Mystic Mountain Trail Run 2009
After finishing 2nd overall place at the PATOOT 10-k race a few weeks ago, I decided to do another short race.
The Runner's Shop, our local running store sponsors the Mystic Mountain 8 mile trail race (actually closer to 7.5 miles).
I decided to try it in my Five Finger KSOs. I admit that I am hooked to them. I can't run as fast in rocks because I must pick and choose my way carefully but I love how I can feel the earth beneath my feet.
For someone who is already slow, what's the problem with being a few minutes slower?
As usual, many noticed my unusual footwear and some asked me about them.
Maybe I'll start a trend?
I saw two colleagues, a nephrologist and a cardiologist, whom I know. It was nice to see people that I know from outside the running community. Now if only we could get more of our patients out and exercising, walking even.
The first few miles were on gravel road to the town-site of Mystic. As usual, the speed goats sprinted off. I'm used to more sedate starts. At ultras, even the elite begin at an easy relaxed jog. Of course a relaxed jog for them is speed training for me.
Along the way, I saw a guy who I had met at Lean Horse Hundred last year. He works for Fed-Ex. He was wearing the US Flag colors again, that is the only way I recognized him. He DNF'd at Lean Horse Hundred at mile 55 (I dropped at mile 65). He is planning on trying for 100 miles again this year so I'll see him at the race.
Hopefully we will both be able to do it!
The race soon left the gravel and headed up a single track, the Bright Angel Trail. Many took it fast, but I caught a few later as the tired.
My kind of running!
Parts of the trail were rocky and I had to slow down to pick my way. It hurts to kick a rock in shoes, in the KSOs you might break a toe. Ow! I don't want to do that.
One of the fun things about KSOs is that you can run right through mud puddles and streams. In shoes, you try to avoid water to keep from getting blisters. In KSOs, there is nothing to rub on and they are so light and minimal that they dry out in 50 yards or so.
As I came up one hill, suddenly I felt severe pain in my calf. I'd pulled a calf muscle!
I had never had anything like this before. I stopped and tried rubbing the pain out and stretching but to no avail. I was reduced to walking up the last big hill before the finish.
At the top, the aid station remarked how impressed he was that I was doing the race in KSOs. He would've been more impressed had I been actually running at that time.
He told me there were only two miles left and they were all downhill.
Running downhill did not hurt as much because it did not put as much stress on my calves and achilles.
Hmmmm…. I started jogging and then running. Even though it hurt, I was able to ignore it. All pain ends- eventually.
I decided to blast down that hill to the finish. I ended up passing five people (or was it six?) on the way down. I never get to do that in ultras. If someone is close enough for me to see, chances are we'll end up running and finishing together. Ultras are about running with and not against others.
My calves were tight and sore all week. Soaking in the hot tub, a few acupuncture needles, using the foam roller and taking naproxen helped.
So what happened?
I know exactly the cause: running down the rocky trail forced me up on my toes. Although that protected my heels, it stressed my calves and achilles in ways they had not been before. That overstressed them and eventually led to a pulled muscle.
As soon as I'm done with this post, I'll be out the door to do a 30+ mile long run. I can barely feel as if I did anything to my calves last weekend. I'll be wearing shoes today, my feet need a break. I love the KSOs, I might even try a 26.2m or a 50k in them someday. But as with anything new or different, I need to be careful to not be too overzealous and injure myself.
Fortunately, this seems to only be a minor acute injury. I can handle those- it's those nagging chronic overuse injuries that worry me the most. I'd be stir-crazy if I had to take weeks or months off from running entirely.