Saturday, January 24, 2009

Waterton Canyon

Went for a long run today through Waterton Canyon (Southwest Denver). Wanted to get in 16 to meet my Moab running schedule (which I still haven't layed out due to injuries and inconsistencies). Anyway 16 seemed about right. Jill is training for Boston and wanted to run 22 and suggested Waterton Canyon and then a run to Chatfield (sight of last weeks race) and back. I told her I'd try to run 16 of that with her, but wasn't sure after my right calf/Achilles problems I had on Thursday.

It was a nice January day for a run through the canyon. A bit cold at the start (30) but also a wet cold. at 8:30 am and no sun. So we both layered up. The canyon is 6 miles up to the dam (actually 6.2 according to my GPS from where we parked). It is basically flat but has a gradual incline up and then downhill back. It runs along a creek (as most canyons do I suppose). I told Jill it would be a great Moab training run out and back at tempo because I think it is similar to the course along the river.

I decided to run Jill's long run pace and go for the endurance on the legs and calfs and try to go the 16. Within the first mile we saw some bighorn sheep on the rocks beside the road/trail

The canyon was beautiful with ice crystals in the sun and snow beside the creek and frozen in spots, frozen waterfalls along the way and blue skies with patches of clouds rolling by.

I'd love to blog mile by mile but will just summarize that it was a fun run through the first 6.2 to the turn around point. I was running good with no pain and was having fun with the friends along with me. Jill had a ton of accessories that kept coming off or having problems with so we had a few stops along the way. As usual the conversation was lively and interesting and helped pass the miles.

Anyway, at the turn around we stopped and snapped some pictures at the damn and frozen falls, that's me with the layers on standing next to one. We had the traditional runners picnic of Gu and water and used the bathroom and headed back. My GPS watch went into sleep mode so as I was syncing it back up, the others went ahead. After a couple of minutes the watch was functioning and I ran to catch the others. Well I ran too fast got up to about a 7:30 and then the pain kicked in. It was downhill so it could have been that instead of the pace, but I think it was the pace (although that is not that fast). So from that point on it was running with and through pain. It got increasing worse. By mile 10 it was really bad, but I was able to run. I kept thinking about all the running stories, books and movies and how really good runners learn to embrace the pain and I tried to do that. I also altered my stride to minimize the pain. We were running Jill's long run pace (9:20) and I was having problems keeping it up. I really just wanted to stop and walk. I kept looking at the mileage on my pace watch, counting down the miles, like it was a marathon. Jill picked up a rock in her shoe and I asked if she wanted to stop and get it out, hoping she'd say yeah (so I could stop and stretch - pride goes before a fall), unfortunately she said no. About a mile later she mentioned the rock again and I said if you want to stop and get it out, I could really use a stretch. We were about 1 mile from the car at that point. I stretched it out and after she got the rock out and her shoe back on we ran back. I practically limped to the trail head. Only 12.4 into a 16 mile run and I was ready to quit. I would wait an hour and a half for Jill to finish at the car, no problem. She asked me if I was going on, I said I don't think so.

Then something funny happened. I went to the car and starting peeling off wet layers and the sun came out and my calf relaxed. I was watching Jill getting ready to continue on for another 10 miles and I thought maybe one more mile and I'll walk back. I switched to shorts and put a leg wrap on my calf/Achilles part to keep it warm and reduce the swelling.

We ran down the path toward Chatfiield on a dirt trail. The first mile I was OK with some pain but better. I decided to go for the 16, which meant another 0.8 then turn around and head back. About that point the pain returned but I was so close and I knew I could take my time coming back. There was a long sustained hill just before the turn around point according to my GPS, Jill laughed at me because I was so precise at where I turned around to finish right at 16.

As I turned around, Jill continued another 3 miles before she turned around. I really admire her dedication to running and commitment to training and long runs, she has inspired me many times and continues to do so. I stopped every 1/2 mile on the way back to stretch out my leg and try to reduce the pain. It didn't feel like I was injuring or tearing anything worse, just painful to run. At one point I told Jill maybe I was training myself to run through pain.

Anyway I finished and then laid in the sun for a while in back of my 4 runner waiting for the others to finish. I honestly could have fallen asleep, I was so relaxed and there was no longer any pain. Pain is a funny thing, why is it there? To warn us not do something, like continue to run when you are injured. Yet my mind was telling my body to keep running and ignore the pain, so why can't it block it out and compromise. Maybe it was to warn me from running fast until it is healed. Mission Accomplished there.

Anyway, all in all it was a memorable run and a nice day and neat route and great company. I am sorry about the rambling but I just felt I needed to express the pain with the pleasure.

Garmin Watch Data for Run

Rest day tomorrow, going to get up early again and take the kids snowboarding.

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