“The comfort zone is the great enemy to creativity; moving beyond it necessitates intuition, which in turn configures new perspectives and conquers fears.” -Dan Stevens
This was the most challenging event I have participated in since starting to trail run less than a year ago. This doesn’t compare to anything…the discomfort of road racing at max or tumbling down a hill or going to the hospital for fluids. It’s not NY or Boston or Devils Head (all 700 ft of elevation in WI). This was a challenge unlike any other and I see now how extremely impossible it is to master (how I want to master it) without mountains in your backyard.
The first few miles was a steady incline to Tennessee Valley. I peered up towards the top and saw the most beautiful stream of moving lights, nothing I’ve ever seen before. I realized around this same time I made a rookie mistake…my headlamp was not strong enough to light much at all in front of me so I played it safe on the downhills until the sun came up. The last thing I wanted to do was get injured!
Reaching TV was such a great feeling!…sadly that was only 9 miles. Brian was crewing for me and definitely kept me going, not only here, but throughout the entire race. There are only a handful of people I refuse to quit in front of and he is one of them. He switched out my water, handed me a flask of VFuel, and I was off. It would be another 19 miles to SB before I saw him again. I had no idea what was coming…
The sun started to rise when I was playing on the top of a mountain and it was quite possibly the most beautiful sight I’ve ever seen running. It looked like a scene from Jurassic Park…vibrant sky colors, a mountainous green landscape, the rolling waves of the ocean, and birds sounding in the sky. Unreal.
It was basically hill upon downhill with no relief until the finish. This is where my fitness and training didn’t matter anymore. Whether I ran or hiked, my efforts didn’t change my position. I gave it everything for this course and it simply didn’t compare to the ultra competitive field of women…they all came to win and many with zero set backs that day. I wrote on my arm…”How bad do you want it?”…said by Matt Fitzgerald as a way to stay focused because I wanted it bad…but sometimes your body wins.
When I started my run in the depths of Muir Woods, I realized my goals needed to change for the day. I felt some disappointment but mostly I was proud that I did everything as planned. Rivs and I had a few discussions about strategy, course, and my mental state (or lack there of…being sick on antibiotics going into this did not help!). This isn’t my first year running, but I forget I’m new to this sport and hold very high expectations of myself. I don’t set goals to finish or hit the top 50 because I will always want more…why not push the limits and wish the best.
On my way to mile 27, my liquid fuel and gels were not sitting well. I knew if I continued to use them, I would not make it. I nursed my tummy back quick and didn’t let fueling ruin my day. I set small goals to reach aid stations and knowing Brian was at 27 made it so much better! He calmed me down a bit and let me vent which made a huge difference. I am forever grateful for his help out there. It’s probably good for him I didn’t know there was a 3 mile mountain right after! 😛
My friend Diedrik caught up to me at mile 30…it was a pleasure to run with him. It was comforting on such an uncomfortable day. He continued to push and finished about ten minutes ahead. Incredible.
It was 17 miles to TV…the last major push. I just kept going. I didn’t do it well or fast…sadly, but I didn’t quit. My legs were shot…my muscles were saturated with lactic acid. I thought they would break at the knee. 10 miles to go. The mountain got steeper with every step and I simply had to stay positive.
It took everything in me to not cry at certain points of this race. It had nothing to do with pain or the possible embarrassment of not reaching my goal. It’s never fun to hear “I told ya so.” It was more so about being stuck. I simply couldn’t do more to gain ground. Being “stuck” is one of the worst feelings and one I’ve never felt until this race.
Reaching 44 was a major success. 6 miles to go. Brian hiked up part of the next mountain with me as I ate which calmed me down immensely! He reassured me again that no matter what this was a success. I put it into high gear until the finish.
Under ten hours from starting it was all over. I was the 36th female to cross. It’s disappointing but I know in my heart that’s all I had for that day. Onward. My next race is one I took 5th in last year and more suited to my running skills. I can’t wait to be back in AZ. Until then, resting this week and starting the next big block of training…some of which will be in AZ to prep. My 2015 goal was to get back into it and start to build. Through that I gained recognition and ambassadorships. My latest is with Altra. I’m so stoked and forever grateful! 2016-17 is a full on racing season with hopes of making the Altra team. Got to dream big and think beyond limits! Cheers!
Hydration/Nutrition: The Orange Mud handhelds survived once again! The comfort is incredible. My flasks were filled with VFuel but sadly it didn’t sit right…switched to real food at aid stations for the remainder.
Shoes/Socks: I’m in love with the Swiftwick Socks #4… Perfect compression and height for this race. Altra Running shoes of course…wore the Olympus 1.5s…they can last forever. Two blisters under my toenails but I believe it’s from the downhills.