Friday, September 4, 2009

Where's Waldo 100K

I had a fabulous mini-vacation to Oregon and am having a hard time settling back into life in DC. I REALLy liked Oregon, and since the trip have been fighting the urge to immediately uproot and move out there. Practicalities, like the fact that my job, house, friends, kittens, and life are in DC are things that would need to be dealt with first.

The Where's Waldo course is lovely....smooth pine-needly trails up and down a few mountains amidst lovely NW forest, passing alongside a number of lakes, with great mountain vistas. While the race was lovely, it wasn't the best I've had. It wasn't the worst either. I enjoyed the first 20 miles, for the most part, but then felt a bit dizzy and out of sorts until about mile 53. I enjoyed the last 9 miles downhill, minus the fact that the bottoms of my left foot had blistered horribly and running downhill was excrutiatingly painful. The posterior tibial tendonitis issue I've been dealing with bothered me at first, but went away after about 30 miles, like most nagging pains do. It's back with a vengence, but that's a separate issue.

I bit it twice, both times with gusto. The first time was a downhill full frontal face plant somewhere after mile 20 and before mile memories of it are obviously not so exact. I remember the fall well, just not which part that section of trail was on. I banged up my knee nicely, and a couple of folks got to enjoy the show. I fell again, after leaving the 'hot' aid station on the road. I guess that would have been after the Rd. 4290 aid station. I managed to fall on the same knee although I did a kind of tuck and roll to the side and managed to take out a couple of baby pine trees in the process. Two weeks after, my kneecap is still feeling a bit bruised and kneeling hurts. Luckily I don't need to spend a lot of time walking around on my hands and knees, so not an issue.

I finished and enjoyed hanging out with my friends at the finish, but quickly got cold and chattery. The medical person spotted me, and I eagerly followed her into the medical building and spent the next hour under blankets that she kept heating for me in the dryer. Another kind lady worked on my blistered feet. I eventually warmed enough to head back out into the cold, but was still a bit gray looking.

A lesson learned in terms of training was that treadmill training is not sufficient. I spent 4 of the 6 weeks prior to Waldo in Afghanistan. While training on a treadmill is better than nothing, it is not ideal. And I couldn't bring myself to run for more than 3 hours on that thing. I really struggled my first few runs back, and my stride felt completely awkward. Just another reason not to spend a lot of time in Afghanistan....

Waldo was the USATF 100K championships, so there were cash prizes for 1-5. I finished 6th in 12:04, about 4 minutes out of 5th. Boo. The field was a tough one, as my time would normally land you up a few spots. Alas, there is always next year. I hope to either run Waldo again, or Cascade Crest. Oregon is calling me back.
The last three long races I've done (MMT, Laurel Highlands, and Waldo), I've been a bit gray and pasty upon finishing, and have had a hard time staying warm. I haven't had that problem so much in the past, but am wondering if it might be tied to being anemic. Before my July trip to Afghanistan I had to get a physical and my blood tests came back showing that I've dipped under the levels where my hemaglobin/hematocrit should be. I've been border-line anemic before--I had some fainting spells back in college, and remember that one finding was border-line anemia (I've never been so good at staying conscious, and fainting is something I do well). Regarding the anemia, it's something I guess I should do a bit more research on, and modify my diet or take iron supplements to adjust. I've done some reading, but there seems to some debate on the best approach. I need to dig a bit deeper as it is an issue I probably shouldn't just ignore. I've started taking my iron pills more religiously

Running Waldo was just a part of the trip; I also took advantage of being in Oregon to connect with some friends from Peace Corps Paraguay that I hadn't seen in ages and to explore Oregon. I had the chance to hang out with Liz in Corvallis and Callie in Bend, who both made the trip to camp and hang out at Waldo all weekend. We had several good terere and mate sessions, and introduced some of the ultra-running community to the joy of yerba mate enjoyed Paraguayan style. in a truly beautiful spot.