Ambassador Carre recently completed her biggest challenge of her life. The gruelling, challenging and incredibly beautiful Coastal Challenge in Costa Rica. She trained hard, prepared as best she could and smashed her goals to cross the finish line after 6 days! Here is her story of the race, recovering and testing her recovery at a 50km a month after. Have a read!
1. A return to a normal state of health, mind, or strength.
2. The action or process of regaining possession or control of something stolen or lost.
So, I am now in Re-recovery. This occurs when I don’t let my 42 year old bones recover fully from my last adventure, before I start a new adventure.
I signed up for The Coastal Challenge early in 2017. This is a 6 day, trail-running stage race through Costa Rica’s beautiful and diverse pacific coastline. I had never done more than a 2 day stage race. This race covers around 230k in 6 days and goes through dense jungle, rocky dirt roads, single track mountain trail, farm pastures, miles of river and quiet, pristine beaches. It is as physically demanding as it is breathtakingly beautiful. I trained all year and totally focused on this race from September 2017 to race day February 11, 2018.
I went in strong and prepared. I finished every stage and received my medal. My heart full of joy. My mind swirling with memories of all the beautiful country I had covered in foot. This makes it sound like everything went perfect, right? I had to deal with blisters on the soles of my feet and blisters wrapping two toenails. I am pretty sure every runner was enduring blisters somewhere on their feet. The blisters caused me to change my gait which led to ankle swelling and pain.
I hobbled through three airports and made it home. My body fatigued, scratched and bruised. Toenails barely attached, left foot and ankle swollen. I went to visit my doctor and was shocked when they weighed me. I had lost 7lbs. I had eaten 3 meals a day and snacks through each day of the race and drank what I thought was plenty of water and electrolytes. Wow. I had more recovery work ahead of me than I had planned.
I also had my favorite dirt road 50k in 4 weeks.
I had no idea. No idea how to recover from this. No experience with a body this weak and beat down. Active-recovery, rest, hydrate, eat, vitamins, protein, probiotics, ibuprofen, massage, ice, compression, infrared sauna, electrolytes, whole food smoothies, heck…..all the food. I was hungry ALL the time. I woke up hungry. Truth is, a full month of all of this wasn’t enough. I had heard it could take 2 months to “return to normal” but I didn’t believe it. I also had no previous experience to judge this information.
Nearly 3 weeks had passed and I could barely run or bike for one hour. I took a 3 hour nap after a one hour bike ride. One week out from the race, I headed out for a Saturday morning run and on a downhill interval my right hamstring began pulling and didn’t let go. I finished the run and made it back to my car with my right hammy so tight I could barely drive. How was I going to run 50k in a week? I just barely finished an 8 mile suffer-fest. I went to my running coach. Calm as always, she said “You don’t need to run this week, get a massage and do non-aggressive stretching.” I believe the massage was key. To be honest, I should have done it right away in my recovery.
I took the time to pre-hab with massage before the stage race. So, in hindsight, I should have put that into my early recovery.
I didn’t know what to do. Do I go to the 50k? Risking injury, disappointment, if I can’t finish, and longer recovery. Do I “No Show” and stay home and rest? Typing this now, I smile because, I would say to someone else, “Just rest, there will be other races.” “Your body needs to recover.”
I didn’t run all week, I got a massage Wednesday. Thursday night I still didn’t know what I was doing to do. I packed all my gear for the race Friday morning and headed to work. I prayed for guidance to make the right decision. I clocked out at 5pm and had to decide to turn right and go to the race or go left and head home and recover.
I called my husband from the Panera drive-thru and told him I was going to the race. I got my sandwich, pulled over and booked a room for the night and headed down the highway.
I was scared. Nothing hurt, right now, I didn’t feel weak, right now. How was my body going to respond to the time and distance and downhill pounding? Why was I doing this? It would have been so easy to go home.
1. The pure joy of this event. I have ran this 50k the last two years. Bobby the race director is so pumped for every rider and runner that he is singing John Denver on a mic from the back of a truck. He is firing a cannon to start the race. He is pounding high fives to racers and telling everyone to leave every ounce of energy out there. People are smiling and cheering. The good vibes are palpable.
2. I love a mystery. I wanted to know if I could do it. Could I finish? How was it going to feel? What part of my body was going to rebel? Would my muscle memory and heart kick in and get it done? Would I hit a wall at mile 8 and walk to an aid station and quit? Could I beat last years time?
Well, the first 18 felt good, the knees and calves began to fatigue and ache from all the downhill pounding. I walked a bit and finished strong beating last years time by 17min. A finish-line bear hug from the race director ends the race. A happy volunteer offers me a special race day beer from the local brewery. My runners heart is happy.
Was it the right decision? For recovery-No.
For a runner who loves the race day vibe and the mystery of the human body and spirit -Yes.
So, now begins re-recovery.