Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Walker North Country Marathon

I held off posting about my decision to run the Walker North Country Marathon as I had pretty much decided that it wasn't going to happen. After I got the MRI results which showed that I had a torn plantar I shut it down and decided that until I could walk pain free that I wouldn't run.

So that turned into 8 days off when I noticed that my foot felt better and I tried a run, it worked, almost pain free. Some tenderness but no intense pain, what a wonderful feeling. With that run behind me I then proceeded to begin my mileage ramp-up ending in a 15 miler with some pain but manageable, definitely not much stamina for running.

I took Monday off to recover from the long run and to make sure that I hadn't done any damage to the foot. I was off Tuesday as my daughter and her fiance gave me a great early Birthday gift, tickets to the Twins game. I do love the view in Target field and we got to see a very good game where the Twins had the game in hand until the 9th inning when Perk blew the save. They then came back in the bottom of the 9th and won the game.  A nice quick game, very enjoyable.

I then ran Wednesday in Lebanon, 6 miles and then 3 more on Thursday. For both of those runs, I used the Galloway run-walk method and all seemed good.

So with a solid week of running over the previous 7 weeks, I decided I would go for Walker, my thinking was real simple and possibly not wise but it made sense to me. Do Walker as a training run for Twin Cities and one of three things could happen:
  1. Finish a marathon
  2. Get a long training run in of at least 18 to 20 miles
  3. Re-injure or discover that the foot needed more healing time
So we got a hotel room in Walker and I then set about deciding how I would approach Walker. I knew I was way under trained but with other marathons to follow I needed to test things out and at a minimum get in a long training run without re-injuring the foot or causing issues elsewhere.

Knowing that my pace had to be slow and not knowing how hard Walker was going to be for me, I had requested the early start which hopefully meant that time shouldn't be an issue. My concerns for Walker were the surfaces: streets, gravel roads, bike paths and trails. To be honest, I knew the grass trails would be a problem but I had concerns with all of the other surfaces too.

We arrived in Walker on Friday evening and went to the packet pickup at Walker High School, when they saw me approach, they said "10k runner", I said no "marathon" and they seemed surprise. One of the joys of being an older - larger runner is that people don't think of you as a runner. It was entertaining as they also couldn't find my number, turned out he was using my age versus number.

Karyn had decided to try and run the 10k which I thought was great as I knew I would be out there a long time and it would help her past the time, it would be her longest run since her knee surgery so I was hoping it would go ok. As we arrived at the High School we ran into Karen G., Karen and I chatted while Karyn got registered for the 10k. I let Karen know that I had signed up for the early start and it was time to head to the track for the early start. The weather looked almost perfect with a chance of rain later in the day.

They lined us up, There were about 12 who had asked for the early start and we were off. From the HS we went down a hill through downtown where we looped around a bit. My plan was to do the run-walk 60-60 but the early pace was faster than I wanted but I also wasn't sp sure about the course so I stayed with the group and then pulled back after almost a mile and started the run-walk. I had synced up with another runner during the first mile and we started to share our marathon journey's. He was a lawyer from Plymouth and had been part of the early days of Team Ortho Not so happy with them today. It helped the miles past as he just did the run-walk with me. The first 7 or so miles were pavement and gravel roads and were runnable with a few hills but the run-walk was working fine. Somewhere after 7 miles we hit the trail, more grass than dirt which torqued my legs a bit, It was there that I realized that I had forgotten the insert for my shoe to protect the foot. We slowed the pace through the grass and around mile 11 emerged to bike paths. Our pace was ok, went through the 1/2 marathon right at 3 hours (of course I wanted to be faster) which to me meant I was going to be able to do this. After another 4 miles of up and down we returned to the trails. My foot was pretty much throbbing but I was holding up ok. We emerged from the woods and I saw Karyn, she had done great in her 10k. From there it was back to the woods until we emerged again onto a gravel road. I thought I would be able to pick up the pace but between the foot, my conditioning, the surface I just couldn't get things going. So it was a bit more walking and slow running. At mile 24 or so we went back to paved bike path and I started to see my pace pick up but from there it was hold onto the end. I finished in 6 hrs and 27 minutes and I was thrilled. Karyn had arranged to have the announcer wish me a Happy Birthday. It caused a smile and since there weren't too many people around, I was ok with it.

A couple of things that I took away, TCM is now doable, my foot is probably about 80% so I need to watch where I run. The other thing was that at times my knee was not stable as it would wobble which caused pain, Pain that meant stop running immediately so I will plan to tape the knee for TCM as it happened both on trails and roads.

The good news is I am back to running and it was so enjoyable to be able to do Walker, I never thought I would be able to start let alone finish what a great way to spend a birthday. The course was interesting, I liked the mixture of surfaces and there were a few areas that were quite pretty. The volunteers were great, the course was well marked. It is an interesting course with lots of elevation change, take a look at the elevation chart, you should notice the downhill start and uphill finish, if  you do choose to run Walker, you will definitely notice the last hill.

A marathon worth doing but don't plan on a PR. Last here a couple of pictures that I took, I should have taken more.

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