The best advice I have ever received by a doctor, my 20+ year Chiropractor/Healer Dr. Nathan Cohen in Tahoe City, is “Listen to your body.” This was his response to my questioning if I should take off any time off from riding the mountains after dislocating my knee after getting tangled up with a tree while snowboarding. Dr. Cohen had casually put my knee back into place and relied “Yea, you should probably take about a week off, but most importantly, listen to what your body is telling you.”
I had not been entered in a real race (that you pay money for) since Western States and Tahoe 200 in 2014, both of which I also DNF’d, but had reasonably success efforts and valuable takeaways . So I was super excited to be back in the racing environment and on the familiar and challenging Silver States 50 Mile course. The true purpose of this race for me was to push myself hard and listen to what my body was telling me about where my fitness level really is, so I can apply that to how I should pace myself during this summer’s bigger objectives.
Race morning was super cool morning, and fortunately, my fears of a super muddy course were proven unecesary as the spring storm that rolled through the prior afternoon did not drop enough rain or snow to create sloppy conditions. My “A” goal for the race was 8:15 or under, but my fantasy goal was to see if I could hang somewhere within the vicinity of the super speedy Nike runner Kaci Licteig as I figured she would run somewhere under 8 hours. After a couple of comfortable rolling miles I was a little surprised, yet pleased, to find myself settling in behind her and the guy she had been running with from the start. This had me a little concerned that maybe I started off too fast, but decided I felt comfortable with the pace and was going to roll with it as long as I could. It was pretty cool to witness the ease and lightness in Kaci’s stride as she seemingly pranced up the Peavine Massif.
I kept a steady effort up to the Peavine AS, mile 12.5, and managed to be only about 2 minutes behind Kaci as we crested the top. I figured she would slowly pull away from me at this point as I was pretty sure she was running at a slightly more relaxed pace than I was. So I was psyched to see her again, after a few miles, just a few hundred yards ahead of me .
Meanwhile, as I focused on the task at hand, I couldn’t help but notice that my left foot was feeling tight and had been quietly talking to me all the way up Peavine. I began wondering what it was going to have to say after the steep and rocky descent ahead of me. The descent went great and I was loving switching things up to downhill, but as I got into some flats en route to Long Valley AS, mile 19, my foot started speaking a little louder as the miles ticked away. I was enjoying the easier effort required to get through the mostly flat and lush miles between Long Valley and the winners of the “Most Enthusiastic Aid Station” in Dog Valley at mile 23, but my foot was not. My foot was screaming at me with sharp and radiating pain as I grabbed a couple chips and graciously declined their generous offer of fine whiskey. I figured a DNF was inevitable, though despite the complications, I was still running a respectable pace and had caught glimpses of Kaci almost all the way to Dog Valley and before deciding I needed to back off a little and start considering investing some time into damage control.
I hoped that the short climb out of Dog Valley would provide the change of terrain that might allow this foot thing to work itself out, but it felt even worse as I jog/hiked up the hill. At the top I sat down, removed my shoe and massaged my foot for a couple of minutes before continuing on to some more downhill. The quickie self massage seemed to work a little magic and the pain in my foot slowly became less acute, though I had pretty much decided by this point that I would drop after 33 miles at the River Bend AS.
My foot was still in pain, but continued to improve as I jogged away a few more miles of the course, and thoughts of maybe pressing on to the finish entered my mind. As I approached the Sandy Hill descent to River Bend, I hoped that no matter what my foot told me during this section, that it would clearly let me know if it thinks I should pull the plug at AS or gut it out. I turned right onto the steep single track and let gravity really take over for the first time since I had backed off my pace, rapidly accelerating up to a 5:45ish pace. My foot tolerated it at first, and then quickly protested at the increased pace and pounding it was having to withstand, so I slowed it down again and let my thoughts drift to the 11 mile (almost entirely downhill) finish that my foot and I would have to endure if decided to head back to the top of Peavine rather than dropping. My foot immediately read my thoughts and briefly screamed out in pain that it was not prepared to suffer through to the finish, so I stuck with the plan of pulling out of the race at River Bend.
Good times hanging out at River Bend AS with fellow DPMRs Kathy and Lesley and all the other friendly folks before catching a ride to the finish line festivities. I hung around for a few hours, meeting new folks, and enjoying my first ultra in which I actually knew several of the people racing. Sharing in all of the strong DPMR finishes and distance PR’s, including 2nd and 3rd overall women in the 50 mile by Jenelle and Helen, more than made up for any disappointment I had for how my race turned out. Though I missed many of them in the second half of the race, it was also great to see and know so many more DPMR members out there providing aid station support!
Despite the DNF, I ran a 50k PR by about 30 minutes and confirmed that my fitness level is where I had hoped. With the considerabely shorter and easier effort than I originally planned on putting out that day, my recovery has been minimal and I was back to DPMR Tuesday Speedwork 3 days later with a solid session. My foot was a little tender the day after the race and continues quietly talking to me about it’s issues, but it is no worse than it had actually been feeling for a couple weeks prior to the race. I have kept my running to a minimum and have definitely not experienced any of the sharp pain I felt at SS 50/50. I had some acupuncture and A.R.T. work done on my foot last week, producing noticeable positive and healing results, and go back this afternoon for another round of each. I have been listening to my foot and body closely since the race and they are both telling me that I made the right call and likely avoided injury by choosing to drop. The mountain biking in Tahoe/Truckee is prime right now and I will continue to enjoy more riding than running over the next few weeks as I get my foot back to 100%.
Kaci ended up finishing in an impressive 7:41:54! With or without the foot issues, I doubt I was capable of finishing quite that fast, but have myself convinced that my “A” goal of running under 8:15 was extremely realistic!
Thanks to RD John Trent, the Silver State Striders and all of the awesome volunteers who made this another successful running of the Silver State 50/50!!!