My first race of the season is in one month and one day.
This is somewhat unnerving, because I haven’t been able to run for the past five weeks.
After a relatively run-less December, I hopped back onto the trail running wagon in January and slogged through icy, snowy trail run after trail run. By no means was I in tip top shape, but I was putting in effort and was right on track with where I wanted to be for my first springtime race.
And then I rolled my ankle on a trail run.
Truthfully, the injury was not that bad. One summer in high school, I tore the ligament in my right ankle. I spent the summer hobbling on an air cast and never fully recovered. My more recent injury – to my left ankle – was not nearly as damaging and could have been way worse. I could put weight on it right away, and I’ve been able to stay active (albeit in boring ways – until the last few weeks, I hadn’t set foot on an elliptical in a decade).
Yesterday, I was finally given the go ahead to resume running (one week ahead of the initial schedule – yahoo!). Of course, there are caveats: keep the runs short, alternate walk/runs, don’t overdo it, and stick to flat stuff for now. It’s not optimal for training for trails races, but it’s better than nothing.
Right now, my feelings can be neatly organized into two categories: “AHHHHHHHHHH” and “It’s going to be fine!”
Category 1: AHHHHHHHHHH
Here’s why I’m freaking out: I’m not great at trail running yet and the idea of a) running 21 kilometres b) one month from now c) on undulating trails – well, it seems insurmountable.
I’ve run two trail races before:
- One called “My First Trail Race” in 2010. I remember almost nothing about this. I think I did the 10k, but I’m not completely sure. [Edit: I just found the results online – got to love the internet. It had 300′ in elevation and I did indeed run the 10k in 1:01:56. My splits were impressively even: 30:50 in the first 5k and 30:54 in the second!)
- I ran the shorter course of the Whistler 5Peaks race in 2013. I can’t find the results anywhere. I remember doing a few training runs on top of the mountain and feeling like my lungs were going to implode.
I have never run 21 km on trails before. I mean, I’ve walked 21 km on trails before, and I’ve run 21 km on roads before, so I think I’ll be able to pull it off. But I also have visions of making it to the finish line and seeing that they’ve put everything away and everyone has gone home.
There are two shorter distances in the race I’m running, and I could probably bump down – but only one month after this race, I have an even longer and steeper race. I need the confidence of knowing I can run a minor elevation 21 k race to know that I’ll be able to run a medium elevation 25k race.
I know I’ve lost my running fitness. I know I won’t be able to hit the trails for at least another week. I know I won’t be able to dive into longer distances right away. AHHHHHHHHHH!
Category 2: It’s going to be fine!
While half of me is freaking out, the other half of me is feeling totally chill. Here’s why:
- 21 k is long, but it’s not 50 k or 100 k. People I know run 50 k and 100 k all the time.
- The route seems very doable. I am familiar with a lot of the trails, and the elevation is not that bad.
- Even if I hadn’t hurt my ankle, it’s not like I was a contender for coming in first place. I may have to run it a little (a lot) slower, but this isn’t the be all end all. I still have two other races to do this summer, and it really doesn’t matter how quickly (or slowly) I finish this race.
- This race is literally close to home. If the finish line has been packed up before I make it, Cedric will still be there to give me a high five.
- I have other friends running this race (at different distances) so I’ll have good company at the start line, which should help ease the nerves.
I’m going to run this race the best I can, but I’m not going to risk hurting my ankle even more so in the process. If I have to walk the whole thing, so be it. Until then, I’m going to do my best to stay super active by:
- making the most of the walk/runs (and progress to run/runs as I’m given the okay);
- practicing hiking uphill and speed walking stairs;
- continuing to do my physio exercises religiously;
- throwing in going to the gym and hitting the yoga mat frequently.
Bring on the races!