Ridgeline 2016

Race Review: Castle Rock Trail Festival Ridgeline Half-marathon

Ridgeline 2016small steps

That is my takeaway from the Ridgeline half-marathon.

This review is going to more of a story of a race gone wrong than of the race itself. The Trailridge Race series is a well-organized course and the trail running is very challenging. I was the one who wasn’t well-organized.

The moral of this blog is that you should do what I say, not as I do. I have a habit of trying to find where my breaking point is. That drives me to take chances and push the envelope. For better or worse, I can honestly say I pushed it to the limit in Castle Rock.

The Backstory

For 2016  I started getting serious about running. Post college, I had done a few races then stopped for 30 odd years. Man, the time goes fast, doesn’t it? In typical fashion, I jskipped 5K and 10K’s and jumped into half-marathons. I could do the distance but I was accumulating injuries along the way. I had calves that were locked up and angry with me. I knew what caused it, chronic heel-striking but I was running out of time to fix it in time for the race.

Looking back at it, I should have just pulled out of the race or at the very least switched to the 10K. Again, do as I say, not as I do. Just so everyone is clear about this, going into a long, hard race and hoping a chronic injury doesn’t flair up is, well…a recipe for disaster. I knew it in the back of my mind, but I showed up anyway. Kind of. I was dreading the race and ended up in the port-a-potty when the starting gun went off. Is there anything worse that being in a stinking port-a-potty and listening to the announcer count down “10,9,8,7,6,5,4,3,2,1”?

Anyway, I finished my business and jogged up to the starting line as if I just wanted to give the other runners a bit of a head start. It is important not to have that look of panic in your eyes. Quickly I found that not only was I out of breath, my right calf was acting funky less than a mile into the run. It finally seized up about 1.5 miles in. My thought was, well, I still have one good leg, maybe I can get away with a little compensation and make it through this thing.

At mile 3, I received my answer. No, you idiot, it doesn’t work that way. My left calf had now locked up. Two calf strains and ten miles to go.

A Brief Explanation of Muscle Strains

This is an ugly subject and I feel like a fool for being the example.

Grade 1 Sprains- Up to 25% of the muscle tears and slight discomfort is felt. Heck, I had that getting out of the car.

Grade 2 Sprains- Up to 90% of the muscle is torn.Yup, that is me.

Grade 3 Sprains- The muscle ruptures and life comes to a grinding halt. I wasn’t there yet. Hopefully I could hold out.

What a Smart Person Should Do.

A person of intelligence, would assess this situation and decide to turn around. The big problem was that I was three miles in to the race. If I quit, I had to go back the way I came which was three miles. A three mile walk of shame. I didn’t come here to give up and limp home. A Smart person would live to fight another day. What I did was dumb. I kept going.

This doesn’t make what I did okay but it really didn’t get worse after that. I mean I had some touch and go moments. Moments were I thought I could feel the muscle tearing but I was at that point of no return.

Ridgeline 2016

photo courtesy Linhart photography

At about the 8 mile mark I had my headphones on and was running on top of the mesa. All of a sudden “I’ve got a name” by Jim Croce comes on.

I Got a Name

Like the pine trees lining the winding road
I got a name, I got a name
Like the singing bird and the croaking toad
I got a name, I got a name
And I carry it with me like my daddy did
But I’m living the dream that he kept hid
Moving me down the highway, rolling me down the highway
Moving ahead so life won’t pass me by
Like the north wind whistlin’ down the sky
I’ve got a song, I’ve got a song
Like the whippoorwill and the baby’s cry
I’ve got a song, I’ve got a song
And I carry it with me and I sing it loud
If it gets me nowhere, I’ll go there proud
Moving me down the highway, rolling me down the highway
Moving ahead so life won’t pass me by
And I’m gonna go there free
Like the fool I am and I’ll always be
I’ve got a dream, I’ve got a dream
They can change their minds but they can’t change me
I’ve got a dream, I’ve got a dream
Oh, I know I could share it if you’d want me to
If you’re goin’ my way, I’ll go with you
Movin’ me down the highway, rollin’ me down the highway
Movin’ ahead so life won’t pass me by
Movin’ me down the highway, rollin’ me down the highway
Movin’ ahead so life won’t pass me by
Songwriters: Charles Fox / Norman Gimbel
I Got a Name lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc
Something about hearing that song at a time when I was in a ton of pain on top of that mesa, just brought everything together. I had the feeling that the universe wanted me there doing this race for a reason. I was meant to be there and to do this. Honestly, it was an overwhelming moment. At that time and place there was no where else I would rather have been. Period.

Photo courtesy of Linhart photography


Thankfully this thing ended after 13.1 miles. I remember crossing the finish line and looking for a place to sit down. When you run in pain, your body tends to keep everything moving. You are in survival mode. The problem and the severity of your situation comes into play when you stop. Even going from a slow run to a walk, I could feel everything starting to lock up. So I hobbled over to a bench to take a break. My car was a good 40 yards away and I couldn’t get there. The car was there but it just as well could have been a mile away. After about 15 to 20 minutes of massaging my calves, I made the brave attempt to walk barefoot to my car and made it.

The Aftermath

Needless to say the next week was painful. In fact I couldn’t run again for two months.

Was it worth it?

Well, do you want the politically correct answer or the truth?

I will see you there next year!