From the time I knew my due date with our baby I knew Timp Trail Half Marathon would be the first race I'd really focus on. I ran it last year and just loved it! It's what's inspired me to put more effort into getting into ultra running later this year. I told myself not to have any expectations with this race placement or time wise. This was just a celebration of my giving birth and getting back into competition, and a chance to measure my current fitness after working for 8 weeks (I know, I know, that's fast. I feel like I have the background to do this though and have built up slowly as I wrote in the post below). The weather was great! This winter and spring have been very mild and so unlike the 2 years past the trail was dry and packed. The sky was clouded, winds still, temperature in the 50's. I was never cold and wishing for layers and in fact was warm from the get go. Glad I didn't pack any layers with me. On my feet were my Altra Lone Peaks. Wore my Intuitions last year, appreciated the rock plate and better traction and lugs of the Lone Peak for this race. Wore my UltrAspire Surge pack which I love. Love that it doesn't feel like any weight at all on my shoulders, doesn't bounce around much (not enough to bother me, and less bounce than a waist pack, I think it's just the water sloshing in the bladder), and holds things great in the front pockets.
So here's the run down. The miles passed quickly luckily (except the last mile that seemed like 5) I felt about the same as last year until mile 7.5 or so. It was a little harder to climb until then, but I remember being pretty out of breath last year too on those. Ran with a really nice guy Shad for 5 or so miles. Nice to talk to someone in a similar situation: young kids, on a budget, little time to train, etc. Ah the life :) He did great and ended up beating my by several minutes.As soon as we entered Dry Canyon at about 7.5 there are maybe a dozen steps to get going. Man they were at least 12 inches high and oh boy did they burn the legs. I speed walked like I did last year in the steep uphill sections but don't think I was moving quite as fast on those climbs the whole time. Once we finally got out of the canyon about mile 9.5 or 10 I was hoping to open up and fly like I did last year, but the legs just weren't quite there. They were tired and weak and just weren't supporting me as well as I'd like to be aggressive. My footing didn't feel super confident either. Bummer. Just a lack of time on real trail since Ella I think. Not much time to get to the mountains when I'm a nursing mom and my husband is always working. Oh well, my family comes first so I'll do the best I can with what I have right now. I was a little nervous passing the point where I fell last year, but I was fine. Did catch a rock with my toe almost crashed and man does that sky rocket the heart rate! That last mile felt like it took forever and my legs were tired but not burning, just difficult to keep them under me and stable in difficult steep downhill terrain. Was amazing to see one of our Altra coworkers Brian Beckstead fly by me downhill at suicide pace at mile 25 or so of his trail marathon. And other coworker Seth Wold broke the course record for the marathon by 35 minutes! Inspiring. Scary, but inspiring :)
Competition wise, here's how it went. I led the race from .5 mile in to about mile 6 where a girl came powering down a hill in front of me. No big deal, I was happy to be leading until then and just figured I'd let her go and not worry about it, still a long race and if I caught her I caught her. She ran away a little but every time we'd get to significant uphill I'd catch up to her. Eventually passed her right after the 8.6 mile aid station and knew I was better on the up and she was better on the down so I made as much ground as I could on the climb up and out of that canyon. Once I finally got to the top I ran, but knew I didn't feel as good as last year so it was kind of a matter of time before she caught up. She caught me about mile 10 and was out of there, I just hoped to maybe hang onto 2nd, but at least 3rd at that point. I also wanted to beat my time of last year which I thought was 2:09 (actually 2:06). Was somewhere between 11.5 and 12 when 2 other girls came screaming down in front of me.
Well, see you later ladies!
So I finished in 2:17. The finish line was stretched out a little from last year so I was basically 10 minutes slower than last year. Really surprised me. The conditions were much better this year and yes I'm not in as good as shape as last year, but I really thought I could match or beat my time because of the lack of mud. I must have really have been flying on those 3 miles of downhill last year. I know last year I felt much more confident in my legs and footing and really felt like I was flying. Today I finished 3rd woman (the one that passed me early got lost), 2 minutes behind the first two ladies. And I'm not sure how I feel about it. Well I really should just be happy with it. I didn't go in looking to win. I pushed my body to it's limit, but I'm not thrilled with it's limit, I guess that's it. And yet I shouldn't feel that way because I do have a 3 month old and took a 5 month break from running. My biggest hold ups right now are I can tell my legs aren't as strong, I need more time on trail to practice my footing and downhill running. If those last two were there I really think I could have won. The other hold up right now is my pelvis. I have been watching and tracking the pubic symphysis pain from the pregnancy since I started running 2 months ago and it had gone away in the last few weeks, even on my long runs. Well, it kicked in good about mile 5 and I'm really feeling it now and will for a few days I'm sure. I think the increased pace and challenging terrain upped the stress to that pubic symphysis joint. I'll have to watch it and not bump the miles up much further for a month or two I think. I do have a goal to get to trail marathon and trail 50k distance by the end of the year and I think that will be doable, I'll just need more time to let my body heal. I'll still keep training obviously, I'll just need to still be cautious.I'm still a little mystified that I couldn't meet my time considering there were better conditions, but it is what it is. I don't like to be upset with my results. I ran with all my body would give me today. I ran longer time wise today than I have in over 6 months and didn't bonk like I did in my last long run before this race. Didn't have any nutrition or hydration issues and did see some beautiful terrain. My husband asked me if I had fun and I wasn't sure how to answer. It was hard. Hard can be fun, but today was hard. Last year was just so exciting for me, so many endorphins and felt so good all around. This year was just harder but I am really happy to be out there doing this. I lose perspective sometimes that I have a 3 month old and this is a lot more than most people would ever do, but I'm me, not another person. I'll be happy with today. It was hard, but I did it and I have a beautiful new baby to enjoy right now as well as 3 other great kids and a supportive husband. I have great friends in this athletic community both local and online. It was great to see many of them today. I have a healthy body and I'm getting back into the training and competition that I love! I'll take it!