Yippy do da day!! I ran an ultra!! I ran an ultra in a tutu! I ran an ultra in a tutu and I won! I’m fairly excited about all 3 of these things for different reasons. This has left me scatterbrained!
I’ll start my tale with I ran an ultra. Back in 2012, I suffered a bad impact injury during a trail race. At that time, I knew I was muscularly injured. But I had no idea how sever the injury really was. I kept running (duh…?), and soon developed a stress fracture in my left foot. At that time I didn’t connect the injury from March with the new injury in April. I did, however, notice that my right thigh was shrinking. It was, as a female, a nightmare. At first I thought it was my dryer shrinking my pants in weird ways. Then I noticed that all my paints had shrink on the left leg only. So I pulled out a measuring tape and OH MY NO. My left leg was almost 2 inches bigger then my right. Once the scariness of feeling like a lopsided monster wore off, I decided to try doing more things with my right leg then my left. That’s when I discovered my right leg was in off mode. I couldn’t even squat a little bit with all my weight on my right leg. Stairs were hard to do with my right leg leading…and I had been running 100 mile weeks like this. My right knee had been hurting since March, but I had not realized the extent I was going through to not use that leg. I knew I needed to even things out. So I kept trying to use my right leg instead of my left at every opportunity. And as soon as my foot was healed, I began running again.
The thing is, my right leg never caught up to my left leg. The difference in leg sizes had changed, but was still over an inch. I could do stairs easily, but not squats. My knee still hurt to be touched, though running didn’t seem to make it worse. Soon I was, again, running 90+ miles a week (duh…) and racing some. This led to another injury. This time on my right foot. Only this injury was a little different. It came and went in a way that the stress fractures never had. I decided to be drastic and stop running for a few months. But my foot never got better. My knee felt worse.
Thinking I may never run again, I took the advise of a few running friends. I went and saw a rehab specialist in San Antonio. And he saved my running. Apparently, my SI joint was out of whack and had been since March of 2012. He tortured me first with adjustments and “massage”. Then hooked my knee up to an electric shock thingy. It was cRaZy!!!! Two days later, I went for a run with NO foot pain. My knee was still hurting. But less, and my right quad was sore in odd places. I went back and saw the torture man a few more times in the next 10 days. 2 weeks later, my knee was feeling better then it had in over a year. I was beyond thrilled. I could RUN again!!!!! That was about 7 weeks ago. And THAT is why I am thrilled that I ran an ultra!
Next I’ll go with the win because it’s simple. I hadn’t won an ultra in a loooonnnnggg time. I know it wasn’t a competitive race or anything like that. So often, as a competitor, I look at who the winners beat when seeing who the fast gals are. Sometimes 3rd place means more then a win. But it felt good to win my first race back. 🙂
That leaves the tutu. After reading Monika Allen’s story about Self magazine’s taunting, I decided I wanted to show some running support. We runners are a different breed. We are a family. Bound by a love of using our bodies to cover distance. All speeds and sizes are welcome. All distances covered count. Even walking counts. Some of us run in pigtails or ponytails, others run with their hair down. Some of us run in long shorts, some of us in short shorts. And some of us even in a tutu. The only qualifier is knowing that you are a runner. This means if you make fun of one runner, you piss off the rest. Because if someone wants to run a race in a tutu they can. The reason doesn’t even matter. Though in this case, Monika’s reasons are pretty cool. She sales her tutus to raise money for a nonprofit organization called Girls on the Run. She runs in a tutu to give smiles to others out there, knowing that smiles motivate and validate us, as people. Getting others to smile is a simple, selfless gift. The fact that Self Magazine had the bad judgment to make fun of a cancer surviving, tutu wearing, fun loving and giving runner not only mad me mad, it hurt my heart. Wanting to stand up against bullying and wanting to follow Monika’s lead in sharing a smile, I decided to run this 50k in a tutu of my own.
I woke up a little before 5am Saturday morning. As I sat in my truck (where I had slept) eating breakfast (PB on an English muffin and almond coffee), the 50 mile runners started their race. I silently cheered them on, glad that I was still eating breakfast and not yet running. I woke up knowing that today would not be the best day for me to race. Partly, that’s the reality of using a race as training and going into a race on tired legs. Partly, that’s my reality of having been injured and not running for a few months. And partly, that’s what it’s like to be a girl and have to race with sever menstrual cramps and a crappy, hormonal feeling in your brain.
Doing my best to pretend I felt good, I put on my running clothes, stuck my tutu in a bag and made my way to the bathrooms and then the Rockhopper tent. In the tent, I chit-chatted with friends, met some new friends, finished my coffee and waited for the start. A few minutes before 6am (start time), I put on my tutu and grabbed my lights. In no time we were off!
I started behind the 3 guys I figured had a great shot at leaving me in their dust. In no time, they were out of sight and a hoard of other males were upon me. I covered the 1st mile in 8:30. Being in the dark and mostly up hill, I felt like this was a smart start. Apparently the guys around me disagreed. Only I think it was the tutu the disagreed with, not the “slow” pace because I passed half those guys right back before 2.5 miles had passed. I ran most of the first loop with Ty, who I met at Bandera a few years back. He is a cool guy and I enjoyed the conversation.
The only thing bad about the first loop was my nauseous tummy. I ate 2 gels the first loop and was happy they stayed in. I knew I needed to be eating a lot more, but I really didn’t have the tummy for food that day. If I would have followed my normal race nutrition, I would have eaten 2 0r 3 gels in the first hour. But I’m not quite back to my normal runner self yet.
As such I had no time goals for this race. I knew I was not in as good of shape as I was the last time I ran out there, but I knew I was no longer injured. So I figured I’d run hard and just see what happened. I finished the 1st loop in 2:11. Deep down, I was bummed that I was so slow. But I was also happy to be running and nothing inside me was discouraged with my time. I tackled loop two with tired legs but a happy heart. Some how, I was running just about the same times per mile the second time through. This made me laugh, because I had expected a bonk due to low calories and under training. But my fastest 2 miles of the day where both on loop two.
I crossed the finish line in 2:25:20, 1st female and 4th finisher. I was thrilled with getting to race again. Even more thrilling was how good I felt after. No leg cramps and I barley got sore. SHOCKER! But a happy one. 🙂 Next up, Brazos Bend 50 miler on April 26th. I’m trying to just enjoy seeing where I’m at with this 50. But I want it to be a fast run. 😉