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?