I ran the Stone Mill 50 mile race last year with my friend Kasey. It was her first ultra, and they don’t allow pacers, so I signed up to run it with her just for support. It was her race, not mine. It was so much fun (for me, anyway) to run like that – without any pressure. My only goal was to get her to the finish line and to try to help her enjoy the day. I know I did the former, and I think I did the latter. Before I even crossed the finish line I knew I wanted to return to run the race myself.
I registered pretty much as soon as it opened online and secured my spot. I had a rough start to the year, but was running pretty well during June and July, so I thought I might be able to hit my goal of a sub-10 hour finish. I was pretty geared up for this race, as it was the only one I put on my calendar for the year. I was also super excited to spend the weekend with Kasey again. I think I was more excited for this part than for the actual race. Last year, after we got back to her place, we showered and put on super comfy clothes. She built a fire. We ordered take-out from the Cheesecake Factory: veggie burgers and some divine avocado spring rolls. We drank beer. We each had a blanket and a dog in our laps. We watched some random tv and both passed out with the dogs still in our laps. It was fabulous. I was excited to repeat all of that – especially the avocado spring roll thing. It was that good.
Well….August rolled around and something went wonky in my IT band. My entire left leg between the knee and hip became a problem. I tried to run through it a few times but it just wasn’t enjoyable. I did my best to rest it. I finally felt good enough to get back to training at the beginning of October. I knew it wasn’t ideal to go into Stone Mill after missing nearly 8 weeks of training, but I didn’t think it would be awful. While strength training at the gym, I felt a sort of “snap” in my knee. After a few days, I had a lot of pain. It was an odd pain – one that I knew I couldn’t run through. There were lots of noises and weird sensations coming from that poor joint for several days. I immediately withdrew from Stone Mill. I knew right away that it was a bad idea to keep that event on my calendar.
I took it really easy for a few weeks, until I could see an orthopedist. He confirmed that I had chondromalacia patella. He gave me some recommendations and told me I could get back to running. I did so right away, although my runs were much, much shorter. I had some moments of discomfort here and there but it was mostly fine. By last week I felt great.
The Stone Mill 50 was held yesterday. I knew I made the right decision by pulling out. I was woefully undertrained and had no idea what my knee might do at 20 miles, let alone 50. I also ended up with a sore throat this week and felt generally unwell. It would have been a crummy race for sure. But I was jealous of my friends who lined up at the starting line. My friends Ashleigh, Matt and Jon were all running the race. It was the first time Ashleigh and Jon attempted (and finished) that distance. Matt and Ashleigh’s brother (also named Matt) both finished the race as well. They all did well, and I am super happy for them. But I’m jealous.
How crazy does that sound? I’m jealous that I couldn’t put myself through a 50 mile race. I’m jealous that I couldn’t subject myself to rolled ankles, stomach discomfort, cold and blisters.That’s just messed up. Or maybe it’s awesome. Today I vote for awesome.