Solid week of training. Almost.
My current trail racers, which I'd had no problem with, are entering the later stage of their life; probably only about 100 good miles left on them. Once or twice, my feet or ankles have hurt a little bit towards the end of a long race. So I thought there was a chance that they wouldn't hold up to a 50-mile race, now that they're losing a little bit of their "boing."
With that in mind, I ordered a new pair of shoes, a pair that I'd been researching and fantasizing about for a while. Tuesday, they arrived, just in time to get a couple runs in before the big race. So Wednesday morning, I took them out for some hill repeats. Initially (on pavement), they didn't feel great, but once I got on the trail, hooooo boy, they could really scoot. Despite a shape that might not be perfect for my foot, they felt very natural, light, fast, and seemed like they had plenty of cushion and support. Everything about them was great. That is, until about ten miles into the run, when my left achilles tendon started hurting.
My left achilles tendon is the only thing I've ever injured from running, and it was a big one. I went ahead and finished the run (it didn't hurt that bad), but noticed that occasionally, I felt a twinge for the rest of the day. My idea was to go ahead and try the shoes on again tomorrow for speed training - only three miles - and if I had one single problem, it's a no-go. If they work perfectly, let's go ahead and start the race in them, but bring others as back-up.
As soon as I got the shoes on, my tendon hurt. Before I even started walking around. I couldn't figure it out. Didn't seem like there was much pressure on it, and there's nothing different about the right and left shoe. Chances are it had to do with the lower heel-toe drop (most running shoes have a heel about 10 mm higher than the toe, these have only 4 mm, stretching your achilles tendon a little more), but if that were the only thing, why didn't it hurt more when I'm barefoot? Why was it only hurting one? I decided not to even do speed training at all. Why risk it? What was running three miles two days before a race really going to accomplish? Instead of speed training, I just took the long way when I rode my bike home.
On the way home, I ran into a bee or wasp or something, stinger-first. I was riding along at speed and felt a strong prick in my thigh, looked down, and saw a stinger sticking out. I flicked it out and felt the waves of sharp pain getting stronger and spreading throughout my leg. Oh well, nothing to do but keep riding.
The shoe strategy is now to go ahead and start off in my normal trail racers, and bring my trainers along as backup (you're allowed to leave a bag of goodies at select aid stations). If my joints start complaining for more than a mile at a time, make the switch. If not, keep at it!
I'm still nervous going into this race. The closest distance I've ever run is a 50k (31 miles), completed only a few weeks ago. For that, I basically just did my normal marathon strategy and ran a little farther. This is a LOT farther. I fully expect to walk at least a little bit, but I don't know when, or anything else about how to pace. Or what or how much to eat. Or even what to wear! This will be the first footrace I ever do that goes past noon! It looks like the weather will be near-perfect though, so I think I'm going to go ahead and wear my normal attire. Apparently a lot of ultrarunners go shirtless, so I'll pin my number to my shorts for once in case I want to ditch the shirt.
Still don't know what to expect. High hopes though.