"Never be limited by other people's limited imaginations. If you adopt their attitudes, then the possibility won't exist because you'll have already shut it out." -Mae Jemison, astronaut

Monday, April 29, 2013

A Partial Engine Rebuild Whilst Preparing for Worlds

Well, running an engine dry is not a good thing. Oil keeps all the parts cool. No oil, no cooling. Hot engine components = expanded engine components. Expanded components bind against other components. And then they essentially melt and seize. Ouch. That was my brain!

How it's supposed to look if you don't run it dry ;)
I've been living on the red line for a long time. It was a heck of a ride - loads of fun. Only I wasn't stopping to check the oil. I started to notice a bad smell and a few tapping noises, but just kept going! ;)

Then the knocking and grinding sounds from inside the engine of my brain got too loud to ignore.

Boy, it's been a lot of hard work, sweat, tears, and banged knuckles to clean it up! Fortunately, a partial rebuild was all that was necessary and nearly all the parts have arrived. Of course, sometimes as you're rebuilding an engine you discover other things that should be replaced along the way - things you didn't count on. Maybe a few new wires, perhaps a new rad cap.

So, what HAVE I actually been doing for the past three weeks? Preparing for World 24hr Championships is a heck of a time to blow your engine up! :)

I thought I might share what my preparation has entailed this month:

Test driving the new Compressport trail running gear!
1-7 April: 126k +3300mtr. This was my peak volume week. Long runs, hill runs, all easy paced stuff. On Friday I discovered a very painful-to-touch large lump in the inguinal area - that fold at your groin between your thigh and pubic area. I considered a bug bite possibility and iced it. Saturday night, staring at it again, I self-diagnose inguinal hernia (or femoral, perhaps). Have been shifting house and moving big wardrobes and such for days in a row. I try to push it back in (ouch), google, text a few people for advice. Sunday morning's run plan is 40k of hills over 8 'peaks' and 6 hours. I cut a notch out of my knickers so they don't touch the spot and go running in the morning.

8-14 April: 103k +2750mtr. Another big week with hills but mostly easy paces. Get to physio on Thursday and the lump has gone by then, but touching the area gives a weird "crunchy" or
"cartilage-type" feeling. She queries vascular incident and I am waitlisted for sports doc. I get permission to do my brutal training again, as "if it's a hernia, it will just come back - you'll know." And if not, hooray. But the brutal training is important to my race prep. So I go home and hammer out a bunch of core work and lunges.

15-21 April: 80k +1200mtr. Speedwork and long tempos begin. Back to the track, where there are no PBs on well-used legs. I get a consult with the sports doc, ultrasound that afternoon. No hernia. Inflamed inguinal lymph nodes. Fighting infection(s). Not surprising - my stress levels have been pretty extreme. Saturday is spent flagging a course for a 50k ultra I direct on Sunday. Cooler weather finally hits on the weekend and it's the nicest for running in four months. The 12k/25k/50k races go well and it's a joy to see people achieve their goals. (Still working on cleaning up the piston sticking out of the engine - work starts at 7 am and finishes at 11 pm, 7 days a week, when not training. Thank dog for training.)

The 40k "hernia" run
22-28 April: 77k +1000mtr. More speedwork and long tempos. Still enjoying the hill runs midweek and weekend. Running has been a joy throughout the "engine rebuild" time. It's often the only time I feel real happiness in the day. Weekly massage and physio continue. Get back to the gym for a "real" brutal training session, finally. Paper cup ice massage saves the legs many times over. Minor setback in recovery. Bought the wrong set of rings and seals. Not ready to cruise the highways yet! Focus more on my diet - things I can do to help myself. More Udo's Oil, more avocados, kale, yams, turmeric on everything. Get an opportunity to check out the Alter-G anti-gravity treadmill (more to come on that!) Slowly transitioning to a higher-fat-lower-carb diet (who'd have thought I'd be advocating fat!).

29 April. Resting heart rate glimpses back down to 35-36. Cortisol levels appear to be better. Oh yeah, time to start scrubbing the oil out from under my fingernails! Things are coming together! Push lawn mower and yard work for strength training. Blog. Make notes of "to-do" for Worlds...including my race pace calculations and food plan that must be written.
At least I can't fall off the back of this one!

Am hoping to blog more very soon on some of the things I've mentioned - the Alter-G, the new Compressport trail gear, and the ketogenic diet (high fat), turmeric and other nutritional tidbits. And about my race plans for July-September: Swissalpine 78k and IronTrail 201k (both in Switzerland) and Lost Soul 100 Mile (Canada).

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

A New Injury

Somewhat tongue in cheek, yet at the same time all too serious. This is, in a unique way, the most serious injury I've had to date. It's an acquired brain injury of sorts. Brought on not by over-training, but by over-lifing!

To say I'm passionate about the sport would be an understatement. I love running, I love racing, I love coaching, I love researching the science, I love helping advance the sport through communities of trail and ultra runners locally, nationally, and internationally. I love race directing and volunteering, watching runners improve, get fitter, and achieve their goals. I also happen to love a few other things quite passionately, like child psychology.

Unfortunately, my passion bolted out the farm gate and I got my foot caught in one stirrup. I was being dragged along, getting bumped and bruised, for far too long.

Fortunately, the horse ran out of steam before it killed me. He's come to a halt and I've been able to quickly release my foot, stumble home, and sign up for riding lessons. I have to put this thoroughbred back in the stable until I get the right reins and know how to control him.

In the meantime, I'm going to saddle up a nice 26 year old mare named Thunder. ;)

I've assessed the internal damage, which includes a lingering high resting heart rate, a nervous "jumpiness," and a leaping heart when my phone 'bings' to notify me of a new message. I'm not sure how long it will last. Fortunately, running is still a joy for me and sooths my aching brain every time I hit the trails. I've just shifted house (along with moving home-based businesses, this was another major - though good - stress). The new place has a yard so large I didn't even find the orange trees for a week! (They grow between the lime trees, with the grape vines intertwined). The home backs onto a park, which in turn is 1km from the 35 square km or so of hilly bushlands around Wungong gorge.

Part of last week's 126k +3300mtr training for World 24s
I have resigned as vice president of AURA, as I discovered all too late that "an association like that can take as much as you can give" (thanks, Evan, for the tip!). I loved my involvement in the sport in that role and trying to make a contribution to better the sport nationally and internationally for all ultra runners... but I just couldn't find my "off" switch. There was always something else that could be done and I was damned well going to try to do it.

Once the dust settles a bit, I think I'll still find a few other areas I need to cut back on. The ride on the thoroughbred was really exciting for a while, but then it got rather scary, as I was just holding on for dear life! My goal is to find that girl who used to have time to research articles for her blog, who used to make Choco-Goodness bars for her running mates and massage therapist, who used to ride her motorcycle.

Anyone else out there need riding lessons?