Friday, January 20, 2017

Recovery and Arrowhead Preview

For finishing 160 miles at Tuscobia I got a beanie. I love it.

My Tuscobia recovery has been similar to most hundred mile races, at least physically. It usually takes a day or two to get really sore muscles but this time it came and went away after a day. This is probably due to the slower pace, even though the distance was much greater than anything I've done before. Mentally it has been tougher. Of course I was on a bit of a high after finishing, but there is a rather severe drop off I've noticed that happens after these events. Investing so much emotionally all at once is bound to have a toll. I felt something like this last year in the midst of the Midwest Slam so I realize it is normal and that I can navigate it. For me, this down time is marked by a lack of motivation and a loss of the enjoyment I would usually get out of my daily runs. It is difficult because the urge to run and train is gone but at the same time you feel like you are falling behind and will not be able to finish the next race. In the end it almost paralyzes. This is the down time I should be enjoying but it is hard with another race so soon.  I could force myself to run but that could be counterproductive by not allowing my body to heal. In the end I just have to count on my experience.

Post race, I spent a week doing nothing. My first run was about 8 days after finishing Tuscobia. My knees felt like they would buckle in the first couple of steps I took but then I was able to settle in to a very easy recovery pace. It felt good to get the heart rate up and the blood moving. I consciously made an effort to not strain at all during the short 3 mile run, even though I felt I could. Surprisingly, I felt like it would feel good to run faster but better to not push things right now. This close to another race there is really nothing that can be done to improve fitness. I would only be hurting recovery which I may be doing with my ridiculous appetite the past week or so. I console myself by telling myself that any extra fat will keep me warm at Arrowhead. Ten days later my remaining physical issues are some swelling and numbness in my toes and the ball of my foot and some numb, frozen finger tips. These are nothing that should hinder me in any way January 30th.

The Arrowhead 135 will be taking place for the 13th time this year. The race is point to point, starting in International Falls, MN, following the Arrowhead Trail south to near Tower, MN approximately 135 miles later. It is often cited as a polar opposite (see what I did?) to the Badwater 135 that takes place in Death Valley, CA in July. Like Tuscobia, there are run, ski and bike divisions covering the same course. This race is much more remote and has much more elevation change than Tuscobia, so while it is shorter, there is some debate as to which is more difficult. The required gear list is basically the same, so it will all be pulled along in a sled again. The field is limited in order to allow for more opportunities for solitude and self-sufficiency.

The things I'm most concerned with are the remoteness and the footing. The remoteness means there are fewer chances to stop at a town and get some sort of help. Also, based on the rules, unlike Tuscobia, it appears going into a bar or gas station is not allowed. At Tuscobia there were towns or houses at least every 5 to 10 miles so if there was a pressing issue, you could find someone to help correct it. The footing may be poor since the trail is so remote and likely little used, therefore a worn even path in the snow may not be available. This could be a bigger factor when there are hills involved. Another factor that I've just thought of is the phase of the moon. Yes, the moon. During Tuscobia, I was able to spend much of the night without my headlamp on due to the three quarters full moon. Arrowhead this year will be a near new moon, so I expect it to be very dark at night.

I've begun to mentally prepare for Arrowhead. I've been wondering if I can handle going through nearly 60 hours of that kind of mental strain so soon. I'm not so sure I can handle the hurt that I know is coming. Tuscobia hurt bad and was scary near the end mentally. I've never experienced anything like it. My last post didn't include some of the strange deja vu and out of body sensations I experienced in the final stages of that race, which were unnerving and just too strange to dwell on. I suppose all I can do is show up at the start line and do the absolute best I can. It is a test and a huge part of the reason why I do this.

The support of my friends and family was a big factor at Tuscobia and I'm sure as I continue this year, it will get even better, and it has been great so far. Thank you all for your interest and reading these ramblings. Thank you for the messages and encouraging posts. It really does help. Try to remember that in your everyday interactions. You never know who you can help inspire with just a kind word or by showing some interest. Look at me being optimistic and positive. I know some of you will find that hilarious.

For more info int he Arrowhead 135, check out their site:
The galleries section has some good articles and blogs about the race.
There should be a GPS tracking for this race which I will post later.
For a $3 Vimeo rental you can see a short film about the race called Among the Wild. I'll be watching it again before heading out to Minnesota: