Two years ago I ran the Rothrock 30k here in my backyard. I finished with a respectable time and would have otherwise been thrilled with my run if it were not for an injury I incurred during the run. Somewhere amidst the many climbs and rock scrambles, my right foot came down directly into a rock resulting in a full-force jamming of my big toe. When it happened, it sent an intense shiver of pain up my foot and I had immediately assumed that my toe was broken. Fueled on adrenaline, I hobbled my way through the rest of the race and went home to ice. I went for an x-ray a few days later and to my surprise there was no fracture, however it did show that my cartilage appeared to be nearly gone between the one joint of the toe. The doc labeled it as a specific type of arthritis brought on by "wear and tear", likely worsened by the impact.
Since that day, I have been plagued by this damn injury. No matter what I have done to alleviate this problem, the nagging toe pain always seems to linger. It comes and goes, but has never left completely. It is likely that this injury is what also led to my eventual heel and knee pain as well.
I think a lot about what would have happened had I not run at Rothrock. What if I didn't stub my big toe on the rock? Was the toe still severely weakened and ready to fail anyway, or was it the single event at Rothrock that caused it. I guess I'll never know. Since that day, I have probably run the entire Rothrock 30k course over couple dozen times and done repeats on various sections of the course over a couple hundred (at least). All of my Barkley training was done on all or parts of the course. In a way, I feel like I was paying my penance to the Rothrock gods.
Last year I chose not to run the race, as in my mind it held somewhat of a curse for me. Despite the dozens of runs along the course in my own time, I didn't want to run the race again. Call it superstitious, but I wasn't feeling it. Instead, I rode my Surly up to the race in the morning, parked along the course and had a blast cheering on the runners. I wheeled around to various checkpoints cheering and taking photographs. It was a lot of fun.
After two years, I feel like I'm ready to give it another go. So...this Saturday I will be running the race again. Hopefully I'm not tempting fate here and will simply come away from the event having had a good time and a successful race. I will definitely be wearing my beefier and more protective shoes (as opposed to the crappy minimal shoes I was wearing in 2011). I feel having survived Hyner this year, and spent two years re-running the course, I'm ready to stomp the superstition back to where it belongs. I suppose if I do injure myself this weekend, I will be eating my share of crow and cursing myself for ruining my upcoming summer of great races.
I know this course better than I know any other route. Upside down, inside out, and backwards. I have nearly every turn memorized, every scramble optimized, and every rock noted. I'm ready for this sucker. So...let's keep it simple, not push it, and just go have a fun time playing in Rothrock. Sounds good!