Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Long and Winding Road

Winter morphed into Spring, which blew right into a hot Summer. Summer flew by quickly and cooler temps ushered in the Fall weather. Then suddenly Fall was gone and poof! it was winter again.

So goes our lives....It's really true the old saying that "life is what happens to you while you're making other plans."

So how to catch up on nine months??  What happened?? Well here's the abbreviated story:

After suffering a bout with pneumonia in Jan/Feb. of last year I slowly got back into running with Terrapin Mountain where I had a good reintroduction to the 50K distance. Since I was on the mend and was still recovering from a collapsed lung I took it easy and didn't push anything except the last couple of downhill miles. Success!  I felt really strong and ready for Promise Land (my favorite race!) I had no goals except to finish in the time cutoffs but ended up PRing by almost thirty minutes over my previous time.  "Alrighty then" I thought...I guess I'm ready for the season.

We had two summer races on our calendars for this past year. Dances With Dirt in Devils Lake, WI, and another favorite of mine Damn Wakely Dam 50K. I thought I was ready mentally and physically for both of these races. Dances with Dirt is a 50 miler with a 50K option to bail if things get tough.....which it did.  The day was hot.  Really hot, and I wasn't prepared (or smart) enough for the day.  I ran well through the early part of the race, but there were some fairly long, exposed sun sections which sapped my energy and at the "decision point" I knew that it would be a slog to the finish.  I hadn't been salting enough, had some cramping issues but what really was telling was how sour my stomach was.  Really didn't feel like eating much and felt nauseous for much of miles 20 to 30.  Although I was disappointed in having to take a 50K finish I finished in a pretty respectable time of 7 :30. 

Damn Wakely Dam was a virtual repeat of Dances with Dirt.  Great first half of the race....way ahead of previous years times and then BLAM!  Heat stroke!  I felt nauseous, clammy, and wobbly and there wasn't anything I could do except keep going.  Wakely is a point to point run with no aid stations, no cross roads, and zero support.  The only option was get out alive....which I did....barely....  A projected 7:30 finish turned into a ten hour ordeal.  It took several days after this race before I could even think about running....the heat had really sapped my mojo.

In between these two semi-disastrous races Peg and I bought a run down house close to ours and began demolishing the inside in preparation for a total renovation (which is still going on in mid January!)  Meanwhile we were feverishly trying to sell our previous house in VA and the market was NOT cooperating at all.  Prices were plummeting, no showings, a so-so realtor all led to a pretty stressful summer.  So what did I do? Sign up for Cheat Mountain Moonshine Madness  50 miler of course. A running buddy wanted to give it a try as his first 50 miler and I knew that despite the nighttime running it was a relatively easy 50 miler with a good amount of road running interspersed with some really pretty trails. "Why not" I said to myself!  I've done so well already in the heat!  Why not give it a go!   And so we did....   I felt great throughout the run.
  I can't really say the same for my buddy who struggled mightily on the trail sections and had some serious difficulty on the final seventeen miles which is all road and pretty much all downhill.  We were almost DFL...but not quite... 

So September rolled around and year two at my (now not quite so new) school began with a whirl.  I was still filled with optimism that I would be able to run my dream race  Grindstone 100. I was feeling pretty good but there was a little pain/twinge in my right knee as I ran.  "Ignore it"  I thought.  It'll go away.  Except it didn't.  It got worse.  I had real trouble on the downhills of trails, I even had trouble on the downstairs in my house.  Real pain that was there and didn't get better with rest.  Uh Oh!  time to go see a doctor.  My GP said rest.   "Thanks a lot"  I thought, as I called an orthopedic doc who scheduled me for an x-ray, then an MRI, and finally meniscus surgery after the tests revealed a tear.  So much for Grindstone 100 this year.  I scheduled the surgery for the 29th of December and was relieved when it wasn't too big of a deal. I didn't especially like the general anesthesia but the pain killers after the surgery were definitely alright! A few days of recovery, another trip to the ortho doc and then a clean bill of health.

Today is January 19th.  I've been back running four days now-all of them indoors on a treadmill.  My max long run is .........drum roll please........3.25 miles.  I tore up that treadmill with a sub 12:00 minute mile yesterday.  The good news is I feel good.  The knee feels good.  It feels good to sweat and to run...even slowly...even on a treadmill.  I have a feeling that the recovery will be slow, but am confident that I will be full strength soon.  So confident that Peg and I have signed up for a brand new ultra here in Pennsylvania- The Glacier Ridge Ultra. We'll see what else is out there for us this year.  New Jersey has a trail series.  There is the Oil creek 100/50, and of course there always Laurel Highland if I can fit it in.

It feels good after a couple of topsy turvy years to say that I'm a Pennsylvanian, and a Lancastrian. We love where we live, we love living in the city, we really love the trails in this area and have good running friends and a great running club-the LRRC.

It has been a long and winding road from there to here, but the road continues and I have miles to go before I sleep....before I sleep.

Peace to all, and I promise it won't be nine more months before another post!