This race, which I was SO excited for, was not what I had hoped it would be.
I have chosen to ignore the slightly nagging isuses I have felt in my feet. Don't know when it started, but its predominantly in my big toe knuckles of both feet, extending up the bone..sometimes I can feel it top AND bottom of the 'knuckle' but anyways...
Spent the night with Trail Pixie so we could get up and go early. Hubby and the kids were going to meet me there later in the morning. We got there early and had plenty of time to chit-chat, and get excited! I was. I have been really looking forward to this race. We headed off a little late into the chilly morning. It was gorgeous out...everything was frosty, and once the sun came up a bit more it was absolutely sparkly! I was jealous of all the people who brought their cameras to catch these great pics.
The trails were, well, REAL trails- hard to see, single track and switch-backs. I was thinking to myself that the last lap was going to be a b*tch as it would be getting dark and it would be a challenge for me to find and stay on the trails, lol. The aid stations were great, and the 7m aid station had a Bluegrass band! It was awesome, and made me think of hubby who would be at the loop start/finish waiting for me. I was feeling great, really great. I was going faster than I expected to, and just 'ran' with it. I never plan times per se, I just run how I feel and I was feeling the pace I was at so I figured I would just go with it until I needed to slow down. Slowing down came in an unexpected way...
By about mile 10-ish, I started to really notice my feet. They hurt. Now, running ultras hurts. It is par for the course. You can't run that distance without pain. It is up to you the runner to decide which pain is *normal* and which is something to pay attention to. This pain was not something I was used to feeling.
Went through the first lap in 2:19 which was great time for me. I said hello to the family and got going quick as it was COLD and the longer I stopped the more chilled I would get. Let hubby know what I would need for the next lap and I was off. By the first aid station(mile 3 of the lap) I knew I was in trouble, but I was still in the 'maybe I can ignore it phase'...yeah, no. I was reduced to a hobble probably somewhere between mile 3 and 7. The pain in my feet was about an 8 out of 10, 10 being childbirth. I could NOT believe it. Every root, rock, stumble...sent shooting pain through my feet. I was having the mental battle at this point- what should I do...could I walk and shuffle and still finish? Should I just drop down to the marathon, so I could still have an official finish instead of a DNF which was a possibility if I tried to continue on and didn't start my last lap by 3:30...
During what would be my last 6 miles, I got to see all my running friends. Honestly, it was awesome. I saw Trail Pixie running strong, Michelle and KZ who looked GREAT and I am sure they finished strong despite their own challenges coming into this race, and Dan, doing his first 50 who looked fantastic...I felt SO proud of them all and I can't wait to hear their reports!!! :)
Honestly though...as soon as I started thinking I was going to stop, the race was over for me. I was defeated, spent most of the last 6m crying like a girl. I was disappointed, angry, hurting, worried that my family would be disappointed...and I just wanted to be done and get off my feet. I had a couple moments as I approached the end where I thought maybe I could go on, but if I got worse, I had a LONG way to get back. So, as I came through the shoot, I told the officials I was dropping to the marathon. They sent me out for the last 1.2 miles, and Jeffrey came out to run the last 1/2-3/4 mile with me. He said to me, "Mommy, why do you keep doing these races when you do so bad?" Well, that's kids for you :)
I finished in 5:35. Amazing, considering what I was dealing with. Could I have done another 25 miles in 6.5 hours? I don't know. It wouldn't have been pretty and probably would have had me doing more damage than good. I changed, had some green smoothie, chit-chatted a bit and left for home. It was what it was.
By the time I got home, I was in so much pain I was really afraid I had done some real damage. I called my Dr. and she said to go to the ER. Off we went. They took xrays, etc. Try explaining to 4 different people at a hospital HOW exactly I came to be in this state. I felt like they were trying to decide if it was xrays or a psych consult that I needed. In the end, there were no stress fractures(which is what we were thinking) or any other injuries that she could see. She didn't know what to tell me, so she said rest and ice and motrin. Duh... ;)
Interestingly, despite going to bed with my feet THROBBING, I woke up this morning with NO PAIN. Well, the usual stiffness/soreness that is to be expected, but my feet are fine, just a barely detectable soreness. Uh....what the heck is up with that? I'm not even going to dwell on it. Plain and simple, yesterday was not my day. I run because I love it. I run with joy. When it isn't fun anymore, I stop. By mile 26 it wasn't fun so I stopped. It is what it is. Sigh.
Every ultra is a learning experience. I learn on physical, emotional and running levels. Something was off yesterday, and as a result I had some issues.
Physically- I need new shoes. The Dr. said something about wearing stiff shoes while my feet were healing, and something clicked. I have been wearing my Addidas trail shoes for a while. Not the trail shoe of choice for, um, anyone. I happen to like them bc they are flexible and sort of chushion-y. I am thinking that maybe that isn't so great. I need a stiffer shoe, and I can always put a gel insert in.
Emotionally-I do really believe in my running philosophy. Run while its fun, and stop when its not. I did just that. Though today I am feeling emotional about it, I *did* finish a trail marathon, which is still quite a feat. It is something to be proud of. I know I can finish 50 miles, as I have. And I will again. :)
Running-Mental 'space' is so important in these kinds of races. You can feel physically fine and your brain can do you in. Your brain can also convince you to do something you physically shouldn't. I like to think I had a balance yesterday of my mind and body deciding together that stopping was best.
So, now I am going to rest. Scarf down some major green smoothies, and some killer salad today...maybe go out and hang with the chickens and plan some bulbs. No running for me until at least the end of the week if I can force myself to wait that long. I really want to be able to do JFK. And finish. So rest is in order, and I will play it by feel.
Congratulations to EVERYONE who got out and ran the Stone Cat 50...the fact that you walked up to the starting line to run is an amazing feat in and of itself. Be proud :)