It’s been Way Too Long… My return to Ultras at Way Too Cool 50k.
Pure elation. My heart was beating so fast. I had the bib pinned on, the Hoka One One kit assembled and Michael Jackson’s Smooth Criminal blaring from the headphones. The countdown began and I kissed my husband and found a place in the pack set to go for Way Too Cool 50k. A training run, a fitness check, my first ultra since the fall of 2013, and a date with my guy on the trail. This run had a lot for me to love. It had been a bit of a road to just get to the starting line, but finally I had made it there and even before I finished, I fell back in love with ultrarunning just like I knew I would.
6 weeks prior, our family kicked off a string of illnesses like I had never experienced before. Tally up 12 visits to the E.R., urgent care and our pediatrician for both of our kids! 5 month old Asher had 3 ear infections and 3 rounds of antibiotics and Eva had bronchitis 4 times and even worse, was on the road to being diagnosed with pediatric asthma. Besides working full time and juggling work travel and no sleep, JB and I had been tested to the core. I was not even supposed to run Way Too Cool as my race calendar had Salmon Falls 50k the weekend prior as my first race of the year. But alas, the Friday night before the run, JB and I rushed a grey, not breathing very well little girl to the emergency room. No race or run or job mattered at that point. Our daughter was struggling. But thankfully she improved over the next week as her pediatrician got really aggressive with medications. I have hope that we can improve her health, but the future will hold many more visits to the doctor’s office as we get her asthma controlled.
As we got her through the tough weekend, I found myself looking for a replacement race and after some back and forth with my coach, Jason Koop, it was decided that Way Too Cool would be a great training run. Jason and I have known each other for years. But we reconnected at the NFEC 50 in San Francisco in December and I knew his tough and strategic coaching plan would be exactly what I needed to make quick work of getting back to competition and achieving my goals.
I have been working only about 3 months with him at this point and I can honestly say it has been the hardest running and most rewarding results I have had in such a short amount of time. I love going for a run with a purpose each and every time. I skid into my day off each week, but find the workload really balanced and just what my body needs. It’s reignited a fire and belief system that with hard work comes good results. Also I believe in working smarter and I think this type of running is a lot of that as well. He also has been huge in my race selection and timing with what I deem to be my “A” races/major goals of the year.
The week of Way Too Cool, JB and I succumbed to the upper respiratory sickness that was floating in our house and even got ear infections as well. (Seriously our luck is awesome…) By Way Too Cool, I had been on antibiotics for 3 days and was feeling a bit better. But it didn’t matter to me, I was going to give it a push and just enjoy every minute of the run. The amazing energy of the 1200 runners on race morning was palpable and I shivered in the cool and breezy air. Yep, those were nerves. I had no idea what would happen that day. How exciting. The goal was to keep the gas pedal down but comfortably, and just work on getting the kinks out. So I kept it mellow for the first 11 miles and didn’t push too hard, savoring the sweet and easy singletrack and the fun conversations with the other runners. I was well aware it was a super fast race right up front, but my leg speed compared to those of 2:30 marathoners is totally laughable in a fast 50K. I only worried about how I was doing and used this time to work on pacing, on smooth biomechanics and fueling. Basically, all the things I had forgotten on my time away from racing. But it came back right away and my body found it’s rhythm.
By mile 13, I found myself step for step with Tim Twietmeyer. JB and I chatted away with him and our paces seemed about right. He’s built like a solid granite rock, runs smart and is a real inspiration. A slight crush, perhaps? Well maybe. Anyway, I digress. Those miles flew by and soon enough we were nearing mile 20. I started loving the small climbs and the distance felt really good. I would pass Tim and then he would pass me and we did this a few times. It made for a fun last hour and half. As I crossed Highway 49, I headed up the singletrack and knew there was only about a mile and half left. I did the obligatory Goeff Roes look over my shoulder and saw no one imminently behind me. It’s no fun to get passed in the last mile. Regardless, I felt the barn calling and a cold beer with my name on it was surely awaiting me. I tried to give one more push and in all honesty really wanted to come in sub 4:20 but alas, the finish line read 4:25. I really enjoyed such a fun day. It was good to be back out there. I headed straight to the car where I found the breastpump and was immediately reminded of my kiddos who were at home with the grandparents. After some refueling with great post race food, JB and I headed home. The trucker hat went from forwards to backwards. Kids make me work harder than any run, but I wouldn’t change a thing. Thanks Julie Fingar and all the volunteers for the great race.
To see some resemblance of fitness after a few hard months of training was so satisfying. There’s plenty of work to do, don’t get me wrong, but I will take the little rewards like a good race when they are there. Many times in the run, I was thanking Koop for the hard V02 max repeats or the tempo runs. Intensity not quantity, might be my theme for the year.