I’ve been seeing a lot of raw, emotional ‘leave it all out there’ blogs posts in the running community and I feel like I kind of want to participate.
Many of you may know that I sprained my ankle pretty terribly this past August. It was so bad I instantly had the thought that I broke it. I had never felt my joint roll that far over. Ever. In that instant, I thought I was done. That was it. There goes my training plan for the Chino Hills 50k in November.
As I hobbled down the trail, I kept telling myself to keep pushing the bad thoughts out of my head. ‘my ankle is broken’, ‘I won’t be able to run for months’, ‘I need to go to the ER’. Told myself to stop assuming and wait until I get to the doctor. Wait until we really know what’s going on before I start making changes. Fortunately, I got it x-rayed the next day and there are no breaks. Just a lot of pissed off tendons and ligaments.
To be honest, there was a part of me that was a little bit thankful that I was injured. My training wasn’t where I hoped it would be. My weekly mileage was increasing week by week, but I wasn’t seeing the results I had expected. I was having major difficulty forcing myself to wind down on Friday nights and go to bed at 9pm to be up at 4 for the long run with the training group. Yes, you read that correctly. I was so nervous for the long runs, that I would get myself so worked up the night before and couldn’t sleep. Which then caused me to try and do these long runs on little to no sleep, therefore, the run felt crappy. Which made me nervous for next week’s long run… Vicious circle.
On the flip side, not running for a month had been hard. I missed the community, I missed being out on the trails and frankly, I missed the exercise.
After the first couple of weeks of only hiking and strength training, I was able to get in the pool for some good cardio. Swimming and strength training. Boring. BUT I have learned to love swimming. I come up with different workouts to keep it fun and the older ladies at the local YMCA that come in for their aqua zumba gave me extra energy because they find so much joy in what they’re doing.
After 2 weeks of no running and little cross training, the doc still saw swelling in my foot despite zero impact, compression, and ice. As a result, he said no running for 3 more weeks and physical therapy. I kind of predicted this. Usually, with an ankle roll, I bounce back pretty quickly as far as stability. But this time, I wasn’t confident in putting pressure on the joint and that was a first. By comparing my left to my right, there was definitely still swelling. Right then, I knew the 30k I had in 3 weeks was a no-go and the 50k in November was slowly morphing into a 30k…..maybe.
Throughout the rehab process, many of my fellow runners kept telling me NOT to write off the 50k completely. Although it was super encouraging, I still had my doubts.
I don’t want to come across as ‘giving up’ or ‘chickening out’ and I feel like I am to some people. And that’s ok because I don’t feel that way. What other people think doesn’t matter. I need to earn a solid race. I want to go into a race knowing the mileage buildup was strong and my weeks were consistent. I’m not going to injure myself further trying to get through a race I’m not ready for. And I also want to sort of enjoy it!
In my heart, I want to do a 50k well. I want to be able to cross that finish line wanting to do another one and knowing I trained hard for it and knowing my body was ready for it. So, after some real contemplating and tuning into what my body was ready for, I’ve decided to scrap Chino Hills completely. And here’s why.
After almost 7 weeks of zero running, I started to get back into things with some runs on the road. My ankle would definitely hurt at first…mostly sharp pains and then the joint would get warmed up and those pains would go away. Thennnnnn after about 3 miles, it would get sore. Like the whole foot was slowly telling me to stop. So, I kept the miles short at first. About 2 weeks after that, I tackled an 11 miler on the road with the fantastic crew from Fleet Feet Burbank and their half marathon training group to see where my fitness was. Needless to say, this run gave me some of my confidence back. BIG TIME. (Thanks Colin!)
With a good long-ish run behind me, I decided to hit the trails the following week to see how my ankle would hold up on different terrain. T he result?
This was the weekend of the NoName 15k (supposed to be 30k). I’ll write up a race re-cap for that separately. It was a TON of fun. Despite getting stung by something at mile 6ish and my ankle swelling up after the long descents, I loved that race. It was small, the weather was warm but beautiful and some good friends of mine were taking on first-time distances ranging from 30k to 50 miles. It was truly a weekend of great friends, running and FUN. More on that later.
After NoName, I tried to keep slowly building my miles and doing more trails. Running downhill was still painful so I kept cutting my runs short to err on the side of caution. All in all, I couldn’t get the mileage I needed to be ready for the 50k let alone the 30k. I tried for 15 miles this past Saturday and could only muster up 11 and I was fighting ALOT of pain. With the race less than 3 weeks out, I knew in my heart that Chino Hills needed to be shelved. Not this year but maybe next year.
So. What is next? What is the next race to work towards? What’s the next goal you may ask?
This is a bucket list thing for me. I love trails. Don’t get me wrong but UGH I want to do a marathon. I want to experience the big, loud, crowded experience that is the road marathon.
So I went all in and signed up for the Rock N Roll Nashville and on top of it, I’ll be a mentor for the Fleet Feet Burbank marathon training group starting this December. This is the kick in the pants I need to train, commit and execute. Oh and have fun too. I know it’ll be painful but this is something I truly want.
Sometimes goals aren’t met and adjustments need to be made. All I can do now is move forward, set new goals and enjoy the run as much as I can.