It’s hard to believe we’re officially into the eighth month of the year and I have yet to post a race report or training update. By now you’d normally have read many of each. It’s not that I haven’t been active. It’s just that this year, well, didn’t start off according to plan and I’ve somewhat kept to myself as I’ve seen how things unfolded.
This year, 2014, was to be my most ambitious of endurance racing yet. My race schedule was to include a core of four major races:
- The Elk Mountains Grand Traverse—a 40+ mile ski mountaineering race over the event’s namesake Elk Mountains at the end of March from Crested Butte to Aspen, Colorado
- The Fruita Trail Double Marathon—a 52.4-mile trail ultramarathon in the desert of western Colorado near the Utah border during the second half of April
- The San Juan Solstice—a 50-mile high-altitude trail ultramarathon with a whopping 26,000 vertical feet of cumulative elevation change in the rugged San Juan Mountains of southwestern Colorado on June 21
- The Run Rabbit Run 100—my first 100-mile trail ultramarathon, including 41,000 total vertical feet of elevation change, in the mountains around Steamboat Springs, Colorado, in mid-September
By design the schedule allowed large gaps of time between each race, so that I could log a solid block of training while ensuring I remained injury free. Even so, I knew it would be a difficult year. For one there was that 100-miler looming as the culmination of my season in September. My longest ultra to date has been a 100k (~63 miles), the CCC in the Alps last year. The Run Rabbit Run 100-miler would add 37 miles to that personal long—another 50% or another marathon-and-a-half, depending on how you like to look at it.
Then there were, of course, the non-endurance variables: the imminent arrival of our baby boy, our two young girls, this blog, the release of our latest cookbook (Gluten-Free Family Favorites) this summer, and my very busy day job.
Still, I thought I could make it all work … as long as there weren’t any major hiccups. Hiccup.
Literally days after Timothy was born in early January—and at the invitation of friends who asked me to join their team for the start of a new season—I played in my first indoor coed recreational soccer match in more than a decade. I played varsity soccer in high school, intramural soccer in college, and indoor soccer during my early professional years after college. I thought it’d be a fun return to the field, and it was.
But in that very first game coming out of my soccer retirement the opposing team’s goalie and I challenged for the ball and my foot lost that battle. I stubbornly limped around for the next few weeks, and as the pain in my foot got worse, not better, I at last admitted that I had a legitimate injury and scheduled an appointment with a sports medicine doc. X-rays were inconclusive, but also didn’t look good—one angle didn’t show any obvious injury, but a second angle showed a fractured 5th metatarsal head near the cuboid bone joint.
We treated the foot as if it were broken, which it looked like it was, and I spent the new few weeks in an orthopedic walking boot. My heart sank. I worried that I’d just sabotaged my entire racing season. It was unclear if I’d be able to recover in time to race. Even if I could race, it was doubtful that I’d be able to hold to the full original schedule. And if I were able to race this season, I’d be digging myself out of a deep fitness hole, rushing to regain baseline fitness instead of building on my carried-over base from last season.
As the Elk Mountains Grand Traverse approached at the end of March, I decided I was going to give it a go, but that’s a story for another blog post soon.