Dawn Patrol Christmas Eve run
Rachel, Jody, rePete, Molly, me (red shirt and giraffe sleeves),
Shannon, Skip, E-Rod, Jeff S., and Lisa
What would I ever do without this crazy bunch! This picture was taken yesterday morning, on our Christmas Eve run in El Moro/Laguna Wilderness. I haven't been out much on the running scene since the Mt. Disappointment 50K in August, hence the lack of updates on my blog. While I love running, in and of itself, it was the people I run with that I missed the most.
So, here's what I've been up to the last few months!
MT. DISAPPOINTMENT 50K: I took a little break from running. It started with a muscle strain in my left quad that I incurred from my 50K PR at Mt. Dis. But, it was almost worth it. I had a great race! I felt fantastic and full of energy for the first 26 miles of the race, and then there was that insane 5 mile hill to the finish at the top of Mt. Wilson. It was such a great race and I finished with a 6:40. The runner's high lasted for a couple days, but the muscle strain took much longer to heal.
My only picture from Mt. Disappointment...Sadly these hills burnt to a crisp one month later in the massive Station fire in the Angeles National Forest. AC100 had to be canceled and rumor has it that both AC100 and Mt. Disappointment 50/50 will be canceled in 2010.
SEARCH FOR A LOST FRIEND/RUNNER: I got to go back out on the trails on Wednesday, September 23. But, it was for a very unfortunate occasion. Friend and fellow ultrarunner, Gina Natera and her brother-in-law went trail running on Sunday morning, September 20. Most of us found out Gina was missing on Tuesday afternoon. I found out on the SoCal Trail Headz private website. Shortly after, my Facebook feed was abuzz with updates and pleas for help in finding them. Later that evening, we had a conference call with about 25 ultrarunners from the area. The mood on the call was somber, as we were all deeply concerned. The search and rescue volunteers needed help combing the trails of the Cleveland National Forest, so the next day, many of us rearranged our schedules to go to Lazy W and Blue Jay look for them.
Friend, Mike K., EKP, @anaginghipster Jeff, @aquadump rePete, and Shannon on Los Pinos. We could smile again after we received word Gina and her brother-in-law were found safe!I went with a group up the gnarly Los Pinos trail. By early afternoon, we saw a helicopter hovering over a certain spot in the distance for a little while and then it took off. Shortly after, we got a phone call that she was found and being taken to the hospital. She has since recovered and, of course, is back to running. Her brother-in-law was found earlier that morning and he was also fine. It was a miracle she was found alive. She had been without food or water for 3 days and the temperatures were in the 90s and 100s, with almost zero humidity in the air.
STRESS FRACTURE: While Gina won her battle against Mother Nature that day, I lost mine. That day was the first pain-free run I had since Mt. Dis. After we had word she was found alive, we were happily celebrating by running all the way back to the command post at Lazy W. The Los Pinos trail is covered with loose rocks and I took one little bad step. I felt a pinch in my foot, but it didn't really hurt. I kept on running, and ran a few more times after that day. But that pinch developed into a very painful stress fracture. So in October, I began to take more time off my running.
BONE SPUR SURGERY: When I saw my podiatrist for the stress fracture, I asked her why my foot sometimes tingled on the inside near my big toe. She pointed to a painless bony bump on the top of my foot and said it was a bone spur (saddle bone deformity) that was pinching the nerve and it would have to eventually be removed. It wasn't anything urgent that had to be done right away, but I decided to kill two birds with one stone and have the surgery done while I was taking time off anyway.
I had the surgery at the end of October, and it went really well. There were no complications, and I didn't even need my pain meds. But my foot was wrapped up in stitches and bandages for TWO WEEKS and I couldn't get them wet, which, of course, meant NO EXERCISE! Aaargh! Now I think I have some kind of idea of what it's like to go through heroin withdrawals. (Well, maybe not that bad, but it really sucked.) I began doing situps and pushups and anything I could do, but without breaking a sweat, just trying to get my heart rate up. It was really sad! During those two weeks, I would wake up in the morning, starting to feel like Bill Murray in "Groundhog Day". I was very limited with what I could do. I had to stay off my feet as much as possible, icing my ankle, just above the bandages, foot elevated, watching television ALL DAY.
MAKING A COMEBACK: Now, don't tell my doctor this, but the day I got my stitches out, I thought, "Finally! I'm going to do something low-impact! I'm going to hot yoga!" Ummmm, big mistake. Apparently that was a little too much excitement for my poor little foot. In hindsight, yeah, what was I thinking??? "Hey, Michelle, your foot was cut open TWO WEEKS AGO and a chunk of bone was removed with a hammer and a chisel!!! Don't you think you should take it easy?!?" Then, the very next morning, being a stubborn fool, I went to Crossfit. Wearing shoes was a bit uncomfortable since my foot was still swollen, and the surgical site was somewhat of an open wound. It's a good thing they actually encourage you to take your shoes off when you Crossfit. But I still had to majorly modify my workout. It has now been about 5 weeks since getting my stitches out. Every day, I've been able to increase my exercise load. Every day, I can lace my left shoe a little tighter, and now I'm starting to run again! Yipee!
HELLO AND GOOD-BYE: So, my first trail run back with the Dawn Patrol, about two weeks ago, I met up with Jeff and Beiyi. It was so exciting to be running with them again. But within the first mile, I had to break the news. I'm moving to Phoenix in January! Yes, I'm back to running, but I'm leaving! Amidst all the craziness the past few months, I also left my job in pharmaceutical sales with a nice severance package. I've lived most of my life in Southern California, and now I just want to try something new! I have a place to live out there. I have a few friends and family there. I don't have anything tying me down here, so why not get up and live someplace new? Saying good-bye to all my friends here does not feel like it will be forever. My parents still live in Orange County and there are so many great trail races here in SoCal, so I know I'll be back to run with the Dawn Patrol and the Trail Headz whenever I'm visiting. Plus, there are some great races in Arizona which a lot of my friends travel to run. I'm already making plans to meet up with some of my SoCal friends for Zane Grey, Old Pueblo, a Grand Canyon Rim2Rim2Rim, and, of course, there's Javelina 100.
One of the things that makes me saddest in life is when people come and go, but my family will always be here and I know I'll be seeing a lot of my running friends throughout the years. I consider my running friends to be my second family, a group of lifelong friends. And here's one of my favorite Dawn Patrol pictures taken after our St. Patty's Day run earlier this year!