Bandera: My First 100k

Most of all, the ultra distance leaves you alone with your thoughts to an excrutiating extent. Whatever song you have in your head had better be a good one. Whatever story you are telling yourself had better be a story about going on. There is no room for negativity. The reason most people quit has nothing to do with their body” ~Scott Jurek

I’ll let you in on a little secret: leading up to Bandera, I didn’t completely trust my training.  My lack of trust had absolutely nothing to do with the plan that my coach had laid out for me.  My lack of trust rested solely on ME, and it had become a raging fire, fueled from the guilt and regret of missing workouts.  Yes, I managed to get the majority of my workouts in, but I did miss some strength and mobility and I did miss some mid-week runs. I felt like a complete and total failure. I felt that I had let myself down, my coach down and my team down.  Plus, it was just scary to race after a year of nothing.  Did I still have a competitive spirit? Could I still run that far? It’s just crazy where the mind will go if you let it.

A lot of people dread taper, but I don’t.  There’s a point during the week when the nerves melt away and I am forced to accept the reality that what is to come is what is to come.  I cease to fret about performance or pain or fatigue or results. Taper is when you have reached the point of no turning back.  In other words, you no longer have the time to train in order to change the outcome. Or, you have no more time in which to screw it up. I find an eerie comfort in that. Taper week, for me, is accepting my fate then tying up loose mental ends so that I can race in the best mental shape.

Going into the race, I had a few goals:

  • Complete the race in 15 hours (Greg thought I could run in 14:30 – I thought he was insane)
  • First and second loop splits with no more than an hour difference. (Also thought that I would not be able to pull this off.)
  • Remember that racing is a celebration, not a test
  • RACE, not run

Due to COVID protocols (Tejas Trails did an EXCELLENT job, by the way!), the race started in a wave format.  I was in first wave, which was 6:30-7:00AM.  The wave start is awesome, becuase there is no pressure to arrive at a fixed moment in time.  We were heading to the start and I decided that I wanted to change shorts, so I went back and changed shorts! That level of chill could never have happened in a mass race start. I started around 6:42AM.  The weather was PERFECT!  It was in the 30s but there was virtually no wind and not a cloud in the sky.  The forecast was upper 50s, cloudy in the afternoon and low 40s that night.  It just doesn’t get any better! Most of the first wave had started at 6:30, so I was by myself, except for a few people that I caught and passed early on.  The wave start worked really well for me because I didn’t get caught up in what everyone else was running and I could focus on maintaining the level of effort that I wanted.  When the faster runners in the group behind me started catching up, it wasn’t that mental blow that you sometimes get  because I knew those people would have been far ahead of me if we had all started together.  Plus, if I had 30 minutes on them and they caught me – it’s not like burning matches to keep them from passing would have done any good….because they already made up 30 minutes on me!  I did miss trying to chase down women to better my position, though. Chasing people can be fun.

Everything was clicking along really well, until I got to the Lollipop.  I ended up somehow getting a cactus needle jammed through my shoe into my second left toe.  I tried to pull it out of my shoe, but needed tweezers.  I wasn’t about to waste time pulling off my shoe for one stupid cactus needle, so I carried on and decided that if the poking became unbearable, I would address it at that point.  Around this same point, I started feeling a sharp pain in my left ankle. Just one mile prior, I had been thinking about how much stronger my ankles were compared to the last time I ran in the Hill Country.  Wow.  What in the world could have happened?  I realized fairly quickly that the pain in my ankle started at exactly the same time as the cactus needle in my toe, but it seemed unlikely that would have caused the issue.  Again, I decided not to think about it until I needed to think about it.  Even then I was resolved to keep moving, however that might look. Luckily, I only felt it off and on for the next 5 miles or so, then nothing! (By the way, it ended up being a large cactus needle stuck in my ankle.  I suspect that it punctured a vein, which caused the pain and the large bruise afterward.)

Bobby had come to crew and Baha to pace.  They went for breakfast after the start, then met me at Equestrian, which was the second aid station.  I shed my long sleeve shirt and headlamp, traded water bottles and was off again.  My goal was to trade water bottles at most aid stations, restocking food at Nachos (mid-point of the loop) and start/finish. Efficiency was a must, especially during the first loop.  I made it to Nachos quickly and easily enough and restocked nutrition pretty quickly.  I knew I was ahead of the pace chart I had prepared, but couldn’t tell exactly because I refused to take the time to pull the pace chart out of the pouch out in my belt.  Since I wasn’t exactly sure how the wave start was going to work, I had based the whole thing on a 7AM start, so I had to account for that 18 minutes as well. Run math….smh.

When I made it to Chapas, I was feeling good, but a little tired.  Having the Big Ass Runner crew cheer for me as I ran through the barn gave me a nice shot of adrenaline so I had some energy going into the flatter, more runnable section of the course.  This is where faith in your training pays off.  Even though I didn’t have a lot of faith in ME for the overall race, I knew that I could get through these runnable sections.  Greg structured my training around keeping my leg turnover for those flatter areas and I knew I was prepared for it.  I made it to YaYa, tired, but still moving. Bobby and Baha didn’t make that aid because they had gone to grab lunch, but all I needed was water anyway.  Now it was just a few miles to the start/finish where I would be half way done AND would pick Baha up to pace.  I rolled into the start finish with a first loop time of 6:27, which was about 30 minutes faster than I had planned for the first loop!

It seemed like I spent A LOT of time at the start/finish before heading out on the loop, but the difference in Baha’s Strava for the loop and my chip time for the loop was only 6 minutes.  If that’s the case, I’m really happy with that. Baha’s friend, Brian, started the loop with us and stayed with us until we arrived at Boyles. He certainly kept the conversation going! I needed Coke, so we stopped.  Gah, I hate to waste time at aid stations but I was in a low spot.  I told Baha that I was tired.  I would have been happy to lay on that rocky ground and take a nap!  No time for napping in a race, though, so off we went again. Stopping for Coke was a good decision because I did get an energy boost.  Sometimes taking a little bit of time now of time pays big dividends later. I was feeling pretty good at this point, but had been doing run math in my head. (I realize how dangerous it is for me to attempt run math while running, but I threw caution to the wind and did it anyway.) If I was right and we could maintain just under a 15 minute average pace, it seemed like a 14 hour finish was possible.  I asked Baha if I was correct in my thinking and he agreed that it was completely within reach.  I told him that it would be pretty sweet if we could come in at 13:58 or 13:59.  13 just sounds better than 14, right??  That’s all I had to say – from then on, he had a new goal for me….sub-14.

Bobby was ready and waiting for us at Equestrian.  This stop took longer than it should have….I feel this may become a theme. I had planned to arrive here at 4:30, which would have been just an hour prior to the sun setting, so I had also planned to put on a long sleeve, vest, headlamp and gloves.  It was still “warm”, so I only put on the long sleeve and headlamp, stuffed the gloves in my belt and grabbed more nutrition.  At this point in the race, I only had 22 miles left. So short, yet so far. I had fueled well in the first part of the race, but that stuff gets hard to stomach. I transitioned to getting most of my calories at aid stops through Tailwind Rebuild and Coke – which was my plan from the beginning. I’m going to keep doing it in all my races until it doesn’t work anymore! LOL!!

Heading out after what seemed an eternity, the miles started clicking away and it really didn’t seem to take us a long time to get to Nachos, even though it was 7 miles. In my mind this stop went really well – Baha might beg to differ.  Baha stopped to use the port-o-potty and I downed my Coke and Tailwind and was waiting on him when he was done. Thats a win, right?? In my pace chart, I had anticipated making it Nachos around 6:15PM, which would have been close to the time that headlamps needed to be turned on.  We rolled into Nachos at 5:15PM!  Now the immediate goal in my head became making it to Chapas before turning on my headlamp.  Of course, this was a very arbitrary goal, but sometimes all you need are a few mind games to keep you motivated in those last miles.

We rolled into Chapas at 6:22PM. At this point, I was sliding down into another low and I had difficulty getting all that shit down my throat fast enough for Baha’s liking.  I haven’t a clue how long we were there, but regardless, it was too long! While we were there, Bobby said to me for the first time: “just run faster”.  I thought, “Dear God, he has spent WAY too much time around Baha!”  But he went on to say that we were gaining about 5 minutes between each aid station and that “all I had to do” was keep that up to come in at 14 hours! LOL!! Of course! No problem whatsoever! I finally got my ass up off we went.  But a few steps later, we were running through the barn and saw the Big Ass Runners AGAIN!!!  I can’t even begin to express what a pick-me-up that was! I was a little sidetracked by all the fanfare and Baha practiaclly had to shove me out the barn door to get moving again.  We might have been 100-200 yards down the trail, which, by the way, was some of the smoothest and flattest this course had to offer, AND I TRIPPED AND FELL. (We all knew it had to happen!)  I’ve never hopped up so quickly because we had NO time to waste and of even more importance: I only had ONE aid station in between me and that finish line!

This section went pretty well besides me being dog-ass tired. But we made it at least a mile or two in before headlamps were needed, and that excited me.  My body was tired but my brain was still in it. I still hadn’t pulled that pace chart out of my pouch and was going off memory.  Anyone who knows the brain fog of an ultra knows how stupid that was.  I thought YaYa was 5 miles from Chapas at 57 miles, but it was actually almost 6 miles from Chapas at a hair over 58.  I kept thinking we had to almost be there, but we never seemed to get there! More exhausted by the minute, I refused to give into the fatigue. I couldn’t let myself down. I couldn’t let Baha down. I couldn’t let Bobby down. I couldn’t let Greg down.  Baha kept encouraging me by saying that all he wanted was for me to give myself a chance – a chance to meet this goal that I didn’t know was within my reach until this day.  I didn’t fully believe in my mind that we could make it.  We had this big climb at the end and by my superior run math calculations, I thought we were going to roll into the finish between 14:15 – 14:30. But Greg’s training had prepared me for this very section and this was where we HAD to bank time, if we were to make it. We blazed through that section, even if it did seem like an eternity.

We made it to YaYa at 7:40.  With less than 5 miles to go, there was no reason to load up on calories. Plus, yuck. I drank some Coke, put my head on Bobby’s shoulder for 5 seconds (yes, Baha counted) and we were headed to the finish, baby!!!

I thought the distance between YaYa and the finish was 5ish miles, but it was actually 4.  (Why did I carry that chart??) I really needed to go to the bathroom. And I really tried to pee while I was running. And I really didn’t want to admit to Baha that I needed to stop.  Eventually, Mother Nature won the battle and I had to stop. Baha continued telling me that we were right there, but I still thought we were tracking a 14:15 finish. Suddenly, we were making our way up that gnarly climb and descent that was at the end….how were we already here??  We made our way through that – cautiously, because steep, rocky descents are my Achille’s Heel – and finally, the home stretch!  My watch rolled over to 14:00 and I thought that we had a mile or so left to run.  Well, guess what?  We didn’t. We were literally THERE! We crossed the line at 14:02.

I am really proud of this effort.  I wasn’t sure what to expect, not having raced a 100k before.  I feel like my pacing was pretty even.  My second loop was just a hair over an hour longer, and I’m really proud of that.  A lot of that is due to race management by Bobby and Baha not letting me linger longer than needed.  A lot of it is knowing that you have to keep moving and the knowledge that not walking is slower than walking and that walking is slower than the ultra shuffle.  For me, it’s also important to know when to hike.  There were several inclines I was able to run, but at some point the energy expenditure outweighs the benefits of attempting to run up something and hiking actually becomes faster. The catch is: you have to run again as soon as you are at the top.  That becomes a mind over matter thing when you’re tired.

I can’t begin to express my gratitude to Bobby, for coming to the race and crewing for me.  Having loved ones at aid stations is such a pick me up. Knowing they will be there gives you the will to keep moving through the rough spots so that you can see them sooner, rather than later.  And I can’t express my gratitude to Baha for believing in me and getting me there. I cherish the memories that we have made on these adventures! And finally, thank you to Greg, for preparing me to tackle this course and helping me navigate the rough patches during training.

More adventures await, but for now, I’m going to rest and relax a couple of days and play Taps for my two big toenails.  Guess I kicked one too many rocks out there….

Ultra Runners Have Been Training for this Pandemic

Since the onset of the panemic, I have often joked about ultra runners being more prepared than the normal American.  The funny thing about jokes is that there is always a morsel of truth hidden in them.  Now seems like a good time to elaborate. 

  • Ultra runners have been holding dress rehearsal for social distancing and lockdowns our entire ultra careers. Most of us prefer to run alone, as far away from people as we can get. Those of us that enjoy running with others are still OK going solo. You’ll find us on a trail as deep into nature as we can get.  Some of us have complained about not having races to run.  Most of us have found other ways to stay active and motivated in the mean time.  All of us are sad that we can’t race, because races are the ONE place we enjoy being around other people! 
  • In order to be successful in ultra marathons, we must become comfortable being uncomfortable.  A good part of a successful ultra marathoner’s training is spent on developing mental toughness – training our minds to will ourselves to continue when we otherwise feel that we can’t.  We have experienced the highs and lows of the ultra marathon and understand that pain now doesn’t mean pain forever.  The flip side of that coin is that we know that things can be going great and go South VERY quickly.  The mental training we have done and our experience in racing ultras has prepared us to deal with the discomfort that a pandemic causes with it’s complete disruption of our lives. 
  • Ultra marathoners understand that anything worthwhile takes time and effort.  Ultra marathons DO NOT fit in with our society of instant gratification. We don’t wake up one day and say, “I think I’ll run a 100 miler this weekend.”  We train for months – many of us working toward longer distances for years – knowing that spending time and effort in preparation will get us to the finish line. We understand that this pandemic is like a 100 miler.  It’s going to get worse before it gets better. It’s going to hurt like hell.  We will ride a roller coaster of highs and lows, but with every low there will be another high.  We won’t give up.  We can’t give up. We will keep working toward the goal of things being back to “normal” again. 
  • We accept things as they are, not as we want them to be – the ultra marathon gives you no other choice. When you find yourself at mile 80 on top of a mountain with shredded quads – NO ONE IS COMING TO RESCUE YOU.  We know that we have to get ourselves down the mountain on our own two feet, and no amount of whining and throwing tantrums will change that fact.  Personally, I accepted in March that this would be at least an 18 month – 2 year ordeal (HOPEFULLY!!).  Accepting that reality has helped me deal with ongoing anxiety about what may or may not happen.  We just have to hang in there, put our heads down and grind this out….like a long mountain climb. 
  • (Edited after original post) Thanks to Edie for pointing this one out:  Ultra runners are masters at pivoting when things aren’t going to plan.  Nothing goes as planned in an ultra….ever.  If you can’t adjust on the fly without total emotional upheaval, then you won’t finish.  Even worse, you could be setting yourself up for serious trouble. 

Alright ultra runners – how else are we better prepared for a pandemic??  Let me know what I failed to include!!

 

The Real Victories are in the Mind

Over the past year, I attempted to write numerous posts regarding the mental side of running. I see so many people struggling in the same way that I did and have a strong feeling that I need to share my story so that others know there is hope. This time last year, I was in the throes of a depression that would only get worse before it got better. I think there is a lot of truth to the old saying that you have to hit bottom before you can make your way back to the top. I wanted to share what I was going through even then, but it was so difficult that I couldn’t find words to put onto a page. After I navigated my way out, finding words to describe my journey was still too difficult.

In the midst of it all, I was a MESS. I had zero self confidence. I compared myself to others and, in my mind, always fell short. I believed that I had no talent and no chance of ever being able to compete in this sport, regardless of how hard I worked. Receiving compliments from other runners made me feel like a big fraud. I stopped posting as much about running on social media because I couldn’t handle compliments and felt as if somehow I was misrepresenting myself. I mean, if people had known the truth, they certainly wouldn’t be calling me a “badass”. All this negativity started bleeding into my day-to-day life and I contemplated quitting running altogether However, there was still a tiny spark within me that loved running and being a runner and wouldn’t give up on the possibility of what I “could” be.

At the end of May, I ran one of my biggest mental disaster races to date, but it was the catalyst that I needed to start making a change. I picked up a copy of “The Happy Runner” by David and Megan Roche.  In the book, they describe what a happy runner looks like and with sadness, I recognized a former version of myself.  I wondered how I allowed myself to get to this point. I was so far off base that it seemed like I was completely out of the park. But….there was hope. I had been a happy runner once and I could be a happy runner again. The book challenged readers to answer questions including: Three affirmations, Why do I run at all?, Why do I run each day?, Why am I racing at all?, Why do I have long-term goals?, and to come up with some short-term and long-term crazy, seemingly out-of-reach goals.

I couldn’t answer the questions.  I definitely couldn’t come up with affirmations or big, crazy goals. But I wrote the questions down and continued reading the book. I re-read chapters in hopes that keeping those questions in the forefront of my mind would help me find those elusive answers that I was seeking. In order to do something, I decided to focus on being consistent and talking nicely to myself. To me, consistency meant completing every scheduled workout that I could manage.  I also aimed for consistency within each workout, which gave birth to a new mantra “don’t kill it; be consistent”.  I needed to complete workouts without the pressure of performance.  Training shouldn’t be about performance, anyway.  Training is about getting the body primed to perform. I had lost sight of that fact. As far as talking nicely to myself, that took a little bit of work that required self-awareness.  Slowly, I became aware of my negative thoughts. Being able to recognize those negative thoughts was the precursor to stopping them which was, in turn, the precursor to replacing them with affirmations. Simply focusing on consistency and self-talk began to empower me and resulted in finding joy again in the simple act of running.

As my attitude improved, so did my hopefulness about running.  I still wasn’t in a place to dream big, but I had finally made it to the starting block.  I went back to the book to refocus my brain in hopes of finally finding answers to some of the questions.  By the time I left for Ouray 50 at the end of July, I had answers to all of the questions, except the big, crazy dream.

Ouray went really well.  I didn’t finish but that was OK.  I made huge improvements in my mountain running and made it farther than I had the year before.  I still didn’t see myself as competitive in the trail and ultra scene, but I was becoming OK with just being the best I could be, whatever that looked like.

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Ouray – any day spent in the mountains is a good day

I had a great warm-up for Pinhoti at Sky Island 50k in September and my best race to date at Pinhoti 100.  I didn’t just finish Pinhoti, I raced it. The race was a huge turning point for me as one of my biggest goals was to race a 100, not just finish. My finishing time and place didn’t matter to me that much all because I had accomplished that goal!

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Sky Island – always proud of a bloody knee!

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Pinhoti finish with the crew

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Goal – accomplished!

Pinhoti dealt me a setback, though, in the form of tendonitis in both ankles. The left ankle was ANGRY. It took a good 6-8 weeks to work it all out. I would be lying if I said that I wasn’t mentally tested during this time, but I managed to keep myself in a good place. Having a coach as amazing as Greg helped a ton. He is so creative and used this block of time to focus on building strength for GDR, so I was able to continue my workouts but with less running volume to give the ankle some time to settle down.

A week into the second phase of GDR training had me at the start line of Ouachita Swichbacks 50k. I loved the course, but the rocks gave me all kinds of hell. This race exposed weakness in my right ankle. I did not handle the stress of the race well at all and was in a negative space much of the last half. I had reverted to my old habits of focusing on performance rather than the joy of running and I suffered for it. After the race, I struggled mentally.  My brain wanted to stay in that place telling me that I wouldn’t be strong enough by the time GDR rolled around and I questioned my ability to even finish my next race at Cross Timbers.

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Ouachita Switchbacks – DEAD

Despite all the negativity I was fighting within, I continued to chip away at my training, keeping the same focus from last summer: consistency and talking nicely to myself. I started adding another layer of mental muscle when I began reading “It Takes What It Takes” by Trevor Moawad.  I had learned of him in late December and pre-ordered his book which was released in early February. His approach was the perfect continuation in my mental conditioning and the timing was perfect.

The ankle was improving, but I knew Cross Timbers 50k would be  real test. Well, last Saturday, my ankle was put to the test AND IT PASSED! In addition, I paced myself just right, calories and hydration were on point, and my mental approach was spot on. I have never been more satisfied with a race result.  I just happened to come in 1st Female, but my satisfaction has nothing to do with that and everything to do with the way I ran the actual race. I used a strategy that Moawad suggested, which was not saying any negative thought out loud, and I truly believe it helped.

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Before Cross Timbers with my GDR partner in crime

Through this process since Pinhoti, I have achieved yet another goal: “Be a STRONG, CONSISTENT, HAPPY and GRATEFUL runner.”img_4507

 

When the Mountain Wins

“Success is not final.  Failure is not fatal.  It is the will to continue that counts.” ~Churchill

I’ve tried to come up with words for this race and I just don’t have them.  Maybe they will come later; maybe they won’t come at all.  Everything I try to say just sounds like one big excuse.  Everything I try to say sounds really negative and that isn’t the way I usually approach things.  However, I’m going to keep on writing here, negativity and all, because I feel like being raw and honest is the only thing that will get me off this ledge that I’ve been perched on the last couple of days.

I went in knowing a lot of things – knowing that I didn’t have time to sufficiently train, knowing that I wanted to use whatever I got out there as training for Ouray – but when the DNF actually came, none of those things actually mattered.  Our emotions rarely consult with our intellect.

This isn’t my first DNF, but it stings the most.

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My favorite from the race, with my favorites at the race.  PC: Meg Reed

I’ve struggled in the past few days.  As ultra runners, we talk a lot about attempting things that are out of our comfort zone and embracing the prospect of failure, but our actions don’t always match our words.  Mine did.  But now that the “failure” happened, I’m stuck in a negative mental loop.

  • Did I over-reach?
  • Will I ever be strong enough?
  • Am I foolishly chasing something that I can never achieve?

These questions have haunted me and are still haunting me.  I keep trying to redirect my brain to the positives:

  • My climbing is stronger.
  • My downhill is WAY BETTER than at Cactus Rose
  • My footwork and agility have come a long way.
  • I HAVE IMPROVED.
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PC: Trail Racing Over Texas/AJ Stasulli

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PC: Trail Racing Over Texas/AJ Stasulli

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The rewards of a long climb.

I enjoyed most of my time out there, even during the suffering.  Climbing anything, but especially mountains, puts a sparkle in my eye and a spring in my step.  Running in the middle of the night is, hands down, my favorite thing in ultra running.  I think the thing that is most difficult for me right now is that I keep questioning my decision to attempt Ouray again.  Is it really within my reach?  Will I ever be strong enough to gut out a finish on that course?

I need to get my mind right again.  I’m not exactly sure how to do that.  But, for now, I’m going to allow myself to feel defeated.  I’m going to allow myself to feel upset.  I’ll lick my wounds and visualize rising strong like a phoenix from its fire.  Hopefully, when my pity party is over, I’ll be ready to unleash hell on the trails again.

In the mean time, I’ll be focusing on this.  Even though Lone Star was far from Barkley Marathons, this quote from Laz gets me in the feels:

“you all know about the comfort zone.
that’s where most ultras take place.
running ultras is all about staying in the comfort zone.
all our strategies revolve around staying in the comfort zone.
all our advice is about staying in the comfort zone.

“start slow”

“walk every uphill”

“dont take any chances”

for all the talk about exploring human potential, and seeking our limits, ultrarunners tend to play it safe.
they line up “challenges” they know they can finish.
and run them carefully
well within their “limits”.
we believe that success is never failing.

at the barkley success is about over-reaching our abilities,
and living to tell about it.
sometimes success is getting your ass out alive.”
~Lazarus Lake

 

 

Lone Star 100, Here I Come!

“Success isn’t how far you got, but the distance you traveled from where you started.” ~Steve Prefontaine

This time last year, I was 2 months out from Brazos Bend 100.  I was training for Boston Marathon.  Yet all I could think about was getting out to El Paso to run Lone Star 100 in the Franklin Mountains.  At the time, it seemed like a pipe dream, one that would never come to fruition. I didn’t think I could EVER pull it off because it is firmly in the middle of club volleyball season.  I didn’t feel that I would ever become strong enough to even consider running a race as difficult as Lone Star.  Heck, at the time, I thought Cactus Rose 100 would forever be out of my reach.

2015 Franklin Mountain Trail Run - Pre Race
PC: Trail Racing Over Texas

Here I am, one year later, getting ready to hop on a plane at the end of the week and tackle this beast.  I’m not in the most optimal shape.  Training hasn’t been perfect.  Did I do everything I could to be prepared for this race?  Nope.  But did I do everything I could to be prepared for this race, while still retaining a shred of sanity? Yes.

I have a hard time juggling training and life when we aren’t in club volleyball season, so training for and running a big race during club is quite an undertaking.  Even though the season is still early, the demands on my time have been substantial.  Add to the mix the fact that I took on additional duties at work in January and it’s a small miracle that I even survived.

I am going into this race with a lot of doubt.  Training breeds confidence and I felt like I started taper the second week in January, because, volleyball tournaments.  However, with some reflection I have started redirecting my doubt to three main truths:

  • This race is training for Ouray.  Period.  I knew when I registered that making cutoff would be difficult.  At the time, I acknowledged that every mile and every foot of vertical gain that I am able to get will be good training in the bank.  There is no other place in Texas that I can get this kind of training.  So, even if I don’t finish; even if I don’t make cutoff, I will still have been successful.
  • I’ve come so far in just a year.  Really, in less than a year, because I didn’t get into any “real” trail training until after Boston last April.  I am hard on myself and focus a lot on my weaknesses and how far I have to go.  In recent days, reflecting on how far I’ve come has been rewarding and also confidence-boosting.
  • I find joy on the trails, whether it is in training or racing.  Regardless of the outcome, I will be out there getting some of that coveted dirt and vert.  I’m looking most forward to seeing a couple of sunrises and a sunset out there in the mountains.

    2015 Franklin Mountain Trail Run - Pre Race
    PC: Trail Racing Over Texas

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    PC: Trail Racing Over Texas

I can’t close without giving thanks to a few people.  Without a support system in place, I couldn’t consider any type of success in this sport.  My husband, Bobby, has been a great support in this training cycle.  Alli is always understanding of my need to get out on the trails on our off weekends.  And my good volleyball mom friend, Marcy, for being a surrogate mother to Alli this weekend while I’m off playing in the mountains.  Love you all!!

I’m ready.  Franklin Mountains, give me all you’ve got!!