December 6, 2010

Skipping a race, riding the recumbent bike, it can only mean one thing........Injured!

This past Saturday was TNF Endurance Challenge 50 miler at Marin Headlands in California. With a $10, 000 pay day for the win and not bad earnings for 2nd and 3rd place either the sign up list soon become an all star role call of North American, and some European, ultra runners. Given I was racing the World 100km roads 4 weeks prior TNF would not be a key race but I couldn't resist signing up to pit myself against some serious competition and to hit some new trails.

After Worlds I took a full week off running, I was in the UK with family and friends so plenty to do and I squeezed in one awesome hour road run in Tower Bridge area of London before jumping on the plane back to Banff. Within 2 days of being back in Banff winter and flu season hit with avengance. It was minus 35, I had a cough, a runny nose, I ached and had headaches and an unsettled stomach. It was all I could do to stagger into work, sit at my desk and stagger home again. On a few better days I began gym season and got some good short runs in on the treadmill, some elliptical work outs and even did some swimming and weights, which I notoriously avoid. I got over the worst of my cold and got some hill work in - a trip up Sulphur mountain in the snow and some steep inclines on the treadmill.

The weekend before the race I decided to do another trip up Sulphur - nice and easy but just get some hill memory back in the legs. I hiked/ ran up to the base of the trail from my house and began to feel a nagging pain in my SI. I had felt tiny (and I mean tiny) twinges once or twice the week prior but now it was much more intense. Having had this injury before and it being the only injury that has ever stopped me from running entirely, I relucatantly made the call to head downhill and home. Downhill hurt more so it was a long slow walk home (and I was super glad to have stuffed my MHW nitrus down jacket in my pack!)

As soon as I was home I messaged two Banff friends both of whom recommended the same physio and I got an appointment for the Monday, 2 days later. Until Monday I couldn't walk the 10mins into town and got the bus instead. I got a taxi to my physio appointment. This wasn't looking good. Hugh worked wonders and sent me away with some exercises and optimism that I shouldn't cancel race plans yet. Wednesday saw another physio appointment and on Thursday I flew to San Francisco hopeful I may still be able to race.
Friday was a fun day spent at the Mountain Hardwear offices in Richmond with other Montrail runners. It was great to meet more of the team and talk about exciting Montrail and Mountain Hardwear product developments (ssshhhh, it's secret!) In late afternoon Ryne, Jackie, Kristin and I headed iout to the hostel which was right by the race start. Before we headed out to pick up groceries I decided I better see if I could run for 5 minutes, afterall it's one thing to drop out of an ultra but I'd look damn stupid dropping out only 5 minutes into a 50 miler! I ran on the grass , first on the flat and then testing a very short incline as I suspected that downhills would be the worst. After less than a minute I knew I couldn't race. Ryne told me to run 20 feet without limping, I focused on my breathing but I couldn't run without a limp. I contemplated running on the toe of my right foot but then figured this wasn't really feasible for 50 miles. I considered side stepping down hill, but again figured that this method would be far too slow! Basically I so wanted to race I was willing to consider anything but I shook Ryne's hand, gave Jackie a hug and agreed not to race.

The next morning I woke at 3.30am as Jackie was racing the 50 miler and Kristin the 50km. Just to be sure the vitamin I of the night prior had not performed supersonic miracles I went out to try abother run. It was 4am, it hurt, and in the pitch black with my headlamp and few sounds. I knew that more than wanting to race I just wanted to run. 8 days with no running and I was craving a run.
What can I say? I am disappointed, Ryne (who was ill) and I hiked up to Pirates Cove to cheer on runners and then went to offer any aid to our friends running through Bootjack and just glimpsing the trails made me want to go explore the course. But I am putting this in proportion - lots of other runners were ill or injured too so this made a bitter pill easier to swallow (Devon C-H & Tracy Garneau didn't start, Krissy Moehl dropped) as I was not the only one on the sidelines. I have had a stellar year beyond all my expecatation so I have a lot to be very happy with! When I once talked to Gary Robbins, whining about my constant aches and pains, I so remember him saying, 'Ellie, we are all running that tight rope betwen training as much as possible and being injured'. Let's just say I have fallen off the tight rope at the moment, but I will be climbing back on just as soon as my body allows.

It was a lot of fun to see the race from the sidelines, Montrails Geoff Roes and Dakota Jones lead a strong mens race until Miguel Heras blew by them in the closing stages. Geoff finished 2nd, Dave Mackey 3rd and Dakota was 4th. In the womens race I was cheering for fellow Montrailee Joelle Vaught but also fellow Brit Lizzy Hawker. After Lizzy's 3rd place at the Worlds I so wanted her to find redemption and win in Marin, but she finished 2nd (behind NZs Anna Frost) - an outstanding effort given Lizzy was fighting a serious cold/ flu. Joelle came bounding over the finish line, smiling for her 4th place, and to top off the Montrail results Luanne Park placed 4th in the 50km (rocking her new Montrail Rogue Racers).
And Bryon Powell of probably ran more miles than anyone in covering the race on his website and twitter. He really got the buzz going around the race, so check out
Happy Trails, whether they be snowy or muddy!


  1. Hi Ellie

    Great to read your blog. You have climbed a different sort of mountain this time by not running. A big brave decision. Well done!


  2. Ah, Yes. Knowing "when to say when" is always the hardest decision of all. Solid decision - that doesn't mean it's not hard to watch everyone else having all the fun! There will be other races.

  3. Soak in the great season Ellie - There's a lot more racing to come...