Saturday, June 28, 2008

RR - Slacker Half Marathon

Race Report

Sat, June 28/08
Slacker Half Marathon
Loveland Ski Resort, CO
2 miles above Sea Level
1:47:29 - 5AG

It has been a long, tough and painful two weeks since my last race in Estes Park, CO. As you may remember I started and finished that race with foot and back injuries/problems?

By the time we returned home I was in severe pain and glad that I had already set up appointments with docs. The first appointment was with a Podiatrist the following Tue. I thought I was suffering from plantar fascitis since the pain/symptoms seemed to be similar to those I had suffered many times? However with the help of X-rays and ultrasound he quickly diagnosed the problem as Morton’s Neuroma? Never heard of it? What is it? In summary – a nerve that runs between the 3rd and 4th toes becomes inflamed because of pressure /friction by the toes. As the nerve becomes inflamed it enlarges and the friction increases and it becomes a never-ending vicious/painful cycle until the pain becomes so severe that you can’t even walk! The doc explained several treatment options. Maddog chose the most aggressive and fastest one – a shot of cortisone into the inflamed area to reduce the inflammation and pain and the doc also adjusted my orthotics to spread the toes and reduce the pressure on the nerve. The cortisone worked quickly as expected to reduce the pain and I was able to continue running/training 10/12 miles each day. Now the back pain became a showstopper. It didn’t hurt when I ran but after I finished I was in agony for the rest of the day? (But of course it didn’t stop Maddog from running each day!)

I begged my Orthoped to squeeze me into an earlier appointment which he was able to do on Thu. X-rays revealed no obvious problem so he decided (guessed?) that the problem was a strained back muscle that kept going into spasms? He prescribed a muscle relaxant and PT (physical therapy). The meds eased the pain but kicked my ass – literally! I would take one after dinner – sleep for 12 hours – get up – take another pill – run 10/12 miles and sleep another 4 hours! After 4 days of fuzzy/lethargic/pathetic living Maddog became disgusted and threw the meds in the garbage! That crap is dangerous! It steals your life away! Fortunately by then I had started PT and massage and especially electrical stimulation eased the pain enough that I could continue to run and get some of my life back. By the 3rd PT session I felt good enough to think about running one of my favorite Half Marathons in the High Country. The Slacker Half Marathon was being run on Sat.

It is a fast downhill race that starts at the Loveland Ski Resort – more than 2 miles above sea level (10,630 ft) and finishes in Georgetown (8500 ft). The race requires raw speed and a good set of lungs! I ran this race 3 times before and finished all 3 times in 1:41 – resulting in 2 wins and a 2nd AG! Because of my poor conditioning and injuries/problems I was under no false illusion/fantasy of finishing in my usual time. I figured a realistic goal was a finish time between 1:45 and 1:50 - probably not good enough to win but maybe to place?

I lined up at the start line at 8 am with 900 runners. The weather was great – sunny and 45 F. My foot was hurting but the back felt OK. I was a wee bit concerned how the steep down hills would affect both injuries? The first ½ mile is uphill and by the time I crested that hill I was sucking desperately for air and my lungs were burning. That is normal – but for the first time I said to myself: “I’m getting too old for this crap”! By the time I passed mile 1 in 8:51 my lungs and legs had adjusted to the thin air and my splits dropped to sub 8s! The first 5 miles are on a dirt/rocky service road so it is necessary to be careful not to fall or twist an ankle. I passed an old fart around 3 miles and never saw another old fart during the race which meant one of two things:
1) I was in 1st place (unlikely at my slow pace)
2) The other old farts were so far ahead of me that I would never catch or even see them (more likely – and turned out to be the case)

I passed mile 5 in 41:11 and the endorphins had kicked in and killed all pain. The course enters a paved road after mile 5 and starts a long slow climb to mile 6. My split slowed to 9:03! But the next four miles are downhill on a paved service road to a bike path at 10 miles. I reached mile 10 in 1:22:38 and began a steep 500 ft drop over the next two miles of bike path. My splits dropped to 7:30s and I reached the bottom of the bike path in Georgetown at mile 12 in 1:37:41. My legs were totally wasted from the fast, steep down hills. I knew it was going to be a difficult struggle (as it always is) to gut out the final mile through Georgetown. That final mile is flat with several rolling hills(at 8500 ft)! I figured if I could just keep my legs moving and run the final 1.1 miles in 10 minutes I would finish in 1:47 and achieve my goal? It took a lot of willpower NOT to walk on a few of the hills but I finally reached mile 13 in 1:46:40 (an 8:59 split) and struggled across the finish line in 1:47:29!

I was pleased with both my time and performance considering the circumstances and difficulties I faced just getting to the start line. I checked the results posted at the finish line. My time period was not yet posted but I learned that the top 3 runners in my AG all finished under 1:45. I was not surprised! My guess is that I finished 4th AG? (Later learned I finished in a dismal 5AG)! I guess I shouldn’t be disappointed – but I am! I need to train much harder (and stay healthier) if I expect to compete against the Big Dogs from the Front Range – Denver/Boulder/Fort Collins! 1st place in my AG finished in 1:32 – a new course record! Damn – it is getting harder and harder to compete against those youngsters with each passing year! Maybe I am getting too old for this crap?

The good news is that nothing hurt (real bad) at the end of the race. The foot actually felt better and after back stretches/exercises and a long hot soak in the hot tub the back felt pretty good? I believe I will be OK to run the marathon I have scheduled next weekend in Portland, OR.

Stay tuned!

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