The past couple of months have been difficult. Dealing with my sprained ankle and the subsequent recovery has taken a toll on me, both physically and emotionally. It’s been frustrating feeling and being slower than where I wanted to be, especially at this point in the summer. I’m trying to stay positive about it, which is easier said than done.
This past week I started physical therapy on the ankle, which gave me a lot of hope. My physical therapist was really encouraged at the strength of my ankle and that I was able to run what I’ve done since April. There were a few areas of concern which she gave me to work on along with scheduling a few other exercises — including a running assessment in a couple weeks.
So going into this race, I felt — cautiously — encouraged. My therapist didn’t think it was a BAD idea, in fact she was amazed I was able to run last week’s Trifecta. As far as pace and time went — I had no idea where I was going to be? The fact that last week’s races were around four hours each and the week before’s race down Big Cottonwood was 2:56 — I just didn’t know what to expect?
I really wanted to push for a sub-three hour half, but didn’t know if that was a reasonable or attainable goal? But, I knew I didn’t want to be around 3:30 or slower — so how’s that for a definitive goal?
But, with this ankle recovery I’ve found it’s hard to make definitive goals I like to see concrete results. I like to see when x plus y equals z. But, this race included too many imaginary numbers for me. So I didn’t really have a definitive goal. But, I wanted to push a sub-three and I didn’t want to be out on he course forever.
How’s that for a goal?
Anyways, I was excited to run, because American Fork Canyon is such a gorgeous canyon. It’s in my trifecta of favorite Utah canyons. It’s hard to keep your head down while running down the canyon because you get such beautiful views of Timp and the surrounding mountains. It’s so green and beautiful.
That affect happens whether I am running this race, the Timp Half or a training run. And, it got me once again on Saturday once the gun sounded. Not wanting to go out too strong I kept to the right of the road and just focused on going with the flow of the crowd. I did this to not just warm up, but to test the foot.
I kind of decided to just take what my foot was going to give me. But, I knew I couldn’t — or shouldn’t — take too much, too early. Because, if I was going to sub-three, I needed gas left in the tank in the later miles, especially the non-canyon miles. So, I ran the first three miles rather conservatively.
After those first three miles, I felt pretty good so I just worked on picking up my pace slightly and putting myself on cruise control down the canyon. It wasn’t quite like putting the petal to the metal, but it felt good being able to be consistent with minimal pain.
I was amazed at how much stronger I felt compared to not just the previous week’s races, but Drop13. Being a canyon run, I felt that American Fork Canyon was “kinder” to my ankle than Big Cottonwood. Not only was the elevation drop more gradual, but the road was less windy — which really helped with my ankle since there wasn’t much lateral movement on my part.
It just felt so good to be able to be on cruise control. The miles seemed to just pass and before I knew it I was already out of the canyon. Which was about 7.5 or so miles into the race. I felt like Meb.
Coming out of the canyon, I knew it was going to be tougher. The rolling hills and neighborhood miles are always tough for me, regardless of the state of my ankle. After passing the Mile 8 mile marker we made our climb on the rolling hills near the gold course. I decided to fast walk the hills to conserve my energy.
While climbing the hill, I noticed my friend Shonda ahead a hundred yards or so ahead of me. Throwing caution to the wind, I sprinted up the hill to catch up with her. After taking a picture with her, I ran ahead. I could tell she was struggling a bit, but I was amazed I was able to catch up to her, because she is a strong runner.
It was around this time I felt I had a shot at that sub-three time. Knowing the course that was ahead of me, I knew it was going to be tough, but I felt that if I kept running and didn’t stop to walk much, I could do it. So, I shuffled when I needed to shuffle and sprinted when I needed to sprint those last five miles.
After winding around neighborhoods and along the Murdock Trail, I made it to the last mile of the race. I avoided looking at my watch, because I didn’t want to play mind games with myself. I just wanted to keep running strong. Soon we met up with the 5K runners who looped onto the 3/4 of a mile of the race with us.
Around this time, as I was focusing on that last mile, I heard my name and noticed it was Zack — one of my teammates from Addict II Athlete. I could tell right away he was hurting, He told me that his leg was hurting. But, for hurting at that point of the race, he was looking strong.
We ran together that last mile and I gave him the best advice I had on dealing with pain. I gave him some of my ultrarunning tricks and reminded him that when the legs and mind give out — you let the heart carry you the rest of the way. It was a very special moment for me to be able to share with Zack.
We soon ran into Don, our teammate, who came back looking for us and he ran us to the finisher’s corral. I let Zack ahead of me as I barked words of encouragement toward that finish line. It wasn’t until that last moment when I caught a glance of the time that I noticed I got a sub-three time! But, at that moment I didn’t really care. I was happy to be done, to be with teammates and have the opportunity to run with Zack.
After grabbing some water and mingling a bit, I checked my time and came in at 2:55:06 — I was happy. I was very happy. I didn’t care that I once ran this race 45 minutes faster, I cared about now. I cared about the effort I put in that day. And, I cared that my foot didn’t feel like it fell off.
I was happy.
I still have a long way to go with my recovery, but this was a victory. And, having a plan with my physical therapist I feel like I have an attainable goal that will help me get where I want and need to be. Not just with my speed, but my stamina that will help get me to my 48 hour run in February. That 100 miles is going to happen. I am sure of it.
But, the focus is on the therapy, the weight loss and the exercises I CAN do. And, I am feeling a difference. I’ve shed over 10lbs. and lost some inches that needed to be shed so I am happy with that. Sure, like I’ve said previously, it might not be in the timetable or pace I’d like it to be — but, it’s happening.
My next race is in a couple of weeks, so the focus is on the continued weight-loss and therapy. I have a group run planned for Little Cottonwood on Saturday that I am excited about. Lots of good things happening.
But, Saturday’s race was perfection.
MY NEXT FIVE RACES
I had a race that was cancelled — The 13 Miles of Freedom — so I had to do a little shuffling. That makes my next race the Utah Midnight Run in Farmington! That will be the first of two back to back races on the weekend of July 7th!
Running Miles — 6.5 miles
Race Miles — 13.1 miles
Walking Miles — 35.23 miles
TOTAL MILES — 54.83 miles
Race(s) this week — AF Canyon Race Against Cancer
June 2017 Miles
Running Miles — 32.7 miles
Race Miles — 65.5 miles
Walking Miles — 92.27 miles
TOTAL MILES — 190.47 miles
Races in May — Drop 13 Half Marathon, Bear Lake Trifecta — Idaho, Wyoming & Utah and AF Canyon Race Against Cancer
Running Miles — 259.95 miles
Race Miles — 243.12 miles
Walking Miles — 616.72 miles
TOTAL MILES — 1119.79 miles
Races done in 2017 — New Year’s Half Marathon, Sweethearts 5K, Jackpot Running Festival, SL Tri Club Indoor Half, March Madness Half, Lucky 13 Half Marathon, Emigration Canyon Half Marathon, Riverton Half, Saltair Half, Provo City Half Marathon, Jordan River Half Marathon, Drop13 Half Marathon, Bear Lake Trifecta — Idaho, Wyoming & Utah and AF Canyon Race Against Cancer.
AF Canyon Run Against Cancer; June 24, 2017 (2:55:04) AF Canyon will always be one of my favorite canyons to run. Great views of Timp, gorgeous greenery around every corner and a canyon drop that lets you soak it all in putting yourself on cruise control. Came into this race not knowing what to expect with my ankle, but the terrain and elevation drop made for a fairly pain free run. I pushed it a bit and was pleasantly surprised and happy coming in under three hours. Not bad for my fourth half in two weeks, eh? Had a great moment running in my @addicttoathlete teammate Zack during the last mile. We were both hurting, but we kept each other motivated and going. I sure love being a part of this team, we inspire and motivate each other to our goals. I’m feeling stronger, especially with my physical therapy. I can’t wait to get where I want to be/need. But, for now, I need to be patient. #race152 #afcanyonrun #running @joshruns180 @josherwalla @fight4phat @addicttoathlete @afcanyonrun
Doing my first PT session for Foots McGee. Hoping this will help with the pain. I’m feeling it heal, but obviously would like it to go faster. But, I gotta trust the process. #physicaltherapy #running #injuryrecovery #injury #runner #runnerslife #sprainedankle #run #fitness #wellness #health #recovery #comebackstronger @josherwalla @joshruns180 @fight4phat