Sunday, May 14, 2017

Ice Age Trail 50 (50K) - DNF

Ice Age Trail 50 (50K) - May 13, 2017
DNF'd at 19.9 miles

this was not my first rodeo... i had a solid plan for this race.  based on the last time i ran it, and the data that race provided i decided to run the first out and back slower.  my research showed that i needed to run a steady 10:37 min/mile pace the whole race to meet my goal of a 5:30 time.  that is totally doable and the strategy was to run faster than goal pace for flats and downhills to make up for the walking i would be doing.

sounds easy peasy lemon squeezy... right?

yeah... not so much.

within the first 1.5 miles of the race my left foot and calf began to cramp up.  this has happened before on training runs and i believe it's all connected to the menagerie of issues that have plagued the left side for years now.  i have no idea how to remedy what ails my body as the issues are always different but seem to also always crop up on that side of my body.  *sigh*

anyway... i ended up walking for a bit just over 1.5 miles in which allowed the cramp to subside and me to begin running again.  after that... it was smooth sailing.  

the issue i've been having with my butt caused me not to run at all the week leading up to this race.  after my last long run two saturday's ago followed by beartrax... i was in a great deal of pain.  i cut several runs short the week before last due to the pain so i figured it was better to let that pain subside prior to iceage than to force the short training runs (4mi, 3mi, and then 2mi)  i had planned leading up to the race.  maybe that was the wrong decision?  i dunno. the pain in my butt seems to be coming from maybe tight abductor muscles?  i am really at a loss... the pain is on the inside of my butt near the crack but sort of underneath. from this diagram it seems that's where the adductor muscles connect under the glute.  

whatever, back to the race.  so once the premature cramping subsided and i fell into my groove i was running really strongly and having a great deal of fun.  this is my favorite part of the course.  the out and back... i love the iceage trail and in particular this section of it.  it is a lot of fun to run.  i got stuck in a couple of conga lines since i fell behind a slew of people when i walked so early in the race but that was ok as i kept telling myself i was trying to pace this portion and go slow.

unfortunately, there were even a couple of times where i actually WALKED on a down hill because i couldn't get around the more careful people in front of me.  i don't know if you know this about me, but I LOVE BOMBING DOWNHILLS!  love it!  seriously that is so much fun to me.  the pure abandonment of all safety concerns.  i don't care about falling... i love the feeling of running so fast and free.  tiptoeing with the swiftness of a lithe and dainty hippo through and around rocks, branches, roots, and other obstacles.  it is so much fun.  i like that i can still do that fearlessly.  

my alter-ego: smirk savage of the rushin' rollettes...
not sure what season... maybe 2007?
i attribute my trail confidence to having played roller derby for so many years with women so much larger than myself.  i've gotten hit so hard in a bout once that i flew clear off the track and under the dj booth.  i fell so much in derby that it no longer phases me.

roller derby taught me how to be fearless and own my space in the world.  

so when i run downhill with complete abandon and fearlessness... this is why.

as i was saying, the out and back went smoothly and i finished that portion feeling really solid.  my hip flexors started talking to me near mile 10 but the conversation was so benign that i ignored it.  everything else felt surprisingly good that i just thought the hips were conversational given the pace of my race so far.  by the time i came through the start/finish to begin the first loop i was still feeling good but my hips were beginning to be painful.  i thought i could push through.  my easy flat pace on the 1.5mi section of ski trail back to the start/finish was pushing a 9min mile so i believed that the loops were going to be a breeze... 

i was wrong.

i stopped at the start/finish to use the bathroom and to take off my shoe a second time.  i had stopped a few miles before on the out and back because it felt like there was something in my shoe... possibly a little stone or my sock was folded or something.  the underside of my foot felt like i was stepping on something painful and i thought that before it got worse i should remedy it.  when i took my shoe off the first time i found nothing and carried on.  this time i took both the shoe and sock off because i thought maybe a small stone had gotten in my sock and under my foot.  again i found nothing but the fold in the middle of my foot just below the ball was hurting and felt like it was not flattening out or something.  i put my shoe and sock back on and took off on the first loop feeling good.

my hips were still chatting away to each other and me but again... it wasn't painful enough for me to pay them any mind.

a couple of miles into the loop tho' and i knew there was something very wrong.  both of my hips were becoming more and more painful with each stride.  not just the front flexors now but the outsides of both hips too.  i decided to walk it off.

as soon as i tried to start running again my hips were screaming at me bloody murder.  there was a fire and i was not doing anything to put it out... or so my body was telling me.  i pushed on.

the flats were good and i was keeping a 9ish min/mile pace, but that all changed on the downs.  i had to slow my roll considerably to go downhill without making the pain sharper.  which was compounded by the immediate ups (these ski trails are rollers and i loathe rollers)... walking up and then immediately having to go back down was murdering me.  when i would finally hit the flat it was becoming more and more impossible to pick my legs up to run.  once i got running the pain was bearable... for awhile.

by mile 14 i knew in my heart it was over.  i called my husband and immediately burst into tears.  i asked him to come early as i knew i was going to drop after this loop.  he was supposed to meet me for the finish and i was asking him to come a clear 2.5 hours earlier than expected.  i got off the phone with him and pushed on.  a few minutes of running and i thought i could do it so i called him back and told him maybe he should wait.  then i started crying again.  he asked what he should do and through my tears, i told him i didn't know.  he said he was coming and i knew i was done.

i wasn't crying just because of the pain... i was crying because i was so disappointed in myself and my body.  i was crying because i missed every goal i set for this race.  i was crying because i simply couldn't do it.  i spent the next 4 miles in agony run/walking/crying (more walking and crying than running) just counting the miles down trying to get back to the start.

the final miles
there is a place on the course at mile 19 where the course goes right for another 2ish miles loop, but the start is left about a mile away... i cut the course and went under the barrier to get back to the start as fast as i could.  the idea of run/walking that extra 2 miles, if i didn't have to, was more than i could bear.  it was the decision that ended my race.

in hindsight (cuz, of course, i am in a different mental state today) i wish i would have toughed it out for the whole loop so that i would have had the option of taking a moment to breathe, reassess, and still be able to continue on the last loop if i was able.

that last mile walk to the finish was very demoralizing.  when i cut the course it put me just in front of the group i was running with before it all went to shit.  as each one ran past me they all said some semblance of "good job" or "great effort" which just made me feel so much worse.  as i cry/walked back to the start i felt so defeated.  rounding the final corner to the finish i saw my husband and son right away and immediately started making a crying beeline to them.  my friend laura came out of nowhere... she intercepted and hugged me on the course.  then i got to my husband and bawled into his chest.  i felt so angry, disappointed, and defeated.  i was probably a little embarrassed too at my performance (or lack-there-of).  i'm still trying to sort out my emotional response to the DNF.  my friend dave came over too for a hug and some reassurance.  he asked if i wanted to just sit for a minute before continuing on... i never even thought about that being an option until he said that.  hence the 20/20 hindsight about when i cut the course.  my other friend denny came and hugged me too.  i saw several other friends after that and all the support was so necessary and so welcomed.  i am very fortunate to have a great group of people who are willing to lift me back up when i fall down.

i don't know what this means for utah.  i emailed the race director to inquire about dropping to the 1/2 if they will allow it.  i do not want a repeat of yesterday.  utah is going to be much more challenging with the factoring in of above sea-level issues, the heat, and the fact that it's a mountain and i'm basically a flat-land runner.  i feel so heavy hearted about the whole thing.