Since running The Bandera 100K on January 7th I've had some strange things going on. The week after Bandera I felt great, hungry and eating all week and the body felt fabulous. Legs were strong and besides running every day I got in a couple of days XC skiing and a day of Alpine skiing. The cold weather set in, sub zero and it actually felt good running in the cold and snow. Sure beats the intense cramping in the southern heat. Then, all sh#@t hit the fan. After running an easy 12 miler last Sunday in zero degrees, I jumped in the sauna to warm up and then went home hitting the grocery store on the way. Hungry, I grabbed a quick egg sandwich while shopping and then it hit. Dizziness, short of breath and intense pain on the lower right side of the body. At one point I thought I might pass out in the aisles. I managed to get out of there and in the car. Should I go to the emergency ward or just beeline it and get home. I opted for the ride home and as soon as I got home, jumped in bed, clothes, coat and all. I was having a hard time breathing but found one position where I could somewhat relax and lied there, sort of sleeping for over an hour. I managed to get through the rest of the day and attempted to go for an easy sunset hike in the snow, denying any pain I had. Well the pain was still there, big time and I could barely breathe. I returned home after a while and settled in. Some dinner, a movie but wondering, what if I stop breathing tonight, then what? I figured no big deal. My usual philosophy in life, when your ticket comes up at the deli window, it's time. It's all about fate, nothing you can do but go for the ride. That's why I rarely hesitate running through a lightening storm or even think twice about jumping out of the door of a reasonably good plane at 12,000 feet.
Monday began with the same intense pain and I was having a hard time breathing whenever I tried to exert myself to more than sitting. I waited all day hoping things would improve and finally went outside for a run in the afternoon. It finally warmed up to 20 degrees too. Out the door I went, only to find it was not a good thing. I immediately started running/walking up the hill. After about a 1/2 mile the pain trying to breathe was excruciating and I could hear myself grunting with each breath. I felt like I only had one lung, what the heck. I hit the top of the hill and was then running on a totally flat road, which I thought would be fine. Not! It hurt as much as the hill. I managed to get another 1/2 mile shuffle in before I had to turn around. This was definitely not fun! I just couldn't breathe. On the way back home I go right by the Charlotte Family Health Center, I thought I would pay them a visit. I always hate to go to the doctor, almost embarrassing if something isn't really wrong. I thought not being able to breathe was a good enough reason to visit. I saw Bunkie, my local doc who is great. He did a quick exam and evaluation and decided I should get an xray to check my lungs for a possible partial collapse of the lung. He also said, "no more running" for now. After he did some other vital organ checks, it was off to the hospital to get an xray at 5:30 PM. The trip to Fanny Allen was easier and quicker than anticipated. I barely had to wait. The pics were taken although the picture taker wasn't capable or allowed to read the xray so I would have to wait to get the reading from the radiologist and/or Bunkie.
|It doesn't get much flatter than this.|
Wednesday I woke up still in pain. During the day I did some work at home and finally decided it was time to attempt another walk/run. I stood up and noticed something strange, I could breathe again. I could actually stand and take a good deep breath. Where did this come from?? It was like someone flipped the switch. Hey take what you can. Then Bunkie called to say there was nothing out of the ordinary in my xray or other results and I could run again. I didn't tell him I never stopped running. This was all great but on the other side, so why was I hurting so much before?? So I went out for a run and ran snow covered trails for almost 2 hours without any reoccurring issues. Weird!!
Thursday, feeling good, I went to the Range and XC skied for almost an hour on wicked fast snow, skate skiing on the edge of disaster . The fun part of XC skiing is that many times have very little control and are on the edge of a major crash and if you can pull it off without, you've done really well. This night was like that. The snow was hard, icy and rough and you seemed to bounce all over as you cruised along. Successfully, I stayed upright and had a blast! Then it was the Thursday night run with the crew. First it was the pre-run with Bob to get in more miles. We decided to go do the usual 6 miler along the back dirt roads of Essex. Normally this would be fine but our fluky weather this year has brought many freeze, thaw, freeze opportunities and tonight was no different. The back roads were challenging to say the least. Ice was the primary surface and staying upright was a challenge. About 2 miles out with Bob, I found some really slick ice, tried to move over unsuccessfully and crashed hard.
|Left Elbow rather swollen - "olecranon bursa"|
Friday, my whole body was sore from Thursday nights crash. I felt like I was run over by a truck. My elbow was still swollen so I experimented and wrapped it with pre-tape then put on an arm warmer, perfect! Then I made a trip to the hardware store and made a major purchase, 20 screws for my shoes. I went with the # 6 hex head sheet metal screws, 10 at 3/8" depth and the other 10 at 1/2". So just before my run I grabbed my screw gun and put those in. Then out the door to do a test run. I headed out to run at the Charlotte Park and Wildlife Refuge where the trails are still runnable. About an inch of snow covered over the ice and it was great! The screw shoes were incredible!
|Screw Shoes ready to go!|
Saturday proved to be a nice 20 miler in light snow on the back rolling roads of Williston, Richmond, Hinesburg and Huntington. I met Aliza just after 9:00 am and off we went, bundled up for the run as it was only 9 degrees, luckily not much wind. After a couple of miles on paved roads it was mostly snow and ice covered dirt roads. The screw shoes were ideal. My arm was bandaged up in a semi bent positions and was no problem although the rest of the body was still sore. We had a mostly uneventful day on this "slow" run except the dead end road cut through had a new no trespassing sign which of course we ignored. Once through the gate we heard a voice yelling at us. Too late, we were moving forward and a bit faster now as repeated yells at us to stop. Not stopping, run faster! Luckily no gun shots. Once out of there it was back to more hills and dirt roads. We were both getting a bit hungry and had a quick GU break only to find out the GU's were more like semi frozen blocks. Forgot to pre-warm the GU in my pocket. We cruised along for a bit and were approaching some more big hills when we came upon Heather coming out of Dugway Rd. She was doing a different loop so we decided to join her on the rest of her loop. More back dirt roads, nothing too steep until the mile downhill on Wes White Hill. Luckily this paved part had some clear pavement making it easier to stay upright. At the end of the hill was Heather's car and a ride back to the start making for a nice winter run.
And back to Sunday to end this week. I met up with Bob Ayers in the not too early morning and we ran a fun loop through the back roads and some trails of Richmond, Bolton and Jericho, 22 Garmin miles. The elbow was feeling much better and the body not as sore. Screw shoes were required as much of the surface was snow covered with ice underneath. It started out cold but above zero, maybe 8 degrees with little wind and the sun came out. We had some good climbing on the Stage Road to really warm up. Overall, we had a great run and chatted most of the way about life, running and whatever. To end the day and to enjoy the sunset I went out on the flat mowed trails at home for a few more miles as a great end to a week that started out a bit questionable.
|Sunset over the Adirondacks|
I learned a few things this week. Some are just basic common sense, which at times I'm lacking in as I always try to push the envelope a little bit to see what the body and brain can endure.
What I learned this week:
- You can benefit from bringing fluids and food with you on 20+ mile runs, even in the winter.
- Eat more calories so you don’t bonk.
- Embrace the good things in life when you have them, like being able to breathe.
- Turn on your headlamp while running at night on the ice; you can see more with it. (Wish I had my light on BEFORE the crash.) I like to “feel” the road as I’m running in the dark. I definitely felt it that night.
- Screw shoes are a wonderful thing, use them.
Let's hope for a better upcoming week and more successful weeks to come! And hopefully I can survive this training without any more major issues. See you on the trail :)
Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.