Friday, June 15, 2018

Let's get crackin'

That whole thing about running shorter distances? It worked for a whole 3 days.

There was sunshine in the trees. I couldn't help myself.

Tanker and I went down Saturday morning to help out at the big aid station at Conquer the Canuck, and I had every intention of running a lap of the 8km course after the race was done to pick up any rubbish left out on the trails - I like to keep my local conservation area clean if I can! I'd grabbed a pair of shoes that I figured would be ok for the 8k loop and threw in my supportive insoles; I'd never worn them for more than 9km before, and hadn't actually used them at all since the ice storm, but I figured they'd be fine for a leisurely trot in the woods. I was so sure I was only doing a single, easy lap that I actually rode back down to Shade's Mills after Tanker and I popped out to hit the Farmers' Market.

I sent him ahead in the car while I stayed back and made us some sammiches for lunch.

Then, things changed. Clay was running the Ultimate Canuck event - 50km on Saturday, plus a full marathon (42.2km) on Sunday. Unfortunately, only 4 laps into day one his back was acting up to the point he was ready to drop out.

The amazing Rhonda-Marie Parke, on hand to volunteer and crew for her husband Steven (also running the Ultimate Canuck), got Clay on a picnic table and put her superhero RMT skills to work. She asked if I'd be able to run with him for the next lap, to help keep him moving so he didn't seize up and so the anti-inflammatories he'd taken could kick in. Suddenly I was scrambling to change out of my cotton Happy Trails Racing t-shirt and Birkenstocks, get into my trail shoes and do a quick warmup while Clay finished off his 4th lap. I met him just past the start/finish, and we set off into the woods together.

Photo credit to George Aitkin of the Cambridge Harriers

I got a bit eaten alive, as I'd failed to apply any bug spray, but Clay is a really wonderful person with whom to share the trails. He said he was in damage control mode and wasn't feeling very social, but he was very patient about putting up with my constant yapping away about nothing terribly interesting as we made our way 'round the loop. Clay said he'd be fine going it alone for his final lap, but by the time we reached the big aid station again at 7.2km, I was still feeling pretty I volunteered to accompany him through his last loop as well.


The sun came out, and I was really enjoying my time out in the trees, but the sharply side-sloped trail was doing a number on my sore ankle. The lower leg - despite not being taped - was holding up fairly well, but my tibialis posterior was taking a beating when running on slated trail that left no hope of controlling my over-pronation. 

But there was sunshine and Spidey, so it couldn't be all bad.

By the time we got to the big aid station again, I decided I'd had enough and let Clay go to run the last 1km to his 50k finish proudly flying the flag. I was grateful to have been able to help in a small way, even if it was just being sufficiently annoying that I distracted him from his sore back. I had my sammich, got back into my Birkenstocks, and Tanker sweetly helped me load my hot, mosquito-bitten and sore arse into the car.

All the details here.

Sunday morning we were right back down to Shade's Mills to run the aid station all day. Things went much more to plan (apart from eating WAY too much fruit and bacon), and despite still feeling a bit sore from the prior day's exertions I still went out for a lap after the final runners (including Clay, who finished the Ultimate Canuck strong!) had passed by the aid station to clean up any garbage I found.

Nothing to see here - just taking my grocery bag out for a tour of the course.

I wore much more supportive shoes, but the damage had been done the day before - I only did the less-than-7km section from the pavilion, 'round the loop and back to the aid station before calling it a day. It was hotter than it had been on Saturday, I was too full of fruit and bacon, and my foot was sore.

Yes, it really did take me almost an hour.

By the time we got home after packing up all the aid station supplies and a visit to the grocery store (so we wouldn't have to go out again), I was so tired I could barely stand up. Due to the early start on both days, I'd not got much in the way of sleep over the weekend, and almost immediately treated myself to a nap with my feet up.

Esme helped.

Monday I was still feeling quite tired and sore, but I also had my first appointment with my new chiropractor. It turns out I was right about my misbehaving fibula being the cause of my weeks of woe, and he set to work right away to try to correct the problem. He adjusted my knee and ankle, and used cold laser and pulsed electromagnetic field therapies on various points on my leg.

Frickin' laser beams and the stylish shades I get to wear while being treated.

Ooh, that tingles a bit..

I walked out feeling much better than I had in weeks. It's still not perfect, but I'm so grateful that I've finally identified the issue, and have found a professional who can help me resolve it! I went home and packed up my kit, then went for my first lunch run in more than a month on Tuesday afternoon. Not only did I want to keep my legs loose for the weekend, I also needed to try the new Brooks Ravenna 9s with my Currex RunPro insoles to make sure they would play nicely together (along with the socks in which I intend to race).

I meant to take it easy, especially since it was a hot, sunny day and I had to run over a 401 overpass to get to my office.

I did not.

That right there? That's a happy girl.

I kept it down to 3.5km - just a 20min jam - and things felt pretty good. I saw my chiro again on Wednesday for some more work, and it seems the head of my fibula tried to stick in place again. He got it moving, shot me with laser beams and pulsed electromagnetic fields again, and then (after I politely asked if he'd have a look at my hips, which have been pretty tight) blasted my upper legs with a rubber knob-laden device that looked like a cross between a belt sander and a BDSM accessory before making me whimper by using the blades of his forearms to march down my IT bands. A couple of spinal adjustments later, and I wandered out slightly dazed but feeling better. The good doctor also reviewed the kinesiology tape application I'd used on the fibula on Tuesday (which I was still wearing, in order to show him) and confirm it was overall correct, while suggesting a slight adjustment to the placement. 

So now it's the eve of the Niagara Ultra. While I can't say I feel ready to toe the start line - I'd love another month to get my leg fully rehabbed, do at least one long run on pavement, and maybe have more than just 6km of test runs on the shoes I'll be using - I am certainly in a better position than I was before Seaton. I elected not to run past Tuesday to let myself rest and heal as much as possible, as I'm not in a position to care about my aerobic fitness or my legs feeling a bit heavy at the start.

Not exactly a lot to taper from, but still..
(Figures as of Tuesday after the lunch run)

All I can do at this point is tape the ever-loving hell out of my foot and leg, show up, think positive, and be grateful for the opportunity to enjoy the beautiful Niagara River Recreation Trail.

Oh, and try not to melt in the heat.

The course is open for 13.5hrs, and (as long as I don't seem to be doing catastrophic damage) I'm bound and determined to actually finish this thing. I just hope it doesn't get on top of me too badly; I swear the lens of foresight is making this 50k look longer than even my first one did back in 2013.

No matter what happens tomorrow, though, tonight I get to spend an evening away with my sweetheart, who will be waiting for me whenever I am done with the course on Saturday. He's even promised that he'll take me to check out a GF bakery in St. Catharines afterward, so really the race itself is just a little wander down a path to build an appetite, right?

There will be cookies in my pockets, friendly faces out on the course, and lovely views of the Niagara River. With all that, honestly - how bad could it be?

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