LooseCrew-JeffO: July 2009


Ramblings of an adventurous guy living in Denver and playing in the mountains.
For my trail adventures, visit my Trail Bum blog

Friday, July 31, 2009

Roman City Altinum on Google Earth

This is cool! I read that Altinum had been found under fields. There was even a comment that, being near the Venice airport, it's wonder it wasn't found sooner.
So I opened GE and looked for a match to the trees and roads. It didn't take long.
Try it! There are even the faint ghosts of a couple of ancient highways, straight as an arrow, leading right to Antinum - but you have to zoom way out from the area they have in all the news stories.
45deg 33' N, 12deg 23.5' E
The other odd thing why it took them so long is, duh, modern Altino is next to it. Altino is like a 2-farm town sorrounded by fields.
One of the ancient highways can be seen leading right towards the main terminal of Marco Polo airport. The other road heads straight from the northern Altinum city gate (reference the archeological map) and heads northeast.
There is quite a lot of ghostly stuff you can see through the fields that aren't mentioned in the news articles but are pretty obvious.
Heck, you might even find Jimmy Hoffa's body!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Leadville Silver Rush 50M

I know I'm not supposed to run - but I did.
So there.

I don't have photos, because it rained a lot. Kind of a whole lot. There were hours of perfect weather, though, and the rain wasn't so cold.

The rain started at 3am. I was sleeping in the back of my CR-V, and the air was extremely fresh. Sure beats sleeping in a motel.
Got up at 4:30 - still raining.
When the race started, it had let up mostly, but it was still sprinkling.
Lots of puddles. Hell - there were pools of water in the road.

My plantar was hurting before the race, so it was hurting during the race. But it was tolerable.
First aid station on-time for a PR. No rain.
Printer Boy aid station a few minutes late. That's actually a lot that early in the race. Wasn't feeling good, nor did I feel bad.
And that's the way it stayed, with me falling further and further behind last year's pace. I got to the turn-around way too late.
I decided to just take it easy on the return. If I'm not going to PR, why cause extra trauma to my plantar? I was obviously in terrible condition from months of sedentary living, albiet with a few, er, ultras thrown in here-and-there.

The first climb coming back, I took three puffs from my albuterol asthma inhaler. Came over the top, dropped down to see Ken Klouber on an ATV and low-5'd him on the way by. Then started up Ball Mtn again from the south. As I was breaking treeline again, thunder and lightening started. As I crested the side of Ball Mtn, it started hailing. I put my 4oz rain jacket on, but the hail stung right through it. The lightening was scaring me so I pretty much put the hammer down and ran for my life. It felt very good. At Venir aid station, I only filled one of my 20oz bottles, took no food, and kept racing down the mountain. And it still felt good. My plantar pain was subsiding. I didn't know where all this energy came from, but I sure did appreciate it. I wasn't exactly running like I used to, but not far off.

At the same time, I noticed my quads were loaded with painful lactic acid. I just ignored it and thought, "I'll pay for it tomorrow. Right now I'm busy."

This surge kept going, and it made no sense. How does a guy who is very out-of-shape suddenly shake off fatigue and start running like a maniac after 30 miles?
Coming out of Printer Boy aid station, at about mile 36, I thought of the albuterol. I became pretty sure there was no coincidence. I've experimented with albuterol in the past, but hadn't noticed much benefit. This time around, there was a very big difference! Probably because I was out of shape, it was more dramatic.
So I took a couple more puffs, my last of 3 fish oil capsules, and a caffiene pill. I did NOT want this surge to end!
And it didn't. My plantar hurt less and less. Certainly from an endorpin flood, and ibuprofen and aspirin.
But part of the surge was also caused by a tendon behind my left knee that hurt any time I walked. The only way to make it stop was to run. Kind of a convenient pain, huh?
The last 10 miles, it started raining again. All I had on was a sleeveless UnderArmour shirt. The rain was cold but my body was cranking heat in overdrive. I'll bet if I had stood still, visible steam would have been rising off my body. I didn't bother to put my rain jacket on. I just kept running.
A benefit of the rain was that it didn't make any difference if I ran through a puddle or around it. That made things easier.

Near the end, someone came knocking on my back door. I never found out who it was. I was less than a mile from the finish and wasn't going to get passed. I crossed the finish smiling big.
My 10:47 finish sucks, but those last 20 miles were awesome fun.

Ryan Burch crossed the finish in 7:00:01, missing his sub-7hr finish by a second. I feel guilty. I was returning to the trail from a #2 nature-experience when he ran by. I yelled that he was doing an awesome job. He almost stopped, losing more than a second, I'm sure. Granted, when you stop that briefly, it's a bit of rest, and you tend to go faster right afterwards such that it makes no difference. Pretty much. Probably. But it kind of eats at me. Even as I yelled, in the back of my mind I regretted it.
Can you imagine running the Leadville Silver Rush 50 in 7 hours?

No more running for me.
Until the Leadville 100 four weeks from now.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Hardrock 2009: spectator-ing

What do ya do when you can't run? Help others to run!

I know, I know, this is late. But that's what you can expect of me these days. Hardrock began at 6am.

I left work at 2:30pm. First stop was Leadville where I picked up my packet for the Leadville Marathon. I already paid for the shirt and fancy bag, so I wasn't going to forfeit that.
In line behind me was Nick Clark. He seemed to be having some doubts, but I was pretty sure he could possibly win. It's too bad it wasn't his day, but when you run with the elites, anyone could best the others depending on the slightest things. Great job, Nick! The Hardrockers were talking about you and the Marathon, even as they ran (walked) the HR100.

After grabbing my bag, I drove to Ouray. It had just gotten dark when I pulled into town. Knowing that once I got started at the aid station, I'd probably not leave, I grabbed a beer at a random brewery. It was an "amber bitter", as the brewmeister called it, and extremely good. One of the best beers I've ever had, in fact.

Then I parked near the Ouray aid station and helped out as much as I could, while also staying out of the way of crews.
I was hoping to see Olga and Larry, so I looked at the Hardrock Live web site, saw that Olga was at about a 48hr+ pace, and decided to get some shut-eye. I slept for several hours in the back of my CR-V.
At 2:30, people in the car next-door woke me up. I dozed for 20 minutes and finally got up at 2:50. Unfortunately for me - but great for Olga - she blazed down from Engineer Pass in amazing time and went from a 48hr pace to a 43hr+ pace. So she was about to leave Ouray with Larry about the time I woke up.
Oh, well, I knew so many others, and kept helping as much as I could.

Jon M. asked me if I could pace Ricki R. I told him I was injured and my foot was hurting unusually much. Too bad, because that stretch of Hardrock is the only stretch I haven't done. I now regret it, even with my injury. Ricki ended up getting paced by someone else. Good for Ricki and good for my plantar, though.

After helping half the night, I drove to Telluride. I barely got there in time to keep the sun from actually touching my car.

Even the coffee shops don't open in Telluride until 7am! Heck, why would I need coffee that late?! 6am is LATE! 7am is... well, THERE OUGHT TO BE A LAW!! I didn't want to steal any coffee meant for runners, crew, pacers, and official volunteers, so I waited. Then I had to wait yet another hour for the breakfast places to open! Here I was complaining while eating hot breakfast and drinking coffee, and I hadn't even gone one mile, much less 71 miles through the night in rugged terrain.

I watched one friend after another march through. It was fantastic, and I actually got to take a shift with clipboard and walkie-talkie helping to log runners in and out. That earned me a slice of pizza later.

Olga and Larry came in looking strong. No doubt, having Larry as a pacer had to have been way better than going solo. Outstanding performance.
They survived a vicious freak thunderstorm that exploded between midnight and 1am. Lightening was cracking. One runner was blown off his feet and knocked several feet away, but not directly hit - he finished.
Olga and Larry told me they saw a course marker that had obviously been struck. The reflective medallion that hangs from the wire "looked like a Tootsie-roll"!
Along with the lightening came tons of small hail. This sort of weather practically never brews at night, so this was all very weird, and thankfully it was brief. These later finishers could have finished faster if they hadn't been held up for so long by weather. And maybe a few who missed the final cut-off could have finished. Oh well, that's the "Hard"rock 100.

I wish I could have gotten some good video of Olga finishing, but my camera was worthless in the dark, and the buttons were engineered by a retard (didn't help that the operator was also a retard).

The best story I got to be part of was Patty B...
She came into Telluride looking bad. That's not unusual after 71 miles. After eating and drinking, though, most get up and get out. Patty just sat there. And sat there. And she was still there after about 40 minutes.
In fact, for quite a disturbingly long time, no one left! I complained to one of the station volunteers that it was getting to be like the Hotel California. So I announced that we like everyone, but they're not welcome to stay.
At some point, I turned around and saw one of the officials standing over Patty with a pair of siccors about to cut off her wrist band. Yikes! So I went over.
Patty seemed very near tears. Her husband was trying to talk her out of it. A friend was trying. I tried, but her mind was made up - she was through! Done! DEAD! So then someone said she didn't have to get her band cut off immediately. Yeah, we all chimed in. I told her she ought to wait until the cut-off. If she just quits, then it hurts more than if an aid station official stops her and says, "You missed the cut-off - you're not allowed to leave." Her husband jumped on that and said, "Yeah, that's still a few hours away. Why don't you lay down and get some sleep?"
Patty liked that set of ideas, so she went to sleep with her wrist-band intact.
About 75 minutes later, Patty woke up, saddled-up, and left for Chapman, with time to spare before the cut-off. At 5:15am the next morning, she crossed the finish in Silverton in 47:15 race-time.
Absolutely awesome to see someone that had mentally/emotionally DNF'd, but managed to come back from the dead for the finish.

I guess the moral of the story is, it ain't over 'til it's over. Unless you have a true medical situation - like your lungs are topped-off with fluid, or a metatarsal broke, or a tendon or ligament is ripping off, etc. - never DNF until you miss the cut-off.

And finally, here's Fred Ecks great finish.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Plantar Faciitis

I have two injuries...
One started with a knot next to my Achilles where the Achilles attaches to the calf. It rubbed the Achilles until the Achilles became inflamed. This started after the Salida Marathon. This is the primary injury that dropped me from the Moab 100, but my heel started hurting during the same race. I thought it was bruising from all the slickrock.
I didn't realize my heel was a legit injury until about a month later. It took a while, but finally it became obvious this was plantar faciitis.

The Achilles injury was more dangerous, but being hobbled by my plantar, the Achilles was not aggravated. What I've done for this is massage, with lots of hard, sustained pressure inwards, and sideways. It might be healed by now, for all I know, but I still massage it just to be sure.

Most of my efforts have been on my plantar, because it is what I feel all the time. It also is the one that doesn't want to get better.

Massage - I was told to massage in a "spreading fashion", using my thumbs to dig in and pull opposite directions.
I was also warned never to massage the sore part of my plantar with a solid object. A tennis ball, towel, or washcloth is what was suggested to me.
I also use my thumbs to massage my calf. That part is very painful because it has to be a deep-tissue massage.

Icing - Never ice and stretch at the same time. Only warm tissues should be stretched. Icing is used only when swelling is a problem. The sole purpose is to stop and reverse swelling.

Insoles - I had stopped using insoles. Big mistake. I accidentally wore the wrong shoes at the Steamboat Springs Marathon and had no insoles!
I haven't had $450 orthotics made for me, and I don't see the use. It won't get me back to where I was. I need to stay off it - not splint it and keep trying. Also, I think most of my problems started from an imbalanced stride. Orthotics won't fix the stride problem. I need to address the problem, not the symptoms.

Stretching - I've been told by one person that only one thing will heel plantar faciitis - stretching. Nearly everyone tells me the cause is a plantar that is so tight it's ripping right off the heel. So I try to stretch everything from heel to the back of the knee.

Analgesics - Ibuprofen, Acetaminophen, aspirin will eat your gut if you live on them.
I take 81mg aspirin, which is supposed to be good for your heart as you get older. One a day.
Acetaminophen doesn't work as well for me as ibuprofen, but I'll take it as an alternative to shift the destruction from my kidneys to my liver.
I only take one or two ibuprofen a day. Usually one. Only with food.
Analgesics can keep down swelling. Swelling is bad for circulation. Good circulation will help you to heal faster. So when swelling is down, I improve healing by using heat and massage.

I bought a Strassburg sock, but it did nothing for me! It even cut off circulation in my toes and made me lose lots of sleep. The directions said that if it was uncomfortable, it was too tight, but I kept backing off the pressure and it never got comfortable, and it didn't seem to be stretching my plantar much. Then a guy at a race told me that he stuck a stiff insole inside his Strassburg sock to make if more effective and much more comfortable.
Then I saw these boots. They all have a solid footbed.
So I bought a stiff insole, and sawed-out a foot-shaped piece of Plexiglas and stuck it in. All of a sudden, my Starssburg sock was comfortable enough to wear all night and my plantar started healing. This was only half a month ago, though, so I'm not out of the woods.
As far as cost goes, I wasted my money on the Strassburg sock. The splints or boots cost less than the stinkin' sock! And they don't need modifications and are WAY more comfortable.

So there you have it. I've done nearly everything to get this healed.

If none of the above works, I can still try cortisone injections or surgery.

Here's the toll on my training.
The Weekly mileage is very erratic. You can see the Bandera 100K, then a couple of restful weeks. Then several weeks in a row where I gradually cranked the mileage. Then a week of rest. Then a couple more moderate-mileage weeks. Then the Moab 100. It's hard to see a pattern after that.

But one glance at the monthly graph shows the pattern.


I'm not only no longer a trail-runner - I'm not even a runner. I don't like biking, but I do force myself to bike once or twice a week. That's the only training I get. The few times I let myself run, I can't even run hard, so running isn't training.
I edited my schedule on the right to reflect what's left of my year.

I don't know if this post will help anyone or not. Seems like everyone I meet these days either has, or had, plantar faciitis or an injured Achilles.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Leadville 100 Training Camp

Blogger gave me a work-around to whatever broke my blog, so I can keep posting.

So, Friday I left for Leadville and slept at about 10,600 feet in the trees east of Leadville.

The training camp starts with breakfast, socializing, and a 26-mile run. My plantar was feeling okay, but I wasn't feeling like pushing my luck, so I dragged butt. Like last year, since it's not a race, I hung-out at the aid stations and ate. Inbetween, I ran slow and steady. The weather was fairly clear so I took advantage of my new OR cap with full sunshade that wraps around the neck.

It was a nice day and a nice run. Easy. I decsended very carefully down into Twin Lakes. My plantar felt the pounding but wasn't too bad.

After 26 miles, even Coors tastes good.

That night, I drove way up on Ball Mountain and spent the night nearly 12,000 feet high. It was a very calm night and not too cold. I had the windows open and didn't worry about bears so high up.

In the morning, I listened to a radio station from San Isidro, California. My iPhone had picked up a signal that reset the time to Central instead of Mountain, so my iPhone woke me up an hour too early. My watch battery had died, so I had no convenient way of verifying the time.

Day two had us meeting for breakfast again, and then boarding the buses for Twin Lakes. We parked a mile up-river of where the LT100 will cross the river.
Again, I took it easy, but this was the first time in very many months that I had gone running two days in a row.

Because of the pulmonary edema I'd had just a week before, I didn't push the uphills, and because I didn't want to put the brakes on much, I let myself fly down the south side of Hope. After being injured for three months, and barely running at all in the past two months, it was exhilerating to blow down that mountain passing everyone in sight. But my plantar was feeling the strain at the bottom. After hanging out at the aid station, I turned around and ran back - skipping the 5-mile round-trip to Winfield and back.

Hope Pass!

I kept dipping my left foot in the water every chance I got. The cold kept he swelling down on my heel. When I got back, I stood in the river for a while.
More beer.

I slept again up high, but this time only at 11,600 feet.

In the morning, I ate breakfast at the Provin' Grounds. It's definitely the place to go to run into every athletic person in the valley.

By lunch, I had decided that my plantar would suffer badly if I did the night run. I bailed and drove back to Denver.