I wasn’t saying anything; I was waiting patiently for a miracle.
5.15am we set off in the frozen glittering morning. Almost a full moon. -9 degree wind chills. 71 km to go of Les Templiers.
After 1hour, I thought it had come, my heart had beaten my head. Maybe I could chase down the girls at the front. After 1hour and 10minutes, I felt maybe it wasn’t, my head was coming back with revenge. At 2hours I made the decision that it hadn’t, my head had won. At 22km I pulled out. The tears came streaming and fortunately my supportive Salomon family were right there to hug the heart and wipe the drops away.
They were tears of frustration. My injury that I had been so careful of and nursing so well for the previous month was hurting bad. I was sick of it. I wanted it to go away. I wanted to race the final of the SkyRunning Ultra. I was in first equal with Nuria and Templiers would be the decider. I wanted to compete with a group of special friends and incredibly talented athletes.
After Cavalls del Vent last month, our friendship and camaraderie had grown even stronger. And so had my pain. I took a week off, then another, another and one more. I was diagnosed with periostitis – inflammation of the bone: my weakness. It was due to my hormones: my weakness.
This may sounds odd coming from a runner who can’t run, but my last 4 non-running weeks have been filled with enjoyment because:
1. I have been working in Salomon Headquarters Annecy on a design project with an incredibly efficient, inspired and patient team. I went headfirst into a career that I really have no idea about and came out learning a lot. It gave me direction and focus and a lot of pleasure in being able to give back to Salomon some of the inspiration that they have allowed me to experience. All I can say about the project is that it looks amazing.
2. I was still able to get my daily hit of endorphins from the friendly VISAFORM Gym. Gyms are gyms, I know that, and there is no arguing that gyms can be painfully hard for a mind that is so use to feeling free and being in nature. But when you need an endorphin hit you need an endorphin hit. So I hit the gym, usually morning and night. Doing a combination of the Les Mills classes such as Balance, Pump and RPM. As well as hours and bucket loads of sweat on the elliptical cross trainer, bikes and strength conditioning mats. It is a social place and I have met many friends with smiles of encouragement each and every day.
So Nuria won the series. I am really happy for her. She has had a consistently fabulous year and that is what makes a real series winner.
Where to from here for me? Well, back to Salomon headquarters, back to the gym, onto the bike, back to working on my health with my witch doctor, back to being patient.
I will not give up. I still have 3 races to go: Buzios 42km – Brazil, K42 - Patagonia and TNF50 Endurance Challenge San Francisco . And then I will take December and January off running. This time I mean it. I can see that I am not preparing my year well, I am tiring myself out with not enough rest and too much running at the wrong time. It is a long season. I will approach it differently next year. With 3 mini seasons and an actual break (even if only a week or 2) in between these blocks of racing. The warrior princess in me needs to learn to rest so that I can continue to share smiles and experiences that trails bring.
All photos: Ian Corless