I am honored to be a contributing writer over at Far North Endurance. Below is a cross-post of the most recent article in my “From Trails for Trials” series, in which I chronicle my efforts to balance fast marathons and trail ultras as I train towards qualifying for the 2016 Olympic Marathon Trials. Check out the full version over at Far North Endurance..
A Finish and a DNF
Three years ago, on February 5, 2011, I ran my first 100 mile race, the Rocky Raccoon 100 in Texas. My decision to register for the event was spontaneous, fueled by a little too much caffeine and the encouragement of a couple of friends. Although I had run a few ultramarathons that year, my training at that point in life primarily consisted of long mountain hikes. Toeing the starting line on that cold, cold morning at Huntsville State Park, I truly had no idea if I could travel such a distance. My primary goal, as is the case with many first 100-mile attempts, was simply to finish. Twenty-five hours and 10 minutes later, I crossed the finish line hand-in-hand with my boyfriend, Rob, the warmth of the rising sun beating against our backs. It was a surreal, defining moment for me—one that I struggle to accurately convey with words.
As it turned out, Rocky Raccoon was also the sight of my first DNF. Inspired by the memories of the year prior, Rob and I returned to Huntsville State Park in 2012 to run the race for a second time. A beast of a storm hit Texas that weekend, saturating the course with four inches of rain. The wonderful, pine-covered trails of my memory were quickly transformed into mud pits of epic proportions. Soaked, sore, and disheartened, I pulled out from the race at mile 60.
The DNF left me feeling hollow. I knew that nothing would ever placate that empty feeling until I returned to Texas and completed what I had left unfinished. On July 23 of last year, I—once again somewhat spontaneously!—informed Rob that I planned on running the 2014 race. If that meant crawling out the final loop, then I would crawl. The only thing on my mind was finishing.
At the time of my registration, Rocky was not a Montrail Ultra Cup race, nor had it been selected as the USATF 100 Mile Trail Championship event. When the news broke about these two things, I immediately found myself signed up to run what would be my most competitive ultramarathon to date. The entrants list was soon filled with the names of tremendously speedy women. I was beyond excited to share the course which such talented runners, but also nervous. Throughout my buildup to the race, I made sure to keep my top level goal in mind—redemption.
It’s shameful to think that I’ve not updated this blog for almost two months. Between work and training, life has been a bit of a blur as of late. Time really does fly when commitments pull you every which way, and I can’t quite wrap my head around the fact that I’m now less than a week out from my first big race of 2014. Oddly, the typical taper tantrum antsiness (is that even a word?) and pre-race nerves have not hit me yet. Ask me how I’m feeling in a day or two and I’m sure my response will be completely different, but for now I shall channel this calm taper buzz into a brief recap of the past 8 weeks…
I’m excited to announce that I am now a contributing writer over at Far North Endurance. My new blog series – From Trails to Trials – will chronicle my efforts to balance fast marathons and trail ultras as I train towards qualifying for the 2016 Olympic Marathon Trials.
My top priority is to write content that is of interest, so please do let me know if there are any topics you’d like me to cover as I embark upon this new adventure.
Huge thanks to Far North for the opportunity to share my experiences with your readers. Check out my first post here…
November 2, 2013
Willowdale State Forest
Post-Hartford, I jumped back into training a little too enthusiastically and ended up with some minor discomfort in my right hamstring/piriformis. Not one to push through injury, I instantly reduced my mileage and spent some quality time reconnecting with the
evil wonderful arc trainer and my beloved foam roller. As Stone Cat inched closer, I started to question whether it would be wise for me to start the race. Fortunately, a last-minute business trip to San Francisco provided just the opportunity I needed to cut back on training and fully heal that nagging hamstring of mine.
Heading into the race chock-full of good food and gluten-free treats (why must San Francisco have such an incredible culinary scene?), I did not have high hopes of achieving a 50 mile PR. Nonetheless, I was grateful to be injury free and figured that I’d use the race to try out some new fueling strategies I had been experimenting with during longer runs. I’ve always followed a “train low, race high” approach when it comes to fueling. That said, since reading up on superstarches I have become increasingly intrigued by the possibility of racing low fuel as well. I’ve trained my body to the point where I require very little (or even no) fuel during long runs, and was eager to see if I could employ a similar strategy at Stone Cat.
October 12, 2013
In the weeks following the Vermont 100, I lost my focus. Riding on the tailwinds of a dream race performance, I went into Cascade Crest perhaps a little too confident in my abilities to run well on a very challenging course. I’m a mountain girl after all, am I not?
The result was deeply humbling. I went out too hard, neglected my nutrition/electrolytes, and wound up having to drop at mile 60. I learned many difficult lessons that day, all recounted in detail during my interview with Far North Endurance.
DNF. Did not finish. The words haunted me. Enter autumn, and DNF became DNS (did not start) as Virgil Crest and Grindstone came and went. With the passing of each race, my hopes of running one final 100 miler in 2013 slowly slipped away. Disheartened as I was, I refused to succumb to negativity and shifted my focus towards the small silver lining of my race schedule fiasco…