Monday, October 24, 2011

WOW...THAT WAS TOUGH!

Appropriate signage for a trail marathon!
I'm finally getting around to writing about the trail marathon that took place last weekend. The Triple Lakes is a trail race. You had an option for 40 miles, 26.2 miles, or 13.1 miles. I only found out about the race a few days prior to race day, and thought it looked like fun?? I initially wanted to go with 40 miler, but thankfully Rich talked me out of that one!! I signed up for the marathon having only done four trail runs with 8 miles being my longest on them. I find trail running much tougher than road running and last weekend's race was sure to remind me of that! Off the heels of Ironman, my running has been going better than I could ask for. I haven't been doing much speed work, mainly just mileage and I am enjoying running right now, and that's why I am doing so much of it. Not really training for anything at the moment and it feels nice. I am still swimming around 10k weekly and still cycling as well so I knew that my fitness would be there and knew I could easily get around the 26.2 miles. Signed up on Wednesday...race on Saturday!

Up and at 'em early! We arrived in GBO about 30 minutes before race start and it was cold! I tried to get out of the car to warm up, but jumped back in...brrrr! I had no idea what was ahead of me but I wasn't nervous at all...I was excited. The one thing that has changed in my racing over the last year is my confidence level. I really don't have nerves anymore leading up to races and this makes a whole lot easier on me. I remember asking my friend and fellow Ironman athlete Hannah about this before IMKY. I couldn't understand how I was so calm leading up to the big day. I don't feel anything except excitement now. She understood the feeling and had felt the same way before her last IM.  I think that once we all achieve certain levels in racing, it becomes more familiar to us and we are more comfortable with it. I also think that being married to a pro has helped me with this. For the countless number of races that I have watched him prepare for and line up on that start line for....I've never ONCE seen a nervous moment out of Rich. His calm race preparation and calm race starts must have rubbed off on me and it makes such a huge difference. I used to go into races a barrel of nerves and my heart rate would be out of the roof before the gun went off...now it's a moment of pure calm and it's a feeling I love. So back to the race start...

I finally got out of the nice warm car and peeled off my jacket. BRRR! Gloves were staying on, that I knew!

Up there with the big boys!
I lined myself up in front with all of the trail runners. These guys are a strong breed as I later found out when the whipped my tail. The gun went off and as always I run with the herd. I knew I was supposed to hold back for the first 3 miles but I can never seem to do that in long distance run races. The first 2.5 miles were on the road and the first almost mile of that all uphill. My trail shoes do not make for comfortable road running so the first couple of miles felt odd, plus running in the heavier shoes made my plantar fasciitis ache a bit more. Thankfully I had my foot wrapped with my cool Rocktape and that helped loads. I was running a 7:10 pace after cresting the hill and felt comfortable. I knew that would all change when we took to the trails and sure enough as soon as we hit dirt...it did. Uphill..dodging roots for the next mile. Tough! My breathing was getting heavier and I tried to relax my shoulders and tried to breathe deep to relax. I finally found somewhat of a rhythm around mile 4 and settled into a decent pace for the next 6 miles. I cannot begin to tell you how much more difficult this was than a road marathon. My eyes were glued to the ground constantly. I had no real run form as everything changed based on the course. I was hopping over sticks, rocks, roots, trees and the fallen leaves were covering some of these things. I think I rolled my ankle at least 5 times before mile 10. Running the trails strengthens the ankles tremendously, and my few trail runs have already helped with that. So far so good...no falls, no sprains, no breaks.

Around mile 8 the legs got heavy. Lactic acid was already there. Not having done speed work in ages, I knew this would happen, but didn't realize that it would come on so soon. Also around mile 8 ,I began to question my sanity and thought I must have completely lost it to do something like this. The rest of the race goes a little something like this-------

Mile 9...how do I get off this trail?  I want to go home!  It's a nice day to lounge.
Mile 10...hmmm, not too bad 1:30 for a trail run at mile 10, I'll take that, slower than my norm, but that's to be expected here. Is that a creek that I have to cross? Let's play hopscotch across a creek in a marathon...fun stuff!


Mile 11-- Agh! Wait, did a cow just screech at me? The cow sounds really mad. Wonder if it's behind a fence? Wait, maybe the cow will chase me...as least it could make me run faster! Mooooooo!
Mile 12-- Where the heck is an aid station, I'm hungry and tired and I want a quick nap.
Mile 13--Ironman quite possibly is a much easier race than this. I am sure of it. I think I shall do more Ironman distance races in the future to cure me of craving things like this. Anyone know how to get off this trail? Is there anyone out there? Hellooooooooooo........
Mile 14- I just jumped over a log. Who does this in a marthon? How did I just jump over that log...my legs are about 1000 pounds right now. Did I really just jump over a log? That was a big log. They should remove that log. I don't like logs.
Mile 15---I tripped, caught myself and swore out loud! Not the nicest of words either, but the only thing around was dirt, so it really didn't matter anyway. You know that saying about a tree falling in the woods? Well, I changed it and declared it my own saying for the remainder of the race--If a runner falls in the woods and no one is around to hear....does it make a sound?? Ahaha...delirium had quite possibly set in at this point.
Mile 16---Hmm, what shall we do for dinner. I think I've earned the Olive Garden Never Ending Pasta Bowl for dinner, or Never Ending Pasta Bowl and Never Ending Cookies? Yes, that sounds about right. Wait, no, maybe brownies, cookies and ice cream! I'm hungry...I really hate gels.
Mile 17- No porta loo's what's a girl to do? Who's looking anyway? Get 'r' done girl.
Mile 18-Maybe if I move my legs just right, I could possibly walk faster than I am running at the moment? Is that another hill? What's that about 100000 hills already???
 Mile 19-Really? I have 7 more miles to go? Taxi? Is there a taxi service out here anywhere?
Mile 20-I'm sleepy. I bet Rich is asleep in the car right now. I should have had a red bull for breakfast. Red Bull Red Bull Red Bull Red Bull!
Mile 21-You know, I really don't like the taste of Gels. I think I will create a new Gel that tastes like pizza. I want a piece of pizza right now. They should have pizza at the next aid station...
Mile22- They had pretzels at the aid station.
Mile 23- Did she just pass me? She totally just passed me...why did she have to make that pass look so easy? Ok, T.. pick up those 1000 pound legs girlfriend...let's go. Wait, what?? Do I really have to run up that? NOW??
Mile 24- Yea....you've got this. Not much longer. What's 2 miles?
Mile 25- Baby...this is what's it's all about. The last mile. You know it girl. This is it. The feeling off accomplishment...achievement...a feeling that keeps me coming back for more and more and more. A feeling that I can never get enough of. What pain? Did the last 25 miles really hurt that bad? Heck yes they did, but this last mile makes it all worth it so you forget it. At least until later. You start to float. Things get easier. You pick up the pace and then....
Mile 26- There it is...the finish! Go T Go! It's uphill, who cares...it's there..waiting. It's over in a minute. I gave it all I had...crossed the line and was done! My first trail marathon (and quite possibly my last trail marathon). I am so glad my hubby talked me out of the 40 miler! 26.2 was enough!

FINALLY!
  I cannot begin to tell you all of the thoughts that run through your mind when you are running a marathon. If you've been there, you know and if you've never done it on a trail....try it. It is a true test of endurance, mental strength and fitness. No crowds, no music, not really anything except you and a tough terrain. Your mind is mostly what gets you through a run like this. I have never and will never DNF unless my life depends on it...this race, I wanted to go home at mile 10 but I stuck with it. I saw this quote recently and it stayed with me...."Finish what you start and finish with heart". I think that's just what I did. Leaving the trail that day...I was a stronger person, a stronger runner and very proud to have completed a tough race like that. As for my toes, this race claimed another nail.
Two Down! Gone are the days of pretty pedi's!
 As for trail racing in my future, well, I must have lost my sanity again when I hit the submit button for the entry. Looks like I'll be running a 20k trail race in three weeks. This time, I know what to expect :)

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