Coming up on the eve of the Red Hot 50k+, I'm really starting to feel the sting of lost time. Red Hot was my first race of the season last year and with its bare trails and varied terrain was the perfect antidote to a snowy winter that played prelude to a great first half of 2009, which culminated in my inaugural 100 at Bighorn.
I'd hoped for a carbon copy schedule this year. Red Hot, followed by a trip to Ojai for the mania of Chris Scott's Coyote Two Moon; a final tune up in Pocatello in May, then the big appointment at the end of June, only this time with Western States in place of Bighorn.
Injuries, though, chart other courses. And although I haven't had Red Hot on my schedule for a while now, the coming and going of the actual race day is a hard thing to confront - partly because it was such a great experience last year, which I wanted to repeat, but also because it makes me wonder what may have to be lopped off the schedule next.
Injuries are part of the game, of course, and my current one, as with most, has a rich and boring history to it. The short story is that it's bad knee pain likely caused by IT band issues. But it's been going on since early November, and for the last two months, I've been breaking out the calendar and training schedules to plot those dreaded fail-safe dates, the day after which I have to drop a race if I'm not up to a certain training volume. Red Hot - gone. Coyote - gone. Antelope Island - possible. And so on.
Thankfully, my knee seems to be showing a bit of halting progress. And even if it comes in fits and starts, I'll take what I can get. After all the miles and hours and vertical of last season, where anything under 5 miles hardly seemed worth the time, I'm getting reaquainted with the pure joy of running, however short the distance.
Of course, each successful outing makes me hungry for more, much more - especially as the start at Squaw seems so close - but right now the best thing I can do is push away from the table and just be patient.
(Photo: Greg Norrander)