So....Badger Mountain left me with some serious battle wounds. Coming into the Spokane River Run, I was dealing with recurring heel and knee pain. Confidence was something that I was desperately lacking. The week of the race, I could barely run (hobble) a handful of miles comfortably. I was not planning on tapering for this event....I wanted to arrive at the start semi-fatigued. This was intended to be my final long training run for Sun Mountain and it was to be treated as such. Having to reduce mileage drastically gave me a serious case of the grumps.
Jeff and I arrived in Spokane the afternoon prior to the race. When I went to pick up my packet, the gentleman exclaimed excitedly that I was "NUMBER ONE!".....I was hoping that this bib number was a sign of good fortune. When I signed up for this race, I dreamed of a sweet PR and earning a spot on the podium. The elevation gain was minimal and it was a small race....A girl can be optimistic! With my injuries, those ambitious goals became doubtful BUT I still held onto a small sliver of hope.
I could not sleep the night before the race....Honestly, this was due to concern over my dog rather than nerves about the race. We've never traveled without Yoshimi and I was legitimately worried his feelings....Yes, I'm one of those people.
This was the first race that I've ever taken pain killers prior to. I'm a firm believer in listening to your body.....you cannot act accordingly if drugs interfere with the messages that your body wants to send.
Arriving at the start line, I was scared....I had no idea how the day would plan out. Not to mention, I was committing a cardinal race sin....I was wearing brand new shoes the day of a race....And these weren't even shoes that I was familiar with (brand or model).
The first fifteen miles flew by in a blur. 25k participants started at the same time as the 50k; this made it difficult to know how I was faring compared to others. When I approached the halfway aid station (which doubled as the finish for the 25k), I made the TERRIBLE mistake of asking what female place I was in. They responded that I was in second place, I was shocked. Unfortunately, this caused me to push WAY too hard for the next 10 miles. Around mile 25, I watched the two women that I was running with slowly slip away along with any hope of attaining podium glory. By mile 28, I was walking more than running. Two other women passed me...looking much fresher than I felt. Those last three miles took FOREVER.
I finished in 5 hours 34 minutes....A 33 minute trail 50k PR....Good enough to earn 6th place overall female and 2nd in my age division. I'm proud of these statistics being that I had just raced a challenging 50k three weeks prior AND was injured.
I'm really anxious to return to this race next year. Because it's less than two hours from home, I'm assuming it will become an annual event. My main complaint / disappointment about this race was that the aid stations did not have soda. The website did not list aid station specifics - what they would have or where they would be. I just assumed that most ultras have soda.....Coke has been my savior during the later stages of the race more times than I can count. I called Jeff after the final aid station and just yelled, "COKE!!! COKE!!! COKE!!!" I was fueled by 40 ounces of Tailwind alone.
My recovery week SUCKED. Here's a valuable lesson: do not race injured. And if you do, just enjoy the event and go sloooowwww. I'm not only still dealing with heel pain but now I have a minor calf strain. I'm a firm believer in active recovery. There have been races where I'm on my stationary bike a few hours within finishing in order to loosen up sore muscles. 48 hours is the longest post-race time that I've gone without running. This time around, I could barely walk without a limp even 72 hours later. Here's how things have played out....
M: Bike 14 miles
T: Walk 3.5 miles // Bike 12 miles /// Run 1 mile (with walk breaks every other block - this one hurt)
W: Run 2.5 miles (with significant walk breaks) /// Walk 3 miles /// Bike 30 minutes
Th: Walk 2 miles // Bike 55 minutes
F: Run 4 miles in the morning (only one walk break!) /// Run 2 miles after work (walking every other block)
S: Run 6 miles (no pain and no walking - almost normal pace) // Bike 30 minutes + light strength training
Sun: Run 8.5 miles (Only minor discomfort but about one minute slower pace than usual) /// 4 mile mellow hike
I was able to run this morning but it wasn't what I would describe as pleasant. Seems like I'm in a two steps forward, one step back situation. At least I'm making progress slowly. I'm three weeks out from the Sun Mountain 50 miler. I plan to just run VERY cautiously for the next week and then decide whether my taper will actually be a running break.
Wednesday, April 1, 2015
Jeff and I arrived in the Tri-Cities (Eastern Washington) the day prior to the race. I spent the entire drive feeling anxious about the fact that I could sense an oncoming cold (the one that our son had been battling all week). The night before, I began getting a super sore throat and then felt super weak on my shakeout run.
After we checked into our hotel, I wanted to check out the course. For those traveling to races....ALWAYS do this. Obviously, you don't have to run the entire thing but this will give you a rough idea of what to expect. Also, it's fairly important to know exactly where the starting line will be and how long it will take you to get there. I'm not a morning person and there is no way that I'm getting up a minute earlier than I have to.....and I'm not a huge fan of standing around waiting for the race to start. Races don't start early.....what's the point of being there an hour ahead of time? I'd rather have the nervous poops in the comfort of a real bathroom, thank you very much.
The only thing that unnerved me was the heat. The Tri-Cities is a desert....there is NO tree protection. The race website states, "This region is unique in that there are very few native trees so a person can see for miles in all directions." The temperatures were in the high 70's, which can be brutal without any shade especially when you're coming from North Idaho during a time of year when 50's feel downright tropical.
Pictures below were taken by the race photographer of the course....
We started the race with a long climb....perfect for warming up! I came within inches of being hit with a flying tumbleweed .... one of the many that almost brought about my demise. I remember looking to the person running next to me and saying, "Did that just happen?!?" They just laughed.
I'm not one for writing out play-by-play recaps....and I doubt that anyone wants to read one. I'll just give the highlights...
The course was an out-and-back that consisted of running up (and down) three mountains....and then doing the same in reverse.
|Elevation Profile via Garmin|
I got caught in what I would refer to as a dust / sand cyclone that lasted for at least two miles. Running in a dust storm is not what I would call pleasant. You would have to alternate running forwards and backwards just to get a break.
The weather was just so fickle that you had to laugh about it. I've found that laughing in the face of a challenge makes it easier to conquer. There was absolutely no portion of this race where I was not confident about a finish. I felt amazing the entire time....Well, as amazing as one can feel running a 50k.
I carried a 20 oz bottle with a concentrated Tailwind mixture (2.5 scoops)....I refilled the bottle once. In total, I consumed maybe 500 calories of that? Other than that, I drank Coke at two aid stations + plenty of pure water (at least one cup per station).
Physically, I began to suffer once I reached 27 miles but I wasn't miserable. I was able to sprint (somewhat) to the finish.