The Humility of Dropping Down

Every serious runner has to face the reality of not being ready for a race. It happened to me for the first time last month. I plan my training around races so I register as far out as I can – this keeps me motivated and inspired. In September I ran my first 50 mile and it was awesome. I went into the event hoping to finish and I came out 6th female overall. I went home and found my next 50 mile – Sean O’Brien 50 in Malibu Creek State Park on February 7. Our family was planning a road trip out to California anyway so this was my chance to run an ultra outside of Wisconsin.

Jonnah on Appalachian Trail

Taking a break at Lover’s Leap on the Appalachian Trail.

In November, Jesse and I drove the kids down to North Carolina to stay in a cabin near Asheville. After the farm season wraps up we like to get away and enjoy full days of no work, and a lot time with the kids and on the trail. The Appalachian mountains are AMAZING to run. If you get the chance, I highly recommend you give it a try. With hundreds of miles of single track just minutes from our cabin, Jesse and I took turns running while the other hung out with Paavo and Mischa. I ended up running over 40 super vertical miles in 4 days. During my runs, I felt some strain in my calves but I attributed this to not running very many hills leading up to the trip. Turns out, my calf muscle was pulling way from my shin bone – medial tibial stress or more commonly known as shin splints. What!? I had just come off of a season of good races – how could I get shin splints now?

The trail crosses a river in the Pisgah National Forest.

The trail crosses a river in the Pisgah National Forest.

After exhaustive internet research I concluded the following: I needed to rest until the soreness went away. When I returned to running I should increase mileage gradually. That is not what a runner training for a 50 wants to hear. I was planning on being competitive and I needed to get my miles way up. Upon the advice of my chiropractor (completely amazing man – you know who you are:)) and physical therapist, I started doing runs longer than 5 miles a few weeks ago.

This last week I ran over 40 miles pain free so I think this means I’m back in the game but my race is in 12 days. This is about the time I am supposed to start my taper, not the when I should be putting miles on. I don’t know why it took me so long to realize that 50 miles is not in the cards for right now. I guess as a runner I am hungry for challenges and this ambition can blind me from seeing the obvious right choice. The cool folks at Sean O’Brien dropped me into the 50k event. When I whined about it to my husband he reminded me that 50k is still over 30 miles and that the course is super challenging. I guess I can look at this as a lesson in listening to my body. But that’s hard when so much of running hurts.

Just because it'ts not 50 miles doesn't mean it's not really, really hard.

Just because it’s not 50 miles doesn’t mean it’s not really, really hard.

We are heading out west in a few days and I will have glorious trails and tons of free time. I am going to skip my taper and indulge in the trails outside of Sedona – keeping in mind to back off if it feels wrong.

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