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August 16, 2012 Comments (6) Musings

Finding Waldo?

Zensah Ankle Compression Sleeve


While a bunch of people are tackling Leadville and Pikes Peak this weekend on August 18th, I’ll be over in beautiful south-central Oregon at one of the country’s most top-notch 100k races, the Waldo 100k, which starts and finishes at the Wilamette Pass Ski Area about 70 miles east of Eugene, Oregon. At least I think I will.

I’ve never run a 100k before, unless you count my unfortunate demise at mile 66 of Big Horn in June, and I felt lucky to even have gotten signed up during the less-than-six-hour window that the race was open for registration before filling back in the spring.

Following Big Horn on June 16th, my calendar cleared somewhat after I finished directing my third and final race of the year on June 23rd, and I was getting in some good running and strength work. On July 31st, with two weeks of prime training time to peak, an unfortunate incident happened at the CrossFit gym in which I sprained my ankle, a Grade III sprain according to my chiropractor, with possible tearing, although I refused the MRI to confirm this, opting instead for a simple xray to confirm the absence of a break.

Crossfit 208: Rope Climb

Me, just prior to The Ankle incident.

With ‘only a sprain,’ my sights were intently focused on rehabbing efficiently, in the style that most of us run ultras: with relentless forward progress. This meant minor improvements each day, with no setbacks. I went from crawling to the bathroom the first day to walking with only a slight limp the third day and was back in the gym two days after the incident, doing non-weight bearing activities like rowing and biking and strict shoulder presses.

Initially, I did not really consider whether I would still run Waldo or not. It didn’t really matter. There was nothing I could change, and I don’t ever regret taking some risks in the gym or anywhere else.

The Ankle: 72 Hours Post-Injury

However, as my militant regimen of elevation, ice, compression, rest, and massage (starting 12 days after the injury when the heat finally went out of the swelling) aided relentless improvement and I was able to walk pain-free with full range of motion less than two weeks post-injury, I began to consider the possibility of at least toeing the start line at Waldo, with the goal to get to the mile 32 Charlton aid station, even if I arrived after the cutoff.

I have been practicing my power hiking with the Master, Ulli Kamm, after all.

Let me take this moment to give a shout out to Zensah (in which I have no financial interest or relationship of any kind) and their sweet ankle compression sleeve. Whatever anyone says about compression being unnecessary or counterproductive, I feel that this targeted compression on my ankle aided my recovery greatly (my *feeling* only, not supported by anything other than what seems like rapid healing). The sleeve is not the equivalent as wearing a bulky brace (thank goodness), but it provides just enough support to make the ankle feel all cuddly while still allowing that full range of motion that is the goal in rehabbing sprains.

Zensah Ankle Compression Sleeve

Zensah Ankle Compression Sleeve

So, as my mindset about Waldo has morphed through my recovery over the last two weeks and two days, I find myself in a place today feeling that I can almost certainly make at least the first cutoff, and my pace will almost certainly not be unlike most other long races of mine in which I am at the back of the pack and consider the cutoffs anyway. Most important to me is avoiding reinjury. To this end I will employ my trekking poles, which I had pre-injury been hoping to leave at home in hopes of running Waldo more aggressively and with more abandon than I am generally accustomed; and I plan to walk all of the dark sections, mandatory in my ‘start slow and stay steady’ strategy. There will be a lot of darkness in which to start slow, as I am taking the mind-numbing 3:00 am early start.

All that being said, The Ankle is for sure not functioning at 100%, especially on uneven ground, but I have been PROMISED that the Waldo trails are cushy compared to the rocky stuff we have here in southwest Idaho. {wink}

Compounding my personal Waldo question is the breaking news of last night (Wednesday, August 15th) that a fire had broken out in the immediate vicinity of the race course, or in the words of Race Director Craig Thornley,  ‘near Bobby Lake…in the middle of the course.’ describes the fire as ‘east of Waldo Lake and just west of Bobby Lake.’ In other words, this fire is literally smack dab on top of the race course. No updates have been posted on the Incident Information System website for the Buckhead Complex fires more recently than 13 hours ago, and no information has come from the Race Director as of this morning at 9:30 am Pacific time. I’m sure they are scrambling to put together an alternate course, but I’m also sure that if safety of runners or access to significant portions of the course were at stake, the possibility of race cancellation exists. It happens. Let me reiterate that nothing of the sort has been announced by race management. These are only my thoughts in trying to process the possible outcomes. As for all fire situations, let’s pray that all firefighters are safe and when possible thank them for their heroic work.

The question remains – will this be the year that I find Waldo? Only two days time will tell.

6 Responses to Finding Waldo?

  1. Jeremy says:

    Best of luck Emily. Thornley will figure it out and put you on some good terrain. Keep believing. While I’m sending out anti-fire karma, I’ll shoot some over to Cle Elum, WA where the fire needs to stop burning up homes and stay off my CCC!

    • UltraEm says:

      Thanks Jeremy. This is a terrible situation for a race director, but I have 100% confidence in the professionalism and judgement of Craig and crew. Same with CCC. Pray for good rains without lightning!

  2. the runner says:

    Hope you heal up and find Waldo!

  3. […] reddit_title = "The Spirit: Found at Waldo"; As I wrote in my previous article Finding Waldo? I was not sure if I would find Waldo or not. A lot of things were up in the air, from the […]

  4. […] I wrote in my previous article Finding Waldo? I was not sure if I would find Waldo or not. A lot of things were up in the air, from the […]

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