Here we are 3.5 weeks until the Mountain Lakes 100 and I am about 50% sure that I am not going to do it.
The ankle took longer to rehabilitate than I would have liked but after two weeks of steady progress in the gym and on walks, I went for an hour long run in Forest Park and it handled it like a champ. In fact, I felt so well rested after two weeks without a serious run that climbing up hills felt downright easy.
On Monday we headed to Molalla, Oregon to view the eclipse. Traffic was so light that we decided to drive most of the way and only biked the last 8 miles or so. It was a magnificent experience and now I hunger to see another one. We only got a little over a minute of totality and it was over too quickly. I want more.
On Tuesday I planned a 1.5 hour run from my usual spot where Wildwood Trail connects with NW 53rd Drive. The ankle was still feeling good and I decided that the first 2 miles would have me at a moderately fast pace and then I would do a pace below my aerobic threshold for the rest. Right before my 2 miles were over I got a painful cramp in my left calf. I slowed my pace and tried to work it out. It never went away entirely but at my turn around spot it was more of a dull ache than painful. However, less than a mile from the trailhead, I tripped on a root and my left foot instinctually slammed down to prevent me from falling down a hill. Instantly felt a sharp pain on the side of my calf. I believe I actually yelped.
Back at the trailhead I discovered my car's first aid kit was sadly devoid of ibuprofen, but thankfully the pain was less debilitating and more in the "shit shit shit" spectrum. After I relaxed, hydrated, and did gentle stretching for 20 minutes I drove home, all the while flexing my ankle regularly to prevent it from stiffening up. At home, I gently prodded the muscle and discovered that right along the inner calf a three inch section of the muscle was painful and very tender to the touch. Given its location, I am pretty sure it was a tear of the soleus muscle.
Here we are a week later and despite careful physical therapy, massage, and exercise, today's test on a nearby track had me only completing about 3.5 miles in total. Less than a month ago I did 35 miles in a single day and 76 miles in a week. Not only that, I have now lost three weeks of meaningful training because of two injuries.
Not saying it is impossible but with the muscle healing so slowly and the inevitable loss of a month of training, I am not sure my body will be prepared to run a hundred miles in three and a half weeks. Will continue working on it with a glimmer of hope, but I suspect I will make a decision at the end of this weekend.
Hard not to be upset about this. Months of excellent, steady, deliberate training undone by one shitty month. Of course, at this point there is a bit of concern that the race might be canceled by one of the many wildfires currently burning in Central Oregon; one of which is a scant 12 miles away from the starting line.
On the upside, I did get into really excellent cardiovascular shape. My climb up Mt. Adams last month felt easy. I am used to it being a bit of a struggle but this last time it felt more akin to a long, moderate hike. Also learned more about preparing for longer runs and what I need to finish and finish strong. Not bad things to take away from all this hardwork.
Still. Grrrr. The first time in my life I have seriously trained for long distance running and also signed up for organized races, only to be thwarted by fire and injury. Makes a man want to shake his fist at the sky.