Had to happen – DNF Huntington Beach 20K

15 03 2009

I’m back in the hotel from the Huntington Beach judged 20K. I’m not going to lie – my damn right leg let me down … maybe I let it down … I don’t know. I think I let it down. At any rate, I’m in a great deal of bloody hell pain and beating myself up one side and down the other. I’m pissed off with myself and the fact that I can power through races injured because nobody is looking at my knee but knew after I started collecting warnings on the knee that wouldn’t straighten out that it was over. I pulled myself out literally as I was coming in on lap 12 (?) (I had a great counter who cheered me on). I don’t even know if I made it across on that last lap because all I knew was I had a choice … go around again and have “warnings” turn into a disqualification or stop and not run the risk of pulling a Standard Shepard Maneuver … in other words hurting myself worse just to get to the finish line.

I don’t see myself as a very efficient or fast walker – getting there and if I can get my ducks in a row, I’ll just get faster, but I had a couple of goals with this race. First was to figure out how it worked. Second was to do my best. Third was to pull out if I have to because I simply can’t face being off like I have been because of something stupid. Fourth was finish. Well – it appears I’ve failed spectacularly!

Where to start: Maybe finding out yesterday I had the race site wrong! It actually reminded me a lot of one of the first theatre competitions I did while skating. I’d asked my Mom if she knew where we were going and she said she did, but it appeared she really didn’t. We didn’t do a test run because it was such a drive from Tiburon. The thing was this – If you didn’t get your tapes in an hour before your event, you weren’t competing. My first event that competition was a fun and complicated one with a costume that required about thirty minutes and the sooner you get in, the better place you get in the changing room and I was doing 4 separate events. We literally got me dumped off in the rain … with tapes in hand … with five minutes before the cut off to spare! Cutting it a smidge too close. I’d used the map from the Internet last month and there are those who say that it is wonderful … well … sorry. There are two parks, two restaurants maybe a block off of each other. Fortunately, it was suggested to me to contact the race director and I got that sorted out.

I honestly thought my leg issues had finally healed. The stair climb should have brought this out. I have been having problems getting the mileage back up – some of it has been my bad time management and the rest has been little nagging things. It really scared me when I tripped over the side rail at camp in November. I’m beating myself up with how could I finish other events and not this … Mom put it right “It’s because the muscles that are responsible for your knee and straightening it aren’t working right.” Oh yeah. That’s it … and that’s what people were looking at.

I went in to this not sure what I wanted to do. I’ve walked in to things low, but I’ve been able to get myself up … but I felt pretty hollow. Met some lovely people and tried to kick in the nerves … but when the gun (yuk) went off there was a little jostling there in the back then settling in for 19 laps around the park on perfect weather day. It was comfortably overcast. I debated until literally the gun went off about my gloves. I met a really neat gal who kept them for me (and who was sad that I pulled myself out). After being advised to leave my Garmin at home, I think I was the only person out there without one! Just felt like it. Personally – I think it was good for me because it made me pay attention to time and such … and do a little math in my head. I was minorly disturbed that I felt absolutely no adrenaline rush … not even the flutter that I get when I’m going on a long walk someplace new … or old … when I’ve got a goal in mind. Fortunately, however, I wasn’t feeling that dead feeling of “oh crap I just don’t feel like being here”. Just … blank.

It took a little to get going. First, it was still dark and the judges did need to be able to see … what a novel thought. Then they were explaining the rules to the two newbees (yeah – there was one other!). Folks then started yelling “Lap Counters??” hu? ok. According to the guy next to me, they should have had us introduce ourselves to our lap counter before this point. Uh … ok. Nice guy came up to me and he was a sweetheart cheering me through … I felt like I let him down when I pulled out, but then again he had one less person to have to keep an eye on!

I don’t know what time it was when we got going, but it sure wasn’t 7 a.m.! Probably the norm. The folks were really wonderful, so that’s grand.

This rather interesting guy fell in to step with me. I wasn’t exactly sure I was happy about that because I wasn’t sure about much of anything. He started talking, ok … said something about something … a few laps later, he was upset that the judges were watching us so carefully when there were fleet-feets flying past. I was pretty happy when he decided to be in front of me.

I felt OK really. After the first lap, I knew what the course was and it was just going around and around like NASCAR. Even though it’s overcast, I, as usual, was overheating. I had my water belt and they did have little plastic cups of water, so I knew it was going to be water dumps down my back here and there. I was also a smidge sunburnt from the ride yesterday in the convertible (My rental car is a convertible bug). I’d done what I needed to, but there is no getting around the fact that I was comfortably walking, very present, paying attention, playing with tangents – unless faster traffic was coming along up on the side – and playing with lap math … but still had that nagging issue of no real rush for this race.

I took it 5k at a time. I don’t recall the 5k time, but I do recall the 10K. Unless I can’t count, it was 1:08 and change. Of course, there is a possibility that I can’t count because that would have been far faster than my previous Bolder Boulder 10K times – and the one in October that they still haven’t “officially posted”. Whether or not that being the time, I’m at sea level, so it really doesn’t count. Yeah – I’m still pretty upset with myself.

Just after that 10K pass over the start line, things started feeling wonky. I really thought that the crap with my knee and calf was over. I’d damn behaved myself … I’d done less miles … I’d stayed away from being outside and ice … I’d started weight work SLOWLY for strength … I’d done the massage thing … I’d spent time in the water. I’d even done NOTHING for a period of time. I put it out of my mind and decided that was going to be ok, but it’s about time to play it smart. When I heard “490 Knee” … I knew that was the last lap if things didn’t straighten out.

According to my Mom and friends who know me well … the first thing out of their mouths was  “YOU DID THE RIGHT THING!!!! I’m proud of your stopping when you knew you had to.”

There’s a little hill that leads in to the finish line where they were counting things. I felt something grab … I knew I could make it through limping all the way if I was walking in a running race, but that wasn’t going to fly here. I caught the eye of a guy and said “Help” … that was it. I don’t know if I got across the line for the start of the next lap. I’d never asked for help and I still feel like weak and stupid for having to ask. I’ve taken care of myself through some pretty hard things, and I had to ask after only walking a few miles on an asphalt course on a beautiful day. I failed in what I set out to do … I didn’t finish.

The man was really nice. “Keep walking … you’ve got to walk it out” as I was leaning on this really nice man. Folks were great and I was fairly light hearted. They don’t know me … I’ll send a text when I get back to the phone.

Grabbed a water from my bag … stretched out against the car … The funny thing about the VW Convertible is it’s spastic electric window thing. It played its game when I got back to the hotel in no mood to deal with it. When I got back to the hotel, I had to walk up to the third floor. That was just kind of insult to injury.

Did I mention that the crown being replaced on Friday was being kept in place with chewing gum through the race??? 

Sent out the text … put a post on Facebook … I figured it would stave off embarrassing questions. One last look at the watch … I counted 12 laps ending … watch said 1:40:57 when I cleared it in disgust. I had a long chat with Mom who is really getting this and she was really happy that I finally *did* stop before hurting myself further … and she also knows just how hard it was for me to do.

Next race … whatever I can get my sorry ass in to in order to clear this out of my gut …. and … Yes, Boys and Girls, get my feet under me properly.

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