Well, I haven’t been checking in very regularly lately. At close to 7 months post-op for Achilles Debridement and Repair, I am pretty much back to “normal”. Today I am home with my youngest awaiting the arrival of Storm Sandy.
I wanted to share my race report from Saturday. When I had my achilles surgery in April, I had to miss out on a whole bunch of races throughout the summer. I volunteered at a lot of races and stayed active in my trail running community, but of course this isn’t the same as running them! The race I ran on Saturday was the last one I had registered for before the surgery. It was supposed to be my first 100 mile trail run and my biggest Goal Race. My Ortho and I decided I could still aim for this race as a goal, but to shorten the distance to the somewhat more reasonable 30 mile option :)
The race is called Ghost Train Rail Trail Race. It was run on an old railroad converted to trail and the surrounding trails and roads. It was a 15 mile out-and-back…mostly flat and very runnable, with only one real hill in each direction. It had a very woodsy feeling to it as it ran through forest and past lakes and streams and ponds, and there were enough roots and old railroad ties on the trail to make sure you had to pay attention! There was a 30 hour time limit for the people who were running 100 (or more!!) miles.
I had to start the race later in the afternoon as my high school Cross Country Team had our League Championship meet that morning. (girls won the conference championship, boys came in third!) I had cleared it with the Race Director in advance and he welcomed me to start late to keep the 100 Milers company for a while once it got dark. So after running around at the meet for 4 hours, I drove from MA to NH and started my race about 2:00 in the afternoon. I knew I had time to run my first out-and-back in the daylight and the second would be run in the dark with headlamp. The out-and-back set up is a lot of fun. You pass EVERY other runner in each direction, so you can greet and cheer them along, or exchange information, etc. This came in a bit handy later on…
My first 15 miles were pretty uneventful. I ran every bit of the terrain, cheered on the other runners, and was quite happy with my time. My tendon was a non-issue and I really felt fantastic. When I got back to the start/finish, I grabbed my headlamp and a snack and headed back out with a 65 year old “Legend” of the sport who was running 100 miles. I enjoyed his stories and company, but since I was still fresh and running strong, he wished me well after a couple of miles as he couldn’t keep up with me. About dusk I was trotting along alone, feeling strong and so happy to be back to my sport, when I heard a crunching in the woods to my left. I was expecting to see a deer, when a short black shape came ambling toward me. My brain said “Not a deer. Dog? BEAR!!” I was so surprised to see a bear (and so excited! I’ve always wanted to see a black bear!) I exclaimed “OH!” The bear stopped short, stared at me for a second in the bear equivilent of “OH!” then turned around and tromped quickly back up the way she came down. Seeing that bear made the next several miles zip by as I was so in awe. The out-and-back set up of the race was good because I was able to let the other runners coming toward me know about the bear, and they in turn could let the runners behind me know about the bear. Soon everyone along the trail was asking about the black bear. Some were worried about it, some hoped to see it, and a couple other runners did get to see her as well.
It got very dark shortly after my bear siting, and I had to put on my headlamp. The darkness slowed me down a lot–and I was being very careful not to fall and do anything stupid to my tendon! I didn’t mind the slowing, and I actually like running in the dark. It was fun to see the other runners headlamps coming along toward me for the remainder of the race. We could only identify each other by height, gender and voice in the pitch dark. Someone had placed jack o lanterns along the trail in various places, along with ghosts and the Grim Reaper. Coming up to one of those ghosts hanging in the pitch dark where there hadn’t been anything hanging during the light was…scary! And fun! I was sad when I finished my 30 miles. I felt like I could have gone another lap, but decided that I would be smart and stick to the plan. Today my quads, hipflexors and calves are quite sore…but in a “good” way. My tendon is just a little bit tender. It didn’t even swell much! I am walking with just a bit of a limp today though, but not from pain–perhaps fatigue? The incision scar is a little tender. It is right on my calcaneal bone and does rub on the back of my shoe–but I put enough Body Glide on it that it was just a friction rub and not too bad.(before the surgery the huge bump on my achilles insertion would bleed from the friction) My finish time was by no means a PR, but I am thrilled with how much I ran, how good I felt while running and after the run, and I am even happy with my time as it was faster than I expected.
Thanks for reading! ~karen
PS– lost power during the storm for several hours after starting to write this post. Looks like a lull in the storm now, but expecting it ot hit hard again soon.