It appears that I may again have a stress fracture in my right tibia.  Back in November after a long training run that involved pavement I felt familiar pain in the leg.  It was very minor but with each week it became a little more painful.   Things improved and I decided to go ahead and run Across the Years 72-hour run, but the leg bothered me much of the time and kept me worried.  I had other issues and was disappointed that I “only” ran 163 miles, for 15th place out of about 70 runners.   I recovered well, but the leg is still a bother, similar pain to what was felt in 2012 after Across the Years that year.  But it is less severe this time, not deep bone pain, but surface pain that just won’t get better and seems to inflame the surrounding tissue and muscles.  So, time to go back to the ortho specialist.  On the bright side I can walk, usually without any pain, so I’m hopeful that I can at least hike steep hills.  But if I try running, now the pain comes fast, not quite limping pain, but get close.  So it is time to do other things again and take a break from running.  At my age it is now a delicate balance between tough training and remaining injury-free.

Across the Years this year was great fun.  Along with the 24, 48 and 72-hour runs, they introduced a 6-day race that attracted some the best in the worlds including Yiannis Kouros, arguably the best track ultrarunner in the world.  I set up of my personal aid station next to his and watch him run for three days.  He was very focused, not very friendly and really yelled at his crew often.  His crew was amazing and was always there to help him.   Yiannis ended up running 550 miles, but five fewer than Joe Fejes.

My race started out very poorly as I discovered that I lost my wallet with about one hour to start time.  I spent the next 40 minutes driving back to the motel to search and other places but didn’t find it.  I was full of stress and worry, not fully prepared but started running and calmed down.

I reached about 96 miles on the first day which was a big disappointment because I typically have been able to reach about 115.  My brother Bob ran the 24-hour on the second day.  I really struggled on Day 2 and had to take long rests.  During the night I did have very strong periods and had fun running fast with Bob for several laps.  I would catch up to him, push the pace a little more and chuckle as he struggled to keep up but did pretty well.  During that time we were the fastest runners on the track. At the end of the lap I would stop at the aid station and he would continue on to get ahead but I would catch up again and we just kept doing that.   I climbed the standings well during that time but ended out Day 2 with only about 136 miles.   My leg was swelling at little and my lungs were sore from the dust.  During the night I had struggle with the cold because when I would run fast, I would get all sweaty and when I slowed down the chills would come.   I just didn’t have enough jackets to rotate into dry clothes.

On Day 3 I sat out the entire warm day.   I just couldn’t face three days of heat.  As evening approached, I got a call that my wallet was found and I drove to retrieve it.  When I returned I started running again.  But my leg and lungs could only take about ten miles at a time.  Once I started to limp, I decided to stop and head to a motel for the night.   I was at about 154 miles.  At the motel I felt thrashed and sick.  At 2 a.m. I woke and considered going to run again but when I tested out my legs I said no.   At 5 a.m. I again woke and this time felt much better.  By 6 a.m. I was again running and running pretty fast.   But when I reached 163 miles, I was again limping.   I still had an hour to go, but I decided to quit.  I finished in 15th place, not bad, but I knew that was far lower than I should have run.  But, I still had a great time with good friends.   I love spending my holiday break at Across the Years.  This was my 59th 100-mile finish with another buckle to my collection.