From the throne to the podium?

September 11 2011, 1:37 pm

First off, Congrats to Evan Honeyfield and Becky Wheeler for winning the Wasatch 100 this year!

Evan ran a tough, strong race off the front once he took the lead to win it in 19:31.  The third fastest Wasatch ever.  Becky ran strong early, had a few struggles, but managed to take home her first skull.  Luke Nelson ran second with the fastest split from Brighton (5:09) joining the elite few to break 20 hours running 19:52.  And now my story…..

Back (no pun intended) in July, I dropped from the Hardrock 100 at mile 81 due to a bulging disc, which had been slowly getting worse since mile 40ish.  I did the right thing there, not putting myself in danger of really injuring myself so bad that running could be in jeopardy the rest of my life.  All injuries heal, but had I gone further, it would likely have not lead to this post about even running Wasatch.   I would not be running today had I kept going.  OK, enough about Hardrock and why I stopped.

After HR, I could not run for a few weeks.  My biggest goal at that point was to be able to mark the Speedgoat 50k course.  Noone but I can mark my baby, so I had to get well enough to make that happen.  Happen it did. I hurt daily hiking around the Speedgoat course, but I got the job done and managed to pull the race off…..somewhat pain free.  I still could not run normally.  All I could do is hike around cautiously and slowly.   I had to bail on UTMB and further decide what my next move would be.

A few days after the Speedgoat race, around August 2, my back was starting to hurt again, enough where I was not comfortable to go hiking.  What do I do now?  I am out of shape, have Wasatch and the Bear 100s in front of me, and a sore back.  I took a cortisone shot into the joint to see if could take down some inflammation in a hurry.  Dr. Russ Toronto stuck me with that long needle on August 5.  I had nothing to lose.  I wasn’t necessarily focused on running Wasatch or the Bear at that point, I just wanted to be able to get out in the mountains and have fun.  On August 9, I went for a walk up to the infamous “luge run“.  This walk was slow, very slow to say the least, but my back didn’t really hurt.  I used my Z-poles for some added support to save me from any “tweaks”.   This was the beginning of the comeback to running.  From this point on, I hiked 15 days in a row, anything from 6-14 miles over rugged Wasatch terrain.  Albeit slowly, I was out and about, enjoying every minute of it.  On August 24th, I started to test the slow jog.  Each day from this point I would jog a little bit more, hoping to eventually average 5mph.  Cuz 5mph is 20 hours at Wasatch.  If I can run 5mph now, pain free, I might be able to finish the 100 in a few weeks.  Each day was a slow progression, a little more running, a little bit faster.  Never did I run hard, especially downhill.  All the way up till September 3, I could not run full stride downhill.  I could only shuffle until this point.  Finally on September 4, I ran my favorite Little Cottonwood Climb,  White Pine, at a normal speed.   I was psyched.  I decided I “might” start Wasatch.  I was confident I could get to the finish.  I could always bail anywhere on that course and get home in 30 minutes.

And then on Tuesday night the  sledgehammer decided to hit me on the forehead……

The puke flu.  From 930pm Tuesday night, until Wednesday midnight, I was back and forth to the throne kneeling, sitting, kneeling sitting.  Well, you get the picture. My head hurt so bad, my whole body was more sore than I am now.  I had not felt worse than this in 20 years.  Hmmmm, I am running a 100 miler in 36 hours.   What do I do now?  do I bail cuz’ it’s certainly legit, or do I just wait it out and see what happens.  I think I’ll wait it out.

Wednesday I was able to eat 3 crackers, cool eh?  What a great way to get in some calories for a 100 mile mountain race.   Thursday morning I woke up and felt much better.  Not better per se, but the headache was subsiding slowly and almost gone, and I was no longer enjoying my cup of morning coffee on the throne.   I decided to drop my car at the finish line and make the effort to start the race.  After checking in at 1pm, I went for my first meal in a day and a half.   A cup of soup and a half sandwich.   I was able to keep it down.  Encouraging as that sounds, that was almost all I ate the rest of Thursday as my appetite was short and nothing looked good.   I probably consumed about 1000 calories all day Thursday.   What the hell, I’m gonna start.

I woke up Friday morning at 3:20, arrived at the start line at 4:20 and with no expectations…..I was off at 5am, up the mountain we go.

Seems as though this “flu” made me forget about my back.   Sometimes things happen for a reason.  Not sure if I’m so happy with getting the flu, but my back is better, I had no issues the entire 100 miles with my back and it feels good now.  How about that.  I’m probably still numb from the whole thing, and maybe it’ll come back, but at this point, I don’t expect anyone to ask me, “how’s your back”?   It’s behind me, that’s all I can say.

I was speaking with Roger Adams, a good friend here in SLC about the race.  I told him I have about a 21 hour run in me.  Well, I guess I was right.  I ran 20:59.53.  Talk about knowing what you are capable of eh?  Not my 31st win, but I didn’t expect to win, I was only hoping to run it pain free.