The journey began with a 3 1/2 hour drive with J-ro to Cleveland the night prior to the 50k where I stayed in a decent hotel. Upon arriving at the hotel I checked my e-mail to find a last minute message from the race director warning race participants that Oak Grove would be closed until 5 am for (I shit you not) SALAMANDER MIGRATION. I loved that/never heard of it/thought it was hilarious. I did not fall asleep until around midnight and I woke up around 4am. I ate half of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, did a warm up on the treadmill in the hotel, stretched my IT Band and headed to the start.
Going into the 50k yesterday I knew that because of my IT Band I would not be able to run a good portion of the race for fear of further destroying my knee. Furthermore, the portion I would be able to run would need to be at a slow pace, nothing fancy, nothing fast, slow as possible. I was just looking to finish under the cut off with my knee intact and if I had to I was prepared to drop out rather than destroy my knee further.
There was a bit of confusion as to where exactly my race bib was (the registration people at the start told me mine would be in the bus since I had signed up to ride over in the bus and the bus people said no mine would be at the start, I went back and forth a few times and finally got my bib about 12 minutes to start). This gave me a bit of anxiety but hey I prolly should of told them I would be driving to the start.
Cassie R. and Gina C. were running the Green Jewel as a training run for another ultra in Missouri. Cassie R. had been kind enough to suggest I run with them as they would be going at a steady slower pace. They managed to locate me a couple of minutes before the start and before you knew it someone said "okay start" and we were off. It was raining nearly the entire race and within the first 15 minutes my clothes and shoes were soaked. Cassie and Gina, kept up a great steady pace for me to cling to and my plan was to stay with them until somewhere between mile 15-20 in which I would make myself walk the rest of the way. I felt a twinge in my IT Band right after the first aid station. Things started to get really bad for my knee around mile 16 and I thanked Cassie and Gina and told them to go ahead and I'd see them at the finish.
Around mile 17 I met another racer (forgot name Im so sorry?) who stayed with me for maybe 2 miles. He was racing in Vibrams. I like Vibrams but I can never seem to run on pavement with them. I prefer to run on the trails in them. We shared injury stories and the like. I ran/walked with him for awhile until I told him to go ahead that I needed to walk it out longer.
When I got to the 4th aid station my IT Band was REALLY getting bad. But I only had a 3rd of the way to go so I power walked on. The last leg after the 5th aid station is what really did me in. I SHOULD HAVE DROPPED AT THIS POINT-for the sake of my knee I wish I would have dropped. I learned something about myself during this race-if I think there is even a slimmest chance in hell that I will finish, no matter if one of my legs are falling off or I am whimpering in pain I will push on as hard as I can to my own detriment. I power walked like a madwoman up those final 7 miles. I DID NOT HAVE A GPS OR ANYTHING THAT TOLD ME MY PACE. I was relying on all the time Ive spent walking on a treadmill and tried to gauge internally how fast I was walking. I was a half an hour to the cutoff when I tried to start "running". By running I mean I was "run limping" and swinging my arms as high and as fast as I could to create momentum. I was in so much pain I started yelling.
Then something happened.
For the past week, since Ive been able to run again its been difficult for me at times because Ive had to do all my runs on the treadmill for fear of my knee relapsing.
During this past week whenever Ive struggled, I all of a sudden imagine my dad (he died 6 years ago, though I had not seen him for 11 years before he died). I imagine him running beside me. He doesn't say anything, he's just there in my mind running beside me. I don't think of any of the bad stuff that happened. And then I imagine my mom and my sisters and my older brother and his kid, and all my estranged nephews and niece and they're there running too, I imagine my ex husband and his wife and their kids and everyone is surrounding me, I imagine all these people whom I love but who aren't in my life and we are all running together and it feels like they are carrying me or pushing me and the running gets so much easier.
I started whimpering again and I'm not sure if its because of the pain I'm feeling or because I'm pretending I'm running with my dead father and my family on a bike path.
When I see the finish I look down at my watch and I know I will make it just under the cut off and I slow back down to a walk.
I walk across the finish line and I'm certain I am the last to finish, but that's okay because I know that the fact that I finished the 50k in time even though I walked 13 miles of it and was in extreme pain was some kind of inner achievement for myself.
I immediately called my chiropractor to set up an appointment as soon as possible.
My knee was so screwed up that I could not walk on my own for the rest of the day.