Tuesday, June 12, 2012
As was said on Sunday by a fellow runner: "Well everyone has to have 1 DNF, you just got yours out of the way!" I hope this is true because I never want to experience that walk of shame again. Everything was going great. The trail was sufficiently tough but I was getting through it. Even the extra loop the 50K'ers had to do was an enjoyable slog. I was running up the hills, slowly, and cruising the descents. I felt my ITB start to flare up a bit around mile 12 or so. I ignored it. In the past I've experienced this before and sometimes it does go away as with most aches and pains that come with distance running. For example, the beginning of the race the lateral of my right foot was talking a bit. This is something I've had come and go since spraining my ankle over a year ago. But it warmed up and a couple miles later I didn't feel a thing. This was not the case for the ITB. It spoke and then it yelled. And then I talked myself into pushing just till the aid. Got there, filled my water and as soon as I walked on my knee did the buckle it does when there is the stabbing pain of the ITB. A new friend, Joe, I had been playing leap frog with noticed this immediately and asked if I was OK... "um.. the ITB is talking". He used it as an excuse to walk for a bit. He took off and I followed suit lagging behind. It was a climb and typically the ITB doesn't scream when climbing.. It had gone into a light manageable whisper. I climbed for maybe mile and then the 6 mile descent began. As soon as I tipped forward the knee had that ice pick jabbing sensation on the side and I yelled a 4 letter word through the trees. I kept going hoping it would go away but it didn't subside. I stepped on a root sticking out of the ground and rolled my left ankle (thankfully trail running has acclimated my ankles to such stress) and there went another 4 letter word down the mountainside... By this time my state was succumbing to the pain and I started questioning whether or not I wanted to hobble the next 6 miles to the next aid station or walk back 2 miles from the aid from where I just came.
I stopped and took out my phone, turned it on and not surprisingly there was no signal. I started thinking about Kevin waiting for me and my sub-5 attempt. At that point a sub-5 was already not manageable but had my ITB been OK perhaps sub-5:30 would have been do-able. I started playing a risk vs. reward scenario in my head. I have another 50K planned this Saturday, that I never intended on "racing" and the following Saturday is the much anticipated safety patrol for Western States. Safety patrol is priority for me at this point.
I walked a bit more down the hill but it was screaming and so I made the decision to turn around and start walking back the 2 mile walk of shame to aid. I've been playing a game in my head ever since. If I would have just walked it out for 10 minutes, would it have enabled me to keep pushing with a walk/jog to the finish. The answer is, of course, yes I could have done that. It would have been painful but I would have finished what I started. I guess I find solace in that being that its Tuesday and I'm still walking funny and have symptoms of ITBS, perhaps DNF'ing stopped me from doing further damage. I see the Healer, Dr. Chu, today to get the deep tissue work over I need and hopefully a motivating pep talk on how to proceed. If I must, I'll drop the 50K to a 25K this weekend and make it a slow enjoyable run.
The good in all of this is that the next time I blast a 50K it will be all that more fulfilling.