Okay, so I was STOKED for this one! Yeah - a free entry that I won? I WON! I never win anything so it felt awesome! I didn't take into account that it meant two halfs on back to back weekends, but hey, when I first started racing 7 years ago, I raced every single weekend and no biggie.
After Thanksgiving Point half - I may have mentioned that my calves were a tich sore. And by tich, I mean a lot. Like more sore than they have been in years. I can only remember one other time that I had them this sore.
Anywhoodle, I spent the week easing off, a lot of stretching, icing, massaging, working the stick on it. A easy trail run on Monday, some cycling, upper body workout's, and making sure I was good on electrolytes. Basically, everything I knew to do to get them rehab'd. I'd be lying if I said they were better this morning. They weren't. I could go down the stairs without looking like a complete gimp, but dang, they were sore. However, have ya met me? A race? Sure, I'm in..... (doesn't matter if I'm ready, healthy, or able....)
This one started in South Fork Campground up the Provo Canyon. My alarm went off at 4:15am, and I staggered into the bathroom to get dressed. I took off my compression sleeves and did a gentle warm up and assessed how the calves were feeling. No significant change, but I had noticed on Monday, when I was running, that once I had warmed up a bit, they were okay. I put my money on THAT horse, and left the house.
Quick stop at the sev for my pre-race usual's. Cruise control on a very empty freeway and after some navigating around, found a parking spot. I got out of the car, felt the pain in my calves and thought "walking over to the bus will be a great warm up!"
And then there the stairs down from the parking lot to the street.
Not feeling optimistic, but my ever stupid self just brushed it off, with the idea that I just needed to warm up a bit.
Found cute Rachel in line so I jumped in and had a friend to chit chat with all the way up the canyon! Love this girl! She's kinda my running hero!
(and NO you weren't my bad luck charm girl!)
Once at the campgrounds, I headed for a fire pit and tried to get some heat going. Nice chit chat with the guys around me (running shoe talk if you can imagine) and basically standing around killing an hour before the start of the race.
With about 40 minutes to go, I made my way over toward the start line and noticed they had a medical guy there. I figured I would see if he had some bio-freeze or ben-gay since I had forgotten to grab mine. Nope. He had stuff to wrap things, bandaids but no cremes. Suck. Oh well.
I walked back to a fire pit and was able to get in a little closer. The heat was really getting to me now, so I started slowly moving all my leg muscles. I even closed my eyes, and started at my hips and worked my way down with some relaxation and mental imagery to loosen things up. I prolly looked like I was praying, but hey - here in Utah - that's not unusual.
The smoke was getting heavy and ash was falling all over me, so I decided to brave it away from the warmth and continue to move around. Some walking, some mental coaxing of my calves, tossing my drop bag in the bus, some more self talk and then it was time to head to the start line.
First I see Skip. YAY!! Hugs and good lucks! Then I see Amy and Alisha. YAY!! Hugs and huddling under a blanket to stay warm together. The race starts, I tell Amy and Alisha to take off and good luck and I start to slowly move.
Every freakin step is painful. If I thought walking was bad, the actual running cycle was evil. Every time any part of my lower calf engaged (which is pretty much the whole gait cycle), it was screaming. I kept telling myself to stay slow, take my time, warm things up, it will loosen and get better.
There goes the 1:50 pacer. There goes the 1:55 pacer. Here comes Rachel the 2:00 pacer. As much as I love her, I didn't want to see her. I wanted to stay far, far ahead of her. I tried to pick it up, but my legs wouldn't have it.
A little further down the canyon and I hear a "Hey you Cat"! It's Adrian!! YAY!! Hugs! (try THAT while you're running downhill) He asks if I'm okay, I tell him what's goin on, he talks me through some ideas of getting them to uncramp. I am able to stay with him for a little bit and I have to say, what a great pacer he is! He turned around and cheered his group on. And then.......
He was gone.
I'm still shuffling along and my legs are doing no better. At the 2 mile mark, we hit a slight incline and I thought I was going to go through the ROOF! If my calves were in a full cramp/spasm - then this just sent them right over the edge. I actually pulled off to the right and stopped to walk for minute to see if that would help. Nope. Too far gone by now.
I pick it back up and shuffle along and soon I hear a "Hey Melissa!" Well if it isn't Susette! YAY!! And as much as I didn't want to see her pace stick, just seeing her smile helped for a bit. At about mile 3, I was seriously starting to wonder if continuing was a good idea. Each step the pain got worse and worse instead of loosening up. I started to wonder if I had an actual tear in each one. Like a full on ripped muscle. I certainly hadn't experienced any muscle soreness like this before.
I called Splenda and asked him to google. I had made the decision in my head that if continuing could lead to a bigger injury, than I would pull off. If it was just going to be sore and painful, I'd finish even if it meant crawling.
Not surprisingly, Splenda said pull off. He read out loud some of the things he had come across, but really - he didn't need to. My inner self said stop. Now just to get to an aid station.
My watch showed 4.26 - their mile marker was at 4 miles. Doesn't matter. I pulled off and asked if they had a sag wagon to take me down. At this point, walking was impossible. Weight bearing was impossible. They helped/carried me over to a camp stool, grabbed some dropped sweatshirts and covered me up with they radio'ed finding the transport.
Me? I just bawled. Leaned right over into my lap and sobbed. Seriously?!? A DNF? Never in my life, and I've run feeling pretty crappy before, but now it was my first official Did Not Finish. Like a big F on a report card.
After what felt like forever, a man and woman helped/carried me over to a car, buckled me up and drove me down to the start line. As we drove past the runners, on University Avenue, I started to cry again. Here was the group that I had WANTED to be with. As we kept moving forward, I started to see all my really fast friends. There's Skip, there's Rachelle, there's Bill.
When we got to the finish grounds, the volunteer didn't really know what to do with me. The roads were blocked so he could only drive up so far. Right on the sidewalk was a park bench. I asked him if he could help me get to the bench and then I'd just wait for Splenda to come and get me (I had already texted and asked him to come)
He helped me get settled on the bench but didn't drive away. Instead he got back on his radio and tried to get additional help. Next thing I know, he and another man carried me back to the car, drove me past the gates and carried me into the medical tent.
Now, serious props to the Provo half staff and volunteers!! The ladies taking my vitals were kind and helpful. Trying to find things to get me warm. There was another runner in there with what sounded like an IT band issue. Best thing though, is the medical tent is actually staffed by a physician. HELLO! A real MD.
He asked for a quick history, medications, injury history etc. Okay, so this man (why, oh why, did I NOT get his name?) specializes in sports medicine, chiropractic, and something else, but I forget now. He used to be on staff for BYU.
He quickly got some ice on my calves and then we chatted. First doctor in a LONG time that actually knows what CRPS is. He was very familiar and so he was looking for things with that. When I told him I had a history of PE - he took off my shoes and socks and checked to make sure he got good pulses in my feet. No sign of DVT. He really did a great job and was kind and as gentle as he could be while still trying to get a true assessment. I on the other hand, was watching through the medical tent windows, seeing my all my friends again. If I thought I could have spoken without crying I would have totally given them each the kudos they earned! Seeing their happiness helped take my mind off the pain and the ice.
Splenda Daddy made it and doc began trying to uncramp the calf muscles while I was numb from the ice and it wasn't so painful. He showed Daddy how to do some massages to alleviate the cramping and we talked about after care. I had told him what I had been doing all week and I was grateful that he told me I was already doing all the things I should. He explained that there were two kinds of cramping. Dehydration cramps (not me) - Overuse cramps (me). He told me to get off my feet for two days) ice every two hours, massage and rolling and then ease back into things. Slow down my training (okay, like maybe I should be serious) and then that was it. I was set to go.
They let Splenda bring his car past the gates right to the medical tent. He carried me into the car and then we set off to where my cooper was parked. The original idea was to just leave it and he and one of the boys would come back and get it, but by then I was just so frustrated, disappointed, in pain - that all I wanted was to get in my car, turn on the autopilot and go home. After proving to Splenda I could really push the brake, we left.
Once home, cute Splenda Daddy carried me in the house straight to the bathroom and a hot bath. I had to get warm on account that I'd been freezing since 5:30am! Once there things started to loosen and I stretched all the other leg muscles that got ignored earlier.
Since then, the man has me layin on ice and staying off my feet.
Okay, maybe for a minute I got up when PAUL (YAY!!!! - more hugs!!) Brought me treats!
(see that cute card with the pic of the running shoes? That's his wedding invitation! How freakin cute is THAT?)
So that's it. The story for all my posterity to see: How I got my first DNF. Hoping it will be my last.
The plan? I texted my bosses at work and apologized for not coming in today. Icing every two hours today and tomorrow. Keeping my feet elevated. Even for the few minutes I was standing at the door chatting, my feet swelled right up and turned colors. Crystal clear that I need to stay the crap off of them! And some weird bruising on my left leg. Just a long bruise down the front side of my leg. No pain there, no injury, doesn't hurt to touch the bruise, just pretty obvio that there are some broken blood vessels in there, so we'll watch that.
Next week I plan on pool running, cycling and just easing way off to see if I can get the calves pain free.
If by next Saturday, I don't see any improvement, I'll be looking to sell or give away my Timp Trail 1/2 marathon spot. Let me know if you're interested. It will be BEAUTIFUL and I really, really, really want to do it. I don't want to have to drop that one.
That would suck.
That would more than suck.
Keep your fingers crossed.
**and really - I'm okay now. Done crying. Had a reality check with Corb. Minimizing the pain. Now just plotting how I can get back in the game**