Because the Fragrance Lake 20k was so close to home, I was able to get up-close and personal with the course in the weeks leading up to the race. I grew to know and love its variety of terrain and to embrace the pain that came with it. The course starts on the Interurban Rail Trail and takes a turn at 1.7 miles up Cleator Road, thus beginning the 1100 foot climb up to Fragrance Lake. The joy of seeing Fragrance Lake’s beauty is short-lived. The climb doesn't stop, but continues up to what the locals refer to as the infamous “chin-scraper,” a steep, relentless, hands-on-your-knees grind that will take you to Chuckanut Ridge. The cruelty continues as Chuckanut Ridge is 2.3 miles of technical, don’t-look-up-or-you’ll-fall-flat-on-your-face (or down the mountain) terrain. If you are lucky, you might look up just enough to catch a glance of Mount Baker on a clear day. The last section of the course is a (relatively) screaming fast downhill of switchbacks that spits you back out on the Interurban Trail for a .4 mile shot to the finish.
I love the Fragrance Lake course.
My goal for the race was to break the previous course’s record. We ran the course with moderate effort once to make sure we knew which way to go and then a second time which was an intentional hard effort about a month out. I came within a couple minutes of the record and was confident that on race day I would be able to shave them off once I was properly adrenalined and caffeinated.
There was time for one more long run on the course 3 weeks outs, but unfortunately, this plan never came to pass. The Sunday after a 16 mile long run at the Redmond Watershed Preserve in Redmond, WA, I was feeling a pain that felt like a blister rubbing on my Achilles. After a slow 8 miler, I got back in the car, took off my shoe and was surprised to see no blister. The soreness on my Achilles never let up throughout the day. Taking time off was inevitable.
|The Graston aftermath.|
For those of you who have been injured, you know the drill. The first couple weeks of an injury are a guessing game. What is it? What can I do on it? What is aggravating it? Why me? Ahhhhhhh!!! The guess was that I had an acute bout of Achilles tendonitis, so I went to Align Chiropractic to receive Graston work from Dr. Chris Lockwood. This technique is meant to break up scar tissue and increase blood flow to the tendon by taking a stainless steel tool and scraping it vigorously over the inflamed area. Testimonies indicate that this is a fairly effective treatment if you can stand the infliction of pain and bruising.
|Well, I wasn't going to cut up a pair of Inov-8's!|
I had no such luck. After more research and poking and prodding, we concluded that I have Achilles bursitis which is when a small sack of fluid that sits between the Achilles tendon and a bone becomes inflamed. I could walk around the house barefoot with no pain at all, but the second I put shoes on, the site on my Achilles flared up and was very painful. This explains why it felt as if I had a blister. I stopped going for walks, biking and attempting to test it out. Tad cut a major portion of the heal counter out of an old pair of shoes so that there was no pressure on the inflamed bursa. I continued doing a combination of Bikram and power yoga, which helped take the edge off, but I was still extremely depressed and angry.
|Morning walk on the Interurban Trail|
It has now been three weeks since the pain first arrived. This morning I had 15 minutes to do a 20 minute walk down to yoga. So that I wouldn't be late, I picked up the pace to a jog. No pain. I did a little jog home. Still no pain. When I got home I went for a 3 mile run and still no pain. I feel hopeful that if my Achilles continues to feel good and I can prevent the bursitis from flaring up, I will be able to race the Hillbilly Half in Olympia in two weeks. I tried talking Tad into letting me race the 20k tomorrow, but he wasn't having it. He will be taking my place tomorrow and I will be there to cheer him and the Bellingham Trail Running Club on.