14 May 2014


I haven't had a serious injury in a while, or anything as serious as this yet - but I found myself unable to walk after the Bear Mtn 50 Miler.

After the race, John, Mary, and I were walking towards the subway. we were hobbling there. I could not walk without pain and when I saw a cab, I flung myself into it, barely saying goodbye to my friends.

I was in that much pain. 

I woke up in agony, literally crying. I cancelled my plans for the day (easy run; going to the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens with Wayne; going to a dance party w Dite and some of my burner friends) and spent the day with my foot up, ice pack on, popping Ibuprofins, really worried. I become even more upset when I began Googling "pain lower shin."

Oh no, did I have a stress fracture? No, no, no, no, NO!

I went to my PT, Dan, at Fresh Pond Physical Therapy (AWESOME PT!), who is just around the block from me. He said he thought it was just tendinitis, but said I would need an MRI to verify that.

I called Dr. Goolsby and they somehow squeezed me in for an appointment. I took a cab because I could barely walk and almost threw up in the cab I was so nervous. I tried to focus on studying Spanish while I waited but I was so nervous.

She looked at my foot, talked with me, walked me walk - and then said yes, it's impossible to verify if it's a stress fracture without an MRI. She got me an air cast and told me to wear it all the time, except when I was sleeping. She told me I could bike with no resistance, or swim, or aqua jog. Bleh.

MRI was the next day. The whole appointment took me nearly two hours, and they played Alicia Keys while I was in there, which was nice when I wasn't hearing those awful "EH EH EH EEEEEEEEEEEEHHHHHHHHHHHHH" sounds. I was on edge when I left....

I called my doctor....and she was so busy she didn't call me back. I felt awful and everyone kept texting me, IMing me, emailing me, calling me...."Did you hear back from your doctor?"

Finally, she called. It wasn't a stress fracture, but a stress reaction, she explained. I had significant swelling in the muscle. I should keep off it for two weeks.

"From my race? I mean, it's already been five days without running?"

"Well....why don't you schedule an appointment for a week and a half from now." Eeeek.

She said I could bike, so that was good at least. I hit up the gym the next day and got some great trashy novel reading in while biking. It wasn't as fun as running, but at least it was moving my legs.

My PT said I could start running, slow if I had no pain. The run was like heaven. Nothing had ever felt so wonderful....

I'm resting, I'm bracing, I'm chilling...and soon I will hopefully be 100% running and back to my normal crazy self!

05 May 2014

Bear Mountain 50 Miler: No Matter What, It Eats You Alive

Bear Mountain. It's a tough place. Why the hell would anyone run an ultramarathon?

As Sir Edmund Hillary so-famously said, "Because it's there."

For the 5th time, I set out to run the North Face Endurance Challenge Bear Mountain 50 Miler. I had just run Lake Waramug 50 Miler the week before, but figured I'd probably be okay.

Hmmmm, that's to be debated.

This course is one of the toughest 50 milers out there. Steep uphills, impossible to run downhills (due to steepness and loose rocks), twists, turns, more uphills, rock gardens, rocks, rocks, more rocks, and just butt-kicking trails for 50 miles. Fun, right?

The North Face puts on a fairly basic race, with very basic aid stations, no frills. The volunteers are very nice, but some of them have never been to an ultra before. (We probably horrified them, shoveling M&Ms into our mouths with muddy hands while rubbing lube on ourselves....) The course is very pretty, and also, pretty tough.

I started out HARD. I suck on the technical, so I run hard where I can. While running the initial part, I quickly realized that um, I probably should have changed the batteries before the race. Ooops. So it was dark and that was a little tough.

Luckily, it got light quickly...

The course is tough enough as it is, but on Wednesday, it poured all day. I think it may have even rained some on Tuesday too, and even Thursday morning, but Wednesday, it just poured the entire day. I ran twice and both times it sucked. I literally have to change every article of clothing because I was soaked through, even through my rain jacket. Ugh. So the trails were basically mud puddles for 50 miles, with lots of streams too. The stream crossings that you can normally pop across with some careful positioning on rocks had submerged rocks. 

My feet were wet and muddy for 50 miles.

I changed my socks once and wish it could have been more. My feet felt horrid - I kept getting mud underneath the pads of my feet, and it hurt so terribly. My gaiters did nothing because the mud kept seeping in from the top. 

I was running pretty hard the first 10 miles and felt good. I sucked on the technical, but did what I could, and ran hard. At the second aid station, I got there, and was still ahead of mid-pack, and there were FOUR pretzels. Four. I ate three of them, as I was starving, but how could they be running out of food so early? Aid stations were running out of gels and all sorts of things. It sucked.

I was also hungry - really weird for me. Before 3 hours had passed, I had already eaten 4 gels - which is really weird for me, as I rarely have such a strong appetite running, esp for gels. This become problematic as I ran out of gels before my drop bag, and ended up eating a lot more solids than normal. But my tummy was mostly okay the entire race (good thing since they didn't seem to have any ginger ales).

I ran. I walked. I laughed. I breathed hard. I ate gels. I drank water. I looked at how gorgeous it was. I had fun.

The course had changed in a few spots, so that was a little confusing to me. I think it may actually have become easier.

The mud was hurting my feet. The front of my shin sometimes hurt. My back hurt from my water bottle waist belt. But it was fun. Why was I doing it? It was fun. I ran with so many of my friends, and got to chat with heaps of great people.

Clearly I am psycho to be posing like this just before the 50k. (photo (c)Kenneth Tom 2014)

Around 40, I felt okay. Not amazing, but okay. I set out from Anthony Wayne, crunching on those Delta cookies I saved from my last flight and pretzels. And then I began running. YES!!!!!!!!!!!

I picked up the pace, passed some people, ran with others, and chatted. I caught up to Melissa and we ran, chatting for a while. Then we got to that section where it's a ton of steep downhill with lots of loose rock. I noticed the front of my shin started hurting. Ouch. More than before. When I pulled into the pre-Timp Pass aid station, I let the medics ice me as I shoveled pretzels into my mouth. Then I left, refusing Ibuprofin as I had already taken Aleve. As I headed towards Timp Pass, which is the worst part of the course (You climb up a steep mountain and then back down, and running is pretty impossible w the steepness and loose rocks....), tears pricked the corners of my eyes. I tried to stop and stretch, and nothing would help.

The last five-ish miles were a death march. I was in agony. I stopped to rub, walked, ran when I could, and oh, was I in pain.

A mile before the finish, probably less, John Budge caught up w me. We finished again, so happy to see each other. As soon as I finished, I immediately went to the medical tent to get ice for my legs. And rest my weary feet....

Finishing again w John Budge. (Photo (c)Chip Tilden 2014)
It's Monday now. I begged my doctor to squeeze me in and despite resting for two days, I still had pain. They aren't sure if it's tendinitis or a stress fracture. An MRI tomorrow will determine that. Until then, I'm icing, resting it, and wearing a splint. And looking forward to the next time I will run, which will NOT be Bear Mountain.

04 May 2014

Lake Waramug 50 Miler: a Lot of Pretty, a Lot of Wind, a Lot of Pain, and a Lot of Fun

I knew Lake Waramug wouldn't be the same without running with Tony, but I was still excited and hopeful to run the Lake Waramug 50 Miler. I was hopeful for a PR, for a good race, and knew I'd have lots of fun with so many familiar faces out there on the course.

Lake Waramug is a 50k, 50 miler, and 100k on a loop course around a pretty lake in CT. There are rolling hills, but nothing crazy. The lake is notoriously windy, so while my friends were enjoying a perfect-to-be-outside spring day in NYC, I was shivering in two long sleeved shirts and pants at Lake Waramug.

I started out with a bunch of my friends, running at a pretty good pace - I was sub 9 minute miles for the first 14 or so miles, and then up to sub 10 minutes miles for quite a bit longer. 

I was wearing a water bottle on waist belt because I had gloves on; when I use a handheld with gloves, I end up having issues with my hands getting cold. However, the waist belt was bothering my back, which caused me some issues. I also had pain occasionally in my lower left shin.

I started feeling like crap, but mostly kept up a somewhat decent pace. My eating was weird; I had zero appetite for things I normally love there, like grilled cheese, but I kept up a steady intake of pumpkin pie. I believe pumpkin pie is the secret weapon to this race - and I ate plenty of it to prove it.

The aid stations are good and fun. The volunteers are friendly. With aid every 2ish miles, you are never far from a friendly face and nutrition. 

I finished the 50 mile in 9:06 - far from what I was hoping to achieve, but not a bad time at all. I was shivering almost instantly, and changed into warm dry clothes. They had post-race food (burgers, veggie burgers, rice and beans) and I ate some with Mary (who ran the 50k) while we huddled in the warmth of Ray's car, waiting for him to finish his 100k.

Overall, it's a great course, perfect for a PR. The volunteers are great, the RD is great (though there will be an RD change for next year), and it's a lot of fun. 

The road surprisingly beat me up; I was more sore the day after Waramug than I was the day after the Umstead 100 Miler!