7 days before my McCall race, I came home near exhaustion from a 15 mile trail run in the local foothills. My husband asked me how it went and I replied, “It was to hard again. I shouldn’t be doing this with these people!” I was nauseous, in a lot of pain and laid in bed for the next day and a half. Later he asked me why I keep going if it’s so bad. I replied then, “Remember when I would lay in bed all day after a road 5k? One day, these runs will feel like a road 5k feels to me now.”
7 days later, I toed the line at Jug Mountain Ranch in McCall, ID; trying to distract myself from the fears inside my head by posing for pictures and meeting new trail buddies. My inner voices were screaming at me: “You have no business being here/ It’s to hard/ You will probably have to drop!” The calm side of me kept responding: SO WHAT?!
credit Dondi Black
A few minutes later we were off! And I was breathing hard in the cool mountain air, keeping up with everyone else because there isn’t much choice on a single track trail, 2 feet behind the runner in front of you and 2 feet in front of the runner behind you. I had many friends with me – most I have met on the trails and various running events in the last year and a half. After a few miles in, I had to take a potty break. The runners kept going and I was finally by myself. I LOVE my trail buddies but I have come to accept that I prefer the trail alone battling my thoughts.
A few more miles up the trail and I ran into some other new friends. We stopped at Louie Lake and took some magnificent photos. The views for this race were incredible and one of my only regrets is not taking more pictures!
Then we were off again and we began a slow, steady, very steep climb. At this point, I became very negative. I was by myself again and I was extremely frustrated as I had to stop several times to catch my breath. The combination of the elevation and the climbing was getting to me. Then as I neared the top, the trail became shaded and cool again in the trees and I started a descent into a beautiful, green meadow that seemed to last forever. At this point I could see several runners in the distance along the meadow. This is where I wish I would have taken out my camera because it would have been such an amazing shot.
Soon I came to Boulder Lake – the trail widened a bit and was completely shaded. I walked quickly for a couple miles, allowing my body to recover and just really enjoy the scenery.
I soon came to my first stream crossing and I happily splashed through it, allowing my feet to cool off. Soon, a trail buddy, Jim caught up to me and we both caught up to another friend, Marcie. All 3 of us, crossed a really cool dam on Boulder Lake, maneuvering our way across giant granite boulders and cool water. I took a couple minutes to submerge myself in the water which felt incredible!
Then we started our descent down the rocky trail leading away from Boulder Lake. After the trail seemed safe again, I got my second wind! I was on a runners high as I took off, passing hikers coming up the trail. I cruised into the next aid station seeing LOTS of fabulous aid station volunteers, mostly known for their experience and ability to build the self esteem of a new trail runner 🙂 They asked me how I was doing and I practically screamed “AMAZING!!!!” I felt so fantastic and was even more excited when I saw Randy, who had gingerly walked me through the trail run the previous Saturday. He asked me if I was doing better than last Saturday and of course I was bursting at the seems to report how great I felt! He forced me to get more water and some enduralytes while Day filled my water bottle so I could add my VIA packet and Jenny told me to “GET OUT OF HERE!” I protested – “But I am having so much fun!” Of course, I took off and started another climb up the hill.
Soon I caught up to some new friends that had passed me earlier. We chatted a bit while climbing a Forest service road. I was pumped up and moving fast so I said goodbye and kept on my way. It was warm out but I was feeling really great about what was to be a PR for this distance on a trail so I was not allowing the heat to take it’s toll. I kept drinking water and my VIA refresher. And I just became very attached to the moment. I thought about how lucky I am to have a husband that supports my curious nature, a boss who allows me to take time off whenever I want to, Gratitude for the race directors and the kind heart-ed nature of the local, experienced trail runners who so enjoy advising us newbies. I sat in that moment as I plugged along, positive I would finish in 8 hours, an almost 2 hour PR from Wilson Creek 7 months earlier.
And then…….. Doubleshot. Ladies and Gentlemen… when you come to a sign nearing the end of your trail run that reads: “Experts Only” just go ahead and assume that you will not be in your runners’ high state of mind for long! The grueling last 2 1/2 miles of that course almost knocked me flat on my ass. I had words for the race directors and I growled like a bear on that stretch. When I finally saw a sign that said – “MTC finish 200 yards” I talked myself back into a smiling pose in case there were cameras and high tailed it in.
I crossed the finish line in 8 hours and 34 minutes, completing almost 23 miles and cutting an hour and 20 minutes off my Wilson Creek 20 mile time in January. I was ecstatic! I had energy and I could not believe how I almost didn’t sign up for this race.
I waited for all my remaining friends to finish. Some doing the 20 miler and some doing the 40 miler. A kind new trail buddy went to my car and got my flip flops and beer cooler. I enjoyed watching others come in happy and exhausted. I even drove the 2 hours home that night I still had so much energy!
In less than 12 weeks, I have my longest distance race yet, the Foothills 50k Frenzy, I can only hope that more chew-me-up-and-spit-me-out training can prepare me for that journey and I can have just as good of a race but for now, I am relishing the moment of this fantastic, 22.7 miles of pain and pure bliss – My newest discovery that I CAN do it!