Sunday, March 6, 2011

30th Birthday Challenge Report

I took a round about course to arrive at this year’s challenge. Back in the fall while training for my portion of the Steve Edwards 50th Birthday Group Challenge, I had big plans to crush the #3 COC gripper for my 30th. This idea crashed and burned just weeks after closing the #2 when something significant popped in my left palm. It took weeks until I could open and close the hand without significant pain, and its still nowhere near 100%. So no gripper challenge. Then I concocted a challenge that had nothing to do with my body - a challenge for the mind. I quickly discovered that playing the guitar aggravated the gripper injury in my left hand so that portion was dropped after only a few weeks. The remaining hour/day of reading seemed manageable initially, but right around a month into things the 5.5 courses I’ve been taking this quarter started to overwhelm my challenge efforts. Around the same time, I started to make significant gains crogging down at Amazon trail. I’m a sucker for physical challenges, and a new idea was rising to the surface - could I cover 30km of trail on crutches in a single push?

It seemed possible, but given that I’d never covered that much ground with 2 healthy legs, I knew there would be significant suffering involved in an attempt. Perfect.

With only a month until the big day, and a current maximum effort of 1-2 miles. I wasn’t going to have enough time to properly train for this sort of distance. Over the next 3 weeks I hit the trail every other day or so and increased load progressively in this sort of fashion: 1 mile, 2 mile , 1 mile, 3 mile, 1 mile, 4 mile, etc. alternating loading days with recovery days. Knowing that crogging is not natural at all (especially since the fixator makes one of my legs almost 2 inches longer than the other), I continued to devote much effort to prehab/stabilizer training as well. The weekend before the challenge I managed a personal best of 7 miles of coastal trail in about 3 hours.

So the Gameplan for 30km (18.5 miles):

I found a segment of the Umpqua River Trail that would satisfy my requirements. I didn’t want to loop or double back at all, because its far harder to motivate on trail you’ve already covered. The segment had two parts: Tioga (16 miles) and (Mott 5 miles). Other than the trailhead dividing the two there were no other access points. 21 miles would be a bit more than 30km, but it was close enough and I sure as shit didn’t wanna underestimate.

No one was interested in coming along, but Matt and Allison offered pickup service. The plan was to have them meet me at the end of the Mott section around dusk when, based on my calculations, I’d be finishing the 21 miles. We all assumed the trails proximity to the highway would mean plenty of cell service, so we could coordinate specifics upon their arrival. I discovered upon arrival that this was not the case. No service - a potential problem. Matt and Allison knew I had no plans of backing down, so I figured worse case scenario, they’d be hanging out in the dark for a few hours.

With no one accompanying me on the trail, I decided to do some video journaling in lieu of photos etc. The result is below.

30th Birthday Challenge from Micah Elconin on Vimeo.

10 comments:

Robbie said...

We are sitting here (I'm crying and Dad chuckling and shaking his head) having just finished watching the birthday challenge. Great guts, perseverance and determination. Sense? Well, that is subjective, according to Dad. You wanted to do it and you did it, once again proving many things about how to handle adversity. You are amazing!! We are so very proud of you and hope your body has recovered and your spirits are lifted!
You will never forget this birthday-that's for sure!
We love you!

Travis said...

F'in rad and inspiring. Thanks for sharing!

bob banks said...

Rad.
The best part is that no one wanted to accompany you, the true testing of how miserable something will be. Pure genius.

Steve Edwards said...

Fuckin a. That looked truly miserable. The birthday challenge is back! Super inspiring!

Micah said...

Miserable it was. If there was a "give up" option in the middle I promise I would have taken it.

A total slave march for the last 6-7 miles. I must have averaged 1 mile/hr. Try moving that slow. Its not easy.

Reed said...

Fantastic effort Micah. I am so inspired. I think of how much effort and bravado it took for you and I feel like some sort of slacker for not making my challenges harder. Also, by the way, I think that ride in the back of a station wagon looked much better than the previous one I read about.

I salute you.

~R

Josh said...

Hmmm. Quite possibly the grimmest raddest BC yet.

You shoulda called, I would totally have handled support.

Hell, we coulda hauled along a fifth or 2 of bourbon. You know, in case we had to bivy.

-Josh

Aaron said...

Damn Micah, I have a lot of respect for your ability to persevere. Sleeping in the mud probably sounded pretty good for a while there. My hope is that you get yourself healed up so you don't have to do 31 k of crogging next year! Though that would be truly rad!

Micah said...

Thanks dudes!

Your past performances are what helped motivate movement forward at the end.... that and the beer waiting for me in the car.

31 will NOT be a crogging challenge. Although, I'm not ruling out whiskey...

Bob, what's on top for 40? Perhaps the Hawk challenge?

Spenser said...

Atta boy Micah! Even when injured, your birthday challenge is epic and painful. A worthy, nay, benchmark BC.