Sunday, July 10, 2011

Western States recovery and Vermont 100 preview

It has been two weeks since I finished the Western States 100.  My recovery has gone very well, even though I am still tired.  The week following the race I ran only 29 miles and this week I put in 45.  My running streak is still alive.  I actually was able to start running the day after finishing the race and have been able to stay injury free enough to run every day since.  As of today my streak stands at 195 days and 2118 miles.

Since I have never run more than one 100 mile race a year I have found myself in no-mans land as far as anticipating how to handle the 3 weeks in between these races.  Coach Jack laid out a program for me that called for very easy running the first week, more miles including a few specific work outs this week, and then a very light week next week before the race.  I have no idea how ready I am. 

The last few days I have found myself looking forward to my daily run, so that's a good sign that I'm healing up.  But today I ran 16 miles and found myself very stiff and sore as early as mile 12. 

I have also been tormenting myself trying to figure out what shoes I'm going to wear at VT.  The course is 70% hard packed dirt roads which might as well be pavement.  I am torn between the fantastic fit of the Altras that I wore at WS vs. trying to use my Hoka Combi XT's with the Herman Munster protective sole.  The Altras fit way better, but they are way firm and I'm afraid of what that will do to my feet later in the race.  The Hokas are way more cushy, but they don't fit nearly as well and are very warm.

Today, in an effort to try to figure out what to do, I wore my Hokas.  If I do wear them I plan on taping my toes and feet to see if I can compensate for the less than perfect fit.  Last night I took a while and taped my feet using Kinesio tape.  Here is what they look like.

I did the two feet different ways in order to see which way would feel better.  The left foot I taped the entire toe then trimmed off the excess on top.  The right foot I used narrower tape and left the tops of the toes exposed.  I used one 2" wide strip on the bottom of my feet to see how I might prevent some of the deep blisters that I get in the folds of my feet long into a 100 mile race.  Then I put on my Drymax Trail socks and Hokas to see how it all worked together.

This all WAY overkill for a 16 mile run, but I just wanted to test ride the complete setup to see how it felt.  I also made sure to try to duplicate the course as closely as possible, so I set out on the hilly dirt back roads to simulate VT.  Here are a couple of pics.

Nice dirt roads

Weird looking Turkeys

Overall, the shoes worked well as did my taping job.  I did get a little bit of weirdness in the back of my right foot near the end.  I don't think I'm used to all that squishyness.  So, I'm torn what to do.  At this point it looks like I'll start with my tried and true Altra Instincts and then swap to the Hokas if my feet get really sore.

One of the goals that I set for myself for this year was to break 20 hours in a 100 mile race.  This was before I decided to do the Potentially Painful Summer.  I can't help but look to VT to be the only realistic place to try to accomplish this goal.  If I am healed up enough I'm going for it.  If I fall apart, then that's ok.  My next goal is to try to get a sub 24 hour buckle at each of the races.  I've done VT twice and both times got that buckle.  But I have never done it three weeks after a 100 mile race.

None of that stuff really matters when I go back to the purpose of taking on such a big challenge.  My goal is to document the process of trying to do something that you don't know if you can accomplish.  I am really looking forward to whatever next weeks adventure brings.

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