Friday, June 17, 2011
The newest blog title, Yo, Feet! maintains my sexy white chocolatey vibe, but we're getting back to the feet ala my url matt-feet.blogspot.com. This all means I love my feet. They've been the target of tickling and scratching since I was a boy. I remember being obsessed as a young boy with a picture from a National Geographic photo essay involving some sherpas, and this one guy's feet (the picture was of just the bottoms) had some weeds growing out of them. My first experience with foot porn. I loved it. So, I love my feet (not your feet by God, just mine).
Running involves feet quite a bit. And shoes come into play to protect our feet, attempt to maintain some comfort during running bouts, among other things. I have a similar obsession with shoes, particularly trail running shoes.
So what about my running. I've underachieved a great deal in the last few years. I've been fairly steady running the trail half marathons, but my lifestyle has devolved, so I just haven't been the best training partner for my feet or my cardiovascular and musculo-skeletal systems. I have been trying to get my running in order for an ultra like a 50k. I figure I have to start somewhere. This past spring Tim (Footfeathers) and I were planning to run the Grand Canyon's R2R2R. He's got a nutty ultra schedule, yet was somehow going to fit that in. I was preparing to join him.
The training for this, which I developed with the help of my go-to team of Footfeathers and James Walsh along with every other damn ultra/trail running blog I fondle on a weekly basis, was plugging right along. But the bigger days started to take their toll, especially since I was running on the road often, for my longer runs (20+ miles). I remember running on grass down in Mission Bay early in the spring/late winter and turning my foot/ankle on an insidious clump of grass. That happens all the time, the ankle turn; on a technical trail run it can happen 5-10 times depending on the length of the run. Well, this little grass ouchy didn't go away. That, along with the general wear and tear, started to add-up.
But I trained through it all. Tim is a big fan of speed hiking. I am now a big fan of speed hiking. It's a great workout, really engages the steeper or volume climbing trips, and doesn't ruin a runner. So, that helped with some of the training. One week I did about 11,000ft of vert (a lot for this city boy) with a lot of speed hiking up and running down. Great stuff. I was coming into "form" for the R2R2R. I figured since I'd hiked the Canyon a few times and was being pretty consistent on the prep, and have a fairly solid game "face" that I'd be fine.
I have to mention the feet, of course. They were really hurting, especially after my longer runs. The toe joints, my metatarsals, my ankle, the tops, you name it. The only thing I didn't seem to have was any plantar issues. My feet just felt OLD. The doctor looked at them, but the pain description just didn't seem to warrant an x-ray. So I endured.
And then Tim decided he couldn't make the trip, which was totally understandable given his schedule. At that point, I was done. I stopped running, was sick of the pain and wanted a break. I resorted to some anti-running rhetoric, but it was superficial. I was just tired. I resorted to hanging around more, sitting on the couch, drinking beers, eating some f-ing crap, doing more things with my family, etc. I loved it. There was no pressure to run, go to the gym, find some clothes that didn't stink, etc. Sigh.
I then started to hike and lift weights. This was a consistent routine. This felt good. I was sorta maintaining. This felt good.
And then Tim came into town last weekend to run the SD100. Read his race report to see how it went down for him. A very very gutty performance that probably will turn-out to make him deadly on the mountain ultra scene for years to come, at least for a guy consistently reaching the top 5-10. He's going to "age" well.
I wanted to pace him for the final 20+ miles, but I was not "there." First of all, I didn't have the endurance due to my aforementioned recent lifestyle. But worse, I hurt my knee playing soccer about a week before the race, so I was sorta limping around (I had been playing soccer most weekends too, so that helped with the maintenance some).
We went for a little run on the Friday before the race; he just wanted to do an easy 30min run. We hit Mission Trails and ran the 5k trail that rolls around the ranger station there. I felt okay. We chatted the whole time. It was good.
And then the plan was set for me to pick him up at the last main aid station (mile 91) and run-in with him to the finish line. That whole experience is another post all together that I won't actually write, but will most likely refer to for the rest of my life. In the end, I finally found him in the dark out on the PCT heading towards the Big Laguna trail at ~4:00am. We finished, speed hiking some climbs and running people down. He was firing on all cylinders at the end of a brutal 100 miler. I hung-on for dear life. But I hung-on. Not too bad. My knee hurt the next day (the advil wore off) and still hurts, but I'm rebounding. Tim said we ran the last section hard, respectably. Thanks, Tim. Funny how he was the one pacing me. Tis what it is.
It's time to start thinking about running again. A lot. For the record, hopefully we (Tim and I and whoever else shows-up) run the R2R2R this fall. Other than that, same ole. It's just nice to be back, my feet in great shape (come'on knee!) and getting hungry again for some rough trails.
Chances are you'll see me hiking and jogging a lot this summer on Mission Trails and Mt. Laguna. Other than missing my feet during this running hiatus, I missed the trail, the big trail with all of its bigness (beauty, distance, snakes and mt. lions, and thirst for IPA, etc.).
It's good to be back on my feet.