It's been a while since the last event (over a month) but today started out with pretty much ideal weather for a trail run at the Whitewater Center, just outside of Charlotte. Scheduled to do 13 miles, I got to the site and picked up my packet and bib in semi-darkness. I ran into Abby Miller, soon to be new TnT Director for the Western North Carolina Chapter of the LLS, Cat Reid, fellow TnT Alum, Mike Smith - Cheryl Ryan's (also a fellow TnT Alum) husband - and a bit of a running nut, Theoden Janes, Charlotte Observer blogger extraordinaire and also a running nut, and Santiago Montilla and Juan Pablo Mancia from work. It was like a reunion of sorts.
We started out a bit after 8AM and quickly enter the woods....this is where trail running diverges from road running. Single track trails (one person or bike wide) muddy, mucky, rooted and rocky trails. it taxes muscles and the body differently. First few miles are good - and I start to get into a rhythm. The challenge of trail running - in addition to the trail conditions - are the constant grade changes, uphill, downhill, stump jumping. You can't really get into an even pace...but we're having fun and ticking off the miles..
Then - right past mile 4 - down a bit of a muddy washout, and my left calf locks up....tight tight tight....so I pull over and try stretching it out. It's rock solid because of the cramp, but it loosens up and I get going again.
Mile 5 - and past mile 6. As we make the turn where the 8 mile route and the 13 mile route split- Theoden says "well we're committed now"....to which I respond - "maybe we should be committed"...about a 1/4mile down this trail, the calf cramps up again and my legs are just not feeling right - so I stop to stretch again...get going and another 1/4 to 1/2 mile...and again...cramp - this time worse than the other two. Dammit....Decision time....so I decide - begrudgingly - I turn around and have now determined I am best served to do 8 and not 13. My concern over seriously hurting my calf - potentially derailing the last 10 races out of the 40 in 40...outweighs the "no guts no glory" that was running through my head and silencing the pain in my calf. Good news is - it's my left calf - not my right calf like in Kiawah...
As I get on the trail again - I am debating - should I just turn around and muscle through the 13. I see where the 13 mile route rejoins the 8 mile route....yes, no, yes, no....no. fudge
I manage to get through the balance of the 8 mile route with only a couple more cramps and instances of my legs locking up - or feeling like they were.
I cross the finish line and am in all honesty - pissed at myself. My training has not been as focused as it should have been the past couple of weeks. Nutrition has been suspect. And it all showed up today - and got in my face - and beat me.
So - while I completed a race - whether or not I count it ultimately in the 40 in 40 remains to be seen. The folks I am doing this for - the reason - all go through so much more than a little muscle cramp. They persevere through Chemo treatments, surgeries, ups and downs that make what I was dealing with today seem like a hangnail or a bad hair day. They don't give up.
So while I believe I've isolated the factors that drove the outcome - that I didn't have what was needed to complete the event I set out to do - I also know I need to reflect and build on these things - and focus on the reason I am doing this - to do more to help those who are battling blood cancers....to help them by raising the $40K I set out to raise.
Going forward - no more doubts - no more letting the doubt get in my head - time to re-focus and do better....time to do more for those who are unable to. Training needs to be smarter and more diligent - more consistent. Nutrition more purposeful.
Santiago and Juan Pablo did great today - finishing the 8 well ahead of me. Mike did better than he set out to do - crushing the 13 in around an hour and a half....and while I didn't see Theoden since the time I stopped to stretch, I know he did awesome as well. He has a determination and fire that kept him focused....
All the runners did great today - well - all but one.
Run well my friends - hope to see you soon - and if I do - tell me to pick it up and get going.