Okay, just over a year since the last post. Not bad! ...But I'll try to do better.
I ran the Old Pueblo 50 mile race on March 3rd, and it was far and away my best race yet. I have to acknowledge here that running 50 miles is silly. That said, it can be quite enjoyable, even "fun". In a weird sort of way. The way I see it, and this may have come from somewhere else, but from conversations with friends, there are four different types of "fun". That is a weird word if you look at it alone. Anyway.
The first type of fun is that which is had in the present- something that is fun while you do it. Something like playing a board game like Apples to Apples with a bunch of intoxicated friends, or reading articles from The Onion. And then there is the kind of fun that is fun leading up to, or immediately following an activity. I'm thinking something like sky diving, or hucking a cliff skiing some backcountry gnar pow, or a road trip with friends in a tiny, crowded car. Something you reflect on later and think, "wow, that was a ton of fun!". There was probably some discomfort or frustration along the way, but overall, it was fantastic. The last kind of fun is, well, not really fun. It is the kind of activity that was ultimately horrible, awful, terrifying, miserable, and all around full of suffering. But later, like at least a few days, maybe a week or a month or even a year later, it is fun to tell people about. It takes a long time for you to laugh about it, but when that day comes, it is probably your favorite story to tell.
Now usually I would say that these ultramarathons fall into the latter category- the one that is full of suffering and not fun at all, but fun to tell people about later. But Old Pueblo (OP) was different. I had a great day, and I had fun along the way while still finishing in a respectable 8hr 7min for second place overall. It was fun while I did it, and it was fun in retrospect. And there certainly was some suffering, and I certainly have fun telling people about it now. I think I'm finally getting my nutrition pretty well dialed for these races, and I'm learning to listen to my body and understanding its needs better. With more experience and time running, I've also gained a better understanding of my strengths and weaknesses. I came out of OP with a mild overuse knee injury. I've barely run in almost two weeks now, and its making me a little weird (especially since its been 60 degrees and sunny out every day). I just want to be out in the mountains! But I've decided to invest some serious time and energy into addressing my weaknesses and imbalances. I'm pretty certain that my knee problem is ultimately the result of a groin injury I acquired last October. I never took the time to address it properly, and I think the tightness and nagging pain of the groin injury was causing me to overcompensate and run a little "crooked", and causing my IT band to tighten and pull unevenly on my knee cap. So I'm sorting that all out now. It is frustrating, and I had to cancel my trip to Washington to run in the Chuckanut 50k because of it, but it also feels good to know what the problem is and be able to take steps to resolve it. I'll come out of it a stronger, and a better athlete and runner because of it.
There is still, however, one item I definitely need to address with my racing. Its the pooping. I had to stop about 10 miles into the race to poop, and lost a good 5-7 minutes because of it. And the rocks I had to use for wiping duty were a little sandy and uncomfortable. I had camped near the race start the night before, but I didn't bring a stove and cookware for simplicity's sake. Normally I like to have a nice hot cup of green tea in the morning to help wake up and get some antioxidants in to start the day right. For future races, I think I might consider coffee. That's right, I've said it before, and I'll say it again- nothing gets the bowels moving like a cupajoe, pretty much the only thing that devilbeverage is good for. This might actually be a good niche-marketing strategy for a coffee company..."Drink a cup of _______ coffee, and cut 5-7 minutes or more off of your ultramarathon race time!" Coffee for Ultrarunners. Strong beans for stronger bowels*
(*Disclaimer: product only effective for intended purpose if complete bowel evacuation is achieved prior to race start)