Long post, read at your own risk. I started writing this draft on Tuesday, so if you don't feel like getting into deatils - I had a bad day, very bad, by many means, but it all ended up somehow OK.
I go out for a morning speed workout and in the first steps notice a very bad pain in my left shin. So much for posting about injury prevention...did I jinxed myself? Nope, I knew it was coming. My compartment syndrome is back. It’s been picking up its head for the last two weeks and today roared loudly. I make it for a mile hoping to warm the leg up, but decide to turn around and call it quits. 2 miles and a cross training on Stairmaster. Do I call myself a sissy or is it a smart act? Worries set in...Plus I put on 3 lbs on top of those 3 lbs I gained last month. Darn
Spin class in the morning, leg aches mildly at rest. I plan on going for a run in afternoon. Trails...boy, I missed them, and it’s only been 2 days! They revive me, and I’ve been pretty badly stressed out lately about lots of things. Besides, been an avid addict to lots of things throughout my life means if I have an addiction, it’s all or nothing. I carefully start out, testing the leg. The pain rises, but not too bad, dull, and I am able to continue the run. I try not to push and go by least hilly trails (if Tryon park has them), though in second half I pick up the pace slightly. I still stand a chance. The whole lower leg is aching for the rest of the day though. I use The Stick to massage it.
Meet Gail in Forest park. I tell her, at least one pressure is off - Kami Semick is registered, so we know the winner. Now it’s between me and Caroline Klug. And, of course, a bunch of girls I just never saw before....the usual. I whisper my goal - to break 5 hrs. Should be possible, banned serious problems. My PR is 4:47 on road (Central park inner loop 8 times, first ultra). Hagg course has no more than 1500 feet gain total, runable (who said I like to run for that long non-stop?). I have to work on mental part of been in a race - don’t give up, fight it...”head down and run”. OK, I'll take 5:10.
We run easily for an hour. I feel pretty good, more uncomfortable than painful. Duh! Should have used The Stick all year long, that's why I bought it! Gail recommends to drop out if I have the pain coming back. I can't promise...
Day off, but my body is crazy and wakes up anyway. I go for a short swim - with my technique and speed it's the same as a day off. Go finally to see Master John. He tortures me with Graston. I missed him. It feels good. He is working finish line at Hagg. Mike W. emails me asking who my competition is. Everybody? Myself? I am nervous.
Mike Burke picks me up at 6:30 am. We joke about my Montrail outfit. By the time we arrived, I realized I left my I-Pod at home. What a start! I am so used to it since SD100, I can't focus on racing or tuning into my body without it!
I ask around if anyone has a spare, but no. Oh, well. I meet all my friends (and even more people I don’t know but who somehow call my name), and, of course, Darcy. What a sweet girl! I am preoccupied, though, with what’s to come and how to run. I am not much social before the race. Last year, when there were 3 of them in a month, I got much calmer and thought nothing of another race, but now it’s suddenly a big deal!
We start on 3M out and back on dirt road, 1.5M up, then down. I run for a couple of minutes with Kami Semick and tell her how much I admire her and how I’ll be routing for her at WS this year. She says right now she has a hip pain (she did drop after the first loop), and I send her off with the front guys. I run quite fast and at the start of a lake loop see 24 min for 3 miles. Damn fast! Tom Riley joins me, and we run together. My compartment filled up with built in pressure, but by mile 7 or so (Dam road) it works itself out. I am happy with the development and think 5 hrs...There are more hills than I care to remember but it's OK and justifies walk breaks. By mile 10 my left hamstring (old injury) locks up and I bid goodbye to Tom. By mile 11 I have an unbearable pain in both hip joints, hamstrings and buttocks. It is a very muddy course (even on a dry spell) and you get to use all those small muscles you never thought existed. Pain gets sharper. On top of it I get a fuzzy head and a blurry vision and it takes me another couple of miles to realize I am bonking, and it’s completely my fault!! Like it’s my first time, right? Everybody knows how I don’t eat enough at an ultra. I get to an aid station at mile 13, worked by Liz and Kamm, and they force a gel into me. I am not picking up on lost fuel yet, and the start/finish area makes it hard to continue. I cry out to Mike McCarthy that I want to drop. He immediately says “I know you haven’t been eating” and puts some powder into my bottle (mine, but I forgot I carried it with me). Another 6 or so miles go by. Caroline Klug, who was on my heals all time (a great girl and a very good friend of mine, a very strong runner), gets close, and I ask her to please pass so I can relax. I am crying at this point and hating myself. Between a pain and a bonk, and not been able to push through this, I feel so sorry for myself. She says no way. I run on. Finally, by mile 24, I caught up on lost glycogen and my vision improves, the legs don’t feel like lead anymore - but the pain is still there. The muddiest section is right here, last 7 miles, made worse by over a 100 pairs of feet gone by (50k and 25k runners). I struggle to stay upright. Pass on the last aid station, apologizing to ladies for not smiling and not talking (not my usual self known around), I decide to give it all I have. Just about time! I lost Caroline behind, and pass a couple of guys (who at the finish said they were almost PO to see me gliding by - boy, they had no idea I had tears). 1M to go sign - I know it’s downhill and flat. Nobody passes me on downhill, ever! I grind my teeth and try to may be at least break last year’s time. Nope, not to happen. 5:22. Over. I find Mike Burke and sob for a few minutes on his shoulder. He says he hasn’t seen people finishing so smooth and then hobbling so badly. He drags me to the car to change. I keep sobbing and hating myself. I want to quit ultras, I am not tough enough, I don’t deserve to be there, I don’t want to be on a team!!! Change of clothes, a chat with a few people, some soup - OK, I am still hobbling, but feeling better. Out of nowhere I hear my name and don’t understand why. I took 3rd place. Go figure.