Nothing was shaping up in my favor, as I road the bus to the starting line of the Colorado Marathon. The weather was snowy and cold to start. During the week, I had begun looking for other marathons that I could run to Boston Qualify, in the event that my time was affected by the impeding crappy weather. I'm not sure why I was so concerned, considering that some of my best racing has happened during the winter months. As I finally stepped off the bus, with only minutes to spare, I decided to give one last go at the bathrooms. This gave me enough time to put on my iPod and discover that the battery didn't charge, to drop my bag at the sweat check, and to walk to the starting line. There was no time to warmup. I calmed my worry by reassuring myself that all of these little things that weren't working were just a sign that my race was gonna be amazing. I had planned a slow first mile, anyhow, so I knew I would get some warming up. There I was, with only one way out of Poudre Canyon and the race starting in two minutes.
I took off at a comfortable pace, following the 3:30 group. I kept them in sight for the first mile, allowing my legs and body to warmup. During the second mile, I started to close in on the group, because I was nervous that I might be taking things a bit too slow. I was immediately uncomfortable, mixed within the big group. I'm not use to running so close to people, so I stuck towards the outside. This unfortunate position made me have to dodge cones and be overly aware of how the runner, directly in front of me, was moving. It was about that time, as I was trying to watch other runners, look for potholes, dodge the cones, find my stride, that it happened. My left ankle rolled. I heard a noise. Maybe it was my feet scraping along the road. It was confusingly mixed with the voices of concern and regret surrounding me. The tones that told me my race was over. I looked at my watch; 1.8 miles. I was done, and if I were smart, I would walk myself back to the starting line to catch a ride to the finish. I hobbled for a minute, told everyone I was okay, and kept thinking and running. I knew an aid station would be in the next mile or two, just as close as the start. I figured I would keep going and evaluate my ankle as I ran.
I really don't run marathons, but in the past year, I've spent 40 weeks training for them. I ran ADTM just to see what I could run and finished in 3:42:49. I trained harder for the Colorado Marathon with the help and guidance of John O'Neill in the hopes of qualifying for Boston with my husband and running Boston for our 10th anniversary. I knew that my ankle was damaged enough that I was gonna be off of it for awhile. I had figured that I could train for another marathon, if things didn't work out, but this injury changed the game. I had also been here before. I ran the Pony Express two years ago and rolled my right ankle 3 miles from the finish. I finished as the first female runner, but the injury put me out for 6 months. I swore that I would never let my ego get in the way, again. I regretted the decision to keep running and here I was, again.
I reached the aid station and pulled myself off the road. My ankle looked okay with just a little swelling below the fibula. I decided to keep going and check it at the next station. I spend the next two miles angry that this happened and wondering if I should keep moving. I checked my ankle again, at the second aid station, and noted that it kept the same amount of swelling. As I started to run again, I felt more pain. Clearly, stopping was allowing the swelling to increase, and I figured that my running was keeping the swelling down. I decided not to stop again, unless I was done. I was halfway to the half marathon point, and I figured I would reevaluate my decision, then. The 3:30 pace group was beginning to slip out of sight with my original goal. I spent the rest of the race watching my pace band.
At the half marathon point, I assessed the number of vehicles sitting around that could drive me to the finish. Duane had the keys, so I would sit in the cold until he finished. I was wet, cold and broken. My situation hadn't changed for better OR for worse in the last 13.1 miles. I was one minute off of my split goal, but my ankle wasn't getting worse, so I decided to keep on running. I started to notice people passing me around mile 16, so I made a game with the cones. Run hard for five cones, go easy for a few, a variation of what John told me to do around this point in the race. Or, I would pick a person to catch up to, just to keep motivated and keep my legs and brain from falling into a slower pace. I also noticed that any change in terrain made a painful adjustment for my ankle. Uphill would hurt, then my body would get use to it. Then the downhill would hurt, then my ankle would find that comfortable. When the pain would get bad enough, I would chant, "The Revenant, but the Revenant!!" to remind myself that the human body is capable of astounding feats. At mile 20, I decided that I would never try doing math in a marathon, because I started counting down 8 miles and thinking that my BQ was completely gone. I only had 6 miles, though and was still in the game.
Pretending that I'm having fun at the Colorado Marathon!
Somewhere around 22 miles, I realized that I would be physically done running if I stopped. At mile 24, everything below my hip flexors began to cramp. My right leg was really tired from doing much of the work. My ankles didn't seem to flex or extend, but I could put one leg in front of the other. I finished in 3:36:29, much slower than my goal and only a little faster than my BQ. Immediately after crossing the finish line, I couldn't walk or hold my body up. I hobbled to the medical tent. Cold and shivering, they put me in the ambulance. My left ankle was now swollen to the size of my calf muscle. Once we located Duane, I was put in a wheel chair and brought to our van. I experienced an amazing amount of pain and guilt. We bought some crutches, and I did my best to keep from being incredibly miserable for the rest of our trip.
We returned home on Monday. I had an afternoon appointment with my foot and ankle doctor, who immediately took x-rays of my ankle. I had a spiral fracture of my fibula that happened when it rolled. Knowing this alleviated some of my guilt from continuing my run. I'm in a boot and on crutches for 4-6 weeks, but should be able to run by July 4th. I can't walk if I wanted to, but have been able to get around on my crutches and knee scooter rental. I no longer regret my decision to keep running. I did PR and BQ, though I'm a little nervous about being so close to my 3:40 time. There is a chance that my BQ could not make the accepted time. If that happens, I will plan to train for and run the Colorado Marathon, again, hopefully on two good legs and in beautiful weather.
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