Me and Dzangel

Me and Dzangel
RMC 5K 2007

Sunday, May 22, 2016

The toughest race I've never done

Well, the Ice Age Trail run has come and gone for another year. The 2016 edition was a new experience for me. I started the year with high hopes of finally beating this course. Or at least not suffering as much as I have in the past. By the time race weekend rolled around, I was a spectator and crew support for Tammy as she ran the half marathon. 
I have to admit that it was really tough watching all the runners line up to start the 50K and the half marathon. It is interesting to see the start of a longer distance trail run. A few of the faster and stronger runners take off like it's a local 5K. The rest of the runners realize it is going to be a long day and set the pace accordingly. I even saw a couple runners heading out minutes after the official start. No rush, just talking and heading down the trail. Not very likely to see that at the start of many road races! Watching everyone head in to the woods and out of sight was hard on me. Then came the quiet of the start/finish area and along with it way too much time to think. 
I waited for Tammy to come through at the end of her first loop. She looked strong and was running comfortably. That's not an easy thing to do on that course. I enjoyed people watching as all the different runners passed by. Young, old, runners, walkers, some serious and some just enjoying the miles and scenery. Most of the runners seemed like they were having fun. A few looked like they were hurting. But they were all out there putting one foot in front of the other. 
I started getting a little nervous as the time passed and Tammy wasn't in sight yet. We both knew it was going to be a long day for her but the minutes kept ticking by and still I couldn't see her coming down the last few hills. Eventually she came in to view. Limping and bit dirty and beat up. The Ice Age hills claimed another victim. Apparently rolling down the hills in the middle of the loop isn't recommended. But she finished! And I couldn't have been more proud! She never gave up and pushed through the last few miles to cross the finish line to complete another half marathon. Add in the cold, wind, sleet and snow-YES, SNOW- and it made for an even tougher finish.
As we were talking on the drive back home Tammy made a comment that kind of stuck with me. She said I need to get better, heal up and lace up my shoes again. "These are your people." If you know me at all, you know I'm a serious introvert. I've never really thought of myself as a group sport kind of guy, but in a way she's right. I feel at ease and comfortable at a trail race. Especially an ultra. I love the test of seeing how far and hard I can push my body and mind. I don't feel like I'm competing against the other runners, just against myself. I like the low key, laid back air of an ultra. Any event with buffets at the aid stations is all right with me!
So, it's back to the doctor and a visit to a sports medicine specialist. Maybe a fresh look and second opinion will give me some different options to get me lacing up my shoes again. Or maybe I'll just have to learn to deal with a few aches and pains. 
I've been spending a lot more time on the bike and it seems to be helping. Maybe a season spent in the saddle will result in more running time in the future. Or maybe I'll just have to learn to be a good crew member and cow bell ringer! I'm crossing my fingers for the first option. 
As always, thanks for the read. Comments are welcome!

Monday, May 9, 2016

A first time for everything!

Wow, it really has been a long stretch since if emptied my mind! I guess I really didn't have much that I thought was worth posting. I'll try to keep this short, but no promises.
If you follow this you know I've been dealing with some health issues. As for the pesky parasite problem, I'm still not 100% sure that I've got that beat. As far as the hip/back issues go, well, that's another story. I've been trying to convince myself that I could train through the issue and I really did give it a good try. I took rest days, cross trained, you name it and I tried it. The end result is that running hurts. More than normal. Especially anything over 10 miles. It seems that even my gait has changed. I remained optimistic and even registered for one of my favorite events-Ice Age Trail 50. I figured I could put my head down and shuffle through a 50K. As the year progressed and my training regressed I swallowed my pride and moved down to the half marathon. I surely could stumble through that, right? Well, today I choked on what was left of my pride and contacted the RD and chalked up a first- Did Not Start. Not quite how I envisioned my season starting. I'll still be at the race this weekend, but in a supporting role, as Tammy run her half marathon. I'll be cheering everyone and enjoying the atmosphere. Can you say "more cowbell"!?
So now what? I'm pretty much tossing in the towel this year as far as running is concerned. My thought process is that the rest, both mental and physical will do me good. That doesn't mean I'm going to spend my days on the couch. I'm planning (hoping) to spend more time on the bike(s). The non-weight bearing component of bicycling doesn't seem to bother me. I've been putting in some fairly good miles with relatively little pain. Mostly just getting used to being in the saddle again. I'm certainly not fast but I'm okay with that-really! No, really! I realize I'm not a kid anymore. There will be more rest days and smarter training. Maybe even a race or two. I haven't looked too far ahead but I'd sure like to do an event or two this summer. Maybe a WEMS race. Maybe Wausau24.
I like the idea of something with more endurance than speed. I think it plays more to my strength and years of working shift work.
I plan to commute more by bike this year. It's a bit of a logistical chore, but I can do it if I quit making excuses. Plus, this gives me an excuse to put some miles on what seems to be a growing corral of bikes.
Hopefully, I'll be lacing up my shoes again. I really do miss the trails and the long miles. It's where I feel most comfortable. I guess I'm already thinking about 2017.
As always, thanks for reading. I welcome your thoughts and comments. And hopefully I'll see you on the roads and trails this year!