Wednesday, December 10, 2014

The North Face 50...and the future

It has been a weird and scary year for me, and the North Face 50 was no different.  After UTMB, I got sicker for a few weeks.  I did several rounds of blood and other testing.  Finally, they found West Nile Virus in me.  I made some dietary changes to avoid some foods I was found to be allergic- almonds, blueberries, wheat, soy.  Eventually, the dizziness and fog lifted sometime in November and I did some pretty good training runs.  I was reasonably confident I had enough fitness to put up a decent fight. 

I started out at a quick but comfy pace over the first few miles.  I was probably around 40-50th.  I chipped away at the field and by mile 14 was in the 30's.  After leaving Tennessee Valley at mile 14+, on a steep and muddy hill, I slipped a few inches and felt my left calf tighten and then tear a little.  I almost quit right there.  The same thing happened at Bandera in 2013 and it was not possible to finish or even walk on.  Amazingly, it eased up and I felt better after a few miles.  I modified my stride and was probably a little limpy, but I was still moving OK.  I began to rally after mile 25.  I was still around some guys that would go on to be in or near the top 10.  It was awesome running with Rob Krar around mile 30.  Somewhere around mile 35, there was an endless mud slope downhill with runners coming up the hill towards us from other races- marathon/50K.  I came around a corner and had to break to avoid a big impact.  I again slipped in the mud and felt something in my hip/groin pull a little.  It didn't hurt, just tightened up the whole area.  From there, my form fell apart.  My entire right hip, glue, groin complex was locked down and I had cramp feelings all over that area.  I got passed by several runners in these next 10+ miles, including 1st and 2nd women.  At the top of the final hill, it is 2 miles of down, then a flat and small uphill mile to the finish.  The downhill began to hurt pretty badly in the front of my hip capsule.  I just jogged it out and finished in 7:21.  I have never felt as fresh after a race.  The effort was genuinely easy throughout. It is amazing how good my cardio felt in that thick air.

When I stood on one leg to put my warm pants on, I felt a jolting pain in my hip.  I hung out with my buddy Andy Skurka and my wife Brandi, chatted with some other runners and ate some food.  Brandi and I hobbled over to the buses and I knew something was very wrong.

I am home now.  I have not sought any medical care yet.  Just trying to give it a few days to settle down.  I believe I have a semi-unstable fracture of the femoral neck of my right hip.  I can not walk or bear weight.  I am pretty much bed-ridden and every movement causes shocking pain.  I know the pain of soft tissue damage well.  This seems like a different animal.  A memory from the past gives me hope...I dislocated my shoulder in 2005 while climbing in Colorado.  I was certain I had broken a bone in there, but it was just very painful in the capsule.  I was climbing again in a week.  It is possible that I just let the hip slip out a little and tweaked everything around there- like the shoulder injury.  I am giving the hip a few more days before I make any moves.  I was planning a long rest anyways, but this could retire me even if it heals properly.  Time will tell.

I am in tons of pain and the future is far from certain.  However, I am not feeling dark.  I feel grateful for all that my body has allowed.  The Old Man surely knows I have chased this dream with every bit of conviction I had. I love my wife.  Life goes on.

16th on the Hardrock 100 waitlist...