As some of you know, I've been dealing with an ankle injury since my last race in March. What was initially diagnosed as a ligament sprain was actually peroneal tendonitis, so I've been going to PT once a week and was finally cleared to run again on May 1. For the past two weeks, I've been slowly building my mileage back up. I was given the go-ahead by my physical therapist to try running this half to see how my ankle would do.
The Dino Half took place in Vernal, Utah on Saturday, May 13th. Going into the race, I had no idea what to expect. With my lack of training for the past two months, I wasn't sure how I would do, being that my longest run since getting cleared to run was six miles. What I found out is that if you have a solid base already, it's easy to get your endurance and mileage back to where it was. I was pleasantly surprised.
Race weekend began with Geof and I driving to Vernal and picking up our race packets. I fell asleep in the car while seated cross-legged and once I stepped out of the car, realized my left calf was super tight. After picking up my packet, someone stopped me in the parking lot and asked if I had a running blog. She said she had read my post about the Dino Half from last year! That was so cool and it caught me off guard, so I apologize if I was acting awkward. I never imagined anyone but my friends and family would read my blog.
We dropped our things off at the hotel and headed out to eat a pasta dinner at Antica Forma. I had linguine with meatballs and it was perfect. At dinner, I started to get an itchy tickle in my throat and was worried I might be getting sick. I let that thought drift from my mind as we ate and after dinner, we took a short walk by the restaurant to walk off the tightness in my calf. We went back to the hotel, gathered our gear for the race, foam rolled and headed to sleep.
I woke up the next morning with my throat and calf feeling pretty good. Rest must have worked out those kinks. I ate avocado toast, drank nuun and got ready. I taped up my ankle with KT tape and wore a compression ankle sleeve for precaution. We headed out the door around 5:50 a.m. to catch the buses to take us to the start of the race in Dry Fork Canyon. Once dropped off, we lined up for the port-a-potties, stood by the fire and I wrapped myself up in a heat sheet. It seemed like the wait before the start went by quickly, even with the race starting ten minutes late. At 7:40 a.m., after all the buses had dropped off their runners, they counted down and blew the horn.
The weather was nice—breezy and warm. I felt good at the beginning. Race day can make you feel so much better with all the adrenaline that kicks in. The first three miles of the race were on an eroded road and it was bumpy and rough. My ankle actually shifted and popped three times but as I continued to run, the pain from the shock of the pops began to subside. I had to work to stay on the flatter areas, but after those initial miles, the canyon road smoothed out and I was good. My ankle never popped again after that.
Geof and I ran together for the first three miles and then I went ahead when Geof slowed on some of the hills. He has been having some pain in his calf and ran the hills slower and more carefully to not aggravate it. I was feeling surprisingly so good and was keeping a nice pace. At mile 6, the 1:55 pacers came up behind me, overtook me and I ran behind them for a long time. They were running faster than they should have, but listening in on their conversations, I knew it was to bank time on the downhill portion of the course before the last miles leveled out.
I started to lose steam at mile 10 (yup, my legs had not run this far since my ankle injury in March) and I began to slow a little. My calves were feeling tight and sore. My 8:00-something pace went into the 9:00s but I was determined to keep those pacers in sight. After mile 10 sometime, Geof appeared by me again! He said he had been trying to catch up to me the whole time. He was just who I needed to see and we kept pace together for the last few miles.
When we only had half a mile to go, I ran past the 1:55 pacers and thanked them and said I had been following them for 7 miles. Geof and I tried to pick it up and we ran it in! I also ran my fastest Dino Half and I feel good about that with my lack of training lately (this was our third time running this race). Final chip time—1:52:34.
Post-race consisted of eating a spicy chicken sandwich, fries and custard at Freddy's, watching the new season of Master Of None, getting dinner at Vernal Brewing Company and frozen yogurt at Farr's. The next day, I woke up early because I couldn't sleep. I was having a hard time because my throat began to hurt really bad and I started to get really sick. We checked out of the hotel and drove back home, taking the long route through Flaming Gorge. It was really beautiful. I needed rest and took some short naps in the car on the way back.
The dry air and running into the wind during the race probably played into me getting sicker and making the virus worse (did you know that during endurance running you lose red blood cells?), but I wouldn't have traded running for anything. I'm really happy that I ran a strong race with a recovering ankle that isn't 100 percent. It makes me optimistic for what the year will bring and how much more I can improve once my ankle is fully healed. Excited.