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Injured, cranky, and racing: the last 2 months and my first 100k

October 15, 2013

Last I left you I was fresh off a high from my finish at the Leadville 100.  I had no real plan, as that 100-miler was my final race planned for my busy running season.   But, my expectation was to be back to some easy, purely recreational running a week, maybe two, after Leadville.  Much of the muscular soreness was gone in the first few days after the race and mentally I was ready to go after about a week of rest.  My achilles, however, didn’t agree and it took me over a month of being an icing, doctor-visiting, anti-inflamation-cream-rubbing, cry baby before I could get back to any regular running.  Even walking was tough.

My grandmother, Elsie Levy, riding bitch on a hog.  She's 96.  This has almost nothing to do with ultrarunning.

My grandmother, Elsie Levy, riding bitch on a hog. She’s 96. This has almost nothing to do with ultrarunning.

What ultimately made the difference, besides resting and complaining?  Cutting the back out of my trail shoe so it wouldn’t rub the crazy-swollen tendon.  After a couple weeks of daily running I had my head wrapped back around the idea of squeezing in just one last race before the cold weather hit.  Any trace of running speed I may have once had was completely gone from months of long, slow running so anything short was out.

I considered backing up my barely-finished 100-miler with another 100-miler or a 24-hour race at the 24 Hours of Boulder running festival but (prudently?) opted for the junior race, a 100k (62 miles).  I’ve never run 100k in a stand-alone event; in fact, it would be the 3rd longest run I’ve done and all 3 have been in the last 12 months.   The many concurrent races at the 24 Hours of Boulder included a 50k, 100k, 100mi, 6-hour, and 24-hour, a few of which also offered relay or team versions.  The whole thing is kind of odd, even by endurance race standards.  The course is a 6.6 mile trail-and-road, out-and-back that hugs the Boulder Reservoir.  For the 100k, that meant a 2.8 mile partial lap followed by 9 full laps.  There were people constantly around but not enough that it ever felt crowded.  The 9am start was 2-5 hours later than most of my races over the last couple of years so that felt strange.  Alison and the kids were able to join me at the start – the first time the whole family has been there at the beginning of a race.  The whole atmosphere was relaxed, my expectations were pretty much nonexistent, I was just going to go at whatever pace felt right until I made it to the end.

A picture of my ever-beautiful wife, circa 1922?

A picture of my ever-beautiful wife, circa 1922?

In the days leading up to the race I made a commitment, to myself and the family, not to stress about any aspect of the run.  I’m happy to say I succeeded, drinking freely, staying up too late, not really resting up at all.  It showed once the running started.  The combo of being detrained from my Leadville taper, race, injury, and time off, plus the possible overtraining in the two weeks before the 100k had me flat all day.  My sometimes 9-minute/mile pace early on faded to 14-15 minute pace in the later hours of the race but I moved steadily throughout, walking for a minute or two every couple miles to let my knees recover (they hurt pretty much all day).

Hurting a little, smiling for no good reason, already a little bored just a few hours into my all day 100k.

Hurting a little, smiling for no good reason, already a little bored just a few hours into my all day 100k.  Photo credit: Karen Kantor


It was weird to be so committed to finishing while not really caring about the event or my performance.  And, when I crossed the line 14 hours and 48 minutes after I started, I wasn’t really that tired.  With a field of only 11 runners in the solo 100k event, I was dead last of the 8 finishers.  In a great twist of irony, due to the small field I “won” my first ever tangible race award, a 2nd Place medal for my age group. Interestingly and very cool, the 5 women who started the race not only all finished, they took overall spots 1-5.

Ultimately, I think the event was (for me) kinda dumb.  I just wanted to do something difficult again so I did.  But there wasn’t really any great love for the endeavor, no huge emotional swings, no real satisfaction.  I was happy enough to be done but, mostly, it was a big blah.  I mean, I know I can cover the distance, even if I have to walk all day long.  I know I can possibly even be competitive if I train for this sort of event.  And I know that it should feel like a big accomplishment.  But, running a boring course over and over again, almost entirely solo, when my body and mind aren’t into it, is just a big nothing.  Maybe a good workout, I guess, and another long ultra to give me that much more confidence next time I have a long day ahead but that’s about it.

It seems ridiculous to just get up, drive 5 minutes, run literally all day long, and come home and shower and go to bed.  I’m not sure if I’ll do a similar event again but, strangely enough, I might.  I still like the pushing myself aspect, even if I’m not pushing hard.  And, especially with friends and maybe as part of a relay, this kind of event still has some appeal.  The best part, perhaps, is that I didn’t really even need to take a day off after the race.  This afternoon I was able to hike-run Sanitas, a Boulder locals’ favorite that is technical and steep.  I guess that’s the upside of not racing hard.

There were some flurries at the Sanitas summit today.  Winter is coming, for real.  I’m thinking some snowshoe racing might be a nice change of pace.

Thanks for reading!





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