Sunday, March 15, 2015

Salida Run Through Time Marathon 2015

This is the third year I have shown up for this event and it never fails to be a great weekend. I'll cut to the chase here: I didn't finish the race this weekend. I still got in lots of miles on some of my favorite trails and got to hang out with a lot of my favorite people. Sometimes your race doesn't go as planned, but that's not a reason to scrap the weekend and pout about it. On the other hand I did wake up at 5am this morning to the sound of Mayla dog throwing up and after cleaning that up I laid awake in bed thinking about what I could have done different to not get lost on the course.

My goals going into this race were ambitious. I wanted to run a time in the range of 4:30 to 4:45 which would be a big improvement from last year's 4:52. Unfortunately I got really sick two weeks ago, sicker than I've been in years! I called in sick to work for the first time in my working life and actually went to urgent care to get meds. This girl rarely takes ibuprofen so seeking medical advice was an achievement. When it came around to race weekend I wasn't feeling 100% but I was able-bodied enough to run.

The weather was perfect on race day with highs forecasted to be in the 60s, but the word was that there was a good bit of snow on the upper part of the course. As we gathered at the starting line my friend, Amanda, and I started chatting and suddenly people started moving. We didn't even have time to get nervous. I tried not to run the first 8 or so miles too fast and saved enough energy to run the relentless uphill dirt road to the turnaround point. I let myself look at my watch for the first time at the turnaround and was excited to see that 2:15 had elapsed... a 10 minute improvement over last year. I figured the snow in the next section would slow me down but would put me on track to finish around 4:45.

The turnaround is always the high point of the race for me because you get to see your friends that are within a mile ahead of or behind you. Getting to cheer people on always gives me energy. I think I was within the top 10 women or so but there were a lot of strong-looking women close behind me. I had been using Tailwind and had put down about 300 calories so my energy levels were where they needed to be. I was a little nauseous but after being on antibiotics all week and being at 9,000+ feet for the first time in a while, this was to be expected.

After the turnaround the course heads back down just short of a mile and hits another dirt road. This road was super muddy and slushy. I ran this road in a thin layer of snow two years ago and that was definitely easier than these conditions. There was a lot of staring at my feet trying to get good footing and I just got used to following the two girls ahead of me. After trudging on for a bit, the girl ahead of me stops, turns around, and in a panicked voice starts telling me that she hasn't seen the girl ahead of her in a while and that the intersection in front of us didn't have any flags.

Sure enough, we were at a Y-intersection with no clear way to go. In denial she starts to insist that there was no way we could have gotten off course and that surely they didn't mark it. She thought we should go right. I knew what she was feeling and I had insisted the same thing at the Dead Horse 50k last fall in Moab. That experience taught me that sometimes you just have to accept that you made a mistake and turn around.

We had no idea how far we had come since the last course marking and I was full of hope that we hadn't gone that far and that I had a chance to make up the time by speeding up. Full of panic/rage I started running as fast as I could and stopped drinking or eating. We had come almost 1.5 miles off course for a grand total of 2.5-3 extra miles (out and back) with some decent hills and a good 40 minutes (since we stopped to talk about our options and to pick up another lost girl on our way back).

When we saw where we went off, I got angry: angry at myself for getting lost on a course that I've been on TWICE! There were two flags veering off sharply to the side but I had been looking at the ground and the back of the girl in front of me. Since then I've been thinking of all the "if only" scenarios. If only I had been ahead of her I would have been looking around more. If only the flags on the hairpin turn had been in my peripheral. If only there had been someone behind us who would have seen us and called out to us. I could go on forever but when you sign up for a race in the mountains, you sign up for a little bit of route-finding.

I was pretty cranky when I considered my options. I could continue on and get in 29 miles and a seemingly slow time or call it a day at the next aid station. I started thinking about a conversation I had with Justin Ricks when he told me about a time he dropped out at a race. When he arrived at the aid station he planned to drop at, the volunteers kept trying to get him going and one volunteered to walk it in with him. But he didn't come to the race to walk it in. He knew he could finish, but he came to win.

That line of thinking made sense to me. I didn't come to just slog out the race. I came to get a PR and to be as competitive as possible. After I DNFed my first road marathon, it was really important to me to finish the next trail marathon attempt no matter what. But I've already finished the Run Through Time twice and I didn't have anything to prove to myself just by finishing. After having the flu for the last two weeks it wasn't worth trashing my body early in the season just to have another finish under my belt.

After I made the decision to quit I still had another 3-4 miles to the aid station so I chatted with the people around me. They were so encouraging telling me that I looked great and that I should try to finish. I smiled, thanked them, and tried my hardest not to let my negative energy wear off on them. At the aid station, the volunteers told me that I had tons of time before the cut off and I should sit and think about if I really wanted to DNF. Again, I smiled, thanked them, and asked the shortest way to get down the mountain. I walked myself out and got picked up on the jeep road by some nice strangers heading to the finish to cheer on their daughter.

The finish line of this race is always fun regardless of if you raced or not. Talking with a lot of friends it seemed that a lot of people either did a double-take at that tricky intersection or went briefly off course themselves. A group of guys did the same thing and back tracked to find Amanda, who thankfully only added about a mile and still managed to take 5th place. At the end of the day, I can only blame myself for not noticing the flags. And that's what kills me the most. I should have known better. I'm trying to take solace in the fact that I got in some speedy miles with lots of gain and ended up with about 25 miles for the day even though they weren't the miles I was supposed to do.

Congrats to everyone who toughed it out on a challenging course. And I'm especially proud of my honey who isn't happy with his race but still managed to take 17th place despite being sleep deprived from grad-school midterms and a full-time job.

The clouds hid the Collegiates when we came into town on Friday

Photo bombed the Runner's Roost guys photo with Bill Dooper

After the race we grabbed some Amica's Pizza and headed up S-Mountain for a picnic with a view

The view just before sunrise this morning

We hiked part of the Mt. Princeton jeep road today before heading home

Cory and the pups

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Living the dream

I'm going to be honest. Most of the month of February I feel like this:

But a girl's got to function in the world even when the sun isn't shining. The other difficulty I've had with trying to get anything accomplished at home is that any time I sit down this happens:

Or this:

Adorable distractions aside, I've gotten pretty good at managing my brain's horrible response to the month of February and I try to think of all the great things that make up the reality of my life. For example, I live in my dream place. I have miles of trails right in my back yard. I have an amazing husband and two adorable dogs. Why should I let the weather get me down when I have the life I've always dreamed of?

A lot of people have commented on pictures that I post on Facebook or on posts I've left on this blog that they wish they lived here or that my life looks awesome. If I know you and you live in another state, chances are I've tried to convince you to move to Colorado. I'm a pretty good sales person. Just ask Cory, if he doesn't agree with me then I won't back down until I've convinced him that I'm right.

We didn't just accidentally end up in Colorado. It wasn't some happy occurrence. We lived in Pittsburgh. We picked up all our stakes and, with help from my parents, moved our possessions to Colorado into an apartment that we had never seen until we moved into it. We were unemployed and had to start from scratch with very few connections. There were times that we were living from paycheck to paycheck. Not a day goes by that I remind myself never to take this place for granted.

Moving is hard and I knew the longer we spent time in a place that was not Colorado, the harder it was going to be to pick up and move. I firmly believe that you should not live in a way where you are always waiting for something better to come along. If you want something, take tangible steps to make it happen. It's made me curious what it is that holds people back from achieving the things they want, what keeps them from making their dreams or goals a reality. I genuinely want to know! Please comment, even if you are reading this and I've never met you before.

If there's one thing I've learned while working through Seasonal Affective Disorder it's that having a plan with both short term and long term goals makes every day easier to endure. As you see yourself get closer to where you want to be, it's no longer a matter of endurance, you are able to joyfully relish the last few steps to your finish line.

Here's some pictures from our winter adventures this last month:

Cadi retrieved multiple deer parts at Mt. Falcon for me

We found this fresh mountain lion kill a mile up from the parking lot at Apex

A close up of the mountain lion print... no claw marks and a three-lobed back pad

Cousin Bailey taking 10th at CC junior nationals in Boulder

View of Mt. Evans wilderness from the Chicago Lakes Trail

Happy pups!

Entering Mt. Evans wilderness... did not need the snowshoes

A chilly sunset on top of Green Mt before heading to Arizona for my best friend's wedding

Sunset run at Pass Mountain with dad

The one bright "star" in the sky is Venus

Sunrise view of Lost Dutchmen from Cat Peaks summit

I'm never wearing booty shorts again... too much wedgie 

Playing among the cacti with dad

The dad guy

I was talking on my phone in the campground and this rattler jumped out at me

Got to take some fun pictures at this couple's wedding!

Mayla's favorite winter sport is napping 

Cadi's favorite winter sport is being disobedient and feeling no shame

Family hibernation

Cory got some great pictures of me tripping on today's run

This is my "I hate the winter" face