Pumpkin pie, hills, and twisted ankles: the tale of a trail race debut

Today was a banner day: it was my very first trail race. It was also my last.

Yes, it went that well :p.

When my friends and I decided to sign up for the Summit Rock 10K a few weeks ago, after batting around the idea at a post-run coffee, it seemed like a good idea. After all, trail runs are known for being friendlier to joints (um… NOT SO), have good food, and have fewer people than regular races. It seemed like a good experience, and perhaps even the first of many trail races to come. But as the race got closer, reality started to set in for me, and I couldn’t help but start to get second thoughts about running a race that was going to be all new territory for me–literally and figuratively. Not only had I never run this course, but I’d also never run a race in which the roads weren’t paved, there wasn’t an aid station every other mile or so, and there weren’t porta-potties everywhere you looked.

This was, I realized with dread, the running version of “roughing it,” and anyone who knows me knows that I’m not exactly a fan of roughing it.

Still, I decided to charge ahead and look at it as a fun new experience. And certainly, today started off looking good. The weather was supposed to be nice and cooperative, with no rain and mild temperatures; the ground wasn’t too muddy; and I was with my friends, who make any run 100x more enjoyable.

At the beginning of our 10K, waiting for the race to start

At the beginning of our 10K, waiting for the race to start

Then the race actually started. And I quickly realized that this would be a whole new experience indeed.

I think my first indication was the hill we encountered before mile #1 was even behind us. It was the first of many. Many, many. MANY. My running buddy, Juana,  and I had decided early on that we would “hike” the hills, but little did we know that this “hike” would last pretty much the entire course.

Got hills?

Got hills?

Before long, we started to get into a groove, and it didn’t seem quite so bad. The views were spectacular, and I was having lots of fun chit-chatting away (in between gasping for air, that is) with my friends as we tackled the mountains–oops, I mean, hills. We even got a nice surprise at the halfway point, where the first aid station was: pumpkin pie. Yes, where there is normally energy gels, gummy bears, and/or electrolyte drinks, there was also PUMPKIN PIE. Yum.

Mmm, pie...

Mmm, pie...

At the halfway point

At the halfway point

Then came what every trail runner dreads: the wipe-out. Despite my best efforts to be careful, I missed a step and fell forwards on my hands, turning my ankle in the process. I was in shock at first and didn’t feel too much pain (I was more worried about breaking my camera, actually; thankfully, it was all in one piece and still operational). Adrenaline carried me through the rest of the race, and I was able to finish without a lot of discomfort.

I collected my medal (which, btw, does not usually happen at 10K’s–this was, if I must be totally honest, the reason I signed up for the race in the first place) and limped to the car with the rest of my carpoolers. It wasn’t until when I got home and took off my shoes and socks that the adrenalin started to recede and I saw that my ankle was the size of a golf ball–and I had pretty limited range of motion. Yup. Sprain. 5 weeks before my half marathon in Arizona.

Gulp.

Doesn't quite capture the full extent of the swelling, but here is the injured ankle

Doesn't quite capture the full extent of the swelling, but there is the injured ankle

So, I am now injured and icing/babying my ankle. I’ll be getting it looked at in a few days and hopefully by then, it will be on its way to being healed enough for me to resume my half marathon training and be ready for the Arizona Rock N’ Roll Half in 5 weeks. We shall see.

In the meantime, I have decided to retire from the trail racing arena. It was nice to have the experience, but it’s not one I’d care to repeat :).

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