So I probably pissed off some unicorn—or more likely, the PodiaGoddess by trash talking about my ultra-long water ski feet—because I will not be starting the Superior 50K Ultra Marathon on May 21.
My right foot, the one that has had a neuroma removed (late 90's) and a failed bunion surgery (2003) and a broken-but-not-straightened-again fourth toe (2004) and a plantar plate tear (2015), is being a total bully.
Backstory: During the bulk of my training, I did three, 40+ mile weeks (three!) feeling ridiculously strong and good. On my last run with Katie, I felt a just a bit of soreness in the middle to outside of my foot. Nothing major, but enough for me to take notice and turn up the foam rolling self-care while adding in icing and Adviling. I took a week easy, went to see the PT, and all was relatively good.
Coach MK and I moved around my schedule accordingly. We settled on my last long run for April 25: Ideally, I'd go 4 hours, 30 minutes. I was going to do a 25K in Colorado Springs, keep going after the finish to complete the time, then we'd head into a gradual taper.
Because the race started at 8:30—and because the Colorado sun was actually shining—I arrived at the race early to get some solo trail time (scarce when you have a blizzard every other weekend) and to focus on how my foot felt. I ran for an hour, and felt my sore spot slightly on the uphills, but nothing dramatic at all. Good to go.
The race started, and within .5 mile, I stepped on a rock—likely no bigger than a Hershey's Kiss—so perfectly that it was like a dagger driving straight into my very sensitive spot. I swear, my teeth vibrated with pain. I was sure I had broken my foot.
No, I just had unintentional amazing aim into the sorest part of my body's Achilles heel.
I took some deep breaths, let a flock of people pass me, and eventually, over the next few minutes, it quieted down enough for me to think I was going to live.
Until about mile 5, when I swear, that PodiaGoddess moved the exact same (non-noticeable) rock 4.5 miles so I would step on it exactly the same way again. If I didn't break it before, I definitely shattered it this time. I pulled over to the side of the trail to sit down—the first time I've ever done that in a race— took off my shoe (also, a first), and rubbed it (yep, never done that before).
Losing hydration through my tears, I slowly put on my shoe, started walking, and wondered how I would get back to my car. The 25K was two different loops that met at the start/finish line. After a little while, I got it together enough to shufflerun, and I started calculating how long I had run and how much longer I had to go to get to 4:30.
Rationally, I knew I shouldn't keep going, but let's be honest: running and rational aren't exactly great bedfellows. I'd never pulled out of a race before. I am strong, I am badass, I don't drop out of races. #Stupidrunnersbrain
Then I reminded myself that I wasn't even racing. I was training. And if I kept going I would, in fact, be throwing away my chances at the race I actually wanted to race: Superior 50K. I stopped again, pulled over and texted Coach MK for accountability. If I told her I was dropping out, I would drop out.
So when everybody turned right to start the second loop, I went straight. "My foot really hurts," I mumbled to the one volunteer who tried to herd me in the right direction, "Training for another race, and I don't want to compromise it."
l drove home, dove my foot into a pail of ice and was as hopeful as I could be. But after two PT appointments and crazy ice pail baths twice a day and no running and pain that is still very loud at times, I admit I cannot take on 31 miles and 4,000 feet of climbing in Superior in about two weeks.
Am I bummed? Completely. Do Adele songs make me cathartically cry these days? Yes. Do I think I can go to the race and cheer on my #BAMNR teammates and not come home feeling ridiculously sad? At the risk of sounding selfish, probably not.
Do I still feel like a success? Absolutely. Because heart rate-based training is all about doing things differently, and I'm overachieving in that respect. I dropped out of a race. I decided not to start the race I've dreamed about doing for over a year. And even with those two dark clouds hovering, I am doing my best to see my nuun bottle half full, not half empty.
To that end, made a short list of what I've accomplished over the past six months on heart rate training:
—I've smoothly transitioned from running three days a week, max, to five days a week, no prob.
—I finished 3 (three!) 20-ish mile runs. My longest run before the 2007 Nike Women's was 16, and my longest run before Ironman CDA was 18.
—I've done more 800's and hill repeats than I can count.
—I covered nearly 30 miles helping Katie finish Rocky Raccoon 100.
—I've built enough glute strength on the BOSU that I could sign my checks "badass mother runner" without a hint of irony. (That is, if I ever wrote checks anymore.)
—I've become a regular foam roller. (By "regular" I mean three times a week.)
—I've watched the whole Making a Murderer series and listening to 2 books on Audible while running. Never could do that before.
—Most of all, I'm fired up about running. I am DNS'ing Superior because I don't want to fall back into my old pattern of finishing a really big race, and then be so hurt or fatigued that I don't want to do another big event for three years.
I want to cross a finish line feeling my absolute best in 2016. Whether that's a 5K or a ultra, I'm not sure yet. But you'll be the first to know.
I'm hoping to be back running by the end of May; we're still trying to figure out why PodiaGoddess cast her lightning rods my way and how we're going to mellow her out.
Until then, I've got the pool, I've got a bike, I've got still got to mind my beats per minute, and I've got plenty
miles to go.
Curious minds want to know: Have you ever dropped out of a race?
What led you to that decision?