Am trying to take advantage of the cool local races as much as possible and the Bad Ass 50k in the Badlands east of Bend is a great example. Not really a race, more of a fun run and in a place with a very cool name and with shorter options too plus it's the perfect start to the year. I imagined taming the west with gun-toting Clint Eastwoods, but I don't think any type of civilisation has ever been around the scenic hills and volcanic area of the Badlands. It's a hilly course using the cinder cone and a valley to give almost non-stop ups and downs.
So the course was tougher than would have been ideal for a come-back from injury. After weeks of my stupid right ITB band refusing to heal, I've done everything I can to fix it. Massage, lots of walking, leg weights and tennis balls to roll on on the floor. It had been ok to jog on for a few days so I didn't want to miss the chance to do the first long run since Fukuoka four weeks earlier.
The lack of snow or ice was surprising for Bend in January, but it was appreciated by the 60ish people turned up for one of the distances with maybe 10 for the 50k. Since it's a 3-lap course with a short out-and-back at the start, it's only by the last lap that it was down to the ultra runners. I had a lot of fun despite feeling very out of shape and bonking badly at 29 miles (my own fault due to trying to do the whole thing just with water and no calories in at all to improve my body's ability to run under only its own steam).
I ran up to 22 miles with local Sean Meissner, half the organising brains behind the race. He's also the guy who'd beaten me in the third day of the Tahoe triple marathon after slacking off this year and not doing the first two days. But I won't hold that against him since he sorted out a great race and did it all for free. Not a bad price considering the relatively high entry cost of races in the US compared to Europe. His chat kept me well occupied while I gradually faded through the run. But it was only after he stopped and I went out on the last lap that I deteriorated to one of the worst last couple of miles to a race I've had. It was made harder by the 800 ft climb and I managed a staggering (in both senses of the word) speed of about 2-3 mph.
Was a relief to finish and stuff my face to bring back a semblance of life to my body. Much later my knee started aching again so I'll just have to see how things go, but I've already written off trying to race the Phoenix marathon on the 17th Jan. Four weeks of little to no running and the injury not sorting itself out means expectations have to be revised, no matter how frustrating that is. There'll be other races and I've still got plenty of years left in me as long as I don't break myself. Just tough to be patient when I'm such a junkie for racing.