Wednesday, October 13, 2010

My two Left Feet: Glacial 50k

Race Report by Marty Kanter-Cronin:

So lately I’ve been thinking about feet. Not in a fetish way (Oh baby more big toe!) but in an athletic foundational strength sort of way.

This is a common theme with me, becoming interested in developed body areas of various athletic endeavors I take up. Kayaking? Shoulders and lats. I wanted to be a Cat 3-4 cyclist once (I stopped just past the training wheel phase; my thighs are the size of cue sticks), and I was noticing quads for a while.

So now that I’m a trail runner, I look at feet. As a road racer, I never saw other runners unshod, but for whatever reason trail folks just like having their shoes off. First thing they do after a race, just before trying to find a beer is let their toes out of hiding. I get to see lots of feet at races, and I’ll tell you, trail runners feet are tough and muscular.

Saturday night before the Glacial 50 races, I shared a room with three other runners doing the Glacial 50 miler; Kevin, Cassie and Brad. Apparently the need to go sans shoes doesn’t start with post race. Have you seen Kevin’s feet? TOUGH. If Kevin’s feet were a person, he would have tattoos on a 52 inch chest, wear a leather jacket, and occasionally eat glass. TOUGH. And then there were Cassie’s feet. Now, Cassie, being a girl has painted toe nails. But putting a dinner jacket on a bouncer doesn’t hide the hammers for arms. Refined, yes, but likes to pound nails in cement for fun. Several times I saw the muscles in Cassie’s feet trying to get out of each others way. Oh yeah, TOUGH. Then there was Brad. I didn’t see Brad’s feet much because he was too busy setting up a medieval torture device disguised as a sleeping cot. Brads feet remind me of that Bo Diddley song: 47 miles of barb wire, and a rattle snake for a neck tie. TOUGH.

Yeah. Trail runners and their feet are tough.

Then there’s my feet. Bird feet. Wimpy. The kindest description is they belong to a chicken. A small one. Seriously, if you strip what little foot flesh I have, spray paint my bones a pink tone, the before and after photos would show only slight differences. If my feet were a person he would be the skinny guy getting sand kicked in his face at the beach, and looking for some Charles Atlas dynamic tension to muscle up. But they are getting tougher. I have my pinky toes doing tiny little push ups. Really. They are up to 5 and a half.

So getting ready for this race, besides doing my pinky toe push ups, I gotta pick out what to wear and carry. I have an issue (ok lots of issues) with gear. I tend to over-pack for races, something that never happens when I am training. Example: Remember when Joel talked me out of my rain coat at North Face? What you didn’t know was what was in the raincoat. I had loaded up my  pockets with about 147 pounds of supplies. Really. I had three Clif bars, 12 gel paks, seven packs of Clif shots, a gallon of Gatorade powder, a first aid kit, a signal flare, and a bazooka. Ok, I exaggerate. I didn’t have the bazooka. I left it at home. With all that stuff, I just needed a Sherman tank to mount a serious attack on Normandy.

Speaking of tanks, I could have used a couple for shoes on the trail on Sunday. Races like Glacial 50K will either toughen your feet, or send them cowering for the nearest aid station calling MEDIC! Rooty? Rocky?  No, rocks don’t sound hard enough. To borrow some Van Morrison lyrics:

And it stoned me.

Seriously, there are 4 million eight hundred thousand two hundred and fourteen stones on the Glacial 50K course (I counted), and I stepped on all of them. And all but three with my right foot. Unconsciously, I ran much of this race leading with my right. Mashing, mashing. Stubbing, stubbing. Fortunately, no falls. But after a while (25 miles or so) my right foot had given enough, and it was barking at my left foot to take a turn. At that point, I could have used a substitution and gone with two left feet. I have composed a little Haiku to illustrate the footfall pattern from this point on:

Step Ow. Step ow. Step.
Ow Step ow.@#$% OW Step OOOooooow.
Step Step OW ow OW.

For this race, I got the nutritional thing pretty well worked. I only lost about 5 minutes for in-the-woods-jumping potty breaks. My Pre-race meal consisted of no fiber at all, and my night before didn’t have much either (to quote Kevin, fiber is like “a million little fingers in your colon trying to push the dukkie out”). I went with a powder called “Pro-Carb” and mixed it with my hand held drinking water bottle. No stomach issues, no need for a gel every 14 and half minutes.

Speaking of gels, have I ever told you about my issues with packaging? Gah. Before I segway into this, first let me preface it by saying, I am really a handy guy. Really. I re-wired my house, hung sheet rock, refinished wood like nobody’s business. I am good with my hands. I handle power tools like they are wired to my brain.

Yet packaging frustrates me: I have actually opened a cereal box with a table saw. Twice in my life I have been sent to a hospital for stitches from trying to open hermetically sealed plastic. So for me opening a gel pak is like putting on boxing gloves and trying to pick my nose. The job will sort of get done but not without cursing and self inflicted blood letting. When I have to take a gel pak my first thought is always: where’s a good table saw when you need one?

My summary, or long story much shorter: my race prediction was 5:40, and I would have nailed it were it not for the one poopy break. Final for me as 5:43 and change. Close enough and a 10 minute PR. Many thanks to Jeff Mallach for running with me for about half this race.

 Post Run! It’s the Christmas time of any race. Food, Beer, Cheer. Seeing Cassie and Kevin finish 2-3 in the 50 mile was great. All the LPTR’s kicked ass, including Bruce and Joel at the top of the 50K class. Robert did an outstanding job as RD, and those LPTR’s who weren’t running were there enforce as crew or volunteers. My many thanks and appreciation! (Especially Connie and Jill E, who demonstrated the very definition of grace by smiling and offering to take my stinky, sweaty shirt at mile 13. Thank you ladies!)

Lastly, I leave you with another definition: Gold:: The rising sun, shining though a million autumn leaves in the Northern Kettle Moraine.

1 comment:

  1. Wonderful story Marty! Two words for ya, "Nailed it."