But, but, but, I thought your toe was healed...
LOL, no, it wasn't, and it played right into the course's hands too.
This is going to be an interesting write-up, because I have a lot of things that I am mulling about after pulling out of the race at mile 19.
First off, it seems like toes don't heal very quickly. Yes, I had the ability of running on a bad toe last week, and it was acceptable, but the flare-ups should have told me that the toe wasn't fully healed yet. Generally, broken bones usually take about 6 weeks to heal.
Combine that with a relentless, rocky course and I had problems right from the start. Big ones.
Even before the race it affected my decision in which shoes to wear. Before the race, I had bought a New Balance minimalist pair of shoes for the trail 5 weeks before. Finding the shoe to be bothersome to my injured toe, I was forced to opt for the regular clumsy conventional shoes to protect that toe. I knew that this decision would come with a high risk of inverting an ankle, but it was the only pair that my feet felt comfortable in.
Wearing these shoes, right from the start of the trail section, I knew I was going to have problems. We hit the trail at about 4:45AM, when it was still dark, and I had trouble finding the best footing through the rocky sections. As a result, I was constantly landing hard on my bad toe. Well, the toe kind of decided after a little abuse that it had enough.
I can understand. If somebody keeps punching me in the head, I'd start getting upset also.
After a while the toe started to throb. This started to cause me to compensate by not rolling off that toe. Instead, I was rolling more toward the outside, where the smaller toes were.
With the clumsy conventional shoes and the wrongful rolling of my foot, I must have twisted my right ankle at least 4 times on the trail.
Secondly, at about mile 15, coming down a hill, I smacked my toe against a rock, hard. Seeing stars, I almost fell off the trail and hobbled to a halt waiting for the pain to go away.
The last 4 miles were rough walking. Coming to an aid station, I knew I had to cut my losses and end it there before I really got hurt. It's a tough decision to make that early in the race, but I saw the writing on the wall and decided to call it a day.
Taking my socks off, I immediately saw my toe bent in toward the rest of the toes. The nurse at the aid station also saw this and suggested I go see a doctor to see whether it needs to be reset.
Oh, well. Time to call a doctor tomorrow.
My history with rocky courses was always a weakness; I tended to painfully roll my ankles a lot on the trails.
That is, until I started to wear minimalist XC-flats.
I have to safely say that even on the rockiest trails, I have NEVER rolled my ankles in XC-flats. Ever. I think the thinner sole allows it to be more flexible around uneven surfaces. This provides for more stability on very uneven areas.
But the problem with XC-flats is that with the lack of cushioning my feet tend to tire after about 30 miles on trails.
In a 100 mile race, that might be a bit of a problem.
There actually might be a possible solution to that, however. I noticed some people actually using trekking poles with their runs, and they were actually phenominal in traversing rocky sections.
I used a trekking pole for the Appalachian Trail and it turned out to be a great aid in getting through technical sections of the trail, so I have some experience in using them.
Looking for more information on the internet today, I came up with this gem of a video on Youtube. This guy is just amazing at using his trekking poles while running, so it might be something to look into.
Mind that I would only be using trekking poles for extremely rocky courses like Massanutten and would never use them for more runnable courses like Vermont.