Taking a Step Back to Move Forward

It's been quite the weekend, and it's hard to know where to start this story. How's this: Yesterday was the Canadian National Mountain Running Championships at Cypress Mountain, which I was thrilled to have qualified to run - but I didn't run it. 

How could I pass up an experience like that? 

It boils down to something quite simple: I'm exhausted. For the last ten days, my body has been asking me in subtle ways to back off my running and rest for a while. I've been mostly listening, too - I've only run about 50km total in those 10 days, and have taken many more days off than normal - but I am now certain that this is not what my body means by backing off. On Friday I made the tough decision to not race Nationals, and take a full 7-10 days off running. My #1 goal race for this year is the Squamish 50k in 5 weeks, and I wanted to do everything I can to get to that start line healthy, fresh, and ready to go.

So I went for a casual mountain bike ride yesterday morning instead - and promptly crashed in such spectacular fashion that I ended up with a broken wrist, and a banged up knee and elbow that required 7 stitches between them. In typical Squamish style, everyone (including the nurses and doctor at the hospital) keeps asking me which trail I was on. The answer? About the most non-technical one you could imagine (Mashiter, for those who really just need to know). It's not even really a trail, not by Squamish standards - just more of a connector that I run on every.single.day from home to GET to the trails. I am very cautious on the bike normally, and on this particular downhill I always inch my way down, but as a result never make it up the hill that immediately follows ... so yesterday, for some reason, I decided to throw caution to the wind and barrel down, trying to get enough momentum to launch myself up the other side. Well, I launched myself all right - just not quite in the way I had intended.

Note to self: when you're not particularly skilled at something, throwing caution to the wind is *probably* not the wisest course of action.

Running the Iceline Trail in Yoho National Park
Anyway. Of course my first thought, even through the shock and adrenaline, was "what if I can't run the Squamish 50 now?" I would, for so many reasons, be devastated. I was training for that race last year when I was diagnosed with breast cancer, and had to run it completely undertrained because of 6 weeks off recovering from my first surgery when I should have been peaking in mileage. I then had to take 3 more months off running after my second surgery, and worked so hard to get back into shape - only to drop out of the Vancouver marathon in May, because I had a nagging injury and didn't want to risk my trail racing season. And sure enough I've had a fantastic trail season so far; some great race results and amazing running adventures in beautiful places with wonderful people. My heart is so full - but dammit, I want to run that race! It's such an important one for me and I knew I'd be poised to have a great run this year.

The silver lining, I suppose, is that (as I mentioned) I was already planning on taking 7-10 days off. That coincides with when the stitches come out ... and I am told that I can run with a cast on. I have difficulty picturing it on these trails with the amount of arm flailing that goes on running downhill - but we'll see. I remain hopeful, but not ignorantly so. I'll listen to my body; I just really hope it tells me to run. And if it does, you'll see me out there in 5 weeks racing that 50k. I'll be the one with the cast on my arm and a big grin on my face.


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