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Saturday, August 23, 2014

"I Can Run Faster Than I Can Run"

Recovery from Squamish 50 has been interesting. The monday after, my family and I helped remove some of the flagging on the final 2k of the course. I had plans on doing more, but my right leg was definitely going on strike.

My wife and boys at Smoke Bluffs - de-flagging. 

As far as post race meals were concerned, I was seriously craving spicy food. I ate chicken curry, spicy tacos, thai spiced chicken etc. I think the body learns how to convert calories most efficiently based on the diet upon which you grew up, and I grew up with spicy food. In order to get the nutrients back into the system, that's an efficient way to do it. I have read supporting documentation of this concept, and thus far it seems to hold true in real life experience. Listen to the cravings and feed the body what it wants.

By Monday night I was reasonably sore, and we had a great lunch before leaving Squamish with Sean and Elaine after we did some pool and hot tub. The drive home, we dropped off the flagging at Gary's, and then dove into some much anticipated rest and relaxation. Sitting was aggravating my hamstring tendon, so I made a Float House session for Tuesday, and a physio appointment at Coast Therapy for Thursday.

Float Tank at Float House

Tuesday was rough. The Float House was really cool, and it was nice to just reset the nervous system with the sensory deprivation. I'll be setting up another session in the fortnight.
By Tuesday night, my ability to walk was seriously compromised, and I rested as much as I could.

Then Wednesday morning, I felt great. I could walk pretty much normally with no limp. All the spicy food, rest, and Float session had some impact. My recovery from training has normally been very positive this year, and the post race actions were doing likewise. After the physio session on Thursday, the assessment was I overextended the hamstring muscle and the hamstring tendon causing some minor tearing. We did Ultrasound, active release and IMS on the back of the leg all the way down to the calf. It hurt, but I knew the focus on those areas would draw my own healing into the right places, despite feeling beat up after the physio appointment.

I have a deep tissue massage set up for the 1st of September, and I'll start running again on the final weekend of August.

So, that leads us into Frosty 50k. What do I plan on doing different to prevent the mass explosion that was SQ50 and ensure a great race?
Frosty 50 Banner

Frosty 50 Pre-Race

  1. Recovery: I have to ensure I am injury free before this race. I really wrecked myself at Squamish, and ensuring I have enough rest, active recovery, and muscle therapy leading into the race are important. Float House sessions, massage, pool running and physio, with some active strength exercises are going to be vital. I have the base I need, and the technical ability to run so less focus on that, and more on the other aspects of the sports required athleticism. The We Run Mas support group is keeping me honest on ensuring I don't over reach before I'm fully recovered. Thanks team!
  2. Sleep: I have to ensure I get enough of it pre-race, so the 72 hours before race day will be boring, boring, boring. Lots of movies, and reading, and take it easy at work.
  3. Nutrition: Eat a lot. I normally carb load the 48 hours before, which I did NOT do for SQ50. I'll also ensure I am taking in and monitoring my Magnesium, since that is a major problem for me (I have magnesium deficiency, which plays a role in my electrolyte balance). 

Frosty 50 In -Race

Colin and I at Quest: SQ50
I'm actively releasing my calf cramp
Photo Credit: Jen Mullaly
  1. Start Slow: I was going at what was a moderate pace for SQ50, but even then I could have gone slower. The way I put it with my friends was, "I can run faster than I can run." It's a simple statement, but holds very true. I need to dial it back. I have a history of feeling really good, not "pushing" but not actively "holding it back" either, and then getting hit by a virtual linebacker ten yards from the goal line (I know a football metaphor in a running blog.) I can comfortably run a 4:40/km half marathon pace on flat terrain. So, that effort level taken down a few notches would be closer to a 5:25/km pace effort level (all equivalent exertion here, since pace on trails is irrelevant), and then one more notch down to a 5:50/km pace equivalent. Running a 5:50/km pace for me on flat feels like a crawl, so that's what I'm gonna do. Even if I have to go into a 6:00 or 6:10/km effort level, I'll do that.
  2. Nutrition: Infinit has worked really well for me in training, so the fact I couldn't hold down any fuel in the 2nd half of SQ50 was really odd. I'm used to having stomach issues, but haven't had any since training with Infinit. It's pretty much similar to Tailwind for liquid calories, but it's a Canadian company, and it's customizable, so that's all a bonus. To sate any potential hunger, I'm going to carry a sandwich or try some of Scott Jurek's rice balls (does that sounds creepy or is it just me?). I'll likely take in a little less than a 24oz bottle an hour, closer to 20oz per hour, which ought to get me around 220 calories per 60 minutes +/-. 
  3. Puking: IF I start puking again, I'll cut the race short. I haven't figured out how to recover from this yet. At Diez Vista 50k, I got nauseous but stayed on the dry side of hurling and finished really strong. So my goal is to keep the gut in check as much as possible, and prevent puking at ALL COST! It gets hard to breathe after, and really unravels things quickly for me. So, DON'T PUKE!!
  4. Cramping/Seizing: If it happens again, I'll do what I did at Squamish by slowing down, but I won't push through if it turns to full leg seizing. I have no problem getting a DNF for Frosty. I'm still learning how to manage the sport, and my expectations around it, so I'm thinking of the long game in this race.
  5. PEAK-A-BOO: There are two climbs in this race. The first one is just up and up to 7900', and then down and down. RULE: Do NOT bomb down the first peak. Dial it back, restrain the desire and take it easy, similar to a long run. On the second climb, maintain a steady pace. There are rollers on the top of the 2nd peak, so cruise along at a suitably moderate minus effort. On the 2nd peak descent, open up the legs and see what's left in the tank for the final 8k. I still need to do more course recon and see what different portions of the trails are like as I have run zero of the trails in Manning Park. 

Quest on SQ50. The "Old" Me.
Photo Credit: Jen Mullaly

In summary, my plan is to use the training that I have "in the bank" and be way more careful about my lead in to the race. It's far less supported than most races, as majority of the trails on course are very remote. This means I have to be smart and cautious. As much as I'd like to break the threshold of going from "Survivor" status in Ultra running to "Runner" status, I'm not there yet. I think with a few more finishes, and more experience, time will tell where I will end up falling into the longer distances. For shorter races of 25k and less, I'm definitely a mid-pack runner, and while I did my best to hang in that bunch for the last two Ultra races, it wasn't in the cards. It's a bit of an awakening. The person who went into Squamish 50 was not the same person who came out of Squamish 50. Who that person is won't be revealed until Frosty 50, but I'm hoping he's a lot more savvy! 

SQ50 Finish: The "Not the Same" Me
Photo Credit: Jen Mullaly

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