Friday, May 22, 2009

Healing and Recovering

It's been five days since MMT and the car accident. If the accident never happened, then I would have probably been running on monday. The only reason my legs would have been fresh enough to run monday is because I only "ran" 52 miles at MMT, and about 25 miles of that was slow walking. However, since the accident DID happen, I have only managed to walk minimally.

Monday and Tuesday were both painful and sleepless days. Monday I finally fell asleep at 6am. Yes, I was up all night and fell asleep the next morning. My legs felt like a five alarm fire and I squirmed around alot in my bed. By the time Tuesday rolled around my internal clock was way off due to having about six hours of total sleep since Friday. On Wednesday I started my first day of work at my new job.

It is now Friday evening. I just got back from the gym and did my first weight lifting workout in over a week. I did not do anything with the legs. My left leg feels perfect. It only suffered some minor abrasions, although I was picking broken glass out of it for several hours after the wreck. My right leg got the worst of it. As if the cuts from the airbag, windshield, and dashboard weren't enough, let's toss a fully grown man on top of it. It looks like Freddy Kreuger's face, and feels like Freddy slashed it with his claws. Almost all of the original layer of skin is gone, and the layers that were scraped off went pretty deep. Wednesday I took the bandages off for good, and the wound has started to scab over. Nice huh? The skin has grown very tight around the wound and has limited the flexibility of my leg. I am hoping that the scar tissue will have more elasticity and I can regain my full range of motion. Other than that there is still a little bit of swelling, although not nearly as much as earlier in the week.

As the days go by I will be able to assess a good starting point for running again. Until today, I have been walking with a noticeable limp. If I sit for a long period of time I have a harder time walking then if I have been up and about for a while. Once I'm on my feet things start to feel better quickly. That being said, it may be another week until I can walk normally. Perhaps after that I may start doing some light eliptical workouts, or swim when the pools open. Honestly, I think it will be two to three more weeks before I consider even a light jog. Thankfully with my new job and the return of some of my best friends Iwill be able to fill my new found time with plenty of fun.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

MMT- Never a dull moment

My race:

A nice cool 5:00am start, in which I ran the first 2.4 road miles in 18 minutes to the Buzzard Rock trail head. I ran smooth and well paced for the first 24.7 miles arriving at Habron gap at 9:41am. I was being conservative for the remaining 77 miles, and felt in complete control. The weather was warm, but overcast and generally comortable until about 10am. A friend at an aid station told me that Bryon Powell had picked me for a top ten finish on his popular iRunFar blog. Flattering, but I am glad I didn't know that before the race, because my only goal was to finish.

After leaving Habron, it became very hot on the next long climb. Over the next four hours we would encounter very hot and humid temperatures. By mile 27 my body stopped sweating. I had noticed my bandana and arms were bone dry when they should have been soaked. Many runners ran with empty bottles, and I made sure to refill and soak in the streams. During the long 9.5 miles to Camp Roosevelt I felt nauseus, dizzy, and tired. On the decent down to the Stephen's trail I came across runner #130 (Martin) who was limping badly. He had rolled his ankle pretty good so I decided to stick with him for a bit and keep him company. We had a nice conversation, sometimes an expletive would pop up as he tripped over the rocks. We joked around, and when the trail became less rocky he told me to move on.

The 9.5 miles to Camp Roosevelt took over three hours. The day remained toasty, the horse flies were eating me alive, and I still felt like poop. Entering Gap Creek at mile 39.8 we ecountered our first thunderstorm. The rain brought a welcome cool down, and I had a great second wind on Kerns Mountain. The high point was short lived and I was feeling lousy again all the way to Bird Knob. It was weird how my legs felt fine. I had no blisters, feet felt good, and nothing was really hurting. However, my energy was gone and I couldn't take advantage of the fresh legs. I was drinking a lot, sweating again, and eating well. Apparently it was not enough and my body was not getting the needed energy from the food and liquids (including lots of salt).

The climb up Bird Knob was slow and frustrating. I was averaging two miles per hour, which was slow enough to endanger me at later cut-offs. At the top of Bird Knob the booming rumble of thunder and black blouds rolled closer. Within minutes I was being pelted by heavy rain, wind, and stinging hail. The lightning was getting kind of sketchy and the temperature was actually getting cold.

In a matter of minutes we went from 80's to 60's. The trails turned into streams that were several inches deep. The rain was cold, and my slow walk wasn't enough to stay warm. I had no dry/warm clothes for another 15 miles. The sun was getting lower and I was beginning to shiver from the cold alot. To think that five hours ago I was suffering major dehydration from the heat, and now I was close to hypothermic. At my slow and feeble pace it would take at least five hours to get to my next drop bag. I knew I would not make that long cold and wet. I dropped at 52 miles, and sat in a car for three hours until the aid station closed down.

The Accident: At 1:00am myself, volunteer Harry Smith, and runner Bill Wandel were making our way back to the Skyline Ranch. Harry was driving, it was raining on and off, and the roads were very slick. As we were coming down Fort Valley rd, just five miles from the ranch, our Jeep's right wheels slid off the road. Harry thinks his vision of the road may have been hindered by headlights from a car coming around the turn. With no shoulders on the road, the Jeep took a slanted dive towards a creek bed. We slammed head on with a tree at about 35-40mph. Harry yelled "hold on, we're gonna hit!".

I was half asleep, but fully awake during the seconds before impact. It was a loud crunch, and then everything was over. I had no idea if the jeep was going to flip, slide down to the creek bottom, or hit something. It was a relief to still be conscious, but I felt a burning sensation in my legs, and Bill Wandel(who was in the back seat) was now on my lap. I did not know if mylegs were cut, bruised, or perhaps broken.

The seconds before impact are the scariest, but the minute afterward is hectic when you're trying to figure out what your body looks like in a smoke filled vehicle. The Jeep had filled with powder from the airbags and the odor began to have a suffocating effect with the windows closed. I asked Bill if he was ok, and he said he couldn't move. I was forced to crawl out of the drivers side door, which was now pointing up towards the road. I was worried the Jeep would still flip, or slide down the embankment, but a large rock had been holding it in place. The same rock, however, also prevented us from opening the passenger side door to get to Bill.

After about five minutes we pulled Bill out of the car, and he seemed to be in shock. Bill leaned against the Jeep for ten minutes as we waited to flag down any passing cars. It was a surreal sight standing out in the rainy dark while our Jeep was sitting smashed off the side of the road. The headlights pointed aimlessly through the trees, and the horn sounded a continuous buzz.

Shortly after two women were able to call 911, but it was still about 25-30 minutes after the crash that the fire department and ambulance showed up. Bill was the first to get treated and was placed in the ambulance. EMT's tended to my abrasions and cuts, and brought Bill to the hospital for further review. Bill was not wearing his seat belt, and his head shattered the front windshield. He also hit the dashboard with tremendous force, thus causing some cracked ribs and other internal injuries. We are all hoping his wounds are minimal.

Back to MMT:

Men's race: Karl Meltzer won more than two hours ahead of second. Mike Mason had a ground breaking performance taking 3rd behind Glen Redpath, and Keith Knipling finished a tough day looking strong to take fourth. Todd Walker was having a great race, but got lost and told me he ended up running 105 miles instead. Potential contenders Bradley Mondgold and Jeremy Ramsey did not start due to sickness/injury. Darkhorse pick Nick Pedatella, whom I passed on the way to Habron Gap, dropped due to injury, as well as Karsten Brown.

Women's race: Amy Sproston took first, and challenged Sue Johnston's legendary course record pace early in the day . She was my pick to win, and I called it saying she would finish top ten overall. She finished 10th. Sheryl Wheeler came out of nowhere and made a late push during the night to take second. Robin Meagher held on for 3rd.

Today's MMT saw the greatest number of drops ever, due mostly to the extreme and unpredictable weather. Anybody who finished this race would be qualified to teach a course on toughness and fortitude. Congrats to all finishers. And last, but not least thanks to all the volunteers who spent days in the same rough conditions to help us out.

***Accident update 10:30am 5/18/09***
I heard from Harry Smith this morning, who was the driver in the accident. He said Bill Wandel should be getting out of the Winchester hospital today with minor injuries. Bill is feeling well and his spirits are good. I had a very restless night due to the burning pain in my right leg. I changed out the bandages and took some ibuprofin and fell asleep at 6am. I am feeling much better, but still a bit sleep deprived. Overall, I thank God that no one was seriously hurt. We're all very thankful.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

No more races

As of today, I am taking a leave of absence from races. I will let time decide when to start again. Right now it is getting too expensive with the gas, entry fees, and sometimes motel stays. I love running races, but it has become a bit much. I have run 18 races in the last 7 months, all but two were ultras. I have sacrificed quality for quantity. By racing too often, I have not had the results I am capable of posting. I know a few folks that race as much as 100 miles per weekend over long stretches of consecutive weeks. I have realized that way of life is not for me. I am 27 years old, and I would like to enjoy running for the rest of my life.

My priorities have not been in line recently. Over the last couple of years I have lived in four different places and worked several different jobs. Running has been a nice constant, but it has detracted from other things. Since I am gone almost every weekend, I have not had a chance to meet more people in my area. Although I make new friends through running, I know these are people I will not see on a weekly basis. I want to start developing more local relationships with the people in my community. I have been wanting to get more involved in my church, but that is tough when you don't come back home until mid day Sunday when service is already over.

Running is a great thing, and I do love it. However, running is not everything. I get tremendous fulfillment out of running races, and it does give me a sense of accomplishment. But, like many things those feelings are only temporary. I think this is the very reason people can become "addicted" to running. It gives you a high, and every week it calls to you. You find yourself wanting to find bigger, crazier, longer races to get your fix. Once again, I enjoy the atmosphere, the people, and the physical challenge, but for now I have other things I want to focus my energy on.

My future: I'm probably gonna adapt to the idea of running a few focus races. I will continue to run "fat ass" runs for fun. I will know when the time to return is right. However, for the remainder on the spring and summer, I am taking a much needed leave of absence.