Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Mohican reflections & my knee

Before I start reflecting on Mohican/complaining about my knee, I want to say CONGRATULATIONS to my Cleveland Southeast Running Club friends who finished Mohican:

  • Connie Gardner: 19:22, 5th overall, 1st woman
  • Vince Rucci: 20:46, 6th overall
  • Dawn Malone: 22:20, 2nd woman
  • Steve Godale: 25:50ish (former outright Mohican 100 winner)
  • Dave Peterman: 26:20ish (finished Masanutten only a few weeks prior)
  • Fred Davis III: 10th Mohican finish; it was probably just a middle-distance run for Fred, who knocks down the 100s like they're 5Ks.

I will update those time as soon as the results are posted on the Mohican Web site--if they ever are posted....

Now for the reflections/complaining....

I am extremely concerned about my left knee. Walking hurts, going down stairs is very painful and extending my knee is agonizing. Running is out of the question. This is most frustrating because right now everything else on my body feels very good. My recovery from Mohican is progressing save my blasted knee.

As I wrote in my previous post, I was hit by bad pain in my knee the last 20 miles of Mohican and simply could not run the down hills or else I was crashing. I actually felt some discomfort as early as 20 miles, but the discomfort didn't turn into pain until about 80 miles were behind me. I don't know what the problem is. It could be a case of "runner's knee," which should clear up with the RICE method (rest, ice, compression and elevation). The problem is that I've been doing basically all of the above since Sunday and my knee hasn't improved one iota. My fear is that I have a serious knee injury. I will give it a few more days and then seek evaluation by an orthopaedist. Fortunately, I work for a hospital system with some phenomenal orthopaedic specialists.

I am proud to have finished 4th overall at Mohican with a time of 19:21--almost two hours faster than my Burning River 100 time (21:08). But it's frustrating that my knee and stomach went south on me late in the game. Had they both held up, I know I could have finished in under 19 hours and potentially in under 18 hours. When I was passed with less than 5 miles to go by the Irish guy, who came out of no where, I was so frustrated because my knee simply wouldn't allow me to fight him off. I know in my heart that if my knee hadn't gone out on me, I would have finished at least third.

"Would haves" don't count for a thing, though. The Irish guy passed me and was a champ for finishing strong. Likewise, Jeff Atwell is a champ for coming back from looking rough at mile 52.2 (Rock Point) and finishing a strong second. Jay Smithberger earned his first-place finish in a big way and should be proud. I admire Jay for running a smart, aggressive and gutsy race. And I admire Jeff for coming back strong.

In marathons, sub-3-hour times are achieved in the final 10K. Most any well-conditioned runner can set themselves up for a sub-3 in the first 20 miles, only to falter in the last 10K. It took me a while to learn that. At the Cleveland Marathon this year, I held pace the last 10K and clocked a 2:58 and negative split. Likewise, a sub-19-hour time in a 100 miler comes down to a strong final 20 miles. If you're reduced to mostly walking that final 20 miles, as I was with my knee problem (though I was able to jog the few flat sections we encountered), you're not going to finish in under 19 hours and you're going to get passed. Right now the "what could have been" scenarios keep flooding my mind. It's a waste of time, I know.

With two 100s under my belt, I now know I love going the distance. I've learned some hard lessons and I feel like I've now established a decent baseline from which to work. If my knee miraculously heals in the next week or so, I'll look at lining up at the Burning River 100 on August 2. I doubt I'll "race" the BR100--that would not be smart as I don't think racing two 100s in a period of 6 weeks is a good idea unless your name is Karl Meltzer, Michael Wardian, Scott Jurek et al. I'd like to run the BR100, try to enjoy it and finish strong. If that means a time of 22, 23 or 24 hours, fine. I just have to get my knee in good, working order.

I'll look at next summer as my next 100-mile race--maybe the Western States, Vermont, Masanutten, or even Mohican and/or Burning River 100s. We'll see. Hundred milers are now a part of my life. They hurt like hell, but they're good for the soul and the community feeling of it all is so very therapeutic, invigorating and addictive.

As much as I want to run right now, the objective has to be getting my knee in good shape again. Hopefully that'll require some RICE, not a surgical knife. I'll keep you updated on what hopefully will be my progress in returning to running.


  1. Huge congratulations, Wyatt. Please don't wait to see if your knee improves in another few days; Make the appointment right now to have it examined. If it miraculously heals before the appointment, you could call and cancel, or just go and have it checked anyway.

  2. Congradulations on that 100 miler. I had runner's knee for 8 months. Same thing as you, from the long runs. Ice numbs it but it wouldn't go away. I found single leg straight leg lifts healed me. I told Dr. Shah (the RunDoc) about them.

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