"The goal is to become the unique, awesome, never to be repeated human being that we were called to be." -Patricia Deegan

Friday, July 12, 2019

Fastest Australian Woman Over 100 Miles

It's been nearly a month since I reached 100 miles on the Campbelltown Athletics track in a time of 15:24:44. The moment it was done, I was content. It wasn't the time I wanted - the time I am fully capable of - but I did the best I could with the situation. I made it to 100 miles in a time I could respect.

100 mile national record as the 24 hour show goes on
But the more days that passed, the more discontented I felt.

I hold myself to high standards. Because it is there that the challenge is born. The challenge allows me to explore - possibility, unknown. To problem solve. To get scared and humbled by the great big world and then stand myself up and see the world and myself in a new, more open and accepting way.

Exploring unknown along a new "grat" (ridge) in Switzerland at 2000m a few days ago
After my failed 100 mile attempt in April, I learned that my "DOMS" feeling in my glutes and hamstrings was the beginning of high hamstring tendinopathy. The therapy to try to get to Sydney for mid-June was intense. On top of training, there was a zillion isometric exercises, physio, and massage. It wasn't until 8 days before the event that I ticked all the boxes: muscle and tendon strength, flexibility, and neural functioning. I booked flights for me and my crew person.

Saturday at 9am, I began the first of 402+ laps. By 11am, we had the ice sponge going. It was hot - in winter in Sydney! My fingers pruned up. Had I any expectation of heat, I would have done sauna sessions. I tried not to mentally or physically cook myself, but by 3pm (6 hours), I felt it.

Soaked down. Basting, you might say.
I broke the CAN W50 6hr record again, adding 100m to my April mark (67.659km). One of the two speedy men attempting to make the national 24 hour team pulled out after a very fast 6 hours. JC, my crew guy and friend, called out, "It's cooling down, B!" I wanted so hard to believe him - even for some good ol' placebo effect. But I couldn't feel it. Not with my rising body heat.

The sun set at 5pm, but it never cooled down as forecast a few days prior. I was hanging out for the 6 degrees. But the clouds rolled in to insulate us and then it started raining! It was misty, so quite welcome to me, but a total pain for JC! I hadn't seen the forecast change and had no marquee for him to protect himself. He stood as a stoic sentinel there for me every single lap, ready with the "Perp and pears" and anything else I might need. The guy deserves a medal.

Just after sunset at 5.13pm and the clouds start rolling in - like putting a lid on the saucepan.
I went through 100k at 9:07:13, five minutes faster than the W50 record time I set in April. But I was 3 or 4 minutes behind my goal time - and I had settled into a slower pace. Indeed, my pace from hours 9 through 12 was pretty much my target pace for hours 12 through 15. But I didn't slow any further from 12 through 15.

At 12 hours, I had 127.909km, bettering my April CAN W50 record by almost 2km. It was a 31 year old record that had been held by Barbara McLeod since 1988. I was roughly 3km behind projections at this point. The hammies and glutes were solid. I think I was just a bit cooked from the heat of the day.

It was around 11.5 hours that my second issue began. I felt a thick feeling behind my right knee. I thought it was popliteus swelling. I got a few sudden sharp zings of pain - I must have looked like someone shot me with a pellet gun. I stopped to remove my quad guards, expecting to see swelling, but there was none. Removing the quad guards didn't help. I tried removing the calf guards, as well, though the thick feeling was above the knee, not below. No change. I took some ibuprofen and babied the leg to the 100 mile.

The paratenon that night
It was frustrating watching the possibility of even a 15:15 100 mile disappear, but the two zings of warning told me I couldn't push it. I didn't even try to "sprint" out the last several laps, as I didn't trust that thick feeling every time I bent the knee.

When I finished, JC said, "Wow! No wonder you said your leg was sore - the back is all red!" And so it was. It stung in the shower, too, like a sunburn.

The next day, on a simple 3km recovery walk, in a small national park, I found myself stuck in a gorge, alone, unable to move, with no mobile reception. Guess I shouldn't have left the poles in the car, after all! I couldn't weight bear on the right leg and bend it the slightest bit. A combination of very gentle massage to try to move some fluid out of the spot, plus straight leg pistol squat manoeuvres to climb the boulders, got me out of there.

The squishy crepitus on the inside of my lower thigh was simultaneously intriguing, disgusting, and worrying.

I learned the following week that I inflamed the little elastin and collagen sheath-like covering over the semimembranosis (one of the 4 hammy tendons). It's called a paratenon (no, not tendon). It has good blood flow and was expected to recover quickly with a week of rest. It didn't, and needed more help. I'm not normally in a hurry after a big event, but there was an opportunity calling to represent Canada at the 100km Americas Championship at the end of July in Brazil. With some compression, icing and topical anti-inflammatories, I was back up to 3 hour runs after another week. Brazil was on. I had my yellow fever shot.

Gorgeous place to hike and run if you don't have an inflamed leg.
But then it turned out I was the only North American going. That felt awkwardly weird. I felt like I was going to be gate crashing the Central and South American championships. So Brazil is off.

I've got an entry to the Eiger Ultra next weekend (101k +6700m), but I'm not altitude or mountain trained properly yet. I'm also not at all convinced my hammies are ready for 15-16 hours straight of running yet. Sounds like a recipe for another burnt dinner ;)