“Keely, you are such a stupid klutz.”
“D@mn!t, you suck, this race is as good as over.”
At mile 3 of the Rothrock 30k, one of my beloved, gnarly trail races from back east, my brain was in negative-thought overdrive. I had just sprained my ankle, badly, and it was not going away. I was angry. This was supposed to be my race, I was overly prepared, super pumped to be back home, and ready to race again. Or so I thought. But here I was, barely 30 minutes into the race, and completely hating both myself and my surroundings.
Then, about a mile later, I started laughing. What was I doing? Sure, I wasn’t going to break any records gimping the downhills as I could feel my ankle swelling through my shoe, but that was going to have to be okay, I was running through the dense, beautiful forests of my homeland, it was not the end of the world.
I thought my DNF at Lake Sonoma in April, (due to another freakish, shoulder dislocation, injury) would have humbled me. It didn’t. Suffering through Rothrock did.
Sometimes I forget that before I ever had any desire to run hard, be competitive, and win, my only goal was to run happy. It is easy to get wrapped up in the numbers, paces, and rankings and forget about the real reason we all crazily run trails to begin with.
I looked around and really soaked in the beauty of the trail. There was no reason to call myself names and ruin the experience being angry. The race was not over just because I hurt myself. I decided to make the most of it, say something positive to everyone who passed me, especially on the downhills (since I had to awkwardly hop/gimp those to avoid searing pain), and smile at every aid station volunteer. I was going to appreciate this race for what it was, I was not going to let negative thoughts ruin this race for me, and I was not going to dwell on what time I was going to miss or who I was going to lose to.
As I was gimping along, I remembered what my friend Rudy had said in his last blog post. He emphasized that all you can do is to do your very best for that particular day. And today, gimping the downs and sucking up the pain until the finish was the best I could do, and that was okay. And for once in my life, I believed it was okay.
Toward the end of the race, I gained some momentum after a lot of climbing sections, since that hurt my foot a little less, and was happy to be able to move a little faster than previously. I finished slowly down the decent I typically fly down and I ran the last little section before the finish next to my dad, who was concerned as ever, but happy that he could jog my pace for once. I was happily telling him about my ankle, not because it no longer hurt, but because I finally accepted my fate and was just happy to be running and finishing what I started.
As I hobbled into the finish line with a time of 2:11 and maybe 6th female, I couldn’t help but laugh in delight at my unlucky circumstance and my ability to finish the race. Sometimes when we find ourselves too absorbed with the little things, we miss the bigger picture: why we run in the first place. Sometimes we have to remember to stop and smell the roses, or in my case, the mountain laurels that are oh so present in the beautiful Pennsylvania.
I can’t thank my sponsor La Sportiva enough for allowing me to travel home for this wonderful race. As well as the incredible race hosts Craig Fleming and his wife. I truly appreciate the PA trail community’s continued support through my running career.
I can’t wait to see where my running continues to take me and what limits I continue to surpass. But most of all, I look forward to truly appreciating running again, as Rothrock helped me rekindle my run-mance fire again.
But for now, I am just waiting for my kankle to become an ankle again so I can get out and enjoy the trails!
[This blog post first appeared on Keely’s blog Find Your Running Place on 6/7/15]