2018 was a high and a low for me, running wise. I started running regularly about 7 - 8 years ago. Ramping up the milage with each yeah, going from half marathons, to 30K's to full marathons.
In February of 2018 I ran my first Ultra - the Sean O'Brien 50K trail race in the Malibu Mountains. That race was everything I hoped it wouldn't be. It would be the longest anything I've ever run, and would also have the most climb (6644 feet total) I've ever run. To top it off I was dealing with a groin injury from a trail run in September of 2017. I thought I could work through the injury as I only felt it when I sprinted, or tried to zoom down hill. I wasn't planning on sprinting in a 50K, and I thought I could zoom a little less and be more controlled on the down hills.
So what happened? I started off feeling great. I don't like to consume much when I run, so I skipped the early water stations and planned on refueling at the turn around spot....only they didn't haven't water there. The temperatures spiked into the 90's (something I never experience living in San Francisco). The heat caused gi distress, my groin started hurting on flat ground. I slowly walked much of the back half just wishing for it to all be over. I was mentally destroyed.
Sitting at the airport waiting for my flight back to SFO, I was surprised that I was already thinking about the next race. I was thinking of all the things that went wrong and how I could be better the next time. But first and foremost was to get my leg back to 100%.
My first attempt was to just take 2-3 weeks off. My legs felt rested, and the pain was definitely less. But it was still there. I didn't have confidence that I could push off a curb to run across the street, let alone to run hard.
I went to my doctor, and was referred to a physical therapist. After about a month, we still didn't see much improvement. I will admit at this point I started to lose hope that I would ever be able to really run again. I started baking bread, and taking on other habits trying to think of a life that didn't have me running 6 days a week.
I was then recommended to a physical therapist who specialized in running. Working with her changed everything. Each session she would push my body in a slightly different way to deduce the issue and developed a plan to improve. And I started feeling better. Each week!
But wait, things can't go that smoothly, right? Of course not. At this point I then started getting foot pain! I had sesamoiditis.
I grew up playing soccer and sports. I had never pulled a muscle and sprained an ankle. I had never broken a bone. I wasn't prepared to deal with injuries like this. After 6 months of no running I was, again, mentally defeated.
Two podiatrists and a couple orthotics later, I was able to start slowly running, and pain free! I was getting excited. I was thinking about races I'd never had any interest in running before. For the first time I started to create running goals for myself. Before my injury I just ran to run, ran to eat, and ran the races because they were there and seemed like a fun challenge at the time. After my injury, I came to appreciate running in a way I didn't before. I wanted to be more intentional with how I'm running and what I'm running for.
In particular, I wanted to try to race. I've run a number of races, but I never actually raced. I was just trying to survive. So, in December, I ran my first race since the 50k - the Rodeo Beach 20K. I wasn't confident in my endurance yet, but I went for it anyway, and I tried to race it. I didn't win, nor did I place. But I ran much better than I had hoped. Before the race I guessed that I would finish around two hours. Instead came in at 1:49:44. I finished 15th overall and 5th in my age. Most importantly, no injuries, and I felt great the whole time.
Happy to say I'm back up to 50 miles a week, pain free in my groin and foot. And signed up for a 22k in February. I'm looking forward to 2019 and seeing what comes.
Me, coming down the last hill of the Rodeo Beach 20k