My first ultra is in only 10 days!
I am sure at some point I will get very nervous about this. Maybe I should start thinking of a game plan - drop bags or will Mr. Wildknits crew? What is my fueling plan? Lately I have been using E-gel and, once I learned the flask trick, that has been going well (volume was too much for me at one time so put a couple packets in a flask, dilute it a bit with water, and 'sip' as needed). I do find myself getting hungry on the longer training runs and have been experimenting with some solid foods to see what sits well. No definite trend, though pretzels are a fave and the Cliff bars marketed for kids sat well.
Calf update: took most of last week off of running (no Wednesday night NMTC trail race). Did get in 17 miles on the course Saturday with Leslie and Wayne, starting in Chamber's Grove Park. Opted not to run the new start as I was not sure I could find it, so instead ran the old route. Calf felt good and I think we stumbled upon part of the course. We tried to stay true to the route, even running into the Grand Portage Aid Station ;-> It was a good opportunity to shed a layer. Headed out on the SHT from there. Our destination was Spirit Mountain.
It was a wet and cool day, with occasional spitting and sputtering from the clouds. We met at noon and didn't really get going on the trail till almost one (had to drop water at a road crossing in addition to shuttling vehicles, plus mid-day runs mean more time for procrastination in the morning!). We also planned the later start to miss out on the other two events taking place on the trail that day: Grand Traverse and a SHTA group hike. We still saw more people on the trail then I ever have - usually I have it all to myself!
The calf held up well but my left knee was a bit painful. As a matter of fact everything from the hips down hurt off and on throughout the run. Ended up taking some ibuprofen and chalking it up to a lot of days of doing nothing.
The trail was in great shape! Nice to see in light of all the rain and the number of other users on it that day. The trees are just starting to really show their colors, with some spectacular displays along the way. Even some aspens on Ely's Peak were throwing a little orange into their traditional yellow coloring. Could be a beautiful display in 10 days if the leaves hang on.
Since this was a long run, and the first since the past weekend, I was trying to be conservative and not push it too much. Walked the uphills, mentally keeping an "eye" on the left calf and ready to scale it back if it began to hurt or feel tight at all. Amazingly, not one of us brought a cell phone with so there were no options for a rescue if needed (other than sending Leslie sprinting away to get help - she is fast and was very generous with her time by running with us! But that is another reason why she is Northland Runner's Runner of the Month).
Shortly after leaving Ely's Peak it got chilly and I put my long-sleeved shirt back on. Throughout the run I was glad I had worn tights. If the temps are in the 40's on race day I think I have my clothing figured out! We stopped at the first road crossing with Skyline Blvd. to refill water bottles, dump gel packets and resupply as needed. Then it was on to one of my favorite sections of trail: Magney-Snively. The SHT passes through some old-growth hardwoods and it is beautiful in every season.
We were getting close to Spirit at this point - by road maybe a mile or two. From just past the Magney-Snively parking lot the trail joins Skyline Blvd for a bit, then drops down below the road and eventually comes out at the bottom of the ski hill. In the process you cross an old bridge and some amazing stonework along a creek, as well as the foundation of the house that this road led to. From the base of Spirit the trail climbs, and climbs some more. We turned off the main trail just before crossing the Knowlten Creek bridge and did some more climbing to the parking lot. This was the point where my calf made the announcement that it had had enough of steep hills. Not as dramatically as the past Saturday, but enough that I was glad we were coming to the end of the run.
Once we were all gathered at the car it began to rain a bit harder. We hopped in to run the shuttle (this time remembering to pick up the water drop!) and then it was off to home. I had a hot sauna waiting for me, a favorite after a long, cold run.
I stayed in the house long enough to eat (had skipped lunch and was starving at this point) and then headed out to the sauna. It is wood-fired, relatively small (seats 3 comfortably, more than that and you are way too close), and HOT! The thermometer was registering in the 190's. I have apparently lost some of my tolerance so was in and out of there fairly frequently to cool off. Since it was raining I opted to hover in the changing room doorway vs sitting in a chair out back.
The next day my legs were feeling pretty good, though a bit stiff and it was nice to get out for a walk to loosen things up. Took Monday off from running and debated if I needed to be seen and have the calf/leg worked on some more. This morning's run decided that for me. Calf felt pretty good but my knee hurt! Diagnosis: left TFL and IT band are a bit flared up, probably from compensating for the calf. Had everything worked on, iced most areas at work (when I had the time) and will block out some quality time with my foam roller in the coming days.
I feel like I have been on a month long taper so it is hard to figure out how to "taper" at this point. My plan was to resume my normal pattern on running Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday this week, then really cut back next week (no NMTC race next Wednesday so that would be easy). I am hearing some rumblings that I should take it even easier in light of the ongoing issues with my leg. Hard for me to follow as I find that being sedentary just makes me feel stiffer at times. On the other hand I really do not want to mess up anything before this race. Opinions???
If it helps, I ran really easy for 30 minutes today (felt that way to me, heart rate monitor is f****d so have no real idea - either that or I have a heart arrythmia that I cannot feel), plan on running 6k tomorrow and want to run my usual route to work on Thursday. Thinking 8-10 on the weekend.
Need to save up some energy for getting gardens put to bed - though we still have not had a hard frost yet. Also redesigning the Celtic Braid Hat - there will be a version 2.0 as I work out some issues with the first pattern (like why I have so many increase rounds - what was I thinking?).
Good luck to all of you running in one of the Whistlestop races! Have fun out there - may the wind be out of the west and there be no snow this weekend!
Selective Focus: Matt Kania
7 hours ago