It’s been a tough start to the 2012 season. I had this thought that I would be up and running in no time after Dr. Orr went in and repaired my knee. Turned out I had a lot more damage in there that slowed recovery.
I spent many hours training a the Sports Performance Training Center and getting advice from Chris Cloyd, which was helpful. I took some of their classes to stay interested and I discovered TRX training, probably the coolest cross training for a runner.
But when the green light came that I could hit the trails, I did. That was March 28. It was a slow start with the first week of running, which was limited to 10 miles. By the time I ran my first race of the season I was up to 15 miles in one run. Well, my first race was a 50K, and needless to say, I wasn’t ready.
The knee had only minor pain but major swelling. Dr. Orr drained 50 milliliters of fluid from my knee two days after the race (there should be only 5 milliliters).
Seven weeks after that — this past Saturday — and I was toeing the line at the Tahoe Rim Trail 50-Mile Endurance Run. I stood there confident that I would race strong the entire way. The race started, and I was off like I was running an 800.
I kept my projected pace all the way to Diamond Peak at mile 30. Then the climb back up begins. This relentless climb sucks the drive from the best of us. I got to the top and found that the 30 percent grade at points took any bit of speed I had to offer for the last 20 miles. But I kept telling myself that I’d shake it off.
The journey continued, trekking along at a not-very-fast pace any longer as I reached the Hobart Mills aid station just above Marlette lake. This is when I knew I was in a bit of trouble. With 10 miles to go, I couldn’t get myself out of first gear. With that slow of a pace, I was bound to get caught and lose all the gains I built up at the beginning of the race.
And I was right. With 4 miles to go, I got passed. I tried to answer but the wheels just wouldn’t turn. I finished second.
I was pretty wrecked. I got helped to the medics tent where I was held for about an hour. I was very dehydrated and my electrolytes were completely out of whack. They fed me two liters of saline via IV and made me wait until I had an appetite. Finally, I ate.
With ultra races, you can put in many miles per week, but if you screw up the fueling it can all be for naught. You can’t push your body without water. I drank, not enough. You can’t push without food. I ate, not enough. Lesson learned, again.
In six weeks I’ll try again but double the distance. I’ll keep you posted.
— Truckee’s Peter Fain is a trail runner who competes regularly in regional trail races and snowshoe runs in the winter. He may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.