Season Ender

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So there has been a whole lotta crickets coming from this neck of the woods. On my last report, I had just finished my 13th TCM and was SO looking forward to conquering my second ever 50K trail race on Oct 27. I was registered. I was confident. I FELT it during TCM - my training was good, and I could definitely run another few miles.  When I did the 50K in 2009, I finished marathon training and then hit the trails to get my trail ankles, legs, and pacing. Since there is only a couple of weeks between the two, I can get away with not doing any really long runs and just focusing on a few decent trail runs (12-17 miles or so). Adding in a few bike rides to keep up my endurance and a few more mid-distance runs, I knew I would be good to go. Since I was already signed up, I really should have been doing a bit more trail running during marathon training, but most of my mid-week marathon runs were in the dark. I was so happy to get back to trails. It requires so much more balance and focus, but trail running reminds me that I am out there because I love running. That's it. Plus, fall in MN is beautiful.

This beautiful trail run reminded me that I just plain love running
Running along the Mississippi not far from my house

Ten days before Surf the Murph, I had a comp day for working the weekend, so I headed down to the park to do a loop on the trail. I was planning on a 17 miler - one full loop. I had plenty of food, my water bottle, and the new Mumford and Sons album downloaded onto my phone. It's really rocky and rooty, and as usual, I was super paranoid that I would roll an ankle, but despite a couple of close calls, I was doing fine. Five miles in, I stopped to peek at one of the park signs. When I side-stepped to start back up, I let my guard down and stepped into a huge rut (I would estimate that it was around 10 inches deep). I heard two giant pops in my left ankle and fell to the ground in pain.  I knew it was bad. Since I was out in the middle of a park reserve, I'd have to make it back myself. Thankfully, there is a road that traverses the park, and I was able to meet up with that in order to make it back to my car. The ankle hurt like heck and swelled up to insane proportions to complement the myriad of colors it had become, but I was hoping for a miracle and prayed that 10 days would offer enough time to heal. It wasn't. Race week, I realized I wouldn't be ready to run long distances on it, much less on trails. I decided on my first DNS.

Over 4 weeks later, my ankle is still a bit swollen. I tried to run on it two weeks ago and felt heavy and slow. Today, I ran 6 miles with my coworker Laura. I have definitely lost a lot of fitness, and though it was taped, it still felt achy. I have sprained my ankles in the past, but it was so long ago that I can't seem to remember what it felt like when I started up again. I imagine some stiffness is pretty normal and I just need to keep working at it and make sure I'm not making it worse. Incidentally, YouTube is lifesaver when it comes to "how-to" videos like ankle taping, though the guy in the video didn't tell me how to deal with two excited cats while I was laying out the tape.

I know it will just take time to heal, and I'm glad it happened at the time of the year when I would normally be winding down anyway. In the meantime, I found myself going stir crazy and not sleeping well. I needed to get moving again. After the swelling had subsided enough for my cankle to fit into my bike shoes, I starting spending a lot of time with my QR and my Cyclops Fluid 2. I haven't been doing anything too crazy, just plenty of time in the saddle. Normally the time drags on, even with a good Spinnervals or TV show, but I found a new way to pass the time. My iPad fits perfectly into my aerobars, and I just discovered that the St. Paul Public Library has an extensive E Book collection. I am LOVING this arrangement and have managed two rides greater than 2.5 hours in the last 2 weeks. There will be plenty of time for more technical trainer riding in the upcoming winter months, but just keeping my heart rate up and burning off some excess stress while this thing heals up is good enough for me right now.

We are going to do a 10K as a family on Thanksgiving, and Steve and I are having our first date night in 18 months this week. Our sitter graciously offered to keep H for his first over night visit. Lots to be thankful for!

Henry saying goodbye to his pumpkin. He had to give it a hug first!