Sunday, December 1, 2013

Toad, Tussey, and TNF

It's been a long while since I've done a blog post, and I know I'm overdue for an update, so here goes. My last post was a short report detailing the Hood to Coast Relay that I ran at the end of August so I'll pick up there.

Following Hood to Coast, I had business in Seattle so I headed north and spent the next week working in the shadow of Rainier. I spent most of my time working and recovering from HTC, but finally on Friday I had a free day to check out the mountain. I spent about 3.5 hrs on the trail that day and definitely could still feel the beating my quads took from running the downhill 1st leg of HTC a week earlier. Three days later I was home and looking to close out the 7th year of my daily running streak with a bang. I needed 30 miles to hit 30,000 miles total over the previous 7 years. An aggressive goal considering HTC, Rainier and the 446 miles I'd already logged in August. But I pushed through and finished the run without too much trouble.

I gave myself a much needed down week, but jumped in a local 6 hour race 2 weeks later. I knew I wouldn't be "racing" anyone, but used it as a workout and ran 6:30 pace for 43 miles on a flat 1.4 mile paved loop. My fitness was was solid, but something was a little off. I pushed through.

By this point, I knew the World 100k was canceled, so I rushed to switch gears from flat 100k training to more of a focus on hills in preparation for Toad 50k, Tussey Mountainback 50 mile and The North Face 50 Championships. I hit the treadmill several days later for a set of simulated hill climbs. A little more than two weeks later I'd be racing the Toad 50k in Canada. The treadmill climb workouts highlighted some discomfort in my groin, but it wasn't enough for me to skip the upcoming 50k.

Held just outside of Toronto, Run for the Toad 50k was the Canadian 50k national championship race. While I wasn't eligible for that honor, the race had assembled a strong field of Americans to come run the race as well. There was a significant amount of prize money available, especially considering the course record bonus, which I felt was in reach. But I knew it would be tough to win, because a guy named Verrelle Wyatt who had run 2:57 for a road 50k was going to be there. I don't have that kind of 50k speed right now. I might not even be able to run his Caumsett split of 2:28 for a marathon. This was a trail race, but it was quite flat. I would have stood a better chance against Verelle if it were a 50 miler or if there was more elevation change, but that wasn't the case.  

To his credit, Verrelle went out very controlled on the first lap out of the four but I was right there with him. He took off on the 2nd loop and I let him go, hoping I'd see him again. I was hovering around 4th or 5th place at this point, but felt in control. Nearing half way, I rolled my ankle really bad on a manicured dirt road with just one rock in the wrong place. I never seem to twist my ankle on the technical stuff, just when I don't think I need to be paying attention. This took me the better part of a mile to hobble off and get back to my regular stride. I chipped away at everyone else for the remainder of the race, but I never caught Verrelle. I finished 2nd and even broke the old CR by a few minutes with a 3:18, but couldn't hang with Verrelle's time of 3:14.

I was pretty trashed after the race, and the ankle I rolled hurt quite bad running the following day. But I also learned at Toad 50k that a strained adductor was at the root of my groin pain. I believe I injured my adductor way back in May or June and it has just slowly grown worse. I could now no longer ignore the injury, but I hoped only light running for two weeks would allow me to compete at Tussey.

I felt good enough to start Tussey and ran with Zach Bitter for almost 32 miles before my ankle/foot injury forced me to stop. I didn't know exactly what was wrong with it, but it hurt and was getting worse flying down those long hills at 6 min pace. Thinking it could be a stress fracture, I pulled the plug. Matt Flaherty ran a great race and ended up winning with a new course record. And just a couple weeks later, Zach Bitter went on to run the fastest 50 miler since 1981 (the year I was born).

This is going to sound odd, but my ankle/foot injury healed frustratingly fast after Tussey. After hurting for 2 weeks, I was nearly pain-free in just a few days. My adductor injury, while less acute during the race, ended up being a much bigger issue following my effort at Tussey. I finally realized that my groin wasn't going to heal if I kept running hard on it. I continued running easy everyday, but cut my weekly mileage lower than any point in the last 7 years. I did this for over 3 weeks and began massage therapy as well.

A couple weeks ago, even though I knew I wasn't completely healed yet, I decided that I would try to do some late preparations to TNF50 to a) test the adductor to ensure it was strong enough to run 50 miles, and b) attempt to prepare for the climbing that I would face in the San Francisco. Some runs have been good, others not so great. I think I can finish the race and have enough residual fitness to have a respectable showing, but it certainly won't be the fitness that I intended to bring when I decided months ago not to race JFK and focus on TNF50.

I'm going to give it a go, enjoy the single track, and just take what my body gives me Saturday. At this point, I'm just happy to be running. This may not be the type of injury that forces me to completely quit running, but I think it's safe to say this is the most significant injury I've had in my running career.

And if you're following TNF50 this Saturday and see me back in 30th place or so, don't worry, that would be a respectable finish given how incredibly stacked this race will be.

P.S. It's great to be an Auburn Tiger! WDE!


  1. Hey David, will be good to see you out at TNF50 this weekend - we'll both be repping Ohio! I had a groin injury most of last year and into the first part of this year - no fun. It was frustrating because it wasn't a real sharp pain but more of a debilitating ache that definitely made running hard. Some therapy, 2 months off from running, and solid strength exercises seemed to almost take it away but might be something that lingers for years and years. Be careful and keep an eye on the groin.

    See you in California


  2. Michael, I keep hearing that groin injuries are tough to shake. But you're right, it's hard to completely stop running when it's just kind of a nagging soreness. Hopefully I can make it through TNF and then give it a solid month of rest. Rest up this week, and I'll see you on the trail this weekend.