Posts Tagged ‘Montara Mountain’

2013, The Price of Success.

My 2013 Ohlone 50k was 21 seconds to 3rd — today, I’m 1 day to walking.

What happened?  A treasured 2013 season in which I grew as a runner, a coach, was welcomed to GuEnergy Labs GUCrew, and continued to see 1 hour course PRs… an unbelievable Lake Sonoma, Ohlone, and States… all built up to the transitional 2014 season I had dreamed about from the moment I read about elite trail runners.  I’ve always, without question, known I could run faster.  2014 was the year for me to shed mental boundaries, turn fear to confidence, and become the runner I so vividly see nightly.

This year sat soundly on the success of 2013 and from the emergence from its challenges – going blind.  I shake my head writing this but, YES, I went legally blind at the end of 2013 due, in part, to Western States.  Suffering from Late Onset Cornea Hazel (LOCH) I could not longer drive, run technical trails, EVERYTHING outside my 15 foot immediate radius was a textured blur.  I called it shower door vision and it took away my world – every part of it.

I found a “trail” to healing, working with my PRK surgeon, to running again after a total of 4 eye surgeries coupled with the profound help & guidance of ultra-runner and research ophthalmologist Tracy Hoeg.  Dr. Hoeg was like an angel in the process helping me to navigate the unique course ultrarunners walk, through the health care system.

I’ll write more on this, but to whisk over it, my LOCH blindness was most likely caused by UV-B exposure post PRK surgery while training and participating in the Western States 100.  It was the correlation I did not want to be, but it was.  Western States blinded me.

I’m Screwed!AIFTL Repair

2014 begin with a deep appreciation for the simplicity of life’s basics: Family, Health, Vision, Work, Coaching.  I also realized, running was the glue which allowed me to approach each of these treasured things with love and energy.  The entry back into running was with caution.  On one hand it was something I loved, it’s in the fibers of me; the other hand held a fear of it.  For you could easily build the bartered proposition of, “Would you chose running or sight?”  With all of Dr. Hoeg’s help and the opinion of my Lasik surgeon we really did not know if I’d experience a relapse of LOCH when running again (there’s a waiting period of 4-6 months post surgery to find out).  So every run was in fear, fear of losing sight and fear of losing running.  I cried a lot.  I was lonely and lost.  Yet I couldn’t stop, the trail was me and I felt my connection to it fading far too much.

With each run into 2014 my confidence grew, my connection to the trails grew, and my fitness re-aligned to my 2013 success.  I felt back and back in a new way – my slow ramp up was building a base of strength and speed I’d never experience before.  Combined with each month passing without any LOCH symptoms I felt good.

My race schedule fell into place with 2 key races on the 2014 horizon:  Ohlone 50k and the inaugural Tahoe 200.  I was coming into the year’s races strong and shifted for a continued, smartly choreographed, build up to something inside that I always knew was there but fearful in letting it out.  I dipped into it in 2013 but this year was the time and I had played it smart and was feeling the rewards.  An added fuel was being graciously accepted as one of the GuCrew by GuEnergy labs of which I’m a heavy user of their products.  I sought them out for a reason and was ready to rise.

Then, the unexpected happened.  After running over and volunteering an hour at the Coastal Trail Runs’ Montara mountain event I was re-traversing the mountain on my way home.  Renegade mountain bike trails were my fix that week, so I took one, but slow.  During that I planted my right foot on a downhill traverse… and snap. I couldn’t put weight on it so I hopped on one leg down “The Wall” (practicing for uni-legged Easter) and found a stick to unload some pressure.

Fast forward 5 weeks with zero running and I still wasn’t okay.  I decided the Feb. Western States Training run would be a litmus test – still “off”.  The next weekend I ran, and DNF’d, Inside Trail Running’s Montara Mountain trail holding together well on the uphill with the downhill weaving a story of shit ain’t right.

To the doctor I went which opened an afternoon of medically trained professionals showering me with “I’m so sorry.”  What? It didn’t sink in, yet my x-rays were case perfect depictions of a Syndesmosis Ligament rupture, or specifically my Anterior Inferior Tibular Fibula Ligament (AITFL) the ligament that holds my Tiba and Fibula together, especially under impact forces.

I was done.

The “I’m So Sorrys” were revealed as the course of treatment presented included 2 surgeries and 84 days on crutches completely non-weight bearing.

I was screwed, literally.

Getting Unscrewed

Tomorrow, after 83 days of crutches and over 17 weeks of not really running I take my 2nd step forward into recovery, sliding ever so slowly back to my house and my people.  The retraction has been difficult; I watched Solstice (Western States running movie) last night and cried – I want to be back doing that and I’m almost there, kind of.

Visiting My MountainInto this step I take tremendous patience grown from this process, respect for other runners that are bumped from the sport from injury, and the deepest veined appreciation for what it means to gaze to a mountain top and feel it in you, in a way that the summit is yours whenever you need it.  Because, right now my summit may as well be on the Moon at a time when I need it the most. I miss my smile, the one I get when running to visit.

I’m getting unscrewed.  I’m getting closer to there.


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