Sunday, May 25, 2014

Don't stop surprising yourself - Timp Trail Marathon

I'll go into the race report from Timp Trail, but want to address something more important that's been on my mind since the race yesterday.  Despite how well I did, I had a really good time and feeling coming away from the race because I surprised myself.  I had a good goal in mind and wouldn't have been crushed had it not happened, but when it did and in a big way, I was just so surprised and excited!  I didn't care what place I was, I was on a high from being surprised by what I did - for me.
Whether someone enjoys athletics or any other hobby or activity -crafts, organizing, cooking, reading, an instrument, anything - it's good for the soul to reach achievements sometimes, whatever that achievement is.  I thought of reading first when trying to figure out how to make my feelings relatable to someone who doesn't enjoy what I do.  Maybe you have a goal of how many books you want to read a year, or how long you want it to take.  It will be a good feeling just to read, to enjoy that book, but it's even more exciting when maybe you read more than you expected.  Maybe as a cook you try a new recipe and it turns out so great, better than you were hoping - that's exciting!  I hope that makes sense.  I just think it's important we never stop setting goals and surprising ourselves.  
The other thing before the race report I wanted to mention was how important I think it is that we support each other in whatever it is we do, and not feel less because of the good things they do.  So often we compare ourselves to others and figure that we're only good if we're as good or better than someone else at something.  That we're not good at something if someone else is better.  It isn't true and is a great way to be depressed and always reaching for happiness rather than enjoying life along the way.
I heard a quote that I loved-
Now and then it's good to pause in our pursuit of happiness and just be happy.

 I've heard the "I hate you" line for being thin after my kids.  I know they're kidding, but it's hurtful still.  I don't think myself any better than someone bigger or smaller than me.  I don't hate those than have more than my 1/2 an A cup now after carrying and nursing 4 babies.  I used to post more to a FB running group of moms, but felt like the level of my achievements garnered too many comments that made me feel like I was above their level as a person and therefore not relatable.  Like I didn't need support and encouragement too.  Or maybe someone thinks what I do is easy because I go faster and that they "could never do that".  It really hurts me and is the completely opposite of what I would want when someone is saddened or discouraged by what I do.  I do it for me, I've been doing it a long time, work hard, and am grateful for it, but it doesn't make me better!  I happily cheer anyone on in what ever makes them happy no matter their achievement level, and I don't feel bad if it's better than me.  Well ok, maybe when I see someone's always impeccably clean home, because mine definitely isn't :) It's something I struggle to do well, or at all sometimes, but I wouldn't tell them that their success in keeping such a lovely home isn't great and that it makes me feel bad or belittles my home.  We all have different strengths and weaknesses and don't need to match each other, we need to be happy for and cheer each other on!  I'm not perfect at it, but I believe strongly in the principle.  Everyone deserves to be happy!
Maybe premature in the post to show a picture with 1 mile to go, but I was just talking about being happy,
and happy I was here!  Thank you Lori Murray Burlison for the photo!
 Ok, onto Timp Trail.  I have done the half marathon several times and the marathon once, last year.  I remember it being HARD!  Lots of climbing, descending, technical, mud, rain, but beautiful.  Why not sign up to do it again?  :)  I had the opportunity to race, get some more good quality miles before Bryce 100 in 3 weeks, and truth be told, I do actually like the race, the trails it's on, it's views, and the people that put it on and attend.  Woke up a little late and stressed over eating closer to a race than I usually do especially since my stomach hasn't been quite happy this week.  I ran out the door to discover it had been and was raining and kind of laughed.  I have never done this race without rain.  Classic.  Made my decision to stick with the Altra Lone Peak 2.0, a good choice.   Got to the race just in time to grab my bib, a bathroom stop and load my Ultraspire Quantum belt up with Vfuel gel and filled my 8oz soft flask to hold in my hand (easy to hold and collapses tiny and can be stuffed in my pack or bra till the next aid station).  Walked up to the group with about 1 minute to start but was ready.  I wanted to run a good race, more than training pace, but not all out as I didn't want any injuries or nagging issues leading into Bryce.  My goal was to PR, go faster than the 5:18 I did the year before.
I listened to my breathing and tried to keep it quiet.  I did push it a bit more than that in places but overall did well.  Around 1/4 of the race is on hilly foothill trails and I wanted to run more of them.  Not because it would be fun, because truthfully I'm not in quite as good of hill running shape as I'd like as I am quick to get into a good power hike, but looking back at a race like Sonoma, I would need to be able to run more of the smaller hills to finish faster.  So I pushed these hills when my legs were a little grumpy about it mostly because it wasn't a 50 mile or longer race, I could keep enough energy for a 5 hours race not power hiking as much.  The race started out misty and I was hopeful for good weather; a long stretch of dirt road we run turns in to a giant mud slog when it's saturated.  It did rain on us for a couple hours but never too hard and the winds were light.  Great running weather!  Anyway, we got to mile 12 or so and it was time to get off the foothills and head straight up this beastly little climb called the Green Monster I believe.  Truly a straight up the mountain 'trail' I'm pretty sure was carved in only for this race....or a widow maker dirt bike hill climb ;)  Got into good power hike mode and it actually wasn't as bad as I remember last year.  Mental note - I hit the top about 2:30 because I recall taking a gel and thinking this was halfway through the course.  Figured I was on track to run about 5 hours, good to go.  We headed toward Grove Creek which I knew was another long climb that I planned to power hike.  I did run a little which was nice, felt good.  Toward the very top before the Indian Springs aid station the running was much less and was harder.  That's a lot of climbing!  Love the meadow up there heading toward Battle Creek and was able to open up the legs and turn on the speed for a bit while it rained steadily.  The downhill in Battle Creek was probably my weakest point on the course.  It was longer than I thought and was wet, steep, rocky and rutty and when one isn't a crazy downhiller lightly bounding off everything around you, you'll slip in the mud a little.  Had a few heart rate jumping slips and a few 'ankle stretches'  but thankfully didn't go down.  Crossed the river and headed uphill again toward Dry Creek.  This was a the very slippery wet section I remember from last year, clinging onto anything I could to get up.  It wasn't as bad this year, but defiantly wet, slick, and work to ascend.  I can't imagine how much worse it was for those behind me.  Once we finally got to the top it had stopped raining and the trails were tacky and generally downhill and it was fun to run!  I did run into a very strong stomach cramp of some kind that halted me still for a minute but I was able to continue on soon.  I could hear the cheering of the next and last aid station at Dry Canyon far before I could see it, just like last year, they are great!

Up till this point I really had no idea how I was doing time wise, all I was watching was for the :30 and :00's to take calories and electrolytes in.  While I usually write out a plan of when to expect being at aid stations, I didn't for this race, I didn't want to take it too seriously and was too lazy to figure out paces for all the up and down on this course.  I knew this last aid station was about mile 21, so I calculated 5 more miles at 12 minute mile pace since there was still uphill to go before the last 3-4 that are all downhill or flat.  I was at 3:40 so figured excitedly I could run a 4:45.  That would be a 30 minute PR!  I had hoped to maybe go sub 5, but not that low!  I pushed the uphills and downhills strong but felt good.  I wasn't putting out 100%, probably 90%.  I was however staying right on top of nutrition, hydration, and electrolytes, I think that's so important.  I was really working now to run the downhills fast, mostly to build skill there.  I navigated around people pretty well trying to be polite and encouraging.  The flat 3/4 of a mile or so we run before the last descent went better and faster than last year, and thankfully that road had not turned into a slop fest.  Kept the legs open and moving and the feet up so I didn't trip and it was finally that last turn to get off trail and onto the 1/2 mile of dirt road to the finish.  Don't believe I looked at my watch again until that dirt road and I couldn't believe it.  SO much faster than I expected.  I flew down the road to the finish and jumped across it feeling great in a 4:22!!  What the what??  I get that the conditions were better this year although not perfect, and I did struggle last year, but I had a reasonable race. That time was just beyond anything I considered.  I almost had to go over the course in my head and make sure I did it all.  I did, don't worry. :) Despite running alone for much of the race, I know these trails and the flagging was great, and I definitely did every last fun bit of this course :)
Not only was this almost an hour faster than last year, but under course record time!  I don't think I've ever run under a course record time!  The sweet and incredibly talented and strong Britta Trepp who finished 8 minutes in front of me bested her own previous course record, but I was honored to have gone under the old one with her.

I was very happy with how my body felt immediately after finishing.  Not pukey, not crazy sore or tight, lungs weren't tight.  Grateful that the upset stomach I've had all week didn't come back to bite me during the race either.  Man I'm excited and happy for how I raced and I can't wait to see how Bryce pans out.  This marathon-50k distance is fun.  You run faster through the trails and woods which can make you feel like a little kid frolicking around, and there's not enough time for the longer races low points and big bonks and exhaustion.  So while this doesn't necessarily equal a great 100 mile performance, it was a good confidence booster.  I'm looking forward to a couple more weeks of training in which I hope to get a few overnight runs in.  I want to get a few massages, keep up on the vitamins and good nutrition, foam rolling, lots of committed core work (I've been slacking big time and this abdominal separation of mine is kicking my butt physically and mentally) and even a family camping trip to Yellowstone to encourage a good taper.  Bring on Bryce!

No comments: