272 days. That's the amount of days since I toed the starting line of a race. My last race was the SD Trail Running Championship (SDTRC) in November 2013. After that race I somewhat shut down to rehab my ever-annoying Achilles tendon. Following are the total mileages for the subsequent three months:
20 in Dec, 42 in Jan, 28 in Feb.
My impression was that my leg needed rest above all and thus used the cold weather and icy road conditions as a perfect excuse to stay inside. I worked on stretches, but didn't take the rehab further than that. After increasing my mileage again to 90+ miles in March, I immediately felt the Achilles acting up again and followed in April and May with ~60mi months.
I felt as if nothing was changing and finally decided to have a MRI on my leg. I was expecting to see some micro-tears that would result in some prescribed rehab training and prepared to shut down the racing season before entering the first race.
The result was negative. It showed a mild amount of muscle tightness and thus explained that the knots in my calf muscles strain the Achilles tendon and result in a popping sensation after strenuous (fast/long) runs.
So basically I am an idiot. Had I stretched, warmed up, cooled down properly, I could have avoided this whole scenario that has been bugging me for over 18 months now.
I tried my new routine of stretching, foam rolling and massaging the leg regularly while increasing my mileage again to 90+, but at much slower pace than what I did in 2013. It seemed to work.
9 days. That's the amount of days until my next race. Yesterday I signed up for the Badlands 50mile (80KM) Ultra-Marathon in the Theodore Roosevelt National Park in Medora, ND. A month ago I had planned on signing up for this race already, but had many concerns about the shape I was in and the daunting task of 50 miles with 10,500' (3.2km) elevation change in the middle of the summer in the arid, windy and hot Badlands of North Dakota.
I knew that I can't sign up for a race like this without knowing whether I will enjoy doing it. I know I can finish it, as a glorified hike can get me in under the cut-off, but that's not the goal. As my wife and daughter are travelling with me, I want to make sure it will be worth mine and their time.
Confidence boosters for this race:
I just finished my second highest mileage month ever: 150miles
Comparing mileage of June/July of 2013 to 2014: 230 to 253. In addition I also biked for 60 miles and swam 1.5 miles as cross training to relieve stress from my legs.
Dropped 9 lbs since June 1 and begin to resemble racing weight.
Did heat specific runs in heat exceeding 90F (32C).
When I ran the SDTRC in November it had 13,800' (4.2km) elevation change over 10 miles, while the Badlands 50 "only" has 10,500' (3.2km) over 50 miles. At the SDTRC, I averaged my goal race pace for the 50 miler, but with much steeper climbing.
At this point I have been nerding out on the elevation profile of the race and am trying to plan when I will eat, drink, make a move if battling for position etc.
Studying the race profile
At the Lean Horse 50 miler last year, I came in at 9:04h. Had I not detoured on the course, it'd been under 9 and planning my hydration and cooling much better this time around, I hope to shave off one additional hour. The two unknown factors to me will be the impact of wind and running single track trail that could snake on the descents and not allow to make up time. (at least I am already preparing possible excuses!)
I have a couple more training runs this week before I go into taper mode next week in preparation for the race.
I am excited. I am ready. Let's do this!