Well, I didn't quite get to the 50 I was hoping for this week, but I'm not disappointed. The key was to make certain I didn't overdo things after the marathon at the February Fat Ass last week. That being said, I may have overdone things. The pain/tightness I'm currently experiencing in my left shin/ankle is either just that: pain/tightness or something worse. Obviously, I'm hopeful it's the former and that a disciplined regimen of ice/heat/ibuprofen/stretching/foam rolling will cure it. Either way, this really was a week of second guessing. I was never certain if I was doing too much or just being overly cautious. Really an up and down week, at least mentally.
Onto the numbers...
Sunday, 2/20: 5 - 47:48, Topsham Snowmobile Trails to Lover's Lane. An easy run on what has become the old standby winter route. As expected from running 26.5 miles the previous day, my legs were tired, but, thankfully, no specific muscle soreness of any kind, which was a really good sign.
Monday, 2/21: 5.25 - 55:17, Bradbury Blizzard course, snowshoes. I wanted to check out the course, which I'd actually never snowshoed in full, only run, and also check out the start area. The park staff had agreed to pack the start area with a snowmobile, which was very nice of them, and I wanted to give the entire course a good look. Needless to say, it was firm and fast. Based on Friday's snow, I'll be very lucky to duplicate that time in Sunday's race. I had originally planned on adding on a few more miles, but I ran out of time and was ravenously hungry. The good news is that my legs felt great.
Tuesday, 2/22: Off
Wednesday, 2/23: 9.75 - 1:37:21, Granite State Snowshoe Champs course + add on at Great Glen Trails, snowshoes. Needed to get out first thing in the morning, and the thermometer was reading -2° when I headed out the door. Thankfully, it warmed up steadily throughout the run and my eyelids eventually thawed. Conditions on the groomed Nordic trails were perfect...for skiing...but surprisingly soft and slow for snowshoeing. The well-packed singletrack was actually faster. I really enjoy running the Aqueduct Loop and contemplated another lap of it when I finished the GSSC course, but decided that another 450+ of elevation gain and loss in 2.75 miles wasn't really necessary. Legs felt great for the entirety of the run, but I was bonking a bit by the end. Time for breakfast.
Thursday, 2/24: 11 - 1:22:10, River + Meadow Cross Roads. I was a bit on the fence of what type of workout to get in today, but I settled on a marathon pace run. Once I made that decision, I'd hoped to run 14 with the final 11 at MP, but it wasn't in the cards. I ended up taking the day off from work to stay home with a sick kiddo. I was pretty mentally drained by the afternoon, so I'm amazed I got out at all. And, the only reason I did get out was because D came home early from work to relieve me. With all that going, I have to say I felt great on this run. I ran this loop in the opposite direction for the first time, and it may become the regular direction. A stiff wind was in my face in a few places, but otherwise I rolled right along. The first 3 miles were easy, 7:55 pace, and the final 11 at MP, which on this day was a 7:17 average. That pace felt pretty reasonable, although my miles themselves were fairly uneven. Using the average lap pace feature on my Garmin as a guide, I'd basically slack off the first half of each mile then pick it up to get the split I wanted. I can only assume that I'd get complacent each time I saw a good split. Either way, still a great run.
Friday, 2/25: 14.25 - 2:21:41, Topsham Snowmobile Trails, Random. This could have been a really great run, but it didn't feel that way. D and I had a schedule sync again, so we headed out together. Her plan was to run the Topsham Snowmobile Dump Loop, to get 7, and I was hoping for 15. Snow starting falling shortly before we left, and we moved steadily for the first 5 miles together in about 2-3 inches of new snow. Great to run together again, even though she pushed the pace the entire time. :) At 5 miles we parted ways, her for home and I for a little exploring. I wanted to check out another branch of the snowmobile trail I'd never been on. Turns out it's just a two-mile out and back, but it meandered through some nice woods and gave me some good intel on some dirt road/trail potential for a snowless loop in the summer. I also saw a woman driving a dogsled...although neither she nor the dogs seemed to know what they were doing or particularly enjoying themselves. Very random. At about 9 miles, the snow had intensified, and I seriously contemplated heading for home to get what would have been about 11. It was at this same time that I could feel some tightness in my left shin, on the outside of my leg just above the ankle. Before my run on Monday on the Bradbury Blizzard course, I'd strapped on my old, giant snowshoes to pack out the Switchback Trail and must have tightened the binding on that foot too much. By Tuesday morning, my foot was very sore with what I've always referred to as "lace bite." I surmised that I may have tied my shoes too tight as well, but didn't think much of it since the pain had subsided on Wednesday and was gone by Thursday. Well, a couple miles later I was really thinking of it as it was pretty painful. I slowly sank into a full world of suck as by now the snowfall was near 5 inches, and I was sinking and kicking more and more with each step. Throw in some stiff wind gusts, and I just wanted to be done. Additionally, I'd only worn thin gloves since it was 32°-33° out, and after nearly two hours of running in falling snow they were soaked. I had to stow my handheld water bottle in my jacket since holding it made my hands too cold. I finally made it home, and despite putting in a solid effort and exploring some new trails, I was pretty down and concerned about my leg.
Saturday, 2/26: 2.5 - 58:03, Bradbury Blizzard recon, snowshoes. With plenty of heat, ice, ibuprofen and sticking the previous night, I woke up hopeful that my shin/ankle would be magically cured. It wasn't. A smart person would probably take a couple days off, but the Bradbury Blizzard is on Sunday—gotta race and race direct. The latter of these duties had me at The Brad early to "assess the damage" of 8-10" of new snow the previous day. Needless to say, conditions were very different from Monday, and I had a hard time even finding the same course. I was the first one into the powder, and it would have been a lot of fun if I was just looking to wander aimlessly and play in the snow, but I was on a mission. I did find "a" course, just not "the" course I had run on Monday. It will work well for the race, and bumped into Ian and the Saturday morning crew after on trip up and down, which gave me the chance to show Ian the devilishness I'd concocted for the race. Along with Zak, we ran one trip up the Switchback together, and we even managed to find the correct route again. (Even though it's not the true Switchback Trail.) I ran out of time due to the deepness of the snow slowing the pace and was unable to get a full lap of the course in, but all my wandering did add up to 2.5 miles, most of it up and down the Switchback. The good news is that although I could feel some tightness in my shin/ankle, I didn't have any pain. Fingers crossed.
Just a strange week all around with a huge damper on the end with the potential injury. My plan is to race the Bradbury Blizzard on Sunday and then assess. I have 4 weeks until the Gator Trail 50k, and I don't want to do anything stupid. The training has been going great, and I feel ready to throw down a good effort in that race. So, I'm not going to stress if I end up tapering 4 weeks instead of 3. Of course, I say this now, but I still want to get in one more 20+ mile run before the 50k. Holy crap! Four weeks to the big show!