A 6-mile walk in the park (Whispering Pines 50K DNF)

I came, I saw, I fell, I DNF’ed. The story of the Whispering Pines 50K turned 10K hobble.

I had never DNF’ed a race before, but I also had never experienced an injury from my own clumsiness during a race before either, so I can’t feel too bad about it. Right off the bat this morning I knew the Whispering Pines race at the Tyler State Park in Tyler, TX, was more than I bargained for when I was out of breath from climbing a hill after the first quarter-mile. From what I did get to see of this course, it was single-track, hilly, pretty, and rough.

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The weather was humid, so that combined with the hills made me very nervous about how I was going to keep myself going over the course of 30 miles (three 10-mile loops). There was a lot of walking in the first few miles simply because you were either stuck in a single-file line of runners you had no room to pass, or you were climbing a hill and wanted to conserve energy. I told myself when it was flat or downhill, I would run.

And I was going downhill at about 3.3 miles when I slipped or tripped on a root and went spectacularly flying forward. I felt the pain in my left knee immediately, and my first thought was, “I’m going to have to quit.” A few runners came up behind me shortly and asked if I was OK. I was shocked at the sudden pain in my knee and knew I would need a minute to collect myself. When I stood up, I tried to stretch it out but the front of my knee was throbbing and the back of my knee felt strained. It had limited mobility and I couldn’t bend it back all the way without feeling pain. Less importantly, my right knee was bleeding pretty good and my shoulder was all scratched up. I must have rolled or something because both of my sleeves were smeared with dirt.

Even though I was only a quarter-mile past an aid station, I decided to go forward and see if the pain would go away. I walked/hobbled for a mile and then tried to run. Nope. I grappled for the next two miles with the thought of dropping out, but knew it was the right thing to do. There was absolutely no way I was doing 26 more miles on this knee, I couldn’t run and felt the pain even as I walked. Any time my shoe hit a root, it reverberated pain through my knee. I was bitterly disappointed, and when alone on the trail, I allowed tears to come. Then I’d quickly try to collect myself as someone came up behind me. I heard “On your left” about 5,000 times.

Shortly before arriving at the next aid station, I came upon another limping girl who told me she had rolled her ankle and was dropping too. We got to the aid station and got a ride with a volunteer back to the start. I was glad I’d had the three miles of walking to mostly get myself together, or else I may have bawled in front of all the volunteers. We got dropped off back at the start/finish, and I made my disappointing trip home after taking some Tylenol and wrapping up my knee with a cold compress.

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I am not extremely worried about my knee because I was able to walk those three miles without being in excruciating pain, and the pain is more dull now than sharp. From Google I am guessing I strained some ligaments or something like that, it sounds like a knee sprain. But I will have to ice it and monitor it over the next few days; if it doesn’t start to get better, I will go see a doctor.

I know I did the right thing because there will be other races and I really was not able to run anymore without pain, and had I tried to continue it probably would have gotten a lot worse. Had I not gotten injured, I would have had a VERY long and probably miserable day with those hills and that humidity, but I wouldn’t have quit and I would have felt very proud of myself when I finished it. So in one way, I know I escaped a rough day, but I also lost out on the feelings I would have had when I finished after a rough day. Besides, no one runs a marathon or ultramarathon because it’s easy! So it’s just ultimately disappointing.

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2 thoughts on “A 6-mile walk in the park (Whispering Pines 50K DNF)

  1. My first 50K was a DNF because I fell. Not fun, but there are always more race opportunities and since then I’ve finished two more 50K’s and other races, too. Heal quickly!

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