Well, where to start on this one… This race holds a special place for me as 2 years ago, it was the first trail run I’ve ever done. Not just trail race but trail run. I had no expectations going into that race. It was all new, fun and exciting. The next year after falling in love wit trail running & having some more runs and races under my belt, I did much better. Not quite the top 50 overall that I wanted but I was happy & 7 minutes faster. This year my goal was top 50. I had put some good runs together, worked on hills, and I was ready to search and destroy… Then 2 things happened the week before: 1) a sinus infection that still hasn’t let up, complete with fever and muscle fatigue. 2) a pretty crazy winter storm that dumped some significant snow & ice the Thursday before the race.
I came to grips early that I wouldn’t be PR’ing this course because of the weather. No biggie, every on had the same disadvantage of the snow. The fast people were going to be fast, but me and my top 10 – 20% butt felt I could crack top 50.
With the sinus infection not letting up I was forced into a taper that I thought could work out and keep me rested. I just had to kick the reoccurring fever. It would come and go all week and just when I thought I would have it licked, it would be right back. I knew I had to get some leg movement in before the race. So I did a little 5k the day before. My legs were not rested. They were fatigued as all get out. Uggggh.
OK race day. Snow still on the ground and its pretty packed up tight. My head is full of snot, pain, & fever. My legs are still worked over from the daunting 5k the day before, but I still had hope…
Chatted with some friends before the race. I’ll go off on another tangent here but the folks I run with are fantastic. Its really hard to find so many normal people all in one place. No one is an a-hole (unless that’s me in the group) and they are just overall nice, genuine people. I’m lucky.
So, before the race, I made a really important decision. I changed out my shoes from the SCOTT Ice Runners to the SCOTT eRide Grips (which are both available at Take it on the Run) . Reason I did this was because my stupid sock started slipping down and coming off in my shoe. I’d never used that shoe/sock combo before, but had used them with my Grips so I figured no biggie. Bad mistake. Should have switched socks all together but my car was too far away to get the others.
OK even with the pre-race hello’s I kind of always try to disappear around start time. I just like to be alone, think about stuff, and look at people’s shoes. As we lined up in corral 2 I didn’t have much time to think. Before I knew it the gun gun went off and we going…
I always start races off fast. I get caught up in the excitement… what can I say? I was trudging through the snow at about an 8 min clip and that’s when I felt my sock slip down past my heel. This is less than half of a mile in and now my sock was falling off inside my shoe. I could have used this as a warning sign to bag the race, but I made the decision to not worry about it and just let it be. I knew that if i stopped once, I would just have to keep stopping and that would be annoying. Needless to say, those socks are off the list for running and have been demoted to mowing the lawn.
The first mile ends at the top of a pretty good climb. I actually made pretty good work of the hill, but my legs were telling a different story they were already feeling it… 1 mile in. Mile 2 is along my favorite stretch in the park and takes you down the back side of the hill you just climbed. I was passing people on the downhill like a crazy man, but I was in control and feeling semi normal. I hit the bottom of the hill around mile 2 or 2.5 and that’s when I noticed 2 things. My legs were gone and my fever was trying to break. I was sweating like crazy during the run. It was pretty cool out (mid-30′s) and I was in shorts. I shouldn’t have been dripping sweat. Right then was when I said to myself, “DNF.” But for some reason I couldn’t make myself quit.
So I plugged away at the race. It was hard. I tried to focus on smiling. This usually helps me when running. I was thinking to myself about how I’m in the middle of the snow covered woods and how people from Arizona would probably love this crap. It wasn’t working. I was letting people pass that were coming up behind me. Any bit of uphill was a terrible pain fest in my quads. Pretty soon I was behind this guy and gal and they were having a conversation about nothing. So I got sucked into their pace and just listened to them talk. It helped. The guy then said, “We’re half way.” This was reassuring. I always tell myself the same joke when I am halfway through a trail race. The joke is dumb and my high school science teacher would always tell it…
Q: How far can you run into the woods?
A: Halfway. Because the second half you are running out of them.
Ok, at least you get a laugh out of this post… The fact that we were halfway also signified 1 more thing, the biggest hill on the course was coming right up. And a mile later, there it was… I wasn’t about ready to try and run it so I walked. Rigth about here is when my buddy Matt passed me and I tried to use him as motivation and stay close. It didn’t last for long as Matt powered his way up the hill and I was losing ground. He went on and finished very respectfully.
Once I was passed this hill I tried to regain some sort of pace but couldn’t do it. Mile 7 hit and I got a second wind of sorts and it was mostly downhill. My legs were trashed but I didn’t care. I flew where I could downhill and felt good all things considering. I rode that feeling until I couldn’t anymore and then BAM, I hit the wall. It was an Aid Station, they had GU & Gatorade: 2 things I don’t normally take when running. However, I stopped for what seemed like 3 minutes and just took in fluid, GU, and rest. I thought about quitting again. I took off again and remembered there was the dreadful creek crossing, and was really wondering if I should just call it. I vividly recall talking out loud to myself at this point in the race. It went like this “I have nothing left. I have nothing…” Then by the grace of God or something my Garmin beeped at me and I said “I have 1 mile and change to go.”
The rest of the race was sloppy. People come out of the creek and then mix their soggy shoes with snow and above freezing temps, you get slop. Lots of spinning my wheels the last half mile. I saw the finish line and tried to smile. I crossed in 1:24 (9:07) pace and I almost passed out. But I was done.
A quick update on my health, because I am sure you are all concerned… I went to the Dr office today (Monday) andit turns out i have a really bad sinusitis & a double ear infection. So while it’s not contagious, this is what I got to wear in the waiting room.