2012 has been a year where my initial plan started out fairly simple, work myself back in shape, run a few ultras and end the year healthy.
Well, that plan went off track at Chippewa where I had to face the reality that my previous injuries still required some work. So plan number 2 was to work my way back and focus on Surf the Murph especially once I saw the schedule conflicts for Superior and many other fall races. So after Chippewa, I went minimalist to allow my ankle to get a workout on every run. The truth is that has worked up to a point. I have worked to modify my style of running into the minimalist light stepping mid-footed strike and again up to a point it has worked well. Notice I keep saying up to a point. Well the point is that I think I lost a lot of fitness over the last 2 years and am slowly getting it back and that has led to a lot of slower efforts which I thought was related to the style change but alas now think it is just me being in pathetic shape.
I tried to modify my plan just a bit when my old friend Scott H. asked if I could pace him through the night at Superior. Well I really wanted to as my conflict for Superior was on Saturday and pacing Scott would be Friday night. Yes I had some tough logistics, pace Scott all night Friday, drive to Collegeville to watch my youngest daughters college XC meet and then drive to Hugo to watch my oldest daughter participate in the Warrior Dash.
Well, the logistics didn't do me in although I still had to convince my wife that pacing Scott was a good idea, ok maybe not good but maybe manageable. What did me in was my training or said even more accurately, me.
You see in order to pace Scott for 20 to 30 miles, I needed to be able to run 15 to 20 miles so over the last few weeks I worked on upping my long run mileage which was what I actually needed to do for my STM training as well so it all kind of made sense to me. So two weeks back I went around 12 miles, last weekend around 14 but I had issues which I blamed on my shoes. So this weekend I went out shooting for 16 and hobbled through 14 again. I went to Murphy vs Lebanon as I thought the hills at Murphy would be a good test. They were and I failed. My issues are pretty simple, left calf and right achilles/calf junction. The left calf makes sense, it is the one I tore 2 years ago and I have worked on getting it healthy, the right leg issues are new, well not new but at least 10+ years since I last had an issue with it. My ankle pain is pretty much gone which is great news but the achilles/calf thing is really bothersome. At Lebanon last weekend and at Murphy on Sunday, I had achilles/calf pain running downhill not uphill which really didn't and still doesn't make sense to me. Meaning if it was from the minimalist shoes and upping my mileage then by my way of thinking it would have caused issues going up hills not down them.
So on Sunday, I sent Scott an email letting him know that I couldn't pace him as going to Superior with a strained calf and a sore achilles/calf just seemed like a recipe for disaster. Add in that a pacer is not supposed to be the one in trouble and it was pretty much an easy decision even though I really wanted to try and help him out.
Ok, I can be stubborn so yesterday I decided to give it one more try and I went out to run 6 or 7 miles in Lebanon. The run went fairly well for about a 1/4 mile until the achilles/calf pain came. I walked a few steps and then I decided that if I stepped carefully I could proceed with less pain. It worked for 3 or so miles and then the pain was constant and sometimes sharp which forced me to walk. Even then I had to walk carefully. So maybe my decision was the right one and I needed to back off.
Then today I tried to run at Terrace Oaks, it would have been my 7th day in a row, a new modern record for me :-), so I had to make the attempt. I made it down the first hill, turned around and proceeded to walk back to the car. My pain wasn't imagined, it's real, so I am taking the day off.
Now about my plan, I still plan on running the 50k at Murphy and will focus my training at getting me there.