I had just gotten off course twice in the last hour, it was noon, my heart was pounding, I was puking, it was hot, still a big climb away from the aid station. I was calculating: time to recover at aid station + who knows the conditions ahead + wanting to finish before 9pm (we started at 7am) = might as well stop now = where do I get a ride? One hour before I was chasing the guy in front of me and I was giddy at the thought of a sub-12 for a 100K!
I quit a race yesterday – after about 30 miles. It was the first time I quit a foot race. It’s not like I didn’t make a cut off or got pulled out by race personnel. I was plunging to exhaustion and was going to end up in an helicopter flying to the Santa Barbara ER (if only there would have been a spot for an helicopter to land in that dense brush and savanah of the Santa Ynez mountains). Quitting was right. I’m grateful I came back in one piece and I am satisfied with the way I handled every situation that arose. Although I can’t pinpoint what went wrong exactly I can definitely see the chain of events that led to quitting.
I can’t remember the last time I got hurt running. I’ve been injury-free for years, the only hurt came from bike crashes. It’s easier to recover from blunt trauma than from an overuse injury. An overuse injury is a cumulative trauma disorder, tissue (or bone) damage that results from repetitive demand over time. I hurt my right calf muscle/tendon almost two weeks ago and I’ve learned a lot in the healing of such an injury.
I had increased my running volume, I ran a 33 mile hill course with no problem and a speedy recovery. The following week I ran a 26.2 and felt tightness in the muscles/tendons on the back of my right knee. I didn’t stretch after any of these runs. Bad boy! The day after the 26.2 I cycled for about an hour and it all seemed fine the day after that. I went on a 8mi hill run. On my run in Griffith Park there is this fence that I always jump over… 1..2..3.. jump! And ouch. The spring motion from the jump put too much stress on my right calf tendon/muscles juncture and it hurt a lot. A lot. I couldn’t walk. I had to call my spouse to pick me up (this never happened!). She had brought ice, how sweet and appropriate.
I knew the tissues were seriously messed up, I could tell this by the nature of the pain. There are different forms of pain in endurance sports. This one was just sharp and acute, not the soreness of the day after or the heaviness at the end of a long distance something. I estimated that it was a Grade 1 Calf Strain (or Pull) or an upper Achille’s Tendon tear or more precisely Tennis Leg (rupture between the tendon and the gastrocnemius muscle). Considering the location of the pain and the time it took to heal I think it was the Tennis Leg tear.