Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The Gambler

"You never count your money when you’re sittin’ at the table.

They’ll be time enough for countin’ when the dealin’s done."

Why am I posting a song about booze, cigarettes and a largely illegal activity?

Well kids, I’m a gambling man,* and this morning I think I learned my lesson.


I woke up at 4:30 (on purpose) with the rain coming down and a sparkle in my eye. I was going runnin’. I slipped on my pretty little shorts and tied back my pretty little hair and practically bounded out the door for the trails. The bounding was only inhibited by a little nagging pain in the top of my foot/ankle, but I figured it just needed to warm up from all the sleep. So I headed out to Mandeville for a visit to the horses and a nice, muddy climb up the ridge. In short, I was stoked.

During the quick drive to my starting point, I blared one of my favorite songs, smiling and snapping and altogether behaving entirely too chipper for someone awake before 5am. Life was good, except for a dull ache that shot up my leg every time I eased or pushed on the gas pedal of the Jeep. Stupid pedal. Probably just needs some WD-40.

I continued on my path to righteousness.

I started my run in the dark along the horse trails, looking forward to the climb up to the ridge. But from the first step, I knew it wasn’t right. I was running quickly, with good form, up on my toes – but my ankle wasn’t having it. I knew what the problem was. Everytime I ran more than two days in a row since Firetrails, it seized up and hurt until I gave it a days rest. Then I’d repeat the same mistake. I’d already run four days in a row and it wanted a break. But no! This was supposed to be my final week of good training for Ozark! My mileage was already low and how could I expect to run well at a 100 miler if I couldn’t even run for a few days in a row?!

And it was here that I began a ridiculous conversation with myself. It went a little something like this:

Katie. Seriously. Listen to yourself.

The Ozark Trail 100 is a little over two weeks away. What can you do now that will make you any harder/faster/better/stronger/kanye for that race? Do you really think a great 10 mile run today is going to make you win the damn race? Do you really believe three more days of hard workouts are going to make you any better prepared?

Now, do you think running on this ankle that is demanding nothing other than rest is a good idea? Do you think running through the pain since it doesn’t hurt that bad could just ensure that you go to the starting line less than 100%? Could it just fix itself? Maybe. Is it worth risking it?

And with that question, at that moment, I did something I rarely, if ever have done. I stopped running.

After all, I wasn’t training. I was running scared. I was scared I hadn’t done enough work. I was scared I had let the rest of my problems get in the way of my goals. I was scared to be seen as ‘not good enough’. I was just really fucking scared.

As I walked back to the Jeep in the rain, I started to cry tears of frustration. At everyone. At everything. But mostly at myself. And then I started to laugh. Jesus Christ Katie, just give it a rest and you’ll be fine tomorrow. Fine. Your training didn’t go exactly as you had planned. Fine. Some other shit has gotten in the way. Fine. Fine. FINE.

Did you do everything you could with what you had? Did you have a few really great workouts? How many 30+ mile runs have you completed in the past 2 months? 6 or 7? How many people have told you how much lighter you look and faster you are? Like everyone? Did you just run a 50 miler in which you barely walked at all and felt no overuse pain? A week ago? Could that be indicative of how much stronger you have become? Have you actually weighed yourself, timed yourself or even just looked at yourself to verify that you are, in fact, fat, slow and untalented? When you have, did you or did you not notice improvements? DID YOU OR DID YOU NOT, KATHERINE ANN? And most importantly, have you even run the race for which you’ve already determined a failed outcome? Alright then, let’s all just settle down here.

Look, I have a pretty good idea what’s wrong with my ankle. I rocked the shit out of my toes before Firetrails and proceeded to run 50 miles with bloody, smashed up stumps until they just went numb. Maybe my gait might have been a little off, and maybe that caused a little residual stress on some tendons and stuff in that foot. I’m pretty much positive that is the case, and fortunately, I also know how to fix it. Stop stressing out and just give it a little more rest than normal. In fact, I should probably do that in life, in general.

So that’s what I learned this morning. You’ve got to know when to hold ‘em and know when to fold ‘em. And today, I finally knew when to walk away from the table.

The cards have been dealt for Ozark Trail 100, and now all I can do is use my smarts and play the game. Every hand is a winner and every hand is a loser. And I’m setting myself up to play mine like a fucking champ.

*Also, as you may have noticed – Kenny be lookin’ SHARP. If you disagree, you are lying.


  1. That is some smooth music. Another great blog. You're going to murder Ozark Trail 100. No doubt.

  2. That song reminds me of someone...thanks for posting..

    "Running is the greatest metaphor for life, because you get out of it what you put into it."
    -Oprah Winfrey ~smartwool socks