Wednesday, May 15, 2013

No limits

Quad Rock 50 Race Report – My first 50 mile race!
First, I cannot thank you all for your kind, supportive words before the race and the congratulations post race. One of the last things I did before getting out of the car on race day was read the messages you all had sent so that they were fresh in my mind. You were with me every step of the way and in some cases were the only reason I kept moving at certain points.
Beth Frye, Sheryl Mawn and I arrived at the start and it was “no turning back now”.  Pick up number-check, label drop bags-check, bathroom AGAIN-check, get vest on-check, good luck hugs-check and line-up. Nick Clark gave the last few instructions/course changes and the countdown began.  As the sun was coming up over the Horsetooth Reservoir (5:35am), we were off. It was bit cool starting but I knew that would not last long as the skies were clear.  The first few miles went along the dirt road as Lory State Park had experienced a recent fire and the course had to be rerouted.
My goal for the day was to make every cutoff and finish the race.  I had run the entire course and knew the climbs would be difficult but as long as I kept moving forward, Rick Gray has ingrained this in me, I should be fine.  I stopped at the Horsetooth TH aid station, mile 10.6) to top off my water and grab 2 Gu’s so that I would not have to restock until the turn around. 
On the climb out of Horsetooth TH, Marianna was beside me and it was so nice to have someone to climb and chat with.  This area of the course, 3.8 miles, for me, is a lot of fast hiking sprinkled with running.  The views are beautiful and I did make sure to look around as I could but not much.  As I got close to Towers Road I came up on Henry and was so happy to see someone else I knew.  We chatted for a bit, ran a few steps and then he was kind enough to snap a picture of me as I had elected to not run with a camera.  This has gotten me into time trouble in the past and it wasn’t going to happen today!  I ran through the Towers Aid Station as a fun downhill was just a few 100 feet away.  I loved running down Mill Creek (not thinking about having to climb back up in a few hours)!
I was through Arthur’s TH (17.8 miles into the race), we will see this aid station four times during this run, and I knew I had the longest stretch ahead of me to get to the turn around.  By my calculations I should beat the cutoff for the turnaround by about an hour give or take.  The next 7.5 miles were a combination of open trail, covered trail, running and hiking the steep climbs.  I began to see the reservoir and the tents at the turnaround.  This is deceptive because you still have a ridge to get over but I was going to make cutoff number one!
It was during this section that you begin to pass 50 miles who are on their way back.  On the way out, you do not know who is running the 25 or 50 so you have to be careful and make sure you are running YOUR race and not get into trouble (thank you Beth Frye for these nuggets). I could finally see the turnaround as I was descending the switchbacks and then WOOHOO, there was Beth, looking so strong and smiling!  I ran right into her for a quick bear hug.  We exchanged the “How are you feeling” but again, I wasn’t stopping and certainly didn’t want to mess up her rhythm.  She told me I was close and looking good. Trail love is the best love! 
Next up was seeing Sheryl.  She looked so strong and I remember being jealous about how fresh she looked.  I almost didn’t see her as I was concentrating on how I was going to get in and out of the turnaround as fast as possible.  You see, this is also the finish line for the 25 mile race. As a 50 miler, you can drop at this point and receive an official time for the 25 mile race.  I wanted to avoid any temptation.  I knew when I got in I needed to do the following: get water, food, change shirt and hat and GET OUT!
I got to the turnaround at Soldier Canyon (mile 25+) and saw Mary Boyts as I was coming in.  We high fived it and the next thing I knew she was right there asking what I needed, filling my water, telling me to take my rain jacket (thank you!) and get moving again.  Mary got me out of there in less than 3 mins…THANK YOU Mary!  I had made the cutoff by 30 mins.  As I was walking out of the turnaround, Nick Clark, RD, asked how it was going and I told him the course was great and I was so pleased this was my first 50 mile race.  He told me “you picked a doozie”, shared some words of encouragement and that he would see me at the finish.  This was just enough to get me running rather than walking out of Soldier Canyon. I passed Marianna as she was coming in and looking good. 
The next cutoff was at 2:10 at Arthur’s TH (mile 32.6).  This was going to be tight and I kept telling myself to keep moving.  I made it to Arthur’s TH with 45 mins to spare.  You might be thinking this is plenty of time, but the climb back up to the Towers Aid Station was going to be brutal. I was good on water and didn’t need to stop so I thanked the volunteers and kept moving.  Are you seeing a theme here: KEEP MOVING, DON’T STOP!  As I left, the 3rd place male finisher passed me as he was coming into Arthur’s TH.  I just thought impressive and didn’t think about how much further I had to run.
The climb up to Towers was just as I had expected.  It was brutal.  As an added bonus a nice thunderstorm complete with hail rolled in on top of us.  I just kept moving thinking the trees are MUCH taller than I am.  The next cutoff was at Horsetooth TH and that is what I focused on, cutoff times.  I reached Towers and had 1.5 hrs to get to Horsetooth TH.  This might sound like plenty of time to run 3.8 miles but realize I have run 36 miles and my legs were SHOT.  Running downhill was worse than uphill as I had stubbed my big toe on my right foot and the pulsing in my big toe was not getting better.  I ignored this and just kept moving. This section is rolling with some good downhill which I could not capitalize on.  Hmm, how much time do I have?  When I finally reached the South Ridge Trail I thought this is going to be too tight.
Horsetooth TH Aid Station (40 miles down).  A very nice volunteer asked me what I needed as I must have looked lost and confused.  I said I needed my drop bag.  I wanted to leave my vest and get my handheld so that I could move faster, haha, over these last 10 miles.  He got me what I needed and told me not to worry about getting my vest in my bag, he would take care of it.  THANK YOU, THANK YOU.  I wish I knew his name but AWESOME will do.
I was heading back out at 4:03pm…YIKES, the cutoff was 4:30! As I was walking out I saw Shelia, aka: the “nike” runner with whom I had seen all day.  She would kill it up the climbs and I would pass her on the downhills.  She wasn’t looking good and I asked if she was ok.  She got up and we left together.  We would run/walk together all the way to the finish line.  I got ahead of myself there. 
The climbs during this last stretch to Arthur’s TH were just cruel.  This included having to go under or over 3 downed trees on Sawmill Trail.  Finally, the big climbing was over and we were out in the open heading to Arthur’s TH.  Now, one would think this would have been an easy section, WRONG.  It kept going and going and going.  Where was the TH?  Finally, we made it to Arthur’s TH.  There was watermelon cubes here that I thought tasted like Christmas! I topped off my handheld and away we went. 
I checked on the time and realized we had 40 minutes to run that last 2.5 miles.  Again, shouldn’t be a problem, right?  Yikes, we need to run every bit of it we could.  So, we ran the first mile digging deep and talking the whole way.  Then, we crested a hill and I could see the tents.  Time check, we had 30 mins so we knew we were going to make it and just didn’t worry at that point if we walked or ran.  I was able to make out Sheryl’s car and started getting emotional.  She had waited for me to finish. This meant so much to me as she had asked me to consider running the 25 mile race. It was already sold out so we signed up for the 50 miler; logical change in plans right?  She also had a 6:30am flight the next morning to catch!
As we turned onto the road where the cars had been lined up 13 hours earlier, I heard it…”Jeeennnnnyyyyyy!”  At that point I was crying as I knew that voice and knew I was going to finish.  It was Beth, and then I heard Sheryl.  I don’t really remember that last ¼ mile other than that is where I let myself believe that I had done it.  I had run my first 50+ miler.  As I was running into the finish Beth and Sheryl were right there cheering me to the end.  I ran through under the finish banner and straight into Beth’s arms.  I was sobbing at this point. It had been such a long journey and I was just so happy. 
I learned so much in preparing for this race and completing it.  The biggest lesson was to BELIEVE.  Believe in yourself and the process of overcoming. I had a lot of time on the trail (13:33 to be exact) where I could think and listen.  We were not allowed to run with music so instead I listened to my inner self, the words of my supportive friends, my feet hitting the ground, the water running, the birds, hikers having conversations. I will forever cherish this EPIC day and will never take anything for granted.  I have a great life and I cannot wait to live it!

50 mile race had the following entries: 50 woman with 24 finishing; 147 men with 87 finishing

Total Distance: around 52 miles with the course change

Total Elevation Gain: 11,000 ft.  We climbed 3 mountains, turned around and did again in reverse.

Gear: Nathan Vapor Vest, Nathan Quickdraw Handheld, Hoka Mafate 2.0, CEP Compression Socks, Lulumon Athletica Pace Skirt, Free to Be Sportsbra, Mountain Hardware Tank and Shirt
Food: 3 Gu’s, 1 PowerBar Energy Blasts, 1 PowerBar Performance Energy Blends, 1 LaraBar
Aid Station Food: Orange slices & Watermelon, handful of potato chips
Recovery: An Ice Cold Gluten-Free Beer!