When I woke up on Monday morning for my run, I thought I had a potentially bad problem. My right hamstring was aching and very tight from the previous day's 20+ miler that included a hard effort at the hot, humid Perfect 10-Miler in nearby Lyndhurst. I nonetheless slipped into my running attire, downed a cup of Java and a banana and headed out the door for 6-7 easy miles. Very little will keep me from running.
Despite logging 101 miles this week, my hamstring was almost completely healed by Thursday. After each night-run I applied ice to the muscle for a half-hour as I read a book or watched TV. I hate TV, which means I mostly read. I also stretched more than usual and canceled my regular track and hill workouts. The speed with which my hamstring healed was pretty amazing.
I hated missing my track and hill workouts this week, but going fast would have exacerbated the injury and prolonged the healing process. I felt that I could run through the injury, with some ice therapy and stretching, and--sure enough--it worked. I think I'm now close to 100%.
Although I didn't get to the track or the hills for my repeats, I managed some good running this week. By Friday, with my hamstring feeling much, much better, I thought I'd test the muscle a little and went for a tempo run. I completed 10 miles pretty fast and had minimal discomfort in my leg. The next day I ran the hills of South Chagrin Reservation with Tim C., Ted F., Steve et al and again felt great. On Sunday, with Anne at a horse show (where she and Lena did very well!), I hammered 8 miles on my treadmill (about 6:15 pace) and then, after Noah got up, we went to South Chagrin and ran 10 miles up Hawthorn Parkway and back. Thirty-eight miles over Saturday and Sunday isn't bad.
So, I'm happy to report that I'm feeling good in my legs and have just completed my first triple-digit week since June. It's been a while since I felt this good.
I will be towing the line with some seriously accomplished runners at the North Coast 24-Hour Endurance Run. Among them: Connie Gardner, Tim Clement, Serge Arbona, Bob Pokorny, and the legendary John Geesler. Eighty-one year-old Leo Lightner of Rocky River, Ohio, just outside Cleveland, will also be running in the NC24. I have the greatest admiration for Leo, who set a record for his age group at the 2008 JFK 50-Miler.
I've thought a lot about my race strategy and am glad that the American Ultrarunning Association has finally released its standards for making the US 24-hour team. Men who want to make the team have to finish in the top 3 and complete 135 or more miles at the NC24. Women making the team must also finish in the top 3 and complete 120 or more miles at the NC24. All remaining positions for the 12-member US 24-hour team (6 women and 6 men) will be filled based on performances at other USA Track & Field-certified 24-hour events.
I won't go into the details of my NC24 strategy, other than to say that I'm looking closely at my goal for the 100-mile split and whether the remaining time would be sufficient to log the necessary qualifying mileage on very tired legs. I'm also thinking about nutrition and apparel/gear needs. Of course, planning will get you only so far. On race day, the weather and conditions often dictate what your strategy will be. At the Mohican 100 this year, with the temperature around 85 degrees and the humidity close to 90 percent, I had to make some adjustments. The need to adjust to conditions will be especially applicable at the NC24, which will be run along Lake Erie in early October. My prediction is that the daytime temps could hit 80 and the nighttime temps could sink to the 40s. Wind could be a major factor. Rain could be a problem if the temps go low. Having the proper clothing on hand will likely be critical.
Whatever happens, I think it's safe to say that the NC24 will be the biggest running challenge I've ever taken on. As Kam said on Sunday, "a 24-hour is no joke." That's Kam's way of saying a 24-hour is huge challenge--which he should know. I think of a 24-hour as a two-headed physical and mental monster. All I can do is train my ass off, remain focused and do the best I can as I run my own race. Basing my performance on what others around me are doing would be a mistake. Twenty-four hours is a long time and involves a whole lot of miles and anything can happen.
I have gotten some generous commitments to support my Run for Rainbow Babies & Children's Hospital at the NC24--and still need more! Among the contributors: An Illinois couple whose grandchildren spent time in a neonatal intensive care unit. Their grandchildren weren't even born at Rainbow and yet they felt compelled to give to my Run for Rainbow Babies & Children's Hospital. This is so inspiring.
Trust me when I say every dollar given through my run will make a difference at Rainbow. Rainbow is a not-for-profit children's hospital that cares for a huge number of kids from poor families. Rainbow's NICU cares for babies born low birth weight, critically ill, and to addiction. Rainbow cares for kids with cancer, heart defects, neurological problems and other conditions. These are kids who need your support.
That's why I'm asking you to please give through my Run for Rainbow. E-mail me for details on how to make your gift--which is a very simple process. Don't wait. Give now. You'll be making a difference.
My goal this week is 90-110 miles. There is a lot going on this weekend, so getting in tons of miles may be tough. I'm aiming to log 65-70 miles by the end of Friday to set up a doable weekend in terms of mileage. I was going to take a recovery week this week but am going to shelve those plans.
Get busy livin', or get busy dyin'.