The McDonald Forest 50k was yesterday. This is an event I typically participate in because it’s very well run and VERY near my home. Plus, the race includes trails that I know like the back of my hand. That being said I made the tough decision to pull out of the race early (aka, DNF – Did Not Finish).
For me I was using the Mac 50k as a way to check in with myself to see how the increased volume over the last several months was metabolizing in my legs and body. Tabbed as a C-race (training race) I went into it with what I thought to be very few expectations. Coming out of it, with a DNF in hand, I was given a much-needed wake up call for several reasons. I had to get real and honest with myself.
1). Blood-work – just a couple of weeks ago I drew blood, for the first time in years, to see if there were any red flags that needed attention. Two things popped up that gave me concern. First, my testosterone levels are significantly below the average for runners. Secondly, my hematocrit count is low. My mistake in receiving these results early, before my follow-up appointment with my doctor, was that I did MY OWN research as to what the results meant. Bad idea. Within 5 minutes of reaserching I was convinced that I had the Ryan Hall syndrome with chronic fatigue and anemia. For me, I should’ve waited to go over them with a professional so that I could get an accurate assessment as to what my numbers meant. Therefore, yesterday, it was in the back of my head that something was drastically wrong with my body. Luckily my follow-up appointment is the next week so I will have some concrete clarity as to what I need to do, if anything, to manage my numbers. Lesson learned – don’t get on google with numbers you don’t understand and come to your own diagnosis. My therapist warned me against this and I didn’t pay attention.
2). Injury – I haven’t been 100% healthy in a few weeks. Then again, who really is? I know that in our sport there is a certain level of pain tolerance involved. However, yesterday, my left knee/calf was being wonky and I made the decision to respect the bigger picture in this venture and call it quits early before I made it worse. I’m sure I could’ve kept going to get in a solid training run but doing so may have spelled greater injury and un-wanted long-term consequences.
3). Ego – I thought that I had been doing a good job managing my ego lately but yesterday uncovered a glaring hole in this work. One mile into the race my friend Cary turned to me and said that we had covered the first mile in roughly 5 minutes and 30 seconds. “Fuck” I thought. When the hell did 50k’s become more akin to marathons? By the way I have never in my life run a 5:30 mile, ever. Speed like that is not my strength. My ego wouldn’t let go of the faster guys in the front. Therefore, I suffered.
4). Legs – By the top of the Powderhouse climb my legs were completely thrashed. As in, I couldn’t move them, at all. I cannot ever remember having that kind of sensation. My good friend Emily caught up to me at that point and mentioned she was happy to recover on the downhill. In agreement, while heading down the descent, I literally could not move. My legs felt like I was running in quicksand. I had nothing to give. Maybe it had to do with running the fastest mile of my life within the first mile of the race? Yes, that played into it and also probably played a part in my further aggravated left leg. Another cause for this is that I had not yet recovered from the last training block that finished up the week before.
So, what’s next? For me it starts by reintegrating a sense of mindfulness to help me manage my ego that resurfaced yesterday. In running out of control, being dictated by other people’s pace, I did not do myself any favors. I know this for a fact. Next, I need to take care of my body. This week is all about getting checked out to make sure I’m healthy heading into a huge adventure filled summer in preparation for Pine to Palm 100. Lastly, I would like to get an understanding of what my blood-work means, without the guidance of the damn internet. That is a must.
In the past I would have felt like the world was crashing down on me if I didn’t have a good race. In that respect I feel that I’ve come a long way as racing is not the only reason why I run, in fact, it’s not even in the top 3 reasons as to why I run. Every experience at a race, or in life, can be an opportunity to learn about oneself. I’m glad that I can see this more clearly. Sure, I was pissed off for a bit. Luckily, not soon thereafter, I was able to work through the annoyance of not finishing and process what I need to do to get back in the saddle to focus on the things that really matter to me this year.
So the process and journey continues….