Thursday, January 26, 2012

Great Knee Knews!

Okay, I am possibly the only person who considers the diagnostic as good news, but compared to what I was expecting, it is quite pleasing.  Still not confirmed (I go for an MRI in March), but Dr. Bowman suspects a torn ACL.  Simple scope surgery (I might do it myself) and I am back on the trails.  Okay, I'm not even considering a hiatus to running, but if I did, it would be temporary!  Although some runs are accompanied by a sharp pain on every right heel strike, it does not come close to what happens when my back gets ugly, so I will continue running, but defer any Himalayan style ramp-ups until after the medical dust settles.

CSR:  Tried to run the course yesterday, but was very tired and weak and only made 2K.  I have been supporting production this week by racing (sorry Honda, "driving") cars into and out of assembly frame repair.  Work starts at 16:00 or 16:30 and ends at 01:00 (WGR:  I am beginning to understand some of your challenges!).  I get to bed about 02:00 each morning and due to a biological clock that has been conditioned to getting up at 05:45 every morning for the last 22 years, I am also studying severe sleep deprivation, without the nap option (there should be some small print here, somewhere).  Today was not much better (read slow as molasses in January) but completed the 7.2K course.  It was quite runnable, with few deep snow spots, no flooding and a deliciously treacherous ice crust.  It certainly gave the lateral muscles a workout!  I must admit, if we get 6 - 12 inches of snow, it would make the running a little easier.  Don't worry, I am very careful with what I wish for!

So my schedule this week has me working from 15:30 until midnight on Friday, then 06:30 until 15:00 on Saturday (physical inventory - my real day job in the last fiscal quarter) but I have some surprises in store for "them"!  I will work from 13:30 until 22:00 Friday (called a split shift), then show up late on Saturday.  at Honda, "late" means starting at 08:00.  Woohee!  I am such a radical!  If they don't like it, they can (hopefully) fire me.  For those of you out there entering the twilight of your careers as I am, there comes a point where getting fired has some appeal.  This is not quite how events would unfold (remember, this is a dream) but if I was fired now, the standard separation package would pay me until my pension kicked in...

Other running events are starting to unfold.  Lee Anne is starting to get nervous about running the Mont Tremblant Ironman one week before her inaugural Copper Kettle Dash.  The CKD is a 5K run and walk and a 10K run.  I think the realities of an over-stimulated schedule will reveal itself to Lee Anne very soon!

Also on the horizon is the Ontario Trail/Ultra Series Spring Warm-up.  If you are toying with this event and don't mind spending $35 to support the Ontario serieses, I would suggest that you are in for a surprisingly fun day.  This is the only event where I can run with friends, as opposed to race ahead or behind them.  You can also run with some of the OUS leaders, who somehow find low gear and socialize with us mortals.  The course is either affirmation or a nasty surprise for those who hibernate from the trails during the winter.  Why make the warm-up easier than the races?  Yeah, I get some flack over this one!  The latest rumour is that the SW might be up north in 2013.  I am struggling to envision what trails look like near Huntsville in mid-April.  Attending is without question, but I'm bringing survival gear!

For the Creemore Vertical Challenge, I will attempt something I have been toying with for several years.  I find adding a coffee sampler to the race kits a bit lame.  Also expensive ($600 / $3 per runner).  I added a new maple sap mainline last year, with 35 taps.  My plan is to make 200 maple syrup samplers (200 ml) for the race kits.  I should know better than to broadcast this change until I have 200 jugs in hand, but it looks doable in theory...


Saturday, January 21, 2012

The Creemore Snow Run

With 2 weeks before the big event, it was time to trial the course in snow.  How hard could it be?  There is barely a foot of snow, quite compressed and some of it even had footprints.  Easy, right?  Wrong.  I would not compare it to the toughest running conditions, but the old heart rate shot up and stayed there.  I did not clock the run, but it took circa 2 hour and 10 minutes to run 2 loops (14.5K).  There seemed to be little recovery on the roads, as they had 1 - 2 inches of slush.  The kind that results in slip-back on every step.  So, the "recovery" turned out to be a slow run with wasted effort.  Marvelous!

Running downhill on the trails was no picnic either.  Normally, you can let fly and the foot strikes are elongated commas in the soft snow.  Unfortunately, my knees are acting up and under 4 inches of soft snow is quite hard snow (not quite ice) that shakes up the legs and sends the feet in wild directions.  Although the knees took a beating, it was true trail running, never knowing which way the feet will land and spending great effort in continuously correcting the line of attack.

The effort to cover 15K (I'm going to round up here - if you run CSR you will empathise) was startling.  I would compare it to a 20K hill run.  I lay down to rest after the run!

So now all we can do is wait and see what the weather gods send our way.  Will it be 4 inches of slush, or 4 feet of powder?  I'm hoping for something in the middle.  No, not 2 feet of slush, but a bit more than 1 foot of semi-packed snow would be about right.  And today's weather would be quite nice, on February 4.  It was -7, clear skies, little wind and bright sunshine.  The kind of day where going for that extra loop is fine, just fine.

It was nice to beat myself up a bit today in what has become a relatively long run for me.  I was on the treadmill on Thursday and running was not happening.  Both runs (today and Thursday) were without Advil (I run much better with the anti-inflammatory) but Thursday's run was very disappointing.  I covered 5K in 28 minutes and did not enjoy the run.  Much resistance and considerable knee pain.

I see a sports doctor on Monday to assess my good (right) knee.  I am experiencing sharp pain in my right knee on every heel strike.  The "feeling" is bone on bone and I am not looking forward to the diagnosis.  I have had a few knee injuries (right!) and it is not IT band, inner cartilage, tendinitis (I don't think), ACL, patella tendon, or a fractured knee cap...  On today's run, I was wondering if it is causing me pain because I have favoured my left (bad) knee for 35 years.  I guess I wait and see!

So if you have nothing to do on Saturday, Feb. 4 and enjoying the thrill of hyperventilation (I tried hard to find a positive about running in a foot of snow) come on up to Creemore for a fun run with a bunch of crazies!

Monday, January 9, 2012

IAU Bronze Certification for Creemore Vertical Challenge!

I think the title says it all.  I was quite excited when I read the email today, detailing how the CVC was now a race on the international stage.  I won't go as far as to say it is in the big league (with a cap of 200, this will never happen) but I like the concept that some world calibre runners, who need an IAU race in early July, and have heard of Canada, might (oh, to dream) actual toy with a race called "Creemore"?

Drawing international calibre ultra runners is likely a pipe dream, but loyalty to NA dictates that I stress how CVC has already attracted high calibre athletes, such as Laurie McGrath and Adam Hill.  And there is more than a remote chance of drawing American runners, who need IAU points and are within striking distance of Ontario.  Ottawa 24 hour (an IAU Bronze race) saw Jamie Donaldson break the US 200,000 meter record (200K) while running the 24 hour race.  She ran 200K in about 16 hours, then tapered dramatically to complete 214K in 24 hours, which is silly (I mean, think about it) but the amazing part is that she could have gone further, but the quick witted RD at Ottawa pointed out to her circa 15 hours into her race, that if she picked up the pace, the USA 200K female record was possible.  So, after 15 hours, she pushed her legs hard, broke the record, but affected her 24 hour performance.

So now I face the quandary of having to tell Scott Jurek that the CVC has reached it cap and he will have to wait until next year for a berth in the race.  Yeah!  Like that's ever going to happen!  He has free entry if he shows up race day.  But this does present a minor issue.  I have assured the land owners that only 200 runners would be on their trails during race day.  What if I reach my cap and one of England's top runners asks to run? (I'm thinking Ellie Greenwood, who only attains Canadian citizenship this summer) Or someone from Kenya?  Okay, another stretch!  Similar to the UCC, turn a potential issue into a positive.  I will talk with the land owners (one of whom is taking a pottery lesson from Lee Anne as I type) and ask if it would be okay to top the cap for national and international runners.  Most land owners have a blast on race day, cheering the runners or participating themselves.  I expect that a chance to see top level ultra runners would be a draw!

Well, as you can tell from this entry, I'm pumped, and looking forward to what 2012 might bring!  Details on the UCC will be posted on in the near future.

Dig Deep!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Running can be a challenge

Not much to report.  Did not run much this week as I was supporting production by driving cars.  Walk outside to the car compound, pick a car that needs repair, drive it into the repair area, get into a car that has been repaired, drive it to shipping, repeat 100 times.  I think that I walked about 2K every hour, for 48 hours this week.  Since I was walking on pavement and concrete, it took a toll on my knees.  Running was quite painful, so taking a few days off was the correct decision.

Medals for the Creemore Snow run and the OTS / OUS Spring Warm-up are nearing completion.  I made 48 SW medals, which is a bit optimistic, but you never know!  I think word is getting out that the SW is actually a lot of fun and there is usually a fair number of prizes.  Pottery for sure this year as Lee Anne is in her new studio about 20 hours per week.  I have put up more taps (you will see why at this year's CVC) so it should translate into more maple syrup prizes.

For those who missed last year's SW in Dunedin (near Creemore), the course starts with 800 meters of flat road, then a 3K hill.  The hill goes up, in case you forgot who is writing this.  At the start of the first loop, someone remarked that it was obvious who made the course, while another runner asked if the hill had a top.  About 2K into the hill, you turn a corner and through an optical illusion, the hill seems to continue for another 5-6 K.  Rest assured that although the road does continue upwards for a few more kilometers, the course veers onto the Bruce trail and actually goes downhill for 200 meters!

The course then goes uphill and downhill for another 10K.  Simple!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

The New Year!

Well, I tried various novel methods of dealing with bad knees and although they were all exciting and a lot of fun, I thought I'd give denial another stab.  Like that sentence...  Stabbing denial!

Lee Anne and I spent a couple of nights up north (Orillia and Deerhurst) and I thought, 2 days with no trees to cut down, wood to chop, snow to shovel, etc., so let's try running 3 out of 4 days.  To be concise, it worked.  Lots of knee pain, but I was able to run for 50 - 60 minutes for 2 consecutive days, then 2 hours after a day off.

Today's run was fun fun fun; the trails still had 4 inches of slush and it was teeming rain for about half of the 2 hour run.  With temperatures at 4C at Mad river level and 2C on top of the Niagara escarpment, walking for long stretches was curtailed (part of my plan, once I realized running outside was bending normal) and I experienced very few hot flashes...

Well, welcome to the new year!  Here is a very brief review of 2011:

Good:  Still learning the intricacies of being a race director, but starting to see patterns and can now apply more time to inspiring and topical race details.

The CVC went smoothly (I'm going to ignore Wanda's near-death experience...) and more people now hate the race with an irrational passion.  Thanks to Sharon Z., who came up with a cute slogan for the race (I believe it was sourced from a US race):  "We are not happy until you are not happy".  I am hoping to obtain IAU bronze certification, which (thanks Lisa) actually helps the national ultra team to obtain support from the Canadian government.  If you have not run the race yet, there are actually only 4 hills, so come on by!  If you have run the race, please review the definition of a hill on the race page...

Also good:  I was able to complete all non-ultra races.

Bad:  I DNF'd my only attempt at an ultra distance (Run for the Toad 50K), so 2011 will go down in infamy as the first year since I started running ultras where I did not!

I have now come to terms with not running an ultra in 2011 and I hope to run one in 2012.  The only cloud on the horizon is an appointment with a sports doctor on January 23, 2012 to check out my good knee.  See  prior blog entry as to why I call it my good knee.

And so, 2011 is in the bag and 2012 is filled with promise and high expectations!  I will wait until after my appointment before posting my 2012 race wish list.

Dig Deep!