At the beginning of March this year, I was competing in my first track race which would be my last track season as I went into my senior year of college. Long story short, months of hard work, time and dedication no longer meant anything as I tweaked my ankle during an 800m race. I, hopeful as ever, thought that I could be ready in time to compete in the 10k two weeks following. However, this injury was a little bit more serious and lingered on much longer than I thought.
I took almost four weeks off running, then went for a short 2 mile run and had no desire to keep on after that. Took another week off, got antsy, ran again, eh… still wasn’t diggin’ it. I started doing weight training consisting of so many deadlifts, box jumps, squats, and planks that I felt like a warrior. I was giving myself an unrealistic goal and getting let down when I couldn’t make it to the next meet. I had developed an overuse injury known as peroneus tendonitis and it wasn’t going away anytime soon.
Through all the weight training and anticipation of trying to get back into running, it just wasn’t happening for me. When I ran, I would get discouraged that I wasn’t fully healthy and the little tendon was still aggravated. I can go on and on about how having an injury sucks and yadiya, but lets face it, not being able to do what you love sucks and we can eventually get over that, right? But that’s not necessarily what I want to chat about in this much needed blog post.
I’ve been running track and cross country since I was 14, for some it’s been longer. I’m learning that through work, school, and trying to compete collegiately had burnt out my interest to keep competing for school. I know – I came so close to finishing and I only get to run in college once in my life, but what’s the point of running collegiately if you really don’t want to? I run into the problem that I’m sure a lot of do with assumptions. Assuming someone quit or I even heard broke a bone when I first got hurt. I’ve talk to my coach, I’ve talked with my parents and my friends, but the only opinion that matters to me is my own because this is my choice to decide whether or not I keep competing collegiately, and even keep running.
I signed up for the Canyons Endurance Run 10k two weeks before the race just out of pure spontaneity. My track season was over and mentally I had already told myself I wasn’t going to run my last cross country season in the fall. It wasn’t until last week when I was talking to my coach that I didn’t want to compete for SOU anymore. I think when a lot of people decide to leave running programs, they fall out of love with running or burnout. That’s not the case here, and this simple little 10k in the small town of Foresthill, California reminded me of that.
In an early post, I discussed how my love of trail running developed. While running for college, that passion remained and never faded away. I have every opportunity to easily get up on the trails living in Ashland, I just needed to get over this injury first.
So, lets talk about the Canyons and my experience.
By far probably the hardest 10k I have ever ran and I have ran a lot of 10ks from the track, to the trail and on the road. The course started at Foresthill Elementary and started on a pavement downhill. It was an out and back course, so basically… what you go down you also must come back up. Going into the race, my boyfriend Cole and I discussed how important this race was to just have fun. I mean, isn’t that why we run anyways? He said anytime you feel like you aren’t having fun, make it fun. Well, the first 3.50 miles were great! All downhill, beautiful single track trails with friendly faces saying hellos, great jobs, and letting me go by when needed. The downhill was fast and made me nervous at the same time. I’ve had this tendonitis for the past two months and it has been quite annoying to try and get rid of. Every move that caused my right foot to pronate would have aggravated it a couple of weeks ago, but today I was being cautious and even when I was taking a little more risk, my injury was okay.
Well, until I went through a little creek crossing that drenched my shoes and chilled down my muscles. But, with that I was more concerned about the fact that I was still going downhill and wearing road shoes and now my shoes were wet.
I gotta tell you. The trails out here are breathtaking. Not only was my breath practically gone from running too fast, but I mean-running out on these amazing trails with views of mountains for miles and I guess also the fact of knowing my boyfriend was also out there running the 50k somewhere and probably hurting a heck of a lot more than me. Around 6:45 AM the sun was making its way over the hill tops and lighting up my face and bringing tears to my eyes.
When I got to the turn around, my watch read 3.50 miles and I was like-okay I need a breather cause this uphill is going to kick my ass. I chatted with the lady at the aid-station and had her take my photo to show my mom I was having fun.
I turned my way and headed back up the hill and out of the canyon. I knew I had ran pretty fast downhill and was prepared for lots of hiking going back up. As I started my trek back, I ran into lots of friendly faces who were running the 25k and going further than me. Some moved off the path and others didn’t. Honestly, it gave me a good excuse to stop and breath for second.
Oh my gosh, I hiked so much like it’s hilarious how much I hiked during that 10k. Okay, but lets be honest, my furthest run before this was 4 miles and that was the day before when I ran in Auburn with my Dad and Cole. This was my furthest run since end of February when I was running 60-70 mile weeks.
I took my time on that uphill. I keep saying ‘hills’, but it was just one giant hill out of the canyon. I have proof, look at my Strava. ( https://www.strava.com/activities/962918891 )
During one of my power hike sessions, I thought a lot about my decision to run this race and what the real meaning was behind it, why I decided to really leave my SOU team, why I was even doing this in the first place. And, I guess the real answer behind this is because I just love it so much. I feel that’s why we really do something anyways. We love running so we do it, we love working so we work; at least I do. I thought about how Cole was doing during his race, I chatted with God, and then by the time I had about a mile left I thought about my parents and how I really wanted to see my mom’s curly hair afro at the finish line.
I rounded the corner on the final (what felt like forever) stretch towards the finish line. It was truly magical running on these trails, knowing so many great ultrarunners had traced these exact steps. I powered my way up the final incline and saw my mom standing in the distance waiting for me. I later found out she didn’t recognize me coming in because she didn’t expect me to be the third runner coming through. I jumped over the finish line, gave big hugs to my parents, and proceeded to sit on the ground. My quads were already tightening up.
To conclude my post for the evening, I love running and I want to keep running. I’d forgotten that bittersweet moment I get when running on the trails and I was reminded of that today. I have Cole to thank for that, he was the one who planted the seed to sign up for the 10k in the first place.
Do what you love people; and as 1 Corinthians 13 4-7 reveals, “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”