|A crew car perspective. Dusty roads and glimpses of beauty. Thanks to Larry Hutton for all of the photos.|
At this point, I knew I shouldn't try to run 50 miles on it, but was getting conflicting advice. Coach said to take the rest of the week off and give it a shot. Doctor said it was a bad idea, but said as long as I went into it willing to drop as soon as I first felt pain, he was OK with it. Other friends told me not to run, as calf injuries aren't something to screw around with. Many told me to be smart and not do anything stupid. But, I really really wanted to run. It didn't help when we received our race numbers and I was seeded first (lucky #13). I hate seedings, they imply expectations, but I feared if I actually tried to meet them I would end up with this little ball of calf muscle rolled up behind my knee. The feeling of a muscle strain is a bit unnerving, especially because it comes unexpectedly, and brings the resultant knowledge that it can happen on any step without any warning. Running along one minute and doubled over the next. Not necessarily a stabbing pain, more like if a calf were made up of a hundreds of tightly stretched rubber bands, suddenly several of them are let go at once, and without all of them attached, running becomes painful and brings the fear of the rest of them letting go.
It's really hard to go into a 50 mile race, known as one of the toughest in the country on rocky and uneven terrain with 10,000 feet of climb, knowing that you can't run uphill and shouldn't run on uneven terrain. And in my mind, it wasn't so much a question of whether I would re-injure my calf, but how quickly that would happen--the first climb or the second? Where would I be when it happened in terms of proximity to an aid station. ZG is remote, and aid stations because of the terrain are as far as 3 hours apart (moving at a racing pace). What if I made it beyond the first 2 aid stations, it felt good, and I decided to go for it, but then had issues on some of the more remote sections? It took me an hour to hobble 2 miles to Pan Toll 2 weeks ago over smooth trail. If I re-strained it, how long would it take me to hobble out? Was it completely irresponsible to even start? But in the back of my head I hoped that 3 days of complete rest with lots of icing, compression and massage had done wonders, and that I would start the race and not feel anything.
|Our cabin in the woods in Pine, AZ.|
In the end, I started, but it was a half-hearted attempt and resulted in the quickest DNF in history. I made it about 0.8 miles and as we were gradually heading uphill, felt some calf pain and knew that if I continued on I would be in about the same position I had been on Tuesday within a matter of minutes. I headed back against the sea of headlamps back to the start, and told the RD I was dropping. Yes, I'm a flake.
|Dropping at mile 0.8 meant plenty of time for crewing duties. Unfortunately for Ian, this was taken at mile 8, and he wasn't smiling. He didn't smile until his naked pacer appeared at mile 52.|
|Good eats with Shea and Larry in Pine. I really didn't run enough to enjoy a second breakfast, but I didn't want Shea and Larry to eat alone....|
|Sean ran at least 45 miles with a shattered and dislocated thumb. Can you say, "Immune to pain?" Or, "Amy is a pansy?"|
1. Listen to myself. No one can make the decision to race except me, and no one else has to deal with the consequences.
2. Patience sucks. Injuries suck. The two are related.
3. I'm fairly flaky.
4. Appreciate every second on the trails, because injury comes when least expected.
5. Ultra runners are tough. Sean Andrish ran with a dislocated thumb* and Diana Finkel ran on an ankle the size of a tree trunk (which both make me question if I'm just not tough enough....). Ian Torrence pushed through despite wanting to drop all day.
6. I will run Zane Grey again.
7. Arizona is gorgeous. I may need to move there, despite the fact that you have to pump your own gas.
|Are those sunglasses? Is that sun? Are we smiling? Despite being frustrated as hell?|
*Update: Sean's thumb wasn't just dislocated, but fractured into many pieces extending into the joint and required surgery and lots of pins and screws and things to piece it back together.
|The cabin crew. All from Flagstaff menos yo. The reflection off of my white legs is practically blinding. Can you say "Pacific NW tan?"|