The good news is that I'm on the comeback trail. The posterior tibial tendonitis in my right leg is starting to taper off. I had a hunch it would go away once my Achilles was back to 100%, which it is--thanks to the two-week shutdown I was forced into a few days before Christmas (what a Christmas present that was!). I'm still icing my shin and ankle as a cautionary measure.
The reason I'm blaming my Achilles is that this whole case of post-tib was triggered by heel lefts I wore to try to take pressure off my ailing right Achilles, which flared up on Thanksgiving weekend. Unfortunately, the heel lifts created some instabilities in my lower right leg, resulting in a nasty case of tendonitis that felt like someone was pounding my ankle and shin with a sledgehammer. Honestly, my right ankle was a mess. Two days before Christmas, my doctor ordered a two-week shutdown from EVERYTHING--not just running but also cycling (my second love), walking and swimming. Yes, even swimming. Needless to say, it was hard news to take, but I understood that my doctor knew more than I did and I'd better heed his advice, which I did. So here I am today, on the comeback trail yet again and with (delusional?) visions of doing crazy-good things in Leadville this August.
Last week I ran about 54 miles and this week I'm going to close in on 60. That's fairly low mileage for me, but it's something, and I've always felt anything 60 and up is decent volume, with 80+ and preferably 90+ being my sweet spot. The key right now is patience. I'm gradually building back up to decent mileage, focusing on restoring my aerobic capacity and endurance, which took a huge hit during the two-week shutdown (more on that below). Then in February I'm going to start implementing quality. The Georgia Marathon on 3/18 is a total question mark at this point.
I have to say that my first run after the two-week shutdown was...not too fun. I had a bad cold at the time but, beyond my nasty case of the sniffles, I was huffing and puffing and my legs were as heavy as steel beams. For the next few days I saw very little progress. But even as I struggled to get "it" back, I was having a blast--because I was running again! Besides spending time with my family, there is nothing I love more than running and living the gift. When you've just endured a two-week shutdown and you live at 6,200 feet, you can count on returning to running not being easy.
The good news is that I'm now really seeing gains. My aerobic capacity, while not back to full strength, is much better than it was. I'm suffering from a mild case of dead legs, but overall my leg turnover is improving by the day. My endurance, which plummeted from the shutdown, is improving. Last Saturday I ran 12 miles in 1:32 and then on Sunday ventured out for an 11-miler and it wasn't too rough (did it in 1:24). This weekend I'm planning a 15-16-mile run. Overall, my body feels good and ready to start training hard, yet again.
This summer I'm probably going to tone down my racing schedule and really focus on the Leadville 100. I didn't register for the San Juan Solstice 50M or Jemez 50M because I think 50 miles in the mountains is a lot of volume when you're training for a 100. For me, 50 kilometers is the threshold--I can run 50K (or 31 miles) and recover fast and see nice gains. Fifty miles is a whole different game. I really want to do a 24-hour race this year and so the trick is getting in the training for a great Leadville and having enough left in the tank for 130-140+ miles at Across the Years in 2012. I feel a serious drive to do a 24-hour again and see if I can surpass 140 miles. I know I left at least 5-6 miles on the course at the 2009 USA 24-Hour National Championship (130.67 miles). I think I have good-enough cruising speed to nail some decent mileage in a 24-hour.
One of the things I really like about the new Western States 100 documentary, "Unbreakable," is the music. Below is a song, "The Shrine / An Argument," by Fleet Foxes, that I really love. It has a unique sound and I don't usually like songs like this. It's definitely not something you'd hear on the radio, but rather in independent coffee shops in Boulder that cater to Bohemian graduate students driving old Volkswagen buses (deep down, I have a Bohemiam side and a part of me would love to drive around in a VW bus with a peace sign and a call to action for everyone to run trails together and spread love :-) ).... Anyway, this song (specifically the part starting at 2:15) adds a lot of drama to the Geoff Roes/Anton Krupicka "chase" scene at the end of "Unbreakable." Enjoy!