Tag Archives: Trail Racing

Best (and Worst) of 2015

I haven’t felt like writing/blogging/stream of consciounessing for a while. I’ve been kind of bummed about how long recovery is taking me. My legs haven’t felt “good” in quite some time, and I’ve been battling just a twinge of post tib tendinitis (Thanks, Leah Sawyer for the help with that!) I have barely averaged 20 miles a week (until last week), and this really affected my mental/emotional state. I think I need at least 40 miles a week to feel good and like a normal person. So, to get me out of my funk, and since it’s the end of the year, I decided to compile a list of my running/racing/RD’ing bests from each ¬†month this year. And with the bests must come the worsts, right?

JANUARY

Best: RunWILD Tour of Trails begins (still time to sign up for NRC‘s 2016 training! #shamelessplug); running Bearwaller Gap for first time

beaman new

Worst: Having to DNS Mountain Mist 50K

FEBRUARY

Best: Black Warrior 50K (sub-5 hr); fun runs in the snow

Worst: The Ice Storm postponing Dry Creek

ice storm

MARCH

Best: Taking the RunWILD group down to River Gorge (come run it with us this year!)

river gorge

Worst: March was pretty good . . . so I guess it’d have to be the soreness from RunWILD’s St. Patty’s Day “Hill Repeats”? ūüėČ

APRIL

Best: Boston – experience (being there with my mom, the race environment, seeing Bree in Boston obvs) and marathon PR; meeting Sage Canaday

sage

Worst: April was pretty good month . . .

MAY

Best: Strolling Jim suffer fest; Running at Frozen Head for the first time

strolling jim 2

Pre-Strolling Jim ass kicking w/ Jobie

Worst: the day after Strolling Jim. I couldn’t leave my house because stairs must descended to do so.

JUNE

Best: Running in the big boy mountains of Idaho and solidifying my love of the West

IMG_0792

Worst: DNF-ing River of No Return 108K where the big boy mountains chewed me up and spit me out. Not even Little Red Riding Hood could get my ass in a good enough space to continue that race.

JULY 

Best: Pulling the trigger on signing up for a 100; Bowie Park race having record numbers

Worst: Pulling the trigger on signing up for a 100; losing my key on the Bowie course and spending hours “sunbathing” in the parking lot waiting for help

AUGUST

Best: RunWILD: Hot, Wet, & Wild started; knocked out my annual 5K @ Tomato

tomato

Worst: hardcore face-planting at Beaman during our first RunWILD run from which I still have the scarred up knees

SEPTEMBER

Best: Running in Chamonix (and London, Paris, Cinque Terre, and Rome); I’ve wanted to live and just run in the mountains ever since I went westward last year, but running here really made me fall in love.¬†#movemetoColoradoorBendASAP

IMG_1434

Worst: Leaving Chamonix

OCTOBER

Best: Defeated Creek — this was my baby race of the year. Thankful to NRC and others (Phil, Duane) who helped me bring this to fruition in just the way I/We envisioned when setting foot out there for the first time. Having such a big group at StumpJump; Mini Tour de Rouge (when we doing 10, Jeff and Jobie?)

stump jump bathroom

StumpJump bathroom pic

Worst: The nerves prepping for Pinhoti

NOVEMBER

Best: Pinhoti 100 — probably the highlight of the year for me; Riverside Screw, duh.

start line

Worst: Recovery from Pinhoti; post race “blues” –> always hard to deal with for me no matter the race but extra bad for this one #WhyGodMadeBeer

DECEMBER

Best: Wrapping up a decent first year as RD with Peeler park; focusing on running with my own pups; slowly getting mileage up

Worst: Loss of fitness and speed from taking a little too much recovery

So, that’s my pretty boring yet incredibly self-indulgent Best/Worst of Running for 2015.

Stay tuned for my Goals for 2016 which is sure to be riveting.

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Things to Keep in Mind When Dating/Married to/Friend of/Parent to an Ultra & Trail Runner

  1. When we say we “need” to go for a run, we mean it. Whether it’s for sanity’s or training’s sake, we literally need to go run. After we get that run in, we’ll stop talking about it . . . until the next day. In that same vein, we may sometimes complain about HAVING to go for a run. Yes, we know we could technically “not go” . . . wait, actually no, we have to go. If we don’t, it’ll pick at us all day, everything will remind us of the fact we didn’t go, and we’ll be cranky and¬†miserable because of it.
  2. However long we say we’ll be gone on a run, it’s safe to add AT LEAST an hour or two. Sometimes, we fail to take into consideration travel time, bonk time, refueling time, or “we felt good so we just kept going” time.
  3. Grocery bills will increase along with our training. And yes, we are eating AGAIN.
  4. Friday nights are usually more tame than any other night of the week BECAUSE Saturday morning alarms for long runs are usually much earlier than week day alarms for work.
  5. Vacation time is still running time.
  6. We may accidentally leave wet shoes, dirty clothes, ¬†or sweaty hydration packs in our car from time to time which means it may smell like a dead body in there from time to time. We’ll also come home smelling like ass, covered in sweat, mud, and God knows what else. We promise we’ll take a shower and get back to our normal, sexy selves as soon as we peel ourselves up off the floor.
  7. We think about running . . . a lot. We follow obscure races and geek out over runners you’ve never heard of before. This only intensifies when we get around our ultra/trail running friends. Eventually, we will talk about other things; be patient with us.
  8. Ultrasignup can be a more dangerous website than Ashley Madison. If you see us on there, rein us in. We could easily sign up for 10 races in 10 different states at any given time if left to our own devices.
  9. We, at some point, will likely (literally) fall victim to our sport. We may twist an ankle, bruise/skin knees, pass out, need IVs, or piss blood. Yes, we know we brought this on ourselves. Still, listen to us talk about it again and again, tell us what bad asses we are, and try to spare us a lecture (until at least maybe the wounds and urethras are healed). We also realize you’re only concerned about us and appreciate and love you for it.
  10. We love our sport, and we love you. We also¬†understand that you, more than likely, are not obsessed with what we do¬†(or at least to the degree we are).¬†And that’s ok. However, nothing makes us happier than when you show an interest (even if feigned) or want to crew/support/spectate/talk running. That being said, it’s not always expected. We know we’re weirdos and are thankful you love us in spite of it.
Gratuitous Jenn and Tony pic

Gratuitous Jenn and Tony pic-photo cred: luis escobar

They Say You Never Forget Your First Time

View on drive from Salt Lake City

View on drive from Salt Lake City

Well, it finally happened. I knew it would — you race long enough (both in frequency and in distance), it’s bound to happen. The dreaded DNF. I went out to the River of No Return 108K knowing that I was undertrained for both the distance and the elevation, but I thought that heart and grit could make up for whatever training I lacked.

Obligatory pre race pic

Obligatory pre race pic

Friday morning, Steven and I met up with Jobie, Sherrie, and their awesome crew of Andi, Clint, and Cole, outside of Salt Lake City. As we drove towards Challis, it was clear we weren’t in 400 feet above sea level Nashville any more. This would also be abundantly clear about 2 miles into to the race the next day. Steven and I got to the start line around 4:30 am on Saturday. Kevin and Theresa were pulling up at the same time. It’s always nice to see familiar faces before a race, and as Jobie was sick back at the cabin, it was exceptionally nice to see Kevin. Steven got me all ready for the adventure ahead, and soon I gave him a quick and, admittedly, scared good-bye. I settled in beside Kevin, and we were off. The first two or three miles of the race are on a trail running parallel to the “main” road of Challis. We kept a nice, easy pace. Soon, we headed onto a trail that would snake us around to the top of the first mountain. Kevin and I found ourselves in a nice little pack. We hiked up the next four miles, turning around every so often to watch the sun rise over the mountains behind us. Eventually, we made it through the aid station at mile 9. After a quick fill up, we set off on some nice trails and quickly found ourselves at the mile 12 aid station. I grabbed a quesadilla as we trucked on through.

The next four miles¬†held about 2000 feet of descent to the Bayhorse aid station at mile 16. I came in here feeling awesome. Steven was waiting for me and had all of my stuff ready to go. He told me the average time in and out of the aid station was 2 minutes and to hurry up because I was 4th female. This was his first time crewing, and he was crushing it. I knew the next section was going to be a beast so I wanted as much fuel as I could carry. He loaded me up with Honey Stinger chews, gels, waffles, and Picky bars. I filled up a bottle with coke and one with water, and I was on my way out of there. I had been doing such a great job with my nutrition up to this point. Every 30 minutes, 100 calories in. We started a 2400′ climb, and I excitedly unwrapped half of my¬†Picky bar. However, my stomach had other emotions and revolted against the bar before I was able to even choke it down. Ok, let’s just stick to chews for this climb, I thought. We climbed and climbed and climbed. And my stomach continued its revolt. I puked every half mile or mile.

IMG_0793

Finally we reached 8500′ and got some downhill. It helped my tiring glutes and hammies but did nothing for my stomach. However, the downhill wouldn’t last long, and soon we were making our way towards the last couple of climbs that would take us up to 10,000 feet. Now, along with the puking came dizziness and shortness of breath. Every quarter of a mile or so, the guy I was running with and I had to stop and catch our breath and rest. Alexander ran RONR last year, knew how much tougher this year would be, and brought along his poles. Even poles weren’t helping him at this point.

We thought we had made it to the highest point, Ramshorn, when we came upon a dirt bike and water stop. This should mean there was about 4 miles left until the next aid station and that it was all downhill. However, the biker man informed us it was actually at least 6 miles . . . and the 500 ft shale climb that we’d all been warned about was coming up. We trudged a little down hill and started climbing again. We watched¬†those ahead of us climb up and over and up again. We finally reached the dreaded climb. It seemed like it was 500 ft straight up. After stopping to rest on some snow that hadn’t melted, we finally made it up to the top. Ramshorn at last. The beautiful views at the top definitely made up for the shortness of breath, burning legs, and the impossibly steep trail riddled with my vomit that had brought us there. 360 degrees of beauty and snow capped peaks.

It was hard to get going on the downhill. I hadn’t kept anything down for 8 miles, and the lack of oxygen and nutrients to my muscles left me weak and unstable. But at least I was going down! I shuffled along creating some semblance of a run, puking up some bile every now and then. Lots of rocks littered the trail, and after wooziness took over, I tripped over one of the larger rocks. The ankle that had been testing my patience and pain threshold for exactly a year roared in pain. 3-4¬†miles left to the aid station, all downhill, and all rocky. I hiked on hoping the pain would subside. The pain remained, and since¬†I was hiking/running funny because of it, the heel of my opposite foot flared up in pain as well. My watch had died around mile 26 (poor pre-race planning). If it had been on, I swear it would have been subtracting miles — the aid station seemed to get further and further away.

View from the cabin

View from the cabin

I usually relish testing my mental toughness, and here was a perfect opportunity to do so! I thought about all of the supportive texts and Facebook posts/messages from friends and family in the days leading up to the race. I thought about Bree’s amazing care package and sweet card. I thought about McNeal’s awesome video he made for me. I thought about all of those hours on the trail that had brought me here, and how it was abundantly clear I should’ve put in many more. I told myself “You wanted to run with the big dogs, and here you are getting bitten. Get it together, girl.” I thought about all of Hunter’s advice including his most recent, “Be the shit, don’t get the shits”. I thought of my ultra idols Jenn and Sally. I thought about Jenn’s badassery and reckless love for the trails and the thrill of the race. I thought about Sally’s heart and ability to dig deep into places many of us have never been. I replayed scenes from her “Western Time” movie over and over again. I thought “WWSD” (What Would Saban Do) and about the Bear. I thought about a billboard I had seen on the way to the race that featured John Wayne and how he didn’t care for quitters. I thought about the RunWILD group. I reminded myself that I was wearing the sweet new NRC race kit and how I was completely failing the team. I thought about Steven who had traveled all of this way with me just for this race. I thought of the best and most frequent advice I get from my dad — “Be brave.” I thought about how this was a big step for me towards that ultimate goal of qualifying for WSER . . . and how if I didn’t finish this race, it’d likely be next year before I could attempt to qualify again.

However, all of the grit and determination and inspiration and motivation that I could come up with on those long miles to the aid station couldn’t drown out the pain resonating in my ankle and beginning to creep up my shin. Along with the pain came with the worry that I was damaging my ankle even further. It was becoming abundantly clear that I wasn’t going to finish the race. Even if I stopped puking my guts out, my ankle and foot were shot. The question that remained was how far would I try to get. When I saw the aid station closing in but could only force a shuffle, I knew. I knew this was my final destination at RONR. I came into the aid station and slumped in a chair as a woman dressed as Little Red Riding Hood covered my head with a wet towel. Looking around, there were 4 other racers who were dropping¬†as well. As bad as it sounds, seeing them made me feel better about myself and my decision. I turned in my chip and crossed my bib number off the list. Just like that, my day was over, and with it came my first DNF.

I had a sense of peace with my decision as soon as I sat in that chair. Since then, I’ve second guessed it every now and then, but I’m confident that it was the right one — both in the long and short term. As much as I hate that I “failed”, it was an amazing trip. By far, it was the most beautiful run I’ve ever been on. I got to experience a race out west, and I got to spend time in the mountains. Was I overly ambitious and bit off more than I could chew? Yep. Would I do it all over again? Absolutely. Will I ever forget my first DNF? Not a chance. It will haunt me, inspire me, motivate me, and push me for the rest of my running days.

Reminder in a small town outside of Challis that DNF isn't the worst thing in the world

Reminder in a small town outside of Challis that DNF isn’t the worst thing in the world

Rock/Creek River Gorge Recap

As I described in the my earlier blog post,¬†we made it to the start line of the Rock/Creek River Gorge Trail Race with only minutes to spare. My “warm-up” was the mad dash from the car to the start line as I put on my Nashville Running Company shirt. I quickly filled up my handheld, said hello to some of the awesome Chatty folks — Chris, Nathan H., and the RD, Brian — and then toed the line. I knew that I wanted to be pretty close to the front of the starting line, but getting too far in front still makes me uncomfortable. I found a spot that I liked just as we took off. From the outset, we were headed up a hill. People were already starting to jockey¬†for good positions as we went up the hill and started down a graveled jeep road. I settled in behind Nathan G from RunWILD just as we went down the steep stone stairs and onto single track. We were in a pretty sizeable train of runners which was nice at the start. It forced me to go a little more conservatively than I would’ve had I been out on my own.

As we wound around a switchback and up some rocks, I saw Phil . . . and the second place female or “White Shirt”. As I typically do before a race, I ultrasignup stalked the competition. There was a chick on the entrants list whose name I recognized. Super strong, super experienced, super fast. I thought White Shirt was her coming up hot behind me. We were still in a pretty big train though so I wasn’t too worried. However, the slowness of the train was starting to get to me. While I was glad it forced me to conserve, the “easy” pace soon became too slow.¬†People had definitely gone out way too fast and were already donezo. We were getting close to the first aid station.¬†I could tell White Shirt was going to try and make her move on me. I kept telling myself to “run your race” ¬†and “don’t worry about White Shirt.” Luckily, there was no spot for her to pass as we were still on single track and in the slow train.

Photo Cred: Timothy Neddleton

Photo Cred: Timothy Neddleton

As we came through the first aid station around mile 3.5, I was still behind Nathan G, and he smartly passed the slower leaders of the train. I followed suit. White Shirt was right behind me. The voice in my head shifted from “run your own race and don’t worry about White Shirt”¬†to¬†¬†“if you’re going to get beaten, have the guts to get beaten at the end, putting it all on the line, making everyone else work their hardest to beat you.” ¬†Just as I thought this,¬†White Shirt tried to step off the trail and around me.

dikembe

Not here, not like this, White Shirt. So I picked up the pace until I settled in behind Ken, and White Shirt was a few guys behind me. I knew this section could make or break the race. It’s completely runnable, but I also knew what lay ahead. For the next 3 miles or so, we ran on beautiful single track with some rollers and awesome creek crossings. ¬†At some point, I quickly glanced behind me to see who was back there. White Shirt had now been passed by another girl — Blue Shirt — who was running great. She looked strong and comfortable. I knew we were getting close to where the race actually started — mile 7 aid station. My goal was to hold her off until then. Pretty soon, we popped out onto the jeep road/climb up to the aid station. This is a pretty big climb that leads into a pretty big climb. I was ready to suffer and to put this race to bed.

I ran up the hill and through the aid station. As soon as you get back on the trail, you’re met with some pretty gnarly switchbacks. I knew these wouldn’t last long, but they are tough. I glanced back once more and saw Blue Shirt about 15 yards behind me. I decided to run the switchbacks at a pretty good pace instead of hiking them. As I made my way up, I looked behind me for the “last time”. Blue Shirt was still hiking up. This was where I wanted to make my real move — I wanted to get out of her line of vision and crush any hope she had.* I was at a completely runnable section, I was still feeling great, and I knew the rock garden was coming up — so I ran like hell. I passed one guy, but other than that, I was on my own the rest of the race. I kept up a pace that I was really pleased with, just trying to put as much distance between myself and Blue Shirt.

Soon, the terrain became rockier, and it became darker. The rocks became bigger and more frequent. I finally made it to the rock garden. I “ran” as much as I could through this section, but I struggled through here more than I had in the past. The rock garden also lasted longer than I had remembered. Finally, I reached the climb out and looked behind (I had told myself not to look to see if anyone was behind me after I left the switchback, but I couldn’t help myself). There was one guy but no females. I knew the section between the rock garden and the finish was pretty short so as I was climbing out I kept saying “hammer it home, finish in a way Phil would be proud of.” I glanced at my watch — I thought I was way off pace to break 1:30, but it said 1:24. I turned my legs on as much as they would go and made my way down and then up a half mile or so. I could see the tents at the finish and tried to pick it up even more. I crossed the finish line right under 1:29 at 1:28:54 and first female.

Photo Cred: Sir Speedy, Nathan Holland

Photo Cred: Sir Speedy, Nathan Holland

This was, obviously, really cool, but the best part of the race was yet to come. Watching everyone finish from the RunWILD group was incredible– the day couldn’t have been much better. (You can read all about that in my earlier blog post as well!)

My takeaways from this race:

I didn’t break last year’s time which was totally fine. I didn’t go into the race with any time goals or expectations. I do think, because I felt way too good in the final 3 miles, that I went out too conservatively. I did, however, enjoy the first 7 miles much more than last year. I also think what helped me the most was looking forward to the pain and suffering of the final 3 miles. During those first 7 miles, all I wanted to do was get to the climb up to the aid station and start hurting. Anyway, it was a great day, I learned a lot about myself at this race, and I’m ready for more.

*Blue Shirt and White Shirt (Molly and Heather respectively) were both incredibly nice and incredibly great racers.

RunWILD Wrap Up, Pt 3

February Recap: Chickasaw Trace — Twisted fun; Bells Bend — fast and flat; Percy: Rad ice adventure; Shelby — glorious mud pit.

From the outset, March would prove just as eventful. Icepocalypse II occurred during the first week of March which set a spectacular backdrop for our run at Edwin Warner. I have no idea how many times I’ve run out there, other than it’s a bunch, and the snow made it look like a completely different park. We also had the Salomon rep out there which was perfect– the snow really put the demo shoes to the test. This run was also great because I think a good deal of the crew training for River Gorge hit their longest run yet. Beautiful day for progress!

Photo Cred: L. Moorman

Photo Cred: L. Moorman

Photo Cred: J. Eb

Photo Cred: J. Eb

Next stop — Montgomery Bell. I’d never been to Montgomery Bell before which, after this run, I’m mad that I’ve been missing out. The 9ish mile loop had tons to offer — fast, runnable sections, some climbs, back-to-back-to-back creek crossings, and a completely and epically flooded section of the trail. This section was about a quarter mile from the end, and as we’re approaching, all we see is water, water everywhere– at least twenty yards of deep water. Phil kept saying “I hope we go through that,” and sure enough, we did. It came up to Scott’s and my waist and a little lower for Phil and Steven. It. Was. Awesome. You can check it out in Steven’s video here:¬†

Again, the crew pushed it and hit some of their longest runs ever!

Photo Cred: J. Eb

Photo Cred: J. Eb

Photo Cred: Khette Cox

Photo Cred: Khette Cox

Photo Cred: Michelle Mazzara

Photo Cred: Michelle Mazzara

On Tuesday, we eschewed our normal Tuesday night trails for another hill workout at Shelby and a St. Patty’s party at NRC. Steven showcased his newest videos on our training ¬†as well as a film on Kilian Jornet. It was quite possibly the most epic St. Patrick’s Day I’ve had since college. (And what happens at RunWILD, stays at RunWILD)

Our last run would take us to Long Hunter — the perfect place to get some good, easy miles in before race week. We ran at a good pace, and the 8 miles were over before I knew it. Everyone also got to see just how terrified I am of vultures so that was fun.¬†scaredAfter all of the cold, the run at Long Hunter was warm, sunny, and beautiful. It was the perfect place to wrap up our training.

Photo Cred: J. Eb

Photo Cred: J. Eb

Photo Cred: J. Eb

Photo Cred: J. Eb

Photo Cred: J Eb

Photo Cred: J Eb

Photo Cred: Michelle Mazzara

Photo Cred: Michelle Mazzara

The RunWILD Tour of Trails training was all I’d hoped it be and more. Phil, Steven, and Alicia did a bang up job, and our crew was so much fun. I can’t wait to see how everyone does at River Gorge! I’ll leave this parting advice for those racing:

-Be nice to and thank the aid station volunteers.

-Remember Phil’s trail etiquette speech.

-Be brave and strong.

-Embrace the pain, and don’t be afraid to suffer.

-Have so much flipping fun, and RunWILD!!!

Cumberland Plateau Stage Race or The Day I Gave Up

One of the most important parts of trail running is the mental component. ¬†I’ve always been relatively proud of the fact that I can, for the most part, push through when the going gets tough, especially during races. ¬†This past weekend though I didn’t have it–physically or mentally. ¬†I went down to the Cumberland Plateau Stage Race on Saturday morning. Although it was a 3-day stage race, I did it as a part of a team; David ran Friday and Yong ran Sunday. I’ve never been to the Cumberland Plateau, and I will say it was beautiful…and challenging.

¬†The first 5 miles of the race were nice and easy. I ran with Jeff and James, and we were knocking out sub-8:30s for this section. Soon, we began about a half mile or so descent. After that, it was creek crossing after creek crossing and mostly running on flat, smooth, slippery rocks. ¬†Beautiful running, but it definitely banged up the already somewhat banged up ankle. This went on for a couple of miles. At one point, we followed the course markings¬†up a steep, long climb. ¬†After about 9/10 of a mile, we realized this was not, in fact, the right way. As we quickly descended the monstrous hill we just climbed, we turned other runners back the right way. ¬†Unbeknownst to us, “locals” had been messing with the flags; at least we didn’t end up at a BBQ shack… It was more creeks and rocks for another couple of miles until it was (the correct) time to make the climb out. This climb went on forever. I think we gained over 1000′ in a mile or so. ¬†Once we made it out, the trails become pretty runnable, but my legs were definitely feeling the two big climbs. I was taking it a little slower than I probably should have been which ended my run with Jeff as he took off. Anytime you can run about 10 miles with Jeff, though, is a pretty good day. I¬†made a new trail friend, and we ended up staying together the rest of the race. ¬†Around mile 13 or 14, we hit an aid station. ¬†They had a pretty good set-up, and we made sure to plenty of fluids as it had turned quite hot and humid. ¬†The next section was completely exposed and on grassy/sandy “road.” ¬†I still wasn’t running as fast I could have but was comfortable with the effort. We finally dipped back into the woods and came upon the last aid station at around mile 18. Sadie was there which was awesome. ¬†We thought we only had about 2 miles left so we grabbed a quick fill up of our bottles and decided to try and really hammer home those last 2 miles. ¬†Around mile 19.5, we popped out into more grassy/sandy road. ¬†It was clear that we were definitely not only a 1/2 mile from the finish but we kept running¬†until mile 20. ¬†After that, we decided to hike some. ¬†We saw Roy’s wife, Darlene, Corrie, and my teammate, David, up ahead. ¬†They told us we still had another 2 miles to go. Womp, Womp.

This completely took the wind out of any sails I had left. I have never not cared during a race, until that moment right there. I knew I could run the next 2 miles and probably do it at a decent clip, but I did not care. I did not care that in 6 weeks I have a 50K during which I would run at least 7 more miles and that I needed the experience and time on my feet. I did not care if it took me another 4 hours to finish. I could not push past my mental block for the next 1.5 miles. And so I walked. Not power hiked or briskly walked. I just flipping walked. It was only until we went back into the woods that I could even force myself to do more than trudge, and we sucked it up enough to run the final 1/2 mile into the finish.

Me, Saturday--minus the stripping

Me, Saturday–minus the stripping

 

It was a tough course, it was hot/humid, and I was running on tired legs. However, what ruined me on Saturday was my inability to fight all of the external circumstances holding me back. I was using justification after rationale after excuse not to push hard. I told myself I was trying not to get hurt; I said that I was being an altruistic trail runner and helping pace my new trail friend;¬†I told myself that our team had second place on lockdown so it didn’t really¬†matter if I ran or walked. ¬†I’m incredibly pissed and incredibly disappointed in my mental performance this weekend. The mental aspect is what makes or breaks a race. It’s what Hunter harps on time and time again. It’s how you go from just finishing to competing. On Saturday, I did not beat average. I embraced it with a full on bear hug. Fortunately, I’m more determined than ever to really work hard and really focus on increasing my mental toughness because I hate not feeling like I gave it my all. I hate not having left everything I had out on the course¬†or not having the drive to keep fighting/pushing harder. ¬†And I refuse to feel like that again. ¬†

 

*This has nothing to do with the actual race.  John and Cody with HardWin Adventures did a great job, and I look forward to running more of their races.  This has everything to do with me being a giant . . .  cat.

 


WEEK IN REVIEW:

Monday: Rest

Tuesday: AM — 5k repeats; PM recovery run

Wednesday: East Nasty in the rain

Thursday: AM —¬†RWB @ Race pace; PM recovery

Friday: Easy run

Saturday: CPSR 20+ miler — 4:27:35

Sunday: Penance run — ran the 5.8 @ PWP in 95 degree heat

 

 

 

 

Stage Race — Day 2

Day 2 of the Stage Race was Lookout Mountain. ¬†5:15 am came more quickly than I expected. After a quick assessment of my legs (they were still there, only now with a few newly found muscles), I got ready and met up with my breakfast crew of Phil, Theresa, Charlie, and the new addition of Whitney who had driven down the night before. ¬†Soon, we were loaded up and headed towards Lookout Mountain by 6:30 am. ¬†Just the drive up the mountain was beautiful. ¬†We passed the spot where you can supposedly see 7 states. ¬†I wondered out loud where Alabama was, Whitney responded with “Look for the tire fire”, and then we all had a good laugh at the expense of my home state. (Roll Tide) We got to the Start/Finish area and saw all of the usual suspects of the Nashville trail community that were running that day. ¬†Finally, it was time to line up to take on 22 miles.

The first mile or so of the race was on a pretty wide road, and I was just trying to keep up with Jeff as I knew we’d be stuck in a bottleneck soon. ¬†Sure enough, we slowed down and filed into a steady climb on single track. ¬†After a little bit, the climb¬†got steep enough to where there was a rope to help us up. ¬†I had been worried about this part, but it wasn’t nearly as bad as I expected. In fact, I think we probably could have made it up without it. . . but it did make for some cool pictures. ¬†After the climb. we hit the ridgeline.

Look at that hunchback. . . coming out of the climb and onto the ridgeline

Look at that hunchback. . . coming out of the climb and onto the ridgeline

I¬†was right behind the 2nd place girl, Tracie, so I stayed with her for a bit. ¬†We were running on a slight incline the entire time on the ridgeline, but my legs felt really good. We looped back through to the Start/Finish area and hit the first aid station around mile 5. ¬†We passed Roy’s wife Darlene, as we headed back into the woods, and I enjoyed seeing a smiling, familiar face.

The trail looked a lot like day 1’s trail for a while, and I just focused on staying near one of the guys ahead of me. ¬†I remember thinking at one point, “Holy crap, I’m ahead of Jeff.” ¬†But alas, my moment in the sun was fleeting as I soon heard him talking and coming up from behind just as I was climbing up a pretty annoying hill. ¬†I quickly turned around to say hey, and he looked awesome. ¬†After the annoying hill, we hit the sunshine and began what some call the power line hill. Basically, it’s a super long climb that is¬†near¬†some¬†power lines. Aptly named, I suppose. ¬†At the top of the climb was the second aid station. ¬†I could see the 1st place girl and a couple of guys stopping to fill up. ¬†It would be a solid 4 or 5 minutes before we’d make it up to there though. ¬†At the aid station, I got some water and ate some honey stinger chews. ¬†Jeff headed on, and I wouldn’t see him again until the finish. ¬†After this aid station, I struggled for a few miles. ¬†The trail led us into the woods for a bit and then popped us back out near some more power lines. ¬†I had a mini panic attack because I thought¬†not only was I lost but I’d have to climb that giant ass power line hill again to figure out where I was. ¬†Luckily, I stuck to the trail and discovered I was headed in the right direction. ¬†I headed back into the woods for some switchbacks and a few climbs/downhills. ¬†I began running with a few guys as we hit a more technical part of the trail. Soon, I saw Danny and knew that we’d be coming up on the 3rd and final aid station pretty quickly. ¬†We popped out on the road, I saw Darlene again (praise be!), and we went through the Start/Finish aid station. ¬†At some point along the way, I tweaked my ankle. ¬†At the aid station, I explained/yelled this to Whitney using some colorful language. My delayed apologies to any virgin ears that were at the aid station.

After the aid station, we headed across a bridge and ran a backwards version of the loop that we began the day with. ¬†We hit the ridgeline, this time the incline in our favor. ¬†However, this time it felt longer, much longer. ¬†I decided to eat some more honey stinger chews, and as I did, I basically just fell over and on to the ground. I really don’t think I tripped on anything. ¬†Luckily, I landed in some tall grass, and I must say it was probably the nicest fall I’ve ever had. ¬†After a while, we hit the steep downhill and had to use the rope to climb down. ¬†I was definitely thankful for the rope this time. ¬†We took a different road to the left to add on a couple of miles to this version of the loop. ¬†This gave us a spectacular view of Lula Falls.¬† I asked a guy how much further we had around this point. ¬†A mile or so was left so I decided to pick it up a bit. ¬†The trail kind of wound around a creek and became a little harder to follow. ¬†Soon though, we hit the sight that I’d been looking forward to all day. ¬†The creek crossing– this meant only a half mile or so to go! And the water was awesome! I heard Lindsay yell my name as I was running (or trying to run) through the creek which was an added boost.

Almost to the finish!

Almost to the finish!

The last half mile was a waterlogged one, but it was great. I finished the day as 2nd place girl with a time of 2:51:24. After crossing the finish line, I chugged some Coke like I was freaking sponsored by them and then hit the stream that was only about 20 yards or so from the finish.

After a few minutes, I got out to watch everyone else finish their race. Tracie crossed¬†very soon after I did, and since we didn’t talk much during the race, we chatted for a bit after. She’s an awesome runner and just a¬†sweet, great person. I really enjoyed meeting her this weekend. ¬†I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again– trail runners are some of the best people around. Sadie and Daniel L finished up and then Daniel H and Steven were done. ¬†Theresa, Charlie, Phil, and Whitney (He ran the last 7 miles with Phil like a champ) finished up. Phil, Whitney, and I hit the creek with some brews. Perfection. ¬†When he got done, Roy “The Machine” jumped in the creek. Always great to see Roy– the man races almost every weekend. ¬†Like I said, machine. ¬†As we left, Donna, Sinith, and others had already finished. Another great day for Nashville runners.

We grabbed burritos at Mojo Burrito¬†where I inhaled a burrito as big as my face. Almost in a food coma, we went back to the hotel for an extended rest. I exchanged some emails with Hunter about the day’s run and strategy for tomorrow. At 6pm, I met up with my weekend crew, Charlie, Theresa, and Phil. Phil’s lovely wife, Gretchen, had come down with their baby, Bel√©n (adorable!), so we all¬†headed to the Crash Pad for a beer. While there, I got a chance to talk to Sadie and Danny some. I also met a great runner from Nashville, Cody, who’s planning a stage race¬†in August and talked to yet another great Nashvillian runner, Olaf (seriously, Nashville has some great talent. Very cool to be in their presence and learn from them all weekend). ¬†I talked to Donna, Meredith, and Roy for a bit, and then the weekend crew¬†went to grab dinner at Elemental.¬† My Boo Boo, Alicia H, drove all the way from Nashville after work and met us at the restaurant. ¬†It was A-M-A-Z-I-N-G to see her! We had a fantastic dinner (pesto gnocchi = to die for). ¬†After dinner, we went back to the hotel. Alicia helped me ice down my tweaked ankle (it started swelling right after the race) and helped calmed any nerves I had for the next day. ¬†I sent some final, semi-frantic texts to Hunter which were immediately responded to with¬†some encouragement, advice, and just a simple “have freaking fun” which really is the point of all of this, huh? Then, it was bedtime — finally!

Overall– fabulous day of running and awesome friends.