I think for the first time that I can remember, I went into this trail marathon feeling very relaxed and totally prepared. I was going to run with abandon. I was not going to be conservative. I was going to race harder than I trained. I was not going to let myself slowdown or give in (little did I know what that was going to mean). I had a few songs on my iPod that I played on the way there, “God of Angel Armies” by Chris Rice and “Strangely Dim” by Francesca Battistelli, both songs reminding me Who is in control and where I will need to keep my eyes/heart as I run this race.
The pack started out at a fast 10:50 pace. I settled into last place, happily. I settled into my pace, contently. I was moving along well behind the other 65 runners, down the Stone Door. After moving down this steep rock stairs, the trail moved to a very rocky path.
Then, at mile 3, it happened. I do not remember exactly how I twisted my ankle. I just remember this terrible popping sound and intense pain in my ankle. I stopped in my tracks. I needed to decide what to do. I almost stopped there, but no one was around. I would have to move to get to a Park Ranger. So, I pressed on. My goal now, until I reached the first aid station at mile 6.7, was to make sure that my left food landed flat and landed well. I reached the first aid station, and I had the ranger tape up my ankle. It was tight, but it felt good and stable. I pressed on. At this point, I just wanted to know how far I could go. I was eating and drinking well. I felt good. BUT the rocks were relentless! The problem with the rocks was that I could not get a secure step for my left ankle. The weather was perfect. The hills were not bad. In fact, the hills were a huge relief from the rocks. This place was amazing, the waterfalls, the swinging bridges. I was trying to distract myself with the beauty and not be controlled by the pain. I was reminding myself to relax. I was talking myself out of the pain, until mile 15.
I was becoming a bit overwhelmed. I was crying here and there. The tears were in part due to the fact that I knew I had to stop, and partly because I knew running was not my ultimate treasure, Jesus was. I NEVER disappoint Him. I NEVER have to prove myself to Him. I am His and He is mine. He loves me no matter the outcome of this race. I reached a Park Ranger at mile 15. He was close to a creek crossing with a rope provided to avoid going in the water, completely. I began doubting myself. I asked the ranger what he thought. I had 40 minutes to reach the race cutoff at mile 17.5. He convinced me to take my ibuprofen and press on to the cutoff. The worst part was that it was two miles downhill on more rocks, excruciating to my sprained left ankle. Drum roll, please. . . . I made it! I arrived at the race cutoff with 15 minutes to spare. I absolutely HATED to drop out at this point because my eating was good. I was hydrated. I had plenty of food left. I had planned well. There were only 8.5 miles to go. I had to stop. If my ankle had stayed well, I would have finished. . . no question. This year, I had to stop.
I cried pretty much the entire 1 hour and 45 minutes home. I put my iPod on and listened to the songs I started with on the way to the race. I was reminded and comforted and at peace with my DNF. I would not have changed a thing. I raced exactly how I would have raced ankle sprain or not. That is a good feeling. I was reminded gently that I am loved, unconditionally. That is a good feeling.
I had an x-ray on Monday, nothing was broken. I had an MRI on Wednesday. I got the results Friday, no torn tendons. I spent this week, resting. I went to the gym a few days. I ran a mile or two with my kids. Saturday, I decided to do a shortish hill workout. Then, I got outside. The weather was perfect. I decided to turn this workout into a longish hill workout. I took the route I made and doubled up all the hills. I did not finish (DNF) the race, but It’s Gonna Be Okay (IGBOK).