Adventures In Running

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Downhill and Dogs

Labor Day was the second annual running of the Downhill and Dogs run for Leslie Peterson and me.  Shuttle transportation and aid station provided courtesy of Harold Peterson.

This is one of my favorite runs and days the last two years.  Early on Labor Day morning, we loaded up the Peterson SUV and headed up to the top of Guardsman Pass.  There, Harold drops us off and we start the long downhill run into Midway.  

Leslie and I then spent the next hour and a half running 9 miles down the back of Guardsman.  Beautiful run with mainly downhill, occasional flat and rare uphill sections.  The leaves were already turning and we enjoyed visiting and running together.  The last mile or so we pushed the pace - probably my fastest mile in a long time.  Great downhill training for St. George Marathon. 

At the end of 9 miles, our chauffeur dropped us off at Soldier Hollow to spend the rest of the day watching the Grand Championships of the Sheepdog Trials while he went off for a day of biking and naps.

Leslie and I had a grand time watching the incredible efforts of the sheepdogs and their handlers.  Makes Twilight look positively lazy in comparison. 

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Plantar Fasciitis Fun

I've been struggling with a new injury all summer - plantar fasciitis. This first started in my left foot, then also started bothering my right foot, then decided it was happy enough just hurting the left foot.

What is plantar fasciitis? Not to go into a long technical explanation, but it ends up with the heel of your foot being very painful when the plantar fascia is contracted. First thing in the morning, starting up after sitting for a while, all seem to be the worst times. Treatment includes sleeping in a night splint (or stretching in the morning) that keeps the calf muscles stretched (instead of pointing your toes as most of us do when we sleep). Rolling your feet on a frozen bottle of water helps to keep inflammation down. I've also invested in some Birkenstock sandals with a high arch so I don't walk around barefoot, avoided my Vibram FiveFingers, using arch supports in shoes, and trying different arch supports to see what helps. You can also see me hanging my heels off stairs to keep the calves stretched. I have good days and bad days.

I was glad to get the right foot under control fairly quickly, but being slightly overweight, getting old, and not working on my flexibility enough means I go through phases when the left foot is hurting and other times when I think I have the PF under control. It has given me a new appreciation for people suffering from Plantar Fasciitis. I hope I can get it under control and lose the pain and not have to deal with this constantly. I guess we shall see.

Pacing Experience 1 - Bryce Canyon Half Marathon

Sorry that it has been so long since I have updated. Time to catch up on posts again.

I was invited to join the American Flyers Race Pacers group on Facebook organized by Walter Brown. The first pacing job I accepted was for the Bryce Canyon Half Marathon (surprisingly - down in Bryce Canyon). My daughter, Jenn, was going to be in town at that time and we thought it would be a fun experience. I don't remember ever going to Bryce Canyon before (and it doesn't count if I was too young to remember it) and Jenn thought the roadtrip would be fun.

We packed gear up for camping down in Bryce Canyon since we were given a tent spot as part of our volunteer bounty. However, on the drive down we were buffeted by some pretty bad winds and rain and decided that if we could find a cheap motel, it would be better to stay dry and not camp. Wuss out time! We enjoyed the drive down together. Especially exciting was to get the news that one of our Nook apps broke into the top five. Very exciting and signs that we are starting to make it into the big time.

As we neared Bryce Canyon, we drove through Red Canyon. That was spectacular. We kept stopping to take pictures and enjoy the sights. The colors and formations were incredible. Just the short drive through that canyon made the long trip worthwhile. We ended up staying in a hotel attached to the campground and spent the evening playing cards. I sure enjoy having my daughter in town. I miss having her around a lot.

I got up dark and early on Saturday morning and hopped on the bus to the starting line. Leslie Peterson was on the bus too and we visited as we went up to the start. I was one of three runners at the 3 hour pace group. We each had a pacing singlet, two of us had pace bands and one carried the pacing sign announcing our group I was teamed up with Walter's daughter and niece and they were fun teenagers to hang with for three hours. We didn't have any people particularly hanging with us during the race, but there were lots of people watching our sign to stay in front of us. Three hours was the official cutoff - but there were still quite a lot of people behind us. Leslie was not feeling well and ended up near by for the first half of the race and then she dropped out as she passed her hotel and called it a day.

Bryce Canyon has a lot of downhill and was very gorgeous. It was a bit chilly early on and sprinkling on and off, so we didn't know what to expect for the weather. We were staying in a town around 7 miles into the course, and Leslie DNF'd at the entrance to the town and Jenn was waiting near the end of the town and taking lots of pictures. We did some good jumps for entertainment and photo opportunities.

After we passed through town, it soon started raining and rained pretty heavily for the last five miles. The runners around us were starting to struggle and we entertained them by singing and dancing in the rain and getting all the vehicles that passed by to honk in support. Some of the runners said it was helping, so we kept it up. We finished within about 7 seconds of our goal and I immediately hopped on a bus full of wet, steamy, smelly half marathoners and got a ride back to town.

After cleaning up, Jenn and I loaded up the car and headed into Bryce Canyon itself. We weren't sure if we could see anything because of rain and mist - but wanted to see if we could see any of the beautiful sights. We decided to hike the Navajo Trail even though we couldn't see the bottom of the canyon. Once we got below the rim, things cleared up and we were in awe of the beautiful colors and intriguing formations and taking tons of pictures. We hiked down to the bottom and it was spectacular. As we were about to head up towards the rim on the other side of the loop, it started to rain. And then it started to pour. I was tired from running the half marathon that morning and Jenn was not used to altitude and was struggling with asthma. Add in being soaked and a trail full of slippery mud and it made for a challenging hike out.

We drove around for a while and saw some more of Bryce Canyon and then called it a day and decided to go home a day early. Great first experience as an actual race pacer and a fun trip with my daughter.