April 17, 2010

Recent Spectating and Pain Free Running

One thing that I've been reminded of with my Achilles tendon tweaking is that the older I get, the longer it takes to heal. Apparently, this trend continues as we age. One of my 100 year old exercise class participants recently told me, "I just don't bounce back like I did when I was 85." Point taken.

Last weekend, I ended up heading down to Zumbro River Bottoms to support several ultra buddies who were participating in the second running of the Zumbro 100 mile trail race. Since the course was a little different this year (and even "sportier" than last year since Larry took out the flat part), I really wanted to get out on the trail to check it out. I also didn't want to do anything stupid that would set me back, since my Achilles tendon still didn't like uphills. Ended up just hiking from the start/finish area to AS 1/4 for about 6 miles of very pretty trail.

Zumbro River from Pine Trail Overlook

Got to visit with Jen who was manning the AS and Donny who had started sweeping the course. Alicia was also there and we got to see a few runners come through on their last loop before heading back to watch the finish. The weather for that weekend was absolutely perfect - it was tough to maintain the discipline to not run and re-tweak my Achilles! Everything was feeling great after the hike, though it did get a little stiff and sore later that evening. Not painful, just tender. My calf also felt like it was on the verge of cramping, but never really did lock up. I decided that my game plan worked perfectly: I stressed it enough to keep it rehabbing without overdoing it.

Today I ended up at Hyland Lake on another perfect day to support my buddies who were running at Trail Mix. Since the parking area gets ridiculously crowded for this race, I didn't get out there until after 11 am when most of the 25K runners had left. The rehab had been going well since Zumbro, so I decided that I would take a stab at running in the Vibram Five Fingers for the first time in 6 weeks. Hyland is the perfect place to try since the trails are soft, flat, and non-technical.

Saw a few familiar faces in the finish area: Eve and Kim had already finished first and second for the women's 50K. Decided to head down the trail in the reverse direction to see if I could find anyone I knew. Les was on his way in to finish his 3'rd lap, Shelly wasn't far behind. Did a little running on the Lake Trail and it felt wonderful! Got almost as far as the AS that intersects Lake and Hill trail junction when Wayne came along. I ended up running back to the start/finish area with him - still pain free running :)))

Decided that I would head over to the ski hill to catch another section of the course, but.... the course had been changed and there was no ski hill section. Went up and over the ski hill to get back into the park, but didn't see any sign of the course in that area. Ended up calling it a day after running about 3 barefoot miles..... 3 pain free barefoot miles....and heading home.

Time to get back to increasing miles, but still not do anything stupid by trying to do too much, too soon. Will probably decide at the last minute whether to head out to Afton with the gang tomorrow (50K fat ass starts at 8, picnic at 3), or go back to Hyland and try to figure out what this year's Trail Mix course was. I don't suppose anyone who ran Trail Mix captured the course on their Garmin and would like to share?

See you on the trails!

April 4, 2010

Back Into the Dirt

The tweaked Achilles tendon is still not 100%, but very close. Walking and strength training are completely asymptomatic, but running..... still a little tender, especially on uphills. I'd only been doing short runs on the asphalt path near my home, but today I decided to get back onto the soft dirt trails and see how things went.

Headed out to Hyland, which is close to home and relatively flat. What a perfect day for a trail run! Sunny, little wind, no bugs, and the trails are in excellent condition! You would be hard pressed to even find a damp spot - very unlike Hyland in early April.

I parked at Jan's Place and headed towards the north end of the park, trying to remember what the Trail Mix course was (they have changed some of the trails since I last ran that race a couple years ago). I opted to skip the steep hill near the turn around point in the course as well as the ski hill (still a few patches of snow present) since hills are still bugging my tendon. This short cut would also give me the option of heading back to my car for about a 3 miler if things weren't going well. Thankfully, things were feeling pretty good as long as I didn't press on the uphills, so I did the rest of the loop to the south end of the park. Ended up with about 6 miles, which is more than I've run in what seems like forever - and so far the Achilles is still feeling pretty good :)

Felt great to get out there and play in the dirt again, and I think the softer surface probably helped a bit. Looking forward to seeing my trail running buddies again soon!