Myself and two others got off quickly in the lead and went off course in the dark at mile 3. It was dark and slippery and the trail looked the same as the correct trail. I had been out there just two weeks prior, but that didn't matter in the dark. We all missed the flag and that's life. We did a little over 2 extra miles, going down into a big, muddy ravine and reaching a road. We were so close to where we were supposed to be, I knew we could have just jogged up the road and been on course.
We stopped to discuss the situation and decided we had missed a turn and could see no other headlamps around. We turned around and climbed back out. The flag had been tangled by the windy night, wrapping it into the sagebrush and obscuring it. We pushed hard to get back into the race taking chances in the thick mud on steep downhills. Shortly after getting back on course I hurt my right ankle in a twisting, sliding, muddy fall down a steep draw. I lost ability to push off in the mud and was forced to limp along. At that point, I figured there were at least 10 people ahead, but still a long way to go to track them down. I ate some NSAIDs to subdue the pain and began the 2 mile mud road climb at a snail's pace. I passed a few people on that stretch. At the 7.5 mile aid station, My GPS read close to 10 miles. The next 6 miles promised to be a miserable, steep, muddy climb to the summit of Wilson Peak. I passed a few more, moving into 5th place. In that stretch, the clay mud was so thick and nasty, that every few steps I was forced to stop and remove giant 5+ lb clods with my gloved hands. A few miles up, I caught Joelle Vaught, the women's leader and superstar. The ankle was improving and I was gaining ground. On the Wilson Peak out-and-back summit climb, I encountered all 4 runners ahead of me tightly bunched and measured the leader was less than 1 mile ahead. I had made up a lot of distance and was still in the race.
As soon as I began the downhill from the summit, I knew my race was over. The ankle would not take the pounding of the downhill. I stayed calm and dealt with increasing pain intent to stop at the 20 mile mark and save it for another day. In the last few miles, I passed 4th place, then 3rd place- both are really strong runners and both dropped at the 20 also. I came into the 20 mile start/finish area having narrowed the gap on the final 2 (and eventual winners of the 50K) even more, but discipline demanded that I bag it. The goal races of the summer hinges on my health and ability to train through the winter. I did not think I had 10 more miles in my ankle anyway, so the choice was easy. They gave me a winning finish for the 20, over my protests that I had earned the DNF. I ran 3:36, which seems fast given the 13-14 min miles I logged in the mud miles after my fall. Just 2 weeks ago, I had done the loop in 2:53 on a training run in good/firm conditions. The mud was amazing out there.
|My bottles were submerged in mud, so every time I tried to eat or drink, I would smear the mud all over my grill. Sitka desert camo courtesy of Brandi for Christmas.|
Davina and Emily did a great job organizing and running the show in tough conditions. I heard no complaints from anyone about organization. The mud and weather made it an event to remember.
It's 4 days later and the ankle has not improved much. I am icing and elevating it, but it is really painful and not taking my weight or allowing any range of motion. I have self diagnosed it as 1 of 3 things, or perhaps a little of each:
1. fibular stress fracture
2. tear/strain of peroneal longus
3. high ankle sprain
I have 4 months and 22 days until Bighorn 100. With careful rest and rehab, I should be fine. It's a good time for a rest anyway with the McCall winter bearing down.