Sunday, October 11, 2015

Tahoe report

Our (almost) annual pilgrimage to Lake Tahoe was hugely successful for two members of our party this year. For me, not so much...

Our friend Carolyn first. She ran the Triple Marathon for her fifth time this year, and broke her previous bests by enormous margins. 4:51, 4:47 and 5:00. A total of 14:38, over 40 minutes quicker than her previous PR of 15:20. She ran splendidly throughout, up and over those long Tahoe hills. I'll put it down to a few things: great preparation, improved nutrition, experience of 3-day races, and most importantly a huge amount of determination to improve. I take great but undeserved pride in her success, having introduced her to this multi-day folly in the first place six years ago. Her improvement since her first attempt to conquer the 3-marathon-in-3-days challenge has been nothing short of remarkable.

Next, Claire. Having scanned back through the results of previous editions of the Triple, I cannot find a single faster performance by any woman over sixty. 5:01, 5:03 and 5:01. This is less than 2% slower than her previous completion in 2009, 6 long years ago. Always nervous pre-race, Claire always manages to perform brilliantly as soon as things get underway. Running three 5-hour marathons on a hilly course is commendable for any runner. She's super-strong and healthy at present, and I couldn't be prouder of her grit and determination over these three days.

Lastly, me. Things were looking pretty tenuous in the week before I was due to set out on my epic 72-mile overnight tour of the lake. I'd prepared well, and managed a couple of great weeks of final training in Austin. But then suddenly shin pain had started in my weaker right leg. Taping, icing and compression helped to ease the shin problem, but seemed to drive the varicose veins in my calf crazy. Two days before the start, the three of us went to Spooner Lake for our traditional pre-race shakeout jog. I could barely hobble the 2-mile trail around the lake. Flexing my foot was agony. Not good, and quite worrying. Then two days of crewing for Claire and Carolyn (just standing around and driving with my right foot) made the pain and swelling worse. I knew it was a lost cause for me.

At an aid station yesterday, I ran into a couple of friendly medics who were there to support the Triplers. As we waited for runners to pass by, I showed my bulging veins to the doctor, who advised me to go to get my leg scanned straight away at the local Emergency Room, in case of serious clot issues, especially before flying home again next week. He ran into me again at the finish line, and cornered me while I was with Claire and Carolyn, re-emphasising the need to get seen. It turns out that this was none other than Dr Orr, a well-respected orthopaedic surgeon who works with the US ski team.

When I reached the local hospital, I was warmly greeted by very friendly nurses and doctors; Dr Orr had kindly called ahead to advise them of my impending arrival. An ultrasound revealed thrombophlebitis - "the greater saphenous vein in the right mid to distal calf is thickwalled and only partially compressible in the area of pain, but no evidence of deep vein thrombosis (DVT)". So, in English, painful but not serious or life-threatening, and so after presenting me with an aspirin and an eye-wateringly large bill, I was discharged. Thank goodness for medical insurance.

Hopefully things will settle down in my leg now. I have an enforced period of rest for a few weeks as my next hernia repair is scheduled in 9 days' time. Getting old and falling apart isn't really fun, but - as they say - it does seriously beat the alternative. And there are many worse places in the world to idle away a few days than along the shores of Lake Tahoe, waiting for your tired but happy and successful athlete friends.

Friday, October 02, 2015

One week until Lake Tahoe midnight ultra

Running destination appropriate carbo loading is now under way:

and the weather forecast is perfect:
The last two weeks of daily Austin running (75 and 50 miles) had gone really well. I was feeling comfortable running slow, up and over lots of hills. Perfect Tahoe simulation. But now my right shin/ankle has finally and irritatingly decided to start complaining. Sheeesh. "Tapering" before an event is never fun; popping ibuprofens and lying on the couch with a bag of ice on my gimpy leg certainly doesn't enhance the experience. The next seven days without much running will be a true test of patience. It's a shame I don't have that much.