Rugged Individualist. Certified USA Triathlon Coach & NASM Personal Trainer, Men's Self Improvement Coach. President of Go Farther Sports. National Ranked Triathlete & 100 Mile Grand Slam Ultrarunner, 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, May 15, 2011

Massanutten - No Finish, But An Interesting Idea To Try

But, but, but, I thought your toe was healed...

LOL, no, it wasn't, and it played right into the course's hands too.

This is going to be an interesting write-up, because I have a lot of things that I am mulling about after pulling out of the race at mile 19.

First off, it seems like toes don't heal very quickly. Yes, I had the ability of running on a bad toe last week, and it was acceptable, but the flare-ups should have told me that the toe wasn't fully healed yet. Generally, broken bones usually take about 6 weeks to heal.

Combine that with a relentless, rocky course and I had problems right from the start. Big ones.

Even before the race it affected my decision in which shoes to wear. Before the race, I had bought a New Balance minimalist pair of shoes for the trail 5 weeks before. Finding the shoe to be bothersome to my injured toe, I was forced to opt for the regular clumsy conventional shoes to protect that toe. I knew that this decision would come with a high risk of inverting an ankle, but it was the only pair that my feet felt comfortable in.

Wearing these shoes, right from the start of the trail section, I knew I was going to have problems. We hit the trail at about 4:45AM, when it was still dark, and I had trouble finding the best footing through the rocky sections. As a result, I was constantly landing hard on my bad toe. Well, the toe kind of decided after a little abuse that it had enough.

I can understand. If somebody keeps punching me in the head, I'd start getting upset also.

After a while the toe started to throb. This started to cause me to compensate by not rolling off that toe. Instead, I was rolling more toward the outside, where the smaller toes were. 

With the clumsy conventional shoes and the wrongful rolling of my foot, I must have twisted my right ankle at least 4 times on the trail.

Secondly, at about mile 15, coming down a hill, I smacked my toe against a rock, hard. Seeing stars, I almost fell off the trail and hobbled to a halt waiting for the pain to go away.

The last 4 miles were rough walking. Coming to an aid station, I knew I had to cut my losses and end it there before I really got hurt. It's a tough decision to make that early in the race, but I saw the writing on the wall and decided to call it a day.

Taking my socks off, I immediately saw my toe bent in toward the rest of the toes. The nurse at the aid station also saw this and suggested I go see a doctor to see whether it needs to be reset. 

Oh, well. Time to call a doctor tomorrow.

My history with rocky courses was always a weakness; I tended to painfully roll my ankles a lot on the trails.

That is, until I started to wear minimalist XC-flats.

I have to safely say that even on the rockiest trails, I have NEVER rolled my ankles in XC-flats. Ever. I think the thinner sole allows it to be more flexible around uneven surfaces. This provides for more stability on very uneven areas.

But the problem with XC-flats is that with the lack of cushioning my feet tend to tire after about 30 miles on trails.

In a 100 mile race, that might be a bit of a problem.

There actually might be a possible solution to that, however. I noticed some people actually using trekking poles with their runs, and they were actually phenominal in traversing rocky sections.

I used a trekking pole for the Appalachian Trail and it turned out to be a great aid in getting through technical sections of the trail, so I have some experience in using them.

Looking for more information on the internet today, I came up with this gem of a video on Youtube. This guy is just amazing at using his trekking poles while running, so it might be something to look into.

Mind that I would only be using trekking poles for extremely rocky courses like Massanutten and would never use them for more runnable courses like Vermont.

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