And the knee held up…almost

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Friday night I was cajoled into participating in a trail run up in Ogden. I tell you, having friends who are serious runners will only serve to make you run more than you ever thought possible. Anyway, Pete and Logan convinced me to sign up for the Xterra 12K that was taking place as part of the Xterra Mountain Championships. Since I am going to be running quite a bit over the 24th and 25th in Hood to Coast, this seemed like a good warmup race to gauge just exactly how my recovery has progressed. I mean, 12K is only 7.4 miles, right? Not too bad…

I didn’t have any expectations of finishing in a competitive time as my whole goal was just to view it as a training run – finish the race and hope my knee survives. I realized shortly after getting to the starting line that I was definitely going to be taking up the rear in this race. First off, there were only about 50-60 runners participating. Second, these were SERIOUS trail racers – people who live for the mountain crawl. And third, we were told that the first mile of the trail was up, straight up the mountain side. CRAP! Hadn’t really trained for hills as yet…

We took off shortly after 6 p.m. and within the first 1/4 mile my knee was aching just slightly. Of course this was due to the fact that I was trying to “run” up a steep mountainside and it was putting undue pressure on the knee. So I gave up trying to run and just walked it when it got too steep. No sense in being stupid. But I soon discovered that “It’s only uphill for the first mile” was quite the erroneous claim. It was uphill – and I’m talking various steep inclines where my toes practically hit my knees – for at least 2 miles. Then it finally started to peter out a bit and drop.

Needless to say, those first 2 miles took a bit out of me, not to mention it had just rained 30 minutes prior so there was mud and all sorts of fun puddles to deal with AND it was exhaustingly humid. I live in a desert! What the HECK! Anyways, it kicked my trash.

As we started to wind down into Ogden amid various back trails and what not, I was getting my rhythm, feeling good and not worrying about my knee at all. It wasn’t aching and I think it helped running on the shock absorbing dirt than asphalt. However, at roughly mile 6.5, my knee turned to me and said, “You know what? I’m DONE. I’m good, you just go ahead and finish on without me.” Um, kind of impossible? Hel-lo? Can’t do it on one knee!

Yes, my knee had decided to revolt and the last 1.5 miles (so much for being a 12K – should’ve been advertised as a 14!) were somewhat painful to say the least. I could tell my knee was starting to swell and all I wanted to do was get across the finish line and hit the ice. I made it across somewhat limping and yes, near the end of the pack. But it didn’t matter to me because I accomplished the goal I had set: to finish the race and see how my knee held up. Good thing my longest leg this next week is only 5.88 miles.

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