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Monday, February 2, 2009

Disaster at Mission Gorge

Ugh. Friends, sometimes you just have a feeling that things will not turn out well. At that moment, you really need to listen to your instincts and turn back. Turn back. In the indelible words of Cher, I say, "If I could turn back time.."... If only.

Let me paint the scene for you...It was turning out to be a beautiful day yesterday at 7a.m. Bird Rock Coffee had opened at 6:30am, and so I was in the car, 16 ounces of Ethiopian Sidamo and bran muffin in hand, heading towards Mission Gorge Park. There was a mist over the hills that was steadily being burned off to reveal rolling hills of desert scrub and cacti. 

The race website had told me to arrive at 1 Junipero Serra Drive for the start of the race, but when I arrived with my chauffeur (Dad), there was only one person around, who told us she had no idea where there was a race, but that many other souls had been equally lost. We almost called it a day then and would have gone home, but thought we'd try one more park entrance. We drove to the next one, where a man on a mountain bike directed us to yet another entrance a few miles down the road. 

With only minutes to spare we found our destination(wish we hadn't). When I got to the info booth, they told me they had postponed the race by half an hour because so many people had been lost. The main freeway to the location had also been shut down for a few days, but the race org had not written it on the website.

A lot more grumbling was going on from the port-a-potty line up of 100+ people, and - get this - 3 Port-a-Potties! Three! Almost an hour later, having used the bathroom as the gun was going off (at least there was tp), I headed into the unknown of the "challenging" trail race of 15K, or 9.3 miles.

The first 2 miles were an eye-opener for me. Rocky, dusty, hills that went almost straight up. I tried to jog through the pain, the burning lungs, my athletic ego growing thinner and thinner. I had to walk mile 2, which was straight uphill and slippery with dirt...and I was not alone. The huffing and puffing sounded pornographic, but there was nothing sexy about it. Getting to the top, there were some magnificent views of the rolling hills, and I had my telephone camera at the ready. 

We had a few tenths of a mile down hill, rocky, with no purchase for one's treads, and then straight up once again. At mile four, which felt like a half-Marathon already, there was an aid station with Gatorade and Gu's. For the first time in my history, I actually stopped to drink and suck(the Gu), before beginning again. When I saw the next part looming, I actually thought about turning around. However, back was as far as forward, and as treacherous. 

Next was the dreaded river bed run. Dry, slippery, rocks big and small. And just as I was thinking about my upcoming blog, "...and I just want all of you to know that YOU got me into this. I only ran this race for you, my readers(2 or 3 of you), just at that exact moment, twist, turn and pop went my left ankle. Then there was that moment when I said to myself "Shiiiiiiit!!!!". I promptly sat down, hyperventilated just a little, let the waves of queasiness run through me, and knew the race was over for me. It would be the first race I never finished.

Many nice people stopped to ask me if I needed help (yes, I did), and ran ahead to get some aid. Luckily I had my phone, so I spent a few minutes photographing my surroundings (treacherous) and texting friends. Misery likes company.

A few minutes later, along comes a Search and Rescue guy with an ATV(all terrain vehicle). I actually don't want to explain that ride, because it was so scary, but I did get a photo with it afterwards.

ATV guy took me to the next aid station where a volunteer EMS worker, Rob Sills, iced and wrapped my ankle. There was another woman athlete, Deborah, who had crashed at the same spot as I had, and had hit her knees, grazed her arm, and was generally in some kind of shock. We waited for the last runner to come in and then waited as they packed up the aid station, all in all, about an hour. 

Then, there was a rocky ride down the mountain with 4 of us crammed in the back for about 20 minutes. 

When I saw the finisher medals everyone else was wearing, I was sorely disappointed, as I love my finishers medals, but luckily my Dad had picked one up for me. We renamed it Survivor's Medal.

A couple hours later, and an ER visit with the nicest nurses and doctors ever, I went home to lick my wounds and have a stiff drink. 

I think I may be looking at 4-6 weeks of swimming (the dreaded exercise) and physical therapy. As long as I am ready for the 10 mile Cherry Blossom race in April, and the Brooklyn half Marathon in May. 


Bass Tracks Online said...

what a drag! sounds like a beautiful trail though. I wish you a speedy recovery..... see you soon!

Christopher said...

Makes you appreciate the organization of a NYRR race, eh? Get plenty of fluids and get plenty of rest. And think, now you have an excuse to spend more time with your new niece!

Get better soon,