LPTRunner Jamey Anderson's Race Report...
Perspective: a particular evaluation of a situation, especially from one person’s point of view.
Perspective is what encouraged me to sign up for IAT in January, perspective guided my decisions in training and perspective is what ultimately made my decision to stop short of the finish.
Goes something like this…
The sign-up. Did I really want to run 19 miles further than I had ever run before? Well, not really. In fact it seemed daunting. It was January, though, and May seemed so long off...lots of time to train. Plus there are those emails – hurry up and sign up, race is filling! So I registered. A few months earlier, I’d committed to skiing the Birkie (which was about 20 miles further than I had ever skied before) – I think that helped to make pushing the buttons less scary (or was it the beer?). My palms were sweaty and heart pounding after getting the final confirmation.
The training. First and foremost - I needed to ski to get through the Birkie. Skiing for me had always been recreational or cross training from running or biking. I knew how to ski, but am not very efficient. Evidenced by my time in the Birke being slower than either of the two 50Ks I had run. The skiing did get me some good long hours of cardio work. As soon as the Birkie was over – more serious run training commenced.
I didn’t have a formal plan, but had gotten some tips from many of the LPTRs. The one thing I knew I needed to keep good on was my long runs. This shouldn’t be a problem. I like to train. I like training so much better than races. So I ran my long runs – doubled up on weekend runs. Generally felt better week after week. My muscle cramping issues that can plague me horribly some days – seemed to be cured by daily doses of Mg (thanks CraigS!) and lots of salt stick tabs. I was feeling good, really good.
Each week I re-evaluated my decision to stick with the 50 miler versus dropping to the 50K. My last long training weekend I had a solid 20 mile run capped off by a solid 20k run at Beartrax. I really felt strong and that 50 miles was within reach. BUT I also ended up with a very sore Achilles after that weekend – and the tell-tale “bump” of tendonitis. I only knew about this “bump” because my daughter ended up with severe Achilles tendonitis during last year’s soccer season. I knew this wasn’t good.
So, I limped off to Denver that night…with an ice bag, yoga mat and analgesic cream. By the end of the week – the sharp burning pain in my Achilles had stopped and I could do calf raises again. No perspective shift – I was still a go for the 50 M – I had a week to go and it was feeling much better. I visited the Boulder Running Co in Boulder and was talked into a pair of Hoka’s. They were very comfy and after polling several folks – I’ll run the 50 in them. Took them for inaugural black loop run on Wed – they felt great and so did my Achilles. I’m all set.
The breakdown. I had horrible night’s sleep both Th and F night before the race. Work drama and nervousness about the race kept any solid REM sleep at bay. I also noticed on Fri, that my muscles felt, well crampy. Kind of like they used to before I started taking Mg supplements, but I was still taking Mg supplements. What was going on? Was it the lack of sleep, was it stress, was it nerves…can’t tell, just stay hydrated and get ready for the race. 3:15 – wide awake. I didn’t have to get up until 3:30 – might as well just get up now. Drive to start – walk around a bit. Legs feel good, the crampiness from yesterday seems to be gone. Definitely decide to go with the Hokas – but have backup shoes in the drop bag at Hwy 12.
Sun comes up and we’re off. I have some pace timing from RobertW to help me land somewhere between and 11 and 12 hour finish. First Aid Station – right on pace, feel good. Legs feel good, breathing comfortable. But I’m hungry. So I eat a gel. 9 miles done – I feel great – I’m finally warmed up. Legs are moving well. Duck off to bathroom. Get some more food (still kinda hungry). Jim and Deb are there – they will keep a good pace, I’ll try to stick with them. Off we head to the trail. Somewhere just past confusion corner – my foot lands a little uneven, sharp pain from my Achilles. Seriously! I’m like 12 miles into my day and my heel is announcing itself. Well everything else feels good and the company is fantastic. Craig, Kathy and Cobbie are now with us and we leisurely make our way down South.
Hwy 12 – first time – the heel pain comes and goes, but it is still tolerable. Get some Gatorade from my drop bag and keep running. Still feeling good, but the pain is coming more frequently. As the hills increase in intensity and the trail becomes rockier – my heel is screaming louder and louder, everything else begins to go south quickly. By the turn around – I’ve lost my group as I’m hobbling and forcing back tears on every step. I’m not even at 20 miles! What is going on! This was NOT in the plan.
I see Craig heading out of the turn-around he points out his wife and says to try some Mg cream she has in the car (Thank you Craig!). I put some on the leg with the screaming heel. And headed back north. Things felt better for a while, until there was that little road with the steep hill. Ouch! Choking back tears again…I keep on. Trying to get my head wrapped around how I can keep going.
At this point there aren’t a whole lot of people around me and making the cutoff seems unrealistic. But I regain some focus and run when it doesn’t hurt and walk when it does. There are now lots of curse words coming out between sobs. I decide I need to make it back to Hwy 12 and then I will drop. At Hwy 12 – told them I was going to drop, but then felt like a wimp. I had hours left to walk it out…it was a nice day, so load up on food and drink and I head out. I actually started running a bit more than I thought I could. But the pain kept announcing itself at regular intervals. I’ve now lost anyone in sight from me…just me and the woods (and my cursing and occasional sob). By the time I got to Duffin – I was done.
It was a tough and upsetting decision. Way more emotional than I could have imagined. But as I sit here and look at my swollen and slightly black and blue heel – I know that my perspective at Duffin Road, that I needed to stop running before I did more significant damage, is the same perspective I have today.
For now, I’m going to dust off the mountain bike and let the Achilles rest for a bit. I’ll be back on the trails as soon as I can. I’ll try again for a 50 miler…maybe, probably. It will all depend on my perspective.