An Ultrarunning Blog

The next steps.

Having completed my first marathon, I began to realize how addicting running could be. I had heard people talk about their intense feelings for the sport and now I was experiencing it for the first time. I took some time off from running regularly after Seattle 2008. I wanted to enjoy the new snow hitting the mountains with a pair of skis. I still would run over lunch at work, or if I was not going skiing, but I had no goal in mind so I did not have a strict training regimen. And then I noticed that the Rock ‘n’ Roll series of marathons was coming to the Seattle . It was taking the place of the Sea Fair marathon which is a part of a festival in June. The gist of the Rock ‘n’ Roll marathons is to provide entertainment the entire time. They have bands spaced out periodically along the course.

I decided a few months before that I would train harder. I did not know what that meant, just that I wanted to somehow beat my last marathon time. I wanted to be able to train on fatigued legs. I did not know how to do that other than running for a very long time, and then it hit me: bicycle. A few days a week I would ride a stationary bicycle at the gym for 45 minutes to an hour at a relatively fast pace and then immediately go outside and run 5-7 miles, trying to include some hills. As far as distance went, I just kept with the same training schedule I used for my first marathon.

Approaching race day, I was excited to see how (if at all) I had improved. The race was not the best, meaning the organization and the live music. I was very late getting to the start line because of the line for the bus to get to there from downtown Seattle. I eventually made it, but had to start running through all the walkers. I began to get equalized with the runners beside me and was able to run without too much maneuvering around all the other people. The bands. What to say? I run with music anyway, but the bands was not the best idea. For starters, you’re moving relatively quickly by, and only have about 30 seconds at best before the music fades in and back out again. The worse placement of a band went to the one towards the end of a tunnel. Yes, they were actually playing inside the tunnel! At first I thought that was not case, that the band was simply just outside the other end. But as I got closer I could see people quickly putting a hand over their ear and pick up their pace.

All in all, I was happy with my performance. The weather was hotter than I was anticipating, and most of the run was on streets with high exposure. With all that I dropped about 40 minutes from my previous marathon time!! That sealed it for me. I knew I could train harder and improve, and I began to dream about what other goals I could set and strive to achieve. After this run, a friend from work invited me to come trail running with him and a few other people. We went to Granite mountain, which is not the easiest trail for running, but offers quite a challenge gaining 4000 ft over the 4 miles to the top. We mainly did a combination of jogging and quick hiking on the way up, and ran on the way down. This being my first time really trail running, I struggled to keep up. There was so much to think about while running. Not like road running, where I could turn off my brain and just go. I had to pay attention. There were roots, rocks, and steep declines that would seemingly come out of nowhere. One of the guys running injured his ankle pretty badly and had to hobble out.

My friend Ruari invited me back out again to the run the same course the following week. He was planning on paragliding from the top, and I was going to run down. We made it up at a relatively quick pace, found a place suitable for a lift-off. After take a couple pictures of Ruari soaring through the air on his way to the targeted landing spot, I started running. I knew I needed to get down about the time he would be done packing up his gear, and the sun was going down. I could already tell my technique (if you could call it that) was improving. I was beginning to map out my route about 5 steps head. This proved to be the best way to know exactly where to place my feet and torque my body to keep a forward moving momentum. Towards the end of the run, I’d say about 1/2 a mile from the parking lot, I got over confident. There was not much sun left, and I felt like I was really rocking out the run, so my attention went from the ground to all around me. And that’s when it happened. I could feel myself go off balance, and then I heard to fairly loud cracking sounds. It took a couple steps for the pain to overcome the adrenaline and I knew I had bummed my ankle, badly. About this time Ruari had started running up to find/meet me and run down. I hobbled/jogged as best I could to the parking lot. In the slowly fading light I could see that my ankle was the size of baseball, and I still had to drive home. (Note: It was my left ankle, and I drive a stick shift)

I took the next couple days off work so that I could have a solid amount of time to let it heal, using the RICE technique. RICE stands for rest, ice, compress, elevate. On Monday, my ankle was still swollen, but walkable, so I thought it would be good for driving to work. I was wrong. By Tuesday I had retorn any sort healing that had occurred the previous days. I ended up borrowing a car from a friend and had to be put in a compression boot for a couple weeks.

During the run with the crew the first time at Granite mountain, I heard about White River 50. A 50 mile race through the mountains near Mt. Rainier, just south of Seattle. I had thought about attempting it, but then I severely injured my ankle. I decided that I wanted to take the time, rest up and heal properly, and then slowly train my way to try to complete WR5o.

Josh.

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