I racked up another DNF at Potawatomi on April 6 but it was hardly a surprise. It wasn't my gut, back, the heat or the mud -- all the reasons (excuses) for my other 100 mile DNFs though. I can now add my leg to the list. Not sure exactly what injury that broke me down at mile 49 at Potawatomi -- either shin splints, a stress fracture or a combination of both. I had always heard that this is a common runner's injury & wondered how it occurred. And, what does it feel like? Well it's like someone comes up & kicks you squarely on the shin with hard shoes on. And every time you try to stand back up, he kicks you again.
how to get injured:
After Clinton Lake, all I had planned to do was to get in a recovery run so I'd be rested up for the long ultra in McNaughton Park in Pekin, IL. Unfortunately, I did not follow thru. My car needed work before the trip, so I decided to jog over to the gym (a half mile away from the shop) while the car was being worked on. I did my regular routine with the weights. My legs were a little sore as I would expect from a good workout & thought nothing of it when I went back to pick up the car.
Next morning, my right calf was so sore, I could hardly walk! It felt like something was torn. I had done my regular routine at the gym, but the problem was I hadn't been going to the gym regularly. It doesn't take much to overstretch a muscle on those machines & apparently that's what I did.
So no recovery run & each day I had whirlpool/massage treatments & just hoped I would be ready for the race the next week. Weather was going to be nice & cool & the course was going to be unbelieveably dry -- perfect conditions for an attempt at 150 miles! How could I pass up this rare opportunity?
I was still sore come race day so I started with an extra easy pace. The course was in super condition! The 1st crossing of the creek was only ankle deep & the 2nd crossing you could carefully step across on well placed rocks. There was no mud that couldn't be avoided -- pretty incredible for this course this time of year.
I felt OK for the 1st mile on level ground, but on the 1st hill, I was afraid to push off with my still sore right calf. It felt like I was on the verge of straining it again, so I pushed off with my left leg up the hill while I brought up my right leg slightly cockeyed so I could not strain it (looked like a bad limp). This seemed to work OK for about 18 miles on the hills. By then my left leg was getting overly tired, so I had to go to my regular stride. I really didn't have much choice and the right calf was feeling much better.
On the 3rd lap, mile 20 to 30, I felt great going back to normal running! This trail is a bear when it's muddy. When it's dry, it can be very enjoyable. The sun was going down & it was cooling off too. That had to be one of my favorite loops ever on this course. I even had delusions of grandeur -- actually finishing 15 laps -- ha!
The 4th lap was in darkness. It was fun too, but I got down to business & settled in for the long haul. No gut issues made me very happy! A very strong breeze with gusts up to 30 mph or more made for a nice, cool run.
The 5th lap was much like the 4th, except nearing the end of the loop, my left shin started hurting. Quickly it started hurting real bad. I knew then my race was over. I didn't take a bad step or fall or anything like that. The only thing I could figure was that shifting the load onto my left leg the 1st 2 laps was now coming back to haunt me. Thank goodness I was nearing the start/finish area. If I was out in the middle of the course, they would have had to haul me back.
The last short, but steep hill a quarter mile from the finish (for those who know the course) was almost an insurmountable barrier. There was no turning this leg cockeyed to stop the pain. It would have been faster to crawl on all fours up that hill (no one would have seen me in those early morning hours), but I literally inched myself up that hill & limped over the timing mat before I collapsed in the car. That was just the beginning of the ordeal. I had a very rough time, including a long drive home.
I'm out of commission at present. Recovery has been agonizingly slow. Here it is 10 days after the race & if I put weight on the left leg for a while . . . . heat, redness & pain return to the shin bone just above the ankle.
Some very good news though among the bad: lately my gut has been feeling better than it's been the last 2 or 3 YEARS. I don't think I'm cured, but I sure am happy about how it feels!!