Sunday, August 26, 2018

The shoemaker in me

My last post was about the frustration of having a messed up meniscus and the on again/off again/on again pain that keeps me from running the way I want, and what I am doing about it. It wasn't meant as a woe-is-me thing, but just expressing my frustration and exposing the folly of my chasing every glimmer of hope looking for a miracle cure. Most of my running friends know what I have been dealing with, and have been sympathetic to my situation. Some have encouraged me to just tough it out, which is what I have been doing for better or worse. I can't say trying to run through it has helped or hindered my recovery and knee health. As mentioned, the several different herbs and snake oil concoctions have helped maybe a little. a well-times pain pill seems to help for the moment. Super Beets has put a little bit of pep in my step--figuratively speaking.

I read a lot on knee issues such as mine, and I stumbled on an article that ties in overpronation with kee issues EXACTLY like what I have. Hello. My name is Ken Childress and I am an overpronator. 
I've been that way since I was a kid. see how the right leg rolls in just above the ankle? That could very well be my leg--well, maybe if I shaved it. There was no unfortunate accident that led to this mild deformity. when I first started running again in 2002, I wore road running shoes that had motion control, recommended by my favorite running store RunnersWorld-Tulsa and bought them from a shoe sales lady who ended up being my best friend. Road running shoes like Asics Gel Kayano and the 2000 and 2100 series have the inward side of the sole either built up a little and that brings that leg back into alignment. But I eventually found that I dislike road running and prefer trailz and trail shoes rarely have any pronation control features since every step is different on the trail. That never seemed to bother me.

But since my knee problems, which have been ongoing for four years or so, it seems while running on flat pavement that my right leg seems a wee bit shorter than my left leg. So I am thinking--a slight build-up on the inward side of my foot could possibility correct that. Could it be that easy???

So, I conducted an experiment. I have many many pairs of old shoes that I just cannot seem to throw away, so I robbed an insole out of one, and in the confines of my shoe research lab (aka the bathroom), I modified an old insole to correct my pronation.

Figure 1. Start cut in about the middle of the back of the insole, angling toward the right side about 1/3 of the length.

Figure 2. Admire handiwork, and go to the kitchen for a beer.

Figure 3. Inset modified insole into the shoe.

Figure 4. Put the removed insole from the shoe on top of the modified insole.

Figure 5. Done. Finish beer, and then try those puppies on.

Right away, I know I was on to something. Something wonderful. I walked around and within 50 steps, I got that "awwwww" feeling. It felt so right. My knee was NOT hurting. It was like there was nothing wrong. I wore my Hokas to dinner and then walked the dogs. Virtually no discomfort at all. Seriously, this does take pressure off of my bum knee. Now I know there may be a better solution like a new pair of Gel Kayanos or some other new and snazzy motion control shoe with a built-up medial post. But my experiment has me believing that this is the miracle cure I have been trying to find!!

Friday, August 24, 2018

a post with no pictures, and lots of aches and pains

In the last 7 weeks, I have ran a whopping total of 43.3 miles. That's less that .9 of a mile per day, and would not even qualify as a taper. WHY???

Well, a few reasons.

1. My on-again/off-again knee problem has just been more bad than good.

2. I have been way too busy at work, coming home too tired to run at night when I have in years past done most of my training.

3. My work, which frequently involves getting on a ladder, puts a lot of strain on my knee, and pain as spread to my hip.

4. I have made somewhat of a conscience attempt to rest by not running.

I hate all of the above. Running is who I am, it's what I do. My grand running season began it's crash with Honey Badger, and doing Urban Adventure, another 100, seems unlikely. Tunnel Hill, my goal race, is still in the plans, but any hope of a respectable finish is gone. I guess I am revising that expectation and embracing that sub-29:59:59 DFL as a victory.

What am I doing to work on my problem--besides nothing?

1. Diet. I have cut way back on sugar. Now understand that I LOVE my sweets. Can't say that I have totally wiped sugar off of my planet, but I am consuming way less.

2. Lots of supplements.
    A. I take Arthrozene, which is supposed to relieve discomfort and stiffness, increase flexibility and mobility, and work in as little as 5 days. I have noticed maybe a little--very little affect with these. I wild continue them for 35 more days and then decide if I will continue
    B. Joint FLX, which protects against joint discomfort and stiffness, support joint flexibility, and strengthen joint mobility. Ditto on the results. These two basically are supposed to be doing the same thing.
    C. Cardio Clear, which is mostly for heart health and cognitive function. I am a sucker for these 45 minute videos that promise a wonder-cure for all my ailments, and you have to sit through the whole stinking video to see what the stuff is, and by then I am caught hook, line, and sinker. I have another couple of infomercial concoctions in the way, each guaranteeing the miracle cure.
    D. SUPER BEETS. I hate beets. I have bad childhood memories of having beets on my plate and having to eat them. Eating them resulted in projectile vomiting--I just could not chew them or swallow them. Not eating them sometimes resulted in having my butt spanked. And if you don't eat your beets, you can't have any pudding. How can you haver any pudding if you don't at your beets? Pink Floyd used this in a song, I think. But SUPER BEETS boosts Nitric Oxide, provides healthy circulation, healthy blood pressure levels, and increased energy and stamina. My resting heart rate used to be around 60, and recently was as high as 82-83. Now it's down to 70. I do feel like I have more energy and stamina. Maybe the Cardio Clear has a little to do with this too? I nix SUPER BEETS powder with 12 ounces of orange juice every morning. I love it.
     E. CBD oil and salve. I have not noticed any difference with the oil, although I just had a small bottle and am out. The salve seems no better or worse than Bio Freeze or Deep Heat, or Ben Gay. I would not rule out using wither of these products, but an not particularly impressed.

3. Biking. Only once, but I do need to work more biking into my life. I have a so-so road bike and a good mountain bike. We also have a Peloton bike.

4. Massage. My friend Lisa Butler works my legs over every weekend. She is awesome, and after each session, I feel well. If that wellness would stay, that would be great. Besides knowing exactly where to do her torture, she is a wealth of knowledge on running and fitness. I feel privileged to have her as a friend.

5. Stretching. This started from how I dealt with lover back pains. Nothing bad, but pulling my knees to my chest really help me. Other stretches and rolling on the foam roller hurts yet helps.

6. Knee braces and wraps. I have boiught several, and at first they seem like they help, but  on warm humid days they slide around mostly downward and it seems they don't do much in anything.

7. My ortho-doc who did my meniscus repair a few years back gives me a gel injection every 6 months, and that gives my knee some very noticeable relief. It's an expensive procedure, but not really a cure. I may go see him for another MRI on the knee and hip.

Since I have had a couple if slightly better days, I think I will do a little slow running over the weekend. If you see me limping, don't feel sorry for me. If you know a miracle sure, I'm all ears.

Friday, July 20, 2018

Honey Badger and other related stuff

My diligence on keeping my blog updated has been waning as of late. I can easily blame it on work, plus I am possibly the world's worst procrastinator. But since my blog has evolved into mostly a running sounding board, I haven't really had any hoorahs that I wanted to write about.

But Honey Badger. Mitch and I crewed and paced Lynna at this race two years ago, and for a race that is touted as being tough, even to the point of proclaiming it to be the mid-states version of Badwater, "I" thought it was an easy race. The only two things that made it harder than a cake walk was that it is all on pavement, and it is in July when it most likely will be hot and humid. I, being quite acclimated to the heat, decided to give it a go. I even trained a little for it. I had a 2-day running streak, I ran a few long runs in the 20-mile range on pavement. I ran a gravel 50K in March, a mostly gravel 50-mile in May, a couple of halves and a full sprinkled in there. My ever-present knee thing was behaving--not 100% but a solid 80%. Lynna was running the race again and had her eyes on a USATF women's age group record which she would earn by finishing this race. For the record to count, the course had to be certified by the USATF, and most 100 milers are not certified. Lynna had ample crew support, and so did I. We thought we would at least run some of the way together, but I knew that she would be too fast for me in the early going, and if I happened to catch up, we would likely run together for a while.

I ran a 20-miler the weekend before at the Midnight Madness event in Tulsa. I had a good run but decided since the course was 1/4 of a mile from my house, I would run home and get my dogs and run with them on an out-and-back. Bad idea. They were happy about getting u at 5:00 am for a run and were amped up about getting a rabbit chase in the wee hours of the morning. Sure enough, there were rabbits on the trail and they bolted after one on the steep downhill from the Turkey Mountain parking lot. I put on the brakes and held them, but I should have let them go. I jammed my bad knee for 3-4 long strides and was hurting a little from that point on. I took them back home and proceeded to finish the last 405 miles of my race. I was running intervals--100 strides at a quick pace (about 10 m/m), 100 steps power walking, and 100 steps shuffling. My power walking was about 30 seconds per mile faster than my shuffle, which seemed odd. About a mile from the end of the race, I stopped to chat with a runner coming back the other way, and when I resumed my forward progress, I couldn't put any weight in my right leg. My knee and hip hurt really bad--like my body weighed 1000 pounds. When I lifted my foot, then my foot weighed 1000 pounds. I really thought I was gonna have to call someone to pick me u, but managed to tough it out. After the race, I went home, showered, took a pain pill and crashed in the easy chair. When I woke up, my body and/or leg didn't weigh 1000 pounds anymore, but I was still tentative in my walking.

I worked my normal work week and things seemed better, but I really had my concerns with 100 miles of asphalt at Honey Badger--but I still went. Johnna came with me to crew and pace, and David West also drove up to help out. Starting the race, I felt fine. The temperatures were supposed to be a little on the cool side, but low 90s was still a possibility. I ran the first 10 miles or so at a comfortable pace--I was in last place, but still well within the pace I needed to run. Plus, I was slowly catching up with a runner.

Left to right: Johnna, Lynna, David, Matt, Eva, and Jbob. matt was running and finished. Eva, who finished last year, broke a bone in her foot and had to drop. Jbob was Eva's crew.

The race started at 6:00. It was not hot yet, but very humid. We ran through the roads of Cheney Lake Park and got around 6 miles in before heading out on endless straight roads. I saw Lynna on this out and back and could see she was setting a good pace.

I used one of my ultra-secrets--tossing out a Facebook post beckoning prayers and positive thoughts. This garners lots of comments of encouragement and can keep my drive to push onward intact.
"Honey badger 100. I am 3 miles in and feeling really good. I’m about 300 yards out of last place. But things are A-OK, and I am enjoying life. Please think of me today, I appreciate prayers and all the positive thoughts and vibes she can send my way."

While I do love the mountains, the flatlands of Kansas has its appeal. But that appeal dwindled as the day went on.

Johnna and David met me every 3-4 miles and gave me snacks and Pedialyte. (I am a real believer with generic Pedialyte. It is so much better than Gatorade there is no comparison.) I had brought a wide variety of food--pro-bars, boiled eggs, stuff for salomi and mustard sandwiches, cookies, little containers of strawberries with chia seeds (AWESOMENESS), Fritos and Pringles, chocolate milk, Starbucks coffee drinks, and I am sure I am forgetting about a dozen other items. 

Johnna would come out to meet me and grabbed my pack to top off my water, and I had already told her what I wanted so she had my sandwich ready or whatever other food-stuff sounded good. My crew was a well-oiled machine. I was there and gone in 60 seconds every time. (This picture was actually in the Cheney Lake area. Here's the DFL guy.)

Once out of the park, the course turned west. Straight west--as in no turns, no curves. I was pining for some sort of curve in the road but there was none.

Twenty miles later. Same road--but wait!! There is a SLIGHT curve in the road ahead!!

I did catch the runner ahead of me. He was in his 70s, and from Wisconsin--where they have no humidity. He was melting down and eventually dropped at about 26 miles into the race. (No pride in passing a 70-year old who was overheating.) Still, I was averaging 16-minute miles, but at about mile 27, I started slowing down. Nothing hurt (I dod have the beginnings of a hot spot) but I could not make myself speed up. I could do maybe 50 strides faster, but then I just had to slow down. That's when I started doing runners math. I had to get to mile 53 by 16 hours--basically an 18 minute per mile pace. I was losing my time cushion, and I knew that by mile 40-45, My average pace would have dropped below 18 minutes per mile. It didn't help that the sun popped out from behind some clouds and beat down hard on us poor runners. we also lost a good south breeze that made things bearable.  At mile 34, I pulled the plug. I went back and forth on the decision. Gradually, I was starting to feel the pain in y knee. If it turned into what had happened the weekend before, that would surely end my run. And by my fuzzy math, I was correct in admitting I could not make the cut-off time at mile 53, and even if they let me go on, it would take a miracle for me to make the finish.

We drove on to the 53-mile checkpoint and waited for Lynna to come on in. She looked great. She had purposely ran a spirited pace to put time in the bank, and by doing so, she assured herself of a finish. SHe did finish and has herself planted in the record books as the 65-69 age group record holder for 100 miles. She bettered her tie from two years ago as well. Getting another record once she turns 70 probably will not happen. It seems a runner named Helen Klein ran a 100-miler in 1993 on a certified coure in 21 hours and change.

So where does my knee situation leave me? I have not rn much, but I have done a few 5-6 milers. I still have plans to run Tunnel Hill in November. I am waiting to decide on Urban Adventure in September. I am doing some exercises and stretching that is helping. I am seeing Lisa Butler once a week who is doing some intense leg smashing and deep tissue massage, and I am seeing good results fro that. I need to work some biking into my training, and that will happen. Yoga too, although I am not sure about those yoga pants.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Armadillo 2018

As part of my ongoing "training", I traversed the Armadillo Ultra (for me it was a half ultra.) This ace at Osage Hills State Park is such a diverse combination of trails and terrain, that any trail runner should experience it. I have been a part of this race for the past 4 years, and the past two I have been able to RUN it.

I left out of Tulsa plenty early to chat with friends, get signed up, and ready myself mentally. AAs you can see from the above picture, I had not gathered myself mentally just yet. More coffee was needed.

My friends Gwen and Johnna are poised and ready to go. Gwen a 6'6" gazelle, graciously squatted down so I could get both her and Johnna in the same frame.

Thee long photo-arm of James captures the transformation of a zombie coffeed up. It's almost go-time.

Well, the usual crawling out from the start line was with me again. I should try actually running the 1st quarter mile in a race for a change. But here, I knew there would be a log-jam when we reached Sand Creek Falls. I also knew I would take some pictures, so I let the race go. I buried myself so far behind in tme that I was guaranteed a lonely solo run. Funny thing is, I kind of like that.

I have always wanted to rappel, and Roman was here to photograph my change of mind the moment my feet started dangling off the edge of an 80' drop.

Next was a run down to the old ball field. It was really just a field--should have been called a deer field. Today I saw four, but they were much too elusive to be caught on camera.

After the ball field loop, we made a loopy out and back and ran by another Danger Cliffs area. These were about a 30' drop to the water. I have seen people jumping off here but you couldn't pay me enough to do that. (Oh I probably DO have a price.)

A mile or so of flat double track with zero elevation gain. It was also a tunnel with thick tree cover. A tunnel, but not a wind tunnel. I had to hold my glasses through here because they were fogging up so bad.

To make the distances right, a series of out and backs had to be added, I have no problem with that, although those doing the whole loop twice for the 50K, these get to be a drag. I just love someone's sence of humor with this turnaround sign.

This access road is usually unfindable. Whoever mowed or weed-eated it is a hero in my books, The worst chiggers I have ever had (and maybe the worst case of chiggers in the history of the Earth) happened at this park to ME a few years ago.

Another out and back led to Lookout Lake. This road took us up a nice little hill and made for a brief bit of non-technical running. If you absolutely must run on roads, they should be like this one.

This lake is a postcard. If I fished, I'd fish here. They also have kayaks to rent, but I have kayaks, and I am positive I'll bring them here. And maybe fish.

I always take pictures of the aid stations and volunteers, and God knows I had time for that. I hit the first one twice since I left my phone in a campground bathroom and a camper brought it back to the aid station and I made a 2K detour to get it. and remembered to get a picture of Krystal and Lisa. The second aid station you hit three times, and I was so intent on eating that I took no pictures there. But thank you Philip and Sara!!

The reason I hit this station three times was because it was the beginning and ending of the two loops on the mountain bike trailz. These trailz winded around and had several switchbacks, It was like they had 10 acres to cut 5 miles of trailz, and they actually did a great job of it--whoever planned the construction of this playground.

Most of the way was shaded, but there were a few places where you could catch some rays. I actually ran these stretches faster to get through to the next shady area.

James Canfield caught me poking along through the woods. He had finished his 25K and was back out on the course taking pictures.

When James is not taking pictures, he kills zombies with the jawbone of an ass.

I finished in 6:32 and change. If I had only been just an hour faster, I might have been next to last place. But remember, I did add 2K running back to get my phone. But other than that, I just had a slow day. And took some pictures. And just about fell off a cliff. And had a poop stop (TMI !!!) All in all, I felt great, and kept my electrolytes balanced, and stayed hydrated enough to pee a couple of times. 

OH! And I beat a few 50Kers.

Justin Walker aka Jwalk did a super great job RD-ing this race. He marked the course better than I ever did. And, he never seemed stressed out although I am sure he was at some point--it comes with the territory.

Friday, June 15, 2018

Mowdy Report

I am a little late in getting my race report out for the melody Mustang Ranch Trail run. This is my third year to run this race, and it is a very well put together race, great trails, and beautiful scenery. It’s also cool to see wild Mustangs running around in the woods while you’re also running around in the woods.
This year, I signed up for the 50 K knowing that if it got hot I would drop down to the marathon distance. I have no problem doing that, as I don’t like absolutely baking my brain out in the open spaces. The marathon and 50K started at 5 AM. Most everybody wore their headlamps, but I opted to go without one since in 15 or 20 minutes it was light enough to see. The race starts out across a small field and turns into a small wooded area and then gets back out into some open prairie. The first mile or so, it was too dark to take any pictures; but when I got into the words, the sun was starting to pick up over the horizon.

The Mowdy Ranch Trail Run has a 5K, 10K a half marathon, full marathon, 50K. The course has 7 miles on the north side of the ranch and then you come back to the start finish. Then you go out for about 6.5 miles on the south end of the property. Once you do both of these loops, you have a half marathon under your belt. The marathon does the same thing twice, and the 50K does an additional shorter loop to make their distance. I’d say close to half of the runners at this event do the half marathon.

After passing this tree with the face, you get into some really technical trails. Most trail runners would actually call this their favorite section as there are some cool rock formations. 

My first time around, I ran the section fairly well although I did stop and take a few pictures. My second lap it was starting to get hot and I basically walked through it and endured the technical areas.

I really didn’t have any time goals for this race. I just wanted to get a marathon or 50K, and feel good on my feet. I had hoped to get through the race with no serious knee issues—even after the race.

 I always take a picture from this spot, but a photo never captures how amazing the view really is. After being in dense woods for a couple of miles, the break here in the tree cover shows a valley and a distant hill maybe 4-5 miles away. It's not Colorado, but it's still scenic.

 This mile stretch is like running FlatRock. Not easy to run with tired legs.

If I had built this trail, I would have plotted it just as it is. I reserve the right to cuss at it, but meandering between rocks is trail running at its best.

 Fortunately, my body tends to lean this direction later in a race.

It can really get hot at this race, but this year was a few degrees cooler than in years past. It was partly cloudy but when you got out in these fields and the sun was beating down on you It was a grind. 

The race photographers took this photo. I was focusing on sucking it in but did not remember to disguise my duck stride.

I'm not sure if this was on the north or south side trailz. Let's say south.

After my first loop, I picked up my new spiffy hat. It’s a straw hat with lots of ventilation, and a 50 UPF rating. It breathes well enough that my head didn’t get too hot and sweaty, although I still needed the bandanna to mop my brow.

These sunny sections were a good place to run. No roots or rocks to trip on, and the sooner you got through them the better. The warm weather eventually did take its toll on me. I hit an aid station on the north side where they filled my water bottle--and I promptly spilled it all over there M&Ms and potato chips. I felt kind of bad about that but they said oh don’t worry don’t worry. But I had used the last of their water in their water jug. They said they could get me a refill but I opted to go on since my bottle was about half full. That was a mistake. I got to the long Rocky technical section for the second time  and my legs were tired enough that I really couldn’t shuffle through there. I just walked. I was sort of rationing my water were not wanting to run out before I got to the next stage station, but I still drained it and had about a mile and a half to go mostly in an open sunny field. I found myself getting really short of breath and actually had a slight bit of tightness in my chest. That spooked me, and I really wondered what I should do. Then, it occurred to me I had my cell phone and I could call my friends RJ and Michelle at the next state station. They could probably run out to meet me with a bottle of water. Three minutes later RJ came riding up on a four wheeler with a cold bottle of Gatorade and a cold bottled water. He stayed with me while I guzzled all that down and offered me a ride on in--but I wanted to stay in the race. When I got to their aid station I sit down drink another big cup of ice water and another big cup of ice Gatorade and felt like I was 100%. Or 90%--somewhere in there. 

I went on and I knew at this point that I was not going to make the 50 K. I expected that, but I was worried that I was not going to get to the Finishline before their cut off. I did not want to hold all the aid stations out there waiting for me. So I called my buddy Chris who was timing the rice and he assured me that I had plenty of time to finish the marathon and that there were actually quite a few 50 K years behind me. I really questioned that as I think I had been lapped by all of them and in fact I had.

I was starting to think I wasn’t going to see any horses out on the range, but as I made the turn heading back towards the start finish I saw several and took a picture and walked a little further and took another picture trying to get close and as it turns out I probably could’ve  scratched them on the butt. They were quite tame.

I made the aid station on the south side of the course and apologized for being so slow but they said not to worry that they’d be there even if it was until dark. I thought that was very kind but I didn’t want to keep them out there that long so I picked up the pace a little bit. Not a lot— just a little. 

 The south side of the course has a little more exposed sections, but this year, they had cut a few more trailz and eliminated some fields and added single track through the woods. This race gets better every year.

I probably had about 4 miles left in my race and another four wheeler came riding out to meet me. It was Clay Melody, the owner of the Mustang Ranch, and I guess the word got around that I had had a little bit of trouble with the heat and they were concerned that I was OK. Actually I was doing great but I was very thankful that they came out to check on me.

There were lots of armadillos out this day. This guy was so busy rutting around for grub worms that he was totally unaware that I was taking his picture. I could have scratched his ears. Earlier, I saw 4 babies rooting around in the leaves. They looked up at me like puppies. I could have brought one home.

When I reach the south aid station again for the final time, there were about 20 people there standing in applauding for me coming in. I was just blown away by that. I know the last place runner usually gets a lot of hoopla. That’s the cool thing about our sport, but I sure didn’t expect so many people. They told me that it was only about a mile to the finish and that was pretty close to true it’s actually about a mile and a quarter and I managed to jog that in. 

I did have a couple of people meet me about a quarter-mile out and run in with me. Again I was just really blown away by that. This guy and I don't remember his name--and Cat, and I didn't get our picture.

They gave me my finishers medal and told me not to go away, as they had a Nother special award for me. It seems the last horse in the barn gets a special award. Again that’s something kind of unique to trail run. They gave me this little gnome which I thought was just quite fitting as it was riding a turtle. It now resides in my flower garden, and it does move around a little bit but not very fast.

So what can I take from this run? Only that trail runners are some of the greatest people in the world. I love this race, and will probably do this one every year until I’m too old to get around.