|Me hiding under the trail awning waiting for the race to start|
The weather was not ideal. It was reminiscent to the last time I ran this race although this time it was most definitely raining. So we were running in the rain while also running through the cloud that was raining on us. This is the plot of Inception 2.
|Erin Bibeau photography got some great action shots!|
Oddly enough, I think the interesting weather played a significant part in my finishing and not feeling horrible. My final time was 6:42:14. Not amazing, but I didn't want to die at the end. The race was so wet, that there were parts unrunnable, at least for most people, which slowed everything down. Maybe I could have shaved 10-15min off with dry trails, but the forced slowness likely contributed to my lack of pain. I'm used to being on my feet for long stretches, but not as great at being on my feet for long stretches going fast. I had to take it slow, which translated into not feeling as fatigued when I'm at my slowest; uphill. I was woefully undertrained for this race. Very few trail miles and very few consistent weeks of runs. On paper I should have crawled across the finish line, but here I am, all smiles and mud.
|Coming through the last stretch of trail before getting my mug!|
I'm not saying that my training should be mimicked. Having the experience of finishing long races, including this one, in the past mentally I knew I could finish. In distance running, physical training only goes so far. Mentally training your body to continue despite [fill in the blank] is the key to connecting it all through the last mile. It is also something that doesn't leave you as quickly as physical ability. I knew going in I wouldn't break a PR, or win my age bracket, and this time I was ok with that. I never once thought, I can't do this, I can't finish. That took years of hard miles and harder races to develop. That spark that makes me want to beat myself the next time I go out did get a little stronger.
My next race is the North Fork 50k. Thanks to Wrong Way Ryan for getting me a free entry for being hands down the best aide station volunteer ever. I'm also not in the best training state for a 50k, but conquering Quad Rock give me the strength to know that I can physically get it done. And the chance of being covered, head to toe in mud, is highly unlikely. I think I have my fuel worked out more and keeping my body stocked with the energy I need to finish will be priority number one.
On a more feelings based note, while traveling for work this week, my coworker and were having general discussions about running and my upcoming race at North Fork. I was discussing my use of audio stimuli on road runs vs. trail runs (I do when I'm training miles on pavements, I never use it when I'm racing or running on trails). This brought up one of my joys of trail running and trail races; the people. You meet the best people when you're 4 hours into 32 miles and haven't seen an ice cube in what feels like days. Our discussion brought up a great memory I had a few years back running the North Fork 50k. In the stretch leading up to the last aide station before the finish, I ended up spending a lot of time with 2 women as we slowly made the climb up out of a gully. We were tired, almost 25miles into the race at this point. One of the woman was 70, she was worried about finishing within her goal time. Her goal time was important because her husband told her that if she couldn't finish this race within that time frame, she shouldn't (or couldn't) do a 100 miler she had planned on later that year. That got all of us focused on getting her to the finish so she could keep her goal alive. We talked about races, how running affects our partners and our social lives, how the other woman paced her friend while she was 7 months pregnant. We got to the last aide station and as she got her needs met and I sat down under the awning drinking the beer Wrong Way Ryan saved for me. I wished her well and told her I'd try to catch her on the way down. I did end up catching her about a mile before the finish and we finished that last leg together. As we rounded the corner into the finish I told her to go for it and she sprinted ahead to her husband cheering. I'm not going to lie, while running tends to make all of us weirdly emotional, this time I really had to hold back tears because it was just so awesome.
I'm really looking forward to North Fork. My time goal, yes I'm taking a leap and putting one out there, is 7:30. Hopefully that includes some beer before the last downhill. It's going to be hot, it always is. I got a good run in today, sweating through about 9 miles in 90 degrees. No stomach cramps and an ice cold Coke when I finished. Here's to new friends, cold beer, and 32 miles of smiles!