For me, this year has been far from ideal. My first two races resulted in a DNF and an imperfect day. My calf injury was what it was, but in terms of what it actually was, it was perseverance. I could've followed the online medical doctor's advice of rest, gentle massage, ice, no running, etc. etc. According to these established beliefs, I was looking at a several month process of working out knots out of my meaty calves (MUCH easier said than done), and I should expect the worst of up to 6 months to be proficient again in my sport. However, I wanted to heal so badly to get back in the saddle for Hardrock training, that I found other ways to study my body and find creative solutions.
So, I kept running just a little bit each day, even when it hurted a lot. My low mileage weeks had a lot of painfully slow 3-5 mile runs that allowed the calf muscle to set back into place for running use. I don't proclaim that running injured is always the answer to every injury, but I believe some form of mental/emotional perseverance is definitely required to see the best path through an injury.
8,500-9,200ft face blasted in ice from the night before.
This process was replicated again and personally proven this past week starting with my Sunday trip up Mt. Baldy. Marshall and Dan came up with me and Chris to try to climb one of the most dangerous variants of the Bear Canyon trail: ice and high wind. In my customary tour guide/maternal nature, I gave my TWO pairs of microspikes up to Katie and Dan. Dan was in an old pair of Kayano's and at 6'3'', there was a real danger of him becoming a human ice sailboat. We turned around at the 9200ft saddle as the winds howling out of the 6,000 deep Cattle Canyon funnel were making a long deadly slide into Good Canyon more and more likely. On the way down, just as I was describing mountaineers falling to their deaths, I slipped on the ice sheet we were walking on and landed square on my lower back on a bowling bowl size rock.
All fours - Photo: Daniel Winterbottom
As I was flying in the air, watching the rock approach me that I was about to crash into, my adrenaline rush flipped through the thoughts "this is bad, this is bad! Damn't don't tell me I'm about to get another injury! Why am I so STUPID!"
POST FALL INTERVIEW (Dan Winterbottom)
I made it down the last 4500ft on endorphins and adrenaline that muted the pain, but by the time they wore off after breakfast, I could barely bend my back. That evening, I could barely bend over, and felt like I was 90 years old.
Yet, as depressing as it all was, I mustered a 1 mile run Monday, a 5 mile run Tuesday, and last night, a 9 mile run complete with technical terrain and a 2 mile race with mountain bikers at the end. I suppose that was honestly the best case I could have asked for, but it seemed right after the calf injury. I got injured, it sucks, I am allowed to complain loudly to all my friends for a limited amount of time, then I get on with the painful running, stretching, Udo Oiling, and grimacing that gradually melted into a mostly pain free back today. I don't think my body will always respond this well, but it is a good reminder in life that healing isn't always an idealistic hospital bed with children's nurse Chris Price on call. Sometimes it's a rough PT session with the arch nemesis of my calf, Michael Chamoun. Sometimes it's a couple miles in soft 890's on a treadmill that would feel effortless on any other day, but instead are a hard-fought 10 minute pace. The end result of being healthy sooner is worth it to me because life is too exciting to miss out on.
Eventually having my way on a stretch of singletrack by the 73.
45 miles, 10,800ft
The legs definitely could’ve handled a little more post Old Goats, but the joints were still a bit achy from the Trabucco Trail and Main Divide.