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.
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?
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.
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.