My Rocky Raccoon Pre-race Drama Story


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All was moving along swimmingly leading up to my first 100 miler since the CDT hike.  I won both of my recent local 50ks and I had a solid showing at the Seattle Marathon in December.  Then the mystery pain started.

Two weeks ago on a Sunday afternoon after an easy run at Cougar Mountain, my lower right leg began aching.  By the time I was home it was throbbing.  I took Ibuprofen and the pain was gone.  “Weird”, I thought.

Then at 1am that night the pain was back and it woke me up.  I took more pills and iced it for half an hour before the meds kicked in.  Throughout the next couple days I played this game, taking pain pills every 5 or 6 hours, the pain coming back like clockwork as the meds wore off.

By Tuesday I was really concerned and went to the doctor.  She thought it was nerve issues relating to lower back problems.  I had an x-ray and an MRI on my back that afternoon.  Tests came back negative; I have a healthy back.  Next day she sent me to a neurologist and she tested the nerves of my lower leg as well as my back.  I have rapid firing nerves and they all worked fine.

Upset with not having an answer and not having had any good training for a few days I went to Green Lake, took a couple pain pills, and had an awesome 15 mile MP workout, covering the middle 12 miles at 6 minute pace.  I felt great and had no foot pain.  But once the meds wore off, the pain was back.

Over the next few days the pain gradually subsided.  I thought I was in the clear.  Then on Sunday I went to the track for a workout.  My thought was that even though I hadn’t been running much, I’d at least keep my fitness high by doing solid workouts.  Within the first lap of my tempo workout I could feel a pinpoint pain in my lower right leg.  The neurologist said she expected a stress fracture and I was beginning to agree with her.

I dropped from the workout after 800 meters, went back to the car and agonized over the thought of missing this race.  I’ve been thinking about running this race since August and have been feeling confident and ready to go, and now here I was thinking about how I may not be able to run at all.

There are around 40 adult alligators in the park we'll be running in.  I don't want to be seen limping along out there on a broken leg.

There are around 40 adult alligators in the park we’ll be running in. I don’t want to be seen limping along out there on a broken leg.

Fast forward to today, just over 30 hours from the race start and I’m pumped.  I had an MRI yesterday on my leg and it came back negative, no sign of stress fractures in the tibia or fibula.  So I’m racing.  I’ll take pain pills throughout the race, I’ll make sure I hydrate, and I’ll stick with all the old standbys that have carried me through races in the past.

My primary objective for this race is to run the entire race.  I will stop at aid stations to refuel, but if I’m on the course, I want to be running.  I’d love to place high in the race and I’d love to run a fast time, but my focus is on running 100 miles on Saturday.

It’s a competitive field and the race offers quality awards.  On the line is USATF national championship status, Western States qualifier spots, and money.  There are some studs in the field but there are also plenty of people with resumes not too far from mine.

So I am super excited to be leaving tomorrow for Huntsville, Texas for the Rocky Raccoon 100.  I know my leg isn’t broken, my back is fine, and my nerves function properly.  I have great crew with Julie and with our friend Eric Schneider.  And while I have some lingering doubts about my mystery leg ailment, I feel confident in my training and in my fitness.  So cheers to RR100 and to not having stress fractures!

Phil at Seven Hills Running Shop interviewed me this past week for the race.  Check it out HERE.  I may have been a bit ambitious with some of my answers, but I’ve never been accused of not being a dreamer.

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