Friday, November 11, 2011

Injury, the Camp Croft Half-Marathon and "That's not your man"

In early September, I planned a long run at my favorite nearby state park, Jones Gap, where 2000 foot climbs abound and the scenery rivals about anything I’ve ever seen. I've run most everything there, but had always opted to run the spectacular Rim of the Gap Trail rather than the entire length of the Pinnacle Pass Trail. That day, cloudy and cool, I would complete Pinnacle, adding another 1500-foot climb to make a seventeen mile or so jaunt with about 5500 feet of ascent.

Along the Rim of the Gap Trail
I arrived just as the gates were opening, and packed up. About ten steps from the car, my familiar calf-cramp seized up. Thinking I was already done for the day, I carried on. My calf didn’t complain on the initial hefty climb up the Blue Ridge Escarpment that makes all these trails so tough, though I could still feel it. I decided then that I would cut my day short since there was no way out once I passed the six mile or so mark.
Returning down the escarpment, my calf did complain, and I dialed back the pace. Since then I’ve had pain that sometimes receded enough for me to think it was gone, and sometimes made it hard to walk. My plans to run a hard Camp Croft Half-Marathon went by the wayside. With the race tomorrow, I’ve had three or four hard runs in the past eight weeks, including a speed day—my first formal fast workout in a couple of years. I’m expecting a hard training run, but not much more.
This week and last I’ve been pain-free. I didn’t push much last weekend, but this week has included two fairly hard runs. Tuesday I had a running meeting with the cross-country coach in the town where I’m doing some work. We are planning a greenway along their sewer right-of-way, and I wanted to show him and get his support. We had a fantastic run that included some bushwhacking that left me a little bloody from the briars, and then a quick loop of their cross country course. Mostly we had a terrific chat about running and life in general.
On Wednesday I was out at Croft to help my buddy Seth by marking the last 4 ½ miles of the course. I came back by the road in the dark, and for no reason whatsoever it turned into a good 2+ mile tempo effort under 7 minute pace. As I was finishing up, I noticed headlamps on the wrong side of the road, opposite the trail. It was the Sheriff’s Department tracking team out training. As I approach I saw the bloodhound on a line, and heard the deputy saying, “That’s not your man, that’s not your man.” I was pretty glad I was not his man!
Tomorrow’s race should be fun: with recent rains, it’ll be a mud-fest, for sure. I had thought I’d run in the Montrail Rogue Racers that I love so much, but will instead go with the Montrail Mountain Masochists I just bought. After the run, I’ll perform with Snidely Sidewinder and the Unrepentant Uke Boys, so my afternoon will, after the beer drinking required for any Snidely performance, involve a nap.
Sunday I’ll get Bristol the Enduro-Dog a little exercise as we both gear up for the hard training I have planned this winter. I’m guessing all that will add up to about 40 miles in five days. Here’s hoping my calf cooperates.

Bristol the Enduro-Dog

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