Beating the odds…
“Your running career is over, you see this, (as the surgeon pointed to the MRI), you need immediate hip replacements, you are done.” My eyes weld up with tears, I heard nothing he said after that. Did he even realize what he had just said to me?!!! I couldn’t settle for this, I was getting a 2nd, 3rd, 4th opinion …
Shortly after I found myself in the good hands of Dr. Mei Dan and the doctors of CU Boulder Sports Medicine. One of the best decisions I’ve ever made in my life. Although the reality was, my hip bones grew wrong, I had cysts, impingements, and my entire pelvis was (still is) severely arthritic, complete with labrum tears. Dr. Mei Dan suggested we at least try scopes first… to buy me some time. Neither of us thought it would buy me 40 more miles of running blissfully over rocks and roots, but 1 year later, it did.
5 months on crutches, 2 surgeries, no running for a year, minimal biking or walking, certainly seems like hell, but I constantly reminded myself that it could be worse. I diligently completed my physical therapy and strength work. I kept my nutrition balanced and I looked at this as just another long challenging ultra. February 2017.. I was on a roll. I was biking a little, running more, and getting stronger than ever, until the unexpected happened. I picked up Maya the wrong way and tore my Quad Tendon. Another set back and so not my fault!!! Uhg… well another few weeks off and one on crutches. ☹
“With God all things are possible”… this quote echoes in my head a lot, however, I learned via a church service that it is often not used in the context God had meant it to be used for. It’s not just meant to get a healthy person to the finish line faster than anyone else, but more so, the unhealthy person who has had trials and challenges and those suffering from illness, going through a messy divorce, a messy life…. Maybe my situation is what it is supposed to be used for, maybe it’s not…but God has certainly been my rock through it all and will continue to be.
April 6th, 2017, over one year after I ended up in the ER for my hips, I decided to drive down to Smithville TX for the Austin Rattler. This event hosted mountain biking one day and running the next. If you did well, or got lucky, you would earn your place in the Leadville 100. It was not my intent to run even though I had been doing some before I tore my quad tendon and even a little after, but my main focus was to try out mountain biking.
Anything that could go wrong leading up to it did. The whole family got sick with a bad cold, my pedals didn’t come in and I therefore had to ride with flats. Bike and hydration vest malfunctions.. you name it, it happened… I was wondering if it were a sign not to go…but then, I went anyways!
It was a long, long drive and really for anyone driving down to TX from CO I think the signs should say:
NOT EVEN CLOSE
NOPE NOT EVEN A LITTLE
HARDLY MAKING A DENT
MAYBE A LITTLE… NOPE NOT REALLY
OKAY A LITTLE PROGRESS NOW
ALMOST HALF WAY
15 hour drive one way by yourself and back… is a heck of a lot of time to think about things though! I certainly needed it, I hadn’t had a mommy/wifey break except for once when I went to dinner with a friend in the entire past year.
Rocky Hill Ranch was the location of the event and consisted of numerous people camping via RV’s and tents right on the course! The weather was warm, and got pretty dang toasty during the race, but it was welcomed since I had just left 6 inches of snow!
MTB Race day morning I awoke with excitement but MTB to me is a love hate relationship. It allows me to fly over those rocks and roots just as I used to with healthy hips. It gives me the freedom most of us runners long for so much, BUT not without the price of having to use equipment, understand bike mechanics, and use a tremendous amount of focus while trying to perform.
I weaved my way in and out of all the people to get in place in the starting corral. Unconfidently, I placed myself towards the front but it wouldn’t be far enough up front not to get pinched out from the lead pack of women…or even the top 100 of 600 riders! A mistake I will not let happen again. Right away on the first hill, unconditioned bikers were falling over on the rocks and causing a pile up affect. I quickly jumped off my bike and ran up passing about 30 people. Mounting up again, I was able to tear down the rocky single track only to encounter a water crossing that threw me right off my FLAT pedals and kept me slipping and sliding all over the place with no traction. Scrrrreeeeeeech.. eeeeerrrrrrttttt.. I looked up ahead and much to my disbelief there was at least 50 bikers in line in front of me off their bikes “waiting their turn” to go down a technical section. Sigh… seriously.. running is so much better I thought to myself. This is really going to suck if it’s like this the whole 60 miles.” The line slowly moved forward as I jumped back on and cleared the “not so technical after all” section. I tried not to have a frustrated mind set, after all, this was my first bike race and I could find myself crashed out on one of these sections later.
That wouldn’t be the case at all… I proudly handled all obstacles and really felt blessed to have the ability to do so. I tried my best to make up time and to keep passing people. Excitement grew as I found myself passing women I had picked out as top riders day the before, but diminished when I found out I had only finished 12th and my poor start had cost me my race.
Although I had only finished 3rd in my age group, I was pleased to find a lot of the women that beat me were even 10 years older, and this made me smile. I was hooked, and my future in MTB was just starting.
Enjoying the rest of the night at the after BBQ and my tent, my mind couldn’t help but think about running the next day. My plan was to wake up and see how I felt. Zippers were zipping and tents rustling when I awoke the next morning. I shifted around in my sleeping bag and tried to find soreness or pain. There wasn’t any! ANYWHERE! I couldn’t believe it. I felt like I did nothing the day before. Yay for biking and no doubt I was going to try to run now. After all, there was no pressure, I didn’t have to finish, the course runs right by my tent so if I want to or need to stop I could, and I will need to test these hips out sooner or later.
I set out with the sea of headlamps not expecting to even be able to complete the 40 mile distance let alone win it, but I did. It wasn’t all rainbows, my quad tendons on both legs were pretty mad the first 10 miles. At that point, I thought oh well, at least I made it 10 as I stopped to rub them out and put things away in my pack. Slowly walking on to finish at least one loop and head back to my tent, my body just naturally started running again, but felt even better. I didn’t feel anything, didn’t feel my hips, it felt good to run. Floating over the trail, I looked up to see a lady ahead of me. First place women up ahead said the aid station volunteer. I continued and caught up her, talked with her a bit, told her not to worry, even if I came out on top I wasn’t going to take my Leadville running spot so she could have it and that we had a pretty big gap on the next ladies. She was young, strong, determined and come to find out she was a Salomon runner trying to make her imprint more substantial in the ultra scene. Both of us bonked pretty hard. The heat and humidity was intense and I could only laugh at myself because although it sucked, I loved every minute of that bonk. It had been so long since I felt one and I felt right at home when it happened. I knew just what to do and found my way blazing through the last 5 miles putting 10 minutes on her. It was a good weekend 😊
Recovering pretty well now, I will focus my attention mostly on MTB until late summer when I start training for RRR 100. This way I can have the best of both worlds and save my hips just a little longer.
Next up, God willing:
Whiskey Off Road: AZ 4/30/17 MTB
Whiskey Off Road: CO 5/21/17 MTB
Whiskey Off Road: NV 6/18/17 MTB
Leadville 100 MTB: CO 8/12/17
RRR 100: 9/8/17 running!
*possible TNF 50 San Fran 12/2/17 run