2015 Kneeknacker

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2015 Kneeknacker

Postby Kiwi Keith » Sat Jul 25, 2015 6:09 pm

Kneeknacker 22nd Edition

Standing alone next to a tree near the start line with 15 minutes to go until the start of the Kneeknacker, I was feeling a little sick. Not sick in the normal sense, but sick with anxiety. I had just done a little jog for a couple of minutes to test the knee and it didn’t feel good at all. Even while walking there was a slight pain and I had a terrible feeling that I was not going to get very far up the mountain.
When the race started I let everybody get ahead of me and started walking. Soon I raised it to a jog and found after a bit that things were ok. There is a fairly steep hill only minutes into the race before we head into the trail and go to single file. All the people were walking up this hill, so I decided to run it and managed to pass probably 100 people. Once on the trail, I settled into my place as we ran single file up the Nelson Creek Canyon.
My plan going in was to run the uphills, powerhike the steep hills I couldn’t run and walk the downhills. I needed to be aware of the cutoff times and make sure I was going to be under them. I remember looking at my watch at 15 minutes and thinking this was the longest I had run for in the past 7 weeks. I tried not to think about what was coming up and stayed in the moment.
Another 15 minutes went by and the knee felt ok. Perhaps the pain before the start was just a result of no circulation. Now as I run, the blood was flowing and there was no pain. Soon we hit the extreme slopes of Black Mountain and we were powerhiking and climbing our way toward the top. There was certainly no shortage of people around me and it seemed like a death march as we climbed slowly to the top in silence.
Once at the top, I gingerly began to jog some of the easy downhills to test the knee and found to my amazement that the knee was fine other than some twinges. Any downhill sections that required jumping down, I navigated by landing with my right leg to take all the force, trying to save my left knee as much as possible.
Soon I was on the extremely steep downhill section to Cypress Bowl so I stopped running and walked pretty much all of it only raising to a jog on the easy sections. I came into the checkpoint at Cypress in 2:01, about 30 minutes slower than usual and an hour under the cutoff. Here I stopped for a few minutes eating and drinking and thinking that with an hour in hand I could walk most of the second half if I had to and still finish under the 10 hour cutoff.
The next section was undulating and still the knee was ok, so I ran where I could, knowing that a very long downhill section was coming up that ended at Cleveland Dam and the halfway mark. Once I entered that section I knew that it would probably be the make or break for my knee because of how long the downhill was. I continued to jog really easily on the downhill sections that were manageable and jumping down the big drops with my right leg. When I got to British Properties, my right quad was really sore and all my leg muscles were becoming exhausted with the incessant downhill.
Finally the trail flattened out and soon I was crossing Cleveland Dam and coming into the 2nd checkpoint at the halfway mark in 3:40. Here I stopped again to eat and drink and I was now very confident that I would finish and well under the cutoff. I estimated that 8 hours was possible as long as the knee continued to hold up.
The next section was 15 minutes of steep uphill on Nancy Greene Way, the longest paved section of the race. I decided to try and run the whole way, like in the old days and found company with another fellow. We kept pace all the way up and I thanked him at the top as we entered the trail again at the beginning of the Grouse Grind. Here I took a walking break up the steeper section of trails and it was a good chance to eat some more. I was amazed that I had been able to get this far without my legs giving out. Only a few bike rides and a tiny bit of running in the past 7 weeks were surely going to catch up to me soon.
As I picked my way over the extremely rocky and rooty trail, I figured this section would be about 2 hours and I was looking forward to the more civilized trails in the Seymour Valley. It started to rain which was kind of nice but I realized after awhile that the Vaseline was wearing off and chafing was now the new issue.
Finally I negotiated the steep steps down to Mountain Hwy and then on to the Varley Trail beside the Seymour River. Over the bridge and up the hill I ran to the 3rd checkpoint where I got some Vaseline and ate and drank some more. The next section is a gentle downhill along the Lynn Canyon, then up some steep steps to Lilloette Rd. The knee was still hanging in there, but I was starting to feel exhausted.
I crossed over the bridge at Riverside and wanted to take advantage of the new smooth trail after that but all I could do was walk and I ate a couple of energy bars. I was hitting the wall at 24 miles. It was ok, I told myself. Even if I had to walk in from here, I will be well under the cutoff. After about 10 minutes of walking and eating I tried running again and was able to jog along on the flat and downhill portions, but as soon as the trail rose even slightly I had to walk again.
I came into Hyannis Drive aid station and took full advantage of what they had to offer. I got a sponge rubdown on my legs and ate some more of the goodies they had on the table. From here it was about 1 mile to the beginning of the Seymour Grind, so I ran it the best I could. The Grind was actually a welcome sight as I settled into powerhiking mode. Even though it was hard, at least I wasn’t running or going downhill. Once I got to the top I calculated that I would be close to 8 hours. With 2 hours in reserve I could limp into the finish if I had to. With this revelation I felt relief and amazement at what I was able to achieve with virtually no training in the last 7 weeks.
Now as I jogged down the Bridle Trail I began to believe I could get through this thing without my knee breaking down. This last section is mostly downhill but with some steep ups thrown in after the nine bridge crossings. The new trail that skirts Indian River Rd. was really nice and soon I could hear the finish line way down the side of the mountain about 3 kms away. With each bridge crossing I was getting closer and knew it would be very near 8 hours. In the last steep downhill to the road I allowed my left leg to take some of the pounding and everything held up.
The road into Panorama Park and the finish line is always a welcome sight and I smiled inwardly, not really believing what I just pulled off. A little sprint to the line and I watched the clock tick over 8 hours. The official time: 8:00:03, about 2 hours slower than normal but 8 hours better than nothing. I had finished my 22nd Kneeknacker, which is the 4th best record in the history of the race.
The remainder of the day was spent in the beer garden and at the award ceremony, which for the first time was held in the park. All I could hope for now was a full recovery. I knew I had set myself back a few weeks despite not experiencing a lot of pain during the race. My muscles were trashed, especially my right quad which took all the pounding on the steep downhill jumps. Hopefully the knee will continue to improve after the initial inflammation from the race subsides.

Post Script: Two weeks after the race and my knee improved for the first 10 days but has now hit a plateau. It’s still sore at times but there is no swelling. I am going to start cycling again next week and hopefully that will improve the circulation and build strength in the quads. My right quad has developed a numbing sensation on the skin, so not sure what that is, but is probably related to the extreme pounding it took during the race. However it appears that all muscles have recovered with no lingering soreness.
"Aint nothin gonna breaka my stride, I'm running and I won't touch ground, oh no I've got to keep on movin."
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Kiwi Keith
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Re: 2015 Kneeknacker

Postby WayneC » Sun Jul 26, 2015 8:42 pm

Great report Kiwi. Having been at the course a few years back with BC I can paint a picture of how your "race" progressed. I love how even with a goal revised for current circumstances that you remained competitive and pushed through as hard as you dared. Quite an accomplishment and you should feel proud of completing it. I hope that the healing continues, in the meantime it is good to hear that you are doing other things during your down time.
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