Due to temps below 30 I was definitely bundled up for this one. I was wearing my running tights (which I hate to race in), two shirts under a warm running jacket, and a hat and gloves to take care of the extremities. I felt a little overdressed, but that is better than the opposite when considering it would be at least a 70 minute trek in these temperatures.
I had run 13 miles on Christmas, so felt positive about my overall fitness. The factor I had to consider was a tight right calf that had been slowing me down for about a week. In deference to it, I had been adjusting my pace more conservatively and been less aggressive on the hills. In spite of that and extra stretching, it was not loosening up.
One of the best parts about this event is participants have access to the cafeteria before and after the race. It is nice to have a heated area to stretch in and do the normal pre race tasks, involving bib pick up and ensuring you are ready to run. It also provides a handy place to consume the tasty post race pancakes.
Low temperatures entail a longer warm up and I made loops around the school and adjacent track to loosen up. Then it was time to congregate with everyone at the start area in the parking lot for the last-minute instructions and eventual start. It was fun to see so many familiar faces at the line as the minutes counted down.
The beginning was relaxed, going to the road and heading into Forest Grove. My calf was still a little tight, but I was running easily so as to not test it. I ended up in front but another runner soon joined me. I didn’t know it at the time, but he was in the 10K. He kept checking his watch, but kept a relatively steady pace. I wasn’t interested in running away with the lead, so just settled next to him. The first mile was not noteworthy, other than we were forced to stop for a car at a major roadway. Then it was a gradual downhill to highway 47, which we turned right on. My calf wasn’t getting any worse, but it wasn’t better either, as we maintained the pace through mile 2.
It all changed as I felt a snap in my calf and was no longer able to push-off. A few choice words escaped me as I slowed to a walk and discovered I couldn’t take a full stride. Stretching a little didn’t help much and I tried to run, albeit slowly. That lasted a handful of steps. I stretched again and tried walking normally. Many of the runners now passed me exchanged a few words to ensure I was ok. At this point I realized I was going to have to step out of this race. Quite a change from leading the charge to the finish.
Even though it would be possible to run/walk in a fashion and complete the event, I knew it would be a bad idea. It was time to sacrifice success here to ensure a shorter recovery time and achieve success at other events. So I slowly made my way off the course and back to the school to begin taking care of my injury. I still got to enjoy the camaraderie and great views.
So instead of enjoying 13 miles of countryside I got 2 miles and a lot of ice and stretching in my future. It’s hard to have a competitive mindset and independently make the decision to drop out of a race. Internally I felt and still feel humiliated and embarrassed. But it is definitely important to look at the big picture and see that this was merely one race out of dozens I will do this year.