I opened last week's optimistic post by looking forward to my taper into the Antelope 100K in a couple weeks, but then Monday came and my ankle remained painful and swollen. Des and I carefully worked the ice/heat treatments but I felt virtually no relief and our thoughts turned to stress fractures instead of tendonitis or strains. Although I'd scheduled a PT session to work on the ankle for that morning, early Tuesday I stopped in at St. Marys Urgent Care facility to get an X-ray. Any PT worth a damn would likely refuse to work on something with swelling without having a better look first; and John and crew at Manual Therapy know what they're doing so into the waiting rooms I went.
When the results came in, sure enough, I carry a nice vertical fracture at the base of the fibula, just above the lateral melleolus (the ankle bone on the right side). And now I have a nice new boot to keep things immobilized until I can get into my osteopathic specialist and get further evaluation (Nov 4th).
So I come to Season's End about two weeks ahead of schedule and a bit short of my goal of going after the Antelope 100K. I sadly let Jim Skaggs, the race director, know that I'd miss the event; I was too late for any refunds or credits but healing is more important right now. It's a transition I really wasn't prepared for, but in all likelihood is well-needed and well-deserved. I surpassed just about every intermediate goal I set for myself in May when I started hitting the trails (running from something, maybe, but hopefully it's toward something) in earnest. I remember being intimidated by certain weeks on my training schedule, only to find that I relished each challenge and that I shifted my perspective of what I considered a "long" run as the season progressed. I found success at my first trail events - Burton Creek Half-Marathon, Lake of the Sky ("50K"), and Dick Collins Firetrails 50. In between, I cheered elite runners and back-of-the-packers at Western States 100 and Leadville Trail 100, getting glimpses of what it takes and observing the how-to's of moving forward in the big events. It's been great fun, hard work, and so enjoyable to run with new friends and feel the rush of competition in beautiful places. I'm not sure I understood what ultrarunning really meant when I hit the trail, but now, especially when forced to sit it out with an injury, my picture is clearer. Of course, I still can't explain what keeps any of us going, but I can't wait to get back out there, to enjoy, to challenge, and to search. I'll keep going.
With that in mind, Trail Option will shift in a slightly new direction. Of course, my weekly summaries and trail compilations will cease for a while as I begin a slow and careful recovery. For the next few months, I will share news of my recovery progress and general off-season training. I will also continue to provide news of the entire Young Mountain Runners Team as we move into 2012. Dennis and Mary have the Moab Trail Half-Marathon coming next week, and we look forward to great results from their day on the slickrock! Darren looks to be headed back to the Buffalo Run in late March; I'll be healing up and working to join him. Des continues to groom Strider for their first trail efforts; I'm thinking some ride-and-tie events are in our future (of course, that means I have to ride, so maybe we find another format!).
Trail Option and the Young Mountain Runners are fortunate to have the coaching skills of Footfeathers to guide us into 2012. He coached Darren to his first 100-finish in 2011 and has become a friend, competitor, and comrade-in-trails to each of us. He's the new Race Director for Pacific Coast Trail Runs (www.pctrailruns.com) and a McDavid Ultra Runner who finished five 100-mile events in 2011, including the torturous Hardrock, 15th place at Leadville, and a 1st place at Grand Mesa, Colorado, along with competitive finishes in a number of other ultra events. Footfeathers has already sent me a personalized list of questions regarding my goals for the coming year so that he can set up a comprehensive (mind and body) training regime that fits my growth as an ultrarunner.
Although I have to be patient and let the healing process do its goodness, I'm very excited about running with the YMR team into the new season. It's What We Do.