(Winning, and setting a C.R. in my one and only attempt at 100 miles)
I actually made it...taper time is here!
Unfortunately it wasn't exactly how I had envisioned the last 14 days of training. Instead of logging my last long run yesterday, and eclipsing that magical 200km barrier, I was spitting up gunk and sleeping ten hours a night...I got sick. I think my body just got ahead of me by a few days and as I was dreaming about the final five days of heavy training, my immune system heard,
"Finish line, finish line...did he say we're finished! Alright everyone, time for our long awaited vacation, everyone in the pool!"
And with that I spent the last half of the week coughing up gunk, sneezing my butt off, and sleeping ten hours a night. I finally got back on my feet again tonight, and even though everyone and my dog have been kind enough to point out that missing five days at the complete end of my cycle won't set me back any for the big race, it is still with slight difficulty that I head into my official taper mode. I had envisioned crossing an imaginary line yesterday while eclipsing my biggest running week to date, instead, I slept in and eventually went on a mini road trip over to The Sunshine Coast. Don't get me wrong, the day was a blast and it was kinda nice not to be worrying about logging miles. However I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I had that 200km of running in me as I was truly feeling great at the beginning of the week. Either way, the clock has run down, there are but eighteen days remaining before I square off against the absolute best in the sport down in California.
(This beach was so much better than the rocks suggest. Beautiful scenery and warm ocean water. Swimming was sublime!)
None the less, I am completely amazed that as I sit here right now, I can say beyond a shadow of a doubt, that I will hit the starting line down in Squaw Valley with 100% of my health and fitness in check. I am not injured, I don't even have a niggle to speak of right now, just a body that is dying to finally be put to the test!
I am not quite sure how I managed this to be honest, for there were no fewer than half a dozen times, in half a dozen months, that I truly believed I was seriously broken. I seemed to battle with just about every lower body injury you could imagine over the last six months, but in the end I only lost two weeks of training back in March, and most of that was based around my travels in Germany and Poland. I was too busy drinking and enjoying a new part of the world to concentrate on proper recovery and once I fully addressed my issues I seemed to be back to good in a matter of days.
As early as mid January I remember suffering from tight calves and shins like I had not felt before. My legs were actually numb for the better part of my runs for a period of weeks before I seemed to get back on top of it. There were bouts with Plantar Fasciitis, tight IT bands, weak Glute Med muscles, calf soreness, shin tightness, a pulled hamstring, knee pain, clicking in the back of my knees, a Cuboid Subluxation of my foot, and on, and on, and on. There was always something that hurt, but it was never enough to keep me from getting my miles. I always managed to find a way to get past these issues without losing any significant time. I got to know my foam roller like it was a long lost friend. I punished my calves and shins with 'the stick' twice daily. I fell in love with a myo-facial ball as it finally seemed to solve my tight glute meds that I had struggled with for so long. I would rub anti-inflammatory oil on my calves before bed each night, and I experimented with everything from Traumeel, to Castor Oil, to P3. If someone told me that something worked for them, I tried it! I tried everything and anything that I thought might help with my recovery in the slightest. If you told me that duct taping my feet together and sleeping under my bed with my boxers inside out upon my own head would have increased my recovery time by 1% I would have done it without so much as asking a question. Eventually I would have realized out that you were having me on and in return I would probably shave off one of your eyebrows while you were sleeping. But hey, all's fair in love and war right.
I bought up pretty much every piece of compression gear upon the market today, and would end up wearing the stuff like pajamas. I practically lived in my compression socks and shorts throughout the winter. I ran with compression calf guards on for the first four months of the year. I can honestly say, compression works, it is great for recovery, but my jury is still out on whether or not it actually helps while you are racing or not. One thing is for certain, it looks ridiculous to run in knee high socks, especially on nice hot summer days. I lasted all of a week before I reverted back to my compression for rest and recovery only!
I also had to wear a foot brace to bed no fewer than two dozen times, to help my plantar fasc recovery while at rest. I wore an insert called 'heel that pain' for a month. I placed ice packs under both feet for weeks on end whenever I sat at my computer. I drank my recovery shakes religiously and popped my recover tablets like candy. I got semi regular massage, saw a physio five times, and visited my sports med Dr. like he was a member of my own family. AND, I took no fewer than 100 ice bathes. Yes I may no longer have the ability to fertilize an egg, and my boxers have felt 'kinda empty' for a few months now...but in the end, it was all worth it...I MADE IT. I have managed to log over 2,000km of running since Jan 1st, and I am fit, healthy, and ready to rock.
Western States will effectively be my one year anniversary since I turned my complete focus towards ultra distance running, and I can not think of a better way to celebrate my first birthday.
Eighteen days. Just eighteen sleeps before I get to stare down the biggest solo race of my entire life. BRING-IT-ON!!