I ran the big Continental Divide Trail Race on Saturday and I didn’t come in last. It was on the rough side of brutal (my feet feel like they spent the weekend in Guantanamo Bay) but I’m fairly content with my performance. That said, there’s plenty of room for improvement.
It’s been less than a year since I’ve returned to serious running. I finished in the top half of the participants and middle of the pack for men. (Results weren’t broken down by age group.) This is nothing spectacular but it makes me happy. I simply couldn’t have run this race at all a year ago.
I ran for almost three hours which is well into marathon-time territory. I’ve never done that. That’s good. I bet I can do it again.
Also, the race included a very long downhill stretch near the end (about 3000 ft.!) and my legs held up. Downhill running is typically very strenuous on the muscles. I’m not saying it was easy but I held up and I haven’t been unduly sore since the race. I think I hit it right with my strength program.
My only pain issues were in my metatarsal heads (the part of my toes that attach to my feet; more on that in a moment.) No Achilles pain. No heel pain. No back pain. No knee pain. No hip pain. Don’t call me “bulletproof,” but maybe… “bullet-resistant.” I’ve worked years to overcome chronic pain and I’m on the winning side.
By far the biggest negative to this race was some severe metatarsal pain, particularly on my left foot and to some degree on my right. (Specifically, we’re talking about metatarsal head pain. The met heads are the part of your toes that meet the feet. Think of the knuckles of your feet.) Holy s__t those things hurt!! And they hurt for quite a while. They’re still sore as I type this. By the end of the race I thought those bones must’ve popped through the soles of my feet. I’ve got to find a solution to this issue before the marathon.
Without going way too much into it, I’ve been reading Anatomy and Biomechanics of the First Ray to get a better feel for what’s supposed to happen and what can happen in the toe neighborhood. Further, I’ve been reading and learning more about Morton’s Toe, including the possible implications and what to do about them. This is a situation in which the 2nd toe is longer than the big toe. Wow… There’s potentially a lot to this issue. For now, I’m experimenting with a Morton’s Toe shim. I’ll probably write more about this issue in the near future. (If you’re experiencing foot pain and your 2nd toe is longer than your big toe, you may well want to look into this Morton’s Toe business. In addition to the links above, the Barefoot Runners Society has a whole discussion board devoted to the matter.)
I should’ve fueled better. I consumed two Honey Stinger gels and one package of Honey Stinger chews. Based on my weight, I should’ve had about two more gels or another package of chews. The race featured a lot of repeated ascents, some of them were quite steep. Then we had a long downhill run to the finish. I was more tired near the end than I expected, though I didn’t bonk. Not that I expected to feel fresh as a daisy, but I have no doubt that more fuel in the tank would have ameliorated some of my weariness. Lesson learned.
The near future
I’m taking it somewhat easy this week. I’m probably only running twice–easy runs with my dog–and possibly a little mountain biking this weekend. Then next week it’s back to work. I’m going to use the FIRST marathon plan. I really like the three-day per week plan. I’ve ordered Run Faster, Run Less which is written by the team that formulated the quality-over-quantity scheme. Assuming my tender toes are up for it, I’m looking forward to a track workout next Tuesday, a tempo run then a long run next weekend.
I’ve got the Park-to-Park 10 Miler on Labor Day. This is a fun, scenic race and it’s local so the logistics are easy. Then in a month is my Moby Dick. I’m planning on running the Denver Rock’n’Roll Marathon. I’ve wanted to run a marathon for years. My injuries have gotten in the way. Now I’m winning the battle and I’m ecstatic to be within striking distance of the event.
Finally, as part of the marathon preparation, I’m going to start doing group runs with the Boulder Running Co. located in the Denver Tech Center. They do group runs on Saturday mornings. Group runs should do a couple of things for me. First, I’ll be pushed to run harder. That’s good. Also, suffering through long runs with other similarly suffering individuals should help the miles go by a little easier.