Burning River 2018 can be summed up by right foot pain and a sore tailbone. More on those later.
So, I decided last year after the debacle that was my first attempt at 100 miles that I would do this race again. My training was great. I felt prepared and got in some good long runs. I did have one small problem. Last October, I started feeling some right foot pain, which ended up being plantar fasciitis. I continued to run through it thinking it would just go away. A little bit of plantar fasciitis turned into chronic plantar fasciitis. A trip to the podiatrist later and there wasn’t anything to do before the race since I’m stubborn and waited too long and it was too close to the race. Just try my best. Onto race day...
My best buddy, John Silva drove up to help Steven crew the race so we all 3 headed up to the start line at 2:45 am. My stomach wasn’t feeling awesome so I couldn’t really eat anything, I had part of my pastry bar before the race. Come 4:00, the race starts and I get going. My pace is probably faster than it should have been but it was road and I felt fine, was easy zone 1. One thing that I was noticing, however, was that my foot was sore. It had felt decent leading up to the race but for the past week it had started to get a little bit more sore (tried a new orthotic size, bad idea). I was talking to some people and passing the time but wasn’t making it a point to run with anybody as I just wanted to run my race at the pace I felt comfortable.
The first crew access was at Polo Fields, mile 11.7. The first true aid station. I still wasn’t starving and didn’t eat too much. My stomach still didn’t feel awesome. I had some pretzels with me from the start but this year pretzels weren’t really what I wanted. I had Steven get pepto and Tylenol ready for me so I took those. I had some sports drink and oranges and took off. Quick stop and go.
I was still moving pretty good. Good pace and HR still great. Not horribly long after that, I hit the first creek crossing. This wasn’t like previous years, though. Because of the recent rain, the creek was high and I felt like I was in the Oregon Trail and had to make the decision to “Ford the River”. The water was up to my knees so that really sucked. I had never had to do that before, fun. Even with that, I was in the zone and must have missed a turn because I completely missed the turn to Harper Ridge aid station. I eventually realized it and turned around but added at least an extra mile. I was probably going way too fast on the way back but I was so upset with myself for it. I quickly hit the aid station and got back on the trail. It was only a little over 3 miles until Shadow Lake where I would see Steven and John.
I get to Shadow Lake and am still feeling good at 20.7. I think I had 1/4 pb&j and some chips or something. Getting my calories back on track. Stomach was feeling a little better. I took some cookies with me and moved on. As I’m going down the stairs towards to the lake I slip and fall right on my tailbone (and then someone else fell right after me). The stairs were crazy slippery. This is where the sore tailbone comes in. I get up and move, nothing is broken, just sore. I walk for a bit to try and let the soreness fade and then get running again. Somewhere in the next few miles my right knee started to hurt really bad. My foot had been pretty sore and I noticed that I wasn’t letting my right heel hit the ground, even when I walked. I know that my foot was causing my knee pain but that knee hurt. It felt like the inside of my knee was going to explode. It was intermittent so I could ride out the bad parts. Just stretch out my calf and go. I hit Egbert (mile 25.5) at the exact time I had on my outline, which is awesome. I was nailing my splits! I probably had part of a sandwich and some pretzels or something and got going.
The next aid station I hit was awesome. So much energy at mile 29.9, Alexander Rd. That was the last full aid station until Meadows at 37.4, where I would see Steven and John. It seemed like forever between the 2. Knee was still hurting and foot was sore. I was starting to feel a little bit of a hotspot on my foot so I let Steven know I wanted to change socks and take more Tylenol. When I got to Meadows I saw a Dunkin Donuts box and that was exactly what I wanted at that time. Steven had gotten me some frosted glazed donuts! I cut a donut into 4 and then ended up eating the whole thing anyways. I changed socks, without sitting down because I did not want to sit, took some Tylenol and Steven refilled my water and pretzels. I was still drinking a lot, so that is good. Was taking in calories and staying hydrated, which was my plan. I was still right on pace too, I was 1 minute past what I had down.
I left Meadows and would see Steven and John at 50, so I had about 12 miles until ½ way! That donut was awesome and gave me a nice burst of energy, felt pretty godo. One thing I didn’t realize with eating a donut, however, was the sugar crash I experienced about an hour later. Got a little dizzy but I just had some PB m&ms, pretzels, and water and rode it out. Miles 40-45 were not overly runnable or fun. Lots of elevation change and roots. I had forgotten that part. By the time I got to Snowville, I had to pee really bad. I get there and find out it’s basically the one aid station without bathrooms. I get things refilled, eat some pb&j and go. Not too long after that I found a porta-tree for the millionth time during the race. I had to pee a lot during this race, way more than previous years. These next few miles are pretty hilly and filled with roots as well. Not a ton of fast miles here. Around mile 48 my foot caught a root and I fell, but I have to say that I nailed that fall. I kind of barrel rolled to the side and there was no one else around, nailed it. I then decided I didn’t want to take any more chances with roots because, when the pain kicked up, I wasn’t always sure my knee was going to bend and the last thing I wanted to do was to catch a root and roll down a hill. I start seeing all the familiar things that remind me I am close to 50, including the 88 stairs about 1/2 mile from Boston Mills at 50.
I come out of the woods and see Steven and John standing there cheering as I am heading into Boston Mills. That was awesome. I got to pick up a pacer, which turned out to be steven (long story). We take off and I’m feeling decent. I was walking more than I would have liked but still mixing in running. Then at around 52 or so my sore foot that was intermittent and manageable became constant and not quite as manageable. I keep going and it keeps getting worse. It finally gets to a point where stretching it is making it worse and not better. Each step felt like someone was stabbing a knife up through my heel. On top of that, it was incredibly painful to try and move my ankle and my knee still hurt intermittently. The ankle and knee I could have dealt with but the foot was another story. I keep going and the pain would cycle between incredibly painful and unbearable. I was having to stop frequently to give it a second to not hurt. I know at this point I’m not finishing but I REALLY wanted to make it to Ledges and past Pine Lane where I dropped last year. Eventually I realize that isn’t even going to happen. Steven did a great job of keeping me moving and I felt horrible for him because I kept crying and just saying how much my foot hurt and I wanted to go home. There was nothing he could do but just try and keep me moving, which he did. He let my pacers and John know what was going on. One of my pacers, Doug, was aid station captain at Pine Lane and ran about 2.5 miles out to meet up with us and walk us in. That was incredibly helpful because he took my mind off of the pain somewhat and I didn’t really want to cry in front of him. I still couldn’t move very fast (35 min miles) and was gritting my teeth with most steps but I made it into the aid station, stopped my watch, sat down, and then ate 2 pieces of pizza, which was delicious.
It felt amazing to sit down...at first. I started shivering after a while but we got into my car, I got my jacket on, and was covered with a towel. Shortly after getting into the car I started cramping sooooo bad. I’m guessing sitting down somehow fueled this because it wasn’t that bad earlier. Maybe it hurt that bad last year but I didn’t remember but holy crap that hurt. I started crying again because it seemed like every muscle in my legs was spasming at the same time. That was not pleasant at all. We get back to the hotel and they help me out of the car and I cry my way back to the hotel room with John helping me with each step. I lay down on a chair and John covers me with the towel because I’m cold. I actually start to feel a little better and the cramping kind of goes away...for a second. Once I laid there long enough it came back again but by this time Steven is trying to force Nuun into me, which was great. He helps me into a bath which felt awesome until I had to get out and started to freeze (I was shivering and making the weirdest noise and have no idea why). I get in bed and fall asleep briefly but wake up again because my leg and tailbone hurt.
Right now, I’m sore but alive. I’m ready to get back out there and I know I am going to conquer this race. I felt pretty decent outside of that stupid foot, which I should have guessed was going to be a problem. I am going to do this (though I said numerous times during the race I never wanted to do it again). .