And only 2 Weeks Until UTMB!
This week continued with some fun days of training. The foot continues to get better and after a good training week last week I'm at least confident that I can at least finish the Ultra-Trail du Mont Blanc. It may not be my best race but I'm determined to enjoy my time in Europe.
Monday: Trouble at 12,000 feet.
This was an awesome day with abundant sunshine. I thought I better take advantage of the day so after some morning work, I headed down to VT Skydiving Adventures in Addison for mental therapy. It was a busy morning at VAS but I was able to get on a load rather quickly. I was waiting for one of the chutes to be packed when it was time to go. Ole soon came out of the trailer with a new chute for me to try, a Stiletto 150. The winds were a bit gusty so I figured a slightly smaller chute than what I had been using would be just fine. So I quickly put on my gear and jumped into the already loaded plane. As we were heading up, which seemed to take extra long as we had some big guys on board, I chatted with Mike about the Stiletto. He informed me that this was a "performance" chute and had some unique characteristics, one being to make sure you have a very stable body position before you deploy as it has a tendency to get line twist. OK, I can handle that. When we got to 12,000 feet, it was time for the 4 guys to go. One would be hanging upside down from the wing while the other 3 would be hanging on the strut before they all dropped. I would head out after them. Didn't seem like anything unusual. But with all 4 big guys hanging outside the plane, 1000 pounds of guys and gear, it caused the plane to slow down and tip quite a bit. I didn't have much weight to counter balance and neither did the pilot, a new addition to VAS crew in the last 2 weeks. As soon as the guys dropped it caused the plane to roll in the opposite direction and increase in speed. With that, the door shut hard as I was trying to get in position to exit. I pushed as hard as I could, not happening. I kept pushing and pushing and eventually got the door to open enough to get out. I could feel the plane was still traveling a bit fast but as soon as I was clear of the door, out I went like Superman.
It felt good to get out, the air was cool and the views were great. As I was looking around, I could see the drop zone in the distance. Problem... it was due northwest quite a ways and there was a gusty northwest wind. Hmm, do I pull early and try to fly it back into the wind or will that cause me to be dragged backwards more by the wind. I finally pulled the chute around 4,000 ft. and put it in forward motion to see what this Stiletto could do. It would be touch and go. I looked for alternative landing spots. Luckily in Addison there are a lot of farm fields. Been there, done that before. The Stiletto seemed to be gaining forward momentum which was great but still would it be enough to get over the tree line and into the drop zone. I kept it going, tacking a bit to keep moving forward. Luckily the Stiletto was a performance chute and had great flying capabilities. I made it back to the drop zone. And even with all the challenges, it was a blast to jump as usual.
After the jump I thought I would get in a run up Snake Mountain since it was right there. It's basically a 2+ mile run up and then down with some great views of the valley from the top but I wanted to explore the backside of the mountain. The VAST trail runs back there and I used to mountain bike there as well. The VAST trail was a no go so I continued down and then found another way to the backside. I discovered some real sweet single track. I wasn't sure where I would end up but in the end it was a loop that took about a half hour returning right where I went in. Nice Find!
Tuesday: Catamount Running Night
Before the weekly 5k trail race Todd Archambault and I both arrived early to get some early miles in. Another stellar day so we got in a 90 minute warm-up running parts of the Red course and then some made up loops. Todd's training for the VT 50 and in need of some miles after time off on maternity leave. Probably not the smartest thing to do running an hour and a half before a race but these are just fun races.
The race tonight would be on the Pink course so after the warm-up we headed over to the race. 250+ runners, another great turnout. I looked at tonight as another test for the foot and would try to push it. As usual the start was fast and furious but with an immediate slow uphill, the field gradually thinned out. I ran comfortably and was able to push the foot, all good. In the end I was pleased, not my best time but not my worst and the foot felt good.
Wednesday: Catamount Mtn. Bike Races
Another great day, but then the clouds rolled in as I headed over to Catamount for a pre-race trail run. After the lightening storm and heavy rains ended, I headed out for a good hour and a half trail run. A bit muddy after the rains but still a fun run although I felt exhausted. I had been on a ladder all day and my body just ached. I decided to just do the 2 lapper mountain bike race feeling tired as I was and knowing the course would be full of mud. But once I started the race I felt better and was having fun. I never have a good starting position by tonight I at least was in the top 10 of 30 or so racers. With the gradual uphill start, I slowly worked my way up. By 3/4 of the first lap I was comfortably sitting in 2nd place. I kept it that way through the first half of the 2nd lap and then passed the leader before we headed into the tight single track which was good and muddy. I was having fun and took off. In the end, to my surprise I held on to the lead despite my aching body which wasn't aching anymore. Funny how that works.
Thursday: Dr. Rob Rinaldi Visit
Thursday late morning I had a second visit with Doc Rinaldi for anther cortisone shot in the foot. I had a horrible sleep that night thinking about that needle going into my foot 1 1/2 inches. Yes I'm still a weenie when it comes to needles, especially when the first one hurt real bad. Not knowing if I could run afterwards, I got in an early morning easy run. When I arrived, Rob grabbed my foot and pushed and pulled. He was very pleased and the good news, decided I didn't need anther shot :) Suddenly I was relieved. Instead he put me on some anti-inflammatory drugs for 10 days. Yes, a good day! Later that night it was the Thursday Fun Run night at Catamount. I was supposed to meet up with Aliza but arrived a bit late so headed out on my own. Not more than a mile into it, I tripped on a root and did my usual tuck and roll but this time I landed on a log. I smashed my upper thigh so hard that I just stayed there on the ground for a while. It hurt big, more than the needle in my foot. I got up and tried to stretch it out. Not good. I did the run, hobble and it did loosen up a bit but still hurt as I was determined to get in my hour and a half run, which I did. Afterwards, I grabbed my mountain bike and rode a loop hoping that would help loosen it up too.
Friday: 2 Weeks to go until UTMB !
The leg hurt all day and again I was on a ladder all day. Since I was in the area I headed over to Catamount for a late day run. Once I got going the leg was feeling ok, a bit stiff but getting better. Meanwhile the foot was feeling fine. I was running the yellow/green course tonight and ran into Serena so I turned around and followed her on the reverse red course. We ran and chatted and had a great run. After an hour and a half, I bailed out as I was done and had things to do. Serena continued on as she arrived later and needed more miles.
Saturday: Ultra-Trail Du Mansfield-night run
I had a lot of day time chores to do and with a full moon I decided to do a night run on the Mansfield Loop. UTMB starts at 6:30 PM so I figured I would do the same to try out my night gear and capabilities. As usual I parked at the Stevensville parking lot and headed out. Within the first minute I was feeling exceptionally wet on my back only to discover that the hydration bag was leaking. Not worried, I turned and headed back to the car. On my way to tonight's run, I had stopped at the Skirack in Burlington and just purchased a new hydration bag. Not wanting to fool with the old one, I quickly drained the leaking bag into the new one and off I went, again. It was a great night although still warm and humid but without the mid-day sun, it was comfortable. No headlamps were needed up the Notchbook Trail or down to the Trout Club or through Trapps. When I came out of the woods at Trapps the moon had just risen over the Wooster Mountains and looked awesome.
Trapps was very busy as I ran through and continued up towards the Haule Road. Once I got there and in the trees, it was dark. The moon hadn't risen enough yet to shine through the trees so I put on the headlamp and continued on. Up and over and then down to the Mansfield touring center, it was fun running. Even the downhills were fun with the light of the headlamp. Slowly the moon was getting higher and was shining through the trees with incredibly brightness. As I headed to the bottom of the Toll Road I tried to get in to the Inn for water. No luck, being this late everything was locked. With 4 or so hours to go I needed water and knew this could be an issue. I toured around the maintenance shed looking for an outdoor spigot, nothing. Then I remembered the clay tennis courts. Whenever there are clay courts, they have to water them on occasion so there must be water. As I looked over I saw a possible hose down on the lower courts but as I turned the corner I saw a yellow jug on the upper court. It was a water cooler and sure enough with ice water in it :) Mission accomplished, filled the hydration bag and off I went while snacking on a peanut butter sandwich. I took it sort of easy on the climb up the Toll Road enjoying the now full brightness of the moon. I rarely turned on the headlamp. As I got closer to the visitor center the wind was picking up and felt great. From there I continued along the ridge and up to the chin in full moon brightness. It was a great run along the ridge and no tourists at this hour. I had it all to myself. I stopped briefly at the summit, said my thanks and headed back south on the Long Trail. Heading down the ridge was equally as nice and the footing was fine with the moonlight and headlamp. But I knew the rest of the downhill would be more of a challenge running along the roots and rocky sections in the trees. Just before heading into the trees I put on a second headlamp along my waist. The lower lamp would light up directly in front of me while the one on my head would go out a bit farther. I tried this technique at Leadville last year and it worked great. Heading down the rock face from the Forehead was no problem as the moon was still shining brightly and going down the chutes and ladders was fun but after that, it was slower going. The footing alone is tricky but at night, even with 2 lights, it just took longer but no problems. The good thing, the foot was feeling fine with only minor aches and pains. As usual I ran out of fluids but this time with only a mile to go. Tonight was a great test for the foot and overall I was very pleased. Plus the lighting system worked. In all the run took under 6 hours which for night running was awesome. And the reward for such a feat, an ice cold Bud waiting for me in the car. It doesn't get much better than that :)
Sunday: Easy day on the trails at the Charlotte Park and Wildlife Refuge.
All in all a positive week. Much improvement on the foot and the body is starting to feel good again running freely on the trails, if I can just stay upright. Four weeks ago I didn't think I would be running like this so don't ever lose hope and remember "Impossible Is Nothing".