Iznik | Part 2 (Where I Make Bad Decisions and Try Not to Cripple Myself)

Leading up to the race I had some grand hopes and aspirations for my training. Well, not that grand, but I hoped to at least train. Two of the three weeks leading up to the race I was traveling, and trying to maintain a running schedule when you’re in a different country is pretty challenging. But I was determined to succeed!

That is until almost two weeks before the traveling even started. I caught a cold, and desperately trying to get better before the trip I spent several mornings sleeping in instead of running.

Finally, after about a week off, I talked myself into an easy evening run. I would log a steady three miles, feel good about it, and come home.

Once I got going it felt great to be back out again. So great, in fact, that I ended up running over six miles. Which was fine, until somewhere in mile five when I realized I had a pain in my right foot that might keep bothering me once I stopped running.

It did. The next day there were a few moments where I could barely walk. Definitely not a smart move. So as I navigated through the next two weeks of exploring, the focus became less “where can I squeeze in a run?” and more “how do I find time to rest my foot so it can stop hurting and actually heal?”

Especially interesting was the part in the middle where it felt like my toes were constantly slipping out of joint because of the muscle fatigue. It’s a really gross feeling.

But I survived and made it back with a week to get in shape for the 10K! Looking at the last month I had gone on that one stupid six-mile run and then run maybe another five miles on top of that if you scraped it all together.

Another important note is that before I left for my trip I came to the heart-sinking realization that my beloved Vibram Komodo’s had actual physical holes worn through the soles and new running shoes were now a necessity. So while I was in Dubai I spotted a pair of Merrell barefoot shoes (Vapor Glove 2) for a good price and decided to snatch them up.

With exactly seven days to go and a brand new pair of shoes, I faced-off with my first race. I ran two miles (3K) on Sunday, another two on Wednesday, and Friday night I decided to try 8K at race pace and see how it went. Except with 1K to warm up and another to cool down, I ended up running the full 10K on Friday night. The hour and seventeen minutes it took me to complete wasn’t fabulous, but at least I knew I could probably scrape it together.

Also that week is when I found out my buddies were bailing and I hadn’t really planned out where I would stay the night. To my friend’s credit, she offered to come along so I wouldn’t have to be alone, but I was kind of excited at the prospect of a solo adventure. So I found the cheapest option possible, AKA a bed in a dorm in a guesthouse that was linked to from the race’s website.

I felt fairly confident about this choice, except that I wasn’t totally sure where it was and I never got the confirmation e-mail they told me I would get. But if all else failed, I knew there was tent camping right by Race Village. I’ve heard that the ultra-running community is supposedly really friendly and great, so surely I could find the corner of some tarp to curl up on, right?

I decided to leave early on Saturday morning so I could catch people as they finished the long races. I could already feel hope bubbling up in my chest for the 80K in 2016. Friday night I stuffed my running clothes and some pajamas into my backpack and laid out an outfit that screamed hippie nature-loving tourist. Yes, that includes Chacos. Squeezed into the front pocket of my backpack were three little pouches of beef jerky and a bag of prunes.

Then I feel asleep with a stomach-full of butterflies and visions of ultra-runners limping through my head.

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