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Today I made a very, very difficult decision.

I decided to pull out of the HURT100.

This is the first time I have ever pulled out of a race, and although every rational part of my brain is telling me this is a smart decision, my heart aches. I feel like I’ve gone through some horrible breakup. I look at my trail shoes and want to burst into tears. My friends ask me how my training is going and, without looking them in the eye, mutter, “oh it’s going great!”

But the reality is that I’m a big, fat, HURT100 failure. I want to walk around with a giant crimson F on my chest and have all the townspeople point and shame me.

Why did I decide to pull out? Of course, the primary reason is my Achilles. I have not had a pain-free run since before my 50 miler almost three weeks ago. Although I can walk without pain, I am driving to work each day and limiting walking to help it heal. I took a few days of complete rest, then have slowly introduced 15 minutes of biking and stair-climbing. Tomorrow I’m going to attempt aqua jogging and my friend Natasha is coming to watch the hilarity.

I know that the Achilles is the hardest tendon in your body to heal. I know that it takes a long time to heal. I once hurt it so badly I couldn’t walk (this was pre-Frayed Laces era) and had a month of PT. I know how debilitating it can be. I also know that I am one stubborn-ass broad (or so I’ve been told) and that if left unchecked I would run myself into an Achilles rupture. Telling myself that I’ll “let it heal” and then resume HURT100 training is dumb, because I know I would declare myself “healed” in two days and resume running, ignoring any pain. I’m not an “in moderation” or “listen to your body” kind of girl. Thus, the only thing that works for me is a strict rule of “no running for two weeks” (which is November 12, not that I’m counting or anything…).

Another reason I’ve decided to pull out is that I only wanted to do HURT if I could commit myself to training fully. I did it back in 2011 with sub-par training and it SUCKED. I promised myself I would only return once I had put in the proper amount of training. There is no way I can train for less than two months and be completely ready for this race. It’s stupid and will make it a miserable experience.

But the real reason for pulling out of this race is that in the past month a really exciting opportunity has come up. A truly once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. An old friend called me up out of the blue and said “remember how we always talked about taking some crazy trip together?” Within a few days we hatched a plan: I’m flying into Bangkok, traveling throughout Thailand solo, taking the two-day-long slowboat down the Mekong, and meeting my friend in the middle of Laos (since he’s already there for work). We will then buy some rinky mountain bikes and spend 19 days biking/hitchhiking our way through Laos and Cambodia, staying in random guesthouses we find along the way. We will part ways in Phnom Penh and I will travel a bit by myself and figure out some way to work my way back to Bangkok to get home. It’s a crazy, crazy, crazy adventure and this friend is the only person who has the energy level (also a trail runner) and fearless, adventuresome spirit to keep up with me.

This is probably the last time in my life I will have the freedom to take 6 weeks off work and just GO. I wake up thinking about this trip. I fall asleep thinking about this trip. I’m excited for every aspect: the sights, the sounds, the smells, the fear, the experiences, the memories, even the giardia! I always think that the first part of your life you’re making stories and the last part of your life you’re retelling those stories, so you better make your stories as amazing as you can. And this story would not have a happy ending if it started with me blowing my Achilles.

So there you go: my thought process/rationalization for pulling out of HURT. Although I’m heartbroken, mentally I’m settled. I’m trying to think of other fitness goals for the winter. Maybe I’ll just stick to going to the gym each day to avoid putting on winter fat stores. Maybe I’ll work more on my swim. Maybe I’ll work more on my bike. Maybe I’ll finally work on doing that pull-up. But for now, I’m going to be kind to my Achilles and keep on planning my trip.

Have you ever pulled out of a race before? Why? How did you feel about it and what did you do to make yourself feel better?



17 Responses to “Why I decided to pull out of the HURT 100”

  1. Jeroen

    I had some achilles issues a couple of years ago. Trigger point release helped a lot with that. Hope it heals quickly!

  2. Lauren @ Sassy Molassy

    That sounds like one hell of a trip, Laura and surely a good reason to miss Hurt100, besides the fact that your achilles is a no go right now. Sounds like you’re taking the right steps toward healing. Can’t wait to hear snippets of your adventure abroad! I have a few friends here in Eugene who go off to crazy places like that and do bike trips every year or two. I’m so impressed with how they navigate these foreign places with bikes and all their gear.

  3. Colleen

    I’m so sorry to hear you had to pull out of your race. A few months ago, I made the same decission and pulled out of the marathon I was planning on and so excited for because of my achillies tendon. It was such a hard decission to make, but I’m glad I did because I ended up not being able to run for like 3 months! It was crazy, I had no idea my injury was that bad when it started. I do think that even though pulling out of the race was really sad, it was also a big relief and it helped me be able to just say, “It’s ok to not run.” Of course I hated the whole time I wasn’t able to run, and I’m so happy to be slowly working my way back up to 3 miles again, but at least I wasn’t stressing about a deadline where I needed to run or anything. I also have a trip to Ireland in a week and I REALLY want to run while I’m there (and it looks like I should be able to!!) so that helped me be super careful. Your trip sounds SO amazing!

  4. Rachel T

    I pulled out of a marathon three years ago. I had over trained and all the major connective tissue in my right hip rebelled. I foolishly ran through the pain during a half marathon that was supposed to be a training run because I was pacing a friend.

    I didn’t rest enough and tried to keep training, only to be stranded 9 miles out on a 19 mile out and back. I ended up calling my dad to rescue me (I’m way to told to be doing that!)

    I finally accepted that only complete rest, without a due date, could help me get better. I didn’t run for 6 months! I went to PT for a few months to work on it and started yoga. When I started running, I went low and slow and paid attention to all the signals from my body.

    I am finally getting back to a regular running schedule. I am building slowly, paying attention to form and maintaining my stretch and strength exercises to keep the hip healthy.

    I learned to listen to my body and that if I rest aggressively at the first sign of trouble I will end up having to take an order of magnitude less time off than if I tried to tough it out.

    Have a great time on your trip, it sounds amazing!

  5. michaelm_info

    Oh no – sorry to hear about you pulling out of the race and the subsequent lack of race report :) I do think it is the correct decision though – even excluding the fabulous trip.

    Take it easy – maybe do some gym work, some water jogging and mix it up with some other activities – rock climbing, boxing, dancing, rowing, etc? Keeping active will keep you fit over winter and give you something new and interesting apart from the usual swim-bike-run.

    The trip sounds amazing. Just take care and make sure you look after yourself out there. There can be loads of creeps out to take advantage. Keep your wits about you and have a fabulous time. In no time your Achilles will be better, and you will be off on your next sporting adventure.

    I look forward to the travel updates!


  6. matt

    along those same lines as the “last time you’ll be able to do this” kind of thing — kids can really mess up a race. I’ve been heading to the airport for races and had to turn around b/c someone was heading to the hospital. Kids don’t under stand training or preparation or racing. If they get sick, fall down, break something, races don’t matter; family does. You made the right call. Adventure is never a bad call when you can get away with it. The HURT will be there….this trip will not. Also, how’s the significant other coming to grips with this trip?!

  7. Kate

    I was signed up for Boston in 2009 and developed a sfx in my fibula on a 22 mile run 3 weeks before. It sucked to drop out, but I couldn’t even run a few feet without excruciating pain. I thought it was the end of the world, but guess what…12 weeks of no running, and then a conservative return to running and I PRed at Boston in 2010. Definitely the right call.

  8. Wendy

    I have no experience dropping out of races, but I have talked a fair number of people into dropping during races… only to be thanked by them the following year for compassionately speaking the truth. They all went on to finish their ultras after dropping.

    Now, the trip sounds absolutely amazing! I had a “must do” before having kids trip, and I’m so glad I took it. Patagonia.

    Perhaps one day I’ll take my crew back there.

    All the best.

  9. Carolina John

    Wow, you’re in for an amazing trip! So sorry you’ll have to miss HURT though. not cool heel, not cool at all.

  10. Kevin

    That sounds like an amazing once in a lifetime experience.Have a great time. Hope your achilles is all healed up by the time you head on your trip

  11. Jessica M.

    I pulled out of a race last weekend. It was a race I was training hard for and expected a PR. However, I have some weird freak inflamation in my ribs that is causing a lot of pain so I can’t run.
    It was hard to not even be able to start the race but it will be worth it since I’ll be able to heal faster by not racing.

  12. Laura

    Very smart decision for all of the reasons you listed. That trip really sounds like an amazing opportunity; injured or not, saving your body for that trip sounds like the right decision!

    I once dropped from what was supposed to be my first marathon when I developed severe ITBS. Was really frustrating at the time, especially when I had to watch my husband run it without me, but ever since I try to keep my eyes on the larger picture. If not running for 2 weeks means I can get back at it healthy after that (rather than continuing to run or telling myself to “go easy” for those 2 weeks and then wind up needing several months off), it’s worth it.

  13. Mary Ann

    I pulled out of a race in June and, like you, was sick about cancelling. But that was over 3 months ago, and I just ran another half-marathon in the best shape ever. The time off was simply awful but so well worth it. Hang in there. It will be worth it.

  14. Amber

    I’m sorry you had to pull out of the HURT 100 (though I completely understand why you did)! I was so looking forward to following your training and hearing all about the race.
    But your biking/hitchhiking trip sounds AMAZING! What an incredible experience that will be! I love that sentence about the first part of your life being about making stories, and the second half about telling them – what a neat thought :)

  15. Jess

    I’ve been living in S.E. Asia for over 3 years now(Bangkok and Phnom Penh) and have traveled extensively throughout the region, including a lot of places in Cambodia by bicycle.

    I’ll also tentatively be home in the Boston/Providence area for Xmas and then returning to Thailand.

    I know your friend works in Laos, so he probably knows the ropes, but if you have any questions/concerns, please get in touch and I would be happy to answer them! And hopefully we can plan a meet-up of sorts as it would be super exciting to meet you! ;) I can also recommend a fun group to go out for a ride outside Phnom Penh if you’re there on a Saturday!

  16. lou

    How can you miss “the adventure of a lifetime”? Good luck and be safe.

  17. Oscar Yeager

    Awww. Frayed. They don’t call it the “Hurt” for nothing, and it’d be worse in your condition.

    I once broke me Calcaneus ( Heel Bone ) literally 3 or 4 minutes before starting a race. ( Warming Up ) I started anyway, ( Not Knowing The Severity ) and dnf’d out about 30 seconds in. How’s that for pulling out of a race?

    Funny you should mention the Scarlet letter, I always use the same imagery pertaining to racing and training, like if I don’t make a certain time I will have to wear that.

    How to make yourself feel better? Hmmm. Well, I know you get emotional over these things, ( So Do I ) and have cried in the past, but, all things considered, it’s really no tragedy, it could be worse.

    P.S. – I read the word “fat” TWICE in your article. Work to keep the fat off and don’t eat too much of that Asian food!

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