Monday, May 23, 2011

Jemez 50 2011

After poor health for all of April and a stinging DNF at Collegiate Peaks, all I wanted out of Jemez was a good time and a finish. I got both.
But during the race, I wanted another thing - to finish before it got dark. I got that with some time to spare also.
It was an ugly finish, though. I finished faster than when I walked it in 2009, but not impressively faster. I'm just in lousy shape. Very lousy. There's just no way to cheat your way to the finishline. If you're in bad shape, it will show up out there.

Since I knew I'd be slow, I decided to take my running pack. I would use a hydration bladder and a 20oz bottle. Then 10min before start, I noticed my pack was dripping. I had checked my bladder for leaks, but not with the hose clipped in. So I rushed to my car and replaced the bladder with two 16oz bottles. Wow, two 16oz and one 20oz seemed a bit much, but a 16 & 20 wasn't going to be enough for my slow butt to go 7.8M between Valle Grande and Pajarito Canyon.

Things went well. The weather was beautiful! BEAUTIFUL!! I've never ran a race where the weather was better.

Then at Pipeline aid station, I accidentally left my 20oz bottle. I had been carrying one empty 16oz bottle and the other 1/3 full. So I slid and crashed my way down the cliff into the caldera and when I got to the bottom I realized my mistake. There was no way I was going back up that cliff! I had 7oz in one bottle, so I ran to Valle Grande much faster than planned. Then I topped-off both 16oz bottles and headed to Pajarito.

It was definitely a wonderful day. In spite of this stupid bottle problem, everything else made it a perfect day NOT to be sitting on my ass!

As expected, I got to Pajarito Canyon aid station dehydrated. I drank extra while standing around, then refilled and took off. I was really dragging ass, but better to recover moving down the trail than sitting at an aid station. So lots of people passed me. At the next aid station, one of the people who passed me sat down like he wasn't going to be able to walk another step. I don't know his name and I hope he managed to get his legs back.
As I started the last big climb over 10,000 feet, I started to feel almost human, but the climb kept me from feeling good. Again, I got passed and then passed them as they lost their legs.
Finally, the Big Drop - the double black diamond ski slope. I was surprised as slow and tired as I was on the up, my legs felt fine on the down.
Back at Pipeline, Grabbed my 20oz bottle again and headed up the last climb. The last 11 miles are monotonous. I just shuffled along. It wasn't a walk and it wasn't a run. It was that in-between thing. Walking hurts my feet too much. Running took too much energy.

This is the first time I took my new pulse-oximeter. I watched my blood-oxygen rate fall and climb. I was never in trouble. My pulse was sometimes high, and during the Caballo Mountain climb it dipped as low as 81%, but I found I did best if I kept it between 85-89%. Any less was dangerous to my asthma and anymore was being a pussy.

A finish is a finish. After the last couple months, I'll take it.
Stress from work, and not enough time off, has whittled me down. I needed a break. I got exactly what I needed. But even as slow as my finish was, it was over too quick. i love Jemez 50M. Slow or fast, I'll just keep coming back.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Collegiate Peaks 50 - 2011

This went badly, but it was still a fun, beautiful and worthwhile weekend.
My lungs flared early. I gave a token effort the first 25M lap. I don't know what I finished it in. Probably 4:45, but I had to used the restroom, so I didn't leave for a while after that. My last lap, I just tried to run/walk/hack.
My lungs just weren't ready. I felt pretty good before the race, but as soon as I started running, I could tell it was too soon. Still, I paid special attention to all the stressors I could do something about, like hydration, calories, and electrolytes. I think I handled that well.
I tried to stay ahead of the cut-offs. This is something I could never imagine having to do. I really had to suck down some pride. There was the option to drop at the end of the first 25M loop, but I figured I didn't go to do half a loop. If I pushed too hard, I was just going to aggravate my lungs more, so just have a good time.
I missed the cut-off at mile 39. Got a ride back. I'm not hurting much, but more than 39 miles ought to.

Ryan Burch gave an unbelievable performance, breaking the course record by basically running 50 miles at marathon pace. I never saw him strain so much, but he was really knocking it down. Wish I could have seen more of him on the course.

I drove to Leadville for the night. I just drove to the end of the road, threw a couple of sleeping bags on the ground, and laid out staring at the stars. There was only one decent falling star. The other was maybe my imagination, it was so short and small. There was virtually no wind - just an occasional slight breeze. My lungs didn't like the thin air, but the cleanness of it, and the smell of pine was really fine. My body responded well to that.
My abs are still very sore from coughing. With the lack of training I've been getting, my abs at least have not withered.

Jemez is much harder. If I couldn't finish Collegiate Peaks, then how can I finish Jemez? I'll just have to hope the lungs clear up all the way, and I can get some training.
If I can't finish Jemez, I'll bail on SJS50. Those bibs are too coveted to waste a bib with too much doubt. If I can't finish Jemez, I feel obligated to give my SJS50 bib to someone on the wait-list who has a better chance. Besides, the way the wait-list works, if you bail, your credit card never gets charged - I wouldn't lose any money.

I've been told I need to go to National Jewish. Apparently there's a battery of tests they have to do - maybe 10 visits - where they really tell exactly what you need to do to deal with your particular type of asthma. They specialize in athletes, too.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Missed the Whole Month

I've gotten in several runs in April, but not one of them was 100%. I had 6 days in a row of running. The rest of the time I spent coughing, and coughing, and coughing some more. I coughed so hard I thought I was going to throw-up my guts. I coughed so hard so often my abs are sore. I coughed all the way through the month. They wouldn't let me work because everyone was tired of hearing me cough. I coughed so hard I had a headache. I had to intertwine my fingers and clamp my palms on my temples before each coughing fit because it felt like my head would explode during the effort. I was coughing convulsively.
The doctor said it was Reactive Airway Disease, of which my asthma is just part of it. My hypersensitivity to pollen, smoke, or anything else causes my respiratory system to attack me. He stuck me on a steroid that got rid of most of the convulsive coughing, but that was a week ago and it is starting to return.
This elevates the risk of pneumonia. I've had acute pneumonia, walking pneumonia, and someday I'll probably die of pneumonia.
They x-ray'd my lungs and sinuses and they were clear, so he said I wasn't sick from an infection - just being attacked by my respiratory system.
I'm taking Claritin to help control my allergies. This Spring has been hell.
What fun.
This may end my racing career. Virtually no training this entire month. Friends are bragging how they've logged 300 miles, and I haven't made it 90 for the entire month.
I have Collegiate Peaks 50M in 6 days, and I'm still coughing. I may have to bail.