What is it that they say about the best laid plans? Don’t make them, because the universe will do whatever the hell it wants anyway?
Maybe that’s not the actual saying, but that’s where I find myself today. Let me catch you up:
Two weeks ago (ish), I decided to change my goal race. It wasn’t a huge change – the distance would be the same, and the new race would be two weeks earlier, in nearly the same location. No earth shattering decisions over here, folks. There were a number of reasons for my change of heart, namely, a cooler buckle (in my eyes) and a course that I need to settle a score with. And if we’re being honest: 6 hours of buffer time to finish the 100 miles (one race was a 24 hour event, the new “A” race is a 30 hour 100.) I’ve had the “100 mile monkey” on my back for over a year now, with a handful of reaaaaaally close (and not so close) DNF’s since my last 100 finish. I need to rebuild my confidence before chasing down that sub 24 hour 100.
From a training standpoint, the shift was actually not a huge deal. My peak training weeks would hit sooner than originally anticipated, but it was OK. My training was on par, and I felt really good. And really confident. I’ve been in a solid 2 month streak of zero excuses, and absolutely hitting or exceeding my goal workouts. Weekday 10+ mile runs were becoming routine, strength workouts were as strong as ever. Life was good.
This weekend was supposed to be one of my two peak weeks. Back to back super long runs before taking an easy cutback week for the holidays. Because putting in around 8 hours of running over the weekend in your backyard can be pretty boring, we decided to head out of town. Saturday we drove South to Buck Hall in Awendaw, SC, to run in the Francis Marion National Forest. Bonus: these trails are part of my goal race.
After a few days of heavy rain, the forest was absolutely flooded. I’m talking, a good 20% of the trail was shin deep water. Fortunately, it was one of those December in South Carolina days that makes me so incredibly grateful that we live here: temps in the mid 60’s, absolutely perfect for running. Despite having sopping wet feet from the first 30 yards of the run, I had a blast. Running through less than ideal conditions can be one of two things: miserable, or fun. I chose fun. And the company – my husband Geoff and local running friend Nathan – made the miles pass by almost effortlessly.
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After a few hours, we left Nathan behind at his car, and headed down the 7 mile stretch to our car, parked at a different trailhead. The plan was to refill our water, then head on another short out and back to round off our mileage at the prescribed 24 miles. The sun was starting to come out, and I was marveling at how GOOD I felt. My legs felt amazing, my nutrition was on par, my heart rate happily in Z1.
And then without warning, I slipped on a wet bridge, my left foot supinated in the worst way, and both Geoff and I heard an audible crack. Or maybe it was a snap, I’m not sure. I didn’t fall, but I immediately screamed “F*CK” and hopped to the side of the trail to sit down. The pain took my breath away.
Geoff immediately rushes to my side and asks how he can help. There’s nothing he can do, and as I gasp through the pain I’m mumbling something about “NOT NOW, THIS CAN’T HAPPEN NOW!” I’m wondering if I broke anything, I’m wondering how the hell I’m going to get out of the woods, and most of all I’m wondering if this messed up my goals.
The pain subsides enough that I can stand up. Then it subsides enough that I can limp my way out of the forest. Geoff offers to carry me, but I know from one too many GORUCK events that being the one to be buddy carried actually hurts more than you would expect, so I prefer to limp on my own. And limp I did, through puddles and over more slippery bridges.
4 miles later and one big puffy, swollen, bruised ankle later…we’re out of the woods. Literally, not figuratively, of course. Figuratively, I’m now sitting here wondering what kind of setback I’m looking at.
It’s been 60 hours since the fateful ankle turn, and I’m relatively confident I didn’t do too much damage. 9 years ago (holy cow) I tore a ligament in this same ankle during a warrior dash fire jump gone wrong (here’s a blast from the past) and I recall that hurting significantly more. Plus, these ankles are 9 years of trail running stronger, so I’m hoping that counts for something.
Anyway, that’s where I am now. In running limbo, one of the worst places a runner can be. I sit here trying not to stress about my future race goals, but also can’t quell my anxiety with the ol’ standby…running. On one hand, I am counting my blessings: it’s been a mighty long time since I was sidelined. It’s almost like a rite of passage, we all go through it from time to time. It’s my turn, I guess.
On the other hand: f*ck.
So, if you see Santa this week, please tell him I’ve been a really good girl this year, and all I want for Christmas is to get in my long runs next weekend. Thank you.