Yes - that would be the Grindstone course - 23,000ft of elevation gain and loss in the fabulous Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia! The only saviour being the lack of serious altitude - highest point is just under 5000ft.
However, as luck would have it, within 2 days of making the decision to enter I am now sitting here with a shin that I can hardly step on let alone run on.
First the "Ups"...
It was all coming together nicely by Friday afternoon. The day had started with a really fun run at Hyland - getting up for the early bird start and enjoying a very peaceful run under the full moon before being joined by a pretty big group at 6AM... including Joe, Tony and Paul who shared great stories from Leadville.
Then I came into work and had an email from my friend Dorothy from North Carolina. We first met at the Promise Land race in early 2007. Dorothy does most of the LUS/BEAST series every year so each time I've been down there for a race it's been fun catching up. In between we email on and off and I'd seen that Dorothy was signed up for Grindstone so was planning to email her to say I was thinking about it... except she got there first. Dorothy had read my blog and emailed me to tell me to do it. It was just the 'sign' I needed!
Earlier in the week I'd been in contact with Clark Zealand, RD for Grindstone and he was totally cool accepting the Trail Work Cert I'd used for AC-100 - he didn't need me to get his race-specific cert signed etc so that was sorted.
We finished up at work by noon on Friday so I spent some time checking all the possible flight options and managed to find ones that would work and not cost the earth. So I went ahead and booked them... and changed my flights around for the trip to Ireland... resulting in a 6hr flight the day after running 100 miles. Yeaay! And then realized I had two annual waivers with my worldperks program that I could use to cancel the flights I'd booked to LA for Kami & Pam (a.k.a the super-crew) without incurring any penalties. All good.
So... I SIGNED UP!
And then the "Downs"
Saturday morning I ran with Shelley and the SLP Lifetime Fitness marathon training group - it was great catching up with Shelley and for most of the run I was feeling pretty good. We were running a pretty fast pace given that a lot of the guys are shooting for a low 3 or under in the upcoming fall marathons. But I felt good picking up the pace mid-run and again at the end of the 18 miler. I wanted to get in a few more easy ones so after we got back to the club I headed off around Cedar Lake. And that was when my right glute really started to bother me. It's been a bit achy on some recent runs but feels ok after a good stretch and had not affected my running. On the trails at Murphy-Hanrehan on Wednesday I'd felt it a little sore around mile 20 but it eased off again and wasn't an issue the next few days. So I was pretty worried when I had to stop several times around the lake to stretch it out - not to mention that doing pigeon pose on the side of the trail isn't very attractive. The worst part was that the pain made my entire leg feel totally weak. As if it would just 'give way' at any moment. Scary.
I tried not to think about it for the rest of the day but every so often I would just feel really down about it and kept thinking it was all a big sign telling me I should never have signed up for the race... couldn't I just have forgotten about it and kept all the plans for the trip home... blah blah blah.
Luckily I had some friends in town for a few days so that helped keep my mind off it. We hung out for the afternoon, did some shopping, went to dinner... I stretched the glute every few hours, used the foam roller a few times, and it felt pretty good by the time I was going to bed last night. I figured I'd try a few easy miles this morning at Hyland. I'd had so much fun running in the KSO's Thursday morning that I wanted to so another hour or so in them and figured it would also mean I'd keep the pace easy.
Everything felt good getting up this morning. So off I went to Hyland... started out by the ski hill and over towards the woodchip trails and the usual loop. Everything was feeling really good. My glute wasn't bothering me at all. I was feeling UP again! I decided on two of the loops by the campground and then came back over and headed along some of the Trail Mix course to the prairie section behind the ski jump. I would be closer to 10 miles but nothing hurt and the shoes felt great. No sooner had I reveled in a little joy when my left shin suddenly started to hurt. The same one that gave me problems at the end of last year. Well, ok - I can't be blaming the shin for that one. I ran TCM four weeks after Sawtooth, then the IM, then more running all the while ignoring the initially low level shin pain. Eventually it meant cancelling plans for Hellgate and 3 weeks with no running. But this, this was just so sudden - it only took a few minutes to get back to the car but by that time I could hardly step on it.
An ice bath, and a nice easy swim in the cool water at Plymouth LTF pool this afternoon, has yielded zero improvement. So I've resorted to a glass (or two) of wine. Screw it - since I can't enjoy my planned 3hr Afton ski hill routine in the morning I'll forget about it for a few hours and enjoy a sleep-in instead...
P.S. Thanks for the comments on my last post - except I was sorry to hear about Christine Crawford - I had no idea. And she is such an awesome runner. I hope her hip heals well and she can get back to doing what she loves.
P.P.S Nic, Nic, Nic - clearly from your run report an additional 0.44 miles would have taken at least another 30 minutes. Really it should be considerd a DNF but so as not to tarnish your record I'm happy just to call it 1-1. Roll on Chippewa :)
P.P.P.S Chris G - best of luck with the new arrival! If I don't see you up north next weekend I'll be looking out for you at Grindstone (the wine is kicking in so I'm being totally optomistic about this minor shin issue...).