Finally, after almost two years I feel normal again. My injuries are doing great, my concussion is barely noticeable aside from some speech and memory issues and I am feeling strong! Everything seems to be working like it should and it feels great! Obviously I am worried about when the next injury or issue will pop up but I am staying positive and enjoying the fact that I can simply move without pain. I have new racing goals this year and it’s simple-run happy and stay healthy. I don’t need to podium, I don’t need to do the big fancy races, I need to run the courses that make me feel alive and I need to run because it’s something I love to do! I also love the mountains and the challenge of technical terrain and relentless hills, so at this point in my life I guess I should call myself a mountain runner! I do have aspirations of breaking 3 hours in a marathon someday and when the stars align I am pretty sure I can make it happen, but for now I am focusing on running in wild and high places!
Last weekend I was excited and strangely calm about racing the Breakneck 42k race. It was the longest I would run since December and I had no idea where my fitness was. I figured I would finish no matter what, it just might be harder than planned!
I got out of work a bit early due to a patient cancelling which worked out really good because Ryan and I were able to get on the road sooner for our race that started at 7am on Saturday. We didn’t get there until around midnight. There was traffic and like a jerk I passed out in the passengers seat while Ryan drove. In my defense I was fighting a small cold and I was up at 4am to get ready for work! We finally found the camping area and set up the camper and rolled into bed for a couple of hours of sleep. I never fall right asleep but this time I did.
I woke up not feeling sick or jittery like every other time I race. I was strangely calm and actually excited about my first race of the season! I got dressed and ready before making my way over to the check in. I saw Ian and he gave me my race number. Oh boy, he knows me too well, or it was just chance but I was #2. By now if you don’t know that I have explosive diarrhea at almost every race I do then you haven’t read one of my race reports yet. This has been an ongoing issue for so many years and it is getting better, just a tiny bit since becoming gluten free. I laughed and so many jokes came to mind, I knew it would be a great day!
We lined up at the start and it was peaceful. It is always fun to see your friends from all over the place and catch up with them! I was chatting away when the race started and realized I was all the way in the back, ooopppsss!!! I wasn’t looking to charge but I did want to do my best so I ran straight through the brush on the side of the trail to find a place where I fit into a comfortable pace. The temperature was perfect and so much cooler than the 87 degree days we had in St Johns!
I was having a blast, the trails were gnarly and the hills insane! It was seriously like rock climbing on parts of the course and the views were killer! I spent the first 16 or so mile running with an old friend that I hadn’t spoken to in years because of some hurtful things said to each other. It was awkward at first but I figured we were running the same pace so why not apologize and start off where we left off. We forgave each other and realized that life is too short for drama and bs and spent the next few hours laughing and chatting like old times! It was wonderful and made me feel so at peace.
When we got to aid station 4 I ran through asking if there was a porto potty near by. Ian ran up to me very concerned to see if I was okay. I had been pinching off an explosion for about two miles and was not able to hold it off much longer so I blurted out “Number 2 has to take a #2, where are the toilets!?” When I realized there were a bunch of people there now either laughing or vomiting from my potty mouth it was quite embarrassing. I found that porto potty and blasted off as quickly as I could and in no time at all was back on the trail and headed out to tackle some more climbs!
I was alone for a bit and was still having fun but lonely. Soon I got lost and started to backtrack and ran into two guys who would be my chatting buddies for a while! One fell back and the other ran the next several miles with me as we slowly ran out of water and began fantasizing of water, coca cola and aid stations. Every descent we hoped it would be there, but it wasn’t. Instead there was another climb. We got off course and lost for a bit but realized our mistake and found the trail after back tracking. After an eternity we saw stairs and hoards of day hikers who were quite angry with the runners. We realized what had been happening. The hikers were mad so they turned arrows around and moved flags. What they didn’t realize is that they could kill someone if they get lost and run out of food and water. Please educate people on how important it is to leave course markings alone. It’s no different than stabbing them and watching them die. On hot summer days when a runner is depending on an aid station at a certain mileage they can’t be sent down a trail to nowhere. Just not good.
Anyway, we were thrilled to be at the aid station and get some pepsi (I really wanted coke!!!) and hugs from Lisa! The aid station volunteers were awesome! I even got a hug from Amy at the second one! Oh and a hug on the trail from Elizabeth! The day was just that happy! With water in my body and only 4.3 miles to go I ran up that hill and power hiked the steeps. I was on a mission. At the top I was treated to amazing views and two new friends to run with! We laughed and chatted our way to the last stretch where we charged to the finish line smiling and totally thrilled with running the hardest trail marathon any of us have ever experienced! I finished first woman in a time of 6:25, must faster than my 8 hour goal!
Ryan finished a solid 4th, Carlo 3rd and Ben and Ian literally sprinted to the finish to be within 2 seconds of each other. The video of that finish is insane and Ben ended up winning that sprint! Mountain Peak Fitness put together some incredible photos as well as others volunteering on the course. Ian always puts on the best races and this one did not disappoint! I never saw so many people completely wrecked yet smiling ear to ear with pride! This race was 28.8 miles of pure bliss, the stars aligned and I had so much fun! We got home at 2:30 am and I took the most incredible continuing education course on local anesthesia and dental pharmacology and in fact it was so good I didn’t even fall asleep!
Thank you to La Sportiva, the Bushidos rocked on that course! Any other shoe would have destroyed my feet and taken away my confidence on the scrambles. Thank you to Choucas Hats for a sparkly headband that kept the sweat out of my eyes! Thank you Julbo USA for the Dust sunglasses that were much loved on the super sunny sections! Thank you to UltrAspire for the Astral which is the best race pack ever! Two liters of water never carried so well! Thank you to my training partners, my friends, my coach Jack, my Jack puppy, my husband, stepdaughters and wonderful boss and coworkers for always believing in me and helping me smile! Oh course I rocked my sparkly pink lip gloss and purple nail polish! A girl needs to shine sometimes. a great video that captures some memories! Thanks mountain peak fitness!