Ah yes, what could be more exciting than heading up to Flagstaff to run 11 miles through the mountains with 200 other trail loving, ready to party folks? Not much. So thats why again this year I signed up and was selected through the lottery to run Soulstice. What started as a great time ended up being, not such a great time but not terrible either.
Lyndsey and I went up to Flagstaff friday to have a little vacation day as my in-laws were going to pick my kids up from school then watch them until we returned home. It had snowed in Flagstaff on Thursday and when we got up there the main areas were clear of snow but some could be seen on the mountain tops. (View from the race start/finish area). I saw some on the trails heading up the second loop of single track running. Oh and yeah…not much cooler then running under a big ass tree that had snapped about 15 feet up its 50 foot trunk. I wanted to grab a picture but really wanted to finish faster than last year-thus minimal pictures compared to last years race. I actually had my phone out and was ready to go down a snap a photo but forces beyond me pulled me down the trail instead.
We rented a VW Jetta from Enterprise as they had a $10 a day weekend rate- couldn’t beat that. The car was decent and had some nice features (leather seats, great sound system, very quick once you get the RPM’s built up) but it lacked a lot as well. What 2013 car doesn’t have automatic headlights, or has to honk the horn every time you lock the doors-a real annoyance early in the AM or in the woods. And WTF (foreshadowing) is up with the switchblade key/remote?
So anyhow Friday in Flagstaff was fun. We were able to walk through NAU campus a little, spent some time and money in downtown and I found this great t-shirt (although now that I am home I notice that the screen print on my shirt is pretty weak).
Had a nice dinner at Oreganos, then back to the Drury for the night. I woke up around 3:00 AM Saturday and could not fall back to sleep for the life of me, so by 6:00 I was ready to go. When I got out to the car it had the early morning frost on the windshield that I scraped off with a credit card, and after 5-6 minutes the car was able to heat up enough to defrost the rear and front windows-a real bonus. A second bonus was the red flashing temperature light that blinked at me all the way to the race start area. That was a nice touch. I think when I close my eyes now the image is finally gone. When the announcement came for the runners to get to the start area I got my first look at costume of the day guy, turkeyman.
I had thoughts of wearing my Peyton Manning jersey or my skull face wrap, but I thought that I wold look like a tool. My loss.
Oh, Tool? (go to 34:00)
I felt good for the race knowing that I had been up there a few weeks earlier for the Flagstaff marathon/half marathon and I was 9 1/2 minutes faster for the half marathon that I was last year, and my training had been pretty strong (for me-not a lot for many of you). A funny thing happened as I was walking back from the staging area with a cup of Pay and Take coffee, I ran into my neighbor Julie who lives across the street from me in Peoria, small world. Thanks to Julie I was able to get my raffle prizes as I was off somewhere else during the announcements (more foreshadowing).
So, the race gun went off…oh wait, never mind. The race started and off I went. I was holding what I thought was a nice pace getting the legs and lungs ready for the 7 sisters as they always are waiting for the runners. Rolling through I was doing ok (hill work really pays off BTW) and after a few of the up and downs I caught up to Julie who told me that she thought that the hills where we live were hard and she had no idea how hard these were going to be. I was about to tell her that she “hadn’t seen shit yet” when I almost bit my tongue and just smiled. I remember my first soustice way back when (3 years ago) and if someone would have told me that soon that these were warm up hills I wold have cried. My silence is probably the only reason she grabbed my raffle prizes! From there everything went well, and according to Strava I was at least 40 seconds per mile faster than last year through most of the route. Oh, I forgot to mention. I missed a turn. Yep, where the 7 sisters end and you head right up, up, up the mountain I and several people in front of me kept going straight. According to the mapping tools I have I went about .25-.3 miles out and back that I didn’t need to. That’s what I get for looking ahead and not around, trail running tip #1, and its free. Hey nothing like a route adjustment to get you really moving right? So from there I kept up a good pace, again according to Strava I was about 40 seconds per mile faster than last year. Then with about 2.5-3 miles to the finish I had the most curious event happen to me. I stepped on a rock, or root, or twig, or varmint and turned my left ankle. I went down pretty hard. I felt a little electric jolt as I went down, then I was pretty stiff as I laid there trying to figure out what the hell just happened. I got up and tried to shake it off, but the left ankle was being an asshole. As was my right forearm, shoulder, and shin. Hey, I am an equal opportunity runner. I walked for a few minutes trying to get some mobility back as well as some sense of balance. Eventually it started to come back to where I could hobble/jog for a while but in the area where I thought that I should be able to hammer the trail and make up some real time over last year, I was stuck hopping and hobbling down. I thought that I was ahead of my previous time but was not sure, and when I crossed the finish and went to hit the stop button on my Suunto Amibt the time did not stop. WTF (post shadowing) After a few seconds the time did stop and I realized that EVERYTHING was not against me on this day. I had beat my time from last year, even with the extra distance and my farked up ankle I was about 8 seconds faster than last year. Yeah, 8 seconds. Go eat a dick, right? So, yep I did it. Looking back at Strava, I still don’t know how I wasn’t a lot faster time wise, but whatever.
OK, so I had finished the race, felt pretty good about my effort but not great, then looked down at my ankle. Eh, not terrible. Some swelling but not the worst. It was so decent that I took a picture.
Not so bad right? I could get a little medical on all 3 of you right now, but I wont. In case you like that kind of freaky stuff, here you go. runners foot ankle_PMR clinics
A little swelling but ok. Well then I took a little walk to my car to get the race gear off and change then while heading back to check out the raffle and post race activities I was cruising past the Salomon truck when all of a sudden out of no where my ankle turned again and down I went. At this time I really wished that I was at some kind of gymnastics event because I know that I pulled off the greatest summersault ever performed in a dirt parking area. Unfortunately it was only witnessed by he 2 dudes hanging out at the Salomon truck. One of the 2 dudes said that he could see my ankle completely roll under and they helped me get up and over to the medics who assessed my level of trauma (my wording, not theirs), who gave me an ice pack and siad to talk when I could. I hung out for a while, picked up a Soulstice 2013 poster
and then headed back to the hotel as we had to meet the check out time. When I got there my wife took a little look at my foot and said that something appeared to be a little off. I took off my shoe and sock, then noticed that indeed something was a little amiss. This is what I saw.
Funky fresh in the flesh right? Holy crap this one is going to hurt for a while and take some time to heal. Right now I am worried about my ability to run the 50K’s I had planned for November and December as well as the 50 miler in March. Overall I am happy with my performance, I mean I was faster than I have ever done this race despite going long and busting up my bones and ligaments. As a cool side note, I believe that I read that this race raised over $5000 for the Flagstaff area Big Brothers/Big Sisters program. That is awesome!
Initially I was thinking that I would probably not run this race again as it is a celebration of the Salomon Flagstaff Mountain Trail Championship series and I am not a local and rarely get up to run any of the summer series races, who knows what the future will hold, maybe next year I will get up there and blow away this years time. Or not. But I do miss living in Flagstaff and every time we go up there my wife says how she could see us living there with our kids. So who knows what the future holds. I know that this afternoon holds a session with the Vitalwrap, and a KT tape session.
Anyone have a 15 pound bag of ice?