Monday, June 22, 2009

Highlands Sky 2009 = DNF

After running 64 or so ultra marathons within the last 6 years, I suppose I should have known it would happen sometime. I did not finish what I started during Saturday’s Highland’s Sky 40 mile run in Dolly Sods, WV.

The race started at 6am. By 6:30am it was thundering and raining hard. Windy too. We ran through stinging nettles, forded generous, fast-moving creeks and ran /slopped along a trail that was overflowing with water, knee deep in some places. At times the rain stopped and mist enveloped the Highlands and the trail. “Wild Wet and Wrocky” was the perfect motto for the conditions on Saturday.

After Aid Station 2, there is a very fun downhill. I loved running over that on Saturday. When I got to the bottom of the hill, it was somewhere about 2:45 into the run, and my run ended. I fell. I am not sure what order things happened- if I fell on a rock and hit my leg and my entire calf spasmed (Charley-Horsed) and radiated into my hamstring and butt-or if my leg spasmed and I fell. It is not exaggerating to say that the first minutes of this was some of the most severe pain I have ever experienced. I remember runners coming by and I waved them on-though they had to step over me. When I thought I could get up, a kind runner in grey gave me a hand and I stepped to the side of the trail to inventory the “damage”. Right calf swollen and muscle still twitching. Puncture cut below knee. I hobbled and ate some Clif Bar. My calf felt stiff and heavy, much like April of 2008 when something similar happened. I tried to run. Very stiff and sore and heavy feeling.

I walked to the next aid station, trying to “run” every now and then. Discomfort and fear of making it worse reduced me to a shuffle. I felt disgusted and disappointed because this was the end of a lot of fun! I took off my race number at AS #3 and walked out to the main road and caught a ride to AS #4 where Tammy Gray generously gave me a ride back to my car.

I never really considered pressing on. The Vermont 100 next month is this summer’s focus race and to continue meant taking more a risk of serious injury than I was willing to. I hope by pulling out of HS when I did that I’ll be running again in a couple of days. I am icing my calf several times a day and wearing double compression sleeves. I’ll try an elliptical workout later this afternoon and hoping be able to do some stretching tomorrow.

Fast girl Jill Perry emailed me this morning with a reframe for DNFing, “ Did Nothing Fatal”. I hope this is true! Highlands Sky Results here.


Coach Spencer said...

Sounds like a smart decision given Vermont's coming up. I'm usually not that smart. :) Good luck in Vermont!

Sophie Speidel said...


I was sorry to see you at the mile 19 AS wrapped in a blankie. I tripped and cramped/pulled my calf at BRR this year and dropped as well, and was glad I did. I felt like I got a good 20 mile training run and DNF (did nothing fatal) as Jill said. VT100 is your goal and you did the right thing. Even so, sorry.

It was WONDERFUL to catch up on the bus! I wish you all the best for VT and look forward to reading your report.

Take good care and rest up!


Michael said...

Sorry to hear Annette, but probably very smart. Rest, heal up, and get focused for Vermont. Can't wait to see you - I'm sending some super ultra mojo your way. BLAM/ZING!! Ok, you should be fine now :)

Party at Vermont only weeks away...


Rick Gray said...

Annette, You are a winner and a succeeder (not sure if that is a word). You did the right thing and took the necessary action. That is not always easy, but that is what helps us to be able to continue for years to come. When I saw you with Tammy at aid station 4, my heart hurt for you and for the frustration you were feeling. As before, you will bounce back from this, as you are one strong lady. Talk to you soon, Rick

Herman said...

“I am a leaf in the wind. Watch how I soar.” I have to admit to viewing too much science fiction, but this line from Serenity was going through my head as we drifted down that hill. Following your lines. Watching your foot plants. Making my moves based on yours. It was the best part of an extraordinary day. Not being able to help after your fall was the worse.

Pleased to hear that there is no lasting damage. Best of luck in Vermont. See you there.

anuday said...

I think you did the right thing too. Like Sophie said you got in a good training run for your main race in Vermont. Good luck with the recovery.

runamanda said...

Hope you are feeling better!

Debra Horn said...

That STINKS! Heal fast (glucosamine, aleve, ice and plenty of beer....)

Anonymous said...

I am still trying to wrap my mind around how many ultras people like you or Deb or most ultrarunners compete in. I do not know how to do a race any way but all out ... I am still trying to learn how to run again (2 weeks off and this week jogging) from FANS24. I know I will not be able to be at peak again for North Coast 24 ... just not enough time.

Take care of yourself, heal and recover ... You are such a great runner, I look forward to meeting you one of these days.


runjoey said...

Sorry to hear Annette. I hope it recovers quickly for you so you can go and enjoy Vermont

Jen Van Allen said...

More and more it's about running smart, not hard, right? I am sorry about the DNF but hoping that you're healing well...Yes, you are right - it is inevitable for all of us it at some point but you have the right attitude...Keep on keeping on. You're such an inspiration and role model, Annette, just by being the wonderful warm strong person that you are and taking each step that you do! Thank you for sharing your adventures with all of us who wish we had a little more of it in our lives!