VHTRC Degradation Award

by Gene Gatens

Damn! A running award that I know I can win and I'm not eligible because I'm not a club member. Just my luck! That degradation award sounds perfect for me. After doing Hinte, Bull Run, Delaware Trail Marathon, The Escarpment, part of Western States, assorted road marathons and other trail races last spring and summer...I've probably run less than 15 times in the last seven months. My last race was the Stone Cat Ail (pun intended) marathon last November, where I rolled my ankle more times in one day than in probably the previous ten years of trail running combined. (With no leaves on the ground, that is a trail 50-mile PR course. With leaves...it's Massanutten, at night, with a broken headlamp) I came out of that run so banged up and despondent that I knew I had to shut it down for awhile. To be fair, I had a bunch of other "nicks" that I'd never allowed time to heal, and when they all ganged up on me at once last November, I decided to take some major time off. Everything hurt. Foot, ankle, calf, knees, hamstring, hips, even my shoulder from running head first into a tree on the back side of Blackhead at the Escarpment. (But I PR'ed!!!) I didn't set a time limit for recovery. I just told myself I would run again when I felt better. I got massages. I took glucosomine and chondroiten. I tried acupuncture. And after three months...I didn't feel a damn bit better, so...I started running again. Makes sense, right? I'm a trail runner, not a swimmer. So I started up again over the winter, slowly, thinking that with a little perserverance, I could be back in shape in time for Hinte and Bull Run, the two best ultras on the continent. But it didn't happen. Like everybody who runs ultras, I've grown accustomed, over the years, to training through injuries --what's the old joke? If you go into an ultra healthy, you probably didn't train hard enough? -- but lately, the enthusiam for four-hour training runs just isn't there, and from what they tell me about "degenerative hip bursitis" (translation: pain in the ass) I'm not sure it will ever return. Boo -friggin'-hoo for me, right? Hey, I can still go out to the woods three times a week and do a little 45 minute out and back and feel like a runner; there are guys who were ten times better runners than I - guys who used to WIN races - who can't do anything because of injury or some other misfortune. My good friend here at the Jersey shore, Frank Terranova, a gifted runner and triathlete if there ever was one, a guy who takes superb care of his body, was broadsided on his bike last summer by a sunblinded driver and ragdolled up over the hood of the guy's car. He hasn't run a step in almost a year. So I consider myself very lucky, after all the great times I've had and people I've met and memories I've accumulated, to be still involved in this great sport. THE GREATEST SPORT. Trail running.

Boy that little essay became a real bummer all of sudden, didn't it? Needless to say, I miss all you whack jobs, and you can keep that award because I'm coming back...

Best wishes,
Gene Gatens
Crash and Burn Ultrarunners, NJ