I get by with a little lot of help from my friends

In my last post about the good advice I've received and still having to figure things out for myself, there's one BIG thing I left out: listen to your body. If I've learned anything from all of the running blogs I've read, it's the need to pay attention and be careful about running with pain so as to not injure/further injure yourself.  The reason I didn't list it was because I was well on my way to learning that one the hard way too.

I don't even really know what I did to my foot.  I'm not even sure which part of my foot is hurt.  Sometimes it's the heel, sometimes it's the ankle, sometimes it's the achilles.  I've been icing it and taking ibuprofen, and last weekend I thought I was getting better.  I did a 20-mile run (with ibuprofen) without having foot problems.  Awesome!  And then my next two runs, each just two miles, hurt.  I gave myself a couple days off and started wondering about the weekend.

My marathon is less than a month away.  Counting this weekend, I have time for probably two more long runs before tapering.  This is my first marathon, so I'd really like to go into it feeling prepared.  On Friday, though, my foot was still hurting, and I was trying hard to avoid making the right decision.  I posted on facebook and twitter: Trying to decide whether to do my long run tomorrow on a hurting foot or bag the run and do a long or trail ride.  Suggestions?  Oh, yeah.  There were suggestions.

Stay off the foot!
Don't run!
Better 90% trained than 50% injured.
Skip the run.

And yeah, I knew that.  I knew that. But I needed someone else to tell me.  So, thanks Darin, Sasha, Debbi, Mike, Melissa, and Adam for telling me what I didn't want to hear.

Decision made, more or less, then I posted a link to a Trailnet ride for Saturday.  None of my bike friends bit, but then I got an email from Ms. Sasha Petrosevitch.  We had never met, but we have some of the same friends, and I've been reading her blog for a while.  We'd commented back and forth on Daily Mile and Facebook, but I never would've thought to ask her to go ride with me because we are so not on the same level.  God must've known I'd waver on the run-skipping and wanted to make sure I stayed off my feet, though, because Sasha was emailing to see if we could work out a ride time on Saturday.

I was so excited.  I love to ride with better riders (and they're much easier to find than worse riders, lol) because you can learn so much.  It's much easier to try riding things that look scary when you see someone else do it first.  Having read Sasha's blog, I knew that she'd started out mountain biking at the same age I did and in the same manner: flat on her ass, requiring medical attention...so seeing and reading how she rides now gives me a lot of hope for myself.

We met at the Lost Valley Trail   in Weldon Spring, MO.  This is where my first mountain bike was with the Dirty Girls series, and I met some friends there for a run this winter, as well...but I'd never been there without snow cover.  This was much nicer, except for the fact that now I could see the rocks that were waiting for me instead of just imagining them. :)

Photo credit: Singletracks.com / toolboy70
The trail started with some flat doubletrack, and then we came to the top of a hill.  Sasha went flying down and I putt-putted down, at one with my brakes as usual.  I immediately took a wrong turn at the bottom but we found each other pretty quickly and then got to head up a longish climb.  I'm not a hill-climber, let me tell you. Thank goodness for all those gears!  We had a nice time getting to chat on the doubletrack, and then we made it to the singletrack section. 

Of course right away was that dip in the trail that had me scared the first time I rode at Lost Valley.  I took it with a little more confidence this time and made it to the top before I had to put down a foot -- way better than almost the top and almost rolling backwards!  I feel a little more comfortable each time I ride, and this day was no exception.  I was still slow, but I didn't spend quite as much time clutching the brakes.  After the initial dip in the trail, I didn't get too nervous until we got to to a section that is a gradual downhill with a hill on one side.  This is the section where I turned around on the Dirty Girls ride, but this time I rode it...and I wasn't too terrified. 

Some of the other things we talked about:

"Momentum is your friend" (cycling truth and the title of a great book by Joe Kurmaskie)--like "don't run while injured", I know this, but it's hard to put into action sometimes.  OK, always.  I'm a chicken.  My first instinct in a bumpy or rocky area or on a downhill with something tricky on the other side is to slow down.

"Look where you want to go" -- I'm getting better at this.  Not just keeping my eyes ahead of me on the trail rather than right. in. front. of. my. wheel, but also keeping your eye on the line rather than the obstacles in your path.  OK, truthfully, I'm only getting better at the former part.  The latter is still problematic.  I can't tell you how many times I rode right into the biggest rock or root because I was looking at it instead of my line.  Obstacles are like eye magnets.  One thing Sasha would do that helped was to put something small on the line I was supposed to follow and then remind me to focus on that.

Choosing a line -- a lot of path of least resistance.  For example, I'm very good at running into the tallest part of a root on an uphill instead of finding the side of the root.  Once she mentioned that, it was a light bulb moment.  There were several sections where she'd ride a section first so I could see it (always helps me feel better...ok, clearly it can be done because I just saw that) and then come back and run the line so I could get a mental picture. 

"You can do this.  I know you can do this." -- I'm not going to lie.  There were parts that made me nervous.  I was born without any kind of daredevil bone in my body, so what I'm doing mountain biking I couldn't tell you...except for the fact that I LOVE it.  I never felt like I had to do anything, but I wanted to...that's why I was out there.  And it was invaluable to have someone coaching and encouraging me through some of those places. 

Photo credit: Singletracks.com / toolboy70
Like this mess above.  This is an older picture, so that bigger tree on the right isn't there anymore, but it was still an intimidating section for me.  You come down a hill about the same size, zip across the creek, and then have to climb the rocks.  And I'm just looking at it like, really?  But OK, she talked me through it, and it took two tries but I made it maybe to that big root?  (Because of course, momentum might be my friend, but it's having a hard time getting around my brakes) And then she says,

"You know how long it took me to learn that?...two years" -- I heard something similar a few times on the ride. And to be clear, I didn't LEARN it...I just rode part of it.  But I guess what I learned is that I can. 

We got to ride some fun rolling trail and I worked on keeping my hands off the brakes more and more.

Saw several other bikers out there, a surprising number without helmets.  I may be hard-headed, but not enough so that I want to take on those rocks with my skull.  I really don't get why you wouldn't wear a helmet...especially when you're riding that kind of terrain.

I had a blast out there.  Of course, once you finish with all the sweet singletrack at Lost Valley, it's time to pay the piper.  And the piper, if you're parked at the Mound, is a big long hill that just gets steeper at the top.  I can remember having a hard time walking up it after the 11-mile run we did out there, and now I was going to ride up it?  Right near the top, it gets steep, but I made it up finally, pedalling the whole way.  Score one against the hill.  If I lived closer, I'd go ride up it regularly just to get better at it; of course, I've got hills around here, too.  Guess I ought to get to work.

As we rode, I mentioned something to Sasha about the last time I rode out there and it being my first mountain bike ride because I'd gotten my bike at Christmas. "So you've only been mountain biking for like 3 months?" she asked. I thought for a second: "Um, yeah...I guess so." Three months. I think this was about my fifth time riding on mountain bike trails. I guess maybe I can cut myself a break.

I really appreciated having someone experienced who was willing to go out and ride with such a beginner.  As I said today, one of the best things about endurance sports is the awesome people, and Sasha is a prime example.  But the amazing thing is that she's hardly the only one.  In my very short time in this community, I've been blessed to find some wonderful people who've been very welcoming to me: the Team Revolution ladies, the members of Team Godzilla, the Team Virtus guys, the blog community...really, everyone I've met.  I've got friends in the right places, for sure.


  1. Great story. You learn fast. I am not even going to attempt the trails... yay for helmets. Maybe those folks were practicing natural riding? Kind of like running barefoot on a dirty city street? ;o) It's not will you get your foot cut on a big chunk of glass, it's just a matter of when. Same with riding with out a helmet. Only in this case it will the hood of a car.

  2. How Awesome!!!! Really cool that you are out and doing so much. Fantastic that you are picking up EX-strangers to do it with. Don't sweat the marathon. I will be 50% trained at best. The funny thing about helmets is that I used to practice the "natural riding", and now I have 4 helmets for 4 different things, and I am about to buy my 5th. I was laughing about it as I cleaned my garage yesterday.

    HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  3. What a great way to spend your Saturday. You are really a quick learner!

    I needed this post, because I seem to have pulled something in my right ankle during yesterday's run and so now I'll give it a break and hopefully get the bike out this week. Best to rest now than later and longer! :)

  4. I know you don't want to toot your own horn but you should give yourself a little more credit. You are well on the road to Berryman.

  5. Oh boy...that's kinda how my foot problem started - please don't get to the point I am at now (aka: can't even walk w/o excruciating pain!!!). In the early stages on my nightmare, my MT told me it was Plantar Faciitis and I ignored her for the most part and didn't do as much as I should have. So listen wisely, ok?!?!!!

    That trail ride looks INCREDIBLE!!!!! Kudos to you for going for it!!

  6. You are my hero. My hero, I say!!!
    I got nervous just reading about the ride and seeing the pictures. It look SO hard!

  7. You are brave for sure! Sounds like you really enjoy the mountain biking. I hope to avoid biking for…well probably forever. Take care of that foot. I hope it’s nothing serious. Have a good week!

  8. Sounds like a good decision led to a great ride, And you picked an awesome instructor!

  9. Jennifer, natural riding...I love it!

    Jim, if they let me run, I'm doing it no matter what. And if they say not to run, well, we'll see. We'll have a good time. What's the 5th helmet for?

    Anne, that's right...we can encourage each other to be smart! :)

    Thanks, Patrick...I'm pretty happy with how it's going. As long as I'm ready for Berryman, that's the goal. And I keep looking at that link for the Berryman Epic. Hmmm. Why not jump a little further in over my head?

    Julie, it really wasn't that bad. Well, mostly not. lol

  10. I am very impressed with your mountain bike riding. You do need to cut yourself some slack and give yourself a pat on the back instead.

    Stay off that foot. It's a hard lesson to learn. I've been there,done that running on an injured foot thing.

  11. Very nice ride and Happy Birthday! You are right about the endurance community being very helpful and friendly. You fit right in!!

  12. When I get injured, I make my wife FORCE me to not run. It's so hard, she does a good job, but I just feel so stinkin' lazy! So I feel for you.

  13. You are going to be teaching/training/handing out advice to people before you learn to take it - that's just the kind of girl you are. So determined and SUCCESSFUL!

  14. Okay, fine, you busted me for being a lazy Blogger. I am actually gonna post tonight and I finally feel a little snarkiness coming on.

    Sorry I missed your tweet. I can tell you that I did not run once 3 weeks before my last marathon, including missing my last long run and it turned out just fine.

    That one pic looks like a big monster's foot.

  15. Kate you are awesome! SEriously! One tough and awesome chick! Don't let those kids get you down! Great story on my post...made me laugh. You handled it well! And you don't look prego...What a little #4it! :) I guess kids say things like that...oh, the worst is when they do it with their mom or dad standing right next to them (me being mom) and I have to apologize for them! uggggh!!

  16. Thanks for the encouragement. I really hope I can get back to training soon and run my marathon too.

  17. Thanks for your comment today...make me happy.

  18. Sorry for the foot but you have to run that marathon, change your schedule but don't give up.
    Great adventure on the mountain bike.
    Happy birthday.

  19. I need to read your blogs more often. Your zeal for life and living life is inspiring. As far as being welcomed by groups-it could just possibly have something to do with your personality (or that Pat said we had to welcome you...or else...).
    River To River will be so excellent, you'll have to take 3 days of work to blog about it. -Hope you can make it. BTW-Jeff says it's ok! :)


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