"Alvin!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" That's what ran through my head as I was in today's 25th mile of my 26.2 mile run on the BT50K course. I was on my way down to the water crossing nearly back to my car at Pine Lane and as my foot was about to plant itself in front of me, a little chipmunk sprinted from right to left across the trail, right under my foot. The little guy almost met his maker under the pressure of a nearly 200lb runner with many times that weight about the crash down on his little body. Lucky guy.
This past week has been filled with emotions dancing all over from really good to just plain bad. Last week while I was in Athens, GA with the Navy, I logged a healthy 54 miles but no single run over 14 miles. The last time I'd been up in mileage was that 31 miler I ran 3 weeks ago of the last 31 miles of the Burning River 100. That's when the whole "knee issue" presented itself. Since then, I've backed down on mileage and distance and have focused my energy on being 100% by the time I get to the Burning River 100 starting line on August 1st. Like I said weeks ago, this 8 weeks between my Kettle Moraine 100 Miler on June 6/7 and Burning River is one big experiment. I had no idea how fast and well I'd recover from the Kettle and this nagging knee stuff crept up on me and threw in a monkey wrench. I didn't finish the Kettle with any problems but this thing started 2 weeks afterwards. This past week, it started acting up...AGAIN. Get this, though: it isn't really pain, but more of a tingling feeling just below the kneecap and radiating to the outside then stopping right there. Also, it doesn't hurt when running...at all. In fact, it hurts when I sit at my desk at work, when I walk around the house barefoot, when I drive, and when I prop up my legs on the ottoman in my living room. So, I've been using "The Stick" day and night trying to massage the area and all areas leading into it from my foot all the way to the top of my leg, 360 degrees around. So this past week, I ran twice. Tuesday, I ran a 5mi tempo run, lifted weights, did a wall-sit, and a bunch of crunches. Thursday, I ran an easy 5. That's it. Come today, I had planned a long trail run with one main goal: a boost of confidence that I'm really OK and that I haven't lost my fitness level and endurance. This lack of running is messing with my head and I feel like I might be "falling out of shape" and I needed a good, long trail run. Honestly, I was a bit afraid. I didn't want to toe that trail and feel pain. I also didn't want to fizzle out 10 miles into the run. I originally planned to run from Pine Lane and do the Brandywine/Jaite/BT/Boston Store/Pine Lane loop but enroute, I decided that I'd run the BT50K course in reverse since the event is tomorrow. Distance would be determined on the fly. Well, I ended up running all the way to Ottawa Point which is about 13.1 miles from Pine Lane. 2.5 more miles and I would've been at the starting line of the BT50K. I made up a new bottle of Heed at Ottawa Point and headed on back. One really cool thing on my return trip: as I exited the pine section (within 2 miles of being done), I noticed something with a really wide wingspan swoop through the trees. I slowed way down to try and not scare it away so I could get a look. Turns out that it was an owl...a big one. Dark midnight black eyes peered down at me from about 20-25 feet up in the tree. It took off across the trail and must have had a wingspan of 4-5 feet and had a body that was shaped like a watermelon and was about the same size. I've only seen owls in one place on the trails, that being the Boston Run Trail at Happy Days...twice. Back at the car, my Garmin read 26.2 miles and a time of 5hrs, 2min...little bit over a 5mph pace. Nice-n-easy was the plan...nice-n-easy accomplished. The really cool part? I don't really feel much of anything soreness-related tonight and feel like I could go out and do it again. Overall point? Confidence restored!!! NOW I can taper to the BR100. (it's really cool to be able to go run 26.2 with no plan to do it in the first place...who would've thought a trail marathon was in the cards for today?!)
Bib numbers have been released for the Burning River 100. I am Bib #33. An updated registration list has also been released with the withdrawals removed from the list. 148 of 175 available entries have been taken. The assigning of bib numbers is a sign of all things coming together in anticipation of race day. The live raceday webcast is also up and in its testing phase. Very, very cool...and quite rare in the 100 mile race event "world." The bib numbers are not correct but the format is all set. This is how anyone from anywhere can track their runner through the day(s) on August 1st/2nd. As we check in from aid station to aid station, the time of day will be uploaded to this website. For those of you not familiar with the course, many of the segments can be viewed on YouTube...just search for "Burning River 100."
The Kettle 100 was my 1st 100 mile finish and there will never be another "first." However, 100 miles...is still 100 miles. Things I have going for me this time is knowledge of what works and what doesn't regarding nutrition, knowing that the nighttime is not to be feared but instead, embraced, and the knowledge that I know I can go the distance. If things get bad, I know that if I persevere, things will get better soon...I just need to press on. Oh yea, Starbucks DoubleShot is the bomb!!! You know I'll be using that stuff again!
So for now, I'm in taper mode. 14 days from now will be the pre-race dinner and meeting and then getting up by 2am on Saturday morning, August 1st in order to catch the school bus at the finish line in Cuyahoga Falls for a bumpy, cramped ride to the starting line at Squire's Castle. 16 days from now I'll have my 2nd 100 mile finish and a finisher's buckle to prove it.
Happy Trails, everyone!