Friday, April 13, 2012
Friday the 13th: Living Dangerously
I was originally planning to do hills up at Horsetooth this weekend, a few Rock Repeats. Then I saw the weather forecast and I realized I better get those in today, because this weekend is looking to be wet and cold.
After yesterday's 20 miles mostly on the track, I woke up this morning feeling BLAH. I was tired, but not physically tired. I felt mentally tired, like I didn't feel like making the effort to do anything. It took me until 9:30 to get out the door, taking the girls for a wimpy walk.
I was feeling hormonal and irritable, craving chocolate and carbohydrates, with a big fat zit protruding out of my forehead like a new nose. Since these days I'm no longer able to predict in advance when I'm going to get hit with a bout of PMS/RPB, I have to roll with it and deal with it.
Anyway, this morning I felt like I needed something DIFFERENT. Running in circles and on the flats, as much as I like to do it in races, can get pretty boring in training, week after week.
I've been telling myself I need to get out and test my ankle on the trails. I can walk and run on grass now without any pain, and walking over gravel and river rocks doesn't seem to bother it. I've been hesitant to go test it out, mostly out of fear of re-injuring it, but also partially out of my laziness? unwillingness? stubbornness? recalcitrance? to drive anywhere to run unless it's absolutely necessary.
I put my shoes on, and deliberately did not use the ankle brace.
Today was the day. I was going to live dangerously and ignore:
1. That it was Friday the 13th.
2. The fact that hormones do unfavorable things to our bodies at this point in the menstrual cycle: first, they cause brain fog which causes inattention and poor motor control, and second, they can make soft tissues more vulnerable to injury due to a drop in ligament and overall joint strength because of an increase in the hormone relaxin.
I wouldn't have thought of these things under normal circumstances anyway, but they did occur to me as I made my way up the first technical, rocky section. I parked at Maxwell Trailhead, and ran up the trail below the A, crossed the road at Rotary Park, and continued on the narrow singletrack high hogback trail on the west side of Centennial Drive until I got to the cattle guard near the 3 mile mark of the Horsetooth Half Marathon.
Hughes Stadium, a landmark currently claiming the most newsprint in Fort Collins since Balloon Boy.
The trails are partially technical, some very rocky stretches, in between smooth to bumpy sections without rocks.
Not a peep out of my ankle, the whole time, and as I sit here afterward, I still can't feel it.
I was so excited, 2 miles into the run I stopped and took a picture of my feet on the trail and texted Cat with it, "Look where my feet are!"
The run was short, I got 5.8 miles and 1100 feet each of vertical gain and descent, but considering that eight months ago I couldn't even walk across the grass in my front yard without having serious ankle pain, I've come a long way.
I surprised myself with how easily I ran the trails. I thought the first time I got out there, I'd be overly cautious on the downhills, but I felt like my feet were gliding over the rocks, and I let go of any fear. I tried to stay relaxed and not over-think where I was placing my feet.
This gives me hope that I can rebuild to running on trails at least sometimes, and maybe some of the tamer trail races might be possibilities for me again. I can tell my leg and ankle strength have suffered over two years of not running trails. Trails work so many muscles and tissues from different angles, it's an important part of strength training and injury prevention. I bet I haven't done more than a dozen miles on trails since I ran the Old Pueblo 50 in 2010, which was the first time I realized I had an ankle problem.
So I'm going to get back to running trails. After the 24 hour I'll try to get one trail run in each week. Just in time for snake season! But maybe this weekend's cold, wet weather will keep the snakes away for a little longer.