Monday, October 17, 2011

Not quite yet, Washington.

Looks like I will be coming back to Washington.

The day started auspiciousl. It was cold and damp. For running, I lerves me some cold and damp. The trails were absoutely the best I have run on. You know how you see those new-fangled rubberized tracks at schools and you think to yourself, gee, too bad they can't just have a bunch of these installed in parks, well, this was't a rubberized track, but it was close. The are is a temperate rain forest, and the ground is soft, usually covered with solidlly pounded down leaf letter or pine needles. It was fantastic. Mostly runnable, with just enough roots and technicall sections to keep from getting too bored. I am crazy jealous of people who get too run these all the time. Oh, and the run start/fiinish was at 8 feet below sea level. There was so my oxygen I felt invincible - like I could run forever.

After the aid station at the fort, there are three climbs. They will get your attention, but after the third one, there's a long runnablle section, until you get to the Gnarly Descent, where they have a small rope to hold onto. The girl in front of me I was about to punch in the head--she was not a good downhill runner, but she wouldn't yield the trail. I decided, must beat stupid giirl.

The first loop, I think I did in about 2:10. I was stoked. I might be about to come in around 6:45. I certainly was going to beat my 50K PR of 7:16 or so.

On my second loop, t mile 18, a volunteer who was acting as a crossing guard in one of the places where the trail crossed the river told me I looked great! I did look great! I felt great! I was on track to finish this second loop in about 2:20 or so. I turned back to give a winning smile, and at that moment, I stepped off the pavement. It wasn't a far drop, just a couple inches, but I stumbled a bit. It wasn't even a big stumble. I didn't smack into a tree, or fall off a cliff, or do a face plant. it's just that the ground was softer than the pavement, so that when I stepped down onto it it provided a less firm footing. So, I stumbled a bit, and then as I regained my footing, I stepped down on the outside of my right root, and rolled my ankle.

I did the usual hop-hop-step, hop-hop-step, swear like a sailor, but kept moving forward, biting my lip. I roll my ankle a lot. Usually, it's nothing.

After about 50 yards, I resumed jogging, and after about a half mile, the pain had faded. I felt nothing in my ankle. Nothing. I jogged easily, watching the trail carefully. Hmm. I might have a slower third loop. But I should still easily beat 7 hours. I jogged another half mile.

And then--ow. A smalll pain started in my right foot, somewhere in the middle. It grew quickly, sharpening when I toed off. Over the next quarter mile or so it worsened inexpliicably, untiil I was hobblling down the trail. The downhills I had taken with gusto before I carefully took now. At one point I actually sllid a foot or two on my butt.

I reached the running path 50 yards from the finish and at this point, I could barely wallk. Still no pain from my ankle - just that horrible stabbing pain in my foot. Had I broken it somehow?

I limped over to the first aid tent, where they seemed, frankly, to be bored. I was happy to give them something to do.

"I am not a quitter. I am not a cry baby," I sobbed, "but this really hurts. My foot has never felt like this before."

The doc examined my foot, and no, nothing was broken. What had happened, he saiid, is that my tendons had locked down as a protective measure. You say protective. I say conspiracy, I whined. As I said that I gingerlly tried to flex my foot backwards, and--well, nothing happened. My foot would't budge. If you can't move your foot forward and back, let's face it, on a techical trail with rollers, you are done.

The doctor examined my ankle, gently pressing here and there, he said, "I need to take off your other shoe and sock to see if it's swollen'"

"Well, of course it's swollen," I said indignantly. "I don't have cankles. Will this get better if I just sit here for a littlle while? So that I can finish?

The EMT sighed. "I've found it does no good to telll an ultra runner to stop running. But I wouldn't advise that you try to finish."

Well, then, I'm goiing to make your day, doc. I can't walk, so I'm done. Besides, I have a marathon in a month that I really wanted to PR on, and I don't want to do any more damage.

The EMT asked me how long I had been running.

"Since I turned 40," I replied.

blink. bliink. "You're over 40?"

I love these moments. "I'm 46."

He blurted, charmingly, "You're older than me!"

"Yes, and I'm pretty sure my oldest son is about his age," I said, gesturing to the doctor.

"You don't look like you're that old."

Careful there. I may not be ablle to take all that charm when you turn it on full force.


The next day we drove up to Vancouver, where Brian went running, and I did some hobbling. I refused, on principle, to pay the $44 fee to ride the Tram all the way up to the top and back. Why? Well because I live where the world's longest Tram is located, and I can ride that any time I want for that. So, I decided to work on a short toung--in-cheek travel report on Canada. Which is a post for another day.


  1. Oh, crap. That sucks. On the plus side, I guess, is that there wasn't a lasting injury, but what a disappointment. Just means you have to come back and run it again, right? And only smile at people in front of you.

  2. Kate said exactly what I was going to say. So ditto. Also, have you noticed that amongst the more mature ultrarunner crowd that the men look about 10 years older than their actual age and the women look about 10 years younger than their actual age?

  3. That is completely such a bummer! Here's hoping for a quick recovery.

  4. Sorry to hear that you missed out on your third loop. I hoped to run into / meet you there but having never seen you, not knowing your number and with so many people at the race I of course failed.

    I had two good loops and then started really cramping up on the third loop which added 30 min. I finished in 5:43, much slower than your speedy Baboo.

    I loved the trail as well except having the rope descent at the end of each lap. Hobbling down with the rope at mile 31 was hard. I wish it had been earlier each time around.

    Glad to hear that you had a good vacation otherwise. Maybe I'll run into you if you come out and run this one (or one of the many other 50K races in the PNW) again.

  5. Ugh. Sorry to hear it - what a bummer!

    I've rolled an ankle twice while running - once in a race (limped to the finish despite a man trying to make me stop) and once last April, on my last long run before a half-marathon, 10 days before it.

    In April, I went to physical therapy 5 times and wore the CEP ankle compression brace on race day and had no trouble with that ankle in the race, so if you're looking for some helpful support, the brace seriously rocked my world and I highly recommend it. I wore a sock over it as instructed and ended up taking it off halfway through - it was more comfortable without it. No hot spots, no blisters.

    Hope that ankle heals up soon - a month can do wonders, right? :)

  6. In the words of my teenage daughter, "That Blows!" Get 'em next time.


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