I did everything I could to tip the odds in my favor – seeing a sports injury specialist, cross-training (hours on a trainer or erg instead of running), stretching, icing, foam rolling; and as of Friday I was cleared to try to run. So on Saturday morning I tentatively pinned on my race number, applied body glide to a few locations, and lined up for the start of the US Championships. Considering my injury, I expected that either my hamstring was healed and I would be able to compete, or that my hamstring wasn’t healed, and I would be forced to DNF early in the race.
(Sunrise on the windmill, marking the high point of the course)
I eased into the race, falling in to step with fellow-Inov8 runner Scott Dunlap. We passed the early headlamp running together, and enjoyed the sunrise from a hillside in mid-Texas. After about an hour, he cruised away from me, but with my leg still feeling ok, I was ecstatic – I opened up my stride and felt optimistic that I could compete. I enjoyed the views as we got high on the rolling hills, and cruised down the first big downhill, really leaning into the downhill. Big mistake – just as I was feeling comfortable and confident, the downhill at mile 7 cause the all-to-familiar tug on the back of my leg…my hamstring wasn’t fully healed. I stopped, stretched, and shuffled down the rest of the hill – trying to minimize the pain and not cause further damage. I found after another mile or two, the pain subsided enough that I could continue along – but the hamstring would yell out anytime I opened up the stride. ‘Ok’, I thought, ‘I can at least shuffle along and finish this lap’. I enjoyed the rest of the lap, taking in the views, in case I couldn’t continue on. With about a mile to go before I finished the lap, I caught my toe on a rock, forcing my other leg to extend forward and catch my momentum – causing a sharp pain in the already tender hamstring. I decided that couldn’t happen again, so I shortened the stride and took my time through the technical trails, making sure my toes were up.
(Wobbly, bouncy bridge that I swore would break my hamstring!)
(Example of the rocky trails)
(Rocky section just before the finish)
As I lapped through the start/finish, I thought about how humbling it was to have folks pass me as I shuffled and limped down the trail, and I thought about how stupid it was to be on the cusp of injury but still considering completing my last 16.7 mile lap. However, a quick refuel, and I figured that since I was in Texas, I might as well finish the race – come hell or hobbling.
(Motivational posters were everywhere along the course)
(A sight for sore...legs)
- Had LunaBar 1 hour, and banana ½ hour before we started.
- Consumed 7 gels (before start, 0.75 hours, 1.5 hours, 2.25 hours, 3 hours, 4 hours, 5.5 hours, 7 hours) – about 700 calories [vanilla bean, just plain, and espresso love gus]
- Consumed salt tabs at 2 per hour (except for the first hour, when I took 1)
- Consumed 7 water bottles of energy drink (2 per lap in first two laps, 3 on last lap) – about 1050 calories [raspberry gu brew for first lap and mid-lap water bottles, roctane grape on 2nd and 3rd lap bottle]
- Consumed 2 dixie cups of water at each aid station (22 total cups) – 550 calories
Net total – about 2,300 calories and 260 oz fluid