Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Am I Good Enough? Am I Trying Hard Enough?

Do you ever feel that maybe you just aren't good enough? That maybe you just aren't trying hard enough - but you're not sure what more you can do? My buddy Karen's sister, Kate, who is gearing up for another 100-miler in September, came down over the weekend to run her required miles of 30/20/20. Karen and Bill, our coach, were going to run with her for most of her miles. I was suppose to join them, but due to being forced off running for a week, didn't happen.

I talked with Karen today and she told me that although she hadn't run the full 30 with Kate on Saturday (she and Bill split this, I believe), she had run the balance of the mileage with her the rest of the weekend. And she felt great the whole time. While she's talking, I'm thinking, "Are you kidding me? How in the world did she do that?" Don't get me wrong, I most definitely don't begrudge her that stamina, but I feel so - how do I put it - weak compared to her, and it's stupid, because I know it's not warranted.

I have to keep reminding myself that the first 2 months of the year I was sick as a dog with my gall bladder and recovering from surgery, that during that time I definitely lost out on a lot of training, and that I'm still in the "come back" mode, sort of. But when I hear her say that SOB is going to be a cakewalk, I want to scream - not at her because I'm very proud of the strong runner she is becoming, but at myself because I'm afraid that $%^*& mountain is going to eat me alive.

I have to keep reminding myself of my proud finish at Redwood Park just a couple of weeks ago, that I'm getting more in tune with my hydration and nutrition needs, that the training this time around is going to be more complete. But sometimes all the positive talk you give yourself can't be heard very well over that son of a bitch negative voice, and it sucks.

But to end this post on a positive note - I had a great 5 miles this a.m. with hill repeats, and besides that fact that I was desperately beating a path to Safeway at Mile 4, I felt really good.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Os Trigonum Syndrome

What is Os Trigonum Syndrome?

Often, people don’t know they have an os trigonum if it hasn’t caused any problems. However, some people with this extra bone develop a painful condition known as os trigonum syndrome.

Os trigonum syndrome is usually triggered by an injury, such as an ankle sprain. The syndrome is also frequently caused by repeated downward pointing of the toes, which is common among ballet dancers, soccer players and other athletes.

Yes, it appears that I have yet another ailment, and the doc thinks it is the thing outlined above. My eyes rolled back in my head so hard they almost stuck in that position while I'm telling myself, "This is a joke, right?" For those of you who don't know, I've had a bad ankle ever since I missed a step going into our garage and ended up with a Grade 3 sprain some 11 odd years ago. Yeah, that one hurt. However, since I started running, my ankle has actually felt better. Go figure.

Now, fast forward a couple of years, or back up a few months, whichever floats your boat. My ankle has been bothering me for awhile (okay, maybe longer than awhile . . .), but it was never so painful that I couldn't keep running (said with absolute seriousness, hand over heart) - except for the times when walking down stairs I would catch my heel, forcing the toes down. I cannot even begin to describe the pain, except to say that it took everything inside me to not pass out or puke the few times I did this.

Anyway, decided to finally get it check out. Took three weeks to get into the ortho who was least likely to say, "No more running! You're going to ruin your knees! Or your hips! Or your uterus is going to fall out!" After lots of twisting, turning, and 4 (4?) x-rays, he pronounces os trigonum. The cure - first let's try a cortisone shot and no running for a week. The no running for a week is mentally hard, but I can deal with it. The cortisone shot - holy mother of flying monkeys!! The shot itself didn't hurt 'cause he injected a numbing agent first. But when that numbing agent wore off around 9:00 Monday night - !!!!!!!!!

So now we wait until Tuesday and I start running again. If the ankle is still bothering me, I will get referred to another doc who will more than likely discuss my only other option - shaving down the bone. Now doesn't that sound like fun? Suffice to say, half or more of my running year would probably be in the toilet. Somehow I don't think that doc would say, yeah, I just shaved a bone down, now go out and run 18 miles!

And as Leslie's World Turns, These are the Days of Her Life - stay tuned.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Redwood Park 30k Trail Run, Oakland, CA

Date of Run: May 10, 2009

I’m a little late on getting this report done, but I have not slowed down since I ran this race. Geez! Barely have had time to breath let alone write a race report.

Okay, let’s get the important stuff outta the way first:

Fashion Report: Dirty olive green trail shoes, hot pink and white (colors swirled together) Dirty Girl gaiters, black shorts, short sleeve white tech shirt w/pink piping around arms and up shoulders, hot pink sports bra (my “racin’ “ bra), white Zombie Runner hat, and blue Coolmax bandana.

I arrived in Berkeley on Saturday and did recon by driving from my hotel to the site. Google directions sucked and not only sent me down the bumper-to-bumper 405, but also indicated the park entrance was on the right side of the road as opposed to the left. However, once I got there and there was no other entrance within two or three miles, I knew it had to be it. And luckily, I had enough map information to find a much easier route back to my hotel and to follow the next morning.

The race was to start at 8:30 sharp and I like to be early, so I was on the road by 6:30 for the short 20-30 minute drive. Not far from the site sitting at a red light, a young woman in the car next me caught my attention and asked if I knew where the park was. I asked her if she was running the race, which she was, so we caravanned there, where I ended up shuttling a couple of people to and from the entrance so that I and they could pay the parking fee once the booth opened up.

The day was looking to be beautiful, and at the last minute I remembered my Coolmax bandana in the car, and not long into the run I would be very thankful I had. I ended up wearing it most of the race.

There were four distances available, 10k, 20k, 30k and 50k, and approximately 350 runners in attendance, with a large portion of those running the 10k. I was running the 30k, so I would be running the 20k loop first, then coming back to the start area to complete the 10k loop.

Now PCTR is known for their tough, technical runs, and this run would not disappoint in that arena. Thankfully, my coach sent me some pre-race info (I suck at reading the elevation charts) and pointed out the big climbs at the start of the race. That being forefront in my mind, once we got started, I walked the entire first half mile or so as it was just a big ole long hill and I didn’t see any sense in killing myself to get up it. A couple of ladies behind me were chattering about this and that, then ended up talking about their respective 100 milers and whether or not they were going to do another one this year. I still shake my head in wonderment at those folks who can run that distance.

I have problems keeping up with nutrition and hydration, so for this run I opted for a large bottle so that I could actually see how much I was drinking. My goal was to drink at least half of my bottle of fluids ever six miles, but a good portion of the 20k loop was exposed to the direct sun and it didn’t take me long to get hot. By the time I reached the first aid station, I’d drained about 2/3 of it. The fantastic folks at the station filled me back up, drenched my bandana in water, I filled my baggie with PBJ, bananas, and Gummie bears, and set off again, forcing myself to walk and eat. I underestimated the distance from the second aid station to the start area, and ended up not taking enough food with me; however, I did determine that greasy potato chips do not sit well with my stomach, and from now on I will be sticking with PBJ, bananas, and Gummie bears. That, in combination with my new fluid (Ultra) and half a Phenergan before the start of the race, kept my usual nausea at a minimum. What a blessing!

I had a blast on the 20k loop. Most of the difficulty was that it had rained the week before, and with the mountain bikers having come through, the mud had dried in various forms and you really had to watch your foot. But it was a good combination of climbing, descending, flat, and technical. I finished the first loop in a little over 2 hours, and was hopeful that I could finish the entire run in 4 hours or less. However, that was before I began my encounter with the 10k loop.

Wendell and Sarah are the great folks who own PCTR, and they have a mischievous (aka sadistical) side when it comes to setting up their runs. My legs were getting tired by the end of the 20k, and I believe this was due in part to not eating enough between the second and third aid stations and getting behind on my salt intake. In starting the second loop, I began thinking, hm, this isn’t too bad yet. A young woman in front of me kept varying walking and running, and my goal was to keep her in sight . . . that is until I encountered the first of three (4?) monstrous climbs. It wasn’t so much that they were long, but those suckers steep, and the first one had a lot of rocks and roots imbedded in the ground. I wasn’t the only one who thinking, “You have got to be kidding me!” A couple of others around me were grumbling and cursing, and one guy (we’ll call him Red Shorts) slogging past me on a climb and commented, “Yeah, French Trail is notorious.” You got that right! At one turn up a hill, I looked down at some tree roots to watch my footing, and I swear to you, the formation of the roots looked like the front of a skull that had been buried in the dirt up to its nose. You could clearly see the eyes and nose sockets, and I thought, how appropriate for this section!

Although the climbing was tough, I had a blast with the downhill sections and was able to make up quite a bit of time there. I ended up passing Red Shorts and made it my goal to keep him behind me. That incentive pushed me a number of times on this loop, and I’m happy to say I finished a decent distance ahead of him. Also, with about a mile to go, I ended up passing on a downhill a couple of women who had overtaken me on one of the climbs, and stayed well in front of them to the end. One of them found me after the race and commented that she wished she could run downhill as well as I did, which made me feel really good.

In the end, I finished in 4:15:04 and am very, very happy with that time. The official results on the web site are wrong, indicating a finish of 4:16:38 and behind one of the women I passed on the downhill section and stayed in front of the rest of the run. I know I finished in 4:15:04, because not only did I have my Garmin for time tracking, but I specifically zeroed in on the timer so I’d know my exact finishing time.

Although at the finish of this race I couldn’t comprehend doing another 30k, I recovered fairly quickly (thanks to handfuls of peanut butter filled pretzel bites!) and would definitely like to tackle the 50k on this course.