T- 3 days until Limone...
... and I’m not going to be there.
This weekend is Limone Xtreme, the final in the Skyrunning World Series. Limone is a race I’ve always wanted to to, but especially this year. For 2019 a new course has been created and an exclusive list of athletes drawn up. The aim was to create a race with all of the best skyrunners in the world battling it out against each other. It’s an exciting concept and I can’t wait to see what happens.
I earned my spot at Limone through my top 5 finish at Zacup Skyrace (technically I’d already qualified through being in the top 30 but it was nice to do it the ‘proper’ way). A week later, however, at Glen Coe Skyline I picked up a niggle in my hip.
Scrambling at Glen Coe Skyline
I rested the hip for a week, and limited myself to cycling after that. Two weeks after the skyline I was due to be racing at Sky Pirineu and was desperately hoping the niggle had cleared up.
The day before the race people kept asking ‘how are you feeling?’ and as I often believe denial is the best policy I told them I was doing great. In reality I knew that my fitness was there but that my race would go one of two ways:
1 - I’d have a great race and finish well within the top 10.
2 - I’d be feeling great but my hip would get sore and cause me to drop out.
A short 5km jog the day before the race confirmed my suspicions. I fell in love with the Spanish mountains and was desperate to get out and race, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that not all would go to plan.
Pre-race shake out
As soon as the race started I went off hard. I was feeling confident from Italy and wanted to push myself. I felt strong going up the climbs, and I could see Holly just ahead of me. After a couple of kilometres Emelie Forsberg zoomed past and though I tried to stick with her I soon decided it would be more sensible to let her go. Still, I was feeling strong in 4th place.
After about 4km, however, my hip started to hurt. Before we reached Checkpoint 1 at 7km I knew I wouldn’t last the whole race. I was battling with two more runners close behind me and decided to push on to the top of the mountain. I vaguely hoped that some miracle would mean I could carry on once I got there.
The rest of that climb I felt amazing! The altitude wasn’t affecting me and I was running well. As the path became steeper and less runnable I dropped 5th and 6th. As I overtook men on the last stretch of climb they patted my back and told me how strong I looked. Everytime there was a slight downhill though my hip hurt, and I didn’t think I’d be able to complete the race.
By the time I reached the top I was only a couple of minutes behind Holly and Emelie. I still had buckets of energy and was longing to launch myself into the ridge and long descent. As soon as I started the downhill though my hip was in agony. I was visibly limping and wincing with every step I took. I couldn’t do that for 22km and was worried about causing further damage. I paused for a couple of minutes to think through my options before deciding to walk back to the top and catch the gondola down. It was such a difficult decision to make, but definitely the right one - in that brief pause my hip totally seized up and I now couldn’t even walk. I spent the rest of that week feeling frustrated and disappointed at what could have been.
Feeling sorry for myself
Since I got back from Spain I have seen a physio, who has diagnosed me with Hip Flexor Tendinopathy. I’m not running or cycling at the moment, and Limone is out of the question.
So instead of racing I’m currently using my half term to spend time with friends, explore the UK, read lots of books and test out my new lightweight camping set up! Really things aren’t so bad.
This isn’t the end to the season I wanted, and it’s hard not to be disappointed, but I’m learning to focus on the positives of this Summer. I’ve had some great races, learnt tons, made friends, and traveled throughout Europe. I’m excited to come back next season to race more, and put all I’ve learnt into practice. Fingers crossed for an injury free 2020!