Sunday, October 26, 2008

Injury and recovery: the inevibility of running

Last Friday I went to the S.C.O.R.E. clinic to get some work done on some hip problems that had been nagging me for the last couple of weeks. The pain got to the point where it was interupting my sleep, it hurt to walk, and I was getting that cranky because I am in pain feeling (my wife loves it when I go through these periods:). I continued to run hoping that the my body would eventually correct itself, as it has in the past, and even ran a couple of races. But although the pain would subside maybe for a couple of days, it would eventually come back, again leaving me limping around and in a overall bad mood.

Because of the aforementioned experiences I have decided to take a more active approach to treating injuries and recovery. First of all I plan to do much more stretching, and plan to go to Yoga at least once a week. I took a beginning Yoga class at San Jose State, but haven't really practiced since then. Starting next week (my chiropractor told me no activity that uses my hip, including stretching, for a week) I am going to go to Yoga at the Willow Glen Yoga every Sunday. I plan to post my progress as well as any Yoga information on this blog.

The other aspect to my new recovery and injury prevention is to continue to visit the S.C.O.R.E. clinic at least once a month to do some regular maitenance on my body. The S.C.O.R.E. clinic offers the following suvices:
My initial visit on Friday, I met with Dr. Justin Brink, and told him about my hip pain and all of the other pains I have been having since I started ultrarunning. He confirmed my suspicions of the cause of my hip pain, the left side of my body was compensating for the ligament and knee problems that had been occurring. He also said there may be some longterm muscle scarring as a result of the years of Judo.
Dr. Brink said the best treatment would probably be a combination of ART and a chiropractic adjustment. Dr. Brink hooked me up to a machine that I think was called the activator. Basically it is 2 pads that he put on my lower and upper hip that alternated electric shocks which stimulated my muscles. I was on the activator for about 5 minutes and I felt that my hip was noticeably looser afterwards.
The next treatment was the ART, which is a combination of deep tissue massage, combined with specific movements, and a primary focus on the injured areas. This was very painful, as Dr. Brink had me lay on my side and slowly mimic a running motion with stretching my leg out (kind of like a lunge motion) and then bring it back. While I was doing this motion Dr. Brink was digging his elbow into my hip. I was sweating, breathing hard, but I could tell that the hip was getting the needed treatment.
After the ART I got a spinal and hip alignment, after all the treatment I could feel that my hip was no longer a tight ball of muscle which it had felt like before. The muscles felt looser, and although I still had pain, it was more of a soreness like after lifting weights than the pain I had been having. The only bummer of the visit was Dr. Brink told me no running, biking, or stretching for a week !!
My next visit is next Tuesday, and I am sure that I can expect more pain!! But the hip is feeling the best it has felt in a long time, and it will probably feel even better after next weeks visit. I ditched all my plans to run this weekend, and hopefully after only a week off I will be back like a new runner! I have to be fully recovered for Adam's Lost Tunnels Run on November 1st:)

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Carmel Valley 50K

Fall '08 has been very busy! Having completed 3 races (Santa Cruz 50k, Dick Collins 50m, and Carmel Valley 50k), fall racing is in full swing.

Pacific Coast Trail Run's Carmel Valley 50k took place on Sunday October 19th, but my wife Heidi, dog Gordy, and I had many adventures before the run. Wanting to hang out in Carmel Saturday, but avoid the steep prices for hotels, we opted to bring the airmattress and sleep in the back of our Kia Sportage at Garland Ranch park, the location of the race. We settled in to sleep by 9:00pm., and were soon rudely awoken by a State Trooper pounding on our window and shining his flashlight in the car. The dog was going crazy, I didn't know where I was, and the officer was yelling "police, open up!" I stumbled out of the car; I was wearing my running clothes so I wouldn't have to change in the morning.

"You know that the park closes at dark and you can't sleep here?" The officer implored.

Playing dumb and trying to get sympathy points, I responded, "No I didn't know that, I was just getting a headstart for the race I am doing here tomorrow."

Long story short, he took my license and told me that I can't camp there...BUMMER!
So we drove down the rode and parked in the Safeway parking lot. Not as nice as the Garland Ranch parking lot with all of the lights and everything, but we weren't bothered during the night.

After the eventful night, I met many familiar runners at the starting line; fellow Ultraholic Adam Blum, Ray (I have ran 32 ultras this year) Sanchez, and Jason Reed (who also ran the Firetrails 50 the week before). Once Wendell set us off, I tried to keep up with Adam as long as possible, but eventually took a wrong turn and went 8 minutes off course, into a residential area. Jason, who also went off course, informed the group of us that we were off course and we had to return back uphill.
(Quad Dipsea Training)

The 50k course is two 25k loops, with 8500ft. of elevation gain. There were some painfully steep uphill sections, but I felt good as my hiking has improved since the Cascade Crest. I passed a few runners and finished the first 25k loop in 2:35. I asked Adam how far ahead Ray was, and he said probably 10 minutes. The aid station worker told me I was in 4th place, but I felt good and ready to "hunt" the runners ahead of me.

I caught up to Matt Osborne of Pismo Beach, as he was suffering from cramps pretty badly. I gave him some of my salt tablets and wished him the best. I continued to push hard through the Saddle Loop, which has some Mt. Diablo and Cascade Crest style ascents! Entering into the Ball Fields aid station, I saw Ray Sanchez who was probably 2 minutes ahead of me. No sign of Whit Rambach who was winning at that point.

(I also ran into Heidi and Gordy on the trail)

I quickly refueled at the aid station and set out to catch Ray. I caught Ray near Maple Canyon (4m from the finish), and tried to create as much of a cushion as possible. Climbing up Lupine Loop I saw Whit and caught him at the crest of the hill. From here it was mostly downhill and I tried to turn my legs over as fast as possible. The battery on my Garmin ran out, so I had no idea what my time was, but I was feeling good running at a fast pace. I crossed the finish line in 5:17:05, which was 23 seconds behind Brian Robinson's 2007 course record. Brian is a very accomplished ultrarunner who holds the Barkely 100 course record, as well as being the only person to do all three transcontinental trails (PCT, CD, and AT) in a calender year. Brian joked with me afterwords that he was anxiously counting down the seconds for his course record as he could hear my feet coming down the trail. I must have been pretty loud!

After the run we headed back to the beach to enjoy Carmel's white sand, and gentle waves.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Dick Collins Firetrails 50

The Dick Collins Firetrails took place Saturday October 11th, for myself it was the a return to the 50 mile distance as the last 50 that I completed was the Mt. Diablo 50. It was my goal to run this race under 8:00 hr., but my only other benchmark for time, was my time from the White River 50 last year (8:45). I was pretty certain that I could go under my White River time, but sub 8:00 would be a tough task!
The race is ran by bay area ultra stars Carl Anderson and Ann Trason, who still hold many records 15 years after they raced! Carl sent us off at 6:30, and I tried to follow behind Jean Pommier, Victor Ballestros, and Hal Koerner. This lasted for maybe 1/2 mile as their fast pace left me in the dust. The first 25 miles I took conservatively as my hip was kind of tight, and this was a new course. I talked to a few runners, including Rick Gaston who has gotten exceptionally fast recently. Rick eventually ditched me at the aid station, and I didn't see him until the finish line! Way to go Rick!!
I hit the mile 25 turnaround at 4:03, which is a little slow for my goal of a sub 8 hr. run. I was probably in 14th place at this point, but I felt it was possible to catch a few runners on the way back.
On the way back I passed 5 runners, and got a negative split 4:02, which placed me 9th overall and 2nd in my age group. Although I finished 2nd in my age group, I got the wine bottle for the age group win as the 20-29 winner also received the rookie award. Of course I won't turn down a free bottle of wine!

Results can be found here.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

PCTR Santa Cruz 50k

The PCTR Santa Cruz 50k was my return to racing after running the CCC100 more than a month earlier. The recovery from CCC100 was tough, I got tendinitis in my knee pretty badly and it took me about 3 weeks to be able to runner farther than the end of the block. Entering the Santa Cruz 50k I was still feeling the pain in the knee, but it was starting to feel runnable, but I was unsure how it would feel doing 50k.
Strangely my aches and pains often dissapear after racing. This happened at the Cascade Crest as I was suffering from a pulled hamstring for about 2 months prior to the Cascade Crest. Yet once the race started the pain disappeared and it hasn't returned since. Except the pain in the patella replaced the hamstring pain, so it was trading one injury for the next.
Wendell sent us off to do a loop around the park and then hit the trails. Adam Blum and Jason Reed took off in the lead (both were running the 30k). Ryan Commons and I ran together for the first 30k, which we finished close to 2:25.
Leaving the 30k turnaround, I slowed considerably. Blisters starting forming on my feet from the 4 creek crossings (I wasn't wearing socks), and my legs felt lethargic. I told Ryan to continue on as he was still running strong (he would finish 4:24), while I plodded along to finish 4:50ish, and 2nd place.
Overall I feel pretty good about getting back on the trails again after the long time off from Cascade Crest. My knee no longer hurts and I am able to start training again!