Silver State 50 Mile - May 16, 2015
“Time to go big or go home”
In light of the fact that schools are ending, I had to give myself or rather my hamstring it’s final before it was allowed to pass to the next level of training. This was because I had strained my left hamstring three-weeks ago. I was greatly concerned to know if I was going to be healthy enough to run 50 miles or even start legitimately training for Western States. The week I strained it I was out in Colorado Springs helping with the CTS High Altitude training camp hosted by my Coach Jason Koop. He advised me to stay conservative and to heal the hamstring up, but also gave me a little freedom to run with the group of athletes. I know as a physical therapist that it would have been wise to have not run at the camp, but I live life a little crazy and understood that I would have consequences. I have had muscle strains before, and I knew that it wouldn’t take me long to get back on my feet once I properly rested and addressed the hamstring.
I finished that week and then did the toughest thing for any athlete to do, take time off. Not running a step until Friday, and that was only a short 40-minute test. At the end of that test I still felt pain, so I went to desperate measures. I decided to try an over-the-counter NSAID patch to place on my hamstring. I also applied a compression strap just above the strained area. The next day I did a short run and felt pain at 25 minutes and decided to stop and hike for the rest of my planned outing. That night it was better after icing and light massaging. Then the next day I did the same plan. I went out for a short test run and if any pain started I planned to stop. Miraculously, I was able to run ten miles without pain. This broke light into my eyes and gave me hope. I took the following day off and then eased back as Coach Koop prescribed. Now with it being race week I was worried I hadn’t run anything long, so I was just praying it would hold up to the test of Silver State.
The plan Coach and I decided was that I would go out to Silver State, but make sure that I ran extremely conservative to keep my hamstring from re-straining. This was my first real mountainous race, besides Western States, that had massive long climbs and ‘high’ elevation. I am not going to lie that I was extremely nervous and worried that it was going to cause me to DNF. I knew deep inside that if I could finish this race healthy, that I was ready to start Western States training. If I couldn't finish I was going to have to make some tough decisions.
The start of the 50-mile was at 6:00 am down at the San Rafael Park. It was a balmy 46 degrees. It surprised me how humid it was, it felt like Omaha! I lined up beside Ian Torrance, knowing that he was a smart and seasoned runner who knew what kind of pace to start out at with a 12.5 mile climb to the top of Peavine Summit. Unfortunately, due to the rain they had gotten the past couple days the first 7 miles were muddy…but not your regular mud. It was clay that packed onto the soles of your shoes making you about 6 inches taller and weighing about 10 lbs per foot. One man I was running with noted that he “feels like he is wearing high-heels”. What can you do but laugh and know that everyone is suffering through this. Misery loves company, am I right?
As we were running up to Peavine Summit the temps started dropping and the wind was picking up. I could see snow as we were cresting to the top. It was going to be cold. I ran up with Dennis Ball and Luke Garten. I was happy to not have any pain in my hamstring yet. At the top the Peavine Summit volunteers, and adorable aid station dogs greeted us! I was thrilled to be done with that climb and then to bomb down it on the other side. Too my surprise the downhill had a lot of loose rocks and some mud that made it tricky to navigate. I had to take easy as this could blow my hamstring up. I focused on good form and technique, which I learned at the Altitude training camp with Coach.
I made it down and ended up getting to run several miles with Dennis, a great friend and training partner of Nikki Kimball. It made those miles fly by. Then climbing out of the Long Valley aid station, Emily Richards came up beside me and we chatted briefly as she then blew past me running strong and happy. It was a joy to see! I was now solo, running through the beautiful trails, which reminded me of the first half of Western States. It brought back so many memories of Western States. I was enjoying the love and passion of running.
I was suddenly hit with my first noticed hamstring pain at mile 25-26. I thought to myself, “oh please don’t do this to me…I still have 25 more miles to go”. As I was climbing up a long semi-technical hill I was forced to power-hike to keep the hamstring from being overstressed. At the top it was a long downhill single-track that was muddy. I had to hold back and hike through some of this area to keep from having my hamstring pain. I made it to the Ranch Creek AS, and was delighted to have an AS volunteer ask if I wanted a warm biscuit. That tasted like heaven, and down the sandy road I went able to run and with only a hint of pain.
From there on we dived down to the River Bend AS, to then climb all the way back up to the Peavine Summit for the second time. This was some serious climbing. I luckily had a man in front of me that I could see to help pull me forward. It was a LONG ways back up. It was an alternation between running and power-hiking. The hamstring was good all the way to the top. Now there was about 11 miles of down hill to the finish. I felt strong and was able to move at a good clip. I remembered again to take shorter strides and keep good technique. It worked and I crossed the finish line with a huge smile on my face! My hamstring had passed the test!! What a glorious day.
Throughout the rest of the night, I had no soreness in my quads/hamstrings. The only thing that was sore was my upper back and right arm from my handheld. I definitely kept my lower body mechanics in check. Now onto the next weekend of fun, the Western States training camp!
I thank God for blessing me to be able to run again without pain and worry. I am grateful for Coach Koop in knowing how to safely progress me back into training and how to advise me for races. I have to send out a special thanks to Miguel, my training partner for being patient and supportive throughout my highs and lows in training. Also, appreciation to my supportive family, because I wouldn’t be able to travel and go on these epic adventures without them. My faithful sponsors: Nike Trail Running, CarboPro, Carmichael Training Systems, Honey Stinger. And my loyal fans…I love you all!! Xoxo
Happy Trails to all!! ~PixieNinja