Sunday, February 14, 2016

"Sir! I think he's still alive!"

(I don't know if that's a real line from a movie or not, but I'm going to pretend it is. I'll leave it up to your imagination to work out which movie. I fear it might be a Care Bears movie though. And I apologize now for what's going to be a long and whiny post. I've got to believe you've got something better to do than read this.)

It's been a REALLY long time since I last posted a thing here. A couple of years ago I invented a loose policy of only posting race reports on races of Half Marathon or longer, but that's biting me a bit now since the last Half I did was way back in early December (Brazen Summit Rock).

During that hill-infested race, I felt a mild pain in my right achilles - I've never had any kind of pain there before and decided it wasn't a big deal. (The bee sting on the other ankle was much more annoying in any case.)

The following week was the Coastal Quarry Lakes race, and I ran the 10K. I have a goal of some day finishing a 10K in under an hour, and even better, under my age in minutes (which is quickly coming to mean the same thing). This is a pretty flat 10K, so I went out hoping to at least challenge that 60 minute 10K goal.

Not long after starting the race, the achilles flared up, but not too bad. So I kept on running and figured it would clear up in a bit. Have I ever mentioned that my "figuring" during a race can be pretty wildly flawed? At about the halfway point, I knew it wasn't going away, and instead, was getting worse. I kept pushing, but was starting to worry.

This turkey vulture should have been the sign that got me to stop. 
I ended up walking a bit towards the end as the pain intensified, but came closer to my 60 minute goal than I thought I would (a bit over 70 minutes).

Mrs Notthat finishing her 10K.
I stretched a bit then walked back out to pace Mrs Notthat in. I had a hard time keeping up with her and realized I probably shouldn't have done that. But she's so dang cute!

Pictures I took at the Coastal Quarry Lakes race.

The following weekend was the Brazen Almost New Years Eve race. I had to do that race since the grandkids would be there and Brazen was doing it's traditional mega-medal thing if you ran that race and the one on New Years Day.

I bravely downgraded to the 5K and walked it. The pain wasn't bad with the relatively flat course, but it was still there.

Picture by Leahcim Il, not his real name. I believe Mrs Notthat is yelling "he's not with me!"
Pictures I took at the Almost NYE race.

For reasons that defy logic, I took that finish as a good sign, and for the New Years Day race, stuck with the 10K, although I promised I would start walking if the pain started up again.

The 10K starts relatively flat then slogs up a mean hill. The pain kicked in on the flat bit, before the 5K turnaround. I should have dropped to the 5K at that point, but, well, I'm not that bright.

Picture again by Leahcim Il. That's a fake smile.
I ended up walking most of this 10K, took nearly two hours to finish, and by the end, I knew I had a real issue.

Pictures I took at the NYD race.

So I shut it down. No running, no long walks even. (At this point, even a quarter mile hike would cause the pain to come back.) I started doing something that I never thought I'd do - using Mrs Notthat's "stick" to roll my calves. (Stretching my calves really seemed to aggravate the injury, but I was pretty sure that the calf was the problem. Rolling it with a stick is a way to stretch the muscles without putting strain on the achilles. I think.)

About two weeks after that race we headed to Oahu for the HURT race. I have a long-held dream of hiking/running a loop of that course, but this wasn't going to be the year.

I've written about HURT before, so I'm not going to go too much into it. This year we didn't tack on bonus nights, so we ended up being there for only a week, and ended up being almost solely focussed on the race. We shared a cottage with All Day and Mrs CK and had a lot of fun - the weather was great and the race was a blast.

This was our third year coming over for this race, and one interesting thing was that it was the first time that Mrs Notthat and I were not potentially going to do any pacing. (We missed you Aynwat! Not your real name!) Mrs Notthat worked with Mrs CK to crew All Day while I took a bunch of pictures and spent the night working the Nature Center aid station.

All Day's race didn't go as hoped (you can listen to his emotional but still fun podcast about it here), and the Bay Area nearly got skunked (thank you Sirhc, not your real name, for getting this done!), but being in a Hawaiian rain forest makes that all OK.

Picture by Kalani Pascual - note my backwards hat; I very rarely do that, but anyone that takes picture with an optical viewfinder will know why that makes sense.
Sirhc leaving the second aid station on his first lap.
PCTR Nhoj (not his real name) taking the scenic route though the creek.
Ekim, not his real name, leaving the second aid station. WATCH YOUR STEP!
All Day getting close to the third aid station.
PCTR Nhoj approaching his fourth aid station.
All Day getting LOTS of attention from Mrs CK and Mrs Notthat.
I like working the night shift (10 PM to 4 AM) at the Nature Center aid station since night time makes things really interesting. This race is five 20-mile loops. The trails are absurdly tough in the daytime when you can see them. At night, in addition to you not being able to see very well, the roots and rocks get extra slippery with the dew. This is when lots of runners start to get a bit shell-shocked and the reality of what they are trying to do really sets in. All Day was up for this. (For a while.)

Ffej, not his real name, has kissed the sign and rang the bell. He won.
The other fun thing about this shift is you get to see the winner come in. It's astonishing that there are runners that can actually finish this race in under 24 hours (three did this year).

Sirhc about a half mile from being done!
The next day I managed to capture a shot of the lone Bay Area finisher as he stormed the finish line. This is a very tough race with a low finish rate (well over half the runners end up dropping), so it's always impressive when anyone manages to hang in there and get all five laps done.

This place is for the birds.
Mrs Notthat and I did take one day to be tourists.

Of the whole trip, this was the only time either of us actually stepped into the ocean. We pretty much failed Hawaiian Tourist 101.
Just to bring this back to me and my issues, I did a fair amount of hiking around during this race (it ended up at about 6 to 7 miles with some climbing), trying to get out a bit from the aid stations to get shots of the runners. And my achilles was not impressed. That was sad.

Here are some links you might like:

A cool short movie from the race made by Ultrarunning Magazine.

Pictures I took during the pre-race meeting.

Pictures I took on the first day of the race.

Pictures I took on the last day of the race.

Pictures I took at the post-race dinner.

Pictures I took on our tourist day.

Back in the Bay Area, I chose to crew Mrs Notthat at the Brazen Coyote Hills race. It was a rainy day, so I broke out my sun.

The "sun" from the 2012 CIM Monsoon made a rare appearance.
The sun did reasonably well at keeping the rain away, or at least keeping it light.

Mrs Notthat near the finish of her 10K.
Pictures I took at the Coyote Hills race.

After that race, we took some time off from races. This wasn't easy since there are so many fun races this time of the year, but for me, it was my only hope to get back on track.

On Super Bowl Sunday, we headed out to our local, mostly flat park and I ran for the first time since New Years Day - it was not pain free, but it was certainly better. I was discouraged that I wasn't completely healed, but I was a bit encouraged that, at the end of three miles, I wasn't limping around.

Which brings us to this weekend, where I walked the 5K at the Brazen Bay Breeze.

Picture by Annahs, not her real name.
Mrs Notthat finishing her 10K, and decidedly NOT walking it.
I had no pain during or after this race, which I'm taking to mean that walking, even walking aggressively, does not put a big strain on the achilles, which is great news for me.

Pictures I took at the Bay Breeze race.

And that pretty much covers my last couple of months.

My current plan is to walk a 5K next weekend (ITR Lake Chabot since it's fairly flat) and maybe a 10K the following weekend (Brazen Victory - got to get the mega medal!). I'm not looking to try running again until after all that. The truly sad thing is that this means I'm not going to get to try to avenge my shot at a 100K at the Razorback race this year, and will end up missing out on a number of other fun races.

But that's OK - I'll take my time and get fixed. As you would expect, I've gotten a TON of advice on how to fix my issue and how to keep it from happening again (and I expect I'll get more now).

In the meantime, I'm going to try to post these things more regularly, even for the shorter races.

That's it - move along…

PS: If you really read all the way to this point, I'm both impressed and a bit worried about you - this thing has really droned on and on.


Kerry said...

I'm glad you've taken the time to get fixed. It is admittedly one of the hardest things we can do for ourselves!
PS: movie quote = Captain America (way to aim high!)

Lia said...

I've been wondering where you went! Rest up and heal up :)

Fun Size said...

Loved all the HURT photos. One day I'd like to go there to volunteer but I haven't quite been able to make that happen yet. I hope you are on the mend and that I see you in person soon. I just realized it's been awhile.

notthatlucas said...

Kerry: Captain America? Really? I'll take it!
Lia: I was wondering about you too! Glad to see your LA post!
Fun Size: You would be a great pacer there, at the very least! You need to make it happen!