In 2010, my life started down a path, Im not proud of. But, sometimes it takes the bottom to make one look up!
I've always been able to run, not very fast, but run. In 2010, I strayed away from what had always been part of me and became something that was not me. Looking back, I dont even recognize who I had become.
I gained over 35 lbs, I did workout with weights, but ignored running. In March 2018, while working under a triple wide trailer helping underpin it for our church youth facility, I tore my left meniscus. There was no doubt, I didnt want to admit it, but, the pain told me what I had to do.
So, a visit to the Center for Sports Medicine and Orthopaedics in Chattanooga,Tn, a few x-rays and MRI later, my Dr Timothy Ballard told me surgery was required. Dr Ballard, being a runner himself, knew what it meant to lose the ability to run. He was very encouraging and optimistic.
I had surgery (arthoscopic) May 11, 2018, all went well and 10 days later I was released. During the surgery, Dr Ballard removed some of the meniscus. When he released me, he said to do whatever I felt like. In other words, whatever the knee allowed, do it. While he was in the knee, he inspected it for additional wear/tear because of my running history. He found no abnormal wear for someone my age. There was a small bit of scar tissue behind the patella, but nothing of concern. He removed that scar tissue.
Now, believing you have lost the ability to run is an eye opener!!!! It motivated me to get back into shape and run again if I could!!! A COMEBACK!!!
Knowing weight would be detrimental to the knee especially running on it, I decided not to run on it until I had lost at least 25 lbs (200 lbs). So, walking it would be for a while.
I started walking short distances at first, modified my diet......note I didnt say starve myself. Its important to provide the proper nutrition even when losing weight!!!! Besides, Im trying to heal a knee!!
During this period of recovery, yes, I did try to run a bit ( shouldn't have) it hurt!!!! So, walking it was. This motivated me more, I would walk sometimes up to 15 miles at a time, the weight started coming down. It was about this time, I remembered a race that I had always wanted to do. "The Last Annual Volstate 500k" not a typo, 500k or 314 miles.
First off, the race was started by Gary Cantrell aka Lazarus Lake. For the ones not familiar with Laz as folks in the ultrarunning circle calls him, he is the mastermind behind the "Barkleys" marathon, the "race that eats its young" . That is a 100 (?) mile race in Frozen Head State Park near Wartburg, TN. For many years, there was no finishers!!!!!! Now, I believe there may have been 15 over the last 25 plus years!!!
The Last Annual Volstate 500k was created during the 80's when all the races seemed to be called "the First Annual" race. So, Laz's twisted mind called it "The Last Annual Volstate" The race starts with a ferry ride across the Mississippi River from Kentucky to Dorena Landing, Missouri. Once in Missouri, the runners disembark, walk a few yards up the road. Laz, lights a cigarette instead of a starter gun and the race begins. The runners load back on the ferry and ride back across the river for the easiest part of the race!!! Once docked back in Kentucky, the runners start to make their way along a course from Hickville, KY to Castle Rock Georgia, along the backroads thru 5 states. 314 miles, you have 240 hours or10 days to complete it.
There are 2 categories of runners, crewed where the runner has someone in a vehicle travel the course and provide whatever the runner needs. The other is the self-crewed or also called "screwed". This is where the runner has to either carry what they need, pick it up at a store or do without. The only time a screwed runner can accept anything is either by another "screwed" runner of from a "Road Angel". A road angel is a local person living along the course that offers aid in some way.
If I wasn't going to be able to run, maybe by doing the math 314mi /240 hrs equals 1.31 mph or just under 46 minute miles. Of course, rest and meals would have to be allowed for. Seems doable even if I had to walk.
Well, there was no way I would be able to do 314 miles in July 2018, when my goal coming out of surgery was to be able to run a 5k by July 29, 2018. Hmmmm, But, I had made up my mind to enter 2019 when entry opened.
I followed the website and the updates during the 2018, and waited for each checkin at 7:30 each morning and night.
Here I was planning on "running" in the 2019 race when I couldn't run a 5k. In fact, I did manage to achieve my goal of running a 5k on July 23, 2018 in a time of 33:34. A week after the 2018 Volstate was finished. Now, I'm dreaming of running 2019.
Shortly, after on August 1, 2018, by some unknown reason, I checked when entry was going to open for 2019 Volstate. Believe it or not, it had just opened up, knowing that last year it filled up within hours, I entered right then!!!!! The race was filled within hours!!!
So, I'm entered in 2019 Last Annual Volstate, one of the 100 screwed runners and 22 crewed runners. I'm sure the list will change before the ferry runs, because some folks will have conflicts in schedule, injuries etc.
Now I've went and done it!!!!! Here I can barely run 5 miles by now and I'm committed to 314 mile race!!!!! Put up or shut up Boy!!!! lol
All along, I had a plan on where I wanted to be during parts of the year rehabbing my knee. Volstate is just the huge carrot out there. Big enough to choke a large elephant!!!
I wanted to be able to run a half marathon by October 31, a marathon by December 15, 2018.
I entered a 17.5 mile trail race called Big Southfork September 29. I ran it, went too fast, not used to pacing myself (rusty). But did manage to run it in 4:07:35 and took 3rd place in my age group. A surprise!
On October 20, I ran a 5k in Clinton, TN in 27:06 and placed 1st in my age group.
I had entered the Chickamauga Battlefield Marathon held on November 10, 2018. I travelled to Utah to visit my son and his family over Halloween. I was on the taper part of the training for the upcoming marathon which I had planned on a few miles in the gorgeous state of Utah!!! When I got there, My right knee ( not the one I had surgery on) would not allow me to run anything until I warmed it up by walking 2 miles!!!!! Here I am within 2 weeks of a marathon and cant run!!!!
We got back home to Tennessee, a few days before the marathon. I was able to jog slowly with no pain a few miles leading up to the race. Raceday came and the weather had been rainy, so the staging area of the race was very muddy, the temperatures dropped to the 30's with gusty winds. the forecast was for sun, cold and wind.
I started out conservatively, and everything seemed to be working right!!!! I did experience the wall about mile 21, had a few leg cramps around mile 23 but, managed to finish the marathon in 4:50:35. My goal was to break my time at Chickamauga the only other time I had ran it as a training run back in 1982 (5:10:00) That I did!
This brought me into the holidays and winter, both hinders a runner's training. However, I managed to keep focused, maintained my weight and pace. I ran a half marathon in Strawberry Plains on February 2, 2019 and finished with a time of 2:03:53 and placed 3rd in my age group.
After this run, I suffered a slight tear in the plantar fascia. It's the tendon that runs under the bottom of your foot, heel to toes. I ran twice during two weeks to allow healing and implemented some extra stretching to aid in healing.
I am now on track again, my training is progressing on schedule to run the Covenant Health Knoxville Marathon on March 31, 2019.
My goal there, is to finish in sub 4:30:00.
All these goals get me to April, where I want to be in the best running shape I can be. By training for the Knoxville marathon, this should do this, if I remain healthy!!!!
April, after some recovery from the marathon, I will begin training for 2019 Last Annual Volstate. I plan on doing most of my training during the heat of the day, using all the equipment I plan on using at Volstate. I will also, incorporate long walks/run which I plan on several to exceed 30 miles. I also want to run/walk twice on some days, one in the heat the other at night. This will simulate conditions during the race!!!! long distances in heat while fatigued.
Is there anyway to prepare for a 314 mile race through Tennessee in July????
All I can do is keep on my schedule, keep positive, don't quit!!!!
As my Dad always told me when we worked in the fields when I would say I was tired!!! "Give Out--Don't Give Up!!"
I will keep updates on my journey along the way!!!