Tuesday, March 10, 2015

The 50K That Wasn't

I'd been looking forward to and dreading the Green Jewel 50K for months.

Looking forward to because it was sure to be a grand adventure.

Dreading because, well, it's a shit ton of miles to run.

So excited!
There were a bunch of us from Columbus heading up to Cleveland for the weekend.  We stayed in a hotel on Friday and were up bright and early on Saturday to run 31-point-something miles.

We had read reports about icy conditions on the bike path, where most of the running would take place, but we weren't too worried. We'd been running on ice for the past 2 months.

No biggie.

We had no idea.

The condition of the bike path was worse than anything we've ever run on.

The path had been plowed and the snow was built up on both sides of the path. With the warmish temps in the past week, some of the snow melted and the water puddled on the path. Then it froze again.

Photo borrowed from a friend with permission.
We were running on an ice skating rink. And it lasted for 15 miles.  Never more than half of a mile of dry pavement between sheets of ice that lasted up to two tenths of a mile. There were a lot of falls. I was one of them.  Just before mile 10, I went down, not gracefully, right on my bum. I assessed the situation. My tail bone was fine, I got up and kept going.

Less than a mile later, I slipped again. it was like a cartoon. My foot slipped out from under me and flew up in front of me. I caught myself with my other leg before I fell. I felt my IT band and hip flexor strain when I did.

It was ok for a bit, but "running" on the ice was more like cross country skiing.  If we picked up our feet, they would slide out from under us, so we slid like skiers...and that aggravated my hip flexor even more. Once we passed the aid station at 15ish miles, I had a lot of pain trying to run.  It hurt my hip to swing my leg forward and I was hoping that if I could just keep running, it would loosen up but there was so much ice, we couldn't ever settle into a running groove.

Hip flexors are fussy little bastards.  I had a hip flexor injury a few years ago.  I ran a marathon on a strained hip flexor and then I couldn't walk without a limp for 8 weeks after.  I couldn't run for 12 weeks.  I missed out on a lot of running and a lot of races that year and I learned that one race is never worth throwing away all others.

I have a whole year of fun planned this year and I'd like to think that I'm a bit wiser now than I was a few years ago.

At this point, I'd been in pain for the past 6 miles and still had 14 to go.  This is when I told my friends, whom I'd been slipping and sliding around running with, that I would not be finishing.

Don't get me wrong, it didn't go down as calmly as I'm making it sound.  There was swearing.  There was crying.  There was a tantrum.  There was a call to my husband followed by more crying.

We had a couple of friends who drove up to cheer for us driving to all the aid stations to scream their heads off cheering for us.  At mile 16, I saw their van come around the bend in the road.  I flagged them down and climbed in.

That was the end of my 50K.

I spent the rest of the day and the next day crying (and self-medicating with vodka).  To say I was disappointed would be an understatement.  I busted my ass training for this; snow, ice, sub-zero temps, three layers of clothing for one run...this winter has been brutal.

But....shit happens.

A few days later, I'm feeling better.  My hip is feeling ok, thank goodness, and I'm more emotionally stable.  I know I made the right decision.  There's no way I would have made it through the next 14 miles of that race.  Had I tried, I'd have wound up with a more severe injury and still would have ended up with a DNF (did not finish).

The smart decisions are always the hardest.