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I’ve been living in a state of denial for the past two months.

Despite a nagging knee issue (notice how I still refuse to call it an injury), I’ve kept telling myself that I’ll be able to compete in the Uwharrie Mountain Run on Feb. 4. Even though it’s a 40-mile run. Even though it’s on a hilly trail. And even though I haven’t managed to complete a single run longer than 13 miles since November. None of that mattered, of course, because I’d simply gut it out on race day.

But it’s time to face the reality that I have no business running that distance through the woods in my current condition. Today, I finally e-mailed the race organizers to let them know that they should give my spot to a lucky person on their waiting list.

Sure, it hurts a little to finally admit it. But it’s also a relief. During the past year, I’ve fallen in love with running for its stress-relieving, worry-zapping powers. Recently, however, I haven’t been able to run more than 5 miles without stressing and worrying that my knee won’t be able to carry me 40 miles. Now, without that fear clouding my thoughts, I’m willing to bet that this 5-mile run I’m about to take will be a breeze.

Plus, I’m comforted by the fact that my dream of running an ultra isn’t dying. I’m just putting it on hold. A wise friend of mine recently told me about an injury he endured while training for an Ironman a few years ago. He had to stop running for a while, but he eventually healed up and ran a 50-mile race last summer. “The way I look at it,” he said, “is that an injury every now and then is the price of admission for doing cool stuff.”

I couldn’t agree with him more.

In the mean time, I should probably be on the lookout for more cool stuff with less impact on my knees. Pillow fighting, anyone?