Running happy. That’s what its all about. I can’t say I’ve had too many miserable races in my life, thanks in part to many years of leading Team Slacker. Only since 2009, have I come to see that maybe all that smiling means I am not pushing hard enough and realizing my potential. For years prior, I looked to endurance running as a social happy hour. Just ask Chris Scott of Coyote Two Moon… I needed no convincing during the annual Coyote 4 Play to take the aid station offering of a shot (usually tequilla or some other pungent alcohol) at mile 15 at the bottom of Cozy Dell and then grab some chips and keep going, albeit with tingly legs. In those years of my mid to late twenties, training was inconsistent and shotty at best. I didn’t care much to be competitive, just look at my sandbagging efforts on Ultrasignup. I call those the wonder years. I loved showing up at a race kind of wondering what the day would be like and where I was headed. Yep, I was on the short bus of ultrarunning, complete with a helmet and a chin strap.
Then I realized I might be shorting myself a little by not trying to give running a bit more. I met, Scott Jurek, who with his coaching, whipped my out of shape self into a better version of my potential. I finally got a glimpse of disciplined training and how fun that could be too. It’s still a work in progress of course, but competition is motivating.
Fast forward to Dick Collins Firetrails 50 and a day of striking a balance. Unlike TRT100, where I couldn’t find my happy vein, this day was different. The trip was as low key as one could imagine. No hubby, no pacer, no crew, no drop bags, no nada. Just me, solo (as much as one can be in a race setting) in an effort to just be simple and enjoy a day of running on trails.
I got to line up alongside the familiar faces of Bree Lambert and Roxanne Woodhouse whom I got to know at TRT100 just this past summer. After some smiles and well wishes to one another, and a quick glance of Dave Mackey towering over all of us in his Hoka platforms, we all set off into the morning glow.
The day moved along quite well. I ran conservative in the first half as I like to do. Fueling was a little challenging due to some gut issues. Beyond that, I was able to move well and stayed close to Bree until the turn around. We managed to take turns running 2nd and 3rd. She would pass on the downhills and then I would catch her on the uphills. Finally on the climb back up from the half way point, I was feeling good and didn’t look back. At that point I started to reel in some time.
At mile 37, I was told I was 6 minutes back from Roxanne, so I was motivated, and kept trying to close the gap. At mile 43, I was still right there but not seeming to make up any more time. I knew she would probably be hard to catch even while watching the 7:30 pace on my Garmin and realizing it wouldn’t be enough.
My goal was to finish under 8 hours, but as the RD told us at the start, the course had been modified at the end to add 500 feet of climbing and about 1.5 miles over the normal course due to the week’s bad weather. Oh well, that stuff happens. So I crossed the line in 8:08 and 8 minutes behind Roxanne, who ran very well. It was great to catch up with some friends, enjoy the BBQ, and then caffeinate up for the 4 hour drive back to my baby girl and hubby. On a side note, JB has not been able to run much lately because he is on deadline editing a film about Western States, the race that he will have to qualify for in a few weeks by running a 50 miler off the couch. Oh the irony… But yes, home I did find safely and a kiss I snuck to a sleeping Eva who had no idea her mommy was running some sweet trails in the East Bay earlier that day.
Next up, TNF Championships in December.