Wednesday, March 9, 2016

CONQUER THE ROCK BEAR CRAWL

CONQUER THE ROCK- TABLE ROCK MOUNTAIN

When I signed up for Leadville, I knew that I had my work cut out for me. We don't live in a mountain region, so I have to go out in search of mountains to climb in preparation for what is to come in June. Table Rock was one of those mountains I needed.

I wasn't really that worried about this challenge. In the past, I always sought flat and easy. With taking off from Ironman though, easy is not in my vocabulary. I want the challenges hard and like I wrote in a previous blog...challenges that scare me. This one didn't really scare me, but it did put me out of my old comfort zone and I loved every minute of it! 

Running on Stone Mountain
The ONLY training I have done in prep for vertical is one run which was the weekend prior to this race at Stone Mountain. Rich and I went and since he is my coach, he wanted to coach me and push me up and over that mountain. He grew up training in Northern England where all runs are really up mountains. He knows his stuff and he certainly gave me some good advice to carry into Table Rock as far as form etc. So thankful that we did that Stone Mountain run.


Looking at Table Rock, it actually reminded me a little of Stone Mountain with the rocky face. However, when in the thick of the race, I quickly realized that Table Rock is far more beastly than Stone Mountain.

I was happy to see some of my old Rev3 teamies/pals there. Robin and Brittany are both into ultra
running and it's cool reconnecting with them at the races again. Looks like we've all crossed over hehe. Robin and I are actually taking on a SUK (straight up kilometer) in May which will be even more beastly than Table Rock...eek! Looking forward to it!  It was cold on race morning and like always my biggest concern is what to wear, what not to wear. I ended up just going with being cold at the start because when I start moving, the furnace cranks up. Glad I chose that option even though my teeth were chattering.

We started off and it was downhill and I was relaxed and comfortable even at 6:45 pace. But it was downhill ;) We ran down, then up a hill and the heart rate starting moving but I was able to keep it relaxed. Back down and up again to the trail head. I felt good. A controlled pace at the start really helped me to ease into things. Once we started on the trail, all was good and really pretty much right off the bat, the trail starts easing up. It eased up for a bit and then turned vertical. That's right. This beast was straight up. Not for a few feet, but for the first 5 miles. Up, up, up, up and more up. No one was running at some points. It's pretty much impossible to. We kept moving. My heart rate was pounding, but my muscles were firing. I have been doing A LOT of strength work lately and wow, that really helped. Not going to lie though, my calves felt at times like they would explode out of my skin and my butt...ooooh, my butt. Talk about a killer buns workout!

Anyway, I was in control. I felt really good and was loving it! When we go to the Bald Knob, I grabbed my phone for one quick shot and then took off on the downhill. 

I actually found that the downhill at times was slower than going up. Coming down was VERY technical and at times very steep. This was probably the first time I 'gulped' in a long time thinking back to when I crashed last year breaking my face!! I am pretty sure that made me hold back a little. Once you have been injured like that, I am not sure you really ever get over the fear that a fall could do some major damage. Maybe someday that fear will subside, but it certainly came back to haunt me on this downhill at times.

The farther down we got, the easier the run got. The last couple of miles were really not bad at all. Forget heart rate, forget pace, just run. I was loving it! My leg turnover was really good and strong and I was running a really good pace during the last portions. All I kept thinking to myself was how much I loved this. The challenge, the toughness of it. I was so happy in the moment. Running. I haven't felt that in a while with Ironman training/racing and I was smiling because I knew in the moment that I have made the right choice for this season in racing. I also was smiling because I now know that although Leadville has other tougher obstacles, such as altitude, but I know now that I will be ok.

I finished my first mountain race with a smile and was happy to be in the top 10 overall females. I will take that top ten finish for my first mountain race. I don't get to train on the hills, but I didn't let that stop me from pushing myself and trying really hard. I  was actually a little bit conservative in the race just because it was my first and I didn't know what was ahead for each mile. Looking back, I wish I had gone a little harder. That's ok though. It's a building block on many that I will be using for my goals going forward. I decided also while doing this race that to me 'ultra' is about the challenge and not necessarily the mileage. I had been toying with thoughts of doing more 'mileage' races, but in
the end it's not flat or comfortable that make me happy. It's the challenges. It's the hard stuff. It's the ones that scare me. I am wired that way. But you all know that about me. Or at least the ones of you who know me well do. Love that quote by Daniel Day Lewis...."I like things that make you grit your teeth. I like tucking my chin in and sort of leading into the storm. I like that feeling. I like it a lot."-  I agree Daniel Day Lewis. That's why I do what I do. I like grit.


    ~THIS~
Absolutely, positively, in love with all of this and I want more of it!! 

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