Sunday, July 19, 2009

Tale of a Short One at Sequoia

I was really looking forward to yesterday's Sequoia 30k. Not only was it supposed to serve as a final tune-up before the Salt Point 50k eight days later, but I was anxious to test out my racing legs. I had been training hard over the last month despite a twisted ankle three weeks ago, which had sidelined me for (fortunately only) four days.

The lady would again join me partaking in the challenging 10k version of the race. Her friend Meghan was also coming along for her very first (but not last!) trail race. We were running unusually late, and I got there 10 minutes before Wendell sent us on our way. It was just enough time to check in and say hello to some friends (Caitlin (50k), Will (20k) and Mark (50k)). Knowing these trails fairly well, I would know when to push and for which sections to conserve my energy. My goal for this race was to break 2:40, which would be challenging but attainable.

Mark and I are cute, aren't we?

From the start, I was running somewhere among the first seven runners between the two races (both the 50k and 30k started at the same time). Soon we hit the first aid (Moon Gate), and I was rushing through in an effort to catch up to Caitlin and/or Mark in order to pace with them. At Moon Gate, speedy Berkeley runner (and quasi neighbor) Bryan Wyatt said hello. It's always nice to see familiar faces at aid stations.

Runners taking off so fast, it was too much for the camera to handle

Then it was time to hit the single track. A very steep and technical trail (Tres Sendas?) connects over to the infamous French Trail. I've run down this trail many times and knew exactly what was coming. Charging down as fast as I did was simply stupid and my reward came quickly in the form of a nicely twisted ankle. Game over! Having twisted my ankles many, many times to varying degrees, I have the useful ability (I guess) of assessing very quickly how bad it is. I immediately knew the race was over for. This sprain was worse than the one three weeks ago (same ankle), but it wasn't nearly as bad as the one that severed three tendons and took me out of commission for two months almost two years ago.

The good news was that I was close to an aid station with road access. Only a half mile climb out of the ravine and I'd be on my way back to the start/finish area. Trailrunners being trailrunners I got lots and lots of "Are you OK?"s. Many of them stopped (some running in the top ten in their respective races). I felt bad about that knowing that I could make it back under my own power, so eventually I took off my race number (looking a bit more like a hiker).

Back at Moon Gate, I watched Will and Guillaume Hansel fly by as leaders of the 20k. It turned out to be a bad day for Will as well, and he would later drop out. The Moon Gate crew gave me some ice for my ankle and some M&M's for my soul, before Craig (?) drove me back to the start/finish.

Back at the finish, volunteers were scurrying about getting ready for the 10k runners to finish. I obviously couldn't help them, so I joined a group of about a dozen wives and husbands waiting for their loved ones while tending to dogs, kids or both. It was kinda nice to sit on the meadow and enjoy a gorgeous day. I really tried hard not to let the disappointment get to me. Keeping up my spirits got much more challenging once the first finishers came in though. I had hardly gotten a workout in! Ummph. Soon, I spotted Caitlin who opted to run just 20k instead of the planned 50k. The trails had been kicking her butt lately (literally!), and she was smart to listen to her body and drop out. We chatted some before Meghan and Melanie finished.

Despite the disappointment of a DNF, I really enjoyed myself out there. The trailrunning community pulled through once again. In many ways. How can you not enjoy yourself? Injuries are part of the game, and the trails aren't going anywhere, so you may as well enjoy yourself out there, even if things don't go your way.

Thank you, Wendell and Sarah (where were you?) for yet another great race and, of course, all the volunteers, especially the Moon Gate crew.

P.s. There is a chance I may run Salt Point this weekend and an even greater chance I won't. The ankle is still very sore.


Anonymous said...

Sorry to hear you couldn't go on, that was me right behind you when it happened. You were flying down that trail and I was just trying following your lines. After your twisted ankle I slowed up for the remainder of that down. Sorry all I through out was an are you ok, instead of stopping, I to was trying to catch Catlin or Mark to pace with. Get well soon and I'll see you back out on the trails.

Jo Lynn said...

Well, SHIT! We really should know better, shouldn't we? Those down hill single track trails are just to hard to resist.
We are grown ups, right? Ugh.

I hope you recover quick and get back out there. Like I told Will, I have plenty of bags of frozen veggies in the fridge and extra room on my couch. ;)

David Ray said...

Sorry to hear about the ankle. Get better quick! Hope you get to do the 50k.

Sarah (PCTR) said...

Wow - I'm so sorry that the DNF bug bit you, too! Aaron was calling me (I was at the TRT100 crewing for my friend, Brett) frequently with updates, in part about DNFs, but I 'only' heard about Will, Caitlin, and Miki...

Glad that you were still able to enjoy part of your day in the park, and hope that Meghan and Melanie had fun, too.


rumana said...

love the tshirt in your photo w/ mark :-)