Sunday, August 12, 2012

What happened this (last) weekend


The Olympics continued and I continued my sporadic viewing. I am not capable of figuring out when stuff is on, for the most part, so I just catch what I can during the evening highlights and a few random weekend moments. I can't stay awake very late at night so I only see a couple hours of that...never the biggest events, which they seem to save for 11 p.m. or something. (Why, Bob Costas, why?) The event I've seen the most of is women's beach volleyball. I feel much better about it now that they're allowed to wear capris and leggings. (And diving. So much diving.)

I didn't even manage to successfully watch the women's marathon, the one event I really wanted to see. FAIL. For weeks I have been checking my local listings and it showed the time as 6 a.m. I figured it was on a time delay for Pacific time (which worked for me!). I had this plan to have my mother record it then run out to her house and watch. Good plan.

But at 5:15 Sunday morning I turned on the TV and there they were! Women! Marathoners! Running in London! I got to watch the final mile and the finish, and then the non-medalists come in. Even though they didn't win, it was nice to see Shalane Flanagan and Kara Goucher come in right after each other, 10th and 11th.

There was more on Sunday (more than missing the marathon? Yes!) but first there was Saturday. On Saturday I was signed up for the half marathon trail run at Grand Ridge trail (east of Issaquah) (they also had a 5-mile, marathon and 50K). The half didn't start until 9, officially, but I headed up super early in hopes of doing the marathon/50K early start. It was supposed to be really hot by afternoon (it was 90 when I headed home), plus I wanted to do an extra five miles after, plus I just didn't want to be there all day.

Happily they agreed to let me start at 7:30 (and I wasn't the only one doing the half who did), and a few minutes later we hit the trail. I was trying out my new Nathan hydration vest for the first time, which seemed like a good idea for a hot day with limited aid stations. (My review after using it twice is that it seems fine, except that the rubber tube makes the water taste pretty nasty.)

The course was a 13.1 mile loop, doubled for the full marathon, and an extra 5-mile loop for the 5-milers and 50K. I also planned to add the 5-mile after I finished the half marathon.

The run was at a trail near Issaquah called Grand Ridge. I'd been there in June for a 5-mile trail run/race (in the evening, in the rain, I couldn't see well due to wet steamy glasses, yet I managed to run pretty fast, for a trail, and not fall at all!). this same 5-mile loop featured in the run on Saturday. Based on my past experience I knew it was hilly, rocky, and twisty-turny.

I'm too lazy to spend a lot of time recounting every detail. But I'll start out then cut it short when I get bored. The first 1.5 miles are mostly uphill with tons of switchbacks. Everyone was walking from the beginning and I was stuck in the line. I totally understand that lots of these people were looking at running 50K and needed to pace themselves, and I'm certainly not opposed to walking, but I felt, as I always do, that if we (I) didn't run up some of these hills the we (I) would never get done! So eventually I made my way past some of the walkers (the really fast runners were long gone), and began chugging up a lot of the hills.

One comment--in a trail run, where the path is narrow, I really don't like to pass people unless I am sure I can stay ahead of them for a while. So sometimes I stay behind people for longer just to make sure of that.

After heading back downhill for half a mile it was up again...and so forth. In the first few miles we got sorted so there wasn't a huge amount of passing. At least not till later on when faster runners started coming back and then the two later starts went (8 am for the regular 50K and marathon start, 9 am for the half marathon late regular starting fools runners.

At mile 4 we had an aid station. We'd pass it again after a 7-mile out and back. They put some self serve water at the turnaround point but I heard it ran out after a while. I had plenty of my own water so I wasn't concerned. At the first stop I had a cup of Nuun and two mini chocolate chip cookies. I love to have treats on the trails!

The next seven miles (3.5 out and back) had several long downhills and uphills (reversed on the return). Throughout my time on the run there were three people I encountered most often. All of them played cat and mouse with me (or I with them). I would pass them on the uphill sections or when they were walking, and then they would pass me in bursts of speed later on. Until they walked again. I don't know who's better off in this scenario. Me because I remain steady and plod on? Them because they have the speed to run faster and the wisdom to take breaks? Who knows. We all finished the first half marathon at the same time, in the end.

Two of these people were females who really seemed to be running too fast in their energy boosts (in my opinion). I make this judgment because sometimes they were walking on regular terrain, not even uphill. This makes me think they were wearing themselves out too much. Also, one of them seemed to be hurting a lot even in the first 13. Her friend seemed to be doing better...probably she was there to support the other. I talked to her at the 7-mile aid station. This was her first trail run (gosh). She had run one road marathon in the past. She was doing the 50K and was determined to finish (oh my God). (Everyone was allowed to voluntarily cut back to the marathon or half and not DNF by doing so.)

At that aid station stop I drank a cup of Pepsi (real) and had two broken pieces of Pop-tart (haven't had a Pop-tart in 20 years!). At that point we were 11 miles in and only about two miles to the finish! I knew a lot of that would be downhill (still twisty and rocky).

I should mention that my two goals for this run were "do not fall" and "do not die." I actually chanted that to myself like a mantra periodically. So far, I was doing well on both.

About halfway through that last stretch I saw my novice friend go splat behind me. Her friend was helping her so I didn't stop. I congratulated my self on doing so well at not falling. I knew also that we were almost to the road (which is about three quarters of a mile from the finish). I sped up...caught my foot on a root...and fell in a most spectacular and painful fashion. My hands didn't get scraped, but both legs were bloodied and I ended up with bruises on both knees. I must have rolled, too, because both my front and back were covered with dirt.*

Several people stopped to help me, including the two women I had been interacting with. After a few minutes to shake off the shock, I was able to run again. But as always after a fall, I was edgy and completely unable to let go on the rest of the downhill. Once I got to the gravel road (which was a flat surface but cruelly slightly uphill) I was able to run "normally" but not especially fast. I crossed the finish line in 3:16. I really don't care how slow I am in trail runs but it is still hard to swallow. (Edited to add -- I just downloaded my Garmin time and it was 3:11. So clearly they were not very on top of writing things down quickly!)

At the aid station there (for runners who were continuing on) I drank a couple more cups of Pepsi. Caffeine and sugar, exactly what I needed!

As I said earlier, the three runners I'd seen most often headed out on their next lap. I really had to talk myself into going back for another five. I suppose I was a little demoralized from falling, plus it was sort of warm (though I really hardly noticed that), and, of course I was tired. I also have a real mental resistance to running more after finishing any race, no matter how long or short and no matter how slowly I ran.

But I went. Along the way I passed my three companions again, and never saw them again by the time I cut to the finish, even though I walked a lot in this segment. I think I pretty much walked up every hill this time. And I didn't care. The only thing that kept me going was the knowledge that if I didn't, I'd never get done! Just keep moving. That was my new mantra. (Along with "don't fall again." "Don't die" was pretty much off the table since I was walking so much.)

During one of my walking spells a photographer caught me in all my unflattering dirty glory.

I don't know what happened to the picture I saw being taken from the front when I was still clean and happy looking!

Finally I was done. I ate lots of watermelon and a volunteer cleaned up my scraped legs. I drove home, stopping for a McDonalds cone on the way, and bought sushi for lunch.

The only post script to this trail run is that when results were posted, they showed my total time, including the extra five miles that were like walking, as my half marathon time. Not pretty! (Even so, I was just second from last.) I emailed the race director and he corrected it with my half marathon split. Still not too impressive, but much further from the bottom!

Sunday I already wrote about, mostly. The day started with some disappointment due to the marathon taping fail. One thing I did right was leaving early (6:30) to run out to my parents' house. My plan was 11-13 miles, depending on how I felt (trail runs are pretty draining to me). I felt middling okay, though slow. I decided to opt for 12 miles, with a secret option to increase it just enough to make 50K for the weekend (with Saturday's 18.3 total, that would take 12.7 miles).

Well, you've heard the rest of the story. I ran. I was slow (if I didn't mention that already). I got bit by a dog at just past mile 12. I ran the rest of the way and added .2 at the end to get the 12.7. I bled. I bandaged. I didn't get to swim. I ate steak for dinner. Despite my intent to eschew the official dessert, I had a small piece of the most delicious coconut cream pie** along with my intended strawberries and slow churned ice cream.

And that was last weekend. By the time I managed to finish this another weekend has passed. (Marathon viewing success!) But that's a post for another day...week...whatever.

Oh yeah, my total mileage for last week (Monday through Sunday) was over 55 miles. Pretty sure that's a high for me. This upcoming week is going to be my peak week, so I might beat that, but it depends on how the mid-week goes. That high week included one double run day, and I'm not doing that again anytime soon!

*My shirt was basically ruined. I have washed and soaked it several times with various cleaners and the dirt stains won't come completely out. I need some of magical cleaner like baseball teams use for their uniforms!
**Stuffed full of coconut. So good.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Thursday, August 9, 2012

All better now

I figured since I told the world about my dog bite, I'd better reassure the world that I have recovered nicely! Coincidentally, it took pretty much exactly the two days that the nurse told me to rest, for the wound to heal enough that I felt okay to run. I took Monday and Tuesday off from all exercise, and then went out for 6.25 yesterday (I was prepared to do less if I felt bad). My leg still felt a little sore, but I think it was more from the bruising than the injury. I also moved from a gauze bandage to bandaids yesterday. This morning I did 6.5 (I could have gone further but I didn't have enough time) and really it didn't hurt at all. I'm going to cross-train tomorrow, then go back to my originally planned medium-long runs on Saturday and Sunday. My mileage this week will probably be a good 20 miles less than last week...but it is a cutback week, anyway.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

My leg hurts, a little.

I was in the middle of writing a post about all the things that happened this weekend (which I will finish soon), but I got tired of tapping away on the iPad and really the event this weekend that had the most serious effect on me happened at the end.

I got injured. Not a running injury, but an injury while running.... I got bit by a dog.

I know. How could this happen? I'm sure everyone is afraid of it, but (luckily) it hardly ever happens. (Because most people in the world don't own vicious dogs, that they allow to roam loose, and attack innocent bypassers. I'm just saying.)

I was running out to my parents' house on Sunday morning, and I was less than half a mile away, when a medium-sized brown dog (pit bull-like) came running down a driveway, crossed the road, bit me in the back of my leg above the knee, and ran back. It's a pretty busy road but there were no cars around at the time...not even the local police that often cruise around trying to nab speeders.

I stood there and shrieked a little, for a moment, then I finished the run. Actually I added about a tenth of a mile at the end to get up to my distance goal (12.7 miles). I could feel the bit throbbing a little. Blood was running down my leg, but not gushing.

Then I went and rang my parents' doorbell (I didn't want to go into the house bleeding without warning them) and my mom came to the door.

From there I rinsed off the blood in the shower and my mom looked at the wound (I couldn't see it well because it's the back of my leg). There were two medium-small punctures (teeth) and a few smaller scrapes.  I really did not want to go to the walk-in clinic or emergency room. Plus I didn't even have my insurance card or driver's license with me. So I called the Group Health consulting nurse (they were able to look up my number) and asked what to do.

She agreed that I wouldn't necessarily have to come in if I rinsed it well and bandaged it with antibiotic cream. She also told me I couldn't run for two days. That bothered me at the time, but I was still under the effects of endorphins (from the run) and adrenaline (from the injury) and didn't yet feel the discomfort I would feel later (running was not tempting). I also couldn't go swimming, which was really disappointing! It was the hottest day of the year and we had big plans for swimming at the beach.

I started out with bandaids but throughout the day they kept falling off. It was a combination of me moving around making them unstick and also that the wounds kept seeping blood and fluid. Not a gusher or anything, but it soaked the bandaid then it loosened up and so forth. I made it through the day with bandaids then ended up with a gauze pad and tape in the evening.

That was Sunday. Today is Tuesday and I haven't run yet (Monday and Tuesday were my two days off). I didn't try to go cross train or anything because I figured that any kind of leg work would be problematic. I regretted not having a weight training routine because I could have gone and done upper body stuff...but this was probably not the time to start.

The back of my leg at the injury site is still definitely sore, but I think it's getting better. It's complicated because my legs (quads) are also quite sore from trail running, so that makes it hard to judge what body pain is solely from the dog bite! Yesterday I was pretty much crippled and limping. Today I am stiff and store whenever I get up from sitting or not moving, but once I walk around I'm better.

I want to try running tomorrow. I'm so worried that it will be painful and awkward (the DOMS from the weekend will still be a factor, as well). I've run with pain before--my knees were bruised and scraped when I set out on Sunday morning--but usually it fades to mild discomfort once I get warmed up. Hopefully that will be the case here too.

I'm trying to tell myself that this won't be a major damper on my training. Even missing a few days this week will be no worse than a taper. Luckily this is a cutback week anyway (last week was high mileage), and if I run four days instead of five (which is the best case scenario), or even only three days, it's fine.

I'm continuing to consider today a full rest day and tomorrow I'll try to get back on track with an easy run (Wednesday speed work will have to wait a week). 

I guess I'll have to think twice about running to my parents' house anymore. I've already been contemplating an alternate route where my mom meets me at Starbucks instead....