So, I clearly have no idea what I’m doing here. In theory this seemed easy, make a blog, write some stuff about running, etc etc. I suspect that I’ll be terrible at it, but I guess we’ll find out. Fair warning: This really only follows a very general time frame. I’ll work on it.
I think it makes sense that my first post be a recap of this past weekend’s Dances with Dirt half marathon. They offer distances of 10k, half, marathon, 50k, and 50M. Most of it is run along the Ice Age National Scenic Trail through Devil’s Lake State Park, both of which I’m 100% obsessed with. So naturally when I heard about this race, I basically threw my money at them immediately. I was all, yeah I’ll run a half that weekend as part of my marathon training, no big deal. Turns out, SUPER BIG DEAL, since my body has been on the injured list essentially since February. I had tendinitis in my Achilles, immediately after it healed I had this weird foot thing going on, which FINALLY went away, only to lend itself to peroneal and distal periodontal tibial tendinitis in the same ankle. Yay! I had been able to run through the previous 2 injuries relatively fine, but this latest one is really taking it’s toll.
But I’m stubborn. I was so damn excited for this stupid race, I’m like, yeah I’ll run it anyways and be totally fine, even though I can’t even walk without limping, whatever! But for real, totally worth it. The struggle was 3000% real, and I didn’t even care. It was a slog. It was a painful, painful, slog.
We got to packet pickup the night before (it’s about 2 hours away from me) and I was pretty nervous. Usually before a race, I’m excited nervous, but this was more of a “I know I’m going to be in a lot of pain” nervous. Since we had to head up right after work on Friday, after I got the goods we basically went to the motel and were done for the night.
In the morning I figured I was ready as I was going to be, except I had the pleasure of breaking the only hairband I had with me, and after almost having a complete breakdown over it – used a dirty rubberband from a super creepy gas station attendant to maintain my fantastic hairdo. But I’ve got ALL THE KT TAPE all over my ankle/foot, I’ve got my trusty Montrails, I’ve got my dirty rubberband, and I’m on my way.
We get there, I wait in the endless line for the port-a-potty, and I finally get to the start line. We separate into random waves, and I’m in the second. And we’re off! I’m running, it’s not exactly pain-free, but it’s not exactly painful either. It’s DEFINITELY not fast, or what my usual pace (even on trails) is. And I had heard about the elevation of the race, but I’m like, I’ve run up mountains! In Colorado! I’m totally fine, this is Wisconsin. It’s flat. Um.. apparently, not as flat as I thought.
So, um, that huge climb, right at the beginning? Needless to say I was hiking pretty soon. I wasn’t too worried about it, because so was everyone else. I had these gel heel cups in my shoes that had really helped with my Achilles tendinitis, and I hadn’t had time to find anything that more specifically took the pressure off my new found tendinitis, so I was winging it with those. It only took about a half mile for it to decide it didn’t want to stay under my heel anymore. So I spent a lot of time tying and retying my shoes, trying to figure out what would maybe hurt a little bit less, but I don’t think I ever really figured that one out.
It bears notation that this race had the best aid station volunteers I’ve come across. Of course, the entire atmosphere of a trail race is completely different than that of a road race (which I’m more familiar with) but each time someone filled up my water bottle, I probably could’ve cried. The humidity was insane that day, my entire shirt was completely soaked through within the first 4 miles, so it honestly made all the difference.
Around mile 6 or 7, the entire mile was literally just a slow, winding incline. If I consulted my Garmin stats here, I would be able to tell you exactly which one, because I hiked the entire thing. Since I had no real idea of the elevation changes to come (or not come, I never looked at the course prior to the race), I didn’t want to wear myself out any more than I had to, because I honestly didn’t know if I’d be able to finish through the pain.
I’ve been lucky in all my trail runs/races, that I’ve never actually fallen while out on the course. I saw so many people bite it on Saturday (HARD), including one who was on the side of the course with a medic because his whole leg was torn up and bloody (I was extra careful after seeing that). It had rained in the days prior to the race, so the trail and rocks were pretty slick, which didn’t help. I tripped my fair share of times, but somehow managed to stay relatively on my feet. Probably because I was moving at a snail’s pace, but better safe than sorry.
Speaking of pace, it was incredibly slow going for me. I really wish I could go back and see what I could’ve done minus the injury, because it was a really rough day in general I think. Luckily for my pace, but unluckily for my knees, those whole last 5ish miles were bombing downhill. There was a girl behind me that kept tripping and I was positive she was going to take me out, so that was also pretty unpleasant.
I was so freaking happy to see the finish line. But also really disappointed that I couldn’t really go out there and see what I could do. My official time was 2:45:56.6, 337 out of 568 finishers. I battle between being proud of myself for going out there and doing it, and being bummed that I couldn’t have magically pulled out a better finish than I did. I will definitely be back next year. Not so secretly, I’d like to do the 50k (because running up double black diamonds for the last 5 miles seems like my idea of FUN!) My ankle is still swollen to the high heavens after the beating I put it through, and I know it wasn’t in my best interests (marathon is officially 81 days away, and since I’ve been injured the entirety of the training cycle I’ve been barely able to pull out ANY solid runs) but do I regret it? Nah.