Wednesday, April 15, 2009

We’re Officially Insane!

OK, we’re officially insane now having signed up for the Diablo 50 miler only two weeks before Miwok 100K.

Don advised me not to, and I bet he’ll be saying “I told you so” in a few weeks when my dead legs refuse to move during Miwok. But what the heck, next year this time I’ll be even older. A lot can happen in a year. And I’m a sucker for punishment (poor David isn’t, but he kindly agreed to come to make sure I stay in one piece!)

That said, we’ve been hitting it fairly hard on the hills of late and I was very pleased to not be sore for more than a day after Pirate’s Cove 50K. We also did some long runs, for example, heading up the Bay to Ridge Trail (the part from Arastradero Preserve to Black Mountain and back through Rancho San Antonio) (see Jean Pommier’s write-up of a similar run), Windy Hill and along the ridge to Borel Hill (see Russian Ridge and Skyline Ridge web pages) and back down via Alpine Road, and the PGE trail in Rancho San Antonio up to Black Mountain and back another time, with only minimal quad soreness. All of these routes entail miles of downhill running. Practice in downhill running is crucial to developing quads that can resist the stress of eccentric contractions, and it has been reported that even a single session of downhill running can protect against quad damage. Here are a few papers discussing these effects:
Decreased blood oxidative stress after repeated muscle-damaging exercise
Characterization of inflammatory responses to eccentric exercise in humans
Recent advances in the understanding of the repeated bout effect: the protective effect against muscle damage from a single bout of eccentric exercise

Diablo is another matter though, as I discovered when we checked out the first and last legs of the course a week ago, up to the top of Mt. Diablo via a couple of far-from-insignificant side peaks (such as the aptly named Eagle Peak which actually had a bald eagle soaring overhead!) and back to the finish—just hellacious climbs and descents, but oh so beautiful. Two days later, my quads still hurt. Not a good sign. I’m wondering whether our relatively tame hill training is going to be enough. The relatively short sections on fire roads were the fastest parts, but the tiny twisted gravely rooty steep single track (is that enough adjectives?) is slow as molasses. I don’t know how the fast people can manage it—all the power in the world can’t make those treacherous trails fast! But somehow they do it. I just want to survive and not be out too many hours after dark! The goal race after all is Miwok, so I reassured David that I wasn’t afraid to drop if I thought I was getting too beat up to recover in time for Miwok (sure, sure I will…). Also, those trails were particularly hard on the balls of the feet, since so much of the time I balanced on larger rocks rather than scrambling on loose scree (is that a word?) for secure footing. Anyone have a suggestions for problems with too much friction on the balls of the feet? I’m wondering if blister prevention patches in that location would help or hurt?

The injuries I was complaining of back in January haven’t completely gone away though they no longer ache and keep me awake at night, most of the time at least. Some nights I’d sleep with a tennis ball pressing on the sore spots (it seemed to help!). My gluteus medius, IT band and rectus femoris still ache, but my “posterior chain” (gluteus maximus, hamstrings, and calves) have gotten their act together and are no longer a severe limiter (ok, they still ache, but work properly now). Many thanks to David for endless massages and cross-fiber rubbing! The exercises that seemed to help include lunges (adding in the hip flexor stretch), supine bridges, step ups (see Eric Crissey’s Butt and Hip Care articles, part 1, part 2, and part 3 ["Healing the Hips"]), myrtls (thanks Glorybelle!), piriformis stretches (thanks Lori!) and just lots of slower running (faster running risks flare-ups again). I like Cressey’s stuff even though he’s really oriented toward the weight lifting crowd. Here are a couple more interesting articles he wrote:
Five Resistance Training Myths in the Running World
Cardio Confusion

In fact, I think I was suffering from something called femoral anterior glide, where the hip flexors literally pull the head of the hip bone forward in the socket, causing pain and dysfunction. My gluts weren’t activating properly. Now they are better and that problem disappeared (knock on wood!). In fact, I could feel everything engage properly on the climb up the steps above Rodeo Beach back in March when we ran PCTR's Pirate's Cove 50K, and felt good for a change. It’s amazing just how screwed up things can get when one muscle doesn’t engage properly.

I feel like I have trained as well as I could given the injury from last January and limited ability to tolerate higher training volumes (a few 50+ mile weeks, but with lots of hills). Now we’re tapering (long run only 12 miles and 2000 feet climb!) and easing up for a bit on the everyday runs (can you say lazy?), and hopefully that will help get us through. So stay tuned to see if we survive Diablo! It’s going to be a long day!


Lori said...

"But what the heck, next year this time I’ll be even older."
I love that! That's exactly how I think. ;)
Go for it! I'll be cheering you on. Yeah, you might be "officially insane" but you're living!
and- Thanks for posting those links to Eric Crissey’s articles.

Drs. Cynthia and David said...

Yeah, I might feel like "life begins at 50" but I know at some point I won't be able to play like the young'uns!

Danni said...

Thanks for the blog visit! I need to add this one to my reading list! I mean, patent lawyer? I'm a lawyer, and used to do some patent litigation until I moved to the middle of nowhere (we just shoot folks who steal our ideas here). (j/k)

Anonymous said...

Yay! How exciting. You wont't regret a thing. I am totally with you that a lot can happen in a year. You just never know! Do it while you can and let us know how it goes.


Jo Lynn said...

Hey! If you were there yesterday, I wish we could have met. I think I may have made eye contact with you but I'm not positive. I don't know what you look like. Oh well, maybe next time. ;)

miki said...

Hey there, hope you did well out there yesterday. I'm sure if I knew you I would have seen you as I floated around both Juniper and Rock City as well as shuttling the sweaty runner van from Rock City to the finish. It was a gorgeous day wasn't it with spectacular views!

Thanks for the link you sent and and thanks for the AWESOME Jean Pommier link that had the map thru Arastradero and on and on. I have never taken that particular route thru Arastradero to Foothill and always wondered what route I should map out. But now I have no excuses.

Hope you had a great Diablo day.


Drs. Cynthia and David said...

Thanks JoLynn and Miki.

I was one of the poor souls who dropped at 37 b/c I missed the cutoff. I got a ride back from Rock City too! I think I could have made it by the final cutoff b/c I was feeling much better as the temps cooled, but judging by how I feel today (ugh!) 37 miles was quite enough for me at this stage! David was stronger and could have done pretty well I think, but he stuck with me (Thanks, Sweetie)!.

Wish I could have said Hi! Maybe next time (at something easier!).