Questions and Answers

When I woke up this morning, I wanted to die.

As any ultra runner can tell you, 'Why' is something I hear often. I never have a good response, but 'Why not?' is how I usually respond. Until this race. Until 50 miles on hard-packed gravel in sub-40 degree weather with plus-20 mph winds.

When I woke up this morning, I was crying from the pain in my legs just trying to stand up.

Part of this race was to see how far I could go and how fast I could do it. Everything is subjective. Any good engineer will tell you the correct answer to every questions is "It depends." If I didn't get plantar fasciitis in the last two weeks... If the sun had come out like the weather had predicted... If I had worn thermal tights and gloves... If the race was on single track instead of hard-packed gravel... The if's don't matter. I can go 50 miles. And I can do it in 9:20. But that doesn't begin to tell the story.

When I woke up this morning, I swore I will never do this to my body again.

And I mean it. I'm not swearing off ultras, but I will stick with only single track trails, no gravel or pavement. I will not race if injured, I will drop out when my body tells me to. I will listen to my body, no matter what hurts and how small. I will not push through, because "it's only my foot." These legs don't feel like mine. These knees and hips don't belong to me. I am not disappointed in my body, rather, I feel the opposite. I failed my legs by not listening. What is a DNF? The reality is that I am done racing for the year. The reality is I won't be running for a month. The reality is I need to see a doctor and have x-rays to make sure I haven't done serious damage. The reality is I didn't listen.

Heartland wasn't all bad. In fact, I surprised myself. I'm waiting to write a full race report until I can get some pictures. But I felt it was important to put in writing how much this hurt. I'd like to think that I deal well with pain and I know the difference between discomfort, soreness and pain. And other than two major jaw surgeries, this is by far the most painful thing I have ever done. In the future, when I'm thinking about running through something else, I have a written reminder that I need to honor my body or I will pay the price.

1 comment:

Barefoot Josh said...

Congratulations on the incredible finish times! I hope that you'll be able to recover from everything. Over these cold months I have a feeling that I will be learning many lessons about listening to my body.