Well...the last couple weeks really haven't gone as planned.
One of my big races for this year was the Knee Knacker (July 11). I'm not going to dance around the point here; I was aiming for the course record this year. I came within a minute of it last year, and I honestly felt that I could improve on that performance. My fitness was right on track, and I was rested and tapered. There was just one small problem as I stood on the start line a week ago...I had really f*%ked up my lower back a few days prior. The race didn't go well at all, and I had to drop out at Cypress Mtn (the first major Aid Station).
I wish I could say that the injury happened while on some epic running adventure, but the reality is that I hurt it doing some regular/daily-life stuff. It's an old injury that I've had for over 25 years, and once in an unlucky blue moon it shows its teeth again. The recovery process and timeline is predictable, and I knew that getting through Knee Knacker would be an absolute 'hail-Mary'. The morning of the race I went and did my usual warm up and pre-race routine. I was just hoping that maybe the adrenaline of the race would do some magic, and my back would miraculously loosen up and slip into working form. Sadly though, within about 25 minutes I knew my day was over. Not only was I struggling to lift my knees while climbing, but I had no power in my legs at all. To add insult to injury...by the time I realized that my day was over, I was too far along to turn back to the start, so I had to stumble along for another hour. The knacker is a point-to-point race, everyone leaves the start once the racers are sent off. I really struggled, both physically and mentally, just to get to Cypress Mountain. When I arrived at the Aid Station, everyone wondered what was wrong. I felt like I wanted to just curl up and be left alone. I know it's messed up, but I felt that by dropping out I was letting a lot of people down.
For the rest of the morning, I was feeling pretty sorry for myself....but once I got home with Jodi and the girls, everything made a turn in the right direction. It's just a race. Life happens, and you need to keep perspective about what is really important.
I'm pretty sure I've mentioned this before...and anyone who knows me, knows this...but I am stubborn. In fact, I can hear a few of my friends laughing right now as they read this. The good thing about stubbornness is that it can morph into determination at times. In that form, it has served me quite well as an athlete. But on the flip side, stubbornness can give you tunnel vision and block out some really good/obvious information and choices. Like say, a guy has an injured back, yet he is determined to run the National Short Course Mountain Running Championships.
So....a week after my knacker DNF, I opted to run Nationals up at Cypress. My back was still quite stiff and weak, but I didn't have the horrible shooting nerve pain. One might think that I was trying to make up for the previous weekends disappointment...but that's not the case. I knew that I was still nowhere near recovered enough to run fast and hard, so I had no delusions of being at the front of the race. The truth is that I kind of wanted to punish myself, and to also prove to myself that I could still muscle my way through a bad day.
Even though my body wasn't 100%, I was really happy to be out there and competing. I managed to finish as the 6th Canadian (several Americans finished ahead of me too), and the 1st Masters runner. More importantly though, I got the most out of my body on the day and I stayed really strong mentally. I feel like my head is in the right place, and my back is definitely on the mend. I'm half tempted to accept a spot on the team for Worlds in September, but I just can't justify the cost and time committment of the trip...especially since I'll most likely be fully smashed after the Squamish50/50 at the end of August. With that in mind, my focus for the next month is to keep up the rehabilitation on my back, and hopefully get some big mileage days into my legs...the 50/50 is going to a serious challenge!