Thursday, August 28, 2014
As you may know, I DNF’d at Squamish a couple weekends ago. Rachelle and I flew into Vancouver early Friday morning, headed to her apartment, and went for a run. I felt pretty bad. My knee was a bit tight, my hip bugged me, and my lower left leg was really out of whack. I was hoping it was due to the 3:30am wakeup for the 6:30am flight, but still had my doubts about what the next day would bring. She and I drove up to Squamish that afternoon, got settled in, and had a great dinner with Brian, Ethan, Kim, Justin, Destiny, Dylan, and Harmony.
We woke early again on Saturday morning to get down to the start. Rachelle was a course marshall at miles 7 and 28, so she dropped me off and headed back out on the course to direct us. I wandered around a bit in the cool but humid morning air and after a few trips into the bushes, we were off. I neglected to tie my shorts before the start, so about 100m into the race, I had to stop, put my handhelds down, and tie my drawstring, as the shorts were around my butt, laden with fuel for the day ahead. Once I had that sorted, I made my way up to the front of the group. The first 6-7 miles were almost completely flat, with some singletrack, fire roads, and paved roads. We hit the trails around 7 miles in and I was just behind the lead group of 5 or so. The first big climb separated us a bit more, but it was the descent where things got interesting. Many of the trails have boardwalks/ladders built into them that allow you to traverse either particularly wet or nasty segments. Coming down a steep set of switchbacks, I found myself at the top of a maybe 6ft tall ladder on a steep slant. It was wet and I had a feeling I was going to slip. And slip I did. My right foot went out from under me and somehow I managed to get my left leg down, but my toe got caught between two of the slats, leaving me in mid-air with just the toe touching the ground (caught). I got my right leg back under me and came down hard on it, but stayed on my feet. I immediately noticed that my IT band had tightened up. Nothing debilitating, but it was making its presence known. I continued down the hill and eventually, things flattened out. We hit the 2nd aid station about 12 miles in and Gary and Bryon were there, cheering, telling me that I was 2 minutes off the lead group, and that we had some runnable terrain up ahead.
In hindsight, I should have dropped right then, but having folks cheering for me clouded my judgment and I after a brief stop at the aid station, I continued on. Over the next 2 miles, my leg got tighter and I found myself giving up mentally. I didn’t want to run 35+ more miles on something that hurt like this and eventually the only decision I had to make was whether I should drop now and hike back to aid station 2, or continue to aid station 3 and drop there. As my stride became more labored, I decided to quit while I was still feeling somewhat OK and hike back. I knew that Kim was crewing Ethan and would hopefully be at aid station 2 and thought that I might be able to hitch a ride.
As I hiked back, I saw several familiar faces (Chris, Matt, Luis, Joseph, Ethan just to name a few) and many new ones. Some folks were concerned, and asked if I needed help. I appreciated the thought, but assured them I was fine and continued to make my way back towards the aid station. At one point, a volunteer directed me on to a road and said it would be an easier walk back, so I took that route and thankfully saw Kim, Justin, and Destiny, driving towards me within a couple of minutes. They stopped and I asked if I could hitch a ride. They were kind enough to take me to the finish line to pick up my bag, and then to Starbucks where I met Rachelle’s mom who was driving up to visit Rachelle where she was posted at mile 28. By the time we got there (which was truly the middle of nowhere) the first couple runners had come through. She and I cheered as folks passed through and passed the lulls by throwing rocks at various targets and hitting sticks against trees.
Once the sweep came through, we were free to go. She headed up to get the car, but returned shortly thereafter saying that a bear was between her and the parking lot. Thankfully, some mountain bikers who were driving up to the lot were able to give us a ride and we got to the car without further issue. The rest of the day was spent at the brewery with Dylan, Harmony, Bryon, and Meghan. We had some interesting conversations and I had the revelation that trailporn.com is indeed also run by Bryon. I am an idiot.
On Sunday, we slept in, watched some of the finish of the 23k and 50k, and then headed up to Whistler to spend the afternoon sitting on a lake with Rachelle’s family and some friends. It was fantastic. On Monday, I went for a gorgeous run around Whistler and hit some trails and my IT band/knee felt surprisingly good. The rest of the week found me running normally, with a tempo on Thursday. I planned for my long run on Saturday to take me on some of the Headlands 50k course so I could spectate and everything was going well until I hit 13-14 miles in. I stopped to visit with some friends at an aid station and when I headed out again, my right knee just locked up. I could hardly walk for a few minutes and had to hike a half mile or so before it loosened up. And then I was able to run home relatively easily. I don’t understand what’s going on with it, as it feels fine 95% of the time, but in an effort to get it from 95% to 100%, I’m taking several days off (6 days total from Sunday to Friday) from running. I’ve been biking this week and it’s been… different. I’m planning to start running again on Saturday and do the hill climb on Monday and hopefully be good to go from there. We’ll see… New York is Nov. 2 and I’ve got a lot of work to do if I want a shot at my PR (and 2:20).
On a final note, I’d really like to thank Gary Robbins for his (and all of the volunteers’) hospitality and the fantastic organization of the Squamish 50. The course was just gorgeous and I’m quite disappointed I couldn’t run the whole thing. I will be back in the future for sure. Perhaps for the 50/50. Who knows…