Monday, February 28, 2011

Resting, Repairing, and Running Through Injuries?

The human body and mind are marvelous mechanisms. They can endure so much (more than you think), and there is an amazing amount and often indescribable organization behind it all.  Over the years, and through many "science experiments" with my body and mind, I feel that I am getting to know it well.  I think many runners get to a point when they realize that they need a little time off to let things repair, but there are probably just as many that are unable to stop doing the activities they love so much.  This blog post was inspired by a very interesting article written by fellow pacific northwest ultra runner and friend Justin Angle.  He talks about finding out just the right time to rest in order to maximize your potential and elude injury.  I encourage you to check out his blog and very informative article by clicking HERE.

But what if it's too late?  What if you missed that opportunity to take a rest and you have some injurious pains and discomforts that take the sheer joy out of running long distances?  Are there pains and injuries that you can continue to run through?  As ultra runners we are definitely going to come across injuries....even Dean gets injured from time to time!  It has been my experience that more often than not I am putting some "fire" out, or keeping something nagging "at bay."  I am going to share a few tips that I suggest to athletes that I coach and that have helped me along the way. A combination of the procedures below have allowed me to continue training, or have helped me to recover as soon as possible.

First off...I have become best friends with ice!  I'm a big fan of ice baths after long or intense efforts but here is another one of my favorites:

1)  Ice Dipping-  Great for lower leg injuries.  If you feel any plantar fasciitus, achilles or calf issues, or tendonitis in the ankles coming on than this is a great way to "nip it in the bud."  Also good for sprained ankles. You want to make it as cold as possible.  I have a small trash can that I fill w/ ice water (see video below).  Basically the dipping of your leg into the frigid cold water is analogous to wringing out a sponge.  You only need to dip it for like 20 seconds.  I know you could keep it in longer but it's not necessary in this situation.  The cold water pushes out wastes from the injured area then when you take your leg out fresh blood rushes back into the area which expedites the healing process.  Try to do it as many times as you can....the more you do it the faster you will heal. You can bring something like this to work (grab a couple bags of ice on the way) and try to do it every 20 minutes or so.

2)  Ice pack/ heat pad-  You can pick one of these guys up at most pharmacies.  Again the cold to hot promotes blood flow that will speed up the recovery process.  The velcro strap pack is nice because you can strap it on and do other things while your hands are free.  If you buy two of the gel packs (think squishy blue) you can use one in the microwave for hot and one in the freezer for cold.

3)  Frozen paper cup-  This one (along w/ the aforementioned ice pack/heat pad) are pretty common yet very effective.  All you do for this one is fill up a paper cup w/ water and stick it in your freezer.  After it's frozen just take it out and peel off the top part until you have ice showing.  Massage the affected area with the little exposed block of ice.  It works much better than a bag of ice or frozen peas.  Last time my mom visited she asked why I had a bunch of frozen cups in my freezer!

4)  Epsom salt baths-  I love these...In fact almost every Monday I take completely off from running and enjoy a hot bath w/ these restorative minerals.  Good for mind and body!

5)  Turmeric-  Instead of popping Ibuprofen or the like I like to cook with this Indian spice widely known for it's anti-inflammatory properties.  When there are additional "flare-ups" I use it even more.  One of my favorites is heating up some vegetable broth and adding a bunch of the bright yellow spice.  Maybe it's somewhat of a placebo but hey it works!

Again one of the main things that helps heal tendons and ligaments (which don't get much blood flow) are promoting that flow to the area. It takes just as much discipline and consistency as you put forth in your training.  So as the training log books are starting to fill up make sure you stay on top of things, get good sleep, and clear em' up as they come and you'll get to recognize what certain things are and how to deal with them.  I hope this helps a little and feel free to contact me at any time to let me know how things worked, or if you have any additional questions.

The last couple of weeks I hit over 80 miles each week and towards the end noticed a few blips on the radar.  Thankfully I backed off a little and incorporated some of the above practices but was able to run through them.  Sometimes running also brings blood flow to certain areas and in this case I was able to escape unscathed.  As of right now I'm feeling good about hitting the trails again tomorrow!  See you out there :-)

Disclaimer:   I'm not a doctor by any means so if you have anything serious you may want to contact your doc or do some of your own research. I have obsessed on the internet for hours at times in order to get me back running as soon as possible.  Good luck!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Dave Terry Memorial in Forest Park (Portland, OR)

(this symbol of Dave's initials were worn on pins made by Tonya Olson at last year's Chuckanut 50k)

Although I never met Dave Terry personally I know many people who were quite close with him and I have heard stories about his character and accomplishments in the sport of ultra running.  A couple weeks ago when a friend of mine (ultra runner and Chuckanut's race director Krissy Moehl) was in town we went on a run together in Forest Park.  We chatted about many things including the fact that recently a memorial piece was placed in the park for the long time Portland trail runner.  I wasn't able to take her to the site of the memorial at that time but promised I'd get some pictures/video before this year's race.  Today was the perfect day with the sun shining bright and not a cloud in the sky.  I took my camera along with me on my tempo run through the expansive park that I love so much.  

The memorial is nestled just off the intersection of Leif Ericson and Nature Trail right on the bank of a little stream.  The timing was perfect as the sun was shining through the moss covered trees.  Even though I didn't know Dave I thought about him for a few moments before finishing off the rest of my run.  

The writing on the plaque reads:

"May you have an epic run, my friend.---In memory of ultramarathoner, Dave Terry"

I'm planning on heading up to Washington for Chuckanut 50k in a few weeks which is a great race that is dedicated to Dave.  You can read more about both the race and the long time ultra runner by clicking HERE.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Rocky Raccoon Race Report

A lot of buzz in the sport of ultrarunning regarding Rocky Raccoon.  Most of it is coming from the fact that the course record got smashed and the fastest trail 100 mile was run on American soil this past weekend.  One of the main reasons I decided to head down to Huntsville, Texas was to be a part of the hype, run a fast 50-miler, and get inspired by these superstars for hopefully a solid season ahead.  The lineup for the 100 was intimidating and there were some dark horses in there too.  More on that in a second...

First...the J.V. race----6:55 a.m. race day I am sitting in my rental car trying to stay warm and putting the finishing touches on my race gear, etc.  I am 100 yards from the start line and I get out of the car.  I hear people yelling and screaming.  I think, "they must have just made some pre-race announcement".  As I jog up leisurely the closer I get I notice there are now no people.  I missed the start!  My watch must have been a little off so I fight my way through the back of the crowd all the way to the front.  By the time I catch up to the leader Todd Braje I am a little worked from the early race fartlek workout.  I run w/ Todd for about half a minute and by looking at his elegant, efficient stride I know that there is no way in hell I'm even attempting to hang with him.  He moves on out of sight.  About 30 minutes later I start having some stomach pains which I rarely get in ultras.  I'm forced to stop off in the woods.  I take care of business and then about 50 yards later I realize that there is a port-o-potty at the end of the long dirt road.  I stop in there too!  Doh!

(soakin' up some Vitamin D and wondering where my buddy Todd disappeared off to! Photo: Lynn B.)

* Despite the stops I ran the first 16.67 mile loop in like 1:55....I thought that if I could stay right around 2 hours (or under) per loop I could get a sub 6 hour 50-miler (which sounded nice).
* Loop 2 I started feeling pretty good.  I let the notion of catching Todd go (he was on fire!) and was focusing on sub 6.  I started feeling pretty strong on this loop and it was fun to see Jurek, Anton, Hal and others out on the course.  I came in just over 2 hours (I think it was like 2:04 something).  Even though I was just over two hours I was still right on track.
* Loop 3 I took off like a banshee and was confident that I could attain my goal.  All of the sudden around mile 40 or so the stomach issues start again. Fleeting sharp pains and feelings of...well... I don't want to really talk about it!  I didn't feel like eating much but forced down some Gu Roctane.  At one point around mile 45 I tripped over a root and my hamstring seized up.  I started falling apart and my goal was slipping away.  The last five miles were pretty pathetic.
(are we there yet?  Photo: Lynn B.)

I finished with a time of 6:17 and 2nd place overall behind Todd Braje, who smashed the course record by winning w/ a time of 5:48!!!  Nice work Todd!!! and to all others that ran either of the races this past weekend.  I know I have a sub 6 hour in me and I may go back some year to do it...It's a good ol' Texas party down there and very well-run event.  My feet were in great shape the whole race thanks to Drymax socks and the Inov-8 F-lite 195's and I must say the course was nice.  Some beautiful spots by the lake and more rolling hills and trails than I expected.  Much flatter than most things I run but I wouldn't call it pancake flat.  The weather turned out to be ideal!
(cool pottery prize from the Copper Canyon and another finisher medal for Farah to play with! Photo: Jenny Uehisa)

Now for the much anticipated 100-miler.  There were some big dogs running and some great runners who flew in under the radar.  I must say that just before coming down, while analyzing and predicting, I told a buddy to watch out for Ian Sharman.  Anyway, there were some amazing performances by established 100-mile runners, but when I saw Ian Sharman come through mile 60 and then 80 I could tell that he was in the flow....the zone.  He had this look in his eye.  I don't think many others saw this but at one point I even saw him rip open a gel, suck it down, and toss it without looking straight into the small garbage box.... DUDE WAS ON ONE!!! and it was so cool to be a witness.  So Ian Sharman set a new American 100-mile trail record of 12:44 which is still pretty hard to wrap my head around!

As for the chase pack....I was semi-crewing for Hal, Anton, and my roommate Mike Wolfe.  It was fun hanging out with Jurek and Jenny (Jenny did an amazing job covering the race at InsideUltras on Twitter), meeting all kinds of people, and then meeting our runners at the different aid stations. Anton started turning it on the last 20 miles but it was kind of late as Ian had built a pretty nice cushion and continued to hammer it home.  Anton and Hal duked it out all the way to the end and those two should be extremely proud of the way they ran.  Another amazing spectacle and inspiring performance....thank you.  Great hanging out :-) On the women's side Liza Howard threw down a mind boggling time and every time I saw her she was smiling...Nice work Liza!  I'm always so amazed by people when I attend these events....Congrats again to everyone :-)

Full results for the 100 are HERE

Thanks to RD Joe Prusaitus and all the volunteers down there.  You guys know how to do it right!  I'll be down for Bandera 100k next January and I hope to see ya there too!

(Hangin' in the start/finish tent post of the coolest things about this sport.  Photo Shannon Farar-Griefer)

(Plant based duo...Scott Jurek and by Jenny Uehisa)

Next up:  Chuckanut 50k!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Rocky Raccoon

For the past several months I was planning on escaping the Portland, Oregon winter just at the right time to elude some of the dreary cold and rain.  I had a 50-miler picked out in sunny southern California and made all the travel plans necessary.  I was pretty excited for the rugged Twin Peaks 50-mile course and event and the fact that I'd be running in the sun in mid February.  Well....things changed!  Apparently there was a bunch of landslides causing damage to the Twin Peaks course making it unsafe and inaccessibly for aid stations, etc. so they cancelled the February race.  I was bummed.  I had my heart on an early season 50-miler.  I searched around California, given that I had a non-refundable airline ticket, for other trail ultras.  I did find the Montana de Oro 50k the same weekend and initially had substituted that race for Twin Peaks.

Then one day after reading some running blogs and on a training run with Todd Braje I went out to lunch with my wife Erica. A thought came to my mind as we were walking into the cafe.  Erica said, "uh oh....what????"  I said, "I'll tell you over lunch".  I went on to tell her about my spontaneous thought.  "Maybe I could go run Rocky Raccoon 50-miler???"

After I got home I did some research and found out that I could save my California plane ticket in a "bank" w/ Jetblue and use it within one year.  I looked around a found a cheap ticket to Texas and the plans were in the works.  I have been known to be spontaneous like this in the past!

So I'm off to Texas bright and early Friday morning and will be back to Portland by 1pm on Sunday.  The middle part will be filled with seeing friends, running a flat, fast 50-miler, and watching and/or crewing for some peeps in the much anticipated 100-miler.  Apparently there is some football game going on down there this weekend too?

Rocky Raccoon here I come!  

You can track the 50 or 100 mile race by clicking HERE