Unfortunately, like most things in life, your good intentions don't always turn out as planned. Six weeks to the day of Loon, a hot spot on my foot developed into a metatarsal stress fracture. These fractures are common among distance runners (#3 for me!) and as you may know, the rule of thumb is six weeks off. I was cutting it close to say the least.
After a period of mourning, red wine and a "gotta have it" from Coldstone, it was time to snap out of it and come up with a plan. Flights and hotel reservations were already made so we decided to still go for it and hope for the best. I started a cross training regimen of water-jogging and biking. Two weeks before the race, I was well enough to start incorporating the stair-stepper in, too. Surely that would prepare me for the Boss. At 5 weeks we decided to test the foot. A short jog caused a pain of 1 on a scale of 10. I was able to run 3 miles a day for the preceding 5 days to the race. I felt like Bambi learning to walk: so stiff, uncomfortable and unnatural. Soreness in my calves made me even more discouraged. But... we were still going to go for it.
Tad and I got to Lincoln, NH on Friday evening and were welcomed with beautiful weather and families on summer vacation. Tad left early Saturday morning to time trial the course. Kudos to Paul Kirsch for a fantastic job marking the course. Tad finished in 58:03. Not bad, we guessed considering he had no one to go off and no adrenaline pumping. Meanwhile I jogged my three miles and did some strides in my Inov8 Roclite 285's. The flexibility of the shoe was too much for my foot and I had more pain than I had the whole week. I decided that there was a 10% chance of being able to finish the race. We didn't want to chance hurting my foot more because I have to be prepared to race the NACAC Mountain Running Championships that were less than 2 weeks later. So Tad and I came up with a plan of when and where I was going to drop out.
I warmed-up in the more substantial Inov8 Roclite 318s and my foot felt surprisingly good. I ended up racing in this shoe as well. Immediately after the race started I was at the back of the prestigious pack, constantly staying tuned in to how my foot felt. My first mile was 7:13. I was already tired. It's really remarkable the damage 6 weeks off can do. The good news was my foot was still doing fine. I saw Tad at 2.5 miles and told him there was no pain and I'd like to finish, regardless of my place. I trudged on, looking up in amazement of all the women who were already skimming the top of Walking Boss. I got to the finish, elated that my foot was okay and worried that my heart was going to beat out of my chest.
No that's not a smile, but a grimace of pain.
Despite the circumstances, I am so thankful I was able to run this race and experience what it feels like to be amongst the most elite mountain runners in the country. These women are incredible in their fitness, strength and character. I am all the more motivated and know what it truly takes to make this prestigious team. The stair-stepper isn't going to cut it.
Oh yeah, my time? 58:04. Tad beat me by one second. Damn.