Sunday, September 21, 2014

Race Report: Iron Mountain Trail Run 50 Miler

A little late, but better late than never.

Two years ago I swore that I would never run the IMTR 50 miler again. Apparently 2 years is just long enough to forget why I made that promise. A few friends had signed up with plans to rent the same house we'd stayed in 2 years ago...and sounded like fun. We were going to hang out, drink beer, run a little, then drink more beer. By the time I actually got around to signing up, the race was full so I added my name to the wait list and promptly forgot about it until about 6 weeks out from the race when I received an email informing me that I got in. Whoopdidoo! Needless to say, I was probably a little undertrained as I stepped up to the starting line.

The first 4.5 miles were pancake flat along the Creeper Trail, a pretty footpath along a bubbling creek through a quaint, little town. Sounds nice, right?!? And it actually was; kind of boring, but your legs are nice and warmed up by the time you hit the Appalachian Trail and start to ascend the side of a mountain. The next 11ish miles were up and down (mostly up) along very rocky, narrow footpaths that weave along cliffs and creek beds. I can’t say I was appreciating the scenery as I walked along the trail, trying desperately to run, but unable to control my prosthesis as it bounced off rocks in all directions. I made up a little ground skidding down some rocks from a good tumble after catching my prosthesis on a rock, but as I got up noticed I could barely put weight on my prosthetic leg. 

A few runners stopped, but pressed on when I told them there wasn’t anything they could do to help. I took a few ginger steps, the pain sharp, but stable; not getting worse. I hobbled into the aid station at mile 15 and sat down to re-assess. In previous posts I've written about how it would take medical personnel to pull me off of a race course before I'd ever think about quitting, but on this particular day I had a harder time convincing myself to push on. I was thinking about the Uwharrie 100 I had in a few months and was concerned I might do some real damage that I wouldn't recover from quickly. But I could still walk so I pressed on. Actually, with each step, the pain in my leg subsided, but by now I was flirting with the time cut off and would need to keep a steady pace to finish under within 12 hours. 

At mile ~28ish I ran into one of my friends staying with us in the house we'd rented who'd just finished Western States 2 weeks before. He was hurting; fighting off cramps and spasms every time he picked up the pace, and had been facing the same question I had been for the past 15 miles- is this worth the finish? By then it felt good to be past the halfway point, but in reality we still faced about a marathon worth of running with at least 2 really long, really steep climbs before the finish. We walked/jogged together for awhile, trying to help each other probe these questions, in the back of our minds knowing that we would both push on. And that we did. I finally finished just under the cut-off, rounding the corner to the finish line amid many cheering fans. It was not the best race I'd ever run, not the fastest finish, but it was a reminder that with the right mindset I could do anything.


megan said...

The best part is when you woke up the next morning and were just walking around like nothing happened.

megan said...

Hmmm I think I meant to say "was," not "is." But you get the sentiment. Good luck at Uwharrie, woot woot!