A Staten Island triathlete and endurance coach ventures into the ultramarathon realm where there are seemingly no limits to human endurance. In 2013, he successfully finished the Grand Slam of Ultrarunning (picture of 2013 Grand Slam finishers above; I'm second from right), becoming only the 282nd person (since its beginnings in 1986) and only the fourth New Yorker to finish four of the oldest and most prestigious 100 mile ultramarathons in the U.S. in only 10 weeks.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Finally Home - Getting Ready for Vermont

It's been a weird week of recovery after Western States.


Recoveries after a long race such as Western States has always had a life of their own. And some things catch me unprepared.

The Painful Trip Back to NYC

OK, let's start with the bus ride back to Squaw Valley after the race. I could barely walk. The blisters on my feet were teaming up with my tender quads to result in a walk slower than that of even a zombie. I was extremely worry I would not catch the bus after the awards ceremony because I was afraid that I could not cover the distance to the front of Placer High School in time before it drives away.

Much to my relief, the bus did not come until around 45 minutes after the awards ceremony ended. Whew!

The bus ride was a bit uneventful. Once I got to Squaw Valley and checked into my hotel room, I just could not stay awake any longer. I already got a shower in at Placer HS after the awards ceremony, so once I closed the door to my hotel room, I just plopped on my bed and passed out.

I never woke up until well past midnight. By then, I was ready to repack everything for the flight home. So much for pleasantly soaking in the swimming pool during my stay there.

 This would have been nice, but sleep won out...

The trip home basically sucked. I really needed to stay off my feet the day after my trip, and could have afforded the extra day there and take the trip home the next day. But, in my planning, my post-race condition was never taken into account, and so I had to start to take the trip home Monday.

I took the local bus to Truckee, then transferred to the Amtrak bus back to Sacramento. It was on this bus that I really started to feel my feet throb. I elevated my feet during the trip and it came as welcome relief.

I arrived at the airport with a lot of time to spare. I actually had to wait 5 hours before I can check in my bag and take the midnight flight back to Laguardia.

During the 5 hours, again, I propped up my feet on my luggage and I felt instant relief. I was afraid I couldn't do that during the flight, as crowded as these flights are. I knew that I would probably be suffering on the two flights back to NY.

The flights were a nightmare. Both feet were throbbing and it took a huge effort to get some sleep on the flights to avoid the pain. Thankfully, the flights weren't delayed this time and I was able to get back to Laguardia by noon on Tuesday.

Once I got back home, I just kicked off my shoes and went to sleep, relieved that I was done with the journey.

The next day, feeling better, I repacked my bags and went to my parents' timeshare at Villa Roma in the Catskills. I was looking forward to the days of just doing nothing for the week, letting the feet and legs heal from the race.

What's Villa Roma without the daily Bocce tournament? I couldn't move around much, but I really didn't have to move much playing Bocce, right? :-)


That was the best part of the week. Each day I felt a whole lot better than the day before. Today, I'm able to walk and run normally again, and the bottoms of my feet were hardened from the healing blisters. I am a new man now.

Was it the Shoes that Caused Blisters?

During that time in Villa Roma, I was able to step back and question some of the the things I experienced at Western States that weekend. Namely, why the heck I got so many blisters when I've never had that problem in the past.

I mean, yeah, the downhill nature of the course had something to do with it, but I still cannot rule out fitting into my Hokas.

On most of my long runs in the Hokas, everything seemed OK, but there always seemed to be several hot spots forming during those long runs. I've never experienced this with the other shoes I had.

Were the Hokas not fitting me right?

I went to the internet and found that I wasn't alone with this problem. Most of the people wearing Hokas were experiencing blister patterns similar to what I experienced at Western States (namely under the toes, where the push-off happens).



So, were ill-fitting shoes the main problem here?

I seriously don't know. But I really do not want to go through that crisis again in another 100 mile race, so I fugre the best thing to do was to go back to the New Balance shoes that fit me well in last year's Vermont 100 race. At least for the start of that race.

I'll probably put my Hokas in the crew car so that they are available in a pinch should I get a crisis with my other shoes. That should give me some good choices of shoes during the race.

My Current Condition

I can safely say that, one painful week after Western States, I am about 80% recovered. My quads are almost back to normal, the bottoms of my feet are mostly healed, and I can run normally again. As severe as my injuries were, sustained by Western States, I can safely say that all of my injuries were cosmetic and that I should be at 100% when towing the line for Vermont in 2 weeks.

And this is big, because I really want to get under 24 hours for Vermont this year. Vermont only gives out belt buckles for those who finish under 24 hours, and it would be great to have a complete collection of 4 belt buckles for the Grand Slam.

I start training consistently for Vermont tomorrow (Monday July 8) and should be able to at least give a strong showing at Vermont on July 20.

Let's get ready for leg#2 of the Grand Slam!!!

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