puffing

February 11, 2009

A brutal six-miler tonight, just me and one of the fast runners for most of it, him pushing me to sub-eight miles. Which it turns out is really, really fast for me when I’m still recovering from a 32 mile effort. My legs were OK; my lungs were exploding.