Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Mtn Mist Race Report

So here's the deal. I'm injured. I strained my groin sometime last summer and didn't think much of it. I continued running normally for months and it gradually got worse and worse. It turned into tendonitis where the adductor connects to my pelvis. Eventually the pain spread up into my abdominal wall in what's commonly called a sports hernia. I didn't really understand the depth of the injury until last October. I backed off for most of the month of November, but I still wanted to give The North Face Championship a good shot in December, so I brought some intensity back into the program and ran through the injury to stay sharp. I actually had a decent race at North Face off my residual fitness, but I knew my current trajectory was unsustainable and I needed some time to heal.

After TNF50, I backed way off. I continued jogging, but did no hard workouts, no trail runs, and my weekly mileage was only in the 20s. I thought 7 weeks of shuffling around would allow the adductor to heal while keeping me sane before Mtn Mist. But progress was extremely slow. Everything I've read about groin injuries and sports hernias indicates they can be very slow to heal, especially if they have lingered as long as mine has. Going into Mtn Mist, I knew I still wasn't 100% and running 31 miles on an untested injury was a risk. The Mist is the only race I would have started -- even though I don't live in Alabama any longer, it's basically my home course, where my trail running career started.  I'd won it 4 times and wanted to get another step closer to a 10-time finisher jacket. I was hoping I still had enough fitness to sneak out the win.

A cold smile.

The start was cold and windy. I was in no mood to take the race out fast. Most everyone thought the frozen course was going to run fast, but a minor course change at the beginning threw off my normal pacing checks. I knew Scott Breeden would be my competition for the race.  We separated from everyone else around an hour into the race. Twenty minutes later, I stopped for a quick pit stop and Scott kept running. At the second aid station, I knew we were really slow. But I didn't feel like I was running slow, I felt totally flat. I was hoping that Scott was just throwing in a surge, and I'd catch back up, but it wasn't to be. I was low on energy, foggy-headed...more like I was at mile 80 of a hundred miler than mile 15 of a 50k.

I went more into a finish mode than a chase mode at this point. The second half of Mist is much harder than the first, so I knew I would need to keep some energy in reserve just to finish based on how I was feeling at half way. I didn't have my normal trail agility and could barely lift my knees. I caught a toe on a rocky section and nearly went down. I caught myself with my Ultimate Direction water bottle and hit so hard that it actually busted it open. It leaked all over my gloves, freezing my hands and pouring valuable calories out on the trail. I had to ditch the bottle at the next aid station and run the hardest section of the course with no nutrition.

I was totally spent after climbing the waterline trail, but I was determined to finish. I shuffled along, continuing to trip uncharacteristically. I proceed to walk the final climb of the race. There was no power hiking here, just a defeated walk. I was checking my shoulder to see if third place was going to appear. In the end, I finished alone in 2nd place, ten minutes behind Scott and 9 minutes in front of third place. I was over 30 minutes slower than the course record I set last year. That's hard for me to fathom. Scott was 20 minutes slower than last year as well, but I think a lot of that was me going out so slow the first half of the race.

Just happy I finished.

My groin injury wasn't a major factor in the race itself, although obviously it severely limited my preparations. Evidently, I underestimated the amount of fitness, sharpness, and trail agility I would lose after 7 weeks of jogging. I knew I wouldn't be in CR shape, but I didn't think I would be 30 minutes slower either. Now I need to continue my focus on getting healthy. I don't think I set myself back too much racing the Mist, but the process is just really slow. I don't have a race on the calendar until Boston Marathon April 21st. I wanted to run the Mad City 100k in early April, but I don't see any way I can get healthy and fit enough to make it worthwhile to run that one now. So my plan is to continue running very minimally and add in core work that doesn't aggravate my groin. If that doesn't work, I may have to take some time completely off so this tricky injury doesn't become chronic.

The course has some beautiful views when it's frozen.

Big thanks to We Run Huntsville for all the awesome pictures!


  1. Great post David. Sorry to hear about the groin and hernia injury, but I really appreciate your willingness to talk about it. As a movement specialist, I work with many injured runners to re-establish healthy gait mechanics. These kinds of injuries, if left untreated, can be a real bugger to move beyond. Here is a post I wrote on running injuries this past week.


    These injuries tend to linger and cause secondary movement based issues. For many this spins them into what feels like the endless injury cycle. Are you getting any help from a PT, Chiro, MT, or other movement professional who specializes in gait mechanics? With a highly skilled movement professional, the recovery really could be quite fast. If you're not working with anyone yet, I would be happy to help you with some referral options.

    I wish you luck with you recovery and getting back to the top of your game.

    Jesse James

  2. Jesse, I saw someone a few times for some massage/ART/trigger point therapy but I wasn't sure it was helping me heal, and was a little worried some of the stretches were aggravating my groin. I decided to back way off on the running and just give the injury time to heal on its own. I know I need to do more stretching and core strengthening, but I also think the injury needs to heal more before I can add new stress. I have a second PT recommendation that I could follow up on, but I am always open to recommendations in the Cincinnati area. Thanks for your input.

  3. Hi David,

    The closest person I can find through my network is Michelle Petzold. She is in Dayton. Although she said she will be in Cincinnati next Thursday and could work with you then.

    Michelle Petzold Lmt
    301 E. Stroop Rd. Dayton Ohio 45429

    She is a certified NKT therapist. This is the same modality of therapy that I practice. It is an amazing modality for assessing and correcting of gait problems. Here is an article I wrote about the modality.

    Don't Chase Pain

    I wish you a speedy recovery and would love to hear about your progress. Good luck.

    Jesse James Retherford
    Movement Specialist
    Life Changer
    The Art of Fitness

  4. Sorry to hear about the injury.

    I went through a similar groin injury that knocked me out for over 18 months; started with groin and adductor tightness that eventually led to a lot of lower abdominal pain. The groin area is very tricky and I talked to several specialists around the country. I was originally diagnosed with Osteitis Pubis, which has near identical symptoms to a Sports Hernia. Months and months of conservative treatment and rest did nothing. Eventually after multiple MRI's I found a Ortho who was able to help. It turned out that the Osteitis was a symptom and I had a hip impingement that was knocking my pelvis around and causing the pubic inflammation. I had to have surgery to repair the impingement, but now I am pain free and back to full training. Wardian went through a similar issue, but he had multiple hernias/sports hernias repaired.

    You already know, but its best to figure out the source of the problem as early as possible. I know how difficult it can be to find information on this type of injury, and I'd be happy to share my research with you.