Work in Progress – Optokinetic Training…again

This is the view from the top of Mt. Sanitas looking over the lights of Boulder. I love it up there at night.

Last summer as I prepared for Run Rabbit Run 100 miler, I did a lot to habituate my brain to tolerating night running. You can read more about it here. I needed to be able to watch my bouncing headlamp for at least 9 hours overnight. The first time I tried I couldn’t even make it down the block. My training included a lot of vision exercises and slowly increasing exposure time to night running. It worked and I did well through the night. Through the winter there were plenty of morning runs in the dark, but as the days have gotten longer, my headlamp running has disappeared. Thinking about Never Summer 100k this weekend, I decided I should go out on Saturday for a night run just to give my brain a little reminder. After all my previous work I thought it wasn’t a big deal, but I was wrong. A short loop up Sanitas and 90 minutes later I made it back to the car disoriented, nauseous and wondering how I was going to manage to get through this race. Josh drove me home, and barely pausing to get out of my sweaty running clothes, I crawled into bed wanting the world to stop spinning.

The view from the top of Sanitas to the west is a little different.

Sunday morning I woke up feeling pretty hungover and thinking about what I could do in 6 days to get my brain ready. Although it is only 65 miles and not 100 miles, it is a very technical course, and I’m not fast on that kind of terrain. I’m not sure how long it will take me, but I am certain I will not be finishing before dark.  The past few nights I have returned to my optokinetic training, and to my surprise the optokinetic training video I diligently worked on last year was once again very difficult to watch. A frustrating component of brain injury recovery, sliding backwards in progress is pretty common.

Optokinetic training. Follow the bouncing red ball and try not to vomit.

I also found another new video that I think is pretty good optokinetic training with dots instead of lines.

This video has dots that look like they are spinning around you.

In the meantime I’ve been trying to get gear and drop bags organized. For whatever reason I haven’t put a lot of thought into this race, which is strange for my normally obsessive-planner personality. I’m not really motivated to “race”, and I only signed up for it because the pictures look beautiful, and I want to check out the area. I would say that I’m looking forward to checking out the TRAILS in the area, but it looks like the race is a lot of off trail, or on old-no-longer-existent-trails. The race director actually says in the course description “If you think you are on a good trail, then there is a chance that you are not actually on the correct route.” So I’m pretty sure it will be interesting!

After one thing and another I lost my pacer, and then I lost my replacement pacer. So now I’m planning to head out on the course and see what happens. Coach Cindy will be there pacing another URT member, and hopefully by the time I get to the aid station at mile 50 she will have found someone to head out with me. After my experience night running this weekend, I’m even more certain that I shouldn’t be wandering alone in the dark. I’m not too worried though, because if all else fails I will just hang out until someone else comes down the trail that will let me tag along, or one of my URT teammates comes through. Since I don’t have a time goal for this race, it doesn’t matter if I sit and drink hot chocolate and wait for a bit…after all, the Gnar Runners put together some really excellent aid stations.

Here is hoping for beautiful weather, great views above treeline, staying on course, and handling the dark!

Three days to go…


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