Wednesday, September 24, 2008

I've Been Here Before

I've run four 100 mile races since I did my first at the 2004 Western States 100. That year I also ran the Vermont 100 where I really surprised myself and finished 10th over all in a time of 18:38. I was so excited by that time I had all sorts of visions of doing some amazing things at the 100 mile distance.

Unfortunately I let that "success" go to my head and began suffering from what one friend described as Decimalosis. His theory -- which he laid out in a very funny e-mail -- was that my success at the 100 mile distance caused me to think I could run any distance without really training and do well at it. He was spot on.

I finished the rest of '04 with a string of DNF's at distances between 50K and 50 miles. It continued into the spring of '05 when finally this "I can run any distance on no training" big headedness caught up with me and I suffered an Achilles strain on Heartbreak Hill during the Boston Marathon the day after yet another DNF (this time at the Don't Run Boston 50K) the day before.

This was 8 weeks before the 2005 Western States and I spent all 8 of those weeks vacillating about whether to run it or not.

A smart runner would have spent those 8 weeks in the pool or on a road bike. Me? Nooo, no way, I didn't do either of those things. In the last two weeks I finally panicked and got out for a couple of 2+ hour walks in which I would run the downhills and some of the flats.

So, with two weeks to go I decided to go for it and at least get as far as Robinson Flat and then go from there. I figured I could do that, but making it to Michigan would be tough and they'd probably pull me there.

Miraculously, my Achilles healed enough that I could comfortably run the flats and downhills and even some of the uphills so in the end I finished WS that year in 26:58. It wasn't easy, or all that enjoyable at times, but I finished.

So yeah, I've been in this injury-right-before-a-big-race position before and I've come through it. This time around I have done some riding so I'm not completely out of shape, but it isn't pretty either.

This time, I have seven weeks of training time too. I won't be able to do a lot in that time, but seven weeks of actual running is better than 2 weeks of walking.

Fingers crossed, with luck I'll get in a couple of 3-hour long runs, and come November I'll be as ready as I can possibly be.

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