As you may or may not know, the main race I was aiming for this year was the TDS. 110km and 7000m of ascent from Courmayer to Chamonix. Quite an amazing route as far as I could tell. The points needed to gain access to the race came from the Spine Challenger 2016 and the Bryce Canyon 50 mile 2016.
Training started in earnest at the beginning of the year, and I was racking up the miles and ascent nicely, right the way through to June, having got a fairly decent time on the Old County Tops in May. All was going well, until in the first week of June I felt a little ache in my right lower back - just above my bum. Technically - in my Sacro-iliac Joint.
No problem. Ease off and let it heal.
Except the ache turned into pain, and then the next day I could barely put any weight on my right leg as it hurt so much. Oooh. Problem.
The next few weeks were taken as rest weeks - though I was booked to go out to Chamonix to have a look around some of the course where I would be running at night. I managed a day of reccying - about 20km, with a fair amount of pain relief, but the 2nd day, a planned 30km day, which would normally be a doddle - was called off after a mere 2km as I literally couldn’t walk.
2 months out from the race, and this was a bit of a bummer. There was the distinct possibility that I could rehab myself back to walking in time for the race - though 110km might be a bit of a stretch, I would probably be able to stumble my way around within the 33hour cut off. The possibility of running for that distance was not an option. I could barely run 100m, let alone 100km.
As the days and weeks rolled past, more and more people asked me about the hip, how likely I was to run, when I would make a decision etc. The idea was to get out to Chamonix a week before the race and make an informed decision there.
The idea of making an “informed” decision when you are surrounded by a load of psyched people, wall to wall sunshine and amazing scenery did seem a little out of place, though. That was not a situation which was conducive to being intelligent.
Having not run for 4,5,6,7 and finally, 8 weeks, the main thing I wanted to avoid was doing a single event and then destroying myself for the next 3,4,5 etc. months. That would be really silly. Don’t get me wrong, I do enjoy racing, but I would much rather have 5 months pootling around in the hills with friends than doing a single massive blow out in a race which I might not even finish.
And so it came to August. I had not run for 6 weeks, and to be honest, I didn’t fancy just walking the course. Entering it for it’s own sake was not on the agenda. The bullet was bitten and I withdrew my entry.
I’d much rather DNS than DNF.
We went out to Chamonix for the holiday anyway. We walked, we drank beer, I managed to get a short alpine day in with a friend, and we had an amazing time.
Was I annoyed that I wasn’t running the TDS? Yes. A little. However, I know that I still can barely run 5km without pain. Attempting a race of that magnitude would have been folly and stupidity. We’re home now, and the rehab continues. I’m hoping to get out for some shorter races soon, and maybe even dabble a bit in XC this winter. The hip is still not pain-free, but the movement continues.
Will I enter the TDS next year? If my points still stand, yes, I think I will. Not because it is unfinished business, but because I can’t see any other time that I will bother getting the entry points. We’ll see what happens.
Til then - I hope to see you on a hill some time.