Wilson Creek Frozen 50k DNF

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Taking off!!!

photo credit: The Pulse Running and Fitness

I’m not sure how to write this post. I’m not really even sure how I feel about this race.

I did DNF.

I did sign up for the 50k with a very lofty goal. (I would have to cut 2 hours and 20 minutes off my 20 mile time from last year in order to make the cutoff and be able to continue on to finish the 50k.)

But… I did still PR by an hour and 25 minutes AND…

I started the paleo diet on Jan 1 and was able to figure out my nutrition for a grueling 20 mile trail race without being hungry or without losing energy.

Those are 2 pretty big wins. Even when signing up for this race, I knew I was pushing my abilities. I learned a lot.

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Hanging out with friends before the race.

Photo credit: Monique Durkee

The learned 3 valuable lessons from this race:

I’m not seasoned enough to skip a training plan for a big race.

I need to know the whole course.

Sometimes, it’s just not my race.

The truth is, I came off my Foothills Frenzy 50k on a high – almost unable to believe how effortless it felt. But I had trained and trained hard for 6 months up to that race. I had put everything into making sure I was successful and then threw all that out the window for this race. True, I had headed out to Wilson Creek a few times but I didn’t have a strict plan and that made the excuses to not run come easier. It was the holidays and at one point I got really sick but looking back – I should have been able to find the time to train more.

Also, the part that killed me was after the 2nd aid station. Heading up a steep single track, I had only been on the opposite way. I never took the time to train on that section and I was mentally unprepared for that much more climbing.

The final lesson: Sometimes, it’s just not your race. I followed a girl in all black for most of the race. She stayed just enough in front of me that I couldn’t see who she was until we were close to the summit. She had last year’s map so she was looking left and right at a fork. I asked her if she was looking for the summit and she said yes. I kindly pointed out the tower and then she took off again. I didn’t see her again until about 4ish miles out from the finish line. She was off the trail a little and behind a rock.  I was kind of embarrassed because my foot was bothering me so much, I had been yelling at it very loudly and then it surprised me to see her. I asked her if she was OK and she said yes. I told her she had probably heard me yelling and she said “I feel your pain.” I passed her but slowed a little more. I soon came to a creek and got confused about where to cross. I thought for sure I had missed a flag. I did not remember going through the creek last year and my only choice at this point was to continue walking on the frozen water. The only thing that assured me was the footprints in the dirt around it and the dirt streaking across the ice. I stopped a couple times when I realized I was fine to make sure the girl was on the same track. I soon saw her and then waited a bit for her to catch up. At this point, I knew I wasn’t going to make the cutoff and I might as well finish the race with someone. Besides it was getting really cold and foggy again and it was getting harder to see the trail and flags. Once she caught up to me, I learned that she was having knee problems, probably her IT band. We hobbled along together as my plantar fasciitis was getting worse.

Soon, we came to a very steep downhill section. I have suffered through IT band problems so I know how painful downhills are. I had trekking poles so I offered her one of mine. She didn’t even hesitate to take a pole which told me just how much pain she was in. We headed down the trail and towards the bottom she thanked me for letting her use it. That’s when I realized this was not my race. Sometimes the plan is bigger than we are. It’s always a good day for a humble reminder. I finally relaxed and just allowed the day to envelope me. Whether I use this moment to make me feel better about my DNF or truly believe I was in the right place at the right time for someone else changes minute to minute as I reflect back on my day. There are a lot of things I could have done differently to prepare for this race  but sometimes, it’s just not my race.

I crossed the finish line in 8:25 and was welcomed into the arms of some of my favorite faces – Shanda, Emily, Nellie, Amy, Amanda and Leah. I got some soup, had a beer and enjoyed listening to some other trail runners stories while I warmed up in the tent. Then I got to cheer on several friends as they finished their 50ks.

Overall, I say any day on the trail is better than a day not on the trail. I got to spend time with some amazing people, enjoy unbelievable views, see wild horses and get some more experience. I’ll take it.

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photo credit: Dondi Black

Wilson Creek Frozen 50k 2014 DNF: 20.85 miles in 8:25

Foothills Frenzy 50k: 32 miles in 10:49

McCall Trail Running Classic 20 miles: 8:35

Wilson Creek Frozen 20 miler 2013: 9:49

I’m STILL proud of that progression. It STILL shows how strong I have become in a year.

Now begins my training for Wild Idaho 50 miler in July 🙂

Happy Trails!

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